Birkdale grandfather appointed head of Nationwide Oddfellows

Birkdale grandfather appointed head of Nationwide Oddfellows

by Danielle Thompson (July 2021)

A GRANDFATHER who has been a member of national friendly society, the Oddfellows, for more than 70 years has been appointed one of the organisation’s most prestigious roles as Grand Master, or chairman.

Due to historical family connections, David Ogden, 72, from Southport, became a member of the Society the day he was born. 

Now, 170 years after his great-great-grandfather James Scott was Secretary of the Southport District, his installation as Chairman of the Society means he presides over more than a hundred branches across the country.

David has made history by following in the footsteps of his elder brother Eric. They are the first brothers to hold the post. He said: “It’s an honour to be Grand Master, and it’s even more of an honour to follow my brother.

“It’s an office, it’s not me, and I take that very seriously, but it’s something I’m very honoured to do.”

David was due to be in installed in a grand ceremony at the Society’s annual conference at the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre earlier this year, but this was replaced by an online event due to lockdown restrictions.

He said: “I’m all for a bit of pomp and ceremony but it wasn’t to be. It’s a sign of the times, but it’s also a positive because this is our new normal.

“We have gone through considerable change over the years and none more so than in the last 18 months. We are definitely going to go back to ‘normal’ as our members see it, but we are also going to combine some of the new things we’ve introduced during the pandemic. It would be good to continue to make things available online.”

Dad-of-two David, who has lived in Southport his whole life, has been married to Diane for 42 years, and has seven grandchildren.

His great-great-grandfather James Scott, who worked for the Southport Visiter newspaper, was the first in the family to be invited to join the Oddfellows, working as Secretary of the Southport District for 15 years. Membership passed through the generations to David, who hopes one of his grandchildren may continue the tradition one day.

David, whose newest granddaughter Delphine was born on June 12 this year, said: “I’d love to think one of my grandchildren will continue the tradition and be part of even more changes to come.”

The Oddfellows, a national friendly society and non-profit with branches across the UK, was set up in 1810 to offer workers and their families insurance should they fall on hard times.

As well as the chance to attend social events and to volunteer locally, Oddfellows membership now also provides financial benefits and welfare support, with a dedicated care helpline and citizens advice team, and a travel club.

He said: “I’d like to change people’s perception of the Oddfellows. Too often people associate us with the Masons or some secret society, but we are totally different. We are steeped in tradition, but there’s also this huge part of Oddfellows which is around ‘Making Friends and Helping People’, and providing social, care or financial benefits.”

To find out more about the events and activities of the Southport and Ormskirk Branch of the Oddfellows, and to receive a free information pack and events diary, visit oddfellows.co.uk/contact, or contact Bonita Hesketh on bonita.hesketh@oddfellows.co.uk or call 01695 424149.

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