Shining example to us all

Not many lodges can boast that amongst their membership they have the second oldest subscribing Freemason in England

Lathom Abbey Lodge No. 6286, meeting at the Ormskirk Masonic Hall in the Province of West Lancashire, is proud to say they have just such a member, at 105 years young Richie McKay is a regular attender. 

Richie celebrated 75 years as a member of the Craft in 2014 when the then Assistant Provincial Grand Master, now Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning, presided over what was a very emotional night. Philip, who in his inimitable style, highlighted, what was a very full and rewarding life of a remarkable Freemason. At that meeting he had the privilege of bringing the congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master in the form of an illuminated certificate.

Two years on from that eventful meeting Phil Stansbie, lodge Secretary, received a communication from Grand Lodge asking for confirmation of the date of birth for said Richie McKay. Phil having duly responded to the request confirming Richie’s date of birth as being 6 November 1910, some days later he received the incredible news that Richie was indeed the second oldest subscribing member in England and if the communication is to be believed Richie is a mere baby as the oldest member is an incredible 111. Nevertheless, Richie, who recently had a short stay in hospital, is now well on the way to recovery and was looking forward to the next lodge summons.

As the last meeting of the lodge was to be presided over by the immediate past master Bill Dutch, due to the WM being away on holiday, and as this meeting coincided with the 70th anniversary of the presentation of the warrant of the lodge, it was decided to ask Richie with Bill’s help to occupy the chair of King Solomon in what was to be a very informal meeting to show the great affection that the membership have for this remarkable man and to allow them to enjoy his company on this special occasion.

Phil duly approached Richie with the proposition only to receive the answer: 'I would love to but can you please invite Philip Gunning.' Phil pondered this request replying that he would do his best but that Richie should not get his hopes up as the Deputy Provincial Grand Master was a very busy man. Having contacted Philip, Phil was greatly gratified to receive a heartfelt response saying that he would be delighted to attend on what was to be a private visit to celebrate and catch up with Richie once again.

On the night, the lodge was further honoured by the presence of Ormskirk Group Chairman Frank Umbers, deputy vice chairman Stephen Brereton and Grand Lodge officers Malcolm Alexander Group Secretary and Martin Walsh lodge member. There was some disappointment when the group chairman informed the lodge that Philip Gunning had been delayed and had indicated that the lodge should be duly opened and he would arrive as soon as possible. Bill opened the lodge and conducted the usual business following which there was an alarm. The usual protocols being adhered to the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp was admitted to inform the assembled brethren than none other than the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison accompanied by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning were without and demanded admission.

It was at this moment you could have heard a pin drop in the lodge room such was the shock of the revelation that the lodge was to receive not one but two exalted visitors. The lodge rose to receive the PGM and his deputy who were warmly welcomed by the WM. Tony was offered the gavel of the lodge as is his right but thanking Bill for the welcome he had received he declined saying that it would be better placed in his hands as WM for the duration of the meeting.

Bill then invited Richie to occupy the Master’s chair which he duly did, the lodge Secretary Phil then instructed the deacons to distribute copies to all the brethren of the summons for 25 March 1939 for the Lodge of the Holy City No. 1372 (Scottish Constitution) meeting in Jerusalem were a certain Mr Ernest Richard McKay was to be balloted and if accepted, initiated on that night and the rest as they say is history.

Philip Gunning rose to congratulate Richie recounting some of the memories that he held dear regarding their last meeting when he presided at Richie’s 75th celebration. His contribution brought a warm response from the brethren. Tony then took to the floor to bring his own greetings saying that he had not had the pleasure of meeting Richie previously but that he had read a great deal about him and his remarkable achievements over the many years that he had been a mason. He then informed Richie that Philip had a communication that he would read out to the assembled brethren on his behalf.

Philip then had the pleasure of verbally presenting to the assembled brethren the patent of appointment signed by the PGM promoting Richie from Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden to the exalted rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden of the Province of West Lancashire. A collarette of that rank was presented to Tony who with great warmth proceeded to invest Richie with his new rank. At the conclusion of this the brethren rose to give a standing ovation showing the high respect that Richie has amongst the membership of the lodge.

Later at the festive board suitably refreshed and having enjoyed a delightful meal of breaded mushrooms for starters followed by salmon with asparagus spears, broccoli, green beans and new potatoes, complete with crème brûlée for dessert. At the conclusion of the meal and following the usual toasts Philip had the honour of proposing the toast to the continued good health of the PGM; this he did in his usual eloquent unscripted manner.

During his response Tony said that he had thoroughly enjoyed himself by just ‘dropping in’ on the occasion of Lathom Abbey Lodge celebrating 70 years and apologised by saying that he hoped his appearance hadn’t upset the apple cart. (Apart from Philip, Keith and Frank who was sworn to secrecy, no one was aware of this visit). Then with a broad grin on his face Tony said: 'Brethren you should have seen your faces when we made our entrance.' Tony went on to congratulate the lodge and said that he hopes to live as long as Richie and if so he will come back for the lodge’s centenary. Tony concluded by wishing Richie good health for the future and to continue to enjoy his Freemasonry.

Bill then proposed the toast to the worshipful master and in his response Richie said: 'I stand before you very humble for all the good wishes you have shown to me and I thank you all for being here.' He went on to say that he joined the Ormskirk Group as a member of Maghull Lodge No. 7190, (no longer in existence), joining Lathom Abbey Lodge because his best friend was a member and he has enjoyed every minute.

This concluded a night of celebration with many pleasant surprises which will live long in the memories of the brethren and guests, especially Richie who is a shining example to us all.    

County council honours local masons

The great work of Freemasons from the Provinces of East and West Lancashire has been praised by Lancashire County Council at a specially organised reception at County Hall, Preston.

Cllr Margaret Brindle, Lancashire County Council chairman, welcomed masonic representatives from across the county and thanked them ‘for the voluntary, charitable and fundraising work done throughout Lancashire to support a range of important and needy causes’.

Warrington lodge reaches 250th anniversary

Lodge of Lights, No. 148, the oldest lodge in the Warrington Group in the West Lancashire Province, has celebrated its 250th anniversary. Among the 150-strong gathering were Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence. During the evening WM Stanley Jackson presented Tony with charity donations of £14,800.

Monday, 22 February 2016 15:57

Eureka Lodge No. 3763 celebrates 100 years

Eureka Lodge No. 3763 having been consecrated on 18 February 1916, held at the Litherland Masonic Hall, by dispensation, an extra special meeting in the lodge’s history, that being its centenary meeting, 100 years to the day of its consecration.

In the lodge room, full with the brethren and the many guests for the evening, the WM Don Fraser opened the lodge and requested the secretary Iain Beckett to read out the special dispensation as the first order of business.

The lodge members and their visitors were then most pleased to receive an expected knock on the door from the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp, announcing that the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison was without and demanded admission.

The lodge room rose and were immensely pleased to receive Tony who was accompanied by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning, the Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Derek Parkinson and Tony Bent, accompanied by Ian Gee the Bootle Group Chairman and the grand officers, along with his Provincial team entering the temple in a magnificent, colourful procession.

Keith introduced Tony to Don and acceded to Don’s request to accept the gavel of the lodge and he took his place in the chair of King Solomon.

Tony then appointed his Provincial team in readiness to open Provincial Grand Lodge. For that purpose, Philip Gunning was requested to assist in continuing in the role of Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Derek Parkinson was requested to assist by continuing in the role of Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Michael Threlfall continued in the position of Provincial Senior Grand Warden and Peter Schofield as Provincial Junior Grand Warden, Rev Canon Godfrey Hirst as the Provincial Grand Chaplain, Peter Taylor as Provincial Grand Secretary, Keith Kemp as Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Gordon Ivett as Provincial Grand Tyler, along with other acting officers David Thomas (Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies), William Kilmurry (Provincial Senior Grand Deacon), Edward Harrison (Provincial Junior Grand Deacon), John Houlding and Stephen Lyon (Provincial Grand Standard Bearers), Arend van Duyvenbode as acting Provincial Grand Sword Bearer, Peter Maxwell (Provincial Grand Pursuivant), Stephen Derringer (Provincial Grand Organist), all in their respective positions for the purposes of the centenary ceremony.

Tony opened Provincial Grand Lodge and called upon the Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor to read out the centenary warrant to the brethren. After which a blue bow was tied around the rolled certificate before Tony presented the warrant to Don. Tony then presented and placed the centenary jewel on Don, with the brethren of Eureka Lodge then being told that they could now show their centenary jewels.

Tony then called upon the Provincial Grand Chaplain Godfrey Hirst to give an oration to the lodge. Godfrey started his oration by a reference to the lodge’s name ‘Eureka’, reminiscing to science lessons when being told that the exclamation 'Eureka!' is famously attributed to the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes reportedly proclaiming 'Eureka! Eureka!' after he had stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose whereupon he suddenly understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged. Godfrey mentioned that the founding brethren of the lodge must have also cried ‘Eureka!’ when they formed the lodge in 1916. With brief exhorts from the lodges history and the connections to the lodge’s name,  in 1941 the secretary and treasurer even named their homes Eureka, Godfrey then went on to give a detailed explanation of the lodges banner, with the image of Archimedes between the two pillars from its dedication to the lodge in 1931.

Once Godfrey had finished his oration, he gave a prayer, before all the brethren sang the national anthem. Tony then closed Provincial Grand Lodge, handing the gavel back to Don, who said: 'It was an honour and a privilege to see the Provincial team conducting the ceremony this evening.' Don also said: 'It was a privilege to hear the oration by Godfrey.' The Provincial officers where then replaced with the officers of the lodge with Don commenting that: 'Normal service will now be resumed.'

Don then called upon and asked Ron Lofthouse and Shaun Lavery of Eureka Lodge to deliver a reading of the lodge’s history. Ron gave the first part of the history starting from when Eureka Lodge was consecrated on 18 February 1916 at the Bootle Town Hall by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Louis S Winslow, with Mark Wilkinson being installed as the first WM.

Stating the reasons given to form this new lodge were that three lodges at Bootle are getting unwieldy on account of the large membership particularly Bootle Lodge No 1473 and there has been no new lodge stationed in Bootle for over a period of 21 years in which time the population has nearly doubled.

The lodge meetings held in Merton Hall, Merton Road apart from the installation which was always held in Bootle Town Hall. Numerous candidates were admitted, always in two's, but with dispensation up to four. The lodge flourished and although the war was still in progress there seem to be no problem in attracting candidates. During the early years the working of a number of degrees on the same night, often conducted by the WM occurred, even being a first and second degree on the same night with multiple candidates. Every meeting from the beginning of the lodge’s history had a degree worked, until February 1929 when no degree was performed.

The lodge moved after the installation in September 1930 to the Masonic Hall in Balliol Road, the Bootle Group’s former home. One thing that had been missing from the lodge was a banner, so on 23 January 1931 a banner for the lodge was donated by J V Thompson Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer and J H Howard.

Ron continued with the history until the 1940s when he handed over for the second part of the history which was taken over by Shaun.

Shaun continued to inform the brethren, mentioning that in February 1959 the lodge held its 300th meeting, with a double second degree being held on that night.

The current secretary's father Gordon Beckett was installed in September of that year and with Iain himself being initiated in January 1976 by his father and was subsequently installed as junior warden, senior warden and into the chair by his father, a unique occurrence.

Also of note, Les Lownds proposed and initiated in November 1959, left a legacy to the lodge to be used for the centenary celebrations.

The 50th anniversary of the lodge was held in 1966 when Geoffrey Carr was initiated.

Arrend Van Duyvenbode Snr was installed in the chair in September 1989 and a team from Holland gave a demonstration of the first degree in October of that year according to the Dutch ritual.

A story from the lodge’s history which occurred in Balliol Road, on one occasion the acting senior deacon Fred Glover was introducing the candidate to the senior warden when he came to that part of the ceremony, which mentioned, 'By an ear of corn near to a fall of water', the ceiling above them decided to give way to the weight of water above their heads, the candidate thought it was all part of the ceremony and was not impressed.

Due to the compulsory purchase of Balliol Road hall, the lodge moved to its current home in Litherland in September 2007.

Arend van Duvyenbode Provincial Deputy Grand Secretary was promoted to Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in April 2012. Meaning the lodge now has two Grand Lodge officers. Due to his service over the years to the Province of the Isle of Man, Fred Wright was made a Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in that Province. A further promotion was awarded to Fred in April 2013 when he was promoted to Past Junior Grand Deacon together with a promotion in Provincial Royal Arch.

Both Ron Lofthouse and Shaun Lavery delivered their readings in a clear and concise manner, keeping the brethren enthralled with the lodge’s history. Don thanked Ron and Shaun for their readings and also gave special thanks to Stan Edwards for his hard work in compiling the lodge’s history for the evening.

Don then presented Tony with the Cheques for various charities, with total amount totalling £3,763, as it was the centenary the lodge wanted donate the same amount as the lodge number. Tony then read out the donations with the money going to; West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity £282.30, The Linda McCartney Centre (Breast Cancer) £232.30, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital £232.30, Myaware (Myasthenia Gravis Association) £232.30,Merseyside Society for Deaf People £232.30,Head and Neck Cancer £232.30,Bootle YMCA £232.30, Alzheimer’s Society £232.30, Woodlands Hospice £232.30, Claire House £232.30 and theLitherland Masonic Hall £1,390.                                                                                             

Tony thanked the lodge members on behalf of all those who would eventually benefit by such kind generosity with the donations to the charities and was equally pleased to see the same generosity given towards the Litherland Masonic Hall.

Keith Kemp then commandeered the proceedings with excellent precision and the Provincial team exited in the same inimitable, magnificent colourful procession. The lodge having closed, the celebrations were continued at the festive board and there was an exceptional event of joviality and concord.

Tony in his response to the toast to his health congratulated the lodge members and commented in saying he was delighted to attend as principal guest this evening and with being accompanied by Philip, Derek and Tony for this special evening in your good company and amongst friends.

Eureka is a cry of joy and satisfaction, Litherland is part of Bootle, Bootle has its own motto: ‘respice, aspice, prospice’ which translates into ‘look to the past, the present, the future’, which the founders achieved when they founded the lodge. Tony gave congratulations to all the brethren of Eureka Lodge for the wonderful evening, congratulations were also given to all the brethren who have recently received letters informing them of their appointment and promotion in Provincial Grand Lodge. 

Tony again said he was delighted at the amount the lodge members had donated to the various charities and towards Litherland Masonic Hall. Giving special thanks to Freddie Wright and Arend van Duyvenbode for the many hours they have given to the our Province, but others further afield saying: 'Freddie you’re a legend'. Tony thanked Arend for the amount of time he has devoted to Masonry, saying he hopes he enjoys his retirement from the role and continues to enjoy his Freemasonry in the future.

Tony also mentioned John Moore saying he has learnt a lot over the years from him and the Bootle Group are honoured to have him as a member.

Tony concluded his response by informing the brethren about 2017, the 300 anniversary of Masonry in Lancashire asking all the brethren to help support the celebrations and events that are going to happen in 2017. Hoping to see an increase in the number of the brethren joining Masonry, stating we are quite fortunate at the moment as we are seeing an increase in joining members.

Derek Parkinson then proposed a toast to the brethren of Eureka Lodge, starting the toast with the information of the period of when the lodge was formed, when Britain declared war on 4 August 1914 and with English Freemasonry facing unprecedented circumstances. Freemasonry was, and remains non-political, but during this period the United Grand Lodge of England, the governing body for Freemasonry in England, Wales and across much of the British Empire, had to deal with the impact of global war.

Eureka Lodge was created, formed and consecrated during the dark days of the First World War, and much credit is due to the founders who persevered in its formation, in spite of innumerable difficulties. There were other difficult times to follow but due to the tenacity and fortitude of its members over the years the lodge continued and in fact increased popularity and membership when other lodges were struggling.

On such an occasion as this centenary meeting it is important to emphasise the importance of the efforts and work put in by our forebears and those who are members of the lodge to look forward to the future with a similar positive frame of mind, to rededicate yourselves to those Masonic principals which are so close to our hearts and to ensure that those who follow will be encouraged to celebrate not only the 150th but also the bi-centenary of the lodge, Derek said: 'To which of course, I and my immediate colleagues around the table would be delighted to receive an invitation.'

Derek finished the toast by saying: 'The future begins today WM and we are certain that under you leadership Eureka Lodge will continue to be a leading light in Freemasonry in the Province of West Lancashire and that with the guidance and support of your past masters and brethren the lodge will continue to serve not only Freemasonry in this area but the wider community.'

Don responded on behalf of the lodge and the brethren for the toast, saying: 'It is a privilege standing here today and hope the lodge will continue to go from strength to strength, it’s been a tremendous night.' Don gave thanks to Gary Adamson the lodge treasurer, who had organised the centenary and presented a gift to him from the lodge members for his hard work. Thanks were also given Iain Beckett and Howard Jones.

Don mentioned that Jeff Carr’s golden anniversary should have been held on this evening and that he generously moved the celebration to next month.

As it was a special occasion a fruit cake with the lodge name was made to commemorate the event by Cathy Bousfield, the wife of the lodge DC Stephen. It was brought to the top table with four candles on, which Don blew out before cutting, this was later distributed amongst all the brethren and guests. 

As a treat for the guests the members of Eureka Lodge sang the visitors song, with Michael Threlfall responding on behalf of the guests, commented that he will tell his wife that he sitting next to and was sung to by John Lennon, John is the current senior warden of Eureka Lodge.

A raffle was held on the night, raising £455, which will be given to the Litherland Masonic Hall. With the evening being drawn to a close, Don on behalf of the lodge members presented Tony with a special bottle of single malt whisky to commemorate the evening, also presenting flowers to be given to his wife Maureen on behalf of the lodge members.

The evening finished with the Provincial team leaving, after an enjoyable evening with much celebration in good company and jovial fun.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016 10:22

Father and sons act on the square

Through the years many Masons have had the pleasure if initiating their son into Freemasonry. Very few Masons have had the honour of initiating two sons into their lodge. One such Mason who has had that immense honour is Paul Ashton Both sons were initiated aged 18 years, thanks to dispensations from two  Provincial Grand Masters – Peter Hosker and Tony Harrison.

The current worshipful master of William Fleetwood Lodge No.2814, Lesley Neville, kindly agreed to allow Paul, who is a past master of the lodge and currently the lodge’s senior deacon, to take the chair for the initiation ceremony.

Paul is a construction site manager. He is married to Karen and they have four children, two girls: Michele is a medic in the Royal Navy and Hayley is a physiotherapist. Paul’s eldest son Daniel was initiated by his father in April 2014. He is currently studying Aerospace engineering at Loughborough University and has just been accepted to take his Master’s Degree in Aerospace engineering when he completes his degree in 2017. James is currently in his last year at sixth form college and has applied to study Chemical Engineering at Loughborough University. James is a keen sportsman and plays hockey for England.

Lesley opened the lodge and efficiently worked through the initial business before asking Paul to occupy the chair of King Solomon. James was formally announced and escorted into the lodge by the junior deacon, Brian Carrier to start his journey through the first degree to become an entered apprentice Freemason. James was ably conducted throughout the ceremony by Brain who kept James at ease and on the right course at all times.

The ceremony conducted by Paul, was word perfect and was an absolute pleasure to witness. Daniel delivered the working tools of an entered apprentice to his brother in a faultless and sincere manner. The charge after initiation was superbly delivered by lodge director of ceremonies, Jim Thomason, who has known Daniel and James since they were born.

At the end of the ceremony Paul thanked Lesley for allowing him to initiate his son. He also said: “Bringing my sons into Freemasonry has been the proudest moments of my life. Both my sons are now my brothers.”

One more special moment was to mark this special meeting when the lodge secretary announced that he had received a grand Lodge certificate for Daniel, which Lesley duly presented to Daniel after he had signed it at the secretaries desk.

The festive board which followed the ceremony was enjoyed by everybody. After an excellent meal and the formal toasts to grand and Provincial grand officers Paul had the pleasure of proposing the toast to James. Paul said: “James has always ben keen to help others and had spent his summer holidays last year, working for the National Citizen Service (NCS). James worked with 15 to 17 years old children in need at a summer camp where the children made lasting friendships, embraced the outdoors and learned the skills they don’t teach in the classroom.” Pauls toast to James was received with loud acclamation by the brethren.

James responded by thanking his ‘Brother Dad’ for proposing him and and senior lodge member  Don Kelso for seconding him and all the members of the lodge for welcoming him into the lodge. James concluded by saying: “It was a very interesting ceremony and I found it very interesting, I have been looking forward to joining Freemasonry for a long time - in fact since I first remember watching my Dad leaving for the lodge in a smart suit and carrying his black case. After Daniel was initiated I was more determined to become a Freemason. I will try to be a good member of the lodge”

George Skarratts a frequent visitor to the lodge and in-fact had stood in at short notice as JW during the ceremony read out Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘The Lewis’.

St Helens and Prescot Group Chairman, Colin Rowling welcomed James into the group and explained that he is not only a member of William Fleetwood Lodge but also a member of a worldwide fraternity. Colin then presented Daniel with a welcome pack containing information about the first degree, the St Helens and Prescot Group and other useful information, including the meeting dates of all the lodges in the group – explaining the benefits of visiting other lodges.

The Warrington Museum of Freemasonry has come a long way from its small and rather dusty beginnings. It was in January 2014, when it was formally established under a Trust Deed and trustees appointed; Barry Jameson, John Pether, Jim Cartledge, Mike Williams, Vic Charlesworth, John McIntyre and Caroline Crook, a non-Masonic trustee and archivist.

Two of the initial key objectives for the trustees were firstly, to establish and agree a constitution for a charitable incorporated organisation and secondly to gain charitable status for the museum.

A considerable amount of effort has been applied to this and in January 2016 the trustees received confirmation that the museum had been accepted as a registered incorporated charity. Its registered charity number is 1165077.

Kevin Poynton, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master responsible for the Warrington Group of Freemasons, was delighted to be able to present the certificate to the trustees during their meeting on Tuesday 19 January 2016. He said that it was a considerable achievement for the museum and thanked the trustees for their collective efforts since their appointment. He said that the development of the museum was both impressive and an example of good practice. Getting charitable status was another important step in its development.

The trustees have also established a support group in the form of ‘Friends of the museum’, for individuals and groups. Securing charitable status opens up the opportunity to have future donations under this structure from individuals and to benefit from ‘Gift Aid’. This will allow the museum to claim back a further 25% in addition to the donation, subject to the donation being from a UK taxpayer.

Vic Charlesworth, the museum’s hard working curator, said that it was difficult to comprehend just how far the museum had progressed in the last two years. Achieving charitable status underpins the museums mission, to provide a varied and high quality heritage experience for all members of the community.

 

 

Fleetwood Freemasonry

Freemasonry has flourished in Fleetwood for over 152 years and can trace its roots on the local scene back to 1863 when its oldest lodge, Hesketh Lodge No. 950, named after the town’s founder, was formed.

Bob Boal, who has been a Fleetwood mason for over 23 years, recently gave an account of the organisation’s history and its firm place in Fleetwood to the Fleetwood Weekly News:

Freemasons believe in an ethical approach to life. Our values are based on integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness.

Members are urged to regard family as paramount. However, Freemasonry also teaches and practices concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.

Fleetwood masons are proud of our reputation for helping others particularly in the communities where we live and work.

Fleetwood and Cleveleys masons belong to the North Fylde Group of Freemasons, one of 22 groups which form the masonic Province of West Lancashire and meet in 25 lodges, seven of which are at Fleetwood.

Last year local MP Eric Ollerenshaw and the Mayor and Mayoress of Wyre John and Linda Hodgkinson joined with North Fylde Group Masons to meet the representatives of 40 local charities to hear how these organisations in turn gave assistance to the community across a very broad spectrum of needy and worthwhile causes.

They saw donations totalling £29,273 handed over to Fylde and Wyre good causes during the group’s ‘giving day’ at which the Mayor said he was astounded on hearing about the amounts given to and received by charities working in the community by local Freemasons.

Funding of worthy causes by Fleetwood masons comes from the members themselves through a variety of fund raising events and not as a result of ‘tin rattling’.

Organisations such Trinity Hospice and its junior wing Brian House, Rosemere Cancer Trust, Blue Skies Hospital Fund, Red Marsh School, Scouts and Guides, Fleetwood Sea Cadets, the RNLI, the Air Ambulance, Coastwatch, Fleetwood Carnival, Fleetwood Parkinson’s Support Group, Hug in a Bag, Streetlife, Donna’s Dream House, Blesma, the RSPCA and Fleetwood Christmas Lights are just some of the local good causes which have received donations ranging from £50 to £5,000.

Fleetwood Masonic Hall on the Esplanade, where Fleetwood masons meet, as a building has had a chequered history since the original property was first built c1847. Then it was a private house known as ‘The Towers’ (one tower still remains).

In 1945 it became Fleetwood Orphanage and Children’s Home and remained as such until the orphanage closed in 1954 having given scores of Fleetwood children an especially fine start in life.

Local masons – up until 1955 when the building was acquired – formerly met in local hotels and public houses but as a result of unsatisfactory service and terms were on the lookout for a building which could be adapted as a masonic hall, as in those post war years there was a long membership waiting list and it was anticipated that there would have to be an increase in the number of lodges meeting in Fleetwood.

Hesketh Lodge received approval to pay a deposit of £240 for the purchase of the building, and fortunately and co-incidentally had received a legacy of £300 from the estate of a former member.

Massive structural alterations took place under the guidance of local architect James Rawlinson who was a member of Hesketh and though the premises were initially quite spartan without floor covering – or even a bar – the work went ahead and the hall was opened on Thursday March 1956 with all due ceremony, though the celebratory banquet was held at the Marine Hall later that same day.

No time was lost in founding another lodge to join the then existing lodges of Hesketh, Fleetwood and Mount to accommodate members who had been on the waiting list and Pharos Lodge No. 7421 was founded on April 10 1956 followed by Wyre Lodge on November 10 1960. Almost 22 years elapsed before Broadwater Lodge was founded on September 23 1982.

Over the intervening years many improvements have been made to the hall to make it a comfortable and enjoyable environment for members to meet. These improvements are ongoing and it is the aim of the Hall Committee to continue the development of the hall for many years to come and extend its use as a venue for private functions for others to enjoy.

Fleetwood masons gladly join in many of the community activities in the town and recently were represented at the Remembrance Sunday parade, laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in memory of members who have fallen in conflict. Over the summer months they joined in the Scarecrow Festival and Fleetwood in Bloom with displays at their Esplanade base.

Fleetwood Masonic Hall has opened its doors for the past five years during Heritage Open Week giving visitors and local people the opportunity to take a tour of the building.

Visitors who have been especially welcome have been many Fleetwood children, now adults, who spent a happy childhood at the orphanage and who have returned and given ringing endorsements, music to the ears of the hall committee, on the care which has been taken of their former home.

Fleetwood Freemasonry

Freemasonry has flourished in Fleetwood for over 152 years and can trace its roots on the local scene back to 1863 when its oldest lodge, Hesketh Lodge No. 950, named after the town’s founder, was formed.

Bob Boal, who has been a Fleetwood mason for over 23 years, recently gave an account of the organisation’s history and its firm place in Fleetwood to the Fleetwood Weekly News:

Freemasons believe in an ethical approach to life. Our values are based on integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness.

Members are urged to regard family as paramount. However, Freemasonry also teaches and practices concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.

Fleetwood masons are proud of our reputation for helping others particularly in the communities where we live and work.

Fleetwood and Cleveleys masons belong to the North Fylde Group of Freemasons, one of 22 groups which form the masonic Province of West Lancashire and meet in 25 lodges, seven of which are at Fleetwood.

Last year local MP Eric Ollerenshaw and the Mayor and Mayoress of Wyre John and Linda Hodgkinson joined with North Fylde Group Masons to meet the representatives of 40 local charities to hear how these organisations in turn gave assistance to the community across a very broad spectrum of needy and worthwhile causes.

They saw donations totalling £29,273 handed over to Fylde and Wyre good causes during the group’s ‘giving day’ at which the Mayor said he was astounded on hearing about the amounts given to and received by charities working in the community by local Freemasons.

Funding of worthy causes by Fleetwood masons comes from the members themselves through a variety of fund raising events and not as a result of ‘tin rattling’.

Organisations such Trinity Hospice and its junior wing Brian House, Rosemere Cancer Trust, Blue Skies Hospital Fund, Red Marsh School, Scouts and Guides, Fleetwood Sea Cadets, the RNLI, the Air Ambulance, Coastwatch, Fleetwood Carnival, Fleetwood Parkinson’s Support Group, Hug in a Bag, Streetlife, Donna’s Dream House, Blesma, the RSPCA and Fleetwood Christmas Lights are just some of the local good causes which have received donations ranging from £50 to £5,000.

Fleetwood Masonic Hall on the Esplanade, where Fleetwood masons meet, as a building has had a chequered history since the original property was first built c1847. Then it was a private house known as ‘The Towers’ (one tower still remains).

In 1945 it became Fleetwood Orphanage and Children’s Home and remained as such until the orphanage closed in 1954 having given scores of Fleetwood children an especially fine start in life.

Local masons – up until 1955 when the building was acquired – formerly met in local hotels and public houses but as a result of unsatisfactory service and terms were on the lookout for a building which could be adapted as a masonic hall, as in those post war years there was a long membership waiting list and it was anticipated that there would have to be an increase in the number of lodges meeting in Fleetwood.

Hesketh Lodge received approval to pay a deposit of £240 for the purchase of the building, and fortunately and co-incidentally had received a legacy of £300 from the estate of a former member.

Massive structural alterations took place under the guidance of local architect James Rawlinson who was a member of Hesketh and though the premises were initially quite spartan without floor covering – or even a bar – the work went ahead and the hall was opened on Thursday March 1956 with all due ceremony, though the celebratory banquet was held at the Marine Hall later that same day.

No time was lost in founding another lodge to join the then existing lodges of Hesketh, Fleetwood and Mount to accommodate members who had been on the waiting list and Pharos Lodge No. 7421 was founded on April 10 1956 followed by Wyre Lodge on November 10 1960. Almost 22 years elapsed before Broadwater Lodge was founded on September 23 1982.

Over the intervening years many improvements have been made to the hall to make it a comfortable and enjoyable environment for members to meet. These improvements are ongoing and it is the aim of the Hall Committee to continue the development of the hall for many years to come and extend its use as a venue for private functions for others to enjoy.

Fleetwood masons gladly join in many of the community activities in the town and recently were represented at the Remembrance Sunday parade, laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in memory of members who have fallen in conflict. Over the summer months they joined in the Scarecrow Festival and Fleetwood in Bloom with displays at their Esplanade base.

Fleetwood Masonic Hall has opened its doors for the past five years during Heritage Open Week giving visitors and local people the opportunity to take a tour of the building.

Visitors who have been especially welcome have been many Fleetwood children, now adults, who spent a happy childhood at the orphanage and who have returned and given ringing endorsements, music to the ears of the hall committee, on the care which has been taken of their former home.

Forget-Me-Not charity set up by Freemason brothers to help the homeless

The adjective term of a ‘down and out’ person relates to a person being without money, a job, or a place to live, in fact quite destitute. This form of destitution is clearly apparent and seen on many of the UK city centre streets, under many highways and by-ways. The term ‘objective’ relates to ‘a thing aimed at or sought a goal’, conjoin these two terms and in this case is where the needy become quite literally, served by some good.

Ezra McGowan of Hand and Heart Lodge No. 4109 and his brother Nathan, a former Freemason in a London lodge but soon to be a joining member of a West Lancashire lodge, through their travels have seen many situations in our city streets and in particular Manchester, Peterborough and London where people were and clearly still are, just living in tents and makeshift cardboard box homes or just sleeping rough and in fact quite destitute and many through no fault of their own.

Two years ago, Ezra along with his brother took an objective decision to try to support these unfortunate individuals and to give some support by way of warm food, warm clothing and in the really destitute circumstances what Ezra refers to as crisis packs which contain, a hat, gloves, sandwich, drink and male or female specific toiletries. Ezra initially purchased what he refers to as a burger van which he had inspected and passed by the authorities for distribution of hot soup and other food.

Between the brothers, they then set up trailers for use in the Manchester, Peterborough and London areas which is where they distribute today. They proudly display the square and compass on their trailers and on their hats, of which they are frequently asked about their significance to which Ezra responds it’s about helping others and helping people to realise themselves.

When Ezra was asked for his reasons and his experiences for their work, he said: 'I have been blessed in life with family and business; I have also been privileged to have the total enjoyment of support from within Freemasonry.' Ezra refers to his lodge as a wonderful friendly experience and he said it’s time he and his brother gave something back into society and he saw the homeless and those very much less fortunate people as a way to do exactly that.   

Ezra’s experiences transmit quite a stark vivid realisation of what it is actually like to be in such a social disposition that affects all are all faiths. He estimates in his own experience that there are less than five women to every 50 males. There can be threatening situations and sees people having to move from location to location. He said that in one recent scenario a man and wife had lost their home, business and everything associated with family and were living in a derelict shop doorway – this is why he helps.

The brothers also assist in supplying provisions to local shelter homes and an outreach men’s home in Salford, Manchester and more recently supported both the local Women’s Institute and PROBUS meetings at Urmston Masonic Hall in providing coffee, tea, biscuits and chocolates.    

Currently self-funded, Ezra along with his brother have recently set up a registered charity, numbered 1164359 which is called The Forget-Me-Not Trust and hope that any further donations they can obtain will assist those who are in dire need. They have a website too which is: http://theforgetmenottrust.org.uk

At a recent Hand and Heart Lodge Christmas ladies to dine evening, a presentation of £50 was donated towards the charity and a forget-me-not raffle raised a further £110 with a further donation of £20 from a very moved lady, Ezra responded by thanking the lodge members and their ladies for such fine support saying he was most humbled and quite taken by the support and said that the donation will go such a long way in feeding a lot of people on these forthcoming, cold winter nights.    

At just 34 Simon Dalley was installed as master of Townley-Parker Lodge No. 1032 in the Province of West Lancashire

The lodge is completing its 150th celebratory year with the installation of the lodge's youngest ever master. Attending the installation as the principal guest and representative of the Provincial Grand Master, was the Chairman of Leyland and District Group, Stewart Seddon.

Simon was installed during a well conducted ceremony by Eddie Webster, who had become the master of the lodge for the second time in 2014.

Following the installation, Simon presented the Grand Lodge certificates to two of the lodge’s newest members, Joe Kawalski and Gary Mooney.

Simon said: 'I’m hugely honoured to have been given the privilege of becoming master of Townley-Parker Lodge. As for being the youngest ever master, over the last couple of years we’ve seen a surge in younger members and I plan to ensure that I don't hold this title for too long!'

Simon is a Lewis mason (son of a mason), having been proposed into the Craft by his father – a member of the lodge for almost 40 years. His great grandfather was also a member of the lodge. Since his raising ceremony in 2009, Simon has worked his way through all of the progressive offices.

Eddie Webster commented: 'I’m really proud to see Simon take the master’s chair. I seconded him into the lodge and I’ve seen him grow and develop during his time as a Freemason and I think he’s a real credit to our lodge, the Province and to the Craft in general and I’m confident he’ll be a brilliant worshipful master.'

Less than two years ago Townley-Parker Lodge had entered amalgamation talks with other lodges. Over the last two seasons however, a number of new members have joined the lodge and the lodge has benefited from a number of returning and joining members and the members are looking forward to their bicentenary.

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