Following the amalgamation of Norley Lodge No. 7319, Langtree Lodge No. 6166 and Lodge of Antiquity No. 178 which took place in London last December, the Provincial amalgamation ceremony of Norley and Langtree Lodge of Antiquity No 178 took place at Pemberton Masonic Hall

For this very auspicious occasion the members of the amalgamating lodges were honoured by the presence of Tony Harrison the Provincial Grand Master, along with his Provincial team. Brian Sharples welcomed Tony to the meeting and offered him the gavel of the lodge. Tony accepted the gavel and occupied the chair of the lodge and appointed his officers for the amalgamation ceremony.

The Provincial Grand Chaplain gave the opening prayer after which all the brethren sang the opening hymn.

Tony addressed the brethren, informing them of the purpose and nature of the ceremony which he said would include: 'lights, music and actions!', to mark three key elements: 'The Grand Master permitting the amalgamation – Gratitude to the Great Architect of the Universe for the hard work of all the past members of the three lodges – To dedicate the new lodge'.

Tony continued by saying the three lodges had four centuries of history as the Lodge of Antiquity’s warrant was dated 26 May 1786, Langtree Lodge – warrant dated 1 August 1945 and Norley Lodge – dated 4 November 1953.

The Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor then read the certificate of amalgamation.

The Provincial Grand Chaplin, Rev Godfrey Hirst delivered an inspiring oration based of his experience of two schools amalgamating and his knowledge of funerals and marriage! He said it was right to mourn the loss of the three lodges, but he urged the members to remember and celebrate the memories they had of the good times.

He also said that marriage was the union of two not three, but he had often wondered if marriage was indeed for three as he had often seen mother-in-laws who have too much to say when planning weddings!

Godfrey made it clear in the rest of his oration that the members of the new lodge would have to work hard to make the new lodge a success just as partners in a marriage have to work to please each other and to care for others.

Godfrey continued: 'Communication, Care, Trust and Veneration were the key elements of any marriage and he urged the members to remember ‘CCTV’ as they moved into the new era for the Norley and Langtree Lodge of Antiquity No. 178'.

Tony and the Provincial Grand Wardens, Sword Bearer and Standard Bearers then moved ceremonially into position.

The brethren of the amalgamating lodges assembled around the pavement of the lodge. The elements of consecration: corn, wine and oil were re-presented in a fine display of masonic pageantry, enhanced by the Provincial choir adding to the sense of occasion.

Tony then sprinkled salt on all the members of the new lodge as an emblem of conservant power. He then delivered the warrants, certificate of amalgamation and the artefacts to the care of Brian Sharples the master of Norley and Langtree Lodge of Antiquity.

Under the direction of the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp, Tony retired from the lodge accompanied by his team.

The celebrations continued at the festive board with 100 brethren enjoying an excellent meal provided by the new caterers in Pemberton Masonic Hall.

After the meal Assistant Provincial Grand Master Tony Bent responded to the toast to grand officers and proposed the toast to the PrGM.

Tony Harrison thanked Tony Bent for his kind words in proposing the toast to him. He then informed the brethren that the last 12 months had been the best time he had had in Freemasonry and he thanked all the brethren in the Province for their support. He that spoke about the new care system that comes into effect on 5 October – which he said would 'form the cornerstone of care in the Province for many years to come.'

Before proposing the toast to the new lodge he also spoke about the Provincial website – urging brethren to have a look at it, the Tercentenary in 2017 and the sound financial decision to relocate the Provincial Office from Hope Street (rented space) to Leyland (Province purchased the freehold of the north east corner of Wellington Park).

Tony then proposed the toast to Norley and Langtree Lodge of Antiquity No. 178, whishing the members a happy and successful future.

Brian Todhunter, a member of Tuscan Oak and Lambert Head Lodge No. 6387, which meets at Pemberton Masonic Hall in Wigan has been invested with the Royal Victorian Order Medal.

Brian played a significant part in the Queen's Jubilee celebrations by leading the team of engineers which restored the Royal Yacht Royal Barge which carried the Queen and Prince Phillip as part of the Thames pageant on that very special day.

The Royal Victorian Order recognises distinguished personal service to the monarch or members of her family. Established in 1896 by Queen Victoria, the order has five hierarchical grades and one medal with three levels, each representing a different level of service.

Brian, who is a member of the Royal Yacht Association, was specially re-called and selected for the task to ensure that the barge, which had not seen service for over 15 years, was restored it to its former pristine condition. For his personal service to the sovereign he was awarded the prestigious Royal Victoria Medal (Silver) which is awarded to non-commissioned officers of HM Forces. Brian served for a period on the Royal Yacht Britannia when it was still in service.

His Royal Highness Prince Charles conducted Brian’s investiture at Buckingham Palace and during a conversation, Prince Charles recalled that using the Royal Barge and escort boats from HMY Britannia had brought back many happy memories for him, Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

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