2018 Barge Pull


So who in their right mind would sign up for an extremely strenuous challenge when the recruitment poster features an Undertaker in a Kitchener/Grim Reaper ‘I Want You’ pose?Furthermore, this incredibly physical test of endurance was destined to take place during the hottest week since the earth cooled and involved dragging a 47’ barge 41 nautical miles through Weil’s infested waters!

Well, it actually turned out to be relatively easy press-ganging enough brethren for this Herculean task, especially as every pound raised was destined for the 2023 Mark Benevolent Fund Festival. The creators of this crazy jaunt were Commodore John Fred Clough who, at great personal sacrifice, volunteered to be the cargo for the duration of its nine-day epic voyage, and the Skipper, Michael Brearley and his wife Susan who kept all the crews well supplied with tea and coffee, the three of them spent the whole journey on the boat. By day the Commander sat on the prow, with a spotted handkerchief knotted on his head and twine around his trouser legs to keep the rats off, whittling spoons and making pegs (or whatever bargees do). By night he embarked on his own personal challenge to drink every pub dry en-route and looking at him he did have some success and discharged the duties of his new role with customary vigour but it was hard work stopping him selling Mark tokens as lucky charms to unsuspecting passers by!

Michael Holgate recalled his day as a Dragee, with the rest of the brethren from Old York RAMs, coincided with the Tour de Yorkshire blasting through Skipton where progress was somewhat enhanced a few wannabe racers doing time-trials on the tow path. They were, however, motivated to carry on tugging under the blistering sun Jan Johnson, Andy’s long-suffering partner, doing her Kate Winslet Titanic impersonation (no, the part where she stood on the prow, not the one you’re thinking of).  They also came up with the idea of dog, not horse, power as can be seen the photo of Jilly Wilkinson and her helpers. There was also a rumour,that I thought not well founded, that Commodore John Fred had splashed out on an investment, I may have got tha wrong, see photo below!!

All in all it was great fun and a fantastic success. Everyone we met was really supportive with shouts of encouragement like ‘You’ve lost your horse’ and ‘Has it broken down?’ But seriously the generosity of the public was unbelievable; one couple donating a generous £20 and their children being given a short trip on board.

Thanks to everyone who donated, to Commodore Clough, who pulled every day and was master of the Locks and bridges, Skipper Mike and Susan for keeping us watered and steering the barge (apart from when he decided to do a bit of dredging – how we all laughed at that} also ‘Steady as she goes’ Eddie Wilkinson for co-ordinating it and his great idea for all the texts saying the PGM was going to be at the finishing line each day. It was a great ploy to get numbers up! Quote of the week: Philip Oldfield using one of Newton’s Laws of Motion – ‘It is not possible to push an object you are stood on.’ Lovely.

Finally and most importantly, The Pullers

Day 1: Spooners Mob; Steve Spooner and Richard Haigh,Brighouse, John Vause, Haywra, and Edward Wilkinson, Old York etc. Note, John Vause stayed on the boat for two nights and completed three days pulling.

Day 2:  Evilles Marauders, Peter Eville, Lascelles, Keith Payling and Steven Hides, Cleeves. John Smith, Sincerity

Day 3:​ Fearnley Mark: Chris Oldfield, Rod Dyer, Rob Batchelor (dad turned up at the end), Colin Simmons, Mark Kenyon, Martin Charlesworth, Philip Oldfield, Dave Glew, Steve Broadbent, Brian Smart, George Smart.

Day 4:​ The Wilkinsons; Eddie Wilkinson, wife Faye and her sister, Sarah plus friend, Bryan Williams.

Day 5: Old York T.I. RAM: Eddie Wilkinson, Andy Johnson, Alan Pendleton, Ian Wilkinson, Michael Holgate, Will Holgate and Jan Johnson who acted as Captain/Steward.

Day 6:​ Old York T.I.  Mark: Roy Mallinson, David and Mrs Northing, Mike Lawrance, Niall Dew, John Harrison, Phil Benson, Alistair Mcintyre and Edward Wilkinson, who now was getting under everybodys feet.

Day 7:  Integrity Mark; Frank Milner, Richard Puttrell, Tony Parker, Duncan Smith, Ian Storey and Alan Doyle, what no Edward Wilkinson!

Day 8: Masters in the Chair day; Eric Shaw, Haywra, Ian Cotten, Wharfedale and Mike   Brearley, Integrity and Aire ferry.

Day 9:​ The last Minute Crowd; Final day and a bonanza of those wishing to be there at  the end, Ian Cotten, David and Ben Holland, Wharfedale. Edward Wilkinson Old York etc. Mark Holland, Haywra. Steven Hides, Cleeves. Philip Drury, James Ambler and Jim Reynolds, Escafeld supported Mrs Ruth Drury, acknowledged the Skipper to be an admirable Puller, no we are not taking that any further.

Final note, total amount raised is of the order of £7000, including Gift Aid but you would all wish to know that this includes the sum of £840 donated W. Bro. Mike Brearley. Together with gift aid that amounts to £1050, the cost of the charter of the Boat. Very many thanks W.Bro. Mike. You can still donate at event @ cleevesandwhitehead.org.uk

Horatio Holgate, Commander Old York RAM TI (The Flagship Lodge of the Province you know)  and Worshipful Brother Duncan Smith, P.G.S.D. Communications Manager the Cabin Boy!

Psst Not really the Flag Ship you know!