Brethren at the installation meeting of Royal Preston Lodge No 333 were honoured by the presence of Assistant Provincial Grand Master Stewart Seddon. Stewart was accompanied by Past Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, Bill Huck and Bill Seddon, grand officers Ian Greenwood, David Rhodes, Don Richardson, Stan Rigby and the Preston Group Chairman Steve Bolton. They were supported by seven acting Provincial grand officers; John Rimmer, Terry McGill, Stewart Wilson, Derek Robinson, Gordon McKay, Andy Sumner and Simon Worswick.
The master elect, Brian Robertson, having previously occupied the master’s chair in a lodge operating under the Scottish constitution, meant the ceremony of installation would have to be carried out in full.
The proceedings commenced with the lodge being opened in due form by the WM William Thompson. Following completion of the administrative business of the lodge, the director of ceremonies, Jim Ainsworth, requested permission to retire from the lodge. The lodge was raised to the third degree before Jim returned to announce the presence of Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Stewart Seddon. Stewart duly entered accompanied by grand and Provincial grand officers to be formally welcomed by William. Salutations were given before the lodge returned to the second degree. William, using his powers of delegation, invited lodge member David Rhodes to occupy the master’s chair as the installing master.
Brian was duly presented to David for installation by lodge member Frank Rowe. Prior to taking his obligation as master elect, Brian was informed of his forthcoming duties by David. The lodge then returned to the third degree for David to install Brian as the next master of the lodge.
Those attending the installation witnessed an excellent ceremony as David, ably assisted by DC Jim Ainsworth and other members of the lodge, conducted the installation ceremony in a textbook manner.
As part of the ceremony, the working tools of the third degree were presented by Stuart Handley, those of the second degree by Brian Hatton and those of the first degree by Simon Worswick, all of whom gave praiseworthy presentations. Following his installation in the chair, Brian was addressed in a commendable manner, by David Rhodes.
The officers were appointed and invested in turn with both wardens being informed of their duties by Teddy Foster and addressed by Simon Worswick. The address to the director of ceremonies was given by the retiring DC, Jim Ainsworth. The charity steward was addressed by the Preston Group Charity Steward Vic Parker. The appointed deacons were individually addressed by Frank Rowe before David Rhodes was appointed assistant director of ceremonies and addressed by the newly appointed DC, Peter Littlehales. Frank Rowe came back on to the lodge floor to address both the inner and outer guards. The final address, that to the lodge brethren, was given by the principal guest, Stewart Seddon.
At the conclusion of the ceremony Stewart brought the congratulations and best wishes of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison to Brian in taking the chair for the first time under the English constitution and to David for the exemplary manner in which he had installed his successor. He concluded his comments on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master by congratulating the outgoing master, William Thompson, on his powers of delegation on what had been an excellent ceremony.
Brian responded by thanking Stewart for his generous comments on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master and had the pleasure of presenting him with two cheques, the first for £60.73 in support of the Masonic Hall and the second to the value £100 in support of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. Stewart thanked the lodge for the donations noting that the lodge had already qualified for Vice Patronage of the 2021 Festival as a result of earlier donations.
David Rhodes concluded the proceedings by presenting William as the immediate past master, with his past master’s jewel to mark his time in the chair of the lodge.
Later in the evening, in his response to the toast to the grand officers, on his own behalf, Stewart said how delighted he was to see Brian installed in a wonderful ceremony conducted by David Rhodes ably assisted by other members of the lodge. He wished Brian all the best for his year in office and encouraged him to enjoy himself visiting other lodges and thereby carrying the flag for Royal Preston Lodge. He hoped to see him and his wife Joanne on the Masonic social scene during the year. He noted that Brian had a busy year ahead, starting with an initiation ceremony at the next meeting to be followed soon after with a third degree. He also congratulated all those members of the lodge who had received Provincial appointments or promotions at the May meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge. On behalf of the ultimate recipients, he thanked the lodge for the generous donations mentioned and made earlier.
Conveying the wishes of the Provincial Grand Master, Stewart prompted the brethren to continue to give the MCF 2021 Festival their full support during the four years of the festival. He reminded them that the festival is dedicated to supporting the Masonic Charity Foundation that overarches the four existing Masonic charities and that everyone should be proud that West Lancashire was the first Province to support the foundation.
He continued by saying the festival had made an excellent start with over £1,600,00 already in the festival chest, and on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master, thanked all those who had already taken out pledges and were wearing their Festival Jewels. He hoped such news would stimulate those who had yet to make a pledge to consider doing so and thereby join the others in wearing their Festival Jewel with pride. He reminded the brethren that West Lancashire is a net recipient from the central charities with West Lancashire beneficiaries receiving over £6,500,000 since the last festival.
In view of charitable donations being mainly directed towards the festival, for those brethren concerned about the position of West Lancashire’s own Freemasons’ Charity, Stewart informed the brethren that it is in fine heart with funds currently standing at £1,750,000 and an asset base exceeding £14,000,000. Although the main drive was to the festival, Stewart asked brethren not to forget the local charities they have helped in the past and most importantly to continue to support their Masonic hall. Mentioning Masonic halls, Stewart thanked Steve Bolton and Terry McGill for all their sterling work in turning around the fortunes of Preston Masonic Hall and those who had supported them in rising to the challenge.
Moving on, Stewart encouraged those brethren who are members of the Royal Arch to forward its interests by making brethren who are yet to take that step aware of how important the degree really is. The Royal Arch is an integral part of Freemasonry that, with the enhanced ceremony, provides a more interesting and stimulating introduction to the order.
Turning to the evening’s meeting, he thanked the group chairman Steve Bolton for his support and all the work he and the group executive do for the Preston Group. He extended his thanks to Steve Handley for his warm letter of introduction and the comprehensive information he had supplied. Continuing, he thanked the seven acting rank officers for their support, a great turnout indeed. He thanked Jim Ainsworth and Peter Littlehales for all their work in ensuring everything ran smoothly.
He concluded by leaving the brethren with this thought: “We are all almoners, mentors, membership officers and ambassadors for Freemasonry and if we embrace those four elements, Freemasonry will undoubtedly flourish – but remember, quality not quantity.”
The festive celebrations continued, to be further enhanced by a delightful rendition of the master’s song given by Ray Beech accompanied by Mike Hatton on the piano. The evening was rounded off with a presentation of a bouquet of flowers to Stewart for him to pass to his wife Val, as an appreciation from the lodge for being without Stewart’s company for another evening.