The ensuing year promises to be busy for Geoff Fogden, the new master of the Lodge of Fidelity No 1256. On his third term of office, having been master previously in 1989 and 2006, Geoff leads the lodge into the 150th year of its existence. Several events have been planned to celebrate this noteworthy year, including a ‘Burn’s Night’ dinner and a grand event around the time of the lodge’s consecration date.
It was with these thoughts and plans in mind that the members of the Lodge of Fidelity welcomed Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Randerson as principal guest to their installation meeting. David was supported by South Fylde Group Chairman Ian Ward and grand officers David Durling and David Kellet. They were joined by Provincial Grand Sword Bearer John Burgess, Provincial Junior Grand Deacon Chris Tittley and Provincial Grand Stewards Ben Gorry, Peter Ledder and John Pitches.
Having swiftly, but politely returned the gavel to WM Philip Watson, David Randerson settled back to witness a fine ceremony of installation, the master being assisted by Chris Tittley as installing senior warden, David Eaves as installing junior warden and Patrick Dwyer as installing inner guard. After the new master had been installed, with the assistance of the other past masters present, the members of the lodge perambulated around the room, saluting and greeting Geoff Fogden as their new master. Fine explanations of the working tools in each degree were delivered by Nigel Walker in the third degree, Brian Chesworth in the second degree and Ray Baguley in the first degree.
After Chris Tittley had installed the new SW Nigel Walker into his chair, David Eaves carried off a quite remarkable trio of ritual pieces, first by installing Philip Watson as JW, then delivering the address to the new master, followed by the address to the wardens, all in excellent fashion. The address to the brethren was delivered by David Randerson in a stylish and polished manner.
This ended the ceremony of installation and David followed up by conveying the congratulations of Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison to the new master and the installing master and members of the lodge. David also gave particular praise to David Eaves for all of his work during the ceremony.
Cheques for the sum of £2,266 for the MCF 2021 Festival and several other local charities, were then presented on behalf of the lodge to David Randerson. Describing this as a quite outstanding achievement for a relatively small lodge, David congratulated the members of the lodge for their exceptional generosity and hard work in raising such a large sum for charity and thanked them all on behalf of future recipients. With all the formalities completed in the lodge room, the brethren retired to the banqueting suite to enjoy the meal and to observe the customary toasts.
In his response to the toast to the grand officers, David Randerson congratulated Ian Ward for the tremendous work he has done as group chairman, prior to his retirement from that role in April. He also thanked the other group officers for the work they do during the whole year. He recognised the great experience of Philip Watson, the retiring master and the work he had carried out during the year. He congratulated David Eaves for his work in preparing this meeting and for his work during the meeting. He discussed the need for commitment in everyone to work together to carry the lodge forward in what will be its 150th year.
David said he had enjoyed a fabulous evening, adding that the members should be proud of what they had achieved. He urged everyone to be ‘membership ambassadors’ and get out into the community and tell them what we’re all about. Other subjects he discussed were Royal Arch and the need to run Masonic halls in an efficient manner and to ensure that they are fit for general use in the community. David congratulated the lodge members for the fabulous amount of money they had donated to charity. He stressed the need to support the MCF 2021 Festival. He also reminded everyone about the ‘Night with the stars’ show on 6th April 2019. He concluded by thanking the acting Provincial grand officers for their support on this occasion.
In his toast to the new master, Philip Watson reminded everyone that this coming 12 months would see the celebration of 150 years of the lodge’s existence and need to select the right man for the job. He assured the brethren that Geoff Fogden was that man. Philip pointed out that this was Geoff’s third term in the chair and wished him all the best for his busy year to come.
In his reply, Geoff thanked Philip for his kind words. Geoff confirmed that he was the 12th member of an extended family, which could be traced back to his close friend and lodge member Ron Mapple’s great, great grandfather Sam Bamber, who was a founder of the lodge. He voiced his hopes that the lodge will have a good year and grow, as it has before in history. Geoff felt sure that with the correct strategy, the lodge can regenerate membership again.
The master said that he felt privileged to be given the opportunity to lead again. He paid tribute to Philip Watson for the work he has done during the year, also for the fantastic ceremony of installation. Geoff explained that Philip has concentrated on the liberal arts and sciences during his year, with some fine presentations. He praised the installing officers and those who did the working tools. He also thanked Chris Tittley for his work as secretary and Lewis Johns for his excellent organising skills and his work as treasurer. But for pressing domestic issues which had kept him away on this occasion, Lewis would have been delivering the master’s song. Geoff thanked Ian Benson of Normoss Round Table Lodge No 8741, who stepped in at short notice and who was accompanied by Malcolm Burrill.
In conclusion, Geoff Fogden thanked the visitors for their continued support. He thanked everyone for their generosity in supporting charity and thanked the retiring charity steward Patrick Dwyer for all his work over the last seven years. A raffle was held during the evening, which raised the sum of £202. Finally, Geoff announced that the150th year celebration will be held on 4th May 2019. This would be preceded by a ‘Burns night’ supper on 26th January 2019.
Before the principal guests retired, David Randerson was presented with a bouquet of flowers for his wife Anne. The meeting was then brought to a fitting close by the tyler’s toast, proposed by Brian Chesworth.