Very few brothers get to serve their lodge as WM and secretary consecutively, as these are jobs for hard working people. Roy Sibley is going above and beyond the normal expectation even for the most enthusiastic member of Foxhall Lodge No 7484, by going into the master’s chair for a second time. In theory though this will be the third time as he served consecutive years on his previous stint. In the meantime he has served as lodge secretary.
Attending the meeting to represent the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison was the current Provincial Junior Grand Warden Ben Gorry. No stranger to hard work, Ben is also the Vice Chairman of the South Fylde Group. He was accompanied by his group chairman John Robbie Porter and John Robbie’s predecessor in post, grand officer Ian Ward. They were also honoured by the company of Keith Jackson who has been a grand officer for over 20 years and Provincial Grand Steward Kevin Byrne.
With the lodge business swiftly administered a buzz of approval met the handing over of the chair to Derek Lewthwaite, a noted ritualist. Expectation was more than satisfied by Derek, who was on top form. Installing Roy in what John Robbie later described as a ‘unique ceremony’, Derek was word perfect for this occasion.
The supporting team were led by Vic Meddings who presented Roy for installation and later delivered the address to the WM with both precision and feeling. The installing officers were, Alistair Still of Symphony Lodge No 4924, acting as installing junior warden, the installing senior warden was Frank Hardy and the installing inner guard was Kevin Reaney, both members of the lodge.
Kevin Reaney also delivered the first degree tools in fine style having been preceded by Derek Lewthwaite who had delivered the long version of the second degree tools with some aplomb. The third degree tools were delivered by Frank Hardy who showed his expertise in that part of the ceremony.
The ceremony was concluded by an excellent delivery of the address to the brethren of the lodge by Ben Gorry. Following this, Roy Sibley had the pleasure of presenting cheques to Ben from the lodge for £600 to the Masonic Benevolent Foundation and £400 to the Swallows Head and Neck Cancer Support Group.
Towards the end of the meeting Keith Jackson congratulated the new master on again taking up the reins of the lodge and particularly praised the brethren who had delivered the working tools, each in an excellent manner. John Robbie Porter, who had assisted the lodge by acting as organist, was also effusive in his praise of a ‘unique’ ceremony put on for the benefit of Roy Sibley, a ‘star’ in Freemasonry.
With the formal ceremony completed the brethren retired to the banqueting suite to enjoy a fine meal provided by Dahlia’s Kitchen. After the festive repast the usual toasts were observed and replying on behalf of the Provincial grand officers, Ben Gorry congratulated the lodge members for putting on an excellent ceremony. He particularly thanked the talented director of ceremonies, Juan Topping, for keeping everyone on their toes. Ben then gave particular mention of the multi-talented assistant director of ceremonies, Derek Lewthwaite, for his fine installation ceremony, not to mention his excellent delivery of the second degree working tools.
Continuing on, Ben thanked John Aplin for his efforts during his three year tenure in the chair and paid particular thanks to Roy Sibley for the information he had provided whilst being secretary of the lodge previous to this event. Ben went on to thank the South Fylde Group officers in attendance and made particular mention of Kevin Byrne who had been almost everywhere during his year as an acting Provincial grand officer.
Ben also discussed subjects on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master covering membership, the total of £3,504,423 raised during the MCF 2021 Festival, donations made by the lodge made the lodge a Festival Patron. Ben went on to encourage brethren to return to using the yellow envelope system to support the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity and encouraged the lodge to continue their progress with the connections they had forged with local lodges on the Fylde Coast.
John Aplin made a meaningful toast to the WM in which he looked forward to working for the lodge as secretary, assuring the master of the support of the other members of the lodge. In response, Roy Sibley thanked everyone who had taken part in the ceremony for a job well done. He also thanked all of the visitors for their attendance and support. He also mentioned a number of charity events that he was planning and invited everyone present to take part in these.
Before concluding his response, Roy drew the numbers for the raffle which had raised £186. One unusual winner of a prize was the decorator who was painting in the next room. He had purchased his tickets earlier in the evening and then carried on with his work. This unlikely winner proved to be Martin Dennison who is the director of ceremonies of Poulton-le-Fylde Lodge No 4040. Being encouraged to enter and receive his prize and having a sense of humour, Martin entered in what was described as the ‘formal attire of a decorator.’
After a thoroughly entertaining and memorable evening, the proceeding was brought to a close by Steve Smith, who delivered the tyler’s toast.