Storm Jocelyn made its presence felt on the journey to Southport Masonic Hall, energetically blowing brethren and visitors to North Meols Lodge No 5828. Once safely inside the hall, a busy atmosphere and warm welcome was observed, as all settled down for the installation meeting.
The storm was having an impact in other ways, with many visitors and indeed, master of the lodge Steve Baldam being delayed by the weather and the havoc Jocelyn was playing with the transport network. Geoff Jackson from the master’s chair, explained to all present the current situation, and that he would temporarily occupy the chair of King Solomon, proceeding with the installation ceremony very ably assisted by Gareth Jones who was also standing-in as director of ceremonies.
The lodge was opened in fine form in the three degrees, when director of ceremonies, Gareth Jones, having previously been granted permission to leave the lodge, announced that the Provincial Grand Master Mark Matthews, who is a member of the lodge, stood without and demanded admission.
A procession was formed, consisting of Past Provincial Grand Steward Eddie Thompson, Provincial Junior Grand Deacon Richard Jenkinson, Southport Group Chairman Phil Stock, grand officer and principal guest Michael Braham and the Provincial Grand Master Mark Matthews.
Once all guests had taken their seats, Geoff formally welcomed Mark to the lodge, and as is his right, offered Mark the gavel. Mark commented that on this occasion as Geoff was standing in for the current master and about to perform the installation ceremony as well, he was very happy to let Geoff continue, returning the gavel to him. Mark then introduced the principal guest, Michael Braham to Geoff, who welcomed him to the lodge and hoped that he would enjoy the installation ceremony to be performed.
Labour was adjourned in the second degree and master elect David Murphy was presented to Geoff by Kevin. Having agreed to the necessary qualifications essential for every candidate, David recited his obligation perfectly and was seated as master elect.
A board of installed masters was then convened and Geoff installed David into the chair of King Solomon with a sincere and impressive knowledge of ceremony, particularly when it is considered that Geoff was merely standing in. In a rare display of ritual, and one that some had not observed before, the working tools of an installed master was performed by Trevor Vearncombe. Having attended to the necessary salutations, the board of installed masters was closed and Geoff requested master Masons be admitted.
The master Masons saluted new master of the lodge in time-honoured fashion and Carl McNulty was conducted to the Master’s pedestal where he delivered the working tools of a master Mason. Having resumed labour in the second degree, Geoff then requested fellow crafts be admitted. The fellow crafts saluted new WM and Larry Blundell was conducted to the master’s pedestal and this time delivered the long version of the second degree working tools.
Once labour had been resumed in the first degree, Geoff requested entered apprentices be admitted and as before the apprentices saluted David, with Jacob Howell, this time stepping forward and delivering the working tools of an entered apprentice. All three delivering their respective tools with aplomb, demonstrating the hard work they had all applied in learning and delivering the ritual of the working tools. All are light blue Masons and it was particularly pleasing to see younger brethren taking part in the ceremony.
Having been presented with the warrant and book of constitutions, the address to the master was given by Bill Duggan. The appointment of officers of the lodge then began, with David Murphy performing the collar address with each appointed officer. Following the appointment of senior and junior wardens, Geoff Jackson gave the address to the wardens.
At the appointment of lodge stewards, Past Provincial Grand Steward Eddie Thompson, delivered an address to the stewards and at the conclusion of the installation ceremony, principal guest Michael Braham, rose to congratulate David and all the brethren who had taken part. In a humorous comment, he mentioned that normally he would pass on the thanks of the Provincial Grand Master, who on this occasion was also present, and so could also pass on his congratulations as well. Michael thanked stand in master Geoff for an exemplary installation ceremony and stand in director of ceremonies Gareth for his help in conducting the ceremony. As well as extending his congratulations to all those who played a part in a very impressive installation ceremony.
As Michael resumed his seat, WM David requested would Michael receive on behalf of the lodge, cheques to honour the charities. Michael responded by saying he would be delighted to receive them, and having requested if he could communicate those details to the assembled brethren, Michael explained that an amazing sum of £1,400 had been raised by the lodge, shared by seven charities. With £300 donated to both the Alzheimer’s Society and Southport Lifeboat, £250 donated to both Southport Masonic Hall and West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £200 to the Spinal Unit Action group, and £50 donated to both the RAF Air and Sea Cadets of Southport. Michael thanked the brethren of the lodge for their very generous donations.
A knock on the door, signified the arrival of a visitor and once admitted, the WM David welcomed by now the immediate past master Steve Baldam, explaining tongue-in-cheek that Steve had impeccable timing and with good humour explained the installation ceremony was now complete. Steve explained that to his frustration he had eventually made it to the lodge having been stuck on the motorway for a considerable period. Wasting no time, David promptly collared Steve as director of ceremonies.
The lodge business being complete and considering this is David’s first time in the chair he made it look very easy closing the lodge in exemplary fashion. Director of ceremonies Steve, called for a procession to be formed and the master and his wardens retired to the festive board. With 28 visitors to the lodge, the festive board was well attended and echoing a comment by Michael Braham at the festive board, when he said that the ceremony was conducted with warmth and sincerity, it was obvious from the festive board that everyone enjoyed the evening, and the lodge should be proud of the installation and in particular their warmth and friendliness.
The last words should perhaps be left with Gary Fishwick, who led all of the brethren in a rousing rendition of the Master’s Song to David: “There’s nothing like helping another, for getting one’s own self along; who does this is truly a brother, and here’s to his health in a song.” A team effort indeed.
Story by Mike Fox.