The last thing secretary Derek Forrest was expecting when he opened the lodge room door was a hole on the ceiling and huge chunks of debris scattered across the carpet. Along with other members of the ‘Breakfast Club’, Derek is at the Fairfield, Barrow’s Masonic Hall, most mornings from very early on. He assists with taking down furniture from previous ceremonies, then setting up and for the next ceremony. Derek also has many other duties and little of note escapes him and this group of doughty Masons.
Heavy weather over night and on the day may have been the culprit. The timing of the discovery, 90 minutes before the installation meeting of Hindpool Lodge No 1225, left little time to do much except call in a builder. Also, to press some ‘early bird’ lodge members into service to help with the clearing up. If the incident had occurred while the lodge was open for business there could have been serious consequences.
The decision was taken to relocate the ceremony to the adjacent chapter room, which, although somewhat smaller, was the only practical alternative to a cancellation.
For the last two years, despite issues with his own mental health, Stephen Renney has selflessy ‘doubled up’ as WM, working very hard to represent Hindpool Lodge while visiting the other lodges in the Furness and South Lakeland Group. This was to be his swansong, installing Paul Musgrave as master of the Hindpool Lodge for a second time. The rather cramped conditions led to several ‘musical chairs’ incidents, but humour, sincerity and dignity remained throughout the ceremony.
During his tenure as master, Stephen has overseen donations from the George Wood charitable fund to several local projects, notably the Project John Youth Homeless Support Group, the Barrow Sea Cadets, Hindpool Tigers RLFC and Furness Cavaliers FC all in the sum of £250.
In the presence of the Provincial Senior Grand Warden Michael Tax, who was the representative of the Provincial Grand Master Mark Matthews, Past Assistant Grand Master David Grainger and over 60 brethren, some first-rate ritual was witnessed.
Michael was also accompanied by grand officers Roly Saunders and David Kellet, along with Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Barry Fitzgerald, Provincial Senior Grand Deacon Tony Jackson, Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies Mort Richardson, Provincial Grand Pursuivant Neil Higgins and Provincial Grand Steward Phil Renney. Furness and South Lakeland Group Chairman Gary Rogerson, Deputy Chairman Alan Pattinson and Secretary Chris Gray were also in attendance.
Despite the limited space caused by the morning’s disaster, lodge director of ceremonies Doug Smith, ran proceedings beautifully.
The working tools of the three degrees were presented and explained in an excellent manner by, respectively, Philip Penfold, Gary Gibson and Tom Shankland. The addresses to the wardens, master, deacons, and brethren were respectively given by Bob Carr, Derek Forrest, Tony Jackson and Michael Tax, and the steward’s address by Phil Renney.
Newly installed, WM Paul had no hesitation in presenting a cheque to Michael Tax for the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity for the marvellous sum of £1,225.
Alms collected at the meeting amounted to £156.23 for Masonic charities, and the raffle at the festive banquet raised £396 to fix the hole in the ceiling and the visiting masters ‘swindle’ contributed a further £16 for charity.