Panic could be felt in the tyler’s room as the lodge officers arranged to process into the lodge room with the sudden realisation that the WM and installing master was nowhere to be seen. Dr Graham Hoadley had unfortunately been delayed and could not be contacted. Thankfully, at the last minute he breezed into the room apologising profusely.
The trepidation felt by all master elects on the day of their installation must be felt by all the past masters present in the lodge reminiscing on their own day of installation. A special day, one to be remembered, a day that is very rarely repeated, except for special circumstances.
So, what must William (Bill) Snell have felt at Clifton Lodge No 703 as he patiently waited to be installed into the chair of King Solomon for the sixth time.
A sentiment no doubt somewhat similar to those of Elizabeth Taylor’s sixth husband on his honeymoon when he thought to himself: “How can I make this day different to all the others?” After much thought, master elect Bill called on some his Masonic friends to assist in the ceremony by occupying some roles.
Once the routine business of the lodge had been completed, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton, representing the Provincial Grand Master, was escorted into the lodge room and introduced to the WM and brethren of the lodge. Kevin thanked Graham for the warm welcome, saying he was looking forward to a fantastic afternoon of ritual and fun.
Bill was installed as the WM of Clifton lodge in a fine and dignified manner by Dr Graham Hoadley, assisted by the officers of the lodge, along with some of Bill’s guests who also assisted in the ceremony.
On conclusion of the ceremony, Kevin rose to bring greetings from the Provincial Grand Master, Mark Matthews and Bill had the pleasant duty to present four cheques for deserving causes to a magnificent value of £2,000, to be shared equally between Trinity Hospice on the Fylde, Lancashire Blood Bikes, Blackpool Young Carers and the Blackpool Masonic Hall Building Fund.
The brethren retired to the bar for a few well-earned drinks, feeling elated that the day had gone well with the lodge work being completed to a high standard. The resultant festive board continually resounded with happy conversation and stories reminiscing from earlier years.
In his response to the toast to the grand officers, Kevin entertained the guests with his humorous stories and anecdotes, informing the brethren what a pleasure it was to be back in Blackpool and commenting on how pleased he was to see the brethren smiling and talking to each other. He proceeded to talk about the membership pathway scheme and the support for the Royal Arch as a continuation of the craft degree.
Continuing his response, Kevin thanked the acting officers, Neil Higgins and Kevin Croft for accompanying him. He gave a special thank you to the lodge director of ceremonies Chris Walpole, who is currently suffering with cracked ribs and George Holden for his musical interludes during the ceremony and festive board. Kevin also extended his thanks to the Blackpool Group Publicity Officer, Gordon Ivett, for attending to report on the event and promote Clifton Lodge. Kevin urged the brethren to view the Provincial website where this event and others are publicised.
Installing master and new immediate past master, Dr Graham Hoadley, in his toast to the new master, thanked Bill for agreeing to take this important office and informed Bill that two brethren were waiting for ceremonies and a prospective candidate was waiting to join. Plenty of work for Bill to look forward too, but he was assured that the lodge was a team and he would not be expected to work alone.
This was the cue for lodge secretary Roger Fish to rise and lead the assembled multitude in a combined rendition of the Master’s Song. Despite the words being printed on the table menu various interpretations could be discerned. Undoubtably somewhat enhanced by the copious amounts of wine being quaffed during the meal.
In his reply to the toast to his health, Bill thanked Kevin and everyone else for attending, especially the guests for their support. Bill informed the brethren that he joined Freemasonry in 1974 and was looking forward to celebrating his 50 years in Freemasonry in 2024
Bill was installed as WM for the first time in Mimosa Lodge of Blackpool No 6047 in 1982, sadly, Mimosa Lodge of Blackpool had to hand in its warrant on the 9 December 2009 due to decreased membership, a sad day for the WM. He proceeding to become the WM of Rectitude Lodge of Blackpool No 4122 and Clifton Lodge.
In concluding, Bill presented Kevin with a bouquet of flowers for his wife Susan and a bottle of fine whiskey for himself. Kevin thanked the lodge for the gifts hoping he would be invited back to Blackpool in the near future.
Story and photographs by Gordon Ivett.