“This is not an unusual day’s workload for those who strive so tirelessly on behalf of the Province of West Lancashire and myself.” observed Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. He added: “We are indeed blessed to have so many committed and enthusiastic Masons who give so much of their time and effort for the good of Freemasonry in general and our wonderful Province in particular.”
These comments followed a trio of appointments which had been jointly undertaken on one very busy day by David Grainger and Peter Schofield. The first engagement for Assistant Provincial Grand Master David and Furness and South Lakeland Group Chairman Peter was a morning trip to Ulverston where they visited St Mary’s Hospice in company with group charity steward Richard Wilcock.
At the hospice they met with area fund-raiser Clare Tonkin to present her with a certificate confirming that St Mary’s had been awarded a donation of £1,241 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation under its annual disbursement to hospices policy. Clare commented: “We are very grateful for this latest donation from the Freemasons. Without support from organisations like the Masons we would not be able to provide the important services which we offer.”
Over a cup of coffee in the delightful Orangery Café it was explained to Clare that the donation was part of the annual disbursement from the Masonic Charitable Foundation to each hospice in England and Wales which had seen a total of £600,000 donated in the current year. The café, which is open every day from 10:30 am until 3:30 pm, is open to all with any profits raised going to the hospice.
Next on the agenda for the duo was the group fellowship Christmas dinner in company with their wives, Beryl Grainger and Michelle Schofield. After a quick visit home to collect their spouses they made their way to Barrow-in-Furness Masonic Hall where they welcomed by fellowship chairman David Smith. The fellowship is very proudly self-financing and does not rely on donations from the group or lodges.
Following a welcoming glass of sherry there was a chance for people to mingle before going through to the dining room. The tasty traditional Christmas fare, with catering by Mike Elliot of the Crown at North Scale, was enjoyed by 60 people. As is a custom, the waiting on staff was comprised of volunteers from the various lodges in the group, one of whom was once again charity steward Richard.
The services of virtuoso organist Paul Gregson had been engaged to provide back-ground music suitable for the occasion and accompaniment for the later singing of carols. It has to be reported that an audition for the role of a ‘Barbershop Quintet’ by some of the stewards was not successful although their great enthusiasm was noted! Fellowship secretary Terry Pearson and all those who assisted him deserve great plaudits for ensuring that such a good time was enjoyed by all.
In the evening the redoubtable duo ventured forth once again, this time to Dalton-in-Furness for the regular meeting of Baldwin Lodge No 1398. They were able to witness Andrew Linehan being passed to the second degree. WM Carl Hallows, who was installed in October, undertook his maiden ceremony of passing in fine style following on from Andrew’s exemplary degree of initiation in November. He can reflect on an excellent start to his year in office. Allan Whittaker, who was only passed to the degree of a fellow craft in February 2018, presented and explained the working tools of the degree. Steve McKellar orated a faultless explanation of the second degree tracing board.
David was later to praise all who taken part in what he described as an excellent ceremony. It is perhaps somewhat appropriate that there was a first-class standard of ceremony offered up as the other reason for David and Peter being in attendance was to present a 50-year certificate to that doyen amongst ritualists, Brian Davey. It had been Brian’s request that no great fuss be made of his reaching this milestone. When the WM enquired if there were any communications from Provincial Grand Lodge, secretary Dave Sear simply stated that one item had been received which would be dealt with by the Assistant Provincial Grand Master.
David rose and spoke briefly of Brian’s Masonic career both as regards the Craft and the other orders he holds high rank in. In particular he pointed out the influence that he had on many Masons, including himself, within the group through his involvement with the Lodge of Emulation. David then asked Peter to read the certificate awarded by the Provincial Grand Master before presenting it.
Scarcely can fewer words have been spoken when presenting a 50th certificate in the lodge but undoubtedly none will have been spoken with any greater respect and sincerity as David addressed his good friend Brian, a man who had often been his mentor in Masonry. Peter presented Brian with a 50-year lapel badge on behalf of the group.
Following the meeting 32 members and their visiting guests enjoyed a traditional three course Christmas meal. There were actually 33 seated but David declined the offer of a second Christmas dinner in one day.
The toast to the health of Brain was warmly proposed by David and was extremely well received. A brief response from Brian was greeted with sustained acclaim.
The last word was with Tony Harrison who added: “Although David and Peter were in the public eye on three occasions on the day, there will doubtless have been other unseen tasks that they have had to undertake on our behalf, such as preparing for future representations, replying to emails and dealing with administrative matters. I appreciate the efforts of my cabinet, group officers and all who labour on our behalf so as to ensure that the Province runs so smoothly, efficiently and is so highly regarded. We should be grateful to them all.”