Lancaster and District Group Chairman Jim Wilson made his way round Morecambe Bay to Ulverston Masonic Hall to represent the Provincial Grand Master at the installation meeting of Lodge of Furness No 995.
Joining Jim were seven other grand officers and a similar number of acting Provincial grand officers as well as Furness and South Lakeland Group Chairman Peter Schofield.
It has now become somewhat of a tradition that this particular meeting is one when many of those attending exchange Christmas cards, adding further to the cheerfulness of the occasion.
Outgoing WM Chris Angell installed his successor David Jennings in fine style. Jim was later to describe it as “a sincere and friendly ceremony.” As a joining member, David had not previously been in the chair of a lodge in West Lancashire and had answered the call to service to assist with the succession planning of Lodge of Furness. A past master of a lodge in Cheshire, David had first ascended to the chair 25 years ago.
Although the new master may be of the ‘recycled’ variety, the lodge is in good heart with several junior brethren making their way through the offices. Nothing exemplified this optimism for the future more than the efforts of Keith Lancaster, Ian Benn and Andrew Brew who presented the working tools of the three degrees with great aplomb. They were a delight to listen to and attracted much favourable comment.
The address to the newly installed master was given by Rowly Saunders, that to the wardens by Barrie Crossley, whilst Jim orated the address to the brethren of the lodge. As can be expected from Masons of such renown they played their part well.
Lodge stalwart Peter Thompson was once again on hand to present and explain the Hall Stone Jewel. Charity steward David Helm had his responsibilities outlined to him by group charity steward Richard Wilcock.
Acting Provincial grand officers Steve Plevey and Phil Burrow also took to the floor to exhort, respectively, the deacons and stewards to a faithful discharge of their duties. This work from the acting officers has become a very well received part of the installation ceremonies. It takes some pressure off the lodge and helps raise the profile of those lucky enough to have earned an acting Provincial role.
To mark the occasion, David presented Jim with a cheque for £600 in favour of the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival. As is the practice in the group, the first £200 of this was match-funded from the group charity account. This entitled the lodge to style themselves Vice Patrons of the Festival and Richard presented David with a certificate to mark this fact.
Ulverston Masonic Hall is being extended at present and in addition, work needs to be undertaken on the roof. It was therefore very appropriate that there was a presentation of a further cheque for £791 in favour of the Masonic hall.
The dining facilities in the Masonic hall not being able to cope with the 102 diners, the banquet was held at the Olde Mill on the coastal road bordering Morecambe Bay. The three-course meal featured turkey and with the premises having been decorated for the festive season, it certainly seemed that Christmas is just around the corner.
A raffle at the Olde Mill raised a further £462 for the Masonic Hall Building Fund; a total on the day of £1,253 which will help ensure the Masons of the area will have a Masonic hall suitable for the present day.