Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison made the bi-annual journey to the Fairfield Suite at Barrow-in-Furness Masonic Hall for the Furness and South Lakeland Group Dinner.
Prior to the dinner a question and answer session was held with Tony fielding the questions with assistance from his deputy Phil Gunning, his assistant in the Craft David Grainger and his assistant in the Royal Arch Chris Butterfield. To ensure things ran smoothly Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp was on hand along with two of his deputies in the persons of David Thomas and Mark Barton.
Provincial Senior Grand Warden Michael Threlfall and Provincial Junior Grand Warden Peter Schofield, who is the Furness Group Vice Chairman, were also in attendance.
The move of the Provincial office from Hope Street to Leyland meant that Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor was unable to attend and consequently Tony claimed the right to ‘phone a friend’ if any difficult questions came up!
The subjects brought up ranged from the move to Leyland, to the proposed changes to the Grand Lodge charity structure. It proved a worthwhile exercise with a ready exchange of views taking place.
Following the session there was just time for an aperitif before the meal which was enjoyed by 104 diners. Amongst their number were several visitors from the other side of Morecambe Bay including Lancaster and District Group officers in the persons of chairman Jim Wilson, vice chairman Peter Pemberton and secretary Neil McGill.
The toast to the health of Tony was given by the group publicity officer David Sear. Group charity steward Richard Wilcock then presented Tony with a cheque in favour of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity in the sum of £2,500.
In responding to the toast Tony spoke of his pleasure in coming once again to Furness having of course been a regular visitor to the group when he was the APrGM with responsibility for it.
He covered many topics of interest during his response which included his appreciation of the renovation work that had been undertaken both in the temple and the rest of the building.
He also thanked all those who had assisted with this over the past few years.
Michael Threlfallwas given the task of proposing the toast to the group to which group chairman Alan Jones replied.
Alan thanked group secretary Barry Hadley for his efforts in organising the group dinner and his work throughout the year.
In his “state of the group” address he said that membership of the lodges in the group during the 2014/15 season had increased slightly to 611 with some 52% of the lodge members also being members of the Royal Arch.
In 2014/15 donations totalling £20.908 had been given to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity with a further £18,150 distributed to good causes in the Furness area.
At the end of the meal Alan presented the PrGM with a hamper containing beers brewed in the local area, along with some wine for Tony’s wife Maureen.