“I don’t know what the next 12 months will bring but I do know that I will enjoy it.” These were the enthusiastic words of Dave Sear on his being installed as the WM of Baldwin Lodge No 1398 for the fourth time.
There were 75 members and their guests filling Dalton-in-Furness Masonic Hall for the ceremony. The principal guest was Rowly Saunders who was joined by PAProvGM David Grainger, fellow grand officers Barrie Crossley and David Kellet, along with group chairman Alan Pattinson and vice chairman Chris Gray. Just as importantly, there were a good number of light blues present.
They were able to witness outgoing WM David Grove install his successor in fine style. Although the ceremony of installing a past master is somewhat shorter than is usual, David nonetheless undertook his duties with accuracy and sincerity. A regular visitor to the lodges in the group, and indeed farther afield, David can reflect on a very successful year as the ambassador of Baldwin Lodge.
The task of presenting the working tools fell upon junior brethren with Martin McFall, David Nicholson and Paul Williams delivering, respectively, those of the third, second and first degrees. The hum of appreciation after each had completed their work and returned to their places indicated how well they had done and was later favourably commented upon by Rowly and many others. Lodge stalwart Brian Davey undertook the address to the brethren of the lodge and Bill Coates that to the wardens. Both played their part well.
In a change to the usual practice of the lodge, invited guests also delivered some of the ritual. Harry Chatfield of Hartington Lodge No 1021 and Nigel Higginson of Arthur John Brogden Lodge No 1715 are long time friends of the new master, both having been in the chairs of their lodges at the same time as him at the turn of the century. To make this unique fourth installation more personal, Harry explained the working tools of an installed master, something the lodge does not normally do. Nigel took to the floor to orate the address to the newly installed WM. Their work was impeccable and added to the occasion.
Others too played their part, with installing wardens Graham Slater and Bill Coates addressing the newly appointed wardens as to their duties. However, special mention is merited in respect of secretary Steve McKellar and director of ceremonies Darren Stainton. Having both been first appointed to those roles at the last installation meeting the present occasion was their debut as the principal administrators of the event. It can be observed that they were a credit to both themselves and to Baldwin Lodge.
To mark the occasion Dave presented Rowly with donations to two charities. £900 was donated to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity with, in what is now a tradition of the lodge, £100 being donated to the Christmas Tree Festival held by Dalton-in-Furness parish church.
Baldwin Lodge needed a past master to return to the chair this year whilst the junior brethren made their way through the various offices and Dave volunteered. He is the only ‘old hand’ in position with all the other progressive offices, and indeed that of treasurer, being filled by keen and capable junior brethren which is a very positive sign and bodes well for the coming years.
Following the formalities of the lodge room, with the facilities at Dalton being somewhat limited, it was time to decamp to Barrow-in-Furness Masonic Hall for the installation meal. The menu on this occasion was a very tasty vegetable soup, chicken in a mushroom sauce with dauphinoise potatoes and a cheese board. It was all very well received and attracted favourable comments. A at the festive board raffle helped replenish the charity coffers to the tune of £423 with the masters in office swindle adding a further £20.
There was another break in tradition when it came to the Master’s Song. As has been the custom in recent years, it was sung by past group chairman Gary Rogerson. But prior to him taking to the floor song sheets were passed round so that everyone could join in whilst remaining seated with Gary leading the ensemble and delivering the first chorus of ‘Here’s to his health’ as a solo and the room then rising for the second chorus. It worked a treat with everyone seeming to enjoy being an active participant in the installation festivities.
With the newly installed master having said that his aim is to enjoy his year, it could not have got off to a better start with the whole afternoon and evening being enjoyed by all present with good ritual and smiles aplenty. A special mention must be made of Su, the wife of Dave Sear, who not only once again turned up to provide a welcoming cup of tea and biscuits before the ceremony but was called into action to take the photographs.