As we all know, one of the mainstays of Freemasonry is charity. It is a characteristic that we would all surely wish to be associated with and one to which we should all subscribe to in our own individual way. However, it is unlikely that many of us undertake such a degree of dedication and commitment to charitable causes, that we are recognised by Her Majesty the Queen.
Such an honour was recently bestowed on one of our West Lancashire brethren, James (Jim) Corcoran. Jim’s charitable endeavors were recognised in the Queen’s birthdays honours list, in the form of the British Empire Medal, in recognition of Jim’s charitable work both here in the UK and abroad. An astonished Jim received notification of his award by way of a letter from the Prime Minister’s office. When the postman delivered the letter, Jim, who was hard at work in his garage and had very greasy hands, asked the postman to open the letter for him. It’s difficult to say who was the most surprised by the letter’s content, Jim or the postman!
Jim’s charitable works are well known within the Garston Group, being a past master of Lodge of Harmony No 220, and increasingly so in the wider West Lancashire Province. His sporting connections have evolved from his younger days as an amateur boxer, were amongst other contests, in 1979 he defeated Greg Evans, the then central middleweight champion in 75 seconds of the first round. As an ardent fan of Liverpool FC, he was thrilled to have his porcelain brandy barrel trophy presented by their then manager Bill Shankly.
The many friendships Jim has made within the sporting world have seen him obtain countless signed memorabilia from the world of football, international rugby, boxing, tennis and golf. With the funds raised from raffles and auctions of his memorabilia, the proceeds have aided numerous charities. Perhaps what is less well known, are the many other causes he has supported both here in the UK and abroad. Indeed, he was delighted to have been honoured by St Vincent’s School for sensory impairment and other needs, in Liverpool.
Amongst his many additional involvements, are the Marina Dalglish Appeal, in which he was associated with its foundation in 2005 and the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Neurosciences Foundation, in which he assisted in raising funds to support research. His work on behalf of the Walton Centre, Liverpool, has seen over £150,000 being provided to further the work of this wonderful, world class facility.
During his professional life, Jim worked as a civil engineer and was a construction director of Mowlem Construction and Engineering. He was involved in many major projects, including the building of the Concorde terminal at Heathrow Airport, as well as the construction of the channel tunnel.
At Jim’s side, his wife Beryl and daughter Lauren support him in all his work, dedicating much of their own time in helping him achieve such worthy goals. Lauren is currently working in Australia and with Beryl visiting her, they sadly both had to miss the presentation of his award. At the ceremony, held at Tatton Hall, Knutsford, Jim was presented with his medal by Her Majesty’s representative, the Lieutenant of Cheshire, David Briggs MBE KStJ. Jim took the opportunity to present the Lieutenant with a ceramic poppy made by the children of St Vincent’s School. He will be in fine company, given that the Queen and the Prime Minister have also received the same gift from the school.
For the ceremony, Jim was joined by his great friends from the Garston Group, Howard and Linda Griffiths, Wally and Pat James, Tony Ackroyd and Tracy Williams. The afternoon consisted of various presentations to honour recipients from the north west area, followed by an afternoon tea reception, as well as photo opportunities for the recipients and their guests to record a very special day.
Whilst he enjoyed a memorable and humbling day, Jim will be pleased to get back to into his usual routine and continue in his efforts to support worthy causes, be they Masonic or non-Masonic, it makes no difference to Jim. He does however have at least one more ‘official event’ to look forward to, in the form of an invitation to a royal garden party, where, he will on this occasion be pleased to have both Beryl and Lauren by his side.
Jim continues to devote much of his time to charitable works and is currently working to help maximise the efforts of the Garston Group and the Province of West Lancashire in raising funds in support of the MCF 2021 Festival.