A cargo of Eccles cakes had to be shipped in for the installation meeting of Lodge of Hope No 2679 held at Elm Bank Masonic Hall. In true traditional style, Eccles Group Chairman Stuart Boyd greeted the Provisional Grand Master Tony Harrison and his officers presenting them with the traditional Eccles cakes to which Tony replied: “Can I eat mine now?”
Accompanying the Provincial Grand Master were Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Kevin Poynton and Dave Walmsley, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp, Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Ian Halsall, grand officers Colin Rowling, Tony Edden, Gordon Yates, John Hutton and Reverend Donald Price (Assistant Grand Chaplain of East Lancashire). They were supported by acting Provincial grand officers John Ashbridge, Peter Allen, Paul Newton and David Marlor also Stuart Boyd and Patrick Walsh, group vice chairman.
The lodge room was full to the brim and had to have extra chairs drafted in to accommodate 90 Masons who attended to witness the occasion of the attendance of the Provincial Grand Master. Along with the visiting brethren were a party of 15 Masonic members of Lodge Kenmuir No 570 on the roll of The Grand Lodge of Scotland who had travelled down from Glasgow on their annual pilgrimage to witness Harold Smith to be installed as WM of his lodge for the ensuing year.
WM Tom Fredrickson opened the lodge and efficiently conducted the initial business as per the summons, where soon after, there was a report and the Scottish deputation headed by the WM Gordon Currie Fisher, and the brethren of Lodge Kenmuir were welcomed into the lodge by the Tom. Gordon responded and the brethren took their rightful place in the lodge.
Tom then opened the lodge up to the third degree, this was followed by a report to announce that the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies sought admission to report that the Provincial Grand Master and his retinue of officers were without and demanded admission, to which the WM responded saying that he would be honoured to receive them.
The PrGM and his officers entered the lodge room in fine ceremonial fashion and Tony was introduced to Tom, the grand officers having been seated. Tom rose to thank Tony and his colleagues for their presence and in humour made a wry attempt to offer Tony the gavel of the lodge. Tony of course initially accepted it with pleasure, but swiftly handed it back, but did thank Tom for his very kind offer.
WM Tom then invited immediate past master Phil Evans to occupy the chair of King Solomon to act as the installing master. Harold Smith, master elect, was then presented for the benefit of installation by Gordon Yates. The ceremony commenced and was elevated to a very high standard and conducted in a most exemplary manner where Harold was installed by Phil.
Presentation of the third degree working tools was by Alan Jones (a junior brother), the second degree working tools by Cliff Bentley and the first degree working tools were given by Jamie Holt (having only being initiated three months previously).
The address to the newly installed master was given by David Douglas in exoplanetary fashion, to the wardens by acting officers that to the deacons by Tony Pickering and to the brethren by the PGM.
Phil then announced that this concluded the installation which was the cue for the PGM Tony Harrison to extend his personal congratulations to Harold for occupying the chair for the ensuing year and to Phil Evans for his work as installing master and to Tom for his work as outgoing master. He made particular thanks to the presentation of the working tools from junior brethren Jamie Holt and Alan Evans.
Immediate past master Tom then had the pleasure of presenting Tony with cheques to the value of £890 for charitable donations. West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity £200, Friends of Ecclesholme £100, MCF 2021 £500 and donations of £30 each of the West Lancashire Masonic charities including the Bowling Society, Clay Pigeon Shooting Society and the Golfing Society to which Tony thanked the brethren for their kind generosity of which the recipients will benefit from.
Following the first rising the PrGM and his retinue retired to join the brethren at the festive board. All brethren seated, there was a Scottish flair to the festive board, where the first course was of course related to the recent Burns night celebrations and it would have been remiss not to have had the Scottish delicacy of haggis, and the elevated pleasure of seeing the ‘Selkirk Grace’ being presented and performed by Gordon Currie Fisher, WM of Lodge Kenmuir to the delight of the principle guests and the brethren. Needless to say, the first item on the menu being neeps and tatties, better known as swedes, the traditional Scottish accompaniment to haggis.
Following the meal, APrGM for the Eccles and South Eastern Groups Dave Walmsley proposed toast No 4, that to the PrGM and commented on how approachable and friendly he is and reported that this year he will be completing 51 years in Freemasonry. Dave said that Tony is dedicated to his Freemasonry and is a member of many other Masonic Orders which is tribute to the organisation and his achievements in his Masonic career. Dave concluded by quoting: “Behind every good man there is a good woman” and how true this is in the case of Tony and his good lady, Maureen. Dave said that, he does not how Tony has the time or the energy to do what he does, but long may it continue.
Tony, in response thanked Dave for his toast and expressed how much he had enjoyed the ceremony and the company of all the brethren at the festive board amidst a wonderful atmosphere of camaraderie. He congratulated Harold for being installed into the chair of King Solomon for the third time. He made comment with respect to the visitors from up north and how they had added to the atmosphere sharing fraternity from across the borders, particularly the dressing of the haggis.
Tony thanked his fellow grand officers and acting officers for their support during the evening including Dave Walmsley APrGM, Kevin Poynton APrGM, Stuart Boyd group chairman and Patrick Walsh group vice chairman.
Tony then touched on subjects of the tercentenary and events associated with it, that we are well into the first year of the four-year festival. He had noted that the festival jewels were being worn and he encouraged that the brethren not wearing them to consider purchasing them using the facility of the direct debit scheme. He thanked all those brethren who were supporting the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival by wearing their jewel with pride.
He mentioned some of the initiatives with reference to the blood bank and the PSA that are available to the brethren and he recommends that we should take advantage of them.
Finally, he celebrated the work of those brethren who been appointed or promoted to honours in the Craft and the Royal Arch. Tony concluded by wishing the WM and the lodge well for the ensuing year.
A presentation of a bottle of fine scotch whisky by Gordon Currie Fisher to Tony brought a broad smile and thanked him and the brethren for their kind gift.
IPM Tom Fredrickson proposed the toast to the WM followed by the brethren singing the masters song.
Protocol then predicted that the PrGM and his officers retire from the festive board. Tony and PrGDC Keith Kemp then joined their ladies Maureen and Beryl who had enjoyed a meal in the company of the ladies of the brethren of Lodge of Hope.
John Harrop WM of Stretford with Trafford Lodge No 4379 responded to the toast to the visitors and presented Harold with the black spot inviting him to join the masters on the circuit.
The evening concluded with the tylers toast recited by Alan Perks. The formalities being ended but the evening continued on until the wee small hours thus ending a most enjoyable, memorable meeting.
Article and photographs by Tom Fredrickson.