The West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity (WLFC) were delighted to sponsor the regional show of the North West Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), held at the Burrows Lane Equestrian Centre, St Helens
The East Liverpool branch of the RDA were this year’s hosts and a very successful event saw riders from all across the region taking part.
Several categories were competed for including Dressage, Show jumping and Countryside Challenge as well as an Art and Crafts competition being staged. Although the competition saw some keenly contested sections, all the children, parents and supporters had a wonderful day and the sun chose to shine for almost all the time.
Speaking after the show, the NW RDA Group Liason Officer, Dr Jennifer Hoggarth said: 'The North West RDA is extremely grateful to West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity for sponsoring this event and relieving the financial pressure.'
On behalf of the WLFC, Les Newman echoed the positive outcome of the day, saying: 'It’s been both a pleasure and an honour for us to be able to help the RDA and we at the WLFC, are committed to supporting local communities and charities throughout West Lancashire and further afield.
'Charity and benevolence are at the very centre of Freemasonry and the happy, smiling faces are a marvellous reminder of how important those two core values are.'
Brethren from all over the Province of West Lancashire gathered at Brookfield Masonic Hall, in Westhoughton to attend the Provincial Almoners dinner. The guest speaker was Gina Shaw - the star of the current dementia awareness campaign which is running nationally, highlighting the many difficulties caused by Alzheimer’s.
Over 150 brethren attend the dinner, which had as its principal guest the Provincial Grand Master, Tony Harrison. The principal visitors included, Gina Shaw, Hazel Bayley from the Alzheimer’s Society Debra Keeling from Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and Ray Martland, Harry Cox and David Grainger all of whom are APrGM’s, along with most of the Provincial care team and many lodge almoners and brethren.
After the meal was served the Provincial Grand Almoner, Ernie Greenhalgh proposed a toast to the Provincial Grand Master. Tony thanked Ernie for the very kind proposition of the toast to his health and the ladies, gentlemen and brethren for their kind reception of it.
He continued: “It is an honour for me to be here with you again, at this the third Provincial Almoners Annual Dinner since Ernie was appointed as the Provincial Grand Almoner. I am particularly pleased to be able to officially launch the new care structure which started on 5 October this year. A great deal of work has been completed over the last year by Ernie and his team in order to prepare for the launch of the new system.
Ernie has been supported during the last year by the CEO and officers from the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, the Provincial publicity team and of course the CEOs and their teams in the Central Charities and I thank all of them for their hard work and support.
Last year I said a change in the Care Structure within the Province had my full approval. My cabinet also approved and agreed to support the initiative which we all agreed would further advance and improve care in the Province of West Lancashire.
As Ernie has said on many occasions it has been increasingly apparent that the lodge almoner`s task has in general terms had become too onerous and therefore it was clear that there was a need to reduce his workload, to enable him to carry out the most important function of an almoner - that of pastoral care. I hope that during the next 12 months almoners across the Province will embrace the new structure as it will give them more time to spend visiting their windows and brethren who are ill or in need of support even if that is calling in for a cup of tea and a chat.
I am delighted to welcome Mrs Gina Shaw to our Province and to say how much we are looking forward to hearing what she has to say to us about the many difficulties caused by Alzheimer’s.
In conclusion I wish to take this opportunity to again thank the Provincial Grand Almoner, Ernie Greenhalgh, his deputy, all the members of the care team and all of you, together with almoners across the Province, for the work that they have been undertaking and for all the work that I trust they will continue to undertake as they strive to implement the new care structure for the benefit of all Freemasons and their dependants in West Lancashire.”
Before Gina’s talk the winners of the raffle held during the dinner were drawn. The first prize of a long weekend for four people in a luxury cottage in South Lakeland courtesy of Barry Robinson was won by Bill Hinchliffe, the second prize £100 of Tesco vouchers courtesy of Tesco’s Stores was won by James Simms and the third prize of a pleasure flight for up to three people from Blackpool Airport for up to 45 minutes courtesy of Derek Midgley was won by Alan Jones. The Raffle raised £950 with £500 being donated to Alzheimer’s Society and £450 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity.
Ernie then thanked all the members of the care team for their dedication and hard work they have put in over the past three years under his watch. He said: “By streamlining the system and taking away the administration work, the opportunity occurs for almoners to make an important contribution to the wellbeing of our widows and brethren of all ages by increasing the number of pastoral care visits.”
He then introduced Gina, who has he said: “Unfortunately seen both sides of the problems caused by Alzheimer’s, having been diagnosed as being in the early stages of dementia, Gina is here to speak about her experiences since learning about her health issues.”
Gina thanked Ernie for his introduction and the brethren for their very warm welcome. She then spoke about how she had first encountered dementia when her “Nana” started to show signs of the illness, which she said started with her nana looking for her daughters who were at the time in their 30’s but her nana thought they still lived at home and she could not find them so she was knocking on Gina’s door in the middle of the night.
Gina said that eventually her nana had to go into care which in those days ensured her nana was: “Fed, washed and had clean cloths – but received no care, in the real sense” She said she was pleased to say today’s care homes are far better and offer excellent standards of care and offer new experiences for their clients with dementia. Gina said these include days out, shopping trips etc.
She then spoke about ‘SURF’ Service User Reference Forum which enables people with dementia and their carers to join is with other people living with dementia and carers who meet once a month to drive forward changes in local services in Liverpool and the community. One example Gina gave was a dementia checkout being trialled by Tesco’s in Chester that has pictures of money as many people who have dementia have difficulty managing / counting money.
Another example Gina gave was the need for understanding in shops where people with dementia and their carers need to share changing rooms and due to single gender policy in shops people living with dementia have difficulty trying cloths on as they are unable to cope on their own and need the assistance of their carer who may not be the same gender so can’t go in the changing room. Gina said that some stores in Liverpool One were now offering an area where people living with dementia and their carers can try cloths on – this was thanks to the Mayor of Liverpool who have hosted an evening for retailers, transport operators and emergency servicer to hear about the difficulties encountered by people living with dementia when doing everyday things taken for granted by most people.
Gina also gave an insight into living with dementia, including the change in vision, which she described seeing a mat on the floor appeared to her as a hole in the ground that she would walk around as she was afraid of falling into it. She said some people had very frightening hallucinations and even things as not seeing white meant she had red dinner plates as she could not see the food on a white plate.
At the end of her talk Gina was given a standing ovation by the brethren.
There are now 800,000 people with dementia in the UK and there are estimated to be 670,000 family and friends acting as primary carers
The current financial cost of dementia is £23,000,000,000 a year. Yet this significant spend is often not deployed effectively and is not delivering good outcomes for people with dementia and carers. Many people with dementia and their carers are still not living well with the condition and quality of life remains extremely varied.
Not only do people face potential battles for a diagnosis and support from the health and social care system, but everyday things we all take for granted - having control over daily life, spending time with friends and family, socialising and enjoying hobbies - are made difficult by a lack of understanding of dementia in our communities.
Up and running
When Freemason Geoff Cousen suffered two strokes, it was the MSF’s support that enabled him to return home. His daughter Sue tells Imogen Beecroft how taking on an ultra marathon in the Lake District was her way of saying ‘thank you’
The Lake District’s dramatic scenery attracts visitors from across the world, keen to savour its rugged fells and literary associations. But for Sue Cousen, admiring the National Park’s picturesque charms was not top of the agenda on 27 June. Raising money for the Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF), she ran a gruelling 55km amid the mountains and valleys. As her father, Geoff Cousen, a Grand Officer in the Craft and Royal Arch, says, ‘She must be mad.’
Sue decided to raise money for the MSF last year, after the charity supported her father when he suffered two strokes, aged 83. Geoff has been an active Freemason for almost 60 years, in Runic Lodge, No. 6019, in the Province of West Lancashire, and served as vice-chairman and chairman of the Lancaster and District Group of lodges and chapters.
‘I’ve spoken about how we rely upon the charities many times, but I’d never realised quite how much. I shall be forever grateful to the MSF.’ Geoff Cousen
Following the strokes, Geoff was unable to walk and made little progress in his recovery. He was discharged from hospital after four months and sent to a nursing home. His family doubted whether he would ever be able to return to his normal life. Geoff says, ‘I didn’t think I’d get back home because I couldn’t really do anything. I can only use one hand so that made things difficult.’
Steps to recovery
Then Ernie Greenhalgh, a lifelong friend of Geoff’s and Provincial Grand Almoner for West Lancashire, stepped in. ‘I managed to get a small grant from the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity to pay for an independent occupational therapist to assess Geoff. They worked on him for three weeks and he made quite good progress. I told the MSF and they helped towards the cost of his physiotherapy over the next three months. He came on leaps and bounds, and can now walk about 30 metres and get himself out of bed.’
Geoff was able to return home to his wife, Brenda. ‘The physiotherapy the MSF gave me got me walking, and I’m so grateful to them,’ he says. ‘It’s wonderful to be back home. You’ll never realise how much you miss it until you’ve been in a nursing home.’
The MSF can often help those in situations like Geoff’s, offering a range of support tailored to the individual’s specific needs. The MSF provided Geoff with a riser-recliner chair, a profiling bed and a stair lift, as well as the additional physiotherapy sessions that enabled him to return home. Mobility aids like those given to Geoff and his family make up a quarter of all the support that the MSF currently offers.
As Sue says, ‘They’ve helped us so much. When he first went into the nursing home he had intense physiotherapy five days a week. That’s now been cut to three days a week because he’s done so well. He couldn’t have come home without the things the MSF provided. He still can’t use his left hand but he is walking. He can’t walk very far, but he can get from the house to the car. It takes a while, but he can do it.’
‘With all the help we’re getting from the MSF, I thought it would be a great way to give something back... I can’t thank them enough.’ Sue Cousen
Sue explains that she wanted to do something to express her family’s gratitude to the MSF. ‘With all the help we’re getting from them, I thought it would be a great way to give something back,’ she says. ‘I’ve always thought positively of Freemasonry. My dad’s enjoyed his time with them so much and the MSF really helps people like Dad and their families. They don’t blow their own trumpet about their charitable work, but I can’t thank them enough – they’ve done everything really, and without them there would have been no chance at all of Dad making it home.’
Sue decided to take on the Lake District Ultimate Trails Challenge, an ultra marathon course that starts and ends in Ambleside, near Lake Windermere. Over 55km of challenging terrain, runners cover 1,700m of ascent and descent. A regular runner, Sue trained five times a week in preparation for the day.
Speaking just before the race, she said: ‘It sounded like a good idea when I signed up last year but I do keep having nightmares now! I know the hills will be the biggest challenge because I’m used to flat running, so this is completely out of my comfort zone. I’ve got no idea how long it will take, but I’ll be quite happy to complete it – that’s the main thing.’
Rising to the challenge
Sue completed the run in 10 hours, 38 minutes and 17 seconds, taking 217th place out of 312 runners.
‘It was hard work but it was good,’ she says. ‘The camaraderie was great and everyone helped each other around the course. Some of the hills were a lot bigger and longer than I anticipated, but I got round. The hardest part was Grisedale Hause, which felt like a never-ending climb. Even coming down was hard because the ground was stony and there are steep drops nearby, so it wasn’t just a straightforward run.’
In total, Sue raised around £2,000 for the MSF and recovered from the challenge well: ‘I struggled to walk for a couple of days afterwards, but felt fine by the end of the week. My legs were okay and I went back to training five days after the race.’
John McCrohan, Grants Director of the MSF, explains that without fundraising efforts like Sue’s, the MSF wouldn’t be able to offer the breadth of support to those most in need. ‘All the money that she raised will be available to support Freemasons and their loved ones,’ he says.
For McCrohan and the MSF, it is particularly significant to receive support from a non-mason.
‘We always hope that the support we offer will not only help a Freemason in a time of need, but will also benefit the family. The support can help relieve some of their caring responsibilities or reassure them that their loved one is getting the essential help they need.’
Geoff could not be more proud of his daughter and the contribution she’s made. ‘I’ve been a mason for 57 years now. They’ve been very good to me and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Although I’ve spoken about how we rely upon the charities many times in speeches, I’d never realised quite how much.
You hear about them, you talk about them, but you don’t understand them really – until you’ve got to use them. I shall be forever grateful to the MSF.’
Blackpool’s big charity night
Blackpool Group of Lodges and Chapters staged its annual Charity Giving Night at the masonic hall, distributing more than £34,000 to 55 local and national charities. Pete Mercer of the Fylde Coast Carers Centre, one of the recipients, said, ‘It is a phenomenal sum and an aspect of Freemasonry that goes unrecognised by the majority of the general public.’
All the money was raised from donations by lodges and chapters within the Blackpool Group and from the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. Among the beneficiaries were Trinity Hospice and its children’s wing Brian House, which received £6,848; North West Air Ambulance, receiving £3,825; and Blackpool Victoria Hospital, with £2,675.
Chelsea pensioner takes the chair
Former Coldstream Guardsman John Gledhill added a dash of distinctive colour in his Chelsea Pensioner’s uniform at his installation as Worshipful Master of Symphony Lodge, No. 4924, which meets in Blackpool. Donations to charities on the night included £1,400 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £200 each to Prostate Cancer and the Blackpool Group Sponsored Walk, and £100 each to Violet’s Light and the Children’s Hearing Service.
A rare a special sighting in West Lancashire
One of the most treasured and iconic images of British history and tradition is the distinctive scarlet-plumaged Chelsea Pensioner with its characteristic tricorne hat. Whilst this exceptional species is frequently observed in its native habitat amongst the shrubberies and lawns of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, it is an infrequent migratory visitor to the sandy shores of the Fylde coast and, when away from its more familiar surroundings, it sheds its iconic headwear and dons its shako, a less flamboyant peaked hat.
In a rare sighting, believed to be the first of its kind ever in West Lancashire, an extremely fine specimen was spotted perching on the chair of King Solomon in Symphony Lodge No. 4924 in the masonic hall at Blackpool.
Former Coldstream Guard John Gledhill, proudly sporting his Chelsea Pensioner finery, was installed as Master of the lodge with military precision and in magnificent style by installing Master Steve Smith, Mentor for the Blackpool group of lodges. The lodge is proud that since its consecration in 1927 no member has served a year’s tenure as WM on more than one occasion. This has been aided by many joining members volunteering to occupy the exalted position. And so it was with John, another ‘willing’ volunteer!
Adding his dignified presence to the proceedings was Peter Elmore, representing the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. Unscathed by the wear and tear of modern society and its decline in general courteousness and etiquette, Peter is one of those individuals who has retained a consistency of poise and demureness, embodying the perfect gentleman.
The general business of the lodge having been completed with expediency and exactitude by Roy Fenton, the procession of dignitaries bowled in. Shedding further lustre on this already special event were other distinguished Grand and Provincial Grand Officers and acting Provincial Officers. Grand Officers Bill Eardley and Peter Bentham, chairman of the Blackpool group of lodges commanded pole position behind Peter Elmore, followed by John Turpin vice chairman of the group, and supported by acting Provincial Officers Martyn Jones, Gordon Ivett, and Chris Walpole.
Steve Smith, the installing Master, in the course of his masonic career has had many ambitions. As a young mason, he had yearned someday to become Master of a lodge. At one time he had entertained aspirations of being a Director of Ceremonies. Later he leaned towards being Secretary of a lodge. But now having elevated his status to group Mentor, all these desires were cast aside and forgotten. The sole thing that seemed most worthwhile to him now was to install John in the best possible manner and to this task he addressed himself with all the energy and enthusiasm he could muster. The resulting ceremony was delightful, impeccable and entertaining.
Equal to the task in hand too was Alistair Still, the formidable Director of Ceremonies of the lodge who had evidently whipped the company into great shape yet, being the perfectionist that he most certainly is he appeared to be ruminating on whether a few extra lashes may have paid dividends in some quarters.
Of particular note in the ceremony were the brethren who presented the working tools. Kicking off was Bill Snell with a delightful delivery of the tools of an installed Master, followed by Vinnie Carte’s presentation of the third degree tools. David Wilson, a professional magician, thrilled the throng by conjuring up a wonderfully vibrant rendition of the second degree tools and, bringing up the rear, a marvellous recital of the first degree tools by Keith Roberts.
Two highly experienced masons, Tom Bullen and Brian Sharples then gave exemplary addresses to the WM and wardens respectively. Following quickly on the heels of excellence, came brilliance. Peter Elmore rose with his customary dignity and delivered the address to the brethren in the most eloquent and articulate of fashions.
On occupying the chair John felt and looked quietly happy. He seemed to have brought sunshine with him from Chelsea. All eyes were now upon him and, being a chap of a demure and unassuming disposition who never seeks attention and shies away from limelight, he had acquired a complexion that perfectly complemented his splendid scarlet tunic.
But the Coldstream guards train their sons well. Once John had digested the fundamental fact that his installation had been concluded, he grasped the role of master with the tenacity of a lithe mongoose pouncing on a dastardly king cobra and adopted a stance of supreme efficiency. He seemed to be so energised that, should he have had any desire to do so, he could have felled a two ton hippopotamus with a single blow of the gavel. One may pontificate, with a degree of reluctant trepidation, that even the ubiquitous Steve Smith was reduced to a meagre shadow of his former resplendence by John’s alluring performance.
During his years in the Coldstream Guards John had served in Kenya, Aden, and Bahrain. He was stationed at Gilgil camp in Kenya during the Mau Mau rebellion of 1952 to 1960. Posted to the camp in 1959, it is rumoured that John’s arrival there was the sole reason that the Mau Mau surrendered the following year, although, being the modest man that he is, John refuses to take full credit for the regiment’s success.
The Coldstream Guards is the oldest regiment in the regular army in continuous active service and dates back to the English Civil War when Oliver Cromwell gave Colonel George Monck permission to form his own regiment as part of the New Model Army. The Monck’s Regiment of Foot was formed in August 1650 and less than two weeks later it took part in the Battle of Dunbar at which the roundheads defeated the forces of Charles I. After Richard Cromwell’s relinquishment of his position as Lord Protector, Monck gave his support to the Stuarts and in January 1660 he crossed the River Tweed into England at the village of Coldstream from where he made a five-week march to London. He arrived in London in early February and helped in restoring Charles II to the throne. Such is the glory of the regiment that John is so proud to represent.
And this was one of the points that Peter Elmore spoke of in conveying the best wishes of the Provincial Grand Master. Adding further glitter to the dazzling ceremony, John presented Peter with handsome donations to charities, including £1,400 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £200 to Prostate Cancer research, £200 to the Blackpool Group Sponsored Walk, £100 to Violet’s Light, and £100 to the Children’s Hearing Service.
The day was an occasion to celebrate and remember. The rare sighting of a Chelsea Pensioner alighting the chair of King Solomon in West Lancashire was made extra special by the endearing, modest and enigmatic personality behind the tunic.
Following the announcement in March that the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker, was to retire on 19 May, a great deal of planning and hard work has taken place in London by UGLE and the Provincial team in Hope Street to prepare for the investiture meetings
In the last few days the all the planning by the Provincial Grand Directors of Ceremonies came together as the acting officers met in Leyland for two nights of rehearsals.
The job of moving the regalia, chapter and lodge furniture from Liverpool and Blackpool Masonic Hall to the Winter Gardens, Blackpool was also undertaken the day before the investiture meeting so that the temple could be prepared for the investiture in the morning of James Anthony Harrison as Provincial Grand Master of the Province of West Lancashire by the Grand Secretary, Nigel Brown.
On the day of the investiture final rehearsals started at 8am as the Grand Director of Ceremonies, Oliver Lodge and his team took the acting officers through their perambulations for the final time.
When the doors were opened to the ballroom in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool more than 1,800 brethren took their seats before the first procession commenced. The procession was led by the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp who proceeded Howard Jones, Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge and the senior officers and acting Provincial Offcers of the Provincial Grand Lodge of West Lancashire along with representatives from the seven oldest lodges in the Province into the packed ball room in the Winter Gardens
Howard then opened Provincial Grand Lodge in due form.
The Grand Director of Ceremonies was then admitted into the lodge – He informed the Provincial Grand Master in Charge that the Grand Secretary stood outside and demanded admission, Howard said he would be pleased to receive him.
The Grand Director of Ceremonies, Oliver Lodge accompanied by his three Deputy Grand Directors of Ceremonies led the Grand Secretary, Nigel Brown, who was accompanied by Assistant Grand Secretary, Tony Rayner and three Provincial Grand Masters: Keith Dalrymple (Isle of Man), Steven Adcott (Cheshire) and Sir David Trippier (East Lancashire) along with other visiting grand officers in what was a very colourful procession into the ballroom.
After being welcomed to the meeting Nigel was offered the gavel by Howard. Nigel accepted the gavel and took his seat. Nigel appointed his wardens Steven Adcott (senior warden) and Keith Dalrymple (junior warden), with Rev Graham Halsall acting as Grand Chaplain, he proceeded to open Grand Lodge.
Nigel addressed the brethren, informing them that the object of the meeting was to invest Tony Harrison as the Provincial Grand Master for the Province of West Lancashire.
The Grand Director of Ceremonies then submitted the Provincial Grand Master designate’s Patent of Appointment to Nigel for inspection. After inspecting the Patent Nigel asked the Grand Director of Ceremonies to form a deputation to introduce the Provincial Grand Master designate.
On the return of the delegation the Assistant Grand Secretary read the Patent of Appointment.
At this point Nigel asked Tony if he could conscientiously undertake the duties of the office, to which he gave his consent.
A prayer was then read by the acting Grand Chaplain. After the prayer Tony took his obligation, after which he was invested and placed in the chair of King Solomon. Nigel congratulated Tony on behalf of the Grand Master, he was then conducted to a chair on the right of the Provincial Grand Master and the deputation resumed the positions in the lodge.
The acting Grand Wardens and Chaplain were replaced by the Provincial wardens and chaplain.
The Grand Director of Ceremonies proclaimed Tony as the Provincial Grand Master and called on the brethren to salute him. To which Tony gave a suitable reply.
Tony addressed Howard Jones, saying: 'You have been Deputy Provincial Grand Master since 2012, previous to which you were an AsstProvGM for four years. Throughout this time, you have clearly demonstrated your enthusiasm and commitment to Freemasonry and to this Province, and I had absolutely no hesitation in asking you to be Deputy Provincial Grand Master, which you have thankfully accepted.
Tony obligated and Invested Howard as the Deputy Provincial Grand Master and he was conducted to his Chair.
A Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies proclaimed Howard as Deputy Provincial Grand Master and called on the brethren of the Province to salute him. To which Howard gave a suitable reply.
Tony named the brethren he was reappointing as Assistant Provincial Grand Masters: 'I am pleased to report that the nine Assistant Provincial Grand Masters have all indicated that they wish to continue in their important roles. I thank them individually and collectively for their support. They are: Raymond Martland, Philip Gunning, Anthony Bent, Mark Dimelow, Harry Cox, David Winder, John Hutton, Derek Parkinson and David Grainger. Thank you very much indeed.
Tony continued: 'As you have all previously filled the office of APrGM, it is not necessary for you to repeat, in full, the obligation which you took when you were first appointed. I will read it and you must, re-affirm the undertakings you made then with regard to the performance of the duties of the office, and that you made when you were first appointed.' Which they did and Tony then said: 'I have much pleasure in appointing each of you as AsstProvGM’s'.
A Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies proclaimed the reappointed Assistant Provincial Grand Masters and called on the brethren of the Province to salute them.
Tony said: 'In addition to the re-appointment of those nine AsstProvGM’s, I intend to appoint as AsstProvGM, Kevin Poynton, who will succeed the late Ian Boswell who passed away very recently.
Kevin, you have been a mason for over 34 years, during which time you have held the office of Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies for three years in the Craft and then three years in the Royal Arch. You have been Assistant to ProvGMs for just over 12 months and had already started to make a positive impact within the groups under your care. You are a highly experienced mason and I am looking forward immensely to working with you.
Kevin gave a solemn obligation with regard to the performance of the duties of his office. After giving his obligation Tony appointed him as Assistant Provincial Grand Master.
A Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies then proclaimed Kevin an Assistant Provincial Grand Masters and called on the brethren of the Province to salute them. To which Kevin gave a suitable reply.
Tony addressed Provincial Grand Lodge:
'Brethren, can I begin my address by thanking the Grand Secretary, Nigel Brown for his attendance here today and for literally stepping in at the last minute, and to the Assistant Grand Secretary for today, Tony Rayner and the Grand Director of Ceremonies Oliver Lodge who, together with their deputies and assistants, have brought so much to what has been a splendid occasion.
'I am sure I speak for everyone in the Province when I say how delighted we are to see you here for both investitures and I hope your stay in West Lancashire will be remembered as a happy and memorable one.
'The Installation of a new ProvGM is an important milestone in the life of any Province and today has been no exception and it is only right and proper that firstly, I pay tribute to my predecessor, Peter Hosker. Whilst much of Peter’s time in office was spent attending installations, amalgamations, centenaries and even re-dedication ceremonies, behind the scenes he put an unbelievable amount of time and effort into making sure that this Province adopted procedures that would allow it to run in a much more business-like fashion.
'Yes we are doing much the same as before, but I can assure you brethren, because of what Peter put in place, we are doing everything a whole lot smarter and certainly a lot more efficiently.
'I am sure you will all join with me in wishing both Peter and his wife Julie, a long and happy retirement together.
'Brethren, you will all be aware of the tremendous amount of change that has been brought upon us in the past 12 months. I would now hope for a period of stability within the Province so that we can get on with what we are good at ‘enjoying our Freemasonry and making sure that everyone else enjoys it too’.
'To Howard Jones, who has agreed to continue as my deputy, I would say a huge thank you, as well as to my assistants who I have had the greatest of pleasure in reappointing this afternoon and would like to offer the thanks of the Province to Howard for all the work that he has undertaken as the Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge.
'It is indeed extremely sad that Ian Boswell only very recently lost his brave battle against his cancer but I would like to say how grateful we are to him for all the work that he did as AsstProvGM.
'I have been please to appoint Kevin Poynton as AsstProvGM with particular responsibilities for the Warrington, Widnes and Woolton groups and I welcome him to our new team.
'In a Province of this size, one that is still the largest under the UGLE, I cannot be everywhere, all the time, so I place an great amount of trust and responsibility in my deputy and assistants who I know work so hard at doing what they do so well. Brethren you have my unreserved thanks and appreciation and I look forward to us working closely together in the months and years to come.
'In West Lancashire our group system continues to serve the Province and membership well and our group chairman and their executive are, without doubt some of the most dedicated brethren we have and in recognition of, and in support of their office, I will be looking closely at the group system, with a view to devolving greater ownership, but for now, I would like to thank you all for your support, encouragement and commitment.
'The society in which we live and work continues to change at an alarming rate and Grand Lodge has changed to meet the myriad of challenges that those changes bring. Here in West Lancashire we have made those same changes and have met those same challenges. We continue to embrace the advantages that come with new technology and we make full use of the latest means of social media to reach out to the public at large and to communicate within our own membership. Technology does not stand still and neither should we. We are fortunate that within our membership we have brethren with the necessary skillsets in place to make sure we remain ready to adopt the very latest in communication and social media and we will continue to invest in appropriate technology where and when necessary.
'Through our Mentoring and Membership schemes we are tackling head on recruitment, retention and retrieval and already we are beginning to see the benefits. I would suggest to you all that there is nothing better than hearing of brethren talking about Freemasonry openly among their family, friends and colleagues. We are all membership officers and mentors and none of us should feel the need to have any separate designation. From this day forward you certainly have my permission to talk about Freemasonry and if someone asks you why you are, you can tell them Tony Harrison said so, and I am sure our Grand Secretary will confirm. And I would like to inform you all that there is now a new video on our Provincial website that explains the key elements of Freemasonry. Please take every opportunity to share it with your non-masonic friends as this may interest them in joining our fraternity.
'Brethren, as a Province we continue to be at the forefront of charitable giving. In the past year alone we gave just under £260,000 to non-masonic charities and donations to our West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity from our lodges, chapters and individuals, including Gift Aid on those donations, amounted to over £370,000 and we have every intention on not only maintaining that level of disbursement, but by your tremendous efforts, continuing to increase it year on year.
'In a little over two years-time, we will begin to celebrate our tercentenary. 2017 will be a year that will see great masonic events and ceremonial and centrally plans are already well underway. In West Lancashire we will be joining in those celebrations and separately, but complementary to, we will be organising our own events and in the near future I will be making a number of announcements concerning what we have in mind and if you feel that you have any ideas and wish to contribute in any way please let me know.
'Looking round this room now and the many lodge rooms I will look round in the future, serves as a constant reminder of the obligations and responsibilities that are placed upon me. Yes, in the months and years that lie ahead things will alter, nothing ever stays the same, In fact I can't begin to tell you just how much my life has changed already, but you know brethren I am enjoying every single minute of it and it really is my biggest wish that we can all share in that same enjoyment and fun.
'Every single brother of this Province has his own part to play in our future and I would like to encourage a greater transparency in what we do, so that everyone feels that he is part of the whole process and that his views and opinions are just as important as anyone else. But above all I would like to engender a feeling of being happy and having fun, which to me, is fundamental to the success and enjoyment of our entire organisation.
'Brethren, we are inheritors of a past so carefully laid down by some pretty formidable predecessors and we are dealing with a present that continues to change for the better. We now have the opportunity to build on our inheritance so that West Lancashire can continue to prosper and future generations in turn will inherit a Province with an exceptional past, an outstanding present and a wonderful future.
'In closing I would like to give a very big thank you to all the brethren from the Furness and South Lakeland Group and the Lancaster and District Group who together with their respective vice chairmen Peter Schofield and Martin Baxendale are stewarding this special day so well.
'Finally brethren, can I thank each and every one of you for your attendance here today and to those brethren from our neighbouring Provinces and to those from further afield, I trust that you have had a pleasant and enjoyable day here in Blackpool and we hope you all have a safe journey home. God Bless you all.'
Tony then closed Provincial Grand Lodge.
The Grand Director of Ceremonies then led the recession of grand officers out of the lodge.
In early 1914 the winds of war were already spreading over mainland Europe. Discontent was growing in the Balkans and the hurricane which would be unleashed later that year was fomenting. Closer to home in Britain, Irish home rule was on the governmental agenda and suffragettes were pushing their cause and gaining momentum. Masonry had been well established in the country for many years with some lodges nearby already having celebrated their centenary. Unanimity Lodge in Preston No. 113 in particular.
The town of Fleetwood, at that time, had a single masonic lodge – Hesketh Lodge No. 950 – and it was from there that seven members joined with seven brethren from other lodges to form a new lodge in the town, which was to be known as Fleetwood Lodge No. 3711. The lodge was consecrated on 11 March 1914 at the Mount Hotel. The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Louis S Winslow, was in attendance along with a number of other Grand and Provincial Grand Officers.
A little over 100 years later over 90 brethren gathered at the Savoy Hotel in Blackpool to celebrate the centenary of Fleetwood Lodge No. 3711.
The WM Howard Valentine opened the lodge and the dispensations to hold the special meeting were read by the secretary Mark Blundell. Howard transacted the other business of the lodge before it was announced that the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Howard Jones, was without and demanded admission.
The brethren rose and Howard was admitted accompanied by Harry Cox, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Raymond Martland, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Duncan Smith, Chairman of the North Fylde Group and a number of grand and acting Provincial grand officers.
Howard Valentine offered Howard Jones the gavel of the lodge which was accepted and he took his place in the chair of King Solomon.
Howard then nominated his Provincial team in readiness to open Provincial Grand Lodge. For that purpose, Harry Cox was requested to assist as Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Mark Matthews the position of Provincial Senior Grand Warden, Joseph Hall as Provincial Junior Grand Warden, Graham Halsall as the Provincial Grand Chaplain, Neil McSymons as Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Frank Kennedy as Provincial Grand Tyler, Peter Taylor, Provincial Grand Secretary, along with other acting officers, all in their respective positions for the purposes of the centenary ceremony.
Howard then opened Provincial Grand Lodge and called upon the Provincial Grand Chaplain Graham Halsall to give an oration to the lodge. Graham started his oration by informing the brethren a little about how the town of Fleetwood come to be and surprised most present by revealing that there were three lighthouses in Fleetwood.
At the conclusion, Graham was congratulated by Howard for his well-researched and well-rehearsed oration. The assembled brethren concurred with extended applause.
Howard was then pleased to present the lodge members with their splendid centenary jewels.
A prayer of rededication followed which was led by Graham, this was followed by the closure of Provincial Grand Lodge. Howard returned the gavel to Howard Valentine who resumed the WM’s chair. Howard then rose and thanked the Deputy Provincial Grand Master for the wonderful and enjoyable ceremony. He then presented Howard with a cheque to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity for the magnificent sum of £3,711. Howard thanked the lodge members for their splendid donation.
The Provincial party then retired in a magnificent and colourful recession before Howard Valentine closed the lodge and the brethren made their way to the dining room where they enjoyed a happy and convivial festive board.
In readiness for the meeting, the lodge produced a centenary booklet containing lodge information and historical notes. The booklet was written and assembled by Mark Bludell with the assistance of members Peter Bailey, David Brooks, Brian Chapman, Neil McSymons, Jonathon Moss, Alan Ollerton, Peter Tebbs, Edward Vollans and Dewi Williams who all spent hours trawling through the numerous minute books to build the story about the lodge’s existence.
Harry Cox had the pleasure of proposing the health of Howard Jones at the festive board and during his proposition Harry informed the brethren that Howard was a people’s person, always had a ready smile and a welcoming approach to all that he meets. As a Freemason, he had had two acting ranks that really got him known around the Province. Harry continued by adding the Howard was doing a magnificent job as our Deputy Provincial Grand Master.
Howard in his response to the toast to his health congratulated the lodge and commented in saying ‘well done to the founders and well done to the members’. He then offered his own toast to the lodge.
Davyhulme Lodge No. 3715 was consecrated on 22 April 1914 and to celebrate its centenary a unique and special meeting was held by dispensation and is now recorded in the annuls of the lodge history – the centenary meeting, one hundred years to the night after its inception coupled with the dedication of a lodge banner to mark the occasion
The centenary meeting was reported as being the ninth centennial meeting within the Province during this masonic season and was held in the Westbourne suite at Urmston masonic Hall.
Worshipful master Tom Sharp requested the lodge secretary, Keith Lewis, to read out the special dispensation before opening the lodge.
Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp entered the lodge and announced that the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Howard Jones was without and demanded admission.
The brethren having risen were extremely pleased to receive Howard and the Provincial team, accompanied by John Hutton (APrGM) Mike Adams (group chairman) grand officers Chris McNab, Anthony Jobs, Brian Hayes, David Durling and Nolan Morrison PDepPrGM East Lancs.
Howard, was introduced to the WM, who offered him the gavel to which he duly accepted and occupied the chair of King Solomon.
In his opening, Howard remarked on Davyhulme lodge’s centennial year liaising with eight other lodge centenaries, a total of nine throughout the Province this masonic year, each of the centenary celebrations of course being as equally important to the Province and the respective lodges and individuals. He went on to say that this particular centenary celebration had its own uniqueness in that there was also to be a joint banner dedication.
Howard explained the importance of banners and gave the brethren a note of realisation of banners in their respective theatres of application not just appertaining to Freemasonry.
A banner dedication team of lodge members were despatched from the lodge to collect the banner and return into the lodge room, amongst those members were the lodge secretary, Keith Lewis, who had been rightfully nominated as the banner bearer. Keith had designed and produced the banner himself and along with the other members of the banner party, proudly displayed his work as they lined up in the east. Howard dedicated the impressive banner and presented it to the worshipful master and his lodge, where after the banner was put on display in the south east part of the lodge.
Howard then appointed his Provincial team in readiness to open Provincial Grand Lodge, for that purpose, John Hutton was requested to assist as Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Mark Matthews occupied the position of Provincial Senior Grand Warden and Joseph Hall as Provincial Junior Grand Warden, with Godfrey Hirst acting as the Provincial Chaplain, Keith Kemp remained as Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Gordon Ivett continued as Provincial Grand Pursuivant, Peter Taylor, Provincial Grand Secretary, along with other acting officers David Thomas Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, Peter Brown Provincial Senior Grand Deacon, Gordon Southwick Provincial Junior Grand Deacon, and having already preceded Howard into the lodge by procession were Stuart Kane and Anthony Hill both of whom are Provincial Grand Standard Bearers, Alan Briggs Provincial Grand Sword Bearer, Derek Hughson Provincial Grand Organist, all in their respective positions for the purposes of the centenary ceremony.
Howard then opened Provincial Grand Lodge and called upon the Godfrey Hirst to give an oration to the lodge.
Howard thanked Godfrey, for a very interesting and thought provoking oration and then called the brethren to the attention of Godfrey for a prayer of re-dedication where after Howard closed Provincial grand lodge and handed the gavel back over to the worshipful master.
On completion of the ceremony, and having retrieved the gavel, Tom rose to the thank Howard along with the Provincial team for making the evening such a special occasion for the lodge members. Tom then had much pleasure in handing over a magnificent cheque for £3,715 made out in favour of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, 3715 being the number of the lodge.
Howard thanked the lodge on behalf of all those who we may never know who would eventually benefit through the charity by the very kind generosity of Davyhulme Lodge.
The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies then commandeered the proceedings with excellent precision and the Provincial team exited the lodge in a magnificent colourful procession.
The lodge having closed, the celebrations continued at the festive board which was of course an exceptional event of joviality and concord. Howard in his response, congratulated the lodge and Tom for his starting the second centennial term of the lodge as master.
The unique and memorable occasion concluded leaving the lodge members clearly proud of the Provincial presence in full in its ceremonial form, making a lasting impression on their minds and of course in celebration of their founders 100 years prior.
West Lancashire's 154th Grand Masonic Festival and Ball is the highlight of the Provincial social calendar
Over 530 brethren, companions and their ladies from across the Province joined Mark Matthews, Provincial Senior Grand Warden, and Joe Hall, Provincial Junior Grand Warden, at the Premier Suite, Reebok Centre, Horwich.
The evening started with a formal reception for all installed Masters and First Principals where there was an opportunity to meet the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Howard Jones and the Deputy Grand Superintendent Steven Reid. The Quayside Jazzmen played music during the reception.
After the reception Howard and his daughter Mrs Lindsey Young led the Provincial party into the Ball room where they took their seats for a sumptuous four course dinner of Beetroot cured Salmon with French dressing and vegetable crisps, Daube of Beef and Yorkshire pudding with roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables followed by chocolate raspberry tart with white chocolate sauce followed by a selection of fine English cheeses.
After the meal Mark expressed his and Joe’s thanks along with the whole Province to the organising committee. He thanked Ray Dainton for playing piano music at dinner, he then said special thanks go to the members of the organising committee: Mike Kinsella (Hon treasurer), David Lea (Hon secretary) and Glynn Wrenall (Hon event co-ordinator) he then presented flowers to their wives.
Howard then said he wanted to give special thanks to David Lea, who is retiring after 16 years as secretary. Howard said that David’s first ball was in 1998 and David and his wife Alma had organised 17 Grand Masonic Ball’s and the Province thanked them both for their hard work.
Before dancing commenced to music by the Pyramid Band, everyone joined in the Grand march led by Howard and Lindsey.
All proceeds from the evening will be donated to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity.