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.
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.
Demonstration teams are popular attractions at lodge and chapter meetings and in recent years a plethora of teams have performed with demonstrations of 18th century degree ceremonies, Scottish degree ceremonies, modern chapter exaltations, ‘Talking Heads’ presentations and many more; not forgetting the Fylde Group Lodge of Instruction Festival.
For this purpose, a gathering of 29 West Lancashire brethren from the Fylde Coast, Southport and Wigan Groups met at Preston station. They were preparing to travel to Freemason’s Hall, Queen’s Street, London as a team with a difference; they were going to the home of United Grand Lodge to demonstrate a West Lancashire installation, for real!
The organiser of the trip was Chris Sage, holder of London Grand Rank and a member of Broadwater Lodge No 9027 that meets at Fleetwood. Chris was also the master elect of the Lodge of St Mary Balham No 3661 that meets at Freemason’s Hall. The team consisted of friends that Chris has made since his move to Blackpool in 2000. The team was going to install one of its own, ‘an honorary northerner’ as one brother put it. As many will know, there are no two lodges that work exactly the same. The team therefore choreographed an eclectic ceremony combining a number of the ‘quirks’ seen in their respective lodges. There were also reserves in the team ready to cover if necessary. Peter Bawden of Broadwater Lodge was one such member who assisted the lodge by acting as their opening inner guard while Mark Allen of Mount Lodge No 6654 was organist throughout the whole event.
The lodge was opened by its master Marios Alexandrou, in the Buckinghamshire Temple. There were six distinguished brethren present. They included Metropolitan Grand Inspector Jeremy Beech who is a Past Senior Grand Deacon; senior visiting officer Jonathan Hillman, accompanied by other grand officers Ronald Worby, George Cody and Barry Payne, with the lodge’s visiting officer Peter Walker, holder of Senior London Grand Rank, present in his official capacity.
The secretary Keith Waddy transacted the business of the lodge with alacrity and the scene was set for the installation ceremony. WM Marios Alexandrou then invited John Deal of the Southport Emulation Lodge No 3675 to occupy the master’s chair. Brian Dicks of Mereside Lodge No 6360 was asked to act as director of ceremonies while Tony Hind and Provincial grand steward of the Province of West Lancashire Jim Finnegan, both also of Mereside Lodge, took over as installing senior and junior wardens respectively. With Ben Clarkson of Blackpool Lodge of Fellowship No 7692 acting as installing inner guard and Darren Shillito of Thornton and Cleveleys Lodge No 3854 becoming chaplain, the team was in place and ready.
The lodge was opened in the second degree and Darren Shillito presented Chris Sage as master elect, after which Chris advanced and recited his obligation. In customary fashion, the lodge was opened in the third degree and the installing officers assumed control. Chris was duly installed according to ancient custom in fine style. Thus installed, Chris invested his predecessor Marios Alexandrou as immediate past master and Marios was presented with a past master’s jewel, with an explanation thereof delivered by Ron Fenton of Hesketh Lodge No 950.
Brethren were admitted in their order of precedence and they saluted and greeted the newly installed master in the appropriate degrees. The working tools in the third degree were explained by Carl Gittins of Blackpool Lodge of Fellowship, those in the second degree by John Brumfield, master of Mereside Lodge and finally Steve Cullen of Southport Emulation Lodge explained the first degree tools.
Glenn O'Brien of Landmark Lodge No 7273 presented the Hall Stone Jewel. This golden jewel on a sky blue collarette was presented to the lodge on 1 December 1926. It serves as recognition that former members of the lodge contributed worthily to the building of, the then new, Freemason’s Hall.
The appointment and investiture of officers of the lodge then followed. The senior warden Andy West and junior warden Jason Reid were placed in their chairs by the installing wardens who explained their gavels, columns, duties and pillars. The remainder of the lodge officers were then invested. The address to the deacons was by Graham Suthers of Blackpool Lodge of Fellowship. The address to the inner guard was by Ben Clarkson, with the address to the stewards given by Jim Finnegan. The principal addresses were then delivered by Walter Daubney of Mereside Lodge, who delivered addresses to both the newly installed master and to the brethren, with Clive Gitsham of Tithebarn Lodge No 8446 delivering the address to the wardens.
A notice of motion in the name of Robert Harvey, the lodge almoner, then proved in favour of £300 being donated to Prostate Cancer and £300 going to the Metropolitan Masonic Charity. Following this a collection of alms raised a very generous sum of £179.
Salutations, which in this lodge occur just before the risings, were extended to the grand officers, receiving a suitable response from Jeremy Beech and to the officers of Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Lodges, receiving an informative response by Peter Walker.
The lodge was then closed and the brethren retired to the Dorset Suite at the Grand Connaught Rooms for a fine banquet, during which the toasts appropriate to a London lodge were observed. In response to the toast to holders of Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Lodges, Peter Walker observed that the hub of conversation during the meal was a clear indication of the friendly and vibrant effect of this wonderful event. He praised the installation team for an interesting and fascinating ceremony which was so well done, adding that there were pieces of ritual that he had never witnessed before. He concluded by saying that he hoped that the brethren from West Lancashire would return on future occasions.
The toast to the WM was delivered by Marios Alexandrou, He stated that the Lodge of St Mary Balham had installed a great master and added that Chris had done a fine job during the evening and the lodge was looking forward to a successful year in his capable hands. He noted that it was nice to see so many guests present from the north, who added so much to this meeting. He urged Chris to bring his many friends as often as possible. Following this toast the ‘master’s song’ was performed by Arthur Caldicott, to the delight of all.
Chris responded with special thanks for the support of his visiting team. He spoke of the work done to make sure that the ceremony ran smoothly and said that he knew how ‘nervous’ St Mary Balham director of ceremonies Arthur Lewer had been about what the team were going to do, but knew the meeting would go well. Chris advised his audience that 12 West Lancashire lodges had been involved in the team and hoped that everyone had enjoyed the ceremony. He closed by expressing his pleasure to be at a banquet with so many people in attendance.
The toast to the visitors was delivered by Andy West, saying that it had been a splendid night with a brilliant ceremony. He added that it was a treat to see how things are done in West Lancashire and concluded by urging all the visitors to return whenever they could. In response, Mike Fishwick of Sincerity Lodge No 3677 expressed his pleasure at being asked to respond on behalf of the visitors, having been present on a previous occasion that Chris went into the chair. He thanked the members of the lodge for the way they had received the visitors and for providing such a magnificent meal.
In keeping with the West Lancashire theme, the raffle was conducted in the ‘Westhoughton’ fashion by Mark Tomlinson of Thornton and Cleveleys Lodge. With an excellent table of prizes, the numbers were flying. With that extra prize for claiming the last number up for grabs, there was some interesting and amusing bidding in the later stages. The raffle raised the excellent total of £420 which will be donated to Masonic and non-Masonic charities.
After starting the following morning with hearty breakfasts, the team met with Mike Baker, the Director of Communications at Grand Lodge, who treated the team members to a special tour of Freemason’s Hall, including rooms that the general public don’t get to see. The day continued with a boat trip down the Thames to Greenwich. After a fish and chips lunch they removed to the Tower of London where they had a brief walk before moving onto the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub in Fleet Street, which was rebuilt shortly after the Great Fire of London. There has been a hostelry there since 1538. It was in such a historic setting that the team enjoyed a final sojourn before collecting their luggage and catching the train home.
The brethren in the Isle of Man once again showed their hospitality when 26 visiting brethren from many Provinces in the UK, visited the island to attend the consecration meeting of Henry Callow Lodge No 9916.
The consecration of a new lodge is a fairly rare occurrence and it is considered an honour for a Provincial Grand Master to preside over. Keith Dalrymple, the Provincial Grand Master for the Isle of Man has previously acted as a consecrating officer when he presided over the consecration of the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Lodge No 9872, three years ago and he was delighted to again be honoured by taking the office of consecrating officer for the meeting.
The meeting started with the procession of the Provincial Grand Master and his Provincial team into the lodge room in the Masonic Hall in Douglas. After opening the lodge Keith explained the purpose of the meeting. The petitioners of the new lodge were arranged in order by Roger Southern, the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. The warrant was inspected by the consecrating officer and then read aloud to the brethren by Martin Blackburn the Provincial Grand Secretary. The consecrating officer then confirmed his intention to constitute the petitioners into a regular lodge and to consecrate it according to ancient usage.
An oration was delivered by William Ashton the Deputy Grand Superintendent for the Isle of Man, titled ‘The nature and purpose of our institution’ Bill said: “The very title of the oration, in itself, poses questions. What is this institution of ours. What is freemasonry? Is it a secret society? We answer that with the glib and hackneyed phrase, ‘not a secret society but a society with secrets‘”.
Bill continued: “Is it really? What secrets? Our ritual has been in the public domain for many years. Complete and very detailed descriptions of the degrees which we work, together with the signs and the words. So what secrets. Consider the answer to the question posed before passing to the second degree – what is Freemasonry? – a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. I would suggest that the true secrets of Masonry are to be found in the allegorical ritual and you have to find them. That is the way, and the only way, by which you will make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge.
Masonry is a discipline of conduct and of the mind. It is also a challenge. It is a challenge we brought upon ourselves from the moment we took the obligation of an initiate. Over the years we move on to further degrees in Craft, in Royal Arch, and degrees beyond the Craft. Each one contained a particular commitment but all have similar aims ‘the love for our creator’, our love for our fellow-man, and a knowledge of ourselves. How to further that knowledge and love for the good of humanity.
In a world that is plunging into anarchy, lawlessness, man’s inhumanity to man, greed, selfishness and confusion we look to our Masonic principles and tenets for guidance. We look to our lodges where we can briefly escape the rigours of the outside and enjoy the company of our fellow Masons – like-minded men endeavouring to live by the same high principles. A virtual oasis. A normality the like of which cannot be found elsewhere.
The name chosen for the lodge throws further responsibilities on the members of the new lodge: Deemster Henry William Callow, Past Provincial Grand Master of the Province of the Isle of Man, was greatly admired and well respected. He was an honest and friendly man who openly professed his Masonic standing and allegiance to all. He was undoubtedly held in high estimation by the brethren of this and other Provinces. He justly deserves the honour bestowed on him.”
Bill concluded his oration by saying: “We are expecting good things of you and we will be observing your progress with great interest. We wish you well in all your undertakings. Remember the high standards that will be expected, obey the book of constitutions, obey your by-laws, and above all, obey the volume of the sacred law and its commandments.
Thou shalt love the lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul. And with all thy mind and with all thy strength. That is the first and greatest commandment. The second of these is - thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. If we do not live by these two great laws how can we reasonably expect to convey to the outside world the happy and beneficial effects of our ancient institution.
Martin Luther King famously had a dream, so did Robert Burns ‘For a’ that and a’ that it’s coming yet for a’ that that man to man the world o’er shall brithers be for a’ that.
A dream? Maybe, but we can and must strive towards it. We can hope and pray that come what may someday the human race will embrace these same principles and these same teachings, perhaps then the dream will become reality.”
The consecration then took place with the solemnity, and ceremonial, accompanied by music and psalms as the vessels containing corn wine and oil were carried around the lodge. The consecrating officer then sprinkled salt upon the lodge board and the founders as a symbol of fidelity, hospitality and everlasting friendship.
The consecration was followed by the installation of the Worshipful Master designate Captain Eidwin Mullan conducted by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master for the Isle of Man, Alexander Downie OBE.
This was followed by the appointment of lodge officers, which saw Fred Wright (that well-known West Lancs Mason) appointed and invested as Junior Warden.
The address to the WM was given by Keith Dalrymple. The address to the wardens was given by the Provincial Junior Grand Warden, Michael Garrett and the address to the brethren was given by Provincial Senior Grand Warden, Nigel Bowrey.
The business of the lodge was conducted this included the election of six honorary members which included the PrGM, DepPrGM, PrGSec and PrGDC.
Six joining members were balloted for, one of whom was Joeseph Williams who is a member of Croxteth United Services Lodge No 786 in the Province of West Lancashire.
At the conclusion of lodge business the lodge was closed in due form and the brethren then enjoyed a wonderful festive board, which started with the traditional starter of Manx Queenies with garlic and bacon, followed by roast beef and seasonal vegetables, followed by panna cotta with winter berries with a selection of Manx cheeses served with a glass of port.
Responding to the toast to the consecrating officer, Keith said: “I am happy and proud today as I was 45 years ago when Deemster Henry William Callow first called be a brother”
Responding to the toast to his health Eidwin thanked all the brethren that had worked hard over the last year to ensure that the new lodge could be formed, he said he never thought that he would be asked to serve as the first WM, but having been asked to do so he was honoured to do so. Eidwin then spoke about the lodge motto ‘Shereish’ or ‘Service’ which he said meant that the members of Henry Callow Lodge would be there to help any lodge in the Province, to improve Freemasonry by giving demonstrations and being there to serve when-ever they are needed.
Robert Vaughan, Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Worcestershire responded to the toast to the health of the visitors, he expressed his thanks to the brethren for their hospitality and the warmth of their welcome. He presented Eidwin with a bottle of Worcester Sauce and a Provincial Stewards Grand Lodge tie worn by the Provincial Stewards Lodge in Worcestershire and a crystal decanter for the WM and brethren of the Henry Callow Lodge to use to serve Port at their festive boards.
After midnight the brethren left to go home the visiting brethren returned to their hotels, some spending time over another glass of wine reflecting on the wonderful day they had in the Isle of Man.
The following morning offered time for the brethren to relax before flying back home.
Following the amalgamation of Norley Lodge No. 7319, Langtree Lodge No. 6166 and Lodge of Antiquity No. 178 which took place in London last December, the Provincial amalgamation ceremony of Norley and Langtree Lodge of Antiquity No 178 took place at Pemberton Masonic Hall
For this very auspicious occasion the members of the amalgamating lodges were honoured by the presence of Tony Harrison the Provincial Grand Master, along with his Provincial team. Brian Sharples welcomed Tony to the meeting and offered him the gavel of the lodge. Tony accepted the gavel and occupied the chair of the lodge and appointed his officers for the amalgamation ceremony.
The Provincial Grand Chaplain gave the opening prayer after which all the brethren sang the opening hymn.
Tony addressed the brethren, informing them of the purpose and nature of the ceremony which he said would include: 'lights, music and actions!', to mark three key elements: 'The Grand Master permitting the amalgamation – Gratitude to the Great Architect of the Universe for the hard work of all the past members of the three lodges – To dedicate the new lodge'.
Tony continued by saying the three lodges had four centuries of history as the Lodge of Antiquity’s warrant was dated 26 May 1786, Langtree Lodge – warrant dated 1 August 1945 and Norley Lodge – dated 4 November 1953.
The Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor then read the certificate of amalgamation.
The Provincial Grand Chaplin, Rev Godfrey Hirst delivered an inspiring oration based of his experience of two schools amalgamating and his knowledge of funerals and marriage! He said it was right to mourn the loss of the three lodges, but he urged the members to remember and celebrate the memories they had of the good times.
He also said that marriage was the union of two not three, but he had often wondered if marriage was indeed for three as he had often seen mother-in-laws who have too much to say when planning weddings!
Godfrey made it clear in the rest of his oration that the members of the new lodge would have to work hard to make the new lodge a success just as partners in a marriage have to work to please each other and to care for others.
Godfrey continued: 'Communication, Care, Trust and Veneration were the key elements of any marriage and he urged the members to remember ‘CCTV’ as they moved into the new era for the Norley and Langtree Lodge of Antiquity No. 178'.
Tony and the Provincial Grand Wardens, Sword Bearer and Standard Bearers then moved ceremonially into position.
The brethren of the amalgamating lodges assembled around the pavement of the lodge. The elements of consecration: corn, wine and oil were re-presented in a fine display of masonic pageantry, enhanced by the Provincial choir adding to the sense of occasion.
Tony then sprinkled salt on all the members of the new lodge as an emblem of conservant power. He then delivered the warrants, certificate of amalgamation and the artefacts to the care of Brian Sharples the master of Norley and Langtree Lodge of Antiquity.
Under the direction of the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp, Tony retired from the lodge accompanied by his team.
The celebrations continued at the festive board with 100 brethren enjoying an excellent meal provided by the new caterers in Pemberton Masonic Hall.
After the meal Assistant Provincial Grand Master Tony Bent responded to the toast to grand officers and proposed the toast to the PrGM.
Tony Harrison thanked Tony Bent for his kind words in proposing the toast to him. He then informed the brethren that the last 12 months had been the best time he had had in Freemasonry and he thanked all the brethren in the Province for their support. He that spoke about the new care system that comes into effect on 5 October – which he said would 'form the cornerstone of care in the Province for many years to come.'
Before proposing the toast to the new lodge he also spoke about the Provincial website – urging brethren to have a look at it, the Tercentenary in 2017 and the sound financial decision to relocate the Provincial Office from Hope Street (rented space) to Leyland (Province purchased the freehold of the north east corner of Wellington Park).
Tony then proposed the toast to Norley and Langtree Lodge of Antiquity No. 178, whishing the members a happy and successful future.
Hospitality with a capital ‘H’ started for the 46 visiting brethren from six Provinces (some of whom had their wives and partners with them), when they were picked up at the airport or ferry office and driven to their respective hotels where a welcome pack was waiting for them
The pack contained a welcome letter from Keith Dalrymple the Provincial Grand Master for the Isle of Man, which gave details of the plan for the ladies to go to Milntown House for a tour of the beautiful walled garden, followed by a buffet supper, while the brethren attended the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting.
Details were also given about the church service at St George’s Church on Sunday afternoon, followed by afternoon tea at Freemasons' Hall in Douglas. All of which had timings for the minibuses to pick up and drop off everyone at the venues and return to their hotels!
After settling in to their hotel Fred Wright, Mark Holloway, Tony (APrGM) and Linda Bent were picked up by two long-time friends of Fred’s: Alan Fielding and Hughie McCallon to go for lunch. After lunch they returned to their hotel to get ready for PrGL and the trip to Milntown House.
Provincial Grand Lodge was tyled and the parade consisting of a number of Provincial Grand Masters and their deputies and APrGMs from surrounding Provinces on the adjacent isle. (Not the mainland as any Manx man will tell you). On opening Provincial Grand Lodge, Keith thanked all the visiting brethren and asked each of the Provincial Grand Masters to stand with their officers and brethren. After everyone had been introduced, the brethren from the Isle of Man showed their appreciation of those attending the meeting with acclamation.
Keith then invited Fred Wright to stand as he said he and the brethren in the Isle of Man very much appreciated all the care and attention Fred has given to the brethren and their wives or partners on the island over many years when they need to come across for cancer treatment at Clatterbridge Hospital and heart treatment at Broadgreen Hospital. The Provincial Grand Almoner of the Isle of Man Laurie Henley readily contacts Fred when one of the brethren or wife or partner is due over for treatment and Fred is the welcoming smile that is always there to greet them and attend to the needs of the patient and his or her spouse in making sure that they are transported to and from hospital and if necessary to find accommodation. The brethren clearly agreed as they responded with prolonged acclamation.
After the investiture of his officers, Keith went on to appoint and promote the brethren and it was a delight to see them receive their honours.
The next day the visitors were invited by Alan Fielding to join him for a tour of the island and a private tour of the Manx Parliament by Alex Downey, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of the IOM and past member of the House of Keys.
The Tynwald is the oldest parliament in the world. The Manx Parliament, which meets regularly throughout the year, but most notably outdoors at St John's on 5 July, is a direct legacy from our Viking ancestors. Norsemen first came to Mann around the year 800 AD and ruled the island for four-and-a-half centuries before finally ceding it to the King of Scotland in 1266. By then they had firmly imposed their own administrative system, which continued even while the island's ownership passed between Scotland and England, to the Stanley family of Lancashire (Lords of Mann from 1405-1736) and to their kin the Dukes of Atholl, who held it until it was revested in the British Crown in 1765. King George VI was the first British Sovereign ever to preside at St John’s in July 1945 and Her Majesty The Queen is acknowledged as Lord of Mann, she presided in 1979 when the Millennium of Tynwald was celebrated.
After the tour, Alan took brethren from West Lancashire, Cumberland and Westmorland to Peel, a harbour town in the south of the IOM where they enjoyed eating ice creams on the pier and having a jolly good laugh, then it was back to the hotels for a quick change before being picked up by one of the minibuses driven by Alan Fielding and Martin Blackburn (PrGSecretary) to go the Keith’s house where his wife Hillary had prepared a wonderful buffet for the visitors, Hospitality with a capital ‘H’.
The following morning offered time for the visitors to enjoy a walk along the sea front before attending the church service, followed by afternoon tea at Freemasons Hall in Douglas.
For some, this was the time to say farewell and thank you to Keith and Hillary and the brethren on the Isle of Man for their Hospitality with a capital ‘H’.
A symphony in red
The gloom of summer had lifted. Twiddling thumbs on idle hands had now been usefully employed in fastening cufflinks and buttoning waistcoats in readiness for the first meeting of the new masonic season. No doubt having travelled, explored and generally sojourned their way through the summer months to relieve the boredom of masonic abstinence, they were now totally charged in preparation to enjoy this, their first meeting, to the full.
The doors of the masonic hall on Adelaide Street in Blackpool had been invitingly swung open and enthusiastic masons, intoxicated by the anticipation of a unique ceremony, had flooded in. After what may be called their forced sojourn, the returning brethren were fairly lapping up the camaraderie of the lounge bar.
Why a unique ceremony one may ask? The exceptionality of the occasion was immediately evident when glancing around the lounge bar, there were the usual smartly attired brethren in dark dinner suits and morning suits. There were the usual gleaming white shirts. There were the usual highly polished shoes. But there was also something most unusual! Two bright scarlet uniforms stood out from the thronging mass. These were the distinctive uniforms of Chelsea Pensioners.
John Gledhill, master of Symphony Lodge No. 4924 is a Chelsea pensioner, unique in itself in the Province of West Lancashire but making the occasion even more unique was that John was to preside over the initiation ceremony of another Chelsea Pensioner, his good friend and colleague Alan Thubron.
An agreeable untemperamental old boy is John. He prefers to avoid the limelight, slipping into the background with quiet dignity and mellow worth, for modesty prevents him from thrusting himself to the front of the queue. But on this very special occasion he proudly brought himself to the forefront. He had met Alan when he registered in at the Royal Hospital Chelsea and the two of them had immediately struck up a strong friendship.
Alan, a veteran of the Catering Corp, had been a serviceman for 22 years, being attached to the Queen’s Regiment for 16 years. That he had experienced a colourful career in the army would be an understatement, having served in many campaigns and proudly sporting the medals to prove it. From the moment of his arrival at the masonic hall to the conclusion of the proceedings, his good humoured face wore an expression of delight. It was obvious that he was thoroughly enjoying his day and introduction to Freemasonry.
Attending the initiation ceremony and lending their support to John and Alan was Blackpool Group Chairman Peter Bentham and group secretary David Cook. John, himself a veteran campaigner, wasted no time in demonstrating his military acumen. Having despatched the general business of the lodge with expediency, he proceeded to tactically invite the immediate past master Jules Burton to occupy the WM’s chair and conduct the ceremony. Well, it was by way a respite for John and he obviously welcomed it.
Jules, a natural thespian in person, is a renowned ritualist, performing with passion and sincerity and once in the chair he soon opened negotiations with the candidate with the customary questions to the initiate. In a well practiced manoeuvre, Keith Roberts confidently conducted Alan around the lodge, much to the appreciation of the gathered onlookers. At each phase of the ceremony, excellence was in abundance. Jules was masterly as usual. Granville Coxhill performed the investiture of the badge of a mason with sparkle and perspicacity and Michael Glover presented the working tools without a single slipped syllable.
The highlight of the ceremony was, however, the recital of the charge after initiation. It was at this juncture that John Gledhill proved his worth as master of the lodge. In a delightful and genuine performance, John provided his audience with a memorable show. It was heartfelt, unpretentious and warmly delivered to his friend and colleague. It was a special moment for John and Alan and an unforgettable experience for those fortunate enough to be present on the day.
The director of ceremonies of the lodge, Alistair Still, who sports the features and aura of a well seasoned regimental sergeant major, was noticeably pleased with the day’s proceedings. The ceremony had been superbly orchestrated, coordinated and performed – exactly what one might expect from a lodge named Symphony!
With 2.9 million older people feeling they have no one to turn to for help and support, Aileen Scoular meets Dame Esther Rantzen DBE and Provincial Grand Almoner Ernie Greenhalgh to find out how Freemasons are making a difference in West Lancashire
No one wants to feel alone. But for the 11 million people in the UK aged 65 and over, loneliness and isolation are all too familiar. A survey by Age UK has revealed that one in four older people feel that they have no one to go to for help and support.
Contact the Elderly, another UK charity that aims to lessen the effects of isolation, echoes these views: other than visits from a carer, around 70 per cent of the elderly people who use its service receive visits just once a week or less.
Yet loneliness and isolation can be avoided.
A chat on the phone, a cup of tea or a shared joke with a neighbour takes just minutes, but the positive effects of human interaction last long after the conversation ends. The reassuring news is that there are organisations out there making that happen, one of which is the Freemasons.
In West Lancashire, Provincial Grand Almoner Ernie Greenhalgh has spent his first two years in the job making positive changes that will allow his lodge almoners and care officers to spend more time on active care and less time on paperwork. And Ernie has found an equally compassionate ally in Dame Esther Rantzen DBE – founder of ChildLine in 1986 and, more recently, The Silver Line, a telephone helpline for older people.
Invited by the Province of West Lancashire, Dame Esther visited Ecclesholme, a Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) care home in Manchester, at the end of last year to gain a better understanding of the needs of elderly RMBI residents. Both she and Ernie believe that effective pastoral care can transform people’s lives.
‘A core value among Freemasons has always been to help those less fortunate than yourself. We try to instil that in every single member,’ says Ernie. ‘The role of the almoner is a vital part of lodge life – not just to manage financial needs, but to deal with loneliness and isolation as well.’
Isolation is a topic that also comes up in conversation with Dame Esther, and The Silver Line, which launched at the end of 2013, includes a befriending service to help combat loneliness.
‘The idea came to me when I was standing at a conference about the elderly, discussing an article I’d written about living alone for the first time, aged 71,’ she explains. ‘I got the most extraordinary flashback to the same situation 30 years before, when I had been talking about another problem with a stigma attached – namely, child abuse. Because no one wants to admit to loneliness, do they? Many older people are very proud and they don’t want to be a burden.’
Just 18 months on, The Silver Line is taking up to 1,000 calls a day. The befriending service has a waiting list of 1,000 people, and the charity is training its volunteers (known as Silver Line Friends) at a rate of 100 a week. There’s no doubt in Dame Esther’s mind that her helpline is fulfilling an intrinsic need for many elderly people.
‘Most of our callers tell us they have no one else they can talk to,’ she says sadly. ‘One Christmas, I spoke to a caller and he said it was the first time in years that he had talked to someone on Christmas Day. Many elderly people can go for a couple of weeks without having a proper conversation. It can happen to anyone – there are a lot of intelligent, interesting people who find themselves isolated.’
Isolating the problem
Loneliness is normally caused by loss of some kind – a partner, a job, or someone’s sight, hearing or mobility, for example. Becoming a carer to a loved one can also bring on intense feelings of isolation. It’s a familiar topic for Ernie’s care team in the Province of West Lancashire, where the widows of the brethren are key beneficiaries, particularly in times of sickness and financial hardship. The support is there when it’s needed, and Ernie has a loyal group of almoners with a compassionate ear.
Almoner Danny Parks, 76, and Regional Care Officer George Seddon, 73, have experienced personal loss themselves and can empathise with the feelings of despair that follow. ‘An almoner needs to be caring, considerate, diplomatic and sympathetic – all of that comes into it,’ says Danny. ‘I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping people. I lost my wife and there’s nothing worse than the loneliness. It’s a dreadful thing and some people can cope with it, and some can’t.’
Danny has great faith in face-to-face contact and he diligently visits the 15 widows in his care on a fortnightly basis. ‘You have to get out of the house and meet people – that’s when you find out what help they really need,’ he explains. ‘Their problems might only be small, but they’re still problems.’
George agrees: ‘There are many people in need but they’re too proud to ask. My mum was 99 when she died so I’ve been able to draw on my own experience. You need to be understanding and able to find solutions where you can. It’s all about gaining people’s confidence and developing trust.’
Almoner Alan Whitehouse, 70, believes talking is crucial: ‘Some of the people we visit have seen no one for weeks. They have probably outlived their friends and peers, which is very sad.’ Alan uses his homemade jams and chutneys as a ‘door-opener’ and makes sure he’s always available on the other end of the phone. All three men praise the changes that Ernie has made to the structure of the West Lancashire Provincial care team.
Getting out and about
For Ernie, it’s vital that the members and widows of the Province are aware of the support available. ‘It’s not always easy to identify exactly who needs help – particularly when elderly people are reluctant to ask for it,’ he explains. ‘So I’m trying to enable the almoners to spend more time delivering pastoral care, and less time doing admin.’
Believing that there is still much work to be done when it comes to helping older people, some of Ernie’s team are also becoming Silver Line Friends. George was the first to sign up and is currently being trained by the charity. ‘It’s a good transfer of skills and experience, and the training they offer is excellent,’ he says.
Dame Esther hopes that other Freemasons will consider volunteering, too. ‘Being a Silver Line Friend only takes an hour a week,’ she says. ‘You can do it from your own home and we provide all the training. If you enjoy having conversations with other people, do visit our website to apply.’
Thanks to Ernie, George, Alan and Danny, and all the other almoners across West Lancashire Province, the older community is in safe hands. According to George, ‘The role of the almoner is the most rewarding job in Freemasonry.’
The Silver Line is a free, confidential service: 0800 4 70 80 90, www.thesilverline.org.uk
Warrington masonic museum officially opened
Tony Harrison, Provincial Grand Master for West Lancashire, has opened the Warrington Museum of Freemasonry at Warrington Masonic Hall. Vic Charlesworth started the collection in 2010 with just one cupboard in the hall, but over the past few years many more exhibits have been donated – including rare and unusual jewels that were unknown to the Library and Museum in London.
There is now an impressive collection of jewels from every Warrington lodge on display, and volumes of masonic books and literature – which Vic is in the process of documenting – are available for research.
The members of Stretford with Trafford Lodge No.4379 were joined by many guest from around the Province, foremost of these was the Provincial Grand Master, Tony Harrison who had been invited to attend the meeting of the lodge to officially unveil the three Masonic tracing cloths that were purchased in 1872, 1873 and 1889 by Architect Lodge No.1375 which met at Swinton Masonic Hall up until it surrendered its warrant in 2014.
The lodge was opened by John Harrop the worshipful master of Stretford with Trafford Lodge. John was a member of Architect Lodge and was WM of Architect Lodge on two occasions. After completing the normal lodge business, which included a ballot for a new member John opened the lodge in the third degree. As soon as the lodge had opened in the third degree The inner guard announced that the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp requested admission. Keith was admitted and announced that the PrGM stood outside the lodge and demanded admission. John said he would be delighted to receive him.
Tony entered the lodge accompanied by Assistant Provincial Grand Master, John Hutton, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp, six grand officers, Eccles Group Chairman, David Walmsley and four acting Provincial grand officers Ian Lynch PrSGD, Eric Lynch PrAGASuptof Wks, Tom Fredrickson PGStdB and Ken Wilson PrGStwd.
John welcomed Tony on behalf of the members of Stretford with Trafford Lodge and promptly offered him the gavel. Tony said he was delighted to be present at this unique occasion, but swiftly returned the gavel, saying: “I have no idea what John planned to do during the evening so it was better placed in his hands”.
After salutations were given to Tony John resumed labour in the first degree. Patrick Wilkinson gave an excellent explanation of the first degree working tools.
John then asked Tony to officially unveil the first degree cloth, which Tony said he was delighted to do. The electric motor then slowly revealed the restored cloth to the brethren as the cover was rolled up.
John then asked Robert Macmillan to give a short talk about the first degree tracing cloth. Robert said the story of the Architect Lodge floor cloth tracing boards began 139 years ago when the lodge was formed. The floor cloths each measure approximately 7ft x 4ft and the first degree painted floor cloth had been a personal purchase by Samuel Studd who presented the cloth to Architect Lodge in October 1872. Samual was installed as WM of the lodge in 1874. Robert continued his talk by saying: “A picture paints a 1,000 words and this is true of these tracing cloths” He then gave a brief explanation of the painting.
John thanked Robert for his talk and resumed work in the second degree.
The senior warden of Stretford with Trafford Lodge then gave an explanation of the second degree working tools.
John then asked Tony to officially unveil the second degree cloth, which Tony said he was delighted to do. The electric motor again slowly revealed the restored cloth to the brethren.
John then asked Robert Macmillan to give a short talk about the second degree tracing cloth. Robert started his talk on the second degree floor cloth by saying the cloth was purchased by the lodge in October 1889 for the sum of £9 10s. He said that this cloth was very different to most second degree tracing boards in that its major focus was the staircase leading to the middle chamber. He went on to further describe the detail in the rest of the painting.
John thanked Robert for his talk and resumed work in the third degree. The lodge secretary Mal Walters gave an explanation of the third degree working tools.
John asked Tony to officially unveil the third degree cloth, which Tony said did and the cloth was revealed to the brethren.
John again asked Robert Macmillan to give a short talk about the third degree tracing cloth. Robert started his talk by saying the cloth was purchased by the lodge in October 1873 for the sum of £6 10s. He said: “This cloth was very dramatic as the artistic message seems to concentrate on what can only be described as the symbolic death and resurrection of man”. Robert continued with further revelations about the painting and concluded by saying that: “The artist is saying that death is not the en, it is just the beginning of a wondrous spiritual journey of discovery”.
John once again thanked Robert for his talk and then closed the lodge in the third and second degrees and resumed labour in the first degree. After the communications from Grand lodge were read, John Hutton gave greetings on behalf of the grand officers. John said he would like to thank all the brethren who had taken part in the meeting and all the lodges and brethren that had contributed to the fund to restore the three floor cloths to their former splendour. He said special thanks went to the members of Architect Lodge who had donated the cloths to Swinton Masonic Hall so that brethren and visitors to the hall could enjoy the beautiful paintings for many year to come.
After the meeting was closed the brethren adjourned to the dining room for a very enjoyable meal. After the meal John Hutton proposed the toast to the Provincial Grand Master. Tony replied to the toast by thanking the WM for the invitation to attend this special evening, for the hospitality and work he had witnessed in the lodge by all those brethren who took part. He thanked all the acting Provincial officers for their support. In conclusion Tony thanked the brethren for their donations to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity saying: “We are about to go into festival and although I do not have details for you now, I know that the WLFC needs your support as its donations will fall dramatically when we go into the festival, so I urge all lodges and chapters to give as much as they can to the WLFC”. He concluded by thanking the members of Architect Lodge who had so kindly donated the three floor cloths to Swinton Masonic Hall.