As the wind blew a gale outside, members of Anchorsholme Lodge No 5854 gave their guests a very warm welcome. A total of 73 brethren gathered at Cleveleys Masonic Hall to witness what was a first-class ceremony which saw Robert Bennett, or Bob as most people call him, installed into the chair of King Solomon.
Bob was initiated into St John’s Lodge No 2825 in 2001, in which he was almoner from 2007 to 2016. Bob joined Anchorsholme Lodge in 2012 and has served the lodge with distinction over a number of years working in that most important role as lodge almoner. Bob’s hard work does not stop there. Bob is also a member of Dona Conferentes Lodges No 9392 and Senatores Lodge of Installed Masters No 8966 where, you guessed it, he is their almoner. Bob has continued to show his caring side as he has worked for the Provincial Care Team as Admin Care Officer since the inception of the new system in 2016.
Away from Freemasonry, Bob has been married to Helen for 52 years and they have been blessed with two sons and three grandchildren. Bob and Helen enjoy walking and often can be found strolling around the picturesque routes of the Fylde Coast.
Geoff Diggles, the outgoing and installing master, duly opened the lodge and easily dispensed with the early administrative business. Geoff is well known on the Fylde coast for his impressive ability with ritual and his selfless work during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown for refurbishing donated laptops for children in need which saw him recognised by the Grand Master, His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, and was issued with a certificate for his outstanding contribution to Freemasonry’s role in the fight against COVID-19.
Once Geoff opened the lodge to the third degree, the director of ceremonies announced the presence of the principal guest, who on this occasion was Assistant Provincial Grand Master Andrew Whittle. Andrew was accompanied by his fellow grand officers Harry Cox, Keith Jackson, John Turpin, Jim Woods and John Lee. Andrew was supported by the Assistant North Fylde Group Chairman Tony Farrar and acting Provincial grand officers Steven Williams, Mark Mallinson, Michael Tax, Kevin Byrne, Jim Finnegan and Andrew Baxendale.
On completion of the formal greetings and salutations the installation ceremony got underway with Bob being presented for installation by Harry Cox. Geoff cordially asked for the assistance of David Rowbotham, Ron Newton and Jim Fallow as installing officers. What followed was perfection to behold with Geoff not missing a beat installing his successor Bob into the chair.
The presentation of the working tools by Jamie Blundell, with the third degree, Geoff Diggles with the second degree and Ian Blundell with the first degree continued the high standard of ritual. Moving to the next part of the ceremony, Bob as the newly installed master, looked as if the chair was made for him as he proceeded to appoint his officers for the ensuing year. The address to the master was given by Paul Darlington; that to the wardens was delivered by Harry Cox; that to the deacons by Jim Fallow; with Michael Tax delivering the address to the stewards. The final address, that to the brethren of the lodge was in the very capable hands of Andrew Whittle.
Once the installation ceremony had been completed, Andrew Whittle brought the greetings of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison; following which, Bob had great pleasure in presenting cheques for £402 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity; £250 to the Fleetwood RNLI; £250 to Great Arley School, Thornton; £250 to the Fleetwood Trust; £250 to the Trinity Hospice and £250 to the Red Marsh School, Thornton. During lockdown the lodge had also given £50 to the Donor Family Network and £90 to the food bank.
Bob then turned to complete the traditional business and closed the lodge; secure in the knowledge that he had been installed into the chair of this fine lodge and looked forward to the next 12 months under his mastership.
The brethren then moved to the dining room to enjoy an excellent festive board served by Lee Williams and his staff, followed by the normal toasts. A raffle, together with the money raised in the lodge, totalled a magnificent £719 which is a firm start to what heralds a fantastic year for Bob.