Sometimes a willing volunteer is needed to help the lodge when things do not proceed as originally planned and it was for such a reason that Alan Ormston was proclaimed as master of Garstang Lodge No 6633 for a second successive year.
In an abbreviated, but still an impressive, ceremony at Wyrebank, Garstang the principal guest was Assistant Provincial Grand Master Ray Martland who welcomed the company of fellow grand officer and Lancaster Group Chairman Jim Wilson. Joining them for this happy celebration were acting Provincial grand officers Andrew Bartlett who is a member of the lodge, Paul Thompson, and Richard Dennison.
The lodge director of ceremonies, Alan Gardner announced the presence of Ray and the accompanying dignitaries prior to their entry into the lodge room, where warm and fraternal greetings were given by WM Alan Ormston. Accepting the offered gavel for a brief moment, Ray thanked the master for the warmth of the welcome but remarked that he believed a ‘proclamation was imminent’ and that its announcement would be best left in the hands of those better prepared than he.
Following the customary salutations, Alan Gardner made the simple but essential proclamation, prior to a return to a more familiar format usually observed at installation meetings. The explanations of the working tools were performed by an array of talent. Experienced past master, Simon Almond, explained those in the third degree most competently. Those of the second degree were delivered with measured eloquence by master Mason Wayne Martin and Andrew Bartlett gave the explanation of the first degree tools with panache. The address to the wardens given by lodge treasurer Neil Webster was particularly impressive as was the address to the brethren, which was skilfully rendered by Ray Martland.
In his communication of the congratulations and best wishes of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, Ray complimented all those who had contributed to ensuring the ceremony flowed so smoothly and efficiently. On behalf of the Provincial Grand Master, he thanked Alan for continuing to lead the lodge for a second year and wished him and the lodge members well in their future endeavours.
In his response, Alan asked that his personal thanks and best wishes be reciprocated before handing over details of the charitable disbursements effected by the lodge. Ray expressed delight and sincere thanks as he gave details of donations that totalled in excess of £3,000 when the additional 25% reclaimable through use of the yellow envelope gift aid scheme had been claimed. Some of the main beneficiaries had been West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity £500, Garstang Masonic Hall Company £500 and additional small donations to group Masonic events and organisations. However, he revealed that the largest donation of £1,600 had been made to Cancer Research UK and that this was the proceeds from the sponsored ‘Dryathalon’ that Alan Ormston had undertaken earlier in the year.
Due to the brevity of the ceremony, an early dinner was enjoyed in the Wyrebank Banqueting Suite with the culinary offerings and company commensurate with the high standards that are a regular feature of all celebrations hosted at this excellent venue. In his response to the third toast, Ray Martland began by paying his own tribute to the standard of work delivered by all the participants in the ceremony. He touched on a number of current Masonic issues, in particular the imminent changes in the local care structure and the proposed amalgamation of the national grand charities. In concluding, he thanked the grand and acting Provincial officers for their support in accompanying him and encouraged everyone to attend the next Provincial meeting to support all those who are to receive first appointments or promotions.
The toast to the master was humorously given by Simon Almond who completed his tribute by delivering a stirring performance of the master’s song with accompaniment from David Tattersall. In his reply, Alan expressed regret that due to ill health his senior warden Len Collis had been unable to take the chair of the lodge as had been originally planned. He assured his audience that he was looking forward to his ‘second time around’, especially as he would have the company of his ‘fellow masters in officer’ for another 12 months.
Prior to the final toast of the evening, it was announced that the raffle had raised £290 and that, with the additional ‘donation’ from the ‘master’s swindle’, the grand total stood at £340.
A happy and contented assembly then departed, secure in the knowledge that they had contributed to a fine evening and the welfare of those less fortunate.