Not only is February the installation meeting month of Emblem Lodge No 6727 at Blackpool, it is also the annual pilgrimage of the Scottish Freemasons from the north of the border who make the annual journey to support the lodge.
80 brethren attended the installation meeting at Blackpoll Masonic Hall to witness past master Martin Spencer install Richard Olley into the chair of King Solomon in a most entertaining ceremony.
Principal guest Giles Berkley was escorted into the lodge by the lodge director of ceremonies Michael Fisher accompanied by James Jack, Grand Jeweller, a Past Provincial Grand Master of Lanarkshire and the Blackpool Group Chairman John Turpin.
Master of the lodge Charlie Cairoli opened the lodge as only Charlie Cairoli can. Despite his career at the Blackpool circus, Charlie has brought a certain amount of sincerity to his year in office. Always ready to lend a cheery welcome to everyone he comes into contact with. Never too important to help the younger brethren put away the lodge equipment. The preliminaries dispensed with, Charlie relinquished his chair to past master Martin Spencer for the purpose of installation and the ceremony commenced.
Martin invited the installing officers to occupy their respective chairs. John Tew as installing the senior warden, Steve Jelly as the installing junior warden and Peter Mann as the installing inner guard. Richard Olley was then installed into the chair of King Solomon by Martin and the officers of the lodge. The quality of ritual displayed could not have failed to impress the visitors attending.
Not to be outdone, three younger brethren delivered the working tools, which were presented with perfection and clarity from all three. James Henderson with the third degree tools, Robert Marsden with the extended second degree tools and Peter Wright ending a perfect triple with the first degree tools.
Continuing with the high standard of ritual, Gordon Smith delivered an impassioned address to the newly installed master. The quality of ritual continued with Ken Buckley’s confident address to the wardens. This left the final address in the capable hands of principal guest Giles Berkley who delivered the address to the brethren of the lodge with confidence and clarity as you would expect from a grand officer of Giles’s experience.
Once those immortal words ‘that concludes the ceremony of installation’ had been declared, there was a loud sigh of relief that must have been audible to the tyler outside the lodge room. This was the prompt for Giles to rise and convey the greetings of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, congratulating Richard on having been installed as master of Emblem Lodge in a superb manner by Martin.
Richard had the pleasant duty to present Giles with cheques to the magnificent total of £10,744.83p. This included £6,000 to Brian House Children’s Hospice raised by David Cryer and others in a sponsored cycle ride. The remainder to be shared between various local charities and good causes. Giles thanked the brethren on behalf of the recipients for their kind generosity.
Eventually the guests retired to the bar for a well-earned drink and then onwards to the Eric Sharples Suite for some fine dining. The atmosphere in the room being of ‘a job well done’
Giles was his usual jovial self as he responded to the toast to the grand officers, thanking group chairman John for his kind invitation and wishing him well for his future retirement. Giles praised everyone who had taken part in the ceremony this afternoon especially the three brethren who had delivered the working tools.
The anticipated toast to the new master by Charlie finally arrived and the guests knew they were in for a comedic treat. The humour and anecdotes were fired out, too many to remember, finally subsiding to allow John Darrell to sing the master’s song whilst George Holden kept musical accompaniment with dexterity on the piano.
In his reply to the toast to his health, Richard thanked the brethren for attending today, some travelling a long distance to be here. Adding that he was looking forward to a most enjoyable year as master of Emblem Lodge.
The evening ended with Richard presenting Charlie with an engraved tankard to commemorate his year in office. On conclusion of the Tyler’s toast the guests retired to the lounge bar to join their partners for the final drink of the evening.
Written and photography by Gordon Ivett.