After a busy year as WM in Yachtsman’s lodge No 3698, which had amalgamated with Otterspool Lodge No 6605, David Keay looked forward to installing his successor Gilbert Daniel Crichton (Danny) into the chair of the lodge in a ceremony that took place in the Geoffrey Hirst Masonic Suite within Woolton Golf club.
David had put a lot of hard work into learning the adapted installation ceremony so with a little trepidation he entered the lodge accompanied by his wardens and all three took their places. David calmly opened the lodge in the first degree so that the minutes of the last regular meeting could be confirmed and signed and then open the lodge in the second degree.
At this point, the director of ceremonies Phil Gambrill retired and David opened the lodge in the third degree. Philip re-entered the lodge to inform the brethren that Assistant Provincial Grand Master Andrew Whittle, stood outside and demanded admission. Andrew was accompanied by the Mersey Valley Group Vice Chairman John Gibbon with acting Provincial grand deacons Tommy Lunt and Steve Lyons. They entered the lodge and were warmly welcomed by David who offered the gavel to Andrew, saying he hoped he would have an enjoyable evening witnessing the unique ceremony! Andrew wished the master a happy evening and returned the gavel.
Salutations were offered to Andrew after which the lodge was adjourned to the second degree and David requested past masters to assist him with the ceremony. This allowed senior warden Danny to vacate his chair and then be presented by Arthur Merrill as master elect.
Having reaffirmed his obligation, Jimmy Campbell assisted in the ceremony so David could install Danny into the chair of King Solomon in a very enjoyable ceremony. After Jimmy had presented the working tools of an installed master to Danny the brethren duly saluted Danny and the lodge was closed to the third degree. The working tools of the third and first degrees were presented flawlessly by Jimmy and the second degree tools were again flawlessly presented, the long way, by a light blue Andrew Aitchison.
Danny Crichton appointed and invested his officers and Arthur Merrill gave the address to the WM and the address to the wardens and deacons, as is customary, Andrew gave the address to the brethren of the lodge.
David Keay informed the worshipful master that the ceremony of installation was concluded which prompted Andrew to rise and convey the very best wishes of the Provincial Grand Master Mark Matthews who wished Danny a happy and enjoyable year. On behalf of Mark, Andrew congratulated all the brethren who had taken part in the ceremony especially the light blue Andrew Aitchison for a fine explanation of the second degree tools, which received applause from the brethren.
Danny had great pleasure in explaining to Andrew that a cheque for £250 for West Lancs Freemasons’ Charity had been despatched to the charity office and Andrew thanked the lodge saying that we would never know the recipients of the money, nor should we, but it is gratefully received and will be thankfully applied, and he would say more about charity at the festive board.
After a collection was taken, Danny rose for the first time to enquire if there were any communications from Grand Lodge which were then communicated by the secretary. Phil Gambrill formed the procession for the grand officers to retire, after which the other communications were given and the lodge was duly closed. The brethren gathered in the dining room for pre-dinner drinks and then enjoyed a meal of soup, roast chicken and cheesecake.
In response to the toast to his health, Andrew brought his person congratulations to Danny, his installing master David Keay, Phil Gambrill and Jimmy Campbell for such a dedicated and enjoyable ceremony. Turning to the matter of charity, Andrew informed the brethren that the charity office had funds available after receiving gifts and demands upon them were getting fewer so urged lodges to check on widows and brethren to see if help could be given. All charitable grants were means tested and the office used the Rowntree formula to assess needs; this is in line with the charity commission.
Andrew then turned his attention to Grand Lodge’s number one initiative, that of membership and recruitment. West Lancs currently have 6,700 Craft Masons in 303 lodges and a useful way of recruiting is to hold social functions, something which has been slow to restart since COVID and lockdown ended. The advertising campaign by Grand Lodge has been successful. However, some areas within the Mersey Valley Group have been more successful in attracting new members than others. A new booklet ‘Discover Freemasonry in West Lancashire’ is being made available to brethren to deposit in areas that have a good footfall, eg, cafes, waiting rooms and similar places, that explain the guiding principles of our Order.
During the festive board, the WM was requested to sign the lodge’s logbook. After a thoroughly enjoyable evening the final toast was given by the tyler John Hibbert.
Article by Colin Roberts.