A fantastic day with several firsts

Over 60 Freemasons attended the installation meeting of Birchwood Lodge No 8861 to support and witness Phil Thompson install his successor John Geering into the chair of King Solomon. The lodge members were extremely pleased and proud to welcome their principal guest Philip Gunning, on his first official visit to an installation meeting as Deputy Provincial Grand Master.

Philip Gunning (left) congratulating John Geering.

Philip Gunning (left) congratulating John Geering.

The lodge was opened by the installing master Phil Thompson and the normal administration duties undertaken in the usual form. The lodge was then opened in the third degree and Philip Gunning was admitted in due ceremonial style, accompanied by grand and Provincial grand officers including Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton, Dennis Rudd, Jack Forsyth, Gordon Amos and with group officials, Andy Barton (on his first visit as group chairman) and Chris Gleave (on his first visit as group vice chairman). Acting officers attending were Malcolm Bell (PrDGDC), Paul Rigby and Robert Main, this being Paul’s and Robert’s first visit as acting Provincial officers. A total of five first time events were noted!

Phil welcomed all present, saying it was a particularly great honour and privilege to welcome Philip Gunning, and Kevin Poynton, also to see so many very distinguished brethren attending this special occasion and continued by saying he hoped everyone would have a most enjoyable evening. Philip thanked Phil and the brethren of the lodge for their very warm welcome and commented that he was very much looking forward to the evening and witnessing the installation ceremony and brought the sincere good wishes of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison.

As a matter of procedure and as a mark of respect, Phil offered Philip the gavel, which on this occasion he indicated that was delighted to accept and even more delighted to return it into Phil’s very capable hands. Phil asked Charles Carr to assist him by occupying the SW chair, Mike George the JW chair and David Whitmore to act as IG. All the brethren accepted saying it would be a great honour.

Pictured from left to right, are: Chris Gleave, Philip Gunning and Andy Barton.

Pictured from left to right, are: Chris Gleave, Philip Gunning and Andy Barton.

Director of ceremonies Ian Boardman presented John, to receive at Phil’s hand, the benefit of installation. John was then installed, according to ancient custom, into the chair of King Solomon. The ceremony was conducted with all due humility, sincerity and reverence. The third degree working tools were explained by Michael Hamilton, second degree working tools by Bob Williams and the first degree working tools by David Rogers. John then appointed his officers for the ensuing year. The address to the WM was delivered with great dignity by Gareth Finlay. Andy Barton delivered an exemplary address to the wardens and Philip delivered the address to the brethren in an extremely polished and professional way, which completed the installation ceremony.

Immediately following the installation, Philip on behalf of himself and the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, congratulated John on being installed into the chair of such a warm and friendly lodge, commenting that the ceremony was faultless and a pleasure to witness and thanked the installing master for his hard work. He also praised all the officers for the smooth running of the ceremony, the members of the lodge for their work and Ian Boardman as director of ceremonies. He also gave special thanks to the younger members for their work on presenting the working tools. He extended his good wishes to all present and hoped John and all his officers would have a productive year and wished everyone the best of health to enjoy it to the full.

At this moment John conducted his first duty which was to present the charity donations to Philip. The donations were to; West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity £750, Blue Lamp Foundation £250, Parkinson Society £250, British Heart Foundation £220 (already presented) and to Christian Aid £250 (already presented), providing a grand total of £1,720.  Philip received the donations saying how pleased he was to receive such a magnificent sum of money. He praised all concerned saying it was such a wonderful amount and thanked the lodge and brethren on behalf of the recipients, stating that the donations would be gratefully applied.

The hall catering staff supplied an excellent four course banquet for the festival of St John. The meal comprised of fan of melon, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, Eaton mess and a cheese board, accompanied by red or white wine, followed by tea or coffee, which was enjoyed by all. Following the meal a raffle was held which raised £237. The master’s song was sung by Norman Pritchard accompanied by Keith Dickenson.

At the end of the festive board Philip, Kevin and Andy were presented with bouquets of flowers on behalf of the lodge brethren. They all thanked the WM and brethren for the flowers and for a most enjoyable and memorable evening.

Pictured from left to right, are: Malcolm Bell, Paul Rigby, Gordon Amos, Kevin Poynton, Philip Gunning, John Geering, Phil Thompson, Andy Barton, Jack Forsyth, Dennis Rudd and Robert Main.

Pictured from left to right, are: Malcolm Bell, Paul Rigby, Gordon Amos, Kevin Poynton, Philip Gunning, John Geering, Phil Thompson, Andy Barton, Jack Forsyth, Dennis Rudd and Robert Main.