Nearly 80 brethren witnessed the installation of Geoffrey Allan Whittle, known as Geoff, into the WM’s chair of Bryn Lodge No 6553 at Bryn Masonic Hall. Assistant Provincial Grand Master Tony Bent was the principal guest and he was accompanied by Malcolm Taylor (Wigan Group Chairman) and fellow grand officers, Stanley Oldfield (PSGD, PAPrGM) and David Ogden (PAGDC), supported by three acting Provincial officers, Barry Dickinson (PrDGReg), Tony Simms (PrJGD) and Ken Wilson (PrGStwd). The lodge also had the support of group officers, Geoffrey Porter (vice chairman), John Parrott (charity steward) and John Lomax (local care officer).
David Dixon was the installing master and being up to his usual standard of competence and professionalism, the ceremony itself was really impressive and received glittering praise from both the principal guest and the group chairman. Geoff was presented to him by his proposer and father-in-law Barry Dickinson and placed in the chair of King Solomon following a faultless display of ritual. The working tools of the three degrees were presented in superb fashion. Master Mason Stuart Crook was to present the third degree tools and no doubt would have done so as perfectly as his colleagues, but he got stuck in really bad traffic and arrived just too late, so Barry Dickinson stepped in, literally at the last minute….or less. The second degree tools were presented by master Mason John Tabern and the first degree tools were presented by fellowcraft Gary Rowlands.
Once settled in the chair, Geoff invested his immediate past master and appointed his officers. Kenny Hatton gave the address to the stewards, whilst Barry Dickinson did the address to the WM and Stanley Oldfield, who himself had been Provincial Junior Warden, did the address to the wardens. Tony Bent, in his own inimitable style, addressed the brethren.
The ceremony being completed, it was then Tony’s cue to leap to his feet and bring the greetings and congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master, who he said, would have been absolutely delighted to have witnessed such a delightful ceremony and see the new ‘light blue’ occupant of the chair, having been so well installed by David Dixon. Everyone had made an advancement in Masonic knowledge on this occasion, David having been a long standing member of a Liverpool lodge that practice Bottomley ritual, had imported some unfamiliar passages into the normal Bryn workings over his year in the chair and this evening was no exception.
As Geoff stood to respond to the APrGM, he accidently caught the gavel and sent it flying towards Tony, who quick as a flash, picked it up and told the WM he had much pleasure in accepting it despite the manner in which it was presented and speedily returned it. The assembled brethren appreciated the humour in the discourse between Tony and Geoff which was accompanied by much laughter. There was however, no laughter when Geoff handed over an envelope with a number of cheques for charitable donations. Tony was pleased to receive cheques from the new WM totalling £3,699, individually to West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity (£1000), two donations for the Masonic Hall (£1200 and £450), Help the Aged (£250), The Alzheimer’s Society (£250), Prostate Cancer Research (£250), Royal National Institute for the Blind (£250) and local Masonic Societies (£49). He stated that he had much pleasure in receiving such an amount, not only because it is an astonishing sum of money, but because of the breadth of the charities that would benefit from the lodge’s generosity. He thanked the lodge members on behalf of the future recipients.
Following the ceremony there was a fine festive board with a great atmosphere that had filtered down from the lodge room. After fine food and wine in very convivial surroundings, the master’s song was sung by Ron Briscoe, accompanied by John Cooper. This was followed by hearty congratulations from everyone to Geoff, knowing full well that there was something very pleasurable for him on the horizon and a year of light blue on the floor of the lodge.
The Wigan Group currently have four brethren who hold the elevated rank of PPrSGW, Stanley Brown, David Dixon, John Parrott and Keith Lang, who recently received field promotion in both West Lancs and Isle of Man Provinces. All were there to celebrate with Geoff and Bryn Lodge and as it was quite unusual to have all four together on one occasion, the new WM could not resist the photo opportunity.
Outside of the lodge, Geoff is a serving police officer based in Salford and three of his colleagues, also based in Salford but members of lodges in Leigh, Stephen Gerrard, Andy Robb and Paul Hook, came along to share in his celebration. Geoff is a local lad and his seconder into Masonry was George Harrison, who was his headmaster when he went to school in Bryn. He is married to Dawn and they have a daughter Megan and two sons, Connor and Thomas. Apart from a fondness for single malt whiskey, Geoff’s hobbies include hill walking, and he is well on his way to completing the Wainwrights, the 214 Lake District fells contained in the famous author and hill walker’s seven volume guide.