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 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.
The members of Excelsior Lodge No.3580 celebrated their centenary with a special meeting held at Hope Street Masonic Hall in Liverpool.
Excelsior Lodge was consecrated in Hope Street in 1912 and continued to meet there for their first 56 years. Following the ‘Great Fire’ in Hope Street in 1968, they moved to the Masonic Hall in Garston, but due to the large numbers wishing to attend the celebrations, they were given permission to hold the centenary meeting in Hope Street.
The Worshipful Master of Excelsior Lodge, Gary Jones, opened the meeting and after confirming the minutes he opened the lodge in the second and third degrees. At this point, the Inner Guard announced that the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp sought admission to the lodge.
Gary, said he would be pleased to admit him into the lodge, upon his entry Keith announced the arrival of the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker. Peter was escorted into the lodge room by Neil MacSymons (PrDCDC) at the head of the Provincial team in full splendour with the Provincial Grand Sword Bearer, Brian Blanchfield, holding the sword upright and the Provincial Grand Standard Bearers, John Stansfield and Martin Lynton (deputising), with their standards making the procession even more majestic and colourful.
Peter was accompanied by two of his Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, Roy Skidmore and Philip Gunning, the Provincial Senior Grand Warden, Paul Renton, the Provincial Junior Grand Marden, Ian Sanderson, and the rest of the Provincial team, along with Howard Griffiths (Garston Group Chairman) and 13 other Grand Officers. With over 125 brethren attending the celebration, there was not a spare seat in the temple.
Keith introduced Peter to Gary, who gave him a very warm welcome and invited him to take the gavel and occupy the chair of King Solomon, which Peter said on this occasion he would be pleased to do. Peter then appointed his Provincial officers to their respective positions and proceeded to open Provincial Grand Lodge.
In his opening address to the lodge, Peter said he was delighted to be able to celebrate the 100 years of continuous meetings that the lodge had achieved. Peter then requested Geoffrey Lee (Provincial Grand Secretary), to read out the details on the centenary warrant, which he did in his usual articulate style. The warrant was then delivered into the hands of Peter who took great pleasure in presenting it to Gary Jones.
Peter then requested Rev Graham Halsall (Provincial Grand Chaplain) to deliver an oration. Graham started his oration by taking the assembled brethren back to the mid 1800’s to a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow That was first published in the book ‘Ballads and Other Poems’ in 1841. Graham read the first verse: “The shades of night were falling fast, As through an Alpine village passed a youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice, A banner with the strange device, Excelsior!
Graham continued his oration with a translation of ‘Excelsior’ – ‘Onwards and Upwards’ he referred to the founding of New York City and the way ‘Excelsior’ defines the city ‘How far - How high’. During the final part of the oration Graham spoke of the way ‘Excelsior’ defines Freemasons, particularly the distinguished members of the lodge. He also congratulated the lodge on its support of the charities over the years, as he noted the lodge was a Gold Patron of the Samaritan Fund and the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. He also congratulated the lodge on the number of younger Masons who were filling all the progressive offices, which he said was a great indication of the lodges future.
The oration was followed by a dedication prayer after which Peter closed Provincial Grand Lodge and invited Gary to resume his chair, with the lodge officers then resuming their positions.
Gary then asked David Atkinson to give a short talk on the history of the lodge.
David started by saying that the consecration of the lodge was carried out by the then Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Robert Wylie and other officers of the Provincial team on 18 April 1912. The lodge consisted of many brethren from all walks of life, from the Liverpool and surrounding areas, many of whom were either business men, traders, labourers and service personnel, including sea fairing brethren. It was agreed that the lodge would meet on the third Saturday in the month and that all brethren must wear bow ties, unless they held Grand or Provincial Grand rank.
The first regular meeting of the lodge was held on 20 April 1912 with 13 members and five visitors present to witness a double initiation, which was not unusual for the lodge in its early years.
Throughout the periods of the First and Second World Wars, the members of Excelsior were undaunted and continued with their meetings, and at the meeting in May 1919 a motion to amend the bye laws in relation to the meeting of the lodge from the third to the first Saturday of the month was unanimously carried.
Unfortunately due to the great fire in 1968 much of the lodge history was destroyed, however, as a result of the remaining books of declaration it can be seen that the lodge continued to thrive between 1923 and 1968 with many initiations taking place with subsequent second and third degree ceremonies.
The first installation meeting to be held at Garston took place on 19 April 1969 and the lodge continues to meet at the Masonic hall at Island Road South, Garston on the first Saturday of the month, October to May.
David has produced a history of the lodge which contains a dialogue of the distinguished members of the lodge throughout its100 years, which was presented to all the brethren present at the festive board.
Gary then thanked Peter and the Provincial team for a magnificent ceremony and he presented him with three cheques for £3,580 made out to West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity, The Friends of Tithebarn, The South Liverpool Foodbank and one for £800 made out to KIND. Peter said that he was delighted he had been able to attend with his team and he was pleased on behalf of the recipients to accept the magnificent sum of £11,540, which he was sure that the cheques would be gratefully received and faithfully applied.
With the centenary celebration complete, Peter retired from the lodge accompanied by Grand Officers and escorted by the Provincial team. The final lodge business was transacted by Gary, before he closed the lodge and all retired to a splendid meal at the festive board.
Roy Skidmore replied to the toast to the Grand Officers saying: “it is a great pleasure to be here and be part of this wonderful celebration.” He then proposed a toast to the Provincial Grand Master in which he gave a comprehensive summary of Peter’s career, his work in Freemasonry and his work in the community which Roy said he had drawn from the CV on the West Lancashire Provincial website entitled ‘Peter John Hosker OBE - The Man and the Mason’, which he recommended the brethren to read.
In his reply Peter said: “It was a pleasure to lead such a celebration, a centenary is a very special landmark and I enjoyed going back into the chair.” He thanked Roy for his proposition of the toast and the brethren for the way they had receivecd it. He then conveyed his warmest congratulations to the lodge members and said it was a privilege to come along and share the celebration. He then said he had found the history of the lodge very interesting and he named a few of the brethren that stood out, these included; Brian Jackson, PJGD, William Roberts (Longest subscribing member) and Sam Robinson, PAGDC, a long serving Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, and now Deputy Chairman of the Liverpool Group of Lodges and Chapters.
Peter then presented Gary with a past masters jewel that was returned to the lodge in 2005 by family members of Edward Dewar who had been installed as WM in 1928. Peter said the members of Excelsior had decided that the oldest known past masters jewel should be presented to the Worshipful Master of the day at the time of the lodge centenary.
Proposing the toast to Excelsior Lodge, Peter said that he hoped the lodge would continue to prosper for very many more years to come.
Gary responded to this toast saying: “It is a privilege to respond to this toast, the lodge has a really good relationship and has lots of light blues coming up through the ranks. He thanked the brethren for their tireless work over a number of years in the planning of the centenary celebration. He then presented Peter with a set of cufflinks and a tie pin that had been commissioned to celebrate the centenary. He also presented Peter and Roy with flowers for them to take home to their wives.
Three prizes, a three litres of Jack Daniels, a £50 Tesco voucher and a bottle of whisky were up for grabs in the raffle; first prize went to Stephen Lyon from Royal Victoria Lodge No.1013. The sum of £585 was raised from the raffle and this will be donated to the Hope Street Masonic Hall Appeal Fund, in thanks for allowing the lodge to hold its centenary meeting in Hope Street.