For Arnold, lockdown was the ideal time to learn ritual – now put to good use
On Wednesday 23 March, Cheshire’s Provincial Grand Master Stephen Blank visited Bredbury Lodge No.6497 in his capacity as President of the MCF 2027 Festival and to witness a remarkable ceremony carried out by such a ‘new’ Mason.
Before the Provincial Grand Master entered, the Lodge had some items of business to conduct, one of which was to ballot for joining members Graham Ellershaw and Arnold Ellershaw – father and son. Fortunately the ballot proved in favour because the evening’s ceremony was an Initiation of Arnold’s Candidate, Nick Ledger, and the father and son duo quickly took their office as Junior Warden and Junior Deacon respectively. The extraordinary thing was not so much the near perfect manner in which Arnold conducted the Candidate, but the fact he only was raised in December 2021, having learnt most of his ritual during lockdown via Cheshire’s Masters and Masons Forum (M&MF) Zoom sessions.
The Provincial Grand Master had actually met the candidate last October at Cheshire’s Provincial Grand Lodge Meeting. Provincial Grand Lodge was called off and circa 80 candidates in waiting, EA’s and FC’s were admitted and addressed by Dr David Staples, Grand Secretary and the Provincial Grand Master. When they departed and Provincial Grand Lodge was called back on again, the 80 or so invitees, were provided with a buffet whilst the rest of the business of the meeting was completed. The Provincial Leadership and the Grand Secretary then met with our invitees and Arnold Ellershaw introduced Nick Ledger to the Provincial Grand Master.
Arnold actually only completed his 3rd degree ceremony in December 2021, but had during lockdown, become a committed member of the M&MF Academy – where newly initiated Brethren and upwards can take on small pieces of ritual in an environment that enables them to flourish. Arnold appeared on many of the Zoom presentations carried out by the Academy, becoming a familiar figure to many in the Province.
Reciting parts of ritual via Zoom is one thing, leading a candidate round in the first degree in a live ceremony in front of the Provincial Grand Master and many other Leaders of the Province, less than three months after your own raising, is something else entirely – and he did so flawlessly. Dad didn’t do so bad either, delivering the charge thereafter!
At the 2nd Rising, the President of the Festival presented the WM with its certificate for having achieved the status of Presidential Grand Patronage and the Festival Chairman Andy Bailey Past Assistant Grand Stendard Bearer then presented the WM with a special maul with the Festival Jewel embedded in it. The WM received the above on behalf of the Lodge and informed all present that every member of the Lodge had qualified as Festival Stewards – no pressure for our new Candidate then!
Arnold is a new member of the Royal Arch and taking part in a ‘fly on the wall’ video due to be aired later in the year which is following his progress – it's sure to be an interesting watch.
Pictured here is Graham, the Provincial Grand Master and Arnold enjoying a well earned pint.