Ian Brailsford, a highly experienced and much respected Mason had been proclaimed master of Fraternal Lodge No 4531 in a delightful and entertaining installation ceremony. All had gone swimmingly well. Drawn by welcoming kitchen scents, the brethren had retired to the dining suite and were thoroughly enjoying the customary post-ceremony banquet.
While placidly grazing on their steak and health-promoting three veg, idle conversation amongst the brethren was proceeding in the liveliest manner and inevitably turned to the delights of the preceding ceremony and the excellence of individual performances therein.
Throughout the nattering exchanges that crossed the tables, scores of complimentary adjectives were freely banded; brilliant, fantastic, superb, wonderful, and so on. It was clearly evident that all had been suitably impressed.
Ian, the newly installed master was very definite in his appraisal of the day’s events in chatting to the principal guest Stuart Thornber who was seated to his right. Stuart was attending as the representative of the Provincial Grand Master, Tony Harrison.
“What a wonderful ceremony it was” Ian cheerily stated with a youthful twinkle in his eye. “Everyone did so well.”
Stuart nodded in total agreement with the verdict and added, “The brethren who presented the working tools were particularly impressive I thought.”
Pausing momentarily to harpoon a vagrant roast potato that was attempting to vacate his brimming plate he continued: “The brother who presented the second degree tools, I don’t think I’ve ever heard them delivered better.” The catering had been handsomely generous in dishing up vittles’ that evening for all the brethren were juggling to confine them to the boundaries of their tableware.
Parked to the left of Ian was Dennis Mackay the installing master. Gone were the prominent furrows of trepidation that had invaded his forehead for the duration of the ceremony, replaced now by an expression of immense relief.
While Ian and Stuart were in deep conversation, Dennis had been thanking Martin Haines the director of ceremonies in the lodge for all his assistance in bringing the proceedings of the day to such a happy conclusion. Martin was quietly pleased with the outcome. Throughout the ceremony his brain had been afire and he had been ready for any eventuality. There had been, it must be said, moments when he had to act intuitively to preserve an apparently effortless flow to the evening’s activities but he managed to anticipate each and ensure that nothing disrupted the dignity and reverence of the occasion. Had there been any glitches, no one would have noticed as Martin was in complete and efficient control.
In every man’s life there come moments to which in later years he can look back and say: “I did a good job there.” Surely such a moment had come to both Martin and Dennis that evening. Indeed, all the participants in the ceremony were justly worthy of such thoughts.
At this juncture in the narrative it would be pertinent to provide an introduction to each of the principal players in the proceedings and their contribution to such a successful and enjoyable day. As previously stated, in pole position was Dennis as the installing master. Showing a few signs of nervousness at the beginning he soon gained confidence and blossomed into a seasoned performer, no doubt encouraged by the ever attentive Martin who choreographed each stage of the proceedings with proficiency and composure.
Cheery melodies on the organ by George Holden added merriment to the ambience, assisting in a general relaxation of any frayed nerves and outstanding performances by individuals provided that excellence that accompanies all good ceremonies. Brilliance descended from the moment Harold Smith presented master elect Ian to Dennis.
John Houghton, Paul Partington and Chris Evans delighted the gathering with their presentations of the third, second and first degree working tools respectively. It was these performances that Stuart Thornber was to later lavish praise on during the banquet that followed the ceremony. And it was Paul Partington’s faultless delivery of the extended version of the second degree tools that had elicited his utmost praise.
In his address to the newly installed master, Peter Smith demonstrated those qualities that have earned him a worthy reputation for being a master of rituals. Additionally, Harold Smith, a more senior member of the lodge proved that maturity of years does not diminish the excellence of his rituals when he gave the address to the wardens. The pressure had now been put squarely and heavily on the shoulders of Stuart Thornber in delivering the address to the brethren.
Lesser mortals may well have felt intimidated, especially in a court of distinguished colleagues from grand lodge. Albert Cross, Ron Sands and Peter Bentham, chairman of the Blackpool group of lodges were in attendance, along with a supporting band of Provincial officers and acting Provincial officers Martyn Jones and Chris Walpole.
A hush of anticipation descended as Stuart advanced to do the honours. All eyes were rigidly fixed on him. But, as cool as a turbot on ice, Stuart was not distracted and performed a perfect and sincere rendition of the address.
Pleasure turned to delight when charitable gifts totalling over £1,600 were presented to Stuart. In receiving them, he thanked the brethren for their generosity and commented on the magnificent sum raised by such a small lodge, adding that he was particularly delighted to see that the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity and the Masonic club building fund were well represented in the donations.
Margaret Thatcher once said: “Disciplining ourselves to do what we know is right and important, although difficult, is the highroad to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction.” The brethren of Fraternal lodge clearly demonstrated the rewards that can be reaped from self-discipline in doing what is right and important. They can relish with pride and personal satisfaction for years to come the brilliance of their performances and the generosity of their spirits.