The members of the Lodge of Concord No. 343 celebrated the bi-centenary of its consecration
The lodge was honoured by the attendance of the Deputy Grand Master, Jonathan Spence, accompanied by other distinguished brethren, including the Provincial Grand Master, Tony Harrison who was supported by his Provincial team. Also in attendance were 130 members and visitors.
After welcoming the assembled brethren, the lodge was opened in due form by the WM, Ray Thompson, following which, the dispensation calling the meeting was read by the lodge secretary.
Following transaction of the normal business, the lodge was raised to the third degree. The PrGDC, Keith Kemp entered the lodge to announce the attendance of the PrGM, Anthony Harrison. Tony, accompanied by an entourage of acting Provincial grand officers, was admitted and formally welcomed into the lodge by the WM. Salutations were then given under the direction of Keith Kemp.
The Acting Grand Director of Ceremonies, Stephen Blank entered the lodge to announce the presence of the Deputy Grand Master, Jonathan Spence, who entered the lodge accompanied by a Provincial escort of distinguished brethren and other grand officers. Salutations were then given under the direction of Stephen Blank.
The lodge returned to the first degree before lodge member, Melvyn Carter, rose to give a short history of the lodge. The presentation proved both interesting and informative and was well received by the brethren.
Stephen collected the bi-centenary warrant from the secretary’s table and presented it to Jonathan for confirmation of its validity. The brethren were invited to rise as the warrant was read to the assembled brethren by the Assistant Grand Secretary, Shaun Christie, who concluded by returning the warrant to Jonathon for him to make the official presentation to the worshipful master. Having accepted the warrant, Ray was then presented with a centenary jewel embellished with the bi-centenary bar.
There then followed a captivating oration, delivered without notes, by the Acting Grand Chaplain, Rev Harry Ross. He began by referring to his school motto, translated as: “Look to the past, look to the present and look to the future.” He reminded brethren that many things change with time and we as individuals should look to avoid repeating the bad things that have happened in the past and seek to improve on the good things that have also occurred. What we do today sets things for the future. Harry concluded his oration with solemn prayer.
The WM then had the pleasure of presenting Tony with a cheque for £2,343 in favour of the West Lancashire Freemason’ Charity. He commented that the cheque was the culmination of a number of years of charitable collecting and giving in the name of that charity that has been carried by the lodge since it announced its intention to begin planning for the bi-centenary. Ray continued by saying that during the last 10 years the lodge had become a Grand Patron of the 2010 Festival donating in excess of £22,500 to the WLFC and, in addition, had passed monies to the Preston Masonic Fellowship and the Masonic hall. A further £7,200 had also been donated to non-Masonic charities that included the North West Air Ambulance, the Girl Guide Association and the Rosemere Cancer Foundation. In summing up, Ray announced that, excluding the cheque that had just been presented, over the last 10 years the lodge had collected and dispersed a grand total of £31,700 to worthy causes.
Ray then announced that although the lodge charitable giving was complete for the evening, the lodge donations were not. He understood that the Masonic hall was about to launch an appeal for funds to help cover the cost of a major and necessary refurbishment of the hall roof. He then invited the Masonic Hall chairman, Terry McGill, to step forward and accept a cheque to the value of £1,000 as the starting donation for the appeal.
At the risings, prior to the formal closing of the lodge, Jonathan responded on behalf of the grand officers, Tony on behalf of the Provincial officers and the WM of the Setantia Lodge of Installed Masters No 7755, Bob Poole, responded on behalf of all the visitors all, of whom commended the lodge on its achievements over the last 200 years.
Later in the evening at the celebration banquet, in response to the toast to the grand officers, Jonathan began by relating some of the events occurring in 1814, the year of the lodge’s consecration; a year when the Times of London was first printed on steam driven presses. He went on to say that this was his first visit to West Lancashire as a ruler in the Craft. He also congratulated Shaun Christie for the excellent manner he had read and delivered the contents of the warrant. Thanks also went to Stephen Blank for his control of the proceedings as the Acting Grand Director of Ceremonies and to the Rev Harry Ross for his extremely powerful and thought provoking oration.
Jonathan continued by reminding brethren of the need to get younger men involved in Freemasonry and that lodges need to recognise and be sympathetic to the demands placed on young men as they develop their working careers. He emphasised that there is no such thing as a Masonic career. As members progress they may be asked to take on a responsibility that they would hopefully carry out to the best of their ability. This may lead to further opportunities within the Masonic community that should in no way be considered as a career path.
Jonathan concluded by saying he was delighted to be with Tony and his Provincial team on this auspicious occasion and wished him and the Province of West Lancashire well for the future. He closed by proposing a toast to the health of Tony that was followed by sustained applause from the brethren.
In his response, Tony thanked Jonathan for his kind words saying he was pleased to welcome him to West Lancashire. He thanked Jonathan and his colleagues, Stephen and Shaun for sparing the time to travel to Preston to attend and take part in the ceremony, a ceremony that represented a special day for the Lodge of Concord.
Tony continued by saying the brethren in 1814 could not have foreseen the future leading to this bi-centenary event. He congratulated the lodge on its achievement thanking the lodge for the support it has given down the years and continues to give to the Preston group today.
He suggested that, in this age of electronic communication, all Freemasons should communicate with Grand Lodge with suggestions and ideas to enable Freemasonry to keep up with the times.
He went on to thank the lodge members for the charitable donation made in the lodge and thanked the Provincial team for their support and attendance.
Tony concluded by wishing everyone all the best for the future and above all to continue to enjoy their Masonry to the full. He closed by proposing a toast to the Lodge of Concord No 343.
In his response, Ray, as the WM, thanked Jonathan for his attendance and the Provincial team for their support with particular thanks to the Provincial Grand Secretary, Peter Taylor, for his response to the numerous lodge requests for information during the build up to the celebration.
Turning to the lodge members he expressed special thanks to Bob Dickinson who, despite recently retiring as the lodge secretary, continued his work in organising the event. He reminded brethren that, excluding Setantia, Concord is the largest lodge in the Preston group and concluded by thanking all the visiting brethren for their attendance.
During the banquet proceedings, to serve as a memento of the occasion, hard backed bound copies of the 200 year lodge history were distributed to all those present.
The evening closed with the Provincial Grand Tyler, Frank Kennedy, proposing the Tyler’s toast.
A buzz of expectation filled the church of St Margaret of Antioch, St Anne’s on Sea, as parishioners, Freemasons and visitors crowded the pews for the sixth annual Shrove Tuesday Debate
The motion before the meeting was: This House believes that Freemasonry and Christianity are incompatible
The event was preceded by a fine reception and drinks provided by the Lord and Lady of the Manor of Lytham, Mr JC Hilton and Mrs P Hilton JP. Introductions were ably managed by the master of ceremonies Colin Ballard, who is the Town Crier to both the Manor of Lytham and St Anne’s, Attendees enjoyed music provided by the Cameo String Quartet.
Once the reception had concluded the master of ceremonies brought the house to order and introduced the chairman for the meeting The Rt Rev Geoff Pearson BA, Suffragan Bishop of Lancaster, he in turn introduced the teams. Speaking for the motion were John Hawley, Simon Cox and Toby Webber – all of whom are in Holy Orders. Those against were Past Senior Grand Deacon of the United Grand Lodge of England, Dr Steven Reid, Rev Nancy Goodrich and local Freemason Bill Hembrow.
Opening the debate John Hawley focused on the requirement for Christians to focus their lives on Jesus. He voiced his concern that by allowing candidates to take their obligations on their own holy books, that seemed to imply that Freemasons worshipped several different gods. In his view, there is only one holy book which is the Bible.
In response Steven Reid set out to explain what Freemasonry is. He spoke of Freemasonry as being a warm and uncomplicated organisation, which was based on ancient stonemasons' lodges, where the signs and passwords were used as protection of their livelihoods. He explained that the subjects of politics and religion were banned from masons' meetings as they were subjects on which nobody can agree and were likely to cause conflict and disharmony.
Toby Webber then spoke for the motion, quoting at length from masonic degree ceremonies, but making the point that there was no evidence that any degree ritual made any reference to Jesus or his teachings. However, he showed such a grasp of the meaning of the ritual that several masons afterwards personally congratulated him for the obvious amount of work he had put in to understand the meaning behind the words.
In response Nancy Goodrich spoke about people she knew who were both devoted Christians and committed Freemasons. She told of her grandfather’s 70 years as a stonemason and how this had affected his life and health. She also spoke of the works and deeds of the late Past Provincial Grand Master of West Lancashire Colin Penty Wright. She assured the audience that he was a man who had been seen to successfully combine Christianity and Freemasonry into one very honourable and useful life.
In conclusion, she acknowledged that masonry doesn’t compare to the life of Jesus Christ but added, '…it was never meant to.'
Simon Cox was the third speaker in favour of the motion and told the meeting that he had spent that day looking at the United Grand Lodge of England website in preparation for this debate! From this study he concluded that he wasn’t sure if the Great Architect of the Universe was the same god that he worshipped. Nor did he believe he was allowed to ask that question before he took his obligation. He also held that because masons of different faiths were allowed to take their obligations on their own holy books, that this somehow diluted the validity of that obligation because, as he said, '…in his life as a devout Christian those other books were not equal to the Bible!'
The following speaker was Bill Hembrow, a Reader and the Treasurer of St Margaret’s parish. Bill opened by telling his audience that he would tell them what Freemasons do. He explained that meetings open with a prayer in much the same way as a council meeting or Scouts' camp. This prayer is not an act of worship as would be appropriate to a church, synagogue or other religious building.
What follows is ritual, or ceremonial. He said: 'We are not conducting a religious service, our ceremonies are like one act plays, designed to promote candidates through the different levels of the organisation, during which a candidate is asked to take an obligation to observe the rules and regulations of the Order.'
He continued: 'Candidates are asked to place their hands on either the Bible or the sacred manuscript of whatever religion they follow, in the same way as witnesses do in a court of law. He added that Freemasonry was an ethical rather than a doctrinal organisation.' Bill continued by saying in general though, what we do in our meetings is routine, we deal with minutes, accounts, correspondence, people’s progression and there is normally a collection for charity. He went onto describe the meals after the meeting, where members could meet and enjoy the company of like-minded people. There would be a raffle where again the proceeds would be donated to charity. Bill expanded on this theme by enumerating the many charities supported by Freemasons at national, regional and local levels.
In summing up for the noes, Steven Reid alluded to the frequent and vitriolic attacks and bullying often dished out in '...episodic swipes at Freemasonry...'
He said it seemed quite alright to attack Freemasons in ways that would be unacceptable towards minority groups and the disabled. More positively, he told of the very warm welcome he received when giving cheques on behalf of Freemasons to many Christian based charities. He urged the house to reject the motion.
John Hawley summed up by stating that, contrary to Steven Reid’s allusion to Freemasonry’s religious toleration, his god was an intolerant being who didn’t suffer any dilution of commitment in his followers. A comment which raised a few eyebrows! He continued by reiterating many of the points made by his team members and the question was put.
The results of the vote were as follows: Ayes: 25, Noes: 13, Abstentions: 20.
A rare a special sighting in West Lancashire
One of the most treasured and iconic images of British history and tradition is the distinctive scarlet-plumaged Chelsea Pensioner with its characteristic tricorne hat. Whilst this exceptional species is frequently observed in its native habitat amongst the shrubberies and lawns of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, it is an infrequent migratory visitor to the sandy shores of the Fylde coast and, when away from its more familiar surroundings, it sheds its iconic headwear and dons its shako, a less flamboyant peaked hat.
In a rare sighting, believed to be the first of its kind ever in West Lancashire, an extremely fine specimen was spotted perching on the chair of King Solomon in Symphony Lodge No. 4924 in the masonic hall at Blackpool.
Former Coldstream Guard John Gledhill, proudly sporting his Chelsea Pensioner finery, was installed as Master of the lodge with military precision and in magnificent style by installing Master Steve Smith, Mentor for the Blackpool group of lodges. The lodge is proud that since its consecration in 1927 no member has served a year’s tenure as WM on more than one occasion. This has been aided by many joining members volunteering to occupy the exalted position. And so it was with John, another ‘willing’ volunteer!
Adding his dignified presence to the proceedings was Peter Elmore, representing the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. Unscathed by the wear and tear of modern society and its decline in general courteousness and etiquette, Peter is one of those individuals who has retained a consistency of poise and demureness, embodying the perfect gentleman.
The general business of the lodge having been completed with expediency and exactitude by Roy Fenton, the procession of dignitaries bowled in. Shedding further lustre on this already special event were other distinguished Grand and Provincial Grand Officers and acting Provincial Officers. Grand Officers Bill Eardley and Peter Bentham, chairman of the Blackpool group of lodges commanded pole position behind Peter Elmore, followed by John Turpin vice chairman of the group, and supported by acting Provincial Officers Martyn Jones, Gordon Ivett, and Chris Walpole.
Steve Smith, the installing Master, in the course of his masonic career has had many ambitions. As a young mason, he had yearned someday to become Master of a lodge. At one time he had entertained aspirations of being a Director of Ceremonies. Later he leaned towards being Secretary of a lodge. But now having elevated his status to group Mentor, all these desires were cast aside and forgotten. The sole thing that seemed most worthwhile to him now was to install John in the best possible manner and to this task he addressed himself with all the energy and enthusiasm he could muster. The resulting ceremony was delightful, impeccable and entertaining.
Equal to the task in hand too was Alistair Still, the formidable Director of Ceremonies of the lodge who had evidently whipped the company into great shape yet, being the perfectionist that he most certainly is he appeared to be ruminating on whether a few extra lashes may have paid dividends in some quarters.
Of particular note in the ceremony were the brethren who presented the working tools. Kicking off was Bill Snell with a delightful delivery of the tools of an installed Master, followed by Vinnie Carte’s presentation of the third degree tools. David Wilson, a professional magician, thrilled the throng by conjuring up a wonderfully vibrant rendition of the second degree tools and, bringing up the rear, a marvellous recital of the first degree tools by Keith Roberts.
Two highly experienced masons, Tom Bullen and Brian Sharples then gave exemplary addresses to the WM and wardens respectively. Following quickly on the heels of excellence, came brilliance. Peter Elmore rose with his customary dignity and delivered the address to the brethren in the most eloquent and articulate of fashions.
On occupying the chair John felt and looked quietly happy. He seemed to have brought sunshine with him from Chelsea. All eyes were now upon him and, being a chap of a demure and unassuming disposition who never seeks attention and shies away from limelight, he had acquired a complexion that perfectly complemented his splendid scarlet tunic.
But the Coldstream guards train their sons well. Once John had digested the fundamental fact that his installation had been concluded, he grasped the role of master with the tenacity of a lithe mongoose pouncing on a dastardly king cobra and adopted a stance of supreme efficiency. He seemed to be so energised that, should he have had any desire to do so, he could have felled a two ton hippopotamus with a single blow of the gavel. One may pontificate, with a degree of reluctant trepidation, that even the ubiquitous Steve Smith was reduced to a meagre shadow of his former resplendence by John’s alluring performance.
During his years in the Coldstream Guards John had served in Kenya, Aden, and Bahrain. He was stationed at Gilgil camp in Kenya during the Mau Mau rebellion of 1952 to 1960. Posted to the camp in 1959, it is rumoured that John’s arrival there was the sole reason that the Mau Mau surrendered the following year, although, being the modest man that he is, John refuses to take full credit for the regiment’s success.
The Coldstream Guards is the oldest regiment in the regular army in continuous active service and dates back to the English Civil War when Oliver Cromwell gave Colonel George Monck permission to form his own regiment as part of the New Model Army. The Monck’s Regiment of Foot was formed in August 1650 and less than two weeks later it took part in the Battle of Dunbar at which the roundheads defeated the forces of Charles I. After Richard Cromwell’s relinquishment of his position as Lord Protector, Monck gave his support to the Stuarts and in January 1660 he crossed the River Tweed into England at the village of Coldstream from where he made a five-week march to London. He arrived in London in early February and helped in restoring Charles II to the throne. Such is the glory of the regiment that John is so proud to represent.
And this was one of the points that Peter Elmore spoke of in conveying the best wishes of the Provincial Grand Master. Adding further glitter to the dazzling ceremony, John presented Peter with handsome donations to charities, including £1,400 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £200 to Prostate Cancer research, £200 to the Blackpool Group Sponsored Walk, £100 to Violet’s Light, and £100 to the Children’s Hearing Service.
The day was an occasion to celebrate and remember. The rare sighting of a Chelsea Pensioner alighting the chair of King Solomon in West Lancashire was made extra special by the endearing, modest and enigmatic personality behind the tunic.
Tony Harrison, PGM of West Lancashire, made his first visit to Warrington Masonic Hall to open the Museum and Library started by Vic Charlesworth in 2010
Vic told Tony that he started the collection with one cupboard in the hall. In the last three years many more exhibits have been donated, including many rare and unusual jewels, some of which were new to the Grand Lodge museum in London.
Tony shared tea and biscuits with the friends of the museum and the members of the board of trustees: Barry Jameson (chairman), Vic Charlesworth (curator), John Pether (secretary), Jim Cartledge (treasurer) Mike Williams (board of directors representative), John McIntyre (group representative) and Caroline Crook (archivist),
Barry welcomed Tony on behalf of trustees to the museum, thanking him for taking the time out of his busy schedule to open the museum. Tony formally opened the museum by unveiling a plaque to mark the occasion.
Tony said he was delighted to be asked to open the museum and library which has a wide range of items that had been loaned or presented to the group over many years.
Tony then surprised everyone by presenting Vic with a special plaque to thank him for all his hard work and effort to create the museum. Tony said: 'I have never seen anything like this collection of masonic regalia and memorabilia. It is a truly wonderful display.'
Vic then presented Tony with a set of cufflinks and a tie pin with the Museum and Library logo. Tony then spent some time looking at some of the exhibits which are displayed in wall mounted display cabinets that were made by Vic and the late Ted Pargeter for the display of many of the smaller and lighter items such as regalia, jewels and aprons and these were first documented and then subsequently displayed on the first floor of the masonic hall.
There is now virtually a full collection of jewels from every Warrington lodge on display, together with interesting exhibits of charity jewels, hall stone jewels, collar jewels and a few examples of side degree aprons and associated jewels. David Wood has loaned the museum part of his collection of masonic jewels including a very rare Thomas Harper jewel from 1827.
Two floor standing display cabinets were kindly loaned by Warrington Museum, Eric Drinkwater donated two large cabinets and six more were acquired following the closure of a high quality gift store in Warrington.
There are also many volumes of masonic books and literature stored in other display cabinets which Vic is in the process of documenting, which are available for research.
After the opening ceremony Vic said: 'I hope to achieve charity status and with the help of the Friends of the Museum – who are providing an income stream for the museum – charity status should be achievable shortly, followed by full museum status.'
Vic also said he was very grateful to the individual Freemasons who had made large donations and the lodges in the group who had paid £100 to be friends of the museum and the numerous number of people in the group who had helped him during the last five years to develop the museum.
Vic concluded by saying he was very thankful for the help he had received from the Warrington Museum Curator Janice Hayes, Michelle Hill our Museum Mentor and Craig Sherwood.
The first united year
Dr Mike Kearsley was the honoured guest at Swinton masonic hall to give the Prestonian Lecture for 2014, ‘1814 Consolidation and Change: the first year of the United Grand Lodge of England’. The lecture, hosted by Egerton Worsley Lodge, No. 1213, Province of West Lancashire, is about the union of two rival English Grand Lodges that combined to become the United Grand Lodge of England.
The talk is seen through the perspective of three individuals who each played an important role in the union. They were HRH Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, the first Grand Master; William White, the first Grand Secretary; and Sir John Soane, the first Grand Superintendent of Works.
Prestonian Lecture held in West Lancashire raises money for dermatology charity DEBRA
Dr Michael (Mike) Kearsley was the honoured guest at Swinton Masonic Hall to give a presentation of the union of two rival English lodges, known as the United Grand Lodge of England, through the perspective of three individuals who each played an important role in the union. They were Frederick Augustus, Duke of Sussex, the first Grand Master; William White, the first Grand Secretary and Sir John Soane, the first Grand Superintendent of Works.
The emergency meeting was held by special dispensation and was hosted by Egerton Worsley Lodge No. 1213. On the nomination of the Board of General Purposes, the trustees of the Prestonian Fund appointed Mike as the Prestonian Lecturer for 2014. The subject is, ‘1814 Consolidation and Change: the first year of the United Grand Lodge of England’.
Mike is a former student of Liverpool University and he is the new editor of The Square masonic magazine, as well as being the Provincial Grand Orator for Middlesex. Since his appointment in January Mike has travelled to Israel, Portugal, Greece, Bermuda, New Jersey and New York to present his lectures and is planning to visit South Africa, Gibraltar, Sweden, Canada and hopefully his homeland of New Zealand.
Eccles Group Chairman Dave Walmsley greeted Mike along with grand officers, Stuart Shae, Ven Alan Wolstencroft, David McCormick, Tony Edden and Alex Neilson. Mike was welcomed into the lodge by IPM Frank Woodcock who was standing in for the worshipful master John Tooley, who was recovering from a hip and knee replacement who had sent his personal apologies to Mike.
The brethren were held for more than an hour by Mike with what can only be described as an impeccable presentation delivered in a professional manner. On conclusion of his presentation, Mike produced his book about the Prestonian Lectures and requested that if any brethren wished to have a signed copy that they offer a donation to Mike’s chosen charity DEBRA.
DEBRA is the national charity that supports individuals and families affected by Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). Epidermolysis Bullosa is a group of rare genetic skin conditions, which is characterised by extremely fragile skin and recurrent blister formation, resulting from minor mechanical friction or trauma. It is referred to as the worst condition you've never heard of.
The skin has two layers: the outer layer is called the epidermis and the inner layer the dermis. Normally, there are 'anchors' between the two layers that prevent them from moving independently from one another. In people with EB, the two skin layers lack the anchors that hold them together and any action that creates friction between the layers, (like rubbing or pressure), will create blisters and painful sores. Sufferers of EB have compared the sores to third-degree burns.
The event was attended by over 80 brethren who were all magnetised by the very informative presentation delivered with lots of knowledge, a hint of humour and held the attention of the brethren who were fortunate to witness this special event.
At the festive board, in his toast to Mike, Ven Alan Wolstencroft paid homage to a wonderful evening provided by Mike and one that he was privileged to bear witness to and thanked him on behalf of all the brethren.
Mike responded saying that he has two responses, a short one and a long one: 'The first one is thank you and the second one is thank you very much.'
Group chairman Dave Walmsley presented Mike with the traditional Eccles cakes and expressed that he would always be welcome to visit Eccles sometime in the future. Mike thanked Dave and also his thanks to Stuart Shae and Godfrey Calcutt for organising the event and to all the brethren for their hospitality.
Following the announcement in March that the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker, was to retire on 19 May, a great deal of planning and hard work has taken place in London by UGLE and the Provincial team in Hope Street to prepare for the investiture meetings
In the last few days the all the planning by the Provincial Grand Directors of Ceremonies came together as the acting officers met in Leyland for two nights of rehearsals.
The job of moving the regalia, chapter and lodge furniture from Liverpool and Blackpool Masonic Hall to the Winter Gardens, Blackpool was also undertaken the day before the investiture meeting so that the temple could be prepared for the investiture in the morning of James Anthony Harrison as Provincial Grand Master of the Province of West Lancashire by the Grand Secretary, Nigel Brown.
On the day of the investiture final rehearsals started at 8am as the Grand Director of Ceremonies, Oliver Lodge and his team took the acting officers through their perambulations for the final time.
When the doors were opened to the ballroom in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool more than 1,800 brethren took their seats before the first procession commenced. The procession was led by the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp who proceeded Howard Jones, Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge and the senior officers and acting Provincial Offcers of the Provincial Grand Lodge of West Lancashire along with representatives from the seven oldest lodges in the Province into the packed ball room in the Winter Gardens
Howard then opened Provincial Grand Lodge in due form.
The Grand Director of Ceremonies was then admitted into the lodge – He informed the Provincial Grand Master in Charge that the Grand Secretary stood outside and demanded admission, Howard said he would be pleased to receive him.
The Grand Director of Ceremonies, Oliver Lodge accompanied by his three Deputy Grand Directors of Ceremonies led the Grand Secretary, Nigel Brown, who was accompanied by Assistant Grand Secretary, Tony Rayner and three Provincial Grand Masters: Keith Dalrymple (Isle of Man), Steven Adcott (Cheshire) and Sir David Trippier (East Lancashire) along with other visiting grand officers in what was a very colourful procession into the ballroom.
After being welcomed to the meeting Nigel was offered the gavel by Howard. Nigel accepted the gavel and took his seat. Nigel appointed his wardens Steven Adcott (senior warden) and Keith Dalrymple (junior warden), with Rev Graham Halsall acting as Grand Chaplain, he proceeded to open Grand Lodge.
Nigel addressed the brethren, informing them that the object of the meeting was to invest Tony Harrison as the Provincial Grand Master for the Province of West Lancashire.
The Grand Director of Ceremonies then submitted the Provincial Grand Master designate’s Patent of Appointment to Nigel for inspection. After inspecting the Patent Nigel asked the Grand Director of Ceremonies to form a deputation to introduce the Provincial Grand Master designate.
On the return of the delegation the Assistant Grand Secretary read the Patent of Appointment.
At this point Nigel asked Tony if he could conscientiously undertake the duties of the office, to which he gave his consent.
A prayer was then read by the acting Grand Chaplain. After the prayer Tony took his obligation, after which he was invested and placed in the chair of King Solomon. Nigel congratulated Tony on behalf of the Grand Master, he was then conducted to a chair on the right of the Provincial Grand Master and the deputation resumed the positions in the lodge.
The acting Grand Wardens and Chaplain were replaced by the Provincial wardens and chaplain.
The Grand Director of Ceremonies proclaimed Tony as the Provincial Grand Master and called on the brethren to salute him. To which Tony gave a suitable reply.
Tony addressed Howard Jones, saying: 'You have been Deputy Provincial Grand Master since 2012, previous to which you were an AsstProvGM for four years. Throughout this time, you have clearly demonstrated your enthusiasm and commitment to Freemasonry and to this Province, and I had absolutely no hesitation in asking you to be Deputy Provincial Grand Master, which you have thankfully accepted.
Tony obligated and Invested Howard as the Deputy Provincial Grand Master and he was conducted to his Chair.
A Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies proclaimed Howard as Deputy Provincial Grand Master and called on the brethren of the Province to salute him. To which Howard gave a suitable reply.
Tony named the brethren he was reappointing as Assistant Provincial Grand Masters: 'I am pleased to report that the nine Assistant Provincial Grand Masters have all indicated that they wish to continue in their important roles. I thank them individually and collectively for their support. They are: Raymond Martland, Philip Gunning, Anthony Bent, Mark Dimelow, Harry Cox, David Winder, John Hutton, Derek Parkinson and David Grainger. Thank you very much indeed.
Tony continued: 'As you have all previously filled the office of APrGM, it is not necessary for you to repeat, in full, the obligation which you took when you were first appointed. I will read it and you must, re-affirm the undertakings you made then with regard to the performance of the duties of the office, and that you made when you were first appointed.' Which they did and Tony then said: 'I have much pleasure in appointing each of you as AsstProvGM’s'.
A Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies proclaimed the reappointed Assistant Provincial Grand Masters and called on the brethren of the Province to salute them.
Tony said: 'In addition to the re-appointment of those nine AsstProvGM’s, I intend to appoint as AsstProvGM, Kevin Poynton, who will succeed the late Ian Boswell who passed away very recently.
Kevin, you have been a mason for over 34 years, during which time you have held the office of Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies for three years in the Craft and then three years in the Royal Arch. You have been Assistant to ProvGMs for just over 12 months and had already started to make a positive impact within the groups under your care. You are a highly experienced mason and I am looking forward immensely to working with you.
Kevin gave a solemn obligation with regard to the performance of the duties of his office. After giving his obligation Tony appointed him as Assistant Provincial Grand Master.
A Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies then proclaimed Kevin an Assistant Provincial Grand Masters and called on the brethren of the Province to salute them. To which Kevin gave a suitable reply.
Tony addressed Provincial Grand Lodge:
'Brethren, can I begin my address by thanking the Grand Secretary, Nigel Brown for his attendance here today and for literally stepping in at the last minute, and to the Assistant Grand Secretary for today, Tony Rayner and the Grand Director of Ceremonies Oliver Lodge who, together with their deputies and assistants, have brought so much to what has been a splendid occasion.
'I am sure I speak for everyone in the Province when I say how delighted we are to see you here for both investitures and I hope your stay in West Lancashire will be remembered as a happy and memorable one.
'The Installation of a new ProvGM is an important milestone in the life of any Province and today has been no exception and it is only right and proper that firstly, I pay tribute to my predecessor, Peter Hosker. Whilst much of Peter’s time in office was spent attending installations, amalgamations, centenaries and even re-dedication ceremonies, behind the scenes he put an unbelievable amount of time and effort into making sure that this Province adopted procedures that would allow it to run in a much more business-like fashion.
'Yes we are doing much the same as before, but I can assure you brethren, because of what Peter put in place, we are doing everything a whole lot smarter and certainly a lot more efficiently.
'I am sure you will all join with me in wishing both Peter and his wife Julie, a long and happy retirement together.
'Brethren, you will all be aware of the tremendous amount of change that has been brought upon us in the past 12 months. I would now hope for a period of stability within the Province so that we can get on with what we are good at ‘enjoying our Freemasonry and making sure that everyone else enjoys it too’.
'To Howard Jones, who has agreed to continue as my deputy, I would say a huge thank you, as well as to my assistants who I have had the greatest of pleasure in reappointing this afternoon and would like to offer the thanks of the Province to Howard for all the work that he has undertaken as the Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge.
'It is indeed extremely sad that Ian Boswell only very recently lost his brave battle against his cancer but I would like to say how grateful we are to him for all the work that he did as AsstProvGM.
'I have been please to appoint Kevin Poynton as AsstProvGM with particular responsibilities for the Warrington, Widnes and Woolton groups and I welcome him to our new team.
'In a Province of this size, one that is still the largest under the UGLE, I cannot be everywhere, all the time, so I place an great amount of trust and responsibility in my deputy and assistants who I know work so hard at doing what they do so well. Brethren you have my unreserved thanks and appreciation and I look forward to us working closely together in the months and years to come.
'In West Lancashire our group system continues to serve the Province and membership well and our group chairman and their executive are, without doubt some of the most dedicated brethren we have and in recognition of, and in support of their office, I will be looking closely at the group system, with a view to devolving greater ownership, but for now, I would like to thank you all for your support, encouragement and commitment.
'The society in which we live and work continues to change at an alarming rate and Grand Lodge has changed to meet the myriad of challenges that those changes bring. Here in West Lancashire we have made those same changes and have met those same challenges. We continue to embrace the advantages that come with new technology and we make full use of the latest means of social media to reach out to the public at large and to communicate within our own membership. Technology does not stand still and neither should we. We are fortunate that within our membership we have brethren with the necessary skillsets in place to make sure we remain ready to adopt the very latest in communication and social media and we will continue to invest in appropriate technology where and when necessary.
'Through our Mentoring and Membership schemes we are tackling head on recruitment, retention and retrieval and already we are beginning to see the benefits. I would suggest to you all that there is nothing better than hearing of brethren talking about Freemasonry openly among their family, friends and colleagues. We are all membership officers and mentors and none of us should feel the need to have any separate designation. From this day forward you certainly have my permission to talk about Freemasonry and if someone asks you why you are, you can tell them Tony Harrison said so, and I am sure our Grand Secretary will confirm. And I would like to inform you all that there is now a new video on our Provincial website that explains the key elements of Freemasonry. Please take every opportunity to share it with your non-masonic friends as this may interest them in joining our fraternity.
'Brethren, as a Province we continue to be at the forefront of charitable giving. In the past year alone we gave just under £260,000 to non-masonic charities and donations to our West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity from our lodges, chapters and individuals, including Gift Aid on those donations, amounted to over £370,000 and we have every intention on not only maintaining that level of disbursement, but by your tremendous efforts, continuing to increase it year on year.
'In a little over two years-time, we will begin to celebrate our tercentenary. 2017 will be a year that will see great masonic events and ceremonial and centrally plans are already well underway. In West Lancashire we will be joining in those celebrations and separately, but complementary to, we will be organising our own events and in the near future I will be making a number of announcements concerning what we have in mind and if you feel that you have any ideas and wish to contribute in any way please let me know.
'Looking round this room now and the many lodge rooms I will look round in the future, serves as a constant reminder of the obligations and responsibilities that are placed upon me. Yes, in the months and years that lie ahead things will alter, nothing ever stays the same, In fact I can't begin to tell you just how much my life has changed already, but you know brethren I am enjoying every single minute of it and it really is my biggest wish that we can all share in that same enjoyment and fun.
'Every single brother of this Province has his own part to play in our future and I would like to encourage a greater transparency in what we do, so that everyone feels that he is part of the whole process and that his views and opinions are just as important as anyone else. But above all I would like to engender a feeling of being happy and having fun, which to me, is fundamental to the success and enjoyment of our entire organisation.
'Brethren, we are inheritors of a past so carefully laid down by some pretty formidable predecessors and we are dealing with a present that continues to change for the better. We now have the opportunity to build on our inheritance so that West Lancashire can continue to prosper and future generations in turn will inherit a Province with an exceptional past, an outstanding present and a wonderful future.
'In closing I would like to give a very big thank you to all the brethren from the Furness and South Lakeland Group and the Lancaster and District Group who together with their respective vice chairmen Peter Schofield and Martin Baxendale are stewarding this special day so well.
'Finally brethren, can I thank each and every one of you for your attendance here today and to those brethren from our neighbouring Provinces and to those from further afield, I trust that you have had a pleasant and enjoyable day here in Blackpool and we hope you all have a safe journey home. God Bless you all.'
Tony then closed Provincial Grand Lodge.
The Grand Director of Ceremonies then led the recession of grand officers out of the lodge.
For the first time in their history, the Leyland Group of Freemasons entered into the spirit of their local festival with the town people of Leyland, Lancashire
Each year the town of Leyland hosts a festival which was started as a children’s fete, dating back to 1889, and was organised by the Sunday school teachers of the Leyland Parish. In recent times the local borough council organise the festivities on behalf of the population of the town with beneficiaries being local charities.
The Leyland Group of Freemasons’ executive decided that they would like to take part in the community festivities and a festival team was formed by their group publicity officer, Andy Sumner. This team quickly determined that they would enter a ’float' in the procession with a theme of ‘Freemasons working in the community’. This year the Leyland group had donated £148,000 to local charities so the theme was an obvious choice and was something which the group was keen to promote. They also arranged for the membership trailer to be hosted on the main festival ground with a Masonic hall open day being arranged for the following day.
On the day of the festival parade, the weather was perfect blue sky with little cloud. The meeting point was King Street car park in the town and John Anderson and Neil Ward, who were instrumental in ensuring that the float’ vehicle and trailer where decorated, took the vehicle to the car park. John also drove through the parade and said afterwards that he was 'proud of what he and the team had achieved in the short time available' and 'was looking forward to next year’s festival already'. Dick Walmsley too had laid the foundation for John to collect the float trailer from a local business for the day. An aura of anticipation began to build from around 10 am that morning with this year seeing up to 100 different floats, vehicles and organisations each with varying themes and colours. There was a real buzz of excitement by the time the parade left the start point to wend its way across town.
For those familiar with the locality of Leyland the parade started out from the car park at 11.45am processing via Turpin Green, Hough Lane, Towngate and on to Worden Park where the main attractions and festivities took place. The Masonic float comprised of a team of eight. There were six walkers in total, four of which were handing out leaflets as the procession progressed through town with a further two brethren sat on the float waving to the public. This being the first time that the Leyland Group had presented themselves in public wearing their regalia (they had ben given dispensation to wear regalia by the Provincial Grand Secretary), each member wore it with pride.
On the park were the main events with dog displays, dance groups and other amazing entertainment with plenty of stalls, activities and displays all around. The membership trailer slotted in well and was located on the main thoroughfare of the park where the team chatted with visitors all afternoon. Terry Challinor’s experience enabled him to organise the collection and siting of the trailer on the park, liaising with the council throughout.
The Leyland Masonic Hall Open Day was held on the Sunday when members of the public had opportunity to visit and be greeted by Freemasons. On arrival, visitors were shown the new UGLE video, ‘Freemasonry What’s it all About’ before being shown around the building followed by a question and answer session. Paul Renton had organised proceedings with the assistance of a small team welcoming visitors and guiding them around the hall. He commented that he was happy with proceedings and that he was looking forward to seeing the benefits of the day.
The weekend proved to be a successful one with a number of potential new members volunteering their details at the membership trailer. It was also deemed to be a very enjoyable weekend with each member having spent time in good company and more importantly with the community of the town of Leyland.
On a lovely early summer evening all roads led to the magnificent Liverpool Masonic Hall situated on Hope Street and nestling between the two cathedrals
The architectural splendour within the area is worth a visit in itself, but to have the opportunity to also enter the hall was an invitation not lightly spurned.
Inside the hall St John of Jerusalem Chapter No. 203 was holding its regular meeting in the majestic Egyptian Suite, the last of the current season, but with exceptional purpose.
The three principals opened the very well attended meeting and warmly welcomed all their visitors, including John Hutton, who is a Past Second Provincial Grand Principal, Sam Robinson the Liverpool Group Chairman and their fellow officers from Supreme Grand Chapter, Steve Walls, Dave Potts and Graham Bradshaw and thanked them for their attendance and support.
The first item for the evening was the exaltation of another candidate into the chapter, Andy Ward of Childwall Lodge No. 5235, following in the footsteps of his brother Jason who was exalted at the previous meeting. The ceremony was carried out in transcendent manner by first principal Graham Hamilton Taylor who was ably assisted by his fellow principals Geoffrey Cuthill and Ian McFall, under the watchful eye of the DC, Bill Bell, and as expected an absolutely consummate rendition of the complete mystical lecture by John Leisk. In years to come Andrew will look back and reflect on how fortunate he was to have undergone a ceremony of such high standards and fully appreciate the underlying work that had gone into it.
Following on from the ceremony John Hutton was invited to take the floor to make a rather special presentation to the chapter. To fully understand and appreciate the full extent of the presentation made by John the history of St John of Jerusalem Chapter No. 203 needs to be understood.
This chapter, the oldest now meeting at Liverpool Masonic Hall, formerly operated under sanction of an Athol (Antient Lodge) Warrant issued in 1792 numbered 276. The first recorded minutes for an exclusively Royal Arch meeting within this lodge date from 25 March 1796, when a Lodge of Emergency was called at Lewis’s, Richmond Street, Liverpool by the worshipful master for the purpose of the Royal Arch Masons members of this lodge to form themselves into a chapter.
After the union of the two Grand Lodges on 27 December 1813 and the subsequent re-numbering exercise in 1814 Lodge No. 276 became No. 348 and was known as Mariners Lodge No. 348 until the meeting of 19 September 1816 when it was unanimously agreed that the name of the Mariners Lodge thus be expunged and the Union Lodge was adopted in its stead.
Holy Royal Arch Masonry is regularly carried out by the lodge as it sees no need to change, after all it still holds its original warrant issued in 1792 entitling it to perform all masonic degrees. During the early 1820’s the lodge, at this time known as Ancient Union becomes embroiled in the ‘Liverpool Rebellion’, resulting in the expulsion of a number of brethren. Those lodge members remaining probably thought it expedient that if they wanted to carry on with their Royal Arch masonry and to help maintain concord with United Grand Lodge, reached the decision that a Royal Arch Charter should be applied for. Contact was made by the lodge with Supreme Grand Chapter resulting in the granting of a Charter to Ancient Union Lodge for the formation of a Holy Royal Arch Chapter to be known as St John’s of Jerusalem, which was subsequently issued on 11 November 1824. (The lodge and chapter both renumbered 245 in 1832 and again as 203 in 1863)
Sometime during the period when it operated Royal Arch masonry under the Athol warrant a set of sojourners jewels were in use. Those three original jewels being in the form of a crow, a pick and a shovel and bear the identification Lodge 276, therefore dating their first use between 1792 to 1814, but probably later than 1796.
With the fairly recent loss of one of the original jewels, the pick, John Hutton on hearing of this offered to make a replica to replace it, and thanks to his tremendous good will, he also made another complete replica set so that the two remaining original jewels can now be kept securely without the risk of damage or further loss.
Now, over 200 years after their first use John Hutton presented the chapter with a new set of Sojourners jewels replicating those originals. John accompanied the presentation with a lecture entitled ‘The Working Tools of a Royal Arch Mason’ which he had previously written and presented a number of years ago when he was first principal of the Provincial Grand Stewards Chapter of West Lancashire No. 8516. This was greeted with great applause.
On retiring to the adjoining banqueting suite the companions enjoyed an excellent festive board, the main meal being pan fried duck. The festive board was as interesting as the meeting and much enjoyed by all. The evening closed with the chapter presenting John with a bottle of vintage port, and a book about life in Egypt at the time of the Pharaoh's, a very apt gift considering the surroundings of the Egyptian dining room.
The three Principal’s thanked everyone for their attendance and looked forward to seeing them all again at the installation ceremony this coming October.
The Gladstone Club was formed by Barry Hopton for the younger members of University Lodge No. 4274 and other lodges in Liverpool to have regular opportunities to get to know one another better outside of the six lodge meetings a year
The younger masons have welcomed the idea of a friendship society and the club was founded in early 2013. They have had several informal ‘pub nights' with varying success and most recently a black tie dinner at the Artists Club.
The event organiser by Barry Hopton welcomed the members and their guests to the Artists Club, after pre-dinner drinks they took their places at the table. After grace was said in Latin as is traditional in University Lodge, the meal was served, it began with a stuffed mushroom starter, salmon main course followed by cheesecake and was accompanied by a healthy amount of wine!
After the loyal toast, Barry Hopton welcomed everyone and thanked David Goddard who had kindly stepped in as treasurer for the event, as well as being WM of Imperial Sefton Lodge No. 680 which regularly meets at the Artists Club. The club secretary Seb Jones, concluded the toasts by thanking the staff for their hard work and toasting to the future success of the Gladstone Club. Following that coffee was served along with snuff (as a substitute for cigars) which was well-received.
After the dinner Seb, said: 'We hope to have two informal events throughout the summer months including a brewery tour and another formal event at the start of the next Masonic and academic year to which all brethren and friends and partners are most welcome.'
Seb also thanked Mike Jones who had helped a lot in setting the club up. He concluded by saying: 'A number of young brethren from across Liverpool along with their partners and also non-Masonic friends attended, three of whom have indicated that they would like to become Freemasons!'