Brethren of Semper Sursum Lodge No 5622 celebrated not only a warmer day outside, but a truly warm reception for Philip Preston, Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies, who on this splendid occasion was the representative of the Provincial Grand Master Mark Matthews.
The 114 brethren attending, witnessed a perfect opening in true and ancient form by installing master, Steve Harris, which set the tone for the whole ceremony and ritual. Later, when Ken Robinson gave his final report as almoner of the lodge, the role he had performed admirably for 18 out of the last 20 years, Steve, on behalf of the lodge members, thanked Ken for all his hard work and dedication to his role. This was echoed by all the brethren in the usual manner.
Moving from the first to the third degree was completed perfectly and in fine style, as all the brethren taking part, were totally focused and ‘on point’ with their timing and position around the lodge. The director of ceremonies, Phil Renney retired and announced that Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Scofield, stood without and demanded admission.
Peter was accompanied by 13 grand officers, including Immediate Past Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and Norman Thompson, Immediate Past Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Cumberland and Westmoreland. Also in support were Gary Rogerson, Chairman of Furness and South Lakeland Group along with three acting officers: Tim Gill, David Shaw and Mark Little, who all added a huge amount of gravitas to the ceremony.
Phil Renney was in total control of the lodge room and was flawless in directing the officers through their roles. Steve moved smoothly through the beginning of the installation, as he thanked all the officers and brethren, who had supported him through the last 12 months. The solemnity of the ceremony continued, as Alan Tomlinson presented Stuart Michael Braithwaite to the installing master, who recited the ancient charges and regulations being word perfect.
Stuart orated his obligation in a sincere and impeccable manner, whilst the solemnity of the ceremony did not hide the warmth and humility portrayed in Steve’s delivery, as he passed the responsibility of the lodge to Stuart. Having taken every office of the lodge in his stride, Stuart seamlessly took over the role as master from Steve and displayed the appropriate decorum immediately after his first use of the gavel.
The grandeur of the ritual was continued by Alan Tomlinson as he presented and explained the tools of an installed master superbly. Simon Stringer, Steve Leonard and Stuart Oliver, all light blues, gave brilliant renditions of the third, second (long version) and first degree tools. Bill Merewood was word perfect as he delivered the address to the new master of the lodge.
On the appointment of the senior and junior wardens, they were addressed by Phil Renney and Bill Merewood respectively and were again impeccable in their delivery. David Shaw and Mark Little recited the address to the deacons and stewards in a very personal and thoughtful manner as they explained their roles and duties.
Phil Preston addressed the brethren of Semper Sursum in a superb word perfect, heartfelt and touching style, before he stood once more to bring the greetings and good wishes of the ProvGM. He added: “Wow! That was a wonderful ceremony that we have all witnessed! It was spot on.” Phil continued: “That a large proportion of the work was down to the light blues is remarkable, fantastic! The lodge, via the work of the DC, has pulled together another fine ceremony.”
Stuart was just able to catch Phil before he regained his seat and was pleased to announce that the lodge had transferred a sum of £2,500 to the Masonic Charity Fund. Stuart concluded the rest of the lodge business in fine style and looked forward to conversing with everyone at the three course banquet downstairs.
The charitable nature of the brethren contributed with £305 (plus £57 in envelopes) to Masonic charities in the lodge and £755 in a raffle held at the banquet. The masters in office held their usual timing of the representative’s speech, which resulted in another £28 being passed to the master for charity. Phil Preston remarked that Stuart looked at home in the most important role of the lodge and that the quality of work seen was, ‘remarkable and seamless from one master to the other’. Phil thanked all the grand officers for their support, including David Kellet. He praised the light blues’ Cavendish Club for forging links across the lodges and finished once gain by praising the brethren of the lodge, who should be immensely proud of their work, not only today, but throughout the year.
Jack Fawcett gave a beautiful performance of the song to the master, before the flawless celebrations were ended by the final toast given by the tyler.