The Lodge of Hope No 2679 were the hosts for the installation meeting held at the Eccles Masonic Hall, Elm Bank. The lodge room was one of the fullest recorded and in true Masonic fashion there was clear camaraderie as the brethren gathered, forming a meeting of friends from near and far. In particular, and more especially, for those thirteen Masonic members of Lodge Kenmuir No 570 on the Roll of The Grand Lodge of Scotland that meet in the fine city of Glasgow. They had also arrived to witness Tom Fredrickson, the Regional Publicity Officer and affectionately known as ‘Scoop’ to all his Masonic friends, be installed as worshipful master of his lodge for the ensuing year.
The Scottish connection goes back some five years with links being associated through group vice chairman Stuart Sutherland Boyd with that of his father’s lodge, and now there are reciprocating annual visits for their respective installation meetings every year.
But there was a highlight to the proceeding where not one but two Assistant Provincial Grand Masters were present comprising of the principal guest John Hutton accompanied by Kevin Poynton, Assistant Provincial Grand Master with responsibility for the oversight of the Province’s publicity team.
John was of course clearly well supported by the presence of other grand officers too, those being the Rev Donald Price, Gordon Yates, Dave Walmsley group chairman, also Stuart Sutherland Boyd group vice chairman, Patrick Walsh group secretary and Stephen Rhodes Provincial Grand Steward, along with group officers and other distinguished Provincial grand officers and of course the members and visiting brethren all being present for the installation.
The master Phil Evans opened the lodge and efficiently conducted the initial business as per the summons. There then came a knock on the door and the Scottish deputation headed by their RWM Richard Rigby, his junior and senior wardens and ten of the lodge members completing the retinue proudly and impressively attired entered the lodge in split formation. Phil welcomed the visitors and Richard responded expressing their pleasure to be in attendance, they then took their place in the lodge.
Phil then opened the lodge up to the third degree and soon after there came another knock on the door. The acting director of ceremonies Harold Smith announced that the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, John Hutton and ‘his’ numerous retinue were without and that he demanded admission. John entered the lodge room in fine ceremonial fashion and was introduced to Phil, who in response thanked John and his colleagues for their presence and in humour made a wry attempt to offer John the gavel of the lodge, John of course initially accepted it with pleasure, but, in a split second said: “A nice ask” and ‘although tempted’, swiftly handed it back but did thank Phil for his very kind offer and welcome.
The ceremony commenced and Tom was installed by Phil in a most dedicated and impressive way. Tom having been installed, there then followed excellent presentations of the working tools in the third degree by Alan Jones, in the second degree by Cliff Bentley and in the first degree by Brian Yates. The address to the master was given by David Douglas, followed by Bill Bagnall giving the address to the wardens and that to the brethren of the lodge was given in a very heartfelt manner by John.
On completion of the installation ceremony, John brought the sincere greetings, best wishes and congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. John said that had Tony been present he would have witnessed a ceremony that was an absolute delight and performed in great tradition and indeed he would have similarly noticed the smiling faces all around the lodge room throughout the duration of the ceremony.
John said that Tony was aware that Tom was taking the masters’ chair for a third time and wished him and the members of the lodge a very happy, healthy and more importantly, an enjoyable year ahead. He also congratulated installing master Phil Evans and those officers and brethren who had taken part for their excellent work throughout the evening, classing it as a great team effort.
In response, Tom thanked John for the good wishes that he had conveyed and then had pleasure in presenting John with a host of charitable donations by way of a cheque for £1,000 made out in favour of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity; a donation of £300 to the Friends of Ecclesholme, and £300 towards the building of a sensory room at St. Herbert’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Chadderton, Manchester. Also, donations of £30 were made to each of the West Lancashire Masonic sporting sections including the Bowling Society, Clay Pigeon Shooting society and the Golfing society.
John responded on behalf of all those who we may never know but who would eventually benefit by thanking the lodge for their extraordinarily kind and generous contributions to the charities.
On the first rising Dave Walmsley responded on behalf of the grand officers and said that he, and his fellow grand officers were most pleased to see such an excellent ceremony. He said that he completely concurred with John’s comments on its excellence. Dave welcomed Tom as a new ruler in the group and of course reminded him, by indicating the number of ruling masters present, that the master’s circuit was out there waiting for Tom’s attendance. Dave wished Tom and the brethren of the lodge a very happy and healthy ensuing year.
There was a Scottish flair to the festive board, where the first course was of course related to the recent Burns night celebrations and it would have been remiss not to have had the Scottish delicacy of haggis, and the elevated pleasure of hearing the ‘Selkirk Grace’ given by Gordon Fisher, senior warden of Lodge Kenmuir No 590, ‘with a proper knife’.
During the festive board, John gave his response to the toast to the grand officers, where he initially offered his own congratulations to Tom, his lodge officers and members. He said he had thoroughly enjoyed the installation meeting and in particular the camaraderie throughout the evening. John continued by thanking his fellow grand officers, mentioning in particular, APrGM Kevin Poynton for their attendance. John also thanked Stephen Rhodes for his attendance as an acting Provincial grand officer.
John then touched on subjects of the Tercentenary and events associated with it; the forthcoming four year MCF Festival, the Festival jewels and noted his pleasure in seeing quite a few being worn earlier in the evening. He also stressed the vital tole of the lodge almoner and gave news of the forthcoming Sky television series of five programmes appertaining to Freemasonry. John also asked the brethren to continue the promotion of Masonic halls, particularly within the Eccles and District Group.
On a final note, John said it was an absolute pleasure for him to be in attendance for the evening, but moreover it was a wonderful pleasure to see the Scottish contingent showing their companionship and support towards this wonderful lodge. The formalities were of course later ended but the evening continued on until the wee hours thus ending a most enjoyable and memorable meeting.
Article and photos by Eddie Wilkinson.