The installation of a new lift in Liverpool Cathedral has been completed thanks to a donation of £69,000 by the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, which continues a tradition of more than 100 years of Masonic support for the Cathedral.
A Choral Eucharist conducted by the Rev Canon Myles Davies (Acting Dean) celebrated the completion, which will enable more visitors to reach the beautiful Lady Chapel, and so allow the Cathedral to make better use of it for worship and for events.
The Lady Chapel is the oldest part of the cathedral, celebrating its centenary in 2010, and is the place where many visitors choose to pause and reflect. It contains some fine architecture and the magnificent “Noble Women” windows. However, it was built in an era when accessibility was not at the forefront of people’s minds and, up until now, it has only been accessible via stair cases both inside and outside the building. The new lift, which gives access from the main Cathedral floor to the Undercroft, wheelchair access to the Lady Chapel, and secure access to the choir accommodation, marks the last major development in the Cathedral’s policy to provide unrestricted access for all.
Rebecca Bentham, Fundraising Manager of Liverpool Cathedral Foundation, said the project to redesign the lower area of the cathedral will take place in phases as funding is secured. The entire project, including the lift, will cost just under £500,000 and the cathedral is working hard to raise funds for each phase.
New facilities for those using the Lady Chapel will allow it to be used as an alternative option for events, which will increase the revenue potential of the cathedral.
At the dedication service the Rev Canon Myles Davies said: “This accessible lift is a wonderful addition to the cathedral enabling so many more people to access the Lady Chapel. As a result of the generosity of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity we are able to offer a much better experience to all who visit our cathedral.”
John Smith CEO of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity said: “We are pleased to be able to help improve access to the Lady Chapel for disadvantaged people. Freemasons have a long history of supporting the cathedral that goes back as far as 1906 when local Freemasons donated the funds to build the Chapter House”.
At the dedication ceremony the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker, said: “The Province and the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity have had an association with Liverpool Cathedral which began over 100 years ago.
“In 1904, our Grand Master, King Edward VII laid the foundation stone for Liverpool Cathedral.
“In 1906, our Pro Grand Master, The 3rd Earl Amherst, laid the foundation stone for the Chapter House. The Chapter House was funded by the West Lancashire Freemasons in memory of the first Earl of Lathom, our Provincial Grand Master from 1873 to 1898.
“In 1924 the cathedral and the Chapter House were consecrated, and one of my predecessors, the then Provincial Grand Master of West Lancashire, John Hearn Burrell, and his team, conducted the service to dedicate the Chapter House.
"Within my own memory, I recall 2001, when we celebrated 175 years as a separate Province. How appropriate that in our celebrations the Province donated £40,000 to Liverpool Cathedral to provide bursaries.
“The Freemasons of West Lancashire have continued to be involved the cathedral and supported it over the years, and this support has comprised both personal service and involvement as well as financial support. Indeed, it was one of our senior Masons, Brian Jackson, a volunteer worker in the cathedral, who facilitated the initial application by the cathedral for financial support in connection with the provision of a disabled lift to enable access to the Lady Chapel, which was the first part of the cathedral to be completed.
“As they say, the rest is history, the result being a grant from our Grand Charity of £5,000 and total grants from our West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity of £69,000.”
Peter concluded by saying: “We were attracted to the project, for two reasons - first, the project provides much needed help to disadvantaged people who wished to access the cathedral's Undercroft and the Lady Chapel, and secondly, it reinforces our long relationship with the cathedral.
“We are grateful to the cathedral for the opportunity to share in the dedication of this disabled lift and to Rebecca Bentham who has been instrumental in organising the event.”
The brethren of King’s Lodge No. 3101 and Bootle Pilgrim Lodge No. 1473 along with many visiting Grand and Provincial Grand officers and distinguished brethren packed the temple in Litherland Masonic Hall to capacity to witness a very special and rare investiture - of Deputy Provincial Grand Master Howard Jones and Assistant Provincial Grand Master Roy Skidmore.
After the lodge was opened in the third degree the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp entered the lodge and informed the Worshipful Master Gary Thornhill that the Provincial Grand Master stood outside and demanded admission. Gary informed Keith that he would be delighted to receive him.
Keith then announced the Provincial Grand Master who was proceeded by acting Provincial deacons George Skarratt and Jim Hardman (both of whom as long serving assistants for the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity) and accompanied by his Deputy, five of his Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, Paul Renton (PrSGW), Ian Sanderson (PrJGW), along with other Provincial Grand officers of the Provincial team.
After welcoming Peter, Gary offered him the gavel which Peter accepted. He then asked his Provincial team to take their places and opened Provincial Grand Lodge. Peter then opened in the first degree in order to admit the newest member of King’s Lodge, Christopher Liston who is due to be passed to the second degree.
Peter said that he was very pleased to invest Howard Jones as his Deputy Provincial Grand Master who he had appointed on 20 January following the decision by Michael Hedley Hill to retire due to poor health.
Peter then asked Keith to form a deputation and place Howard in front of him. Peter then said Howard was initiated into Freemasonry in October 1972 into King's Lodge No. 3101 and he was WM in 1983 and 1995. He was also WM of Lodge Of Peace and Unity No. 314 in 2008. He is also a member of Lathom Lodge No. 2229.
He received his first appointment in Provincial Grand Lodge in 1991 as Provincial Grand Superintendant of Works (ProvGSuptWks), and in 1996 he was promoted to Provincial Junior Grand Warden (ProvJGW). In 2000 he was appointed to Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies (PAGDC) and in 2008 he was invested as Assistant Provincial Grand Master with responsibility for the Bootle, Garston and Gladstone Groups. In 2009 he was promoted to the rank of Past Senior Grand Deacon.
He was exalted into King's Chapter No. 3101 on the 12 October 1981, became first principal of Chapter of Perseverance No. 155 in 1999 and of Vale Chapter No. 5256 in 2004. He is currently a member of Holy Royal Architect Chapter No. 314. He was appointed Past Provincial Grand Scribe N (PProvGSN) in 2006 and was appointed to Grand Chapter as Past Grand Standard Bearer (PGStB) in 2011.
Howard became honorary secretary of the West Lancashire Masonic Charities Fund in 1997 and was a member of the working party along with Peter Hosker that managed the amalgamation of the seven charities in the Province. He has been a trustee of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity since it was formed in 2008 and is now the chairman of the board of trustees.
Peter said that Howard was well qualified to take the position of Deputy Provincial Grand Master and he asked Howard to take his obligation. Peter then invested Howard with his chain of office and presented him with his patent of appointment.
Peter then asked Keith to form a deputation and place Roy Skidmore in front of him. Peter said he was pleased to invest Roy as one of his Assistant Provincial Grand Masters following his appointment on 20 January.
Roy was initiated into Freemasonry in May 1992 into Bootle Lodge No. 1473 and he was WM in 2000 he was also Master of Pilgrim Lodge No. 6207 in 2009 when, during his year in office both lodges merged forming Bootle Pilgrim Lodge No. 1473.
He was appointed as Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2004. He was appointed to Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies (PAGDC) in April 2008. He was exalted into Bootle Chapter No. 1473 on the 15 March 1996 and was first principal in 2006.
Roy’s career in banking and friendly societies well qualified him to join the team at the West Lancashire Masonic Charities Fund in 2004 as assistant secretary later becoming joint secretary alongside Howard Jones. In 2008 Roy became the Chief Executive of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity when the seven Provincial charities serving Craft and Royal Arch merged.
Peter said Roy was therefore well qualified to take the position of Assistant Provincial Grand Master with responsibility for the Bootle, Garston and Gladstone Groups and he asked Roy to take his obligation. Peter then invested Roy with his chain of office and presented him with his patent of appointment.
Peter then closed Provincial Grand Lodge. A collection for the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity was taken and after the first rising Peter along with his Provincial Team paraded out of the temple. Gary then closed the lodge in due form.
Over 100 of the brethren then retired to the festive board for a very enjoyable meal.
The Senior Warden of the lodge, Richard Edmondson proposed the toast to Grand Officers, coupling it with the name of Howard Jones. In his response Howard said he was a great, though unexpected honour to be Deputy Provincial Grand Master of this great Province.
He remarked that brethren may not know that each of the chains of office were slightly different. His own was donated to the Province by John Hearn Burrell who was Deputy Provincial Grand Master (1920–22) and Provincial Grand Master (1922–29). As ProvGM he laid the final stone in the Chapter House of Liverpool Cathedral on 24 July 1924. Howard said he thought it was good to look at the support Freemasons gave to the Cathedral, as they not only assisted in the building they paid for the Chapter House to be built.
Howard continued that there were several links to the present, the first being that John Hearn Burrell lived in Fulwood Park, which is where Michael Hedley Hill lives today. Howard said he was humbled by a call from Michael earlier in the day, wishing him all the best for the future – a true mark of the man Michael is.
Another link to the present day is the work done by the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity and Roy Skidmore in particular as today there is a requirement to install a lift in the cathedral that will give disabled access to the Lady Chapel. Howard said he was delighted that the WLFC had agreed to fund the installation of the lift at some considerable cost and he hope a large number of Freemasons would be able to attend the opening of the lift later in the year.
Howard concluded by saying that the collection in the lodge for the WLFC and the raffle at the festive board in support of the Masonic hall which raised over £400. Both the WLFC and Masonic hall are vital to our organisation and we must ensure we continue to support them.
He then thanked Ray Barrow (group secretary) for helping Ray Eccles (lodge secretary) by organising the meeting and Mark Dimelow for acting as Director of Ceremonies for the festive board and all the brethren for taking the time to attend the meeting.