Part of the Leyland Group Executives’ initiative regarding Freemasonry in the community has produced a number of suggestions, many of which are currently being investigated and developed. One such suggestion put forward by Chris Blackwell, Vice-Chairman of the Leyland group of Lodges and Chapters, was the possibility of providing requested support to the Barn Owl Bill sanctuary for Owls and other birds of prey. The sanctuary, based in Leyland, is a registered charity and provides the protection, maintenance and welfare of birds of prey, mostly owls that have become distressed or have been abandoned or injured, either in the wild or by their owners. The charity works closely with the RSPCA, police and other ornithology organisations.
The charity has a number of aviaries at the accommodation where Barn Owl Bill actually lives. These aviaries are used to house the rescued birds and in time had become in need of significant repairs, particularly to the roofs, which were no longer sufficiently weather proof for the healthy welfare of the resident birds. During the late summer, the sanctuary, with the help of the Lancashire Evening Post, put out an appeal for volunteers to help with the repair to the aviary roofs before the onset of the winter months. Being aware of the ‘Barn Owl Bill’ appeal through the Group Executive’s involvement Paul Boardman, Secretary of White Hills Lodge No 5209, became somewhat intrigued as to exactly what the appeal involved. Accordingly, having visited the sanctuary to examine the extent and scale of the work involved, he offered the services of his ‘limited joiner skills’, particularly as very few offers of assistance had been received from anyone else in response to the appeal. At the time Paul did make it quite clear to Laura Smith, who was organising the work on behalf of the sanctuary that his services were being offered through his connection with the Leyland Group of Freemasons.
The repair work was undertaken during a number of weekends in September when a few of the regular volunteers at the sanctuary, Paul included and together with two other young men, worked to repair the roofs to a satisfactory standard. All the timber and replacement roofing materials were supplied by the centre. The work required reinforcing the existing roofs with new timber framing to which was fixed reclaimed corrugated aluminium sheeting. During the extent of the work several of the resident birds had to be re-housed as the upheaval was proving somewhat stressful for them.
The staff at the sanctuary provided a continuous supply of sustenance during the work in the form of sandwiches, meat pies, sausage rolls, bags of crisps and a continuous supply of cups of tea. It was particularly pleasing for Paul to work with two young men who had offered their time and skills completely free of charge to the centre and worked particularly hard all during the time the work was being undertaken. He didn’t get to meet Barn Owl Bill during the period the work was progressing as he was very poorly at the time with an ongoing debilitating illness. However, Paul did meet his wife, Carole, who was very appreciative of their assistance and delighted with the finished project, as was Bill himself apparently!
Following completion of the work an article appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post at the end of October, in which Bill and Carole tendered their grateful thanks to all those who had helped and assisted in the renovation work. However, considering the not insignificant contribution Paul Boardman made as a Freemason to the project, their opinion together with the others that worked on the project must have presented a positive image of Freemasonry to them.