Children learn about their sea-faring past in Lowestoft

Freemasons have helped a local school that could not afford an annual school trip.

SCHOOL trips are a treasured pasttime but in tough economic times they are also a luxury.

Thankfully, there is a volunteer at the Lowestoft Maritime Museum - which opens for the summer season today - who put others first when he heard that one Lowestoft school could not afford to send a group of children on their annual trip.

Roy Hammond, who has been volunteering at the local history museum in Sparrows' Nest, Whapload Road, for two years, was determined to help when he learned that Fen Park Primary School was unable to cover the cost of a coach trip. As a member of Great Yarmouth's freemasons he turned to the town's masonic lodge and appealed for help.

'People say it's a secret society, but we're often doing a lot for different charities,' said Mr Hammond.

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'I just happen to be an assistant at the museum and I was there when the teacher said they couldn't come because of financial constraints. I wasn't trying to embarrass the education authority - it was just a good cause.'

While the freemasons from the Lodge of Friendship Number 100, in Albert Square, Yarmouth, paid for the day trip, Lowestoft travel firm Belle Coaches provided a coach for all 22 children and four teachers.

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'The school pays a visit to the museum every year and I thought it would just a great shame if they had to stop now,' said Mr Hammond.

'We paid for the coach, the entrance fee, ice cream and for each child to have a little something from the gift shop.

'A visit to the museum is a worthwhile project. I think it's important that the children can learn about their local heritage and see just how important the fishing industry once was.

'There were quite a few children who said their grandparents used to work on the ships. Some of them were even in old photographs.'

Mr Hammond said school teacher Sarah Cohen was 'over the moon' with the goodwill gesture.

'I think it meant a lot to them,' he added.

Lowestoft Maritime Museum is open from today and every day throughout the summer from 10am to 5pm. Last admission is 4pm. Entry is �2 for adults, �1 for senior citizens and 50p for children and students.

The museum was established in 1958 and is today completely maintained and manned by volunteers. For more information call 01502 561963 or log onto:

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