The tables of the supper room at Barrow in Furness Masonic Hall groaned under the weight of the sandwiches, pies, scones and cakes heaped upon them for the installation meeting of Hartington Lodge No 1021. That was not the fare at the installation banquet but merely the hospitality served up by the ladies of the lodge prior to the meeting.
That is probably the main reason that there is always an early turnout for the meeting, although the availability of your preferred seat being dependent upon what time you enter the packed temple is also a factor.
Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox was the principal guest at the meeting and he was pleased to be accompanied by seven acting Provincial officers from the Furness and South Lakeland group and further afield. One of those acting Provincial officers was outgoing master Ian Thompson. Although kept busy as a very active Provincial officer Ian had also been an excellent ambassador for the lodge in his visiting of other lodges within the group. It was his second stint as master as unfortunate events had led to him stepping straight back into the chair from the position of immediate past master.
His successor Mort Richardson was installed by Ian in fine style. Mort is a frequent attendee of other lodges and social events. This along with the manner in which he recited his obligation indicates that he will continue where Ian left off both as regards good ritual and also the ambassadorial role.
Lodge director of ceremonies Graham Benson had obviously worked his charges hard as the work on display was of the highest standard. The working tools of the third and first degree were immaculately presented by Nick Johns and Darren McBryde respectively. There had been a late call-off as regards the second degree tools so Ian once again stepped into the breach and delivered a faultless rendition of the extended explanation.
Two of the visiting acting officers were called into service with Bernard Snape addressing the deacons as to their duties and Chris Gray doing likewise in respect of the stewards.
The address to the new master was sincerely and accurately delivered by Keith Templeton who had been Mort’s proposer. Lodge charity steward Harry Chatfield continued in the same vein as he orated the address to the wardens. The address to the brethren was given by Harry who matched all the excellent work that had gone before.
Harry summed it up when, as he brought the greetings of the Provincial Grand Master, he commented, “It had been a fabulous ceremony.”
Amongst those packed into the temple were Furness and South Lakeland Group Chairman Peter Schofield, his deputy Gary Rogerson and secretary Barry Hadley. Mort’s seconder Ken Boon was another attentive onlooker.
Long standing lodge secretary Craig Foster stood down on the night and was thanked for his outstanding service to the lodge. He was replaced by his cousin and new immediate past master Ian Thompson – proving you really cannot keep a good man down.
To mark the occasion a cheque for £600 was presented to Harry, made out in favour of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. With the Gift Aid added it will contribute £750 to that worthy cause. In addition £1,200 with a Gift Aid attachment raising the sum to £1,500 had been sent as a donation to the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival. This entitled Hartington Lodge to become Vice Patrons of the Festival and Provincial Grand Charity Steward Phil Preston was on hand to present a certificate marking that fact.
It was a chance for reunions as well as Harry was delighted to meet up once again with Gary Neal who had served as a Provincial steward with him in 1996.
Following the formalities over 130 members and their guests enjoyed a superb four course meal with the catering by Mike Elliot of the Crown at North Scale. To complete a tremendous afternoon and evening the raffle at the banquet raised £676 for the hall building fund.