The Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning and the Provincial team turned out in force to celebrate Border Lodge of Installed Masters No 9274 installation ceremony held at Swinton 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 they suitably thanked Stuart for his generosity.
Accompanying the Provincial Grand Master and Deputy Grand Master were Assistant Provincial Grand Master Dave Walmsley, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp, Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor, Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Ian Halsall, grand officers, John Hutton PAPrGM, Tony Edden, David McCormack, Alex Neilson, Brian Everall and David Durling. Also, in attendance were a plethora of grand officers and acting Provincial grand officers, also Patrick Walsh group vice chairman and group secretary Jonathan Platt.
The ceremony was to be performed by WM Ernest Lloyd but due to illness he was not in attendance. Bob Huddleston PPrJGW kindly stepped in at the 11th hour and opened the lodge up to the third degree. There followed a report that the PrGDC Keith Kemp sought admission. Once admitted, Keith informed the WM 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 retinue entered the lodge and were welcomed by the WM who swiftly offered the gavel to Tony, to which the PrGM more swiftly returned it.
The master elect John Hutton was presented for the benefit of installation by Tony Edden. The ceremony commenced and elevated in a most exemplary manner where John was installed into the chair of King Solomon. All of the working tools were presented and explained by Bob Huddleston and the address to the newly installed master was also given by Bob Huddleston. The address to the brethren was given by the PrGM.
John then announced that this concluded the installation which was the cue for the PrGM Tony Harrison to extend his personal congratulations to John for occupying the chair for the ensuing year and to Bob Huddleston for his work as installing master.
Following the first rising the PrGM and his retinue retired from the lodge and the lodge continued with the rest of the business. On conclusion of the business, the brethren retired to join the PrGM and his team at the social board. Following the meal APrGM for the Eccles and South Eastern Groups Dave Walmsley proposed a toast to the PrGM and commented on how approachable and friendly he is. Dave said that he was privileged to propose the toast to the most distinguished guest, Tony Harrison.
He went on to say that he was delighted to have the company of so many grand officers all of whom have and continue to contribute so much to their lodges, groups and indeed, to the Province in general. Their support, encouragement and wise counsel is always appreciated and that it was a privilege to have them with him on this occasion.
Dave said that Tony Harrison is the 19th PrGM for the Province of West Lancashire and without doubt the most personable. His infectious enthusiasm for Masonry shines throughout everything in which he is involved, his encouragement and enjoyment for Masonry permeates throughout the Province and beyond, in fact enjoyment is at the fore of all his Freemasonry.
Amazingly, on the 31 July 2018 it was four years since his investiture and so much has happened in such a relatively short period of time. He has led, supported and encouraged so many effective and positive initiatives throughout the Province; they have enhanced the profile of Masonry, increased the interest in Masonry and now taking Freemasonry into the community. As a result, we are now seeing membership in this Province on the increase.
Dave said it doesn’t stop there, in addition to being PrGM and Grand Superintendent, he is extremely active in a number of other Masonic Orders, which further demonstrates his commitment and devotion to Freemasonry.
He said that he does have a further devotion, there is an old saying: “Behind every successful man is a good woman.” In the case of our PrGM this isn’t quite accurate, he doesn’t just have a good woman behind him, he has a wonderful extremely supportive lady constantly by his side, he and Maureen have been married for 51 years and in the last 12 months became great grandparents.
Dave extended his warmest congratulations to Tony and Maureen, and their family. He said that Freemasonry as we know carry’s few secrets but one of our best kept is how on earth our PrGM finds the time and indeed energy to do so much for Freemasonry, whatever that secret is, long may it continue.
He thanked Tony and the grand officers for supporting lodges and groups and thanked Tony for attending the ceremony. In conclusion, Dave said: “We are indeed so fortunate to have Tony Harrison as the PrGM for the Province of West Lancashire and it is an honour to invite all to stand and propose a toast to the health of Tony Harrison.”
In his response, Tony 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 appreciated his kind words about his dear wife Maureen and said that she was part of the team.
Tony spoke about the Provincial tour to different parts of the Province and how he continues to enjoy visiting lodges up and down the Province. He thanked the grand officers and acting Provincial grand officers for their support throughout the evening and to Tony Edden for all his work both in the lodge and is work in the Swinton Masonic Hall. Tony mentioned that the PrGDC Keith Kemp will be appointed as APrGM for Furness and South Lakeland Group in April 2019 and thanked him for his work during his time as the PrGDC.
He mentioned the membership in the Province and that the Pathway is working. He said that it is important to be in the Royal Arch for the completion of the journey in Freemasonry. He reported that the membership in the RA is 43% and he would like it to reach 50%. Tony concluded by thanking everyone for their hospitality and camaraderie and that he had thoroughly enjoyed his visit to Swinton Masonic Hall.
Protocol then predicted that Tony and his officers retire from the festive board.
Article by Tom Fredrickson and photographs by John Harrop.