The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp is not a man who is easily impressed. In fact, it could be said that he’s the type of person who has very exacting standards and therefore expects, rather than hopes for, a good standard of performance in Masonic ritual. It can be happily reported that he was not disappointed when he attended the installation meeting of Carnforth Lodge No 4951 held at Kerneford Hall as the representative of the Provincial Grand Master.
Joining Keith were fellow grand officers Tom Holroyd and Lancaster Group Chairman Jim Wilson together with vice chairman Neil McGill and acting Provincial grand officers Richard Wilcock, Bernard Snape, Paul Fuery, Ian Thompson and Chris Larder.
On entering the lodge, Keith and his attendant colleagues were given a very friendly welcome by Jim Catlow WM and were soon to realise that they were in for a treat with the standard of ritual that was to be performed. The master elect, Paul Coward was presented by Michael Stephenson and after giving his assent to the charges and taking the necessary obligation was installed into the chair of the lodge by Jim Catlow, in a manner that earned both the installing master and himself, lots of well-deserved praise.
The explanation of the working tools in the degrees were further evidence of the fine performances produced by the members of this lodge. Peter Woods, an experienced Mason demonstrated his wide array of talents by temporarily vacating the post of organist to give a sterling rendition of the third-degree explanation. Next to take centre stage was master Mason Michael Barrett whose delivery of the extended second degree explanation was greeted with overwhelming praise for its faultless execution. It would have been fair to assume at this point that things couldn’t get any better, but entered apprentice Matthew Astley proved such assumptions to be totally wrong. His excellent oration of the first-degree tools was incomparable for such a newly initiated Freemason.
The lodge went on to show that it has a depth of talent within its team that many national sport’s coaches can only dream of. Daniel James Wilson gave an excellent address in placing the newly appointed senior warden into his office. Ian Allison rose magnificently to the multiple challenges of addressing the junior warden, giving the address to the master and completing a ‘hat trick’ by addressing both wardens; all was given in a very fine style. The Provincial acting officers were also put to work and both Bernard Snape and Chris Larder gave impressive performances in their addresses to the deacons and stewards, respectively. Inevitably, the concluding address to the brethren by Keith Kemp was impeccable in both its style and precision.
At the completion of the installation ceremony, Keith delivered the sincere congratulations and best wishes of the PrGM Tony Harrison to the newly installed master, his installing and immediate past master and the director of ceremonies Barry Hogg. He was then very pleased to receive some cheques and also details of the charitable donations made by the lodge during the year of Jim’s tenure. The very impressive total he disclosed, of £4,093 had been disbursed widely to both Masonic and non-Masonic charities with two of the major recipients being the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity and The Eve Appeal, a women’s national cancer charity. Keith commented that the lodge had much to be proud of in regard to the extent of its generosity.
Once the lodge had been appropriately closed, the focus transferred to the adjoining dining room where a busy, vibrant and happy mood prevailed. As the requisite toasts were proposed and honoured, Keith Kemp responded at the appropriate juncture and added his personal congratulations to those he had brought from the PrGM. He spoke on several topics but concentrated his main remarks on news of the newly formed West Lancashire branch of the Masonic Fishing Charity. The charity seeks to provide an opportunity to experience an interactive fishing and countryside experience to people with special needs. In order to do this, the charity is supported by the generosity of lodges and chapters and Keith expressed the hope that the brethren of West Lancashire would wholeheartedly support the new local branch.
He also expressed the hope that as many brethren as possible would attend Provincial Grand Lodge at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool later in the year. The new arrangement of holding the meeting in the Opera House and the banquet in the adjoining Empress ballroom means that everything is ‘under one roof’. He admitted that the staging of the meeting on the ‘stage of the Opera House’ was proving a little ‘logistically tricky’ for he and his team but he was certain the visual impact would be very impressive.
In his proposal of the toast to the newly installed master, Jim Catlow gave an interesting profile of Paul’s Masonic career interspersed with anecdotes from his domestic and social life. He quipped that ‘although Paul is a competent and professional Project Manager in his working life, the master’s chair is a very major project to undertake’! The ‘Master’s Song’ was delightfully performed, jointly by John Atkinson and Ian Birnie with accompaniment from Peter Wood. Roger Nevinson had a pleasant duty to perform when he presented Jim with a hand-turned gavel, as a memento of his year in office.
As the evening drew to a close, it was announced that the additional generosity of the ‘Masters in office’ through their customary ‘swindle’, had added a further £30 to the raffle proceeds. The total raised was £322.
Photos by Stewart Aimson.