West Lancashire sees the advent of a building programme at Urmston Masonic Hall, where the ‘Old hall’ is being renovated by extension and design
By virtue of this, and in honour of the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker, the Urmston Masonic Hall Committee arranged for a special cornerstone to be manufactured and hand carved by a local artisan in preparation for a dedication service.
The Provincial Grand Master Peter Hosker, along with his wife Julie, were accompanied by Provincial Grand Chaplain Graham Halsall, John Hutton (Assistant Provincial Grand Master), Mike Adams (South Eastern Group Chairman) and numerous brethren who were present to witness the admirable dedication ceremony which had been specially prepared by Graham.
Mike Adams gave a short introduction followed by John Hutton inviting Peter to dedicate the cornerstone to Freemasonry in due form, whereas, it was tried and tested and as Peter confirmed, ‘the craftsmen had done their duty’.
The foundation work is nearing completion, and the timing for laying of the now dedicated cornerstone will take its ‘course’ in the north east corner of the brickwork in early 2014.
The stone has had a time capsule chamber prepared for inclusion of the dedication service leaflet signed by Peter and John.
At the conclusion of the service, Neil Stackhouse, on behalf of the Hall Committee, presented Julie Hosker with a bouquet of flowers as a measure of gratitude for their kind attendance.
There can be only a few occasions in the life of any lodge that can be classed as exceptional
Such an occasion was the 125th anniversary of the Peace Lodge No. 2269 and the dedication of their new banner to celebrate the life of the lodge from 1888 to 2013 and still going strong.
The masonic hall at Brookfield was packed with 98 brethren. The Assistant Provincial Grand Master Ray Martland presided over the dedication ceremony. It was something very special not only for the lodge but for Ray as it was his own lodge and the one he was initiated into.
Ray started the ceremony in his usual way 'Brethren are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.'
Following a summary of the lodge history, the banner dedication team paraded round the lodge. The honour of carrying the banner was given to Gavin Charnock, the most junior member of the lodge.
The banner was presented to Ray who then delivered it into the hands of the WM Gary Fisher in the knowledge that it will be passed to his successor pure and unsullied as he received it.
The Provincial Grand Chaplain Graham Halsall gave an excellent oration, which was well received by the brethren. At various stages throughout the ceremony the Provincial Choir sang with gusto which itself was quite moving.
On the rising for the grand lodge officers John Robson said he was lost for words and that this banner dedication was one of the best he had witnessed.
On leaving the lodge all brethren were presented with a souvenir book depicting the history of the Peace Lodge on its 125th Anniversary 1888-2013.
The celebrations continued at the festive board where another treat was in store, this was a display of the memorabilia of 125 years of masonic history, from the founder’s jewels to present day.
Later a raffle raised £601 for charitable and other good causes. Members of the lodge also donated cheques for £185 for Movember (growing a moustache to raise funds for testicular and prostate cancer), £120 for the widows and £100 for the charity Follow your Dreams.
Just to witness this superb celebration felt like taking part in history - a wonderful experience!
The King’s Lodge No. 3101 had good cause to be in a celebratory mood, as two of its members, Haldane Raymond Eccles and Thomas Paton Fairley both celebrated their 50 years in Freemasonry on the same night
This was enhanced even more by the fact the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Howard Jones, who is also a member of King’s Lodge, was to deliver the celebration.
Lodge formalities over, Howard was offered the gavel by the WM Colin Robinson which he accepted, remarking that it had been in his care on several occasions before.
Howard set the scene with a short introduction.
'Fifty years ago 1963 was a year with a number of metaphorical clouds. The winter had been long and cold with the snow remaining until April and for three months there was no amateur football in Liverpool because of frozen, snow covered pitches.
'The railways had a bad year. First Dr Beeching issued his report and latterly Ronnie Biggs and others carried out the Great Train Robbery. There were political problems with the Profumo affair. To cap it all Manchester United had won the cup! However. every cloud has a silver lining. Everton won the League, the Beatles were sweeping all before them in Pop music but most importantly a lifelong friendship was formed.'
Howard continued: '41 years ago in October 1972 I was initiated into this lodge in a double ceremony alongside Peter Hough. We completed our three degrees together. Peter was three years younger than me and sadly he died three years later. Worshipful Brother Fred Darbyshire had proposed Peter into the lodge. Nine years earlier he had proposed another gentleman and that is where we shall begin.'
Howard then asked Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Neil McSymons to place Hal and Tom in seats in front of him before proceeding as thus:
'Picture the scene brethren in the offices of St John Ambulance in Rodney Street two young men met for the first time as they arrived to face the inquisition for that is how they perceived being interviewed by the Past Masters at the time.
'C.S. Lewis said friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another ‘What! you too?’
'How right he was and as a consequence today we have a double ceremony to celebrate Hal and Tom achieving 50 years in Freemasonry.
'Hal became Bro Hal on 22 October 1963 and Tom followed one month later, 50 years ago today on 26 November 1963. So first I will introduce you to Bro Hal.
'Charles and May Eccles lived in Allerton and by 1925 they had three children, Audrey, Hilary and Cyril. In the following year on St Patrick’s Day, 17 March, they were blessed with a fourth who was christened Haldane Raymond.
'Hal’s early schooling was at Springwood, then Northway and finally at Highfield High. At school he enjoyed his athletics, particularly sprinting. He was choirboy at St John’s Church in Knotty Ash, which was where he first met Doris in the Village Hall.
'On leaving school he began as a paper ruler apprentice but he realised it was not really for him. However, it was wartime and Hal was drafted into the infantry and eventually the Cameronians. After initial training in Omagh and Dalton-in-Furness, Hal served in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany as front line infantry and as a nominated stretcher-bearer. Whilst in Holland the regiment was taken out of the front line for a rest and Hal was billeted with a baker in De Haan. Rest over it was back to the front line.
'However, Hal’s elder brother Hilary, who was a regular and had been out in the Far East, was then billeted with the same bakers, Yvonne and Edmund, who made the connection. Hilary wrote to Hal, who got a twelve-hour pass and hitchhiked back to see his brother but missed him as he had been returned to England the previous day. It resulted in a friendship with Yvonne and Edmund, which continued after the war, was over.
'Whilst in Germany Hal was selected to go on a course about feet at the 77th British Hospital in Wuppertal, known as Bethesda. This was his first introduction to Chiropody. He was now a Corporal and the regiment’s chiropodist so he volunteered to go on the advance course. With the war over Hal, now in the Royal Army Medical Corp, found himself being transferred round various Regiments and finished with the distinction of having been an Englishman in an Irish, Welsh and Scottish Regiment.
'Having spent three and a half years in the army Hal returned home and in 1948 completed his training and examinations to enable him to practice as a chiropodist and finally in 1951 he completed his Higher Chiropody Diploma. He had begun his own business the year before working from his mother’s house but he was now able to open his own surgery in Prescot Road.
'1951 was a big year for Hal as on 8 September he married Doris at St John’s Church in Knotty Ash. As I said before he had met Doris at a Village Hall dance when, saying how nice she was to his brother Cyril, received the reply that she was the councillor’s daughter and wouldn’t be interested in you. However, on another occasion at Dovecot Hall, entrance 1s 6d, Hal won the raffle and Doris gave him the prize. It was his opportunity and he grabbed it and asked her out. They have now been married for 62 years and counting - quite a raffle prize.
'They lived above the surgery for two years until they were able to buy their house in Court Hey. The timing was right as their first daughter, Susan, arrived in 1953 and she was followed by three more girls; Janet in 1955, Christine in 1959 and Marian in 1963. If I were to tell you much more about the family we would be here a long time brethren as Hal and Doris now have 10 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
'As a chiropodist Hal has been a member of the Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists for 64 years and was called upon to answer the toast to the Institute on a number of occasions. He has only retired from practice this year. Brethren that is a remarkable achievement.
'In planning my presentation I asked him if there were any particular memories of a lifetime with feet but as you are all expecting to eat shortly I will forgo the graphic descriptions of ingrowing toenails septic toes and ulcerated feet! However, at one time Hal was having difficulty retaining the young receptionists so he elected for a more mature lady. As there were three of them practicing then he gave her instructions to spread the work between the three of them. Imagine his reaction when he heard her say on the telephone ‘We have three practitioners but I can’t recommend any of them.’
'A regular lady client who was now 94 had a septic toe and all the usual treatments hadn’t worked so Hal decided to try one of the old remedies, a hot poultice, and told the receptionist to show her into the back room as he was preparing the poultice in the steriliser. The client saw the steam rising and asked her what it was. The receptionist told her it was okay Mr Eccles is just getting it ready he’s going to sterilise you today!
'Hal was proposed by his Brother-in-Law, Fred Darbyshire and initiated into this lodge on 22 October 1963. He became WM on 22 April 1975 and again in 1994. He has occupied many of the lodge offices making particular contributions as both director of ceremonies and secretary. He is currently the lodge mentor. He was appointed Provincial Grand Steward in 1982 and promoted to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 1986. For 14 years Hal served the Eighth Liverpool Group; first as group secretary and then as vice chairman. As a consequence of his time as a group official Hal was elected an honorary member of six lodges and he was promoted to Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1990. The Grand and Provincial Grand Officers Luncheon Club has had the benefit of his organising ability for the last 14 years and he has been the chairman since 2001.
'Now brethren a few words about Tom.
'John and Isabella Fairley had three children, John, Nan and Tom and all three became Masons. John, a Scotsman, had been a regular soldier who after leaving the army settled in Liverpool.
'The youngest, Thomas Paton Fairley, was born at home on 26 July 1933. His school days were spent at Florence Melly School, which opened in 1927 and still exists today as a Community Primary School but in a new building. Whilst at school Tom contracted Rheumatic Fever and was banned from playing all sport so he exercised at home and obviously recovered well as he won the Liverpool Schools Neat High Dive Competition held at Norris Green Baths. I don’t think he’d fancy diving from a five-metre board now. Also when playing for Florence Melly Old Boys he played at Goodison Park in a local Cup Final. For an Evertonian a day to remember.
'Leaving school Tom began working at a Radio and Battery Services firm in Kirkdale Road but after six months the owners nephew, Fred Hughes, took him on as an apprentice cabinetmaker.
'In 1953 National Service intervened and because of his Scottish ancestry Tom asked for a Scottish Regiment and was posted to The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. After his 10 weeks basic training he had one stripe followed three months later by a second and became a full-established corporal, which was rare for a National Serviceman. Tom was a PTI and on nine occasions was listed for posting overseas, every one of which was cancelled at the last minute. The farthest he managed from Inverness was Aldershot. Boxing was very much in evidence in the army and on one occasion Tom found himself in the ring with the six foot six Regimental Champion.
'Later in the day he was found in the changing rooms still in his vest and shorts not too sure of why he was there. It was probably concussion and consequently no more boxing. Obeying commands and training is essential in soldiers and drilling National Serviceman to jump into water in full kit and swim to the other side of the river was a routine exercise. Fortunately this was carried out in a swimming pool. One young lad from the Gorbals, who for the first time in his life had his own bed and clothes, was ordered in. He then stood to attention on the bottom of the pool until they realised he couldn’t swim and Tom had to drag him out.
'Tom had met a young lady called Beatrice at the Florence Melly Old Boys Club before he was called up, so it came as no surprise that on 7 May 1955 they were married. You might say that it was a quiet affair as there were only four at the ceremony. On the other hand it was a grand occasion as it was in Inverness Cathedral with Tom in his full dress uniform of Kilt, Glengarry and spats.
'Just four months later Tom returned to civvy street and returned to work for Fred Hughes. That led to Tom working for Frank Marsh, a member of this lodge and Gilly Fisher of Aigburth Lodge No 4103. When they split the business it led to Tom travelling to Wrexham to work for seven years for Frank Marsh. When the business closed he began to work for Hanson’s, which became Unigate and then Express Dairies initially as a Spray Painter and Sign-Writer then over the years Tom became proficient in welding, vehicle maintenance and HGV recovery. One of the spin offs from this employment was the supply of cream at our lodge’s social events to accompany George Willis’s apple pies.
'After their marriage Tom and Beatrice lived with Bea’s parents until eventually they were able to buy their own house in 1963. They are still there today. Their son Duncan was born in December 1964 and they have two grandsons, Thomas and Alexander. Duncan went to Glasgow to take a degree in Art and Design and to assist with the cost took a job in a bakery, which he enjoyed. The course now completed Duncan still continues to knead the dough.
'Tom and Bea enjoy their holidays and the opera. Those of you who remember Ron Charles will know he was not too mobile. On holiday in Florida the two couples were visiting a snake farm and watching snakes being milked for venom when one was dropped on the floor. Tom reckons the other three would have beaten Usain Bolt. He didn’t move. When the snake had been captured the farmer said you were brave to stay there. Tom did not tell him he had been rooted to the spot. Visiting the opera Tom was sent to get Lesley Garrett to sign her autograph on the programme. On explaining it was for Bea he was asked what do you want? Tom replied he would settle for a kiss and he remembers it well.
'Tom was initiated on 26 November 1963 becoming WM on 27 April 1976 and for a second time in April 1997. Since his year as Immediate Past Master in 1977 he has carried out a number of the lodge offices including 10 years as treasurer and has been our chaplain for a number of years. Some of his contributions to Masonry are in use in this lodge room. On the secretary’s desk you can see the lectern made by Tom with the three tracing boards behind the relevant doors. The various wands are standing in the blue holders made by Tom. In Hope Street there is a set of pedestals he constructed and in Tenerife a Chapter has the benefit of a set of Arch Stones made by him. All this commitment resulted in Tom becoming Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon in 1988 and he was promoted to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 1996.
'Worshipful Brother Hal and Worshipful Brother Tom I know over the years you and your wives have had numerous holidays together in many places both near and far. To China, New Zealand and of course Tenerife for a ladies' night that lasted a week! You have had many happy times and a few laughs along the way. Thrown out of your rooms, no breakfast as the hotel had run out of bread, butter etc., even though the supermarket was only down the road.
'Brethren, during the past 50 years their friendship has been a constant source of pleasure to both of them and they have a number of common interests. One of them being the pleasure they get from their gardens.
'I feel sure Tennyson must have had such a friendship in mind when he wrote ‘If I had a flower for every time I thought of you...I could walk through my garden forever.’
'To both of you: Worshipful Brother Haldane Raymond Eccles Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies of the United Grand Lodge of England and Worshipful Brother Thomas Paton Fairley Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden of the Province of West Lancashire, I’m sure all the brethren join me in wishing you good health to continue enjoying your masonry secure in your friendship for each other and for us all to have the continued pleasure of your company.'
The group secretary, Ray Barrow read the certificate from the Provincial Grand Master which was duly presented to Hal by Howard.
The group vice chairman, John Marsden, read the certificate from the Provincial Grand Master which was also duly presented to Tom by Howard.
At the festive board, the toast to the health of Hal and Tom was given by Ron Davies, which was followed up by him presenting them with a gift on behalf of the lodge.
It was a delightful evening enjoyed by all the brethren that attended.
The members of Quingenti Lodge No. 8516 - the Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge - welcomed seven of the eight acting Provincial Grand Stewards as joining members at their installation meeting
The principal guest at the meeting was the Provincial Grand Master Peter Hosker.
Peter was accompanied by Ray Martland, Harry Cox and David Winder all of whom are Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, Mark Matthews (Provincial Senior Grand Warden) and Joe Hall (Provincial Junior Grand Warden), Keith Kemp (Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies) and Malcolm Bell (Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies), together Terry Hudson (PProvAsstGM) and many other grand and Provincial grand officers.
There was also a large attendance of other visitors from across the Province who attended the meeting for two reasons. The first was to watch the newly appointed Stewards parade into the lodge room after their application to join the lodge had been voted on by the members.
The second was to witness the installation of the Steward (master elect) John Martin. John was installed into the chair of King Solomon by Greg Pinnington, in what Peter described as: 'distinguished and unique manner.'
After being installed in the Chair of King Solomon John invested the lodge officers which included David Grainger as JW, David is an Assistant to the Three Grand Principals in the Royal Arch. Peter Pemberton as SW who is the group publicity officer for Lancaster Group and region four publicity officer and Fred Wright as almoner. The Provincial Grand Almoner Ernie Greenhalgh explained the almoners duties to Fred who has served as lodge almoner for several years. Ernie also presented Fred with the new almoners booklet.
More than 80 brethren retired to the main dining room to enjoy the festive board after the meeting was closed. They enjoyed a fine meal and listened as Peter Hosker in the response to the toast to his health, pay tribute to the excellent work in the lodge and by the lodge members in managing the banquets after the meetings of Provincial Grand Lodge.
Peter described Quingenti Lodge as the jewel in the Provincial crown. He said: 'As ProvGM, I would wish to salute and thank the lodge for all its good work over the years in running and managing the banquets at Provincial Grand Lodge, now held at Preston Masonic Hall.'
He continued by saying: 'Many brethren come to Provincial Grand Lodge to enjoy and admire the Province at work, and in that work, the acting Provincial Stewards play a very important part. I have attended Grand Lodge and visited many other Provinces and I venture to suggest when it comes to ceremonial occasions, 'nobody does it better than West Lancashire'.
'Over five years have now passed since I became ProvGM. I thought that I would revisit my 2008 principal aims and objectives, to see whether I had lost the plot!
They are: to share more widely our principles and beliefs; to extend our charitable giving; and to give even greater service in and to our communities.
'As to sharing our principles and beliefs, we have taken two giant steps with the initiative of Ambassadors for Freemasonry, and the base values of our Order - Integrity, Kindness, Honesty, Fairness - enabling us to speak in modern language with our families, friends and others about our Order.
'Additionally, our excellent Provincial website is our open window to the world - tirelessly managed by your retiring SW Mark Holloway, supported by webmaster, the team of group publicity officers and the assistant webmasters.
'Looking at our charitable giving, I am proud of what we have achieved together in Province and I continue to be humbled by the masonic and non-masonic donations.
'By way of example: In 2010, £5,4000,000 to our 2010 Festival for the Masonic Samaritan Fund. This year we gave £80,000 to the Royal College of Surgeons for the Royal Arch Bi-centenary Appeal. Last year the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity gave grants of £500,000 which included £143,539 non-masonic grants. Last year the giving to non-masonic causes throughout the Province - including group giving days, of over £250,000. This has achieved a balanced giving between masonic and non-masonic giving.
'I was pleased that The Freemasons' Grand Charity gave a grant of £50,000 to the British Red Cross in support of immediate emergency aid efforts in the Philippines. Also, The Grand Charity has opened a dedicated Relief Chest for Freemasons to give individually to the disaster.
'Service in the community continues to grow, and I hear many stories of good service. I repeat what I have said on many occasions - for the kind of life we lead, will Freemasonry be judged.
'In conclusion, I emulate my predecessors when I say that I am fully aware of the importance of this lodge not just because of its work at PrGL, but because it brings together those who, importantly, have served the Province as acting Stewards. I am sure that in bringing acting Stewards together, it fuses like minds and develops a masonic spirit and purpose which are then spread throughout the Province for the good of freemasonry. It is all about qualities of commitment, ability and potential leadership, which is at the very heart of all that is good in the Province.'
He then wished John Martin well in the coming years, he said: 'You lead a most important body of men. Once again I have greatly enjoyed my visit to your fine lodge.'
Greg proposed the toast to the new worshipful master, during his toast Greg said John was born in Stroud, Gloucestershire in 1954, after leaving school aged 16 he spent 15 years working in the private forestry sector and qualified as a forester. He joined the Fisheries division of North West Water at 30 and became a Fisheries Officer working in Cheshire, Lancashire and Cumbria for 25 years. He is currently self employed and works for clients which include the Forestry Commission, Highways Agency and Cumbria County Council.
John was initiated into the Arthur John Brogden Lodge No. 1715 in October 1997 and served as WM in December 2005.
John gave a suitable reply, thanking Greg for the way he had installed him in the chair.
The toast to the visitors was proposed by the new Steward of the lodge David Coulson. Joe Hall replied on behalf of the visitors, saying he had greatly enjoyed the ceremony and he congratulated Greg on the work he did in the lodge. He also said he should single out the Provincial Deacons as they clearly had some talent despite their roles as last season’s acting Provincial Wardens!
The final toast of the evening was in the hands of the tyler Keith Lang who gave the tyler’s toast.
In the space of one week the Provincial Grand Almoner has staged two key events in the Province of West Lancashire
The first was the annual care dinner in Leyland where the guest speaker Col Sylvia Quayle OBE spoke about the work of SAFFA. The second was a presentation made at Poulton le Sands Lodge No. 1051 by James France of The Freemasons' Grand Charity, which clearly demonstrated to the almoners and brethren present the far-reaching and important work undertaken by the central masonic charities, and the Grand Charity in particular.
The Freemasons' Grand Charity is, of course, one of the four central charities which also includes the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and the Masonic Samaritan Fund.
However, the Grand Charity is specifically a grant-making organisation which was created to be a focus for non-masonic grants. It also helps Freemasons and their families who are in a difficult financial situation, and other masonic charities in times of need. In the 30 years of its existence the Grand Charity has made grants totalling well over £117,000,000.
During 2013 alone almost 2,000 people were assisted by the Grand Charity with approved Masonic Relief Grants totalling £3,700,000.
James detailed two cases where help had been given and which showed the absolutely crucial role played by almoners in visiting brethren and dependants or widows, and gently establishing their circumstances to assess need.
In making non-masonic grants the charity seeks to make a significant difference to people in real need by supporting issues that Freemasons and their families are concerned about. They do this by supporting projects that achieve a long-term impact in the community.
During 2012, £2,500,000 million was donated to charities across England and Wales. One of the specific criteria for the making of a grant is that the application is from a nationwide charity. Charities that serve only a local area are not eligible for support from the Freemasons' Grand Charity and are advised to seek funding from local or Provincial sources, thus emphasising the importance of continuing to support to the full the West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity.
The kind of support given by the Freemasons' Grand Charity to non-masonic causes includes: medical research, including treatment for Multiple Sclerosis and Cancer Research; help and support for vulnerable people; funding to provide youth opportunities; and hospices.
Each year grants are available to all hospice services in England and Wales that receive less than 60% of their income from the NHS.
Air Ambulances: last year marked over £1,000,000 in total donations for Air Ambulance services given by the Freemasons' Grand Charity.
Emergency grants for disaster relief: the Grand Charity also seeks to respond when disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding occur throughout the world.
However, whilst there is no doubt that support for non-masonic causes is extremely important, the 'bread and butter' of the grant-giving arm of the Grand Charity is that of Masonic Relief Grants.
From the perspective of Freemasons in West Lancashire such Masonic grants over the last 12 months have totalled 166 amounting to £347,910. Expanded over the last full five years this figure increases to 1145 grants and a total amount of £2,324,793!
More than 80 brethren travelled from around the Province to attend the celebration meeting of Peter Connolly to mark 50 years of service to the Craft
The Provincial Grand Master said: 'Peter you are a model as a man in the community and to Freemasonry.' The meeting was held at Old Lerpoolian Lodge No. 9270 which meets at Woolton Golf Club in Woolton.
After the meeting was opened and normal lodge business was concluded the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp, entered the lodge to inform the WM that the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker, demanded admission. Peter was accompanied by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Howard Jones, five Assistant Provincial Grand Masters: Tony Harrison, Philip Gunning, Tony Bent, Mark Dimelow and Roy Skidmore, and 13 other grand officers, Woolton Group Chairman Andrew Whittle and six acting Provincial grand officers.
Accepting the gavel, Peter occupied the chair and addressed the brethren, saying: 'One of my great pleasures and privileges in Freemasonry, following my appointment as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master in 2003, has been to lead the celebrations for brethren who are celebrating 50 years, 60 years or even 70 years of service in and to Freemasonry.
'As Provincial Grand Master, I had thought that my involvement in such celebrations would, sadly, be very few and far between. Not so, in the past five-and-a-half years in office as Provincial Grand Master I have been privileged to lead the celebrations for several senior masons, including my predecessor, the late Colin Penty Wright. This is another special evening for me as I lead the celebrations for our good friend and senior mason Peter Connolly.'
Peter then commenced his address: 'Peter, you were born on 4 August 1941 in Waterloo Liverpool. Your mother Gladys and your father William Joseph, known as Bill, brought you up at Seafield, Abbotsford Road Blundellsands in a large detached house. The house had originally been built for a sea captain, not, I hasten to add, the sea captain who was destined to be in charge of the Titanic. It has now been converted into a 16-bed home for the elderly mentally and infirm.
'It is interesting what childhood memories stay with us as we grow older, and what memories come to mind as we prepare for our celebration of 50 years as a Freemason. Peter, I know that your memories are many and varied. For you those memories include: chasing ‘Fluff’ the cat up the 106 stairs to the attic, and Fluff always won! Perhaps this prepared you well for winding and other staircases, which I will refer to shortly.
'Your father germinating tomatoes in the greenhouse with a rabbit’s tail - could this be your first introduction to a ritual - playing hide and seek in the 24 various rooms/pantries and cellars - I am not sure what this prepared you for.
'I know that both of us agree that memories of our fathers are particularly special. In particular, you recall trips on the Liverpool Overhead Railway with your father on the occasional Saturdays when he was not working. As you pointed out, your father could identify every vessel by its funnel - and knew its cargo as well. The docks were then six miles long. As the Works Director of Leyland Motors - my father could identify every bus by the grill, nose or front panel!
'After Ursuline Convent and Miss Milton's Prep School, you went to Merchant Taylor's School, Crosby for three years. In November 1952, your father died suddenly, aged 46 years, a devastating loss to your family. He had just joined Fairfield Lodge No 2290 in 1949 and only just - in October 1952 - reached the stewards' list. Dr Fred Wilson, who was then a medical officer for one of the shipping lines out of Liverpool, proposed you for the RMBI School at Bushey, which you attended for two-and-a-half years. The closure of the school was proposed, but anyone about to start their GCE course was moved to another school, so that their studies would not be interrupted. You were moved to Liverpool College as a boarding scholar. You left in 1959 having GCE O and A level certificates and equally important your athletics colours.
'Although you recall your boarding school was somewhat Victorian, you nevertheless enjoyed your schooling as you put it, your schooling certainly set you up for life. Perhaps, your many friends at school helped your upbringing. These included: Nigel McCulloch (subsequently Bishop of Manchester) Malcolm Thornton (Minister for Wales under Mrs Thatcher) and a touch of Richard Stilgoe. That mixture of religion, politics and humour has served you well.
'After studying at the College of Commerce, you joined Norwest Construction as a management trainee. You did two years as an internal auditor and then joined Southerns, a national firm of timber merchants. You started up their joinery department and eventually became a manager of the substantial ‘Door and Joinery Division’, with responsibility for a turnover of £2,000,000. Following a merger with Magnet, you were appointed to the Board of Magnet Joinery Sales.
In 1985, you resigned from the board, started your own business, and quickly became the second largest supplier of spiral stairs (should I say, winding stairs) in the UK. I realise that your stair-chasing activities with Fluff had obviously given you the necessary experience in this field. But there is more: you designed, marketed and sold extruded plastic products for the newly introduced roof ventilation regulations for 22 years, retiring in 2008.
'You married in 1964, you have three children: Andrea, Stephen and Paul, and four grandchildren aged four to 14 years of age. You re-married in 1999 to Lynn, as a result you have acquired a further three grandchildren. Your great joy is not playing hide and seek with your family, but going with them on trips to Llangollen, and many other heritage and narrow gauge railways. The excitement of the railways extends to trams, and with your OAP travel card you have been seen travelling on the new Blackpool Tramway, indeed you tell me that you can go from Starrgate to Fleetwood and back, six times in one day, and free of charge! Who needs the Pleasure Beach?
'Your other interests include caravanning and fell-walking. You are now an honorary Girl Guide, supporting your wife in her 10 years as commissioner. You recall taking 140 Brownies to London on a two-day trip, and being ceremonially presented with the badge of 'Wise Owl'. Peter, you told me that you were informed later that the Wise Owl badge was given to you because the powers that be could not find a 'Know-it-All' Owl badge. Having been in the Combined Cadet Force for five years at school, you joined the Territorial Army in 1959, being commissioned in 1960. You completed your career as Captain, Acting Major. You commanded 309 Signals at Prescott, but left the TA shortly after it became the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve.
'Your love of organ and organ music are special, and you particularly enjoy the great Willis organs made in Liverpool. This includes the Willis organ in our Craft headquarters at Great Queen Street. I belong to the Parish of Preston and I am pleased to say that St George's boasts a wonderful Henry Father Willis organ, but like me, not in the first flush of youth.
'All of this gives the clear impression of a very full and enjoyable life, but as we all know there is more to relate, a great deal more.
'Peter, you entered Freemasonry in 1963 when you were initiated into Fairfield Lodge, and became its WM in 1977. You are also a joining member of Lathom Lodge No. 2229 and Lancastrian Rose Lodge No. 7811.
'Importantly, you were a founder member of Old Lerpoolian Lodge No. 9270 in 1988, and became its WM in 2010. I particularly remember the consecration of Old Lerpoolian Lodge because I was the installing Provincial Junior Grand Warden, and I recall that you were the first director of ceremonies.
'You were exalted into the Chapter of Liverpool No. 292 in 1965, being just two years after you were initiated, clearly a man on a mission, anxious to complete his journey.
'Your first Provincial rank was that of acting Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 1984. Thereafter, you served with much distinction as the vice-chairman and the chairman of the Eighth Liverpool Group. It seems a long time ago that we had eight groups in Liverpool.
'Your first appointment in Grand Lodge was PAGDC in 1988, and you were promoted in Grand Lodge to PJGD in 2008. Your first Royal Arch Provincial appointment was that of acting ProvGSN. Your first appointment in Supreme Grand Chapter was PGStdB in 1989, and you were promoted in Supreme Grand Chapter to PAGSoj in 2010.
'I salute you as man and a mason, and you have certainly served your community and Freemasonry. I have said on many occasions that Freemasonry will be judged by the kind of life we lead. And you have certainly set a very high standard in all that you have done.'
Peter Hosker then asked Andrew Whittle, Woolton Group Chairman, to read out the certificate to mark Peter Connolly’s 50 years in Freemasonry.
The assembled brethren gave him a spontaneous accolade.
The celebration in the lodge complete, the brethren adjourned to a sumptuous festive board. After the meal Peter was presented with two celebration cakes.
As is customary at celebrations in the Province a toast to the celebrant was made, on this occasion Giles Berkley proposed the toast to Peter Connolly, in a most sincere manner, but, with several insights into Peter’s life which caused some hilarity from the brethren.
After the festive board the brethren of Old Lerpoolian Lodge presented Peter with a print of their old school.
More than 130 brethren attended the annual almoner’s dinner, which was held in Wellington Park, Leyland
After the meal the Provincial Grand Almoner Ernie Greenhalgh welcomed Peter Hosker, Provincial Grand Master, and the guest speaker Col Sylvia Quayle OBE. Ernie thanked everyone for attending the dinner and said he hoped the evening would prove to be both interesting and enjoyable.
Peter Hosker then said: 'In this Province, I think we can all be proud of our long history of Care and Charity. Indeed, it is now 163 years since our first Provincial charity was created, and we have come a long way since then. Our masonic care and charity is made up of four parts.
'One: a Provincial Care Structure serving the Province. Two: a Provincial Charity Structure serving the Province. Three: the West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity (WLFC) our own Provincial One Stop Charity, a professional and well managed charity with over £11,000,000 in funds. And four: our four main national charities operating under the banner of Freemasonry Cares.
'The excellent Provincial care and charity structures were put in place by my predecessor. In turn, in 2008, I was pleased to play a major part in bringing together the then seven Provincial charities to create our WLFC, our own Provincial one-stop-charity a professional and well managed charity with over £11,000,000 in funds.'
'Freemasonry Cares was launched in 2009, in partnership with the Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Lodges and promotes awareness amongst Freemasons and their dependants of the wide range of financial, healthcare and family support available from masonic charities and delivered by a central enquiry service.
'The Province of West Lancashire provides a dedicated care structure in support of brethren, widows and dependants who at times of sickness, personal distress or financial hardship are in need of masonic assistance. Our care structure is extensive and is overseen by AsstProvGM Ray Martland.
'Ernie Greenhalgh, was appointed last May, since then he has been a whirlwind of frenzied activity. His enthusiasm for the new presentation 'How do I get help' has been infectious and I am quite sure that as it rolls out the presentation across the Province, it will be well received. I have seen this excellent presentation, and I particularly like the video case studies which will appear on our Provincial website. Presently, the video running is a case study revealing the help and support received by a Preston family from the RMTGB.
'Invitations for the care presentation ‘How do I get Help’ now stand at 57 which is just over a third of Ernie's target of 160 during this masonic season. By the end of this month 14 presentations will have been given. The video has turned out to be a very powerful aid, particularly as it shows a family from our Province saying that Freemasonry has changed the lives of their whole family.
'Ernie is ably supported by his Deputy Paul Webster, Roy Pyne the administrative link with the Grand Charity, eight regional care officers, 24 local care officers, and by over 500 Craft and Royal Arch almoners. They make up the ground force - they bear the heat of the day. It is demanding work, and I thank them all for their substantial and tireless efforts.
'I wish to mention the Pastoral Care undertaken by our care structure. This can only be carried out by going to and visiting people - it cannot be done on the telephone. This enables the problem to be identified and help assessed. It breaks down into three separate areas. One: visiting people who are sick. Two: visiting people who have lost their partner and are lonely. Three: visiting those who need some form of help either financial or otherwise.
'It is essential that the Provincial Almoner and his team continue their good work, and are ready willing and able to help and support when people need our help.'
Ernie thanked Peter for his kind words and then said: 'Since I came into office some of you will remember my two favourite words ‘communications’ and ‘training’, well now I have a phrase to go with them ‘working in harmony’.
'I am delighted to see Barry Jameson and a number of charity stewards here as we start to work even closer than in the past. Together they will be supporting our team when the presentation ‘How do I get Help’ are given.
'But it does not stop there, our four central masonic charities are working ever more closely and the latest initiative is the coming together of both Welfare teams from the RMBI and the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. While we have always had a good liaison with Elaine Hanson and Claire Beaumont, I believe it will improve even more in the coming months.
'The West Lancashire project run by the RMBI for the benefit of elderly brethren and their dependants within our Province, has now been closed to new applicants. However, I am delighted to announce tonight that the trustees of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity have agreed to take over the role of assisting with third party top-up-fees, should the State not meet the full cost. On behalf of us all, I thank the WLFC for taking over what is becoming an area of concern within ‘Care’.
'While I have always had an admiration for the work carried out by SSAFA the armed forces charity which provides lifelong support for our servicemen and women, together with their families. Their volunteers who are the equivalent of our almoners have an excellent professional approach. In the care structure we continue to move forward, but still have some way to go before we achieve that high standard. So I was delighted when a senior speaker from SSAFA accepted my invitation to address you all tonight.'
Just before Ernie introduced Sylvia he thanked all the almoners for the dedication and hard work they have already put in during the year. He said this made him feel confident that their professionalism will shine through. He said they are well on target to reach the 160 presentations in this masonic season.
He concluded by saying to all the team, when presenting ‘How do I get Help’ the experience is something you should enjoy, our story and video have a very powerful message.
Ernie then introduced Colonel Sylvia Quayle saying she is a Freeman of the City of London, the first lady to be invited onto the board of trustees for the RMBI and earlier this year the Queen honoured her with the OBE for her charitable work.
Sylvia started by giving a short outline of SSAFA’s history which was founded in 1885. She then spoke about the work carried out by SSAFA, their training and how they go about helping individuals in need.
During her talk Sylvia said she realised that in comparison to SSAFA the masonic movement was small, but both organisations have the same ethos in helping and looking after its comrades.
John Hutton was invested as the 91st Assistant Provincial Grand Master of West Lancashire at a meeting of his mother lodge Pendlebury Lodge No. 8177
After the lodge was opened in the third degree by the WM Trevor Dickenson, the Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Neil MacSymons announced the arrival of the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Howard Jones, who was accompanied by Assistant Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning and the senior and junior Provincial Grand Wardens Mark Matthews and Joe Hall, along with the Rev Graham Halsall (ProvGChap), Peter Taylor (ProvGSec), David Walmsley (Eccles Group Chairman), Patrick Walsh (Eccles Group Secretary) and Jonathon Platt (ProvGStwd).
Trevor said he would be delighted to receive Howard. After welcoming Howard into the lodge, Trevor offered him to gavel which Howard accepted saying: 'On this occasion I am pleased to accept the gavel as I have been asked by the Provincial Grand Master to invest John Hutton as one of his assistants.'
Howard then asked Phillip Gunning to assist him to open Provincial Grand Lodge by acting as Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Mark Mathews to continue to act as Provincial Senior Grand Warden and Joseph Hall as Provincial Junior Grand Warden, Neil MacSymons to act as Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and Patrick Walsh as Provincial Grand Pursuivant.
Howard then opened Provincial Grand Lodge and salutations were given to Howard. John Hutton retired from the lodge and Howard announced that the next business was to invest John Hutton as Assistant Provincial Grand Master and that it was an honour and a privilege to carry out this duty on behalf on the Provincial Grand Master Peter Hosker, who was unable to attend as he was attending the Provincial Care Team’s dinner in Leyland.
A deputation was then formed to bring John back into the lodge to which Howard welcomed him in. Howard read out Johns’ masonic history from when he was initiated into Pendlebury Lodge in 1971 and was installed as worshipful master in 1978. Howard said that his service to Freemasonry both in the Craft as well a Royal Arch was exemplary and that his CV was highly commendable.
John was asked if he was willing to undertake the responsibilities and duties of the office of Assistant Provincial Grand Master, to which John replied, I am. Peter Taylor then read out the certificate of office signed by the Provincial Grand Master.
John then knelt and took the solemn obligation of an AsstProvGM. Howard invested John with the chain of his office and thanked him on behalf of Peter Hosker for accepting this important office.
Howard closed Provincial Grand Lodge and invited the worshipful master back into the chair of King Solomon and thanked him for allowing the investiture to be performed before the installation meeting.
John was born in Eccles in 1945 and soon moved Little Hulton to be brought up in a working shop/bakery environment. Similarities between Ronny Barker's Open All Hours and the Hutton’s family business were not too far apart. Bread, cakes and pies were under manufacture before school and Saturdays morning’s football could commence.
After leaving school at 15 years a position in the family firm was swiftly turned down in favour of an apprentice in engineering. Starting work at 5.00am and finishing at 11.00pm didn’t seem quite right!
Day and night school brought a change in career to a technician apprentice finishing as a Scientific Engineer working with Electron Microscopes and other large vacuum instruments.
After a few years of traveling around the country, overseas and marriage to Anthea a new position was sought at Manchester University, Department of Botany and Zoology. New skills, knowledge, promotions, and take overs saw John responsible for teaching, research and developments in one of the UK’s largest Electron Microscopy Units and a title of Senior Experimental Officer.
Although early retirement from University Departmental life happened in 1996, an active interest in research, development of unique equipment and histology glass knives continues at slower pace with his own scientific glass and engineering company.
John meet his wife Anthea dancing in Bolton and they married in 1968 and after a series of moves finally settled in Bolton. Anthea gave up her career as a University administrator after the birth of their daughter Clare. Today Clare is happily married and has provided two grandchildren Ben and Harry.
John’s hobbies include tennis, travel and seeing his grandchildren. Travel for both work and pleasure has taken Anthea and John to such places such as America, Canada, China, Greece, Europe and Egypt.
There was a large gathering of brethren at Wellington Park, Leyland, for a very special anniversary meeting, the purpose being that of celebrating 150 years of masonic service of Hesketh Lodge No. 986
In fact there were over 150 brethren in attendance to mark the lodge’s milestone. The atmosphere was one which was full of anticipation of the celebration ahead and there was a real buzz around the lodge room.
The lodge was opened by the current worshipful master, Ian Smith, who before the meeting was full of the apprehension a ceremony of this nature could stir. Once he was into his stride though he very quickly despatched the lodge business and admitted Ray Martland, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, into the lodge room. Ian, out of courtesy and as a right, offered the lodge gavel to Ray who, on this occasion retained it as it was befitting for this celebratory ceremony. Ray started by saying: 'Are we all sitting comfortably?' He then set about telling a brief and concise history of the lodge.
Hesketh Lodge was consecrated in 1863 when there were other notable and historical facts in the same year. Queen Victoria was on the throne, the Prime Minister was Viscount Palmerston and the first section of the London underground was completed. The FA was founded at the Freemasons Arms in Long Acre, London and scarlet fever caused 30,000 deaths.
At a meeting of the Lodge of Harmony held at Ormskirk, Lancashire, on 26 August 1863, the petition to form Hesketh lodge was signed. At this time there were only 85 lodges in the whole of Lancashire of which 55 were in East Lancashire and 30 in what is now West Lancashire. The Province now has 367 lodges.
It was decided that the first meeting would be held on the third Tuesday in November at the Grapes Inn, Croston, and to have the warrant read and the master installed. The annual subscription was one guinea for 33 years with an initiation fee of 5 guineas. Hesketh Lodge is the mother lodge of a number of other lodges including Carnarvon Lodge No. 2376, Coppull Lodge No. 4232, St Michael’s Lodge No. 5756, Eccleston Lodge No. 7754 and Tarleton Lodge No. 7871.
Ray asked the members of the lodge to stand and he commented that it gave him great pleasure to be able to say thank you to those brethren whose foresight and enthusiasm made it possible in the founding of this lodge. He went on to congratulate them and their successors on a happy and successful one and a half centuries of service to Freemasonry. He concluded the celebration by saying that he hoped the lodge would be refreshed and reinvigorated and may they continue to enjoy the friendship and the good fellowship of this, the world’s finest fraternal organisation.
Once Ray had completed his oration he invited Ian back into the chair before he was presented with a number of cheques. These cheques were each written out for the sum of £986, the number of the lodge, and there were six in total. Two were written out to the Wellington Park Masonic Hall loan reduction fund and one each to West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, St Catherine’s Hospice, Derian House and the Rosemere Cancer Foundation. Ray thanked the lodge for their kind donations. He also said that the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker, had sent his good wishes and celebratory congratulations and wished the lodge health and happiness for the future.
There were eight toasts on the toast list for the evening and following the first toast to the Queen the most important one was indeed the toast to the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Ray Martland. In his reply Ray was more than pleased to be offered the opportunity to be present at the occasion. He brought his own best wishes to the lodge and thanked every member and their predecessors for having ensured the well being of the lodge. He said that he hoped the lodge would continue to thrive for at least another 50 years but quipped, and conceded that he didn’t think that he would be present at that occasion.
Stewart Seddon the Leyland Group Chairman then proposed the next toast of the evening that to Hesketh Lodge No. 986. He started by thanking the lodge secretary David Lloyd for affording him the pleasure of being able to make the toast. He also mentioned that the lodge members are merely custodians of Freemasonry and past performance is no guarantee of future success – the immediate future of the lodge rests in their hands. He also mentioned that 50 years ago at the lodge’s centenary celebration there were three lodge members who were also at this celebration too. Jack Staziker a member for 65 years, David Johnson a member for 55 years and Alan Heald a member who will celebrate his 50 years in the coming weeks.
Ian Smith responded to this toast on behalf of the lodge and saying what an honour it had been for him to have served as WM in the lodge’s 150th year. He praised the organising committee for all their hard work preparing for the big day and thanked Ray and the Provincial team for attending and making the day additionally special.
At the end of a very enjoyable day’s celebration every lodge member and visitor went home happy and with the knowledge that they had witnessed and been a part of Hesketh lodge’s 150 year celebration. Each were gifted with cuff links which had been embossed with the lodge crest as a memento of this special evening.
A project on the Greenall family started by Charles Shand before he died has finally been completed and presented in St Oswald Lodge
When Charles died a fellow member of St Oswald Lodge No. 5170, Derek Hunt, was asked with others to go through the many documents that Charles had collected.
Among them Derek found an unfinished work about members of the Greenall family who had been such a large influence on Freemasonry, not only in Warrington but in the Province of West Lancashire and Grand Lodge.
Two members of the family became Senior Grand Wardens of the United Grand Lodge of England and one became a Provincial Grand Master in Ireland.
Derek eventually found time to complete ‘The Greenall Family and its Service to Freemasonry’ and bring it totally up to date.
The history was presented by Derek at a meeting of St Oswald Lodge No. 5170 in which the last member of the Greenall family to be a Freemason, Lord Daresbury, was a member. He was a member of St Oswald Lodge for more than 50 years and after moving to live in Ireland became the Provincial Grand Master for the Province of North Munster.
After giving the history in lodge Derek presented a bound copy of it to Victor Charlesworth to place in Warrington Masonic Hall’s Library and Museum.
Vic said that St Oswald Lodge had been a fantastic supporter of the library and museum project since its inception and this presentation continued that support. He said the document would be a valuable asset along with other documents for anyone wanting to understand the history of Freemasonry in the town.
During his lifetime Charles produced many lectures and was acknowledged throughout the Province of West Lancashire and even further afield for his vast knowledge of Freemasonry. He was honoured with the high rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden.
To read the full version of ‘The Greenall Family and its service to Freemasonry’ click here.