There were 60 brethren, including 40 visitors from 18 lodges, who attended the installation meeting of Peace and Unity Lodge No 3966 at Blackpool Masonic Hall to witness the current WM, Peter Maxwell, install his brother Gerard Maxwell into the master’s chair. Installing your successor into the chair of King Solomon is a wonderfully solemn experience and even more so when it’s your older brother.
Peter Maxwell opened the lodge in due form and swiftly moved on with the business of the lodge which included a successful ballot for a new initiate. The director of ceremonies Creag Williams announced that Philip Gardner, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master, requested admission. Philip processed into the lodge room accompanied by grand officers Harry Cox and Keith Jackson.
Also present were Blackpool Group Chairman Steve Jelley and an entourage of grand officers, Provincial grand officers and a fine selection of acting Provincial grand officers. Philip was welcomed into the lodge and was looking forward to a most entertaining meeting.
Moving onto the business of the afternoon, Peter Riddle presented master elect Gerard Maxwell to his brother Peter who subsequently requested Ian Watson to be the installing senior warden, Ryan Modlin to be the installing junior warden and Paul Bennett as the installing inner guard. Once everyone was in their respective places Gerard Maxwell was installed into the chair of King Solomon in an emotional ceremony by his brother Peter.
The working tools were delivered to the new WM by Peter Maxwell, Nicolae Marius Chelaru and Andrew Coppen. The address to the wardens was given by Ken Buckley, the address to the deacons by Ken Sykes and the address to the stewards by Kevin Croft, concluding with Philip Gardner giving the address to the brethren of the lodge.
On conclusion of the ceremony Philip rose to bring greetings from the Provincial Grand Master Mark Matthews, congratulating Peter as the installing master and all the officers of the lodge who assisted in the ceremony.
Gerard then had the great honour of presenting a number of cheques for local charities totalling £5,800 which included £2,300 to the West Lancashire Freemasons Charity to assist Freemasons and their families in West Lancashire. Seven cheques of £500 each to Batten Disease Families Association, a charity which helps everyone who is affected by Batten disease to live life to the full. Amazing Graze, a Blackpool food bank and soup kitchen who help the local community. Blackpool Sea Cadets, aiming to give young people of Blackpool an experience that will help them grow into the person they want to be in a safe and friendly environment. Blackpool Tiggers, a local charity providing sports, leisure and social activities for children and young people on the autistic spectrum. Fleetwood Men in Sheds who provide a safe environment for men to talk about their mental health. Blackpool Young Carers, giving support to the young carers in Blackpool. Finally, Blackpool Masonic Club also received £500 to support the home of Blackpool Freemasons
Philip thanked Gerard on behalf of the recipients of the cheques, stating it would make a great difference to their lives. The meeting was then brought to a close and the brethren retired to the dining room for a fine dinner and convivial company.
Philip Gardner in his response to the toast to his health thanked Harry Cox and Keith Jackson for attending. He also thanked Peter for a fine ceremony adding that it cannot be easy to install your own brother into the master’s chair. He thanked Peter and the junior brethren for their first-class renditions of the working tools making a special mention to the lodge director of ceremonies, Creag Williams, for his work and lodge secretary Paul Cummings for all his work in organising the event.
Peter Maxwell in his toast to the new WM thanked all those who had taken part in the afternoon’s ceremony. He then went onto describe his early life with his older brother, then when in 2016 Gerard was initiated into Peace and Unity Lodge. Peter related tales of Gerard when he was a hippie at least until he joined the army and they made him cut his hair. When Gerard left the army, he joined Peter taking part in the scooter and northern soul scene. Getting scooters and travelling to scooter rallies throughout the United Kingdom. Great Yarmouth being a special favourite.
After a resounding rendition of the Master’s Song by John Darrell, accompanied by George Holden on the piano. Gerard responded to the toast to his health by thanking his brother Peter for installing him, hoping he would make him proud. Peter presented Gerard with an installation menu signed by all those present. Gerard then presented Peter with the past master’s jewel of the lodge.
A collection and raffle during the festive board raised almost £600 for various charities. The festive board being completed, Gerard presented Philip with some flowers for Mrs Gardner and after the delivery of the tyler’s toast by the lodge tyler Gordon Ivett, everyone left for home (some via the lounge bar) with happy and contented smiles on their faces.
Story and photography by Gordon Ivett.