City of Lancaster Lodge No 281 is a member of the ‘Universities Scheme’ and at its latest meeting was pleased to initiate Benjamin (Ben) Ryan Goldsworthy, a student at Lancaster University, reading computer science. The Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Kent, when promoting the Universities Scheme, said at the 2010 Annual Investiture of Grand Lodge: “A real benefit the scheme confers is in having young, intelligent men joining us who will, we hope, contribute greatly to the craft as potential leaders and sources of inspiration”. From the very commendable way in which Ben conducted himself during his initiation it can certainly be said that the future is bright for Masonry.
City of Lancaster Lodge was delighted to welcome on this propitious occasion Assistant Grand Master Sir David Hugh Wootton and Charles Edward Lord, who as President and Chairman respectively of the Universities Scheme, were in attendance to lend their support both to Ben and the lodge. Joining Sir David were Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning, Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Robert Wright and David Grainger, together with fellow grand officers Philip Gardner, group chairman Jim Wilson, Jonathan (Jon) Charles Cooper, Keith Kemp, John Robson, Christopher Butterfield and Andrew (Andy) Russell Green. Furthermore, 10 acting Provincial officers led by the Provincial Senior Grand Warden John Lee were present, as well as group vice chairman and secretary Neil McGill and Scott Devine respectively. Adding even further gravitas to the occasion was chairman of the Furness and South Lakeland Group Peter Schofield.
On completion of lodge business, the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp announced that the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning stood without and demanded admission. On entering the lodge Philip, accompanied by Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger and fellow grand officers John Robson and Christopher Butterfield, together with acting Provincial officers, was welcomed into the lodge room by the master Michael Cole and promptly offered the gavel. In reply Philip thanked Michael for the warm welcome adding that he was really looking forward to the meeting, but as he had no part to play in the ceremony, he would offer the gavel back.
Once Philip had taken his rightful place in the lodge, the Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies Jon Cooper entered the lodge to announce that the Assistant Grand Master Sir David Hugh Wootton stood without and demanded admission. Sir David processed into the lodge room led by Jon and accompanied by Assistant Provincial Grand Master Robert Wright, together with fellow grand officers Edward Lord, Philip Gardner, Jim Wilson and Andy Green.
The master of the lodge gave a very warm welcome to Sir David and asked him to accept the gavel of the lodge. Sir David replied, “I would normally leap forward to accept, but this is Lancaster and a very special occasion, so please retain it”.
At the appropriate time, Ben, being ‘a poor candidate in a state of darkness’ was admitted in due form and regularly initiated into Freemasonry in an excellent ceremony of collaboration, the ritual being shared by Michael Cole and the assistant director of ceremonies Ian Jones, whilst the working tools of an entered apprentice were presented by the inner guard Lee Fisher. The charge after initiation was delivered by the lodge secretary Andrew Ridal in an exemplary manner.
On completion of the ceremony the lodge charity steward John Speak rose to present to Sir David a cheque for the sum of £300 made payable to the Masonic Charitable Foundation, for which he was extremely grateful. Replying on behalf of the officers of United Grand Lodge, Sir David expressed his admiration for the performances given by brethren who had taken part in the ceremony, with a special mention for Lee Fisher and Andrew Ridal. Sir David added that it was a delight for him to be present on the evening, before he handed over to Andrew Lord to give a short address on the ‘Universities Scheme’. Andrew began by saying how delighted he was to be visiting the City of Lancaster Lodge, particularly at such an important event. The scheme is thriving, Andrew said, with the retention rate of new initiates at around 70%, stating: “It is doing the job we set it up to do. It hopefully, allows young Masons to go through university and leave with two certificates; one academic, one Masonic.”
After the lodge was closed in due form by the master, the brethren processed out of the lodge room and assembled in the dining room of Rowley Court. At the festive board, Sir David was eager to respond to the toast to the grand officers by commenting that it had been a delight to see the lodge in operation, and particularly in seeing young Masons involved in the ritual and especially a delight to be part of Ben’s initiation. Sir David, concluded his address by asking everyone to rise and honour a toast to the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison for the wonderful job that he believed he is so admirably doing.
In response to the toast to the master by Steven Dougherty, in which Steven praised all who had taken part in the ceremony, Michael thanked Ben for being such a fantastic candidate, commenting that it had been the first time that he had conducted an initiation ceremony. Before resuming his chair, Michael made a presentation, on behalf of the lodge, to Sir David to remind him of his visit, the gift being a book entitled ‘Time and Tide; 50 Golden Years on Morecambe Bay’ by Cedric Robinson.
The important toast to the initiate was given by David Grainger, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master with responsibility for the University Scheme. Speaking directly to Ben, David, began his address by extending his best wishes and adding that it is ‘young, bright, articulate men like Ben who are the future of Masonry’. Ben, he observed, has now taken the first regular step in Freemasonry and is a member of a worldwide fraternity. Wherever he may go, he will not be alone, and the City of Lancaster Lodge will always be his mother lodge. David concluded by wishing Ben much success and hoping he gets the same from Freemasonry as all the brethren present do. On rising to give his response, Ben said humorously that he had been told to keep the response short, so he said thank you and politely sat down.
On that note the evening drew to a close and it had been a delightful and memorable evening for all concerned.