Scarcely can so many brethren have gathered at Barrow Masonic Hall to witness an installation ceremony as were present for the meeting of Semper Sursum Lodge No 5622.
Some 145 brethren were packed into the lodge room for the ceremony. It is always a very well supported event but on this occasion the presence of Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison together with a team of acting officers swelled the number.
Installing master Geoff Biddulph was pleased to welcome not only Tony but also four APrGMs, the Provincial Senior and Junior Wardens and many other distinguished brethren. The APrGMs were Keith Kemp, Stewart Seddon, David Ogden and Keith Beaumont from Cumberland and Westmorland. In addition, recent retiree from that position David Grainger and the past PrGM of Cumberland and Westmorland Norman Thompson added further lustre to the occasion.
Their attendance served a double purpose. They had come to witness Geoff install Kevin Rigg as his successor but in addition had chosen the occasion to acknowledge the service of Semper Sursum member Barry Fitzgerald who had completed his term as a PrDepGDC.
Barry had the honour of being PrDepGDC for the evening and announced the entry of Tony whose entrance was preceded by an impressive caravan of grand and acting Provincial grand officers.
Meticulous research has confirmed that it was in May 1953, at the now demolished Her Majesty’s Theatre during a travelling production of HMS Pinafore by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, that so much gold braid and refulgent attire had been seen in one place within the Borough!
Geoff is a past master of Hawkshead Lodge No 4354 and has undertaken an installation ceremony on a previous occasion but that cannot have prepared him for the task of performing that duty again in front of such a large and distinguished audience.
No doubt Geoff must have been suffering from nerves and harbouring some trepidation but he did not let that show as he went about his duties in fine style. He can take great credit for his work.
There was likewise no evidence of the butterflies Kevin must surely have been feeling as he recited his obligation faultlessly and, after being installed, conducted his duties in a confident manner which bodes well for the future.
Junior brethren in the persons of Paul Ackred, Stuart Braithwaite and John Reed took upon the task of presenting the working tools of the three degrees and did so to such a high standard that they later received much praise and acclaim.
Others too played their part. The senior warden was advised as to his duties by PrSGW David Edwards with PrJGW Paul Storrar undertaking a similar role in respect of the junior warden. David gave the address to the wardens.
PrSGD Paul Mason and PrGStwd David Ingham also addressed their lodge counterparts as to their responsibilities.
Furness and South Lakeland Group Chairman Peter Schofield gave the address to the newly installed master. Tony Harrison was called into action and orated the address to the brethren.
All played their part well and added further enjoyment to what was a superb ceremony.
On extending his congratulations to Kevin on his ascent to the chair Tony also thanked Geoff for his work and all who had taken part. He then took the opportunity of thanking Barry for his service to the Province and asked that those remarks be recorded in the minutes.
The fact that Barry’s service was also being acknowledged did not detract from the ceremony of installation. In fact, it added further enjoyment to what was a splendid Masonic occasion. Coincidentally Barry had seconded Kevin’s application to join the lodge.
To mark the occasion Tony was presented with cheques for £1,500 for the MCF 20121 Festival, £300 to the RNLI, £300 to the Air Ambulance and £746 in favour of the hall building fund. The donation to the MCF Festival meant that the lodge had qualified as Grand Patrons and group charity steward Richard Wilcock was on hand to present a certificate acknowledging the achievement.
Following the formalities of the lodge room, 145 members and their guests enjoyed a superb four course meal in the Fairfield Suite with the menu being beef. The song to the newly installed master was sung by Jack Fawcett who was accompanied at the piano by his son, Dean.
A raffle at the installation banquet raised a further £1,093 for the hall building fund.
The lodge was founded in 1936 and takes its name from the motto of Barrow in Furness, for which permission had had to be sought from the town clerk. Translated, Semper Sursum means ‘ever onwards’ and from the evidence evinced at this tremendous meeting the members are ensuring that it does indeed continue in that direction.