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.
A warm sunny June day heralded the long awaited arrival of the centenary meeting of Ansdell Lodge No. 3607 on Tuesday 19 June 2012 at the Palace, Garden Street, St Anne's
Following a strenuous rehearsal under the direction of Provincial Grand Directors of Ceremonies Keith Kemp, the new team were licked into shape, and afterwards, Ansdell Lodge members gathered for a souvenir photograph in the lodge room.
The 5pm start was strictly adhered to and 137 brethren gathered to celebrate this historic landmark occasion, one hundred years to the day since the consecration. Worshipful Master David Randerson proudly opened the meeting of the lodge, following which the dispensation was read.
The Provincial Grand Directors of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp, then entered the temple and informed the brethren that Howard Jones, Deputy Provincial Grand Master stood outside the lodge and demanded entrance. David said he would be pleased to receive him and Howard accompanied by a full strength Provincial team of the new acting officers then entered the lodge room in a magnificent and colourful procession on their first official duty since their appointment at Provincial Grand Lodge in May.
David offered Howard the gavel, which he accepted and occupied the WM’s chair. Howard then outlined the reasons for the meeting and asked the Provincial Grand Secretary, Geoffrey Lee to read the centenary warrant and explain the centenary jewel, following which he presented the warrant and first Jewel to WM David Randerson. The brethren were then given permission to wear their centenary jewel.
Howard then called upon the Deputy Provincial Grand Chaplain Rev Canon Godfrey Hirst to give an Oration (his first in his new office). Godfrey related a recent visit to the cinema which told the story of the journey of life through the eyes of seven retired people in the film the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Godfrey related the 100 years of change the members of the lodge had undergone to the story in the film.
The ceremony then took an unexpected turn when Howard asked Keith to place John Porter the lodge Directors of Ceremonies in front him and following a short history of John’s masonic CV and an outline of his attributes and sterling work for the lodge and the group, Howard promoted John to the high rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden, which was greeted with acclamation from the assembled Brethren.
Next followed a prayer of rededication led by Godfrey and the closure of Provincial Grand Lodge. Howard returned the gavel to David who thanked Howard for his attendance and handed him a cheque for £3,607 in favour of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity which was greeted with enthusiastic acclamation by the brethren.
John Porter then gave a short history of the lodge from its beginnings in June 1912, outlining the important work of the early founders in establishing strong foundations for its future and wound up the proceedings by presenting five of the original founders jewels to the WM the sixth being in the Grand Lodge Museum in London.
The Provincial party then retired in an equally magnificent and colourful procession. The lodge was then closed in due form and the brethren also retired from the temple.
The festivities continued at a sumptuous festive board where the Deputy Provincial Grand Master in referring to the early years of the Lodge, emphasised how important it was to recognise at a meeting such as a centenary the efforts and work put in by our forebears, referring to in particular the sacrifice made by former Ansdell Lodge member Graham Parrish, who joined the RAFVR during the Second World War and died whilst attempting to save the life of a fellow crew member after their bomber crashed at Khartoum Airfield. He was awarded a posthumous George Cross for gallantry.
In reply to the toast to the lodge David thanked everyone for attending, and he made a special mention of the presence of our well-loved Past Provincial Grand Master, Colin Wright who through recent ill health had been absent from most Masonic occasions, but was on the road to recovery. He thanked the working party consisting of Stuart Thornber (Centenary Chairman), Robert Bentwood (Secretary), John Burgess (Treasurer) and John Porter (DC). David also made reference to the excellent work of the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp and all the new acting Provincial officers. He concluded in the knowledge that Ansdell Lodge was in good heart and looking forward to the future with confidence.
A wonderful day filled with reflections and memories of the workings and traditions of the past, and a belief in a future which held good to keeping those traditions whilst embracing the changes necessary to sustain a happy confident and vibrant lodge.