Fairhaven Lodge No 5076 have for a long time now been noted for bringing young enthusiastic candidates into the lodge and always having plenty of sky blues working in the progressive offices. Lodge mentor, Neil Curtis, described the lodge as, being on a roll’.
Two of their 2023 successes have been Nick Issitt and Arthur Rybakovas. They are now respectively junior deacon and inner guard of the lodge and are, in the words of group membership officer John Conroy: “Flying the flag of youth.” In fact, they have both been seen delivering ritual normally considered the domain of more senior brethren. Danny O’Brien is another new member who has excelled in delivering explanations of working tools. It’s all very promising.
In the current calendar year the lodge has seen four new initiates taken through their paces and two fellow crafts raised to the third degree. With those four new members due to be passed to the second degree and ultimately the third degree, this is going to be a very busy lodge for some time to come.
Fortunately, there is a strong supporting cast for when cover is required for officers away on business or family events. The WM, David Arrow, has done sterling work in performing three initiation ceremonies in a row but was unavailable for the last two meetings due to sickness. “No problem,” says John Conroy, who is also the director of ceremonies, “We’ve got David Atkinson and Norman Prue who are always eager volunteers to do ceremonies.” There are several other members who can be relied upon to do ritual when called upon, such as honorary member, Ian Ward, who along with David and Norman, is a stalwart of the Lodge of Instruction No 65 (LOI). Also from LOI is lodge treasurer Peter Robinson.
Looking further down the list of members are those who have recently joined from other lodges who are officers of the lodge such as the junior warden, Chris Thompson, formally of Landmark Lodge No 7273, and still a member of Tow Law Lodge No 3349 (Co Durham) and Paul Leaper the senior deacon, formally of Kirkham Lodge No 6615. Also from Kirkham Lodge are Dave Crossley and Bill Swindlehurst, not forgetting Vic Honey, Melvyn Blackband and Alan Ryal, all of whom can do a bit when called upon.
So, it can be seen that there is a good mix of experience and youth and that mix has been willing and able to assist in the raising ceremonies of Rob Clark and Kevin Ainsley, who were both keen to express their joy at being members of the lodge and now ready to make their mark in any way that they can. Also waiting in the wings for their chance to shine are two initiates, Callum Reid and Martin Abbot, both of whom were excellent candidates.
Besides their excellence and promise on the floor of the lodge, the members of Fairhaven Lodge have proven their worth in that other, most important of Masonic duties, that is charity. One recent donation of £150 to the Swallows throat and neck charity was presented to the charity’s patron, Emma Jackson BEM, at a special ceremony.
Into this exciting environment, Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning, found himself enjoying being the principal guest at the lodge’s installation meeting where the top brass of the lodge were sky blues.
On this occasion WM David Arrow was able to take a supporting role to the new WM Melvyn Gray (Mel to his friends). Mel lives in Obedinenie, which is in the Polski Trambesh Municipality of Central Bulgaria. This Mel says is the medieval capital of Bulgaria. To travel from home to lodge meetings Mel has a four hour drive, followed by a three and a half hour flight, with all of the changeovers in between and a further hour’s drive from Manchester to the Fylde coast. “It’s a whole day travelling but I get a buzz in my heart every time,” Mel says.
Travelling nowhere near as far, but still a considerable distance, were four of Chris Thompson’s colleagues from Tow Law Lodge in County Durham. The Tow Law Lodge members can always be relied upon to cross the Pennines to support Chris and his West Lancashire lodges.
In an installation ceremony which included a fair mixture of experience and youth the installing senior warden was John Nicholls and the installing junior warden was Gordon McLean. Acting as inner guard was Juan Topping. The working tools were presented by Bill Swindlehurst in the third degree, Andrew Harwood in the second degree and Robert Clark in the first degree. Robert received much praise for his excellent work, being a relatively new member.
Norman Prue was called upon to present the Hall Stone Jewel to the new WM. This is always a poignant part of the installation ceremony at Fairhaven Lodge, as it draws from the traditional Remembrance Sunday tributes. Finally, the address to the WM was delivered by Peter Robinson, that to the wardens by Norman Prue and the address to the brethren of the lodge by Philip Gunning.
With the ceremony complete, Mel presented cheques and statements from the lodge to Philip Gunning for the following charities; £1,000 West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £250 Alzheimer Society, £250 Rosemere Prostrate Cancer, £250 Brian House Children’s Hospice, £100 Care and Share, (Local domestic violence charity) and £100 to Masonic Trout and Salmon Fishing Charity (MTSFC) West Lancashire.
Philip thanked the lodge on behalf of the eventual recipients and he later thanked the lodge at the festive board for their donation to prostate cancer care, which is a cause he has been championing for several years since his own treatment for this ailment.
He also thanked the grand and acting Provincial grand officers, the group chairman Ben Gorry for their support. In particular Assistant Provincial Grand Master Duncan Smith, Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Ryan Modlin, Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies Ian Moss and Provincial Grand Standard Bearer Rick Winfield.
The toast to the WM was proposed by Neil Curtis and this was followed by the traditional master’s song, which on this occasion was expertly rendered by John Robbie Porter, who was accompanied on the piano by Phil Bolton.
During the toast to Masonic charities, it was announced that £105 had been donated during the alms collection in the lodge meeting and a further £250 was raised on the raffle. This £355 would be going onto the WM’s list for the ensuing year.
At the end of an excellent ceremony and a sumptuous meal at the festive board, provided by Lee Munro and his Masonic catering team, the tyler’s toast was proposed by Barry Hage and several members and their guests retired to the bar where John and Pam Nicholls were ready to provide night caps for those who chose to bide awhile.