In addition to its own members, Peter Hosker, Tom Blackburn and Bill Huck, the installation meeting of the Lodge of Peace and Unity No 314 was graced by the presence of Philip Gardner as the principal guest. They were supported by numerous grand officers, the group vice chairman Geoff Saul and acting rank officers John Dent, Alan Howarth, Bernard Snape and Paul Fuery.
After welcoming the visitors, the master, Hal Hamer formally opened the lodge to conduct the administrative business of the lodge. Following the reading and passing of the minutes of the previous meeting a ballot was held for joining member, Malcolm Berry. The ballot proving in favour Hal informed the brethren that because of an unfortunate clash of dates Malcolm was not able to be present to take his position in the lodge.
The lodge was raised to the third degree and the principal guest Philip Gardner, accompanied by other grand officers and Provincial grand officers entered the lodge to be welcomed by Hal. Before the commencement of the installation ceremony Hal had the pleasure of thanking all his officers and the members of the lodge for their support and assistance during his year in office; a year that he had found stimulating and thoroughly enjoyable.
The lodge then returned to the second degree for the commencement of the installation ceremony. The incoming master on this occasion was Steve Bolton, the Preston Group Chairman. Steve was duly presented for installation by Tom Blackburn. The brethren were then treat to an excellent ceremony as Hal in his position as the installing master, placed Steve into his chair of office in due form.
The working tools in the third degree were presented by Bob Graham, the long version of those in the second degree by Hal Hamer and those in the first by master Mason, Brian Holden.
Following Steve’s installation in the chair he was addressed by Tom Blackburn. Although not present due to other Masonic duties, David Winder was appointed as the senior warden to be invested at a later date. Ian Walton was invested as the junior warden with Steve, as master, informing him of his duties. The warden’s address was given by Peter Hosker. The address to the deacons was given by Bernard Snape. In his absence, the newest member of the lodge, Malcolm Berry was appointed inner guard to be invested at a later date.
The ceremony concluded with the address to the brethren, delivered by Bill Huck in his usual exemplary manner.
Philip then rose to bring the congratulations and best wishes of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, for what had been an enjoyable, relaxed and dignified ceremony and went on to congratulate the installing master, Hal Hamer, on his work during the installation ceremony as well as his year in office. In response, Steve had the pleasure of presenting Philip with a note detailing the lodge’s recent charity giving that totalled £6,000, with £5,000 going to the MCF 2021 Festival and £1,000 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. Acknowledging the donations on behalf of the ultimate recipients, Philip thanked the lodge members for their extreme generosity in the cause of charity and presented the lodge with a certificate recognising the lodge’s position as now a Grand Patron of the 2021 Festival.
The work in the lodge closed with Bill Huck presenting Hal Hamer with a past master’s jewel in recognition of his year in office as WM of the Lodge of Peace and Unity No 314.
Later in the evening, in response to the toast to the grand officers, Philip had the pleasure of bringing his own congratulations on what had been and excellent and enjoyable ceremony of installation. He congratulated Steve on being installed into the chair of a wonderful lodge that had celebrated its bicentenary in 2014. He felt that the ceremony had been excellent, and complimented Hal as installing master for all his work in the lodge as well as his year in office. He continued by commending the brethren who had presented the three main addresses, feeling that, from the way they had done this they had a bright future in Masonry; the three brethren concerned being Bill Huck, Peter Hosker and Tom Blackburn. He also congratulated Bob Graham, Hal Hamer and Brian Holden on their presentation of the working tools saying how pleased he was to hear the long version of those in the second degree.
Philip went on to emphasise the need to support Masonic halls. He appreciated that Preston had a magnificent hall and although the 2021 Festival would be making demands on members’ funds, he encouraged the brethren not to forget the costs of maintaining and running such a building.
Turning to the Festival he thanked the lodge for the magnificent donation that made them Grand Patrons of the Festival before it had officially opened. On behalf of the ultimate recipients he thanked the lodge for their continued very generous support of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity.
Philip concluded by thanking the lodge for the warm and friendly manner in which he had been made welcome and for the excellent hospitality at the banquet.
The celebration banquet was enhanced by an excellent delivery of the ‘master’s song’ performed as a duet by Ian Cuerden and John Kay.
The evening closed with Steve presenting Philip with a bouquet of flowers as a thank you to his wife Kath, for agreeing to spend another evening without his company.