Hospitality with a capital ‘H’ started for the 46 visiting brethren from six Provinces (some of whom had their wives and partners with them), when they were picked up at the airport or ferry office and driven to their respective hotels where a welcome pack was waiting for them
The pack contained a welcome letter from Keith Dalrymple the Provincial Grand Master for the Isle of Man, which gave details of the plan for the ladies to go to Milntown House for a tour of the beautiful walled garden, followed by a buffet supper, while the brethren attended the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting.
Details were also given about the church service at St George’s Church on Sunday afternoon, followed by afternoon tea at Freemasons' Hall in Douglas. All of which had timings for the minibuses to pick up and drop off everyone at the venues and return to their hotels!
After settling in to their hotel Fred Wright, Mark Holloway, Tony (APrGM) and Linda Bent were picked up by two long-time friends of Fred’s: Alan Fielding and Hughie McCallon to go for lunch. After lunch they returned to their hotel to get ready for PrGL and the trip to Milntown House.
Provincial Grand Lodge was tyled and the parade consisting of a number of Provincial Grand Masters and their deputies and APrGMs from surrounding Provinces on the adjacent isle. (Not the mainland as any Manx man will tell you). On opening Provincial Grand Lodge, Keith thanked all the visiting brethren and asked each of the Provincial Grand Masters to stand with their officers and brethren. After everyone had been introduced, the brethren from the Isle of Man showed their appreciation of those attending the meeting with acclamation.
Keith then invited Fred Wright to stand as he said he and the brethren in the Isle of Man very much appreciated all the care and attention Fred has given to the brethren and their wives or partners on the island over many years when they need to come across for cancer treatment at Clatterbridge Hospital and heart treatment at Broadgreen Hospital. The Provincial Grand Almoner of the Isle of Man Laurie Henley readily contacts Fred when one of the brethren or wife or partner is due over for treatment and Fred is the welcoming smile that is always there to greet them and attend to the needs of the patient and his or her spouse in making sure that they are transported to and from hospital and if necessary to find accommodation. The brethren clearly agreed as they responded with prolonged acclamation.
After the investiture of his officers, Keith went on to appoint and promote the brethren and it was a delight to see them receive their honours.
The next day the visitors were invited by Alan Fielding to join him for a tour of the island and a private tour of the Manx Parliament by Alex Downey, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of the IOM and past member of the House of Keys.
The Tynwald is the oldest parliament in the world. The Manx Parliament, which meets regularly throughout the year, but most notably outdoors at St John's on 5 July, is a direct legacy from our Viking ancestors. Norsemen first came to Mann around the year 800 AD and ruled the island for four-and-a-half centuries before finally ceding it to the King of Scotland in 1266. By then they had firmly imposed their own administrative system, which continued even while the island's ownership passed between Scotland and England, to the Stanley family of Lancashire (Lords of Mann from 1405-1736) and to their kin the Dukes of Atholl, who held it until it was revested in the British Crown in 1765. King George VI was the first British Sovereign ever to preside at St John’s in July 1945 and Her Majesty The Queen is acknowledged as Lord of Mann, she presided in 1979 when the Millennium of Tynwald was celebrated.
After the tour, Alan took brethren from West Lancashire, Cumberland and Westmorland to Peel, a harbour town in the south of the IOM where they enjoyed eating ice creams on the pier and having a jolly good laugh, then it was back to the hotels for a quick change before being picked up by one of the minibuses driven by Alan Fielding and Martin Blackburn (PrGSecretary) to go the Keith’s house where his wife Hillary had prepared a wonderful buffet for the visitors, Hospitality with a capital ‘H’.
The following morning offered time for the visitors to enjoy a walk along the sea front before attending the church service, followed by afternoon tea at Freemasons Hall in Douglas.
For some, this was the time to say farewell and thank you to Keith and Hillary and the brethren on the Isle of Man for their Hospitality with a capital ‘H’.