The installation meeting at Vale Lodge No 5256 saw George Charles Fox take the chair of a lodge for the third time; the first occasion being Ormerod Lodge No 5713 in the Province of East Lancashire in 2002, followed swiftly by Vale Lodge in 2003.
The installation meeting, held at Rowley Court, Lancaster was in good attendance, and members of the lodge and visitors alike were delighted by the presence of Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton. Kevin was in especially good company being accompanied by two group chairmen in the persons of the Lancaster and District Group Chairman Jim Wilson and Burnley and Pendle Group Chairman Paul Thornton. Also in attendance were the Lancaster and District Group Vice Chairman Neil McGill and acting Provincial grand officers Steve Plevey, John Eccles and Stewart Aimson.
The meeting commenced with the installing master Christian Bolton opening the lodge and having efficiently convened his lodge business up to the third degree, the director of ceremonies Norman Mitchell exited the lodge to re-enter and announce that Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton stood without and demands admission. Christian answered that he and the brethren would be delighted to receive him. At which point Kevin, being accompanied by Jim Wilson, Paul Thornton and the acting Provincial grand officers entered the lodge room and after being introduced and welcomed by Christian the grand entourage took their respective places in the lodge.
As by right, Christian rose and offered Kevin the gavel commenting that both he and the brethren were honoured by his presence at the installation. Kevin responded by thanking Christian for his warm welcome, humorously adding he would hang on to the gavel just to wind George up, then as is the custom, promptly returned the gavel to Christian asking him to keep hold of it.
Before the ceremony of installation commenced, Christian thanked the brethren of Vale Lodge for looking after him during his year in office and hoped he could repay their kindness in the future. George was then subsequently presented by Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin before being installed in a very warm, sincere and calm manner by Christian. There then followed presentations of the working tools in the third degree by Bill Byrne, in the second degree by John Haire and in the first degree by Norman Mitchell. The officers having been installed, there then followed addresses to the master, wardens and brethren by Stewart Aimson, Geoff Morrow and Kevin Poynton respectively.
The conclusion of the ceremony afforded the opportunity for Kevin to bring the greetings and good wishes of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, at which point Kevin congratulated George on being installed into the chair of King Solomon for the third time and wished him a happy, busy and healthy year ahead. Kevin went on to say that had Tony been present he would have been most pleased in congratulating the installing master Christian Bolton for his excellent work and of course the director of ceremonies Norman Mitchell for his work throughout the evening, adding it was a pleasure to watch.
Kevin concluded by wishing all the brethren present a happy and successful Masonic year ahead. In response the newly installed master, George Fox, thanked Kevin for his eloquent and heart felt greetings, before asking the immediate past master Christian to present Kevin with disbursements to the value of £1,089. Donations included £375 to the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival, £217 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £120 to Lancaster Masonic Hall, £240 to Vale Lodge widows, £87 to North West Blood Bikes and £50 to Masonic sporting charities.
After the ceremony, the festive board was attended by 50 brethren who were all in high spirits and enjoyed a fine meal, followed by the usual toasts. In response to the toast to the grand officers, Kevin responded by first acknowledging his pleasure at having two group chairmen Jim Wilson and Paul Thornton in attendance as well as the acting Provincial grand officers, before moving on to appraise the brethren of some of the highlights of the tercentenary celebrations so far. Kevin then thanked all the brethren for their support of the MCF 2021 Festival, adding that the money donated so far will certainly enrich people’s lives in the future, so please do not stop giving.
Kevin was also pleased to see the donation made to the WLFC by Vale Lodge during the time when there is much more focus on the MCF 2021 Festival. However, he wanted to reassure the brethren that despite this focus, the WLFC will still be able to continue assisting charitable causes in West Lancashire. After looking around the lodge room during the ceremony it was Kevin’s observation that some of the brethren were not wearing any Royal Arch jewels. It was especially important he reminded the brethren, that the Royal Arch was the completion of their Masonic journey and would encourage all to join.
Moving on, Kevin complimented the immediate past master Christian on the way he handled the business of the lodge and also congratulated the officers who took part in what was a very enjoyable ceremony, adding that he and the grand officers had been treated to a wonderful evening. Kevin then offered his own personal greetings to the new master George and wished him a very happy and healthy year and for many more to come. In conclusion Kevin commented that it was really nice to visit such a happy lodge and wished everyone present much success and happiness for the future.
The toast to the master was given by Bill Byrne, who concentrated on a brief but very interesting history of George’s life. Amongst the many interesting facts, we learnt that George had commenced his Masonic journey in 1997 when he was invited to join Masonry by a close friend who hailed from Burnley, thus he used to make the 90-mile round trip every month to attend Ormerod Lodge No 5713 in the Province of East Lancashire. The old maxim ‘start as you mean to go on’ is obviously true for George, given his continuing commitment to Masonry.
Following a fine rendition of the master`s song by Fred Fox, with accompaniment by David Tattersall, George thanked everyone for helping make it a very special day and especially for the support of the visitors. At the close of the evening George presented a bouquet of flowers to Kevin, asking him to give them to his wife on behalf of all the Vale Lodge members.
The raffle at the festive board raised the sum of £246 with a further £40 coming from the ‘master’s swindle’.
Article written by Paul Thompson.