The hard work and effort employed in preparation was very evident said Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox when he attended as principal guest at the installation meeting of Great Eccleston Lodge No 8895. The lodge room at Garstang Masonic Hall, Wyrebank was almost at capacity as Harry was joined by Lancaster Group Chairman Jim Wilson, along with fellow grand officers William Thompson and David Rhodes. Also witnessing this much acclaimed performance were group vice chairman Peter Pemberton, Provincial Senior Grand Deacons John Holmes and John Kilmurray, Provincial Assistant Grand Sword Bearer Robert Treharne and Provincial Grand Stewards Scott Devine and Jim Finnegan.
In an excellent ceremony, the ritual showed delightful progression as initially the master elect Stuart Mowbray was presented by David Rhodes to master of the lodge Andrew Keith for installation. As a past master of the lodge it was only necessary for Stuart to reaffirm his adherence to the ancient charges and confirm his acceptance of the responsibilities of the office. These obligations having been met he was installed once again into the chair of the lodge in an exemplary manner by Andrew. The address to the master was handled with precise confidence by David Rhodes, that to the wardens by Graham Davies with impeccable eloquence and Harry Cox gave a dignified and measured address to the brethren.
The newer brethren maintained the high standards set by their fellow Masons with impressive deliveries of the third and second degree working tools by master Masons David Casserly and David Sawyer respectively. The explanation of the first degree tools was in the experienced and capable hands of John Nelson. Continuing the demonstration of attention to detail the appointment and investment of each officer was accompanied by the relevant address to each post holder and culminated with an apparently much relieved Andrew Keith uttering the cathartic final words of: “That worshipful master concludes the ceremony of your installation.”
On rising to bring the congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, it was immediately evident that Harry Cox had been most impressed by all that had gone before. He was under no illusion he said, that Tony would have congratulated wholeheartedly each member of the lodge for the work they had put into producing such a delightful ceremony. He shook hands with the new master and installing master and wished them and the whole lodge well for the coming year. At this juncture, Harry was presented with details of the very generous disbursements that the lodge had made to both Masonic and non-Masonic charities. The magnificent sum of £4,024 had been donated to a variety of beneficiaries including; £1,000 to Marie Curie, £1,950 to West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £600 to Garstang Masonic Hall and other donations to the local youth groups as well as affiliated social and sporting Masonic groups. On behalf of the recipients, Harry Cox offered grateful thanks.
The very well attended Festival of St John was held in the Wyrebank Banqueting Suite, where once again the diners were in receipt of excellent food and service. As the toast list was progressed through, the appropriate response from Harry Cox afforded him with the opportunity to not only add his personal congratulations but additionally to apprise the brethren of numerous topics of current importance. Topics he expanded on were the continuing need to effectively promote recruitment, retention and retrieval, the importance of giving support to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity in advance of the 2017 festival commitment, the revised care structure within the Province and promotion of Royal Arch membership. Mention was also made of the work of the newly formed Provincial Membership Focus Group and plans for the tercentennial celebrations.
In proposing the toast to the new master, the installing and immediate past master Andrew Keith gave an appropriate résumé of Stuart’s career and achievements in Masonry. He concluded by wishing his successor a healthy and happy year to enjoy his period of tenure. The master’s song was delightfully performed by Brian Brookhouse with accompaniment by David Tattersall.
It was announced and greeted with loud applause, that the combined proceeds from the alms collection, raffle and ‘master’s table swindle’ had realised a magnificent total in excess of £900 for the benefit of worthy causes. This was a particularly fitting and appropriate announcement on which to conclude the celebrations.