There were 64 brethren assembled at Cleveleys Masonic Hall to witness Joe O’Brien being installed into the chair of Royal Oak Lodge No 5919. The lodge members were honoured to receive Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox who had stepped in at the last minute due to the unfortunate illness of Ted Vollans. Harry was supported on this occasion by the Chairman of North Fylde Group Duncan Smith, together with Peter Greathead, Keith Jackson, Bill Eardley, Tony Hough and Neil MacSymons. Accompanying these distinguished brethren was James Rashid on his first outing as a Provincial Grand Steward.
With the regular lodge business dispatched by the master of the lodge Mark Mallinson, it was time to welcome Harry Cox and present him with the gavel of the lodge, which he swiftly but graciously returned. Mark proceeded to invite Arnold Flint to act as installing senior warden, Gordon Hinchcliffe to act as installing junior warden and Paul Kimberley to act as installing inner guard. The master elect, Joe O’Brien was then presented by Brian Gregson.
Joe was ably installed into the chair of King Solomon by Mark in time honoured fashion and the working tools were particularly well presented by Arthur Cartain, Paul Kimberley and Brian Gregson. Brian Gregson delivered the address to Joe, which was followed by addresses to the wardens by Duncan Smith, to the mentor by Damon Tait, to the deacons by Alex Tomlinson, to the stewards by Dave Elwell and to the brethren of the lodge by Harry Cox.
On completion of the ceremony Harry congratulated Mark on the manner in which he had installed Joe and expressed his wish for Joe to have a happy and healthy year in office. On behalf of the lodge, Joe presented Harry with cheques for charities with a combined total of £1,800. The largest of these were £700 for the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £550 for Parkinsons MSA in memory of Bob Mallinson and £400 for Tramshed Theatre group.
At the conclusion of the installation ceremony the brethren retired to enjoy an excellent banquet of soup du jour, roast beef with all the trimmings, trifle, cheese and biscuits, and coffee and mints.
Harry Cox responded to toast number three on his own behalf and the grand officers present. Firstly he congratulated the installing master, commenting that his late father would have been very proud. The main focus of the response was recruitment, retention and retrieval. He informed the audience that: “There have been improvements recently but we still need to be active in making sure the numbers do not drop. Let us not forget that we are all ambassadors for Freemasonry and that we must tell non-Masons about the work we do.”
The toast to the newly installed master was given by Mark Mallinson and the master’s song was ably rendered by Shaun Haynes, accompanied by Steven Lloyd. The evening concluded with the tyler’s toast being delivered by Bob Major.