The brethren of Harthill Lodge No 8443 and their guests gathered at Garston Masonic Hall to celebrate the installation of Jim Gwyther into the chair of King Solomon. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and the third time Jim has taken the chair of the lodge. Harthill Lodge is the smallest lodge within the Garston group and Jim has been its long standing director of ceremonies so the brethren wanted to ensure it would be a memorable occasion.
The evening started with a wonderful surprise with the attendance of former lodge member Bob Poynton who, after a three year absence fighting cancer, was able to once again attend lodge and so add a special joyfulness to the occasion.
The lodge was opened by installing master Les Brooks. He was assisted for the evening by Ken Jones who assumed Jim’s role as director of ceremonies. The present master of the lodge, Graeme Jones undertook the office of inner guard, with all the other officers of the lodge in their usual positions.
With the routine lodge business completed Ken retired from the lodge. On his return he announced that the representative of the Provincial Grand Master, Frank Umbers was without and sought admission into the lodge. Frank was accompanied by fellow grand officer and Garston Group Chairman Howard Griffiths, along with Provincial officers, present and past. On admitting the distinguished brethren, the master of the lodge Les Brooks welcomed Frank and indeed all the evening’s guests, expressing his wish that they enjoy their evening.
Les then called on presenting officers Mark Richardson and Dave Painter who duly presented master elect Jim. The lodge was opened in the third degree and Graeme stood to offer his thanks to the brethren of the lodge for all their help and support during his year in office. Graeme offered special thanks to his father Ken who had needed to deputise for Graeme who, due to his work commitments as a fire fighter, had not always been able to attend the lodge. At this juncture all brethren below the rank of an installed master were asked to retire for a short while.
Jim was then installed into the chair of King Solomon by Les in a ceremony of sincerity, warmth and true merit. As Jim himself was later to say, “I will long remember this evening’s ceremony with affection.” – praise indeed from a long standing lodge director of ceremonies!
Jim then appointed and invested the officers of the lodge for the ensuing year. Addresses were then delivered, to the new tyler by Mark Richardson, to Jim by Ken Bullen and to the lodge brethren by Frank.
At the conclusion of the installation ceremony Frank stood to convey the congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master whom he said, had expressed the wish that Jim enjoys a happy, healthy and productive year in the chair and that all the brethren continue to enjoy their Freemasonry.
Before the charities were honoured, Jim was pleased to present Frank with four cheques, £100 in support of Marie Curie Nursing Services, £100 to Guide Dogs for the Blind, £100 to the Friends of Tithebarn and £200 in support of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. Frank, on behalf of those who would benefit from these donations, thanked the brethren for such generosity.
With the distinguished brethren having retired from the lodge, the remaining business of the evening was conducted before the lodge was closed and the brethren gathered to toast the new master in our own ‘unique’ West Lancashire way.
There then followed a splendid festive board where Frank took the opportunity to offer his own congratulations to Jim and to all those who had contributed to such a successful and enjoyable evening. He went on to inform the brethren of all the news within the Province, as well as the many tercentenary events planned to ensure we celebrate this Masonic milestone.
The time had come for Frank and Howard to depart but not before Jim presented them both with a gift of flowers for their respective ladies Cathy and Linda to enjoy. During the evening a further £200 had been raised for charity via the collection of alms and a raffle.