Day 15. Wed 18 Jan - Filey to Scarborough.
It is often said that there are no strangers in Freemasonry, only friends you've yet to meet. A wonderful Lodge meeting last night and exciting news, I recieved a call from the DC of a Lodge in Scarborough saying that they had recieved my email late last night and I'd be welcome to join them for their Installation meeting.
So, just like coppers and buses, you don't see one for ages and then two turn up at the same time... I'd been on the walk for nearly three weeks with no meetings and then two, in as many days...
I made my complaint to the chef in the hotel about my room and left, I knew my walking companions from Lincolnshire were on their way but I couldn't embarrass them by asking them to meet me at my digs so I found a nice cafe down towards the sea. A quick message notifying them of my location and within 5 minutes, the 2 Keith's were bursting through the cafe doors, big smiling faces and a huge man hug from both of my brothers from Lincolnshire. Keith Appleton is currently the Provincial Grand Senior Warden and Keith Edwards is our FreeWheelers Motorcycle Lodge Treasurer, both busy guys and I was so grateful to them for taking time out to drive up to walk with me. We had a brew and a catch up, sorted our gear and headed down to the sea to get walking, it wasn't long until we were off the beach and climbing the steep paths up onto the cliffs where we would spend the next 10 miles until we decended into Scarborough.
What a brilliant day I had, we joked and laughed and exchanged stories for most of the day, not a lot of talking on the very steep climbs and there were a good few of them. The terrain was certainly starting to change from the relative flat roads and paths of Lincolnshire and the banks of the Humber, the cost you pay for the beautiful scenery is the steep inclines and descents as you have to traverse the ravines leading down to the sea.
Because of the laughs we were having the day passed in a flash and we were soon descending down the ramps onto the seafront into Scarborough. A little later and we would have had to turn back and climb back up cliffs as the incoming tide would have prevented us getting along the seafront. A few sharp dashes and we made it unsoaked...
It wasn't my idea, I swear... one of the 'Keefs' suggested we ought to finish the walk with a pint, the thought hadn't crossed my mind, so a light lunch and a couple of pints of Guinness ended what had been an excellent day. Having our boots off and our feet on the heated floor helped too.
We said our goodbyes, the guys heading for the bus terminal to get a bus back to Filey to their car before the two and a half hour drive back to Lincolnshire. I headed up the biggest staircase I've ever walked up carrying a large rucksack with two pints of Guinness sploshing around inside me, 145 steps !!! 😰 It warmed me up, a short walk to a hotel which was 2 doors up from the Masonic Lodge, a shower, iron my shirt and a dash up the street and I was being greeted into the Scarborough Masonic Centre.
The brethren of The Old Globe Lodge No. 200 treated me like royalty, I had a pint of local ale in my hand within 2 minutes and the warm hand of friendship was offered to me by every member as they arrived. Strangers for nothing more than minutes, soon chatting and becoming friends as is always the case when you visit another lodge.
I was privileged to witness an excellent Installation Ceremony in an impressive Lodge room, one of the most stunning I've seen. I was then wined and dined at the festive board and enjoyed a lovely three course meal of soup, roast beef with all the trimmings with a cheese board to finish. A far cry from the noodles and cold cuts I knew I'd be having in my tent tomorrow night...
I was informed that the lodge tradionally do not have a raffle at their Installtion but tonight they would be having a collection to support my fund raising efforts, if I would spend a few minutes explaining what I was doing on this challenge and why. I stood and breifly explained the length and duration of the walk and explained my intention of trying to learn and understand more about why and how our mental health can go so badly wrong and what we can do to help ourselves any those around us that might be suffering. It only took a few minutes but what happened next completely floored me.
When I finished, the Director of Ceremonies slowly stood and I could see very clearly he was upset. Bearing in mind that this man was a former Falklands War veteran, had served for many years in the Royal Navy and as I learnt later had experienced more than his share of grief and distress. For a second I wondered if it had been something that I had said that had upset him but it hadn't. He explained that just before Christmas their Lodge had performed a double Initiation Ceremony for two young men, one the son of a Freemason. Three weeks later, the younger of the two, only 20 years old had so tragically taken his own life.... Looking around the dining room, it was heartbreaking to see so many of the men clearly upset, the funeral for this young man had only taken place a few days earlier and this was a community trying to deal with an unimaginable tragedy.
I didn't meet the father of the young man but I'd like to express now my sincere and heartfelt condolences to him and his family and say to them, that if I can in the smallest way through this challenge, help to get one person to start the conversation, if I can learn anything that I can share that might help one person and prevent them from feeling that they have no choice but to end their own life, every single step of the 7000 miles I will walk will have been worth it. I cannot begin to imagine the pain the family, friends and close community are feeling but I do feel some comfort that the Masonic family surrounding all of those people will be doing everything it can to help.
Please look after yourselves and look out for each other, it's ok not to feel ok but we do need to talk about it... 🥺🥰