There was an air of anticipation at the last installation of the year within the North Fylde Group, as the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philp Gunning, joined the brethren and guests at Royal Oak Lodge No 5919 to witness the installation of Martin Poole to the master’s chair of the lodge.
Martin, born and bred in Fleetwood, started his distinguished connection with the armed forces joining the Fleetwood Sea Cadets which activity ended with him reaching the ranks of a senior cadet in turn leading to becoming a bugler and taking part in a national championship band.
He joined the Royal Navy as a radio operator, unfortunately he had to leave during training due to a serious infection in his ear. Not perturbed at this, Martin joined the RAF two years later at age 19 as a supplier, serving 12 years at bases in the UK, Germany, Belize, Falkland Islands, Sardinia and Northern Ireland as part of a Tactical Helicopter Refuelling Team.
Leaving the service in 1991 with a degree in stores management and procurement, Martin started working for Fox’s Biscuits in the firm’s engineering department. Working there at the same time was his future Royal Oak brother, Charles Cuthill. Martin moved to Blackpool Victoria Hospital working alongside Frank Kenyon and Charles again, his path to future membership of Royal Oak was assured.
Martin’s undeniable ethic to ‘give back’ has seen him organise golf social days, although he is in his own words ‘a very bad golfer’, and to lead A Class walks up in the hills for the hospital walking club. Martin’s strong connection with the sea also led him to volunteer with the coastguard for several years.
After working in various jobs, Marin is now in the funeral profession. A chance meeting with fellow Mason Jason Dell at the local football club bar now sees him working for Jason as his principal embalmer, a vocation that he feels extremely privileged to be involved in and in which he is passionate. He is also a keen Liverpool FC and Genesis fan, but he won’t be drawn into the pre or post Gabriel argument.
At the installation, the lodge room was packed to capacity with 94 brethren in attendance as the incumbent master Charles Cuthill opened the lodge for the last time. Charles speedily worked through the early administrative matters and then with the assistance of his brother senior and junior wardens proceeded to open the lodge in the second and third degrees.
Once opened in the third degree, a familiar knock came on the lodge room door and Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Gary Smith entered and announced: “Outside the door of the lodge is the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning, and he demanded admittance.”
A colourful procession of grand and acting Provincial grand officers entered the lodge room and lined up to receive Philip. This included Assistant Provincial Grand Master Duncan Smith and North Fylde Group Chairman John Cross. They were joined by Malcolm Worsley, Keith Jackson, Jim Woods, Ian Ward, David Thomas, Neil MacSymons, John Robbie Porter, Jason Dell and Rowan Tait. Acting Provincial grand officers included the Provincial Grand Chaplin Canon Father John Hall, the Provincial Junior Grand Deacon and lodge secretary Russell Forsyth, the Provincial Grand Tyler Gavin Egan along with Provincial Grand Stewards Geoff Diggles and Robert Marsden.
Once the officers had taken their seats, Charles rose to his feet to formally greet Philip and, as custom dictates, offered him the gavel of the lodge. This was politely accepted and Philip thanked Charles before returning it back to Charles for safe keeping and to enable the ceremony to continue.
Charles returned the lodge to the second degree and asked Ronnie Coles to assist him by occupying the senior warden’s chair, Stuart Brown to occupy the junior warden’s chair and Derrick Gibson to continue in his role and act as installing inner guard.
Jason Dell, who, as said before is his employer and friend, rose to his feet to present Martin to the brethren. Martin completed his obligation with skill that showed his dedication to the Craft. In the best traditions of Freemasonry and team work, Charles then passed the master’s chair and gavel to Alex Tomlinson.
Alex proceeded to open the inner workings and install Martin with the greatest of skill. Alex’s ability with ritual is second to none having served the lodge for a number of years as director of ceremonies. During the inner working, Gordon Hinchcliffe presented the working tools of an installed master.
In closing the inner working, Martin returned the lodge to the third degree in which the tools were delivered by Arnold Flint. Closing to the second degree, the tools were delivered by Steve Wilson and finally Martin retuned the lodge to the first degree, when the tools were delivered by Andy Greenlees.
The address to the master was again in the safe hands of Jason Dell, the address to the wardens was delivered by Arthur Cartain, while the address to the deacons was delivered by Mark Mallinson, leaving Philip Gunning to deliver the final address to the brethren of the lodge.
Once the installation was complete, Philip rose from his seat to bring the greetings and congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master Mark Matthews. Philip took the opportunity to thank the past master, Charles Cuthill for his hard work during his year and to congratulate the installing master, Alex Tomlinson, for his excellent delivery of ritual. Philip congratulated all those who had taken part in the ceremony particularly those who had delivered the working tools.
Before Philip had chance to resume his seat, Martin had the pleasure of presenting him with the lodge’s donations to charity which were; £700 bound for the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £200 to the Masonic Food Bank Appeal, £250 to Blood Bikes, £250 to Cancer Research, £250 to Alzheimer’s Research, £250 to the Blue Skies Cardiac Charity and £100 to Dementia UK. Philip thanked the brethren of Royal Oak Lodge for their very generous donations.
The brethren then retired to the dining room to be treated to a superb three course festive board where the master’s song was delivered by John Darrell and a raffle that raised £500, which was an impressive start to a promising year for Martin. To close the evening Bob Major delivered the tyler’s toast.