Ernest William Waits was initiated into Sefton Lodge No 680 in 1980 and was installed as master in 1987. He later became a joining member of Imperial Lodge No 2711 and again passed through the master’s chair.
Imperial Lodge amalgamated with Sefton Lodge in 2005 and became Imperial Sefton Lodge No 680. 2020 will see Ernie celebrate 40 years in Freemasonry and he has taken the opportunity to once again, 33 years from the first time, to become a ruler in the Craft. This, his third time as master, makes Ernie unique in having been master in the three separate lodges, namely, Sefton Lodge, Imperial Lodge and now Imperial Sefton Lodge.
The installation meeting took place at the Artist’s Club in Eberle Street, Liverpool and was honoured by the presence of Assistant Provincial Grand Master Derek Parkinson. The lodge was opened by the WM David Hawkes, assisted by his wardens Tim Burgess and stand-in John Ryan. Following confirmation of the minutes of the previous meeting, visiting brethren were admitted.
The lodge was then opened in the second and subsequently the third degree. Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Ian Halsall was admitted and announced that Assistant Provincial Grand Master Derek Parkinson was without and demanded admission. David said they would be pleased to admit him. The brethren rose as Derek, accompanied by the Chairman of Gladstone Group John James, together with other grand and acting Provincial grand officers were admitted. David welcomed Derek and offered him the gavel. Derek, not wishing to deny David the privileges of installing the master elect, swiftly returned the gavel to David. The brethren then saluted Derek in the customary manner.
Master elect Ernie was presented to David by Bill Culshaw and Ernie repeated his obligation in his usual clear and well-spoken manner. Opening a board of installed masters, David proceeded to install Ernie according to ancient custom. David’s manner was concise and word perfect, although he still managed to add a little light humour to the proceedings.
Once installed and saluted by past masters, master Masons, fellow crafts and entered apprentices in turn, Ernie appointed his officers for the ensuing year. Harry Jones who recently celebrated his golden jubilee in the Southport Group, stepped up to give the address to the master. He made it look incredibly easy as he delivered the address perfectly. The standard was maintained as director of ceremonies Steve Kayne addressed the wardens. Installing master David Hawkes addressed the brethren of the lodge. At the conclusion of the installation ceremony Derek rose to congratulate Ernie and convey best wishes and good health during his time in office, from the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. Derek also congratulated both David and Steve for their excellent performances during the ceremony.
Ernie thanked Derek and presented him with confirmation of two transactions of charitable donations from the brethren of Imperial Sefton Lodge. £680 for the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival and £680 for the Prostate Cancer Charity. Derek thanked the brethren for their generosity on behalf of the unknown recipients.
Communications from Grand Lodge included a Grand Lodge certificate for Richard Moose. Secretary Bill Culshaw asked Derek if he would kindly present and explain the certificate to Richard. Derek of course agreed and proceeded with the pleasurable task.
The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies then called upon acting Provincial Grand Steward Christopher Sandham to order whilst Derek, John James, Sam Robinson and other grand officers retired and the lodge was then closed in perfect harmony.
Pre-dinner drinks were served prior to Ian Halsall calling for the brethren to be at their seats whilst grace was said. A fine four course meal followed, accompanied by a choice of wines, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Imperial Sefton Lodge has many old traditions, one of which is the calling from one brother to another by name to take wine. This took place at various times during the meal, as well as the traditional wine taking. Toasts and responses were followed by pounding the firing glasses on to the stone tile provided for all the diners – hard on the ear drums but great fun. After the toast to the Queen, the National Anthem was sung, accompanied on the beautiful grand piano situated in the dining room by Peter Connolly, one of Ernie’s personal guests. Peter also accompanied as the brethren sang ‘Eternal Father’s’ following the 9 o’clock toast.
Derek responded to the toast to his grand officer colleagues by reminding brethren to consider changes which may stem the tide of falling membership, not in this particular lodge, but in the Province in general. He said, for instance, he was due to visit a day-time lodge which had changed its meeting times to accommodate older members who preferred to meet in daylight and follow the meeting with a lunch.
Initially, Derek was to accompany Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning to the meeting at Imperial Sefton, but due to a mix up with dates, Derek said, in the absence of Philip who always finished with a funny story, he would take up the rein. His story brought about laughs a-plenty and the usual pounding of the firing glasses. The toast to Ernie by David and Ernie’s response also inspired the brethren to try and wake the neighbours by again making full use of the firing glasses.
All too soon it was time for the last toast of the evening which was in the hands of the tyler Paul Harford; the end of a memorable evening for Ernie and all the members and guests.
Article and photographs by Phil Marshall.