Identifying the talents and strengths of individuals and using them to best effect provides a firm foundation to the success of a lodge. Some members are naturally gifted in learning and delivering ritual. Others are talented organisers whilst others possess an intrinsic empathy for the role of almoner. Some of more gregarious natures are ideal for running social events and fund-raising activities whilst others have superb communication skills in mentoring new members.
Delegation is also an effective tool in maximising the strengths of a team and circumventing weaknesses to preserve quality of the overall performance. Add to these elements the maxim of variety is the spice of life and one has the ingredients of an interesting and entertaining ceremony of outstanding quality.
All these principles were applied to good effect at the meeting of Emblem Lodge No 6727 when canny Scotsman Paul Easton was installed into the chair of King Solomon in a charming ceremony in which a wide diversity of brethren were coordinated to produce a slick and entertaining event.
Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Hutton was the principal guest in attendance, along with a bevy of notables that included Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master Terry Hudson, Stuart Thornber, David Randerson, James Jack (Past Provincial Grand Master of Lanarkshire), Blackpool Group Chairman John Turpin and his vice chairman David Cook. A strong contingent of fellow Scotsmen had also travelled south of the border in order to support Paul on his big day.
Master of the lodge Dave Cryer is not, by his own admission, a master of ritual. His many talents lie elsewhere (these will be clearly apparent later on in the report). Consequently, after competently opening the lodge and discharging the general business, he willingly delegated the installation ceremony to other members of the team. It was a stroke of genius. Having elected Michael Fisher to undertake the early workings of the ritual, the result was bound to be of the highest quality. Michael immediately invited Scotsman Darrel Thompson to act as installing senior warden, Blackpool group secretary Steve Jelly to be installing junior warden and master of Ashlar Lodge No 5154 Carl Hayhurst to be installing inner guard.
Sporting full traditional Scottish dress, Norman Clark presented Paul Easton for his installation. The spectacle added lustre to an already impressive show and Michael Fisher conducted the process of obligating Paul as master elect in fine style before passing the reins to Ernie Gavan to continue the inner workings of the ceremony – another considered move to ensure quality. Ernie is precise and meticulous.
All those selected to perform ritual had been chosen carefully. The three light blue Masons who presented the working tools did so with panache and a determination which compelled respect. It was James Henderson who presented the working tools of a master Mason. His performance was so polished and impressive that his audience was close to exclaiming ‘bravo!’ Facing the challenge of presenting the working tools of a fellow craft Freemason, John Gunn never erred. His chest expanded and he launched into his presentation with vim and that little bit of drama that makes all the difference. It was then a primed confident Peter Wright who squared up to the task of presenting the working tools of an entered apprentice and he delivered the goods in majestic form. It was all going spiffingly.
Still more talent was recruited from the rank and file: George Holden relinquished his position at the organ to present the past master’s jewel to Dave Cryer; Chris Cash performed superbly in his address to the deacons and Michael Fisher further demonstrated his excellence with the presentation of the lodge warrant, the master’s pillar of office, book of constitutions and the by-laws of the lodge.
But the team had saved the most experienced ritualists to the end. John Tew was elected to recite the address to the newly installed master and there is one thing that can be relied on with utmost confidence when John is called upon to perform ritual; John will produce a masterpiece. How much better could it get? Well, the question was answered with startling promptitude. Ken Buckley, another master of ritual, stepped up into the scene with a demonstration of perfection in his address to the wardens.
All that was left of the proceedings was for John Hutton to perform the address to the brethren of the lodge. His manner when reciting the piece was easy and confident, as if he were just chatting to a few close friends, seemingly oblivious to a room full of discerning critics. It just went to show that practise makes perfect.
At the close of the formal ceremony, John was full of praise for the quality of the performances, the diversity of participants, the choreography of the ceremony and the general ambience of the occasion. But his pleasure was to be even greater!!
It was at this point in the proceedings that Dave Cryer’s talents came to the forefront. Dave is a chap who devotes a great deal of his personal life to raising money for charitable causes and it was the presentation of disbursement to which John was aghast. John was presented with cheques to the total value of £9,965. John could hardly believe his eyes! But that was not all. He was informed that the lodge had already presented further cheques to the value of £3,437.71 earlier in the year. It amounted to a phenomenal total of £13,402.71.
On the day, the disbursements consisted of £1,750 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £750 to St Catherine’s Hospice, £375 to the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival, £1,600 to Bowel Cancer Appeal, £500 to the Blackpool Masonic Building Fund, £100 to the British Diabetic Association, £500 to MacMillan Nurses, £500 to Rosemere Cancer Research, £280 to Alder Hey Hospital, £150 to the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Haemochromatosis Support Group, £500 to Pear Tree House, £400 to the Alzheimer’s Society, £400 to Cardiac Risk in the Young, £1,500 to Great Eccleston Cancer Research, £300 to Trinity Hospice, £300 to Brian House, £20 to Masonic Golfing Society, £20 to Masonic Clay Pigeon Shooting and £20 to the Masonic Bowling Society.
Cheques that had already been distributed to worthy causes earlier in the year included £247.71 to the Lodge Almoner, £20 to St Catherine’s Hospice, £650 to the Adam Appeal, £1,370 to Cardiac Risk in the Young, £250 to Guide Dogs for the Blind, £150 to Great Eccleston Cancer Research, £100 to the Salvation Army, £50 to Labrador Rescue, £300 to Trinity Hospice, £100 to the Huntington’s Disease Appeal and £200 to Rosemere Cancer Research.
Understandably, John was lavish in his praise of Dave and the rest of the Emblem Lodge team. It goes to show what can be achieved when the talents of individuals are channelled in the appropriate directions. The ceremony and the achievements of the lodge illustrates that Emblem Lodge No 6727 is an emblem of strengths.