Bob Dickinson returned to the chair of Lodge of Concord No 343, who meet at Preston, after a gap of 19 years. The principal guest on this occasion was John Hutton accompanied by the Preston Group Chairman, Steve Bolton and grand officers, Tom Blackburn and Colin Williams.
After welcoming the visitors to the lodge, master Nick Ridd, formally opened the lodge in due form. Following the reading of an ancient charge by Bernard Tagg there followed the regular administrative business of the lodge that concluded with the lodge being opened in the second degree. The director of ceremonies, Mike Armstrong requested permission to retire from the lodge. During his absence, the lodge was raised to the third degree. On his return, the director of ceremonies announced the presence of the principal guest of the evening, Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Hutton.
Nick requested the DC to admit him and John duly entered accompanied by grand and Provincial grand officers to be formally welcomed into the lodge by Nick. As of right, Nick offered John the gavel of the lodge that John promptly returned feeling the lodge was in safe hands with Nick at the helm.
On the completion of salutations, the lodge was returned to the second degree before Nick announced that the next item of business was to install past master Bob Dickinson, as master of the lodge. There then followed an excellent ceremony that saw Bob return to the chair in a commendable demonstration of lodge ritual.
Bob was presented for installation by Melvyn Carter, who had had the privilege of installing Bob into the chair for the first time some 19 years earlier. After Bob had reaffirmed his obligation as to his duties as master of the lodge, Nick thanked all his officers for their support and assistance during his year in office. He particularly thanked the guest organist John Whittall for his generous contribution of fine music to the lodge.
The lodge was then raised to the third degree and a board of installed masters declared. Nick then had the pleasure of formally installing Bob into the chair of the lodge in a manner that was appreciated by all those present.
The working tools of the degrees were presented in a commendable manner with those of the third degree being presented by Andy Baker those of the long version of the second degree, by Ray Thompson and those of the first degree by Neil Clarkson.
The Hall Stone jewel of the amalgamated Centenary Lodge No 4098 was presented to Bob in his position as master of the lodge by Patrick Bracewell and the address to the master was delivered by Melvyn Carter.
Alan Whittle as the invested senior warden was informed of his duties by Mike Threlfall, and Neil Clarkson, as the invested junior warden was informed of his duties by Ray Thompson. The address to both wardens was given by Mike Threlfall. As all other appointed officers, except for Mike Armstrong as tyler had held their positions on a previous occasion, they were not addressed. The address to the tyler was given by Tony Shaw and the address to the brethren was given by Mike Billinge.
At the conclusion of the ceremony John brought the congratulations and best wishes of the Provincial Grand Master Anthony Harrison, to both Bob in returning to the chair of this fine lodge and to Nick for the commendable manner in which he had installed his successor.
Later in the evening, in response to the toast to the grand officers, John, brought his own congratulations on what had been an excellent ceremony. He particularly enjoyed the work of Nick Ridd as the installing master and congratulated the brethren who delivered the working tools in such a commendable manner and all those who had a part to play in the ceremony. He congratulated Bob as the new master for his support of the lodge, saying he has been a member for 34 years, reaching the chair for the first time 19 years ago, and now returning for a second time.
He was particularly pleased to have the company and support of fellow grand officers, Tom Blackburn and Colin Williams and the Preston Group Chairman, Steve Bolton.
He reminded the brethren that 2017 is a special year for Freemasonry as it celebrates the Tercentenary of the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England. As part of the celebrations there are to be four programmes on Sky TV that will be broadcast in the next few months.
Turning to the Masonic care system, John was pleased to say that West Lancashire had a good reputation; however, it only works with good people in place. The role of the almoner is an important one as is that of the charity steward who will be involved in the Festival. Although the Festival is a very important event for the Province he asked the brethren not to forget the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. With regards to the Festival, John informed the brethren that white envelopes are being distributed to direct funds and claim tax relief where applicable. He encouraged the brethren to support the Festival by qualifying for a Festival Jewel.
Turning to the subject of Masonic halls, John stressed the importance of supporting them as they are very important to the operation of Freemasonry and it is essential that every effort is made to keep them functioning. He suggested having ladies’ functions in the Masonic hall rather than at an external venue as an easy way of giving support to the hall.
John concluded his remarks by thanking the secretary Patrick Bracewell for the information he had supplied prior to his arrival and the brethren for their kind welcome and friendship during the evening. To add to the occasion, Ray Thompson had the pleasure of singing the master’s song accompanied on the piano by John Whittall.