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.