Eight days after celebrating his 100th birthday Cyril McGibbon was installed as Worshipful Master of one of the oldest lodges in the Province of West Lancashire - the Lodge of Perseverance No.155.
This lodge, which meets in the Britannia Adelphi Hotel in the centre of Liverpool, dates from 1803 and has several unique traditions, one of which is that the only guests to the installation are invited by the new Worshipful Master. It was also the first time that any member has served as Worshipful Master on two occasions.
To mark this extraordinary occasion this tradition was broken and an open invitation issued for the first time in the lodge’s history. The membership of this venerable lodge is restricted to 25 brethren and the fact that there were 125 attendees, 23 members and 102 guests gives testimony to the high regard and affection felt by the Freemasons of West Lancashire for Cyril McGibbon.
An inspection of the Masonic year book will immediately show the calibre of the members, which includes a large number of Grand Officers many of whom have held high acting Provincial offices as well.
Indeed Cyril’s Masonic CV is very impressive. He was initiated in 1951 into his mother lodge University Lodge of Liverpool and was installed as its Master in 1964. In 1970 the then Provincial Grand Master, Sir Knowles Edge Bt recognised his qualities in appointing him as Provincial Senior Grand Warden Barely had Cyril relinquished that position when he was appointed as Assistant Provincial Grand Master an appointment that he held from 1973 to 1987, a run of 15 years continuous service. Prior to this Cyril became a joining member in 1971 of Lathom Lodge No 2229 and Setentia Lodge of Installed Masters No 7755 and then in 1974 joined The Lodge of Perseverance, becoming Master of this lodge for the first time in 1976.
The calibre of the members of Lodge of Perseverance would eclipse most meetings but this evening the calibre of the guests has exceeded that of the members. Principal guest was Howard Jones (Deputy Provincial Grand Master) accompanied by Colin Wright (Past Provincial Grand Master), Brian Gillbanks and Michael Hill, both of whom are Past Deputy Provincial Grand Masters and four Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Phil Gunning ,Tony Bent, Tony Harrison and Roy Skidmore. It should also be pointed out that another tradition of the Lodge of Perseverance is that all members and guests, no matter what their rank, are clothed in Entered Apprentice aprons.
After opening the lodge the Worshipful Master Robert Hall greeted the principal guest and proffered the gavel which was immediately returned. The normal business of the lodge was conducted during this part of the ceremony the lodge was introducing a joining member. Once the business was transacted the only Entered Apprentice retired and the lodge was then opened in the Second Degree.
The Master elect, Cyril McGibbon, Past Senior Grand Deacon, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master of the Province of West Lancashire was the presented by Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Moore to the Installing Master Robert Hall who, after congratulating Cyril on his election to Master elect proceeded with the installation ceremony. Having been installed in the chair of the worthy lodge in a very dignified manner by his predecessor Cyril was then invested with the Hall Stone Jewel of the lodge. As is customary an explanation of the origin and meaning of the jewel was delivered, on this occasion by John Price.
On completion of the ceremony of installation Howard then rose to deliver the congratulations and thanks of the Provincial Grand Master to Cyril which on this occasion took the form of a personal letter expressing his profound regret at being unable to attend the installation ceremony in person.
Before closing the lodge Cyril took the opportunity to thank the members for all their work and the multitude of guests for their support. He also informed the gathering that he had received 91 cards on his birthday which were decorating his dining room, at least until the end of the month! With such a large number he was unable to reply to them all but as a larger number of senders were present, he thanked them verbally.
The lodge was then duly closed and although there is no formal recession normally, all stood to allow the new master to retire first. The assembly were then transferred to the dining room where after the drinks were served an excellent meal was served by the hotel.
Another tradition of this lodge is that there are only three formal toasts and no others, yet another tradition was a casualty of this special evening when the Installing Master then with a few short words proposed a toast to the health of the newly Installed Worshipful Master. Cyril was then called upon to respond which he duly did. Citing some of the founding principles of the Lodge of Perseverance he concluded by thanking all the members of the lodge for their hard work, in particular the lodge's Director of Ceremonies, Sidney Ford, and his wife who had manufactured 70 extra white aprons for the occasion. He also thanked all the brethren for making a special day unforgettable. On taking his seat all those present rose and gave a prolonged acclamation to a very special man and Freemason.
The significant influence exerted on Freemasonry in Warrington by the Lodge of Rectitude was highlighted by Provincial Grand Master Peter Hosker when he headed the centenary celebrations of the Lodge of Great Endeavour No.3597 and urged members to build on its legacy while planning for the future.
For this “very special landmark” Peter opened Provincial Grand Lodge in Warrington Masonic Hall. He had the help and support in the Provincial team of Assistant Provincial Grand Master Ian Boswell (who acted as Deputy Provincial Grand Master), Provincial Grand Secretary Geoffrey Lee, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp, Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Barrie Crossley, Provincial Grand Wardens Paul Renton and Ian Sanderson and Provincial Grand Chaplain Rev Graham Halsall. There were two Provincial Junior Grand Deacons, Jim Cartledge and Eddie Wilkinson, Assistant Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works Dennis Tierney, Provincial Grand Charity Steward Barry Jameson, Provincial Grand Stewards Arthur McArdle and Ian Rowan.
More than 100 brethren attended the special celebration including Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master Dennis Rudd and Grand Officers Jack Forsyth, Frank Starkey, Gordon Amos, Stan Churm and Derek Hunt.
When presenting the Centenary Warrant to Worshipful Master John Tyrer, Peter said it was a “very special moment” and he urged members of the lodge to study the “very special document” when it is on display at future meetings. John said the lodge would take great care of the warrant and that it would be handed on “pure and unsullied” by masters from generation to generation.
Provincial Grand Chaplain Rev Graham Halsall gave an oration and also said a prayer of rededication of the lodge. Peter praised Graham for “his input and particularly for his inspirational oration.”
Peter presented John Tyrer with a Centenary Jewel and then gave all other members of the lodge permission to immediately wear their new jewels.
As Provincial Grand Master, Peter said it was within his power to make certain special appointments. He asked for John Tyrer to be placed before him and promoted him to the rank of Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works. John said he was “totally surprised” and did not know how it had been kept such a secret. He said that even with 31 years as a detective he had not heard anything in advance of being promoted in Provincial Grand Lodge on the night of the centenary celebration.
After giving a brief history of the lodge John presented Peter with cheque’s for the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity and Warrington Masonic Hall. He praised the selection of these two recipients, as he said the charity had suffered during the 2010 Festival and that Masonic halls were now being given the priority they deserve.
In response to the toast to grand officers at the festive banquet Ian Boswell said it had been “a privilege and a delight” to share in the lodge’s very special occasion. He then went on to propose the toast to the health of the Provincial Grand Master.
In proposing the toast to the Lodge of Great Endeavour No 3597 Peter said: “Today's story begins in 1912, when Freemasonry was flourishing in Warrington, with five lodges. However, with the ever increasing number of Masonic candidates not even five lodges were sufficient to provide opportunities to those who sought either membership or advancement in Masonry. Accordingly, to supply that need, Lodge of Rectitude was formed and consecrated on 13 May 1912,
Unfortunately, the then Provincial Grand Master, the Hon Sir Arthur Stanley, was unable to attend to consecrate the lodge in 1912. Whenever I think of Sir Arthur Stanley, I am reminded that one of his lasting legacies to the Province was the creation of the group system, and that group system is still in place today. In his absence, the ubiquitous and evergreen W Bro W Goodacre stepped in. His office was that of the Provincial Grand Secretary of the Province of West Lancashire, and he held that office from 1884 to 1918 a total of 34 years. He was in education, being the headmaster of Talbot House School Old Trafford. There are, in fact, similarities between Bro Goodacre and our current Provincial Grand Secretary - Geoffrey Lee was also in education, being an English teacher and the House Master of Spread Eagle House Rossall School on the Fylde Coast, and although Geoffrey has only served as Provincial Grand Secretary for 16 years, he tells me that it feels more like 34 years!
I am certain that in 1912, Bro Goodacre, as the honored guest, would have been entirely at home with the professional and local businessmen from various walks of life, including members of the Indian Civil Service. who came together on that consecration day.
The lodge has much to proud of, and over many years it has had a significant influence on the development of Freemasonry in Warrington. That influence is evidenced over the years, and this evening I have chosen three examples.
In 1944, the substantial expansion of Rectitude led members to promote the formation of a daughter lodge, which was consecrated on 10 May 1944 and that lodge was named Great Sankey Lodge No.5939.
In 1947, as Rectitude continued to prosper and enlarge its membership, the members sought permission to sponsor a new lodge, the result was the formation of Warrington Temple Lodge No.6420 - a lodge that continues in existence today.
And in 1968 Rectitude had expanded its membership to become once again one of the largest lodges in the Warrington Group, prompting members to seek permission to sponsor a further daughter lodge. The Warrant is dated 13 November 1968 and the lodge was named the Lodge of Good Fellowship No.8258.
I appreciate and understand that when numbers increase, additional lodges are consecrated, and when numbers decrease, changes need to be made. Lodge of Rectitude properly recognized the need for change, and what better way forward than for mother to invite two daughters to return to the family and amalgamate together. Thus the amalgamation of Lodge of Rectitude No.3597, Great Sankey Lodge No.5939 and Lodge of Good Endeavour No.8258 took place on 13 June 2007, with the No 3597 being retained and the name being changed to Lodge of Great Endeavour.”
Peter concluded: “Give thanks for your history and all those who have made Lodge of Great Endeavour what it is today; build on the legacy that you have inherited; in building on that legacy of the past 100 years, enjoy the present; but at the same time plan for the future.”
Replying to the toast on behalf of the lodge, John said that when the amalgamation took place it was “the coming together of the family”. He said the lodge is looking forward to the future and aims to “grow and grow”.