The brethren of Cecil Lodge No 3274 were very excited to attend their October 2023 meeting, at the Athenaeum, Liverpool, for two especial reasons. The first being the initiation of Richard Evans and second, the attendance of the Provincial Grand Master Mark Matthews as a visitor to the lodge for this very special ceremony.
Accompanying Mark was a dizzying array of very distinguished guests; Assistant Provincial Grand Master John James, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Barry Fitzgerald, Provincial Senior Grand Warden Michael Tax, Provincial Junior Grand Warden David Rigby, Provincial Senior Grand Deacon John Reynolds, Provincial Junior Grand Deacon Richard Jenkinson, Provincial Grand Charity Steward Paul Shirley and Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Robb Fitzsimmons. The Gladstone Group executive was also out in force, with group chairman Paul Storrar, group vice chairman Matt Casson and group secretary Patrick Kent all in attendance.
The library room at the Athenaeum is a fine setting for a lodge meeting and it formed a classical backdrop to the ceremony that was about to begin. Once the many visitors and brethren were settled, it was time for the WM Phil Osborne, assisted by stand-in’s Jim Bates and Steve Senneck, as senior and junior wardens respectively, to open the lodge. The many distinguished guests and visitors observed Phil and the wardens, assisted by the officers of the lodge, perform the opening without missing a beat, which was a very polished performance and set the scene nicely for the initiation ceremony which was to come.
Phil rose and welcomed the Provincial Grand Master to the lodge and as is custom, offered him the gavel of the lodge. Mark thanked Phil for this honour bestowed upon him and remarked that on this occasion, and in anticipation of the work that had been carried out by the lodge, was happy to observe the proceedings, returning the gavel to Phil.
Lodge secretary John Reynolds, retired to attend to the candidate Richard Evans, and returned to the lodge to declare everything was in order, it was time for the initiation of Richard to begin. Richard was met by his father, Don Evans, who on this occasion was acting as junior deacon, to conduct his son around the lodge for his initiation. Don, a past master of the lodge and the current junior warden, later thanked the lodge officers for affording him the honour of leading his son into the lodge.
Don conducted his son around the lodge effortlessly, and was very ably assisted in all parts of the ceremony, with so many officers who were superb; inner guard Steven Robinson, who announced the candidate in fine voice, the wardens in their respective participations, Phil who conducted the obligation faultlessly, Rob Burgess, giving an address in the north east part of the lodge and finally the acting immediate past master, who delivered the working tools of an entered apprentice. Richard, who had just now become brother Richard Evans, may not yet realise how exquisite a ceremony he had just experienced was, but for those who had the privilege of observing, it was extremely well presented.
Don Evans then delivered the charge to an entered apprentice which was heartfelt, well-meaning and an example of how a charge should be recited. Later at the completion of the initiation ceremony, the Provincial Grand Master congratulated Don on his delivery and commented: “A son should always do what his father says”, sound advice indeed!
The Provincial Grand Charity Steward Paul Shirley then arose to perform a pleasant duty, which was the presentation to the lodge of a certificate of Grand Patronage of the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival. Paul congratulated the lodge and presented the certificate. Assistant Provincial Grand Master John James echoed Paul’s congratulations and also thanked the lodge for their extremely generous donation of £250 to John’s recent ‘ride the lights’ sponsored bicycle ride to Blackpool, as well as their Grand Patronage to the Festival and the certification of it which now rightfully belongs to the lodge.
The lodge business being duly completed and following first risings, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Barry Fitzgerald, gathered all distinguished guests to retire to the fine dining rooms of the Athenaeum for the festive board. The lodge was then duly closed and all brethren retired. The festive board thronged with conversation over gin and tonics, and many congratulations were given to newly made brother, Richard.
At the festive board, Mark Matthews again gave his personal congratulations to Richard, and the hope that he and all those present continue to enjoy their Freemasonry. Richard’s father Don gave a lovely speech in that he hoped that Richard enjoyed his journey into the lodge and that he had many happy years in Freemasonry.
Eager to respond, Richard in turn thanked everyone who had taken part in the ceremony and all those who had attended, both speeches being met with appreciation and applause.
It was soon time for the entered apprentice song and being led in fine voice by Steve Senneck, accompanied by Patrick Kent, the brethren enthusiastically joining in and singing a toast to a ‘Free and Accepted Mason’, welcoming brother Richard into the fraternity. It was indeed an initiation to remember.