John Lee goes down a storm at Heysham

The brethren of Heysham Lodge No 4108 were honoured by the presence of John David Lee as the representative of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, at their installation meeting held in the Masonic Hall, Morecambe, when Lee Taylor-Craddock was installed as master for the ensuing year by his predecessor Benjamin Yates (Ben), in what everybody present considered a very impressive ceremony. John was supported by Lancaster and District Group Chairman Jim Wilson, together with fellow grand officers Philip Gardner, Tom Holroyd, Joe Hall and Alan Jones. Also in attendance were the group secretary Scott Devine and acting Provincial grand officers Philip Preston, Steve Plevey and Stewart Aimson.

Ben Yates (right) congratulates Lee Taylor-Craddock on reaching the master’s chair.

Ben Yates (right) congratulates Lee Taylor-Craddock on reaching the master’s chair.

On entering the lodge room, the installing master Ben Yates welcomed John with enthusiasm, adding it was fantastic to see him at Heysham’s installation. John humorously replied: “I am here to enjoy myself worshipful master, the pressure is on you, but please do try to enjoy yourself as well.” Before asking the officers of Heysham Lodge to remove their collars, Ben stood and gave his valedictory address, thanking all the members of the lodge for their support, saying it had been a fantastic year, one of the defining experiences of his life.

The master elect was presented for installation by Paul Craddock, his father-in-law, prior to a ceremony which was conducted with complete sincerity and unquestionable competence. On attaining the chair of King Solomon, Lee was presented with explanations of the working tools from three ‘light blues’. Although comparatively new Masons, their commendable performances bodes well for the future of Heysham Lodge in being able to call upon such talented brethren. John Clark presented the working tools of a master Mason; that of a fellow craft by Martin McGowan and Darren Reeve the first degree working tools. The addresses to the master and wardens were delivered faultlessly and with great assurance, which was no surprise given that the presenters were Paul Craddock (address to the master) and David Malcolm (address to the wardens), the lodge director of ceremonies. The address to the brethren of the lodge was given with his usual panache by John Lee.

At the close of the ceremony, John was delighted to bring the greetings and best wishes of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, whom he felt sure would have been impressed by the proceedings. On behalf of Tony, John congratulated the new master and wished him a successful year and the very best of health to enjoy it to the full. John then moved on to congratulate the immediate past master Ben, on an excellent ceremony and who in John’s words, is both an asset to the lodge as well as to the group. Congratulations were also extended to the three ‘light blues’ who had given wonderful renditions of the working tools.

Following the greetings, Ben presented John Lee with the following disbursements to charity and good causes: West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity £1,000 (gift aid £137), Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival £871 (gift aid £217.75), MTSFC £1,000, Lodge Widows £270, Masonic Fellowship £25, WM’s half marathon in aid of St John’s Hospice £750, RNLI Morecambe £1,000, Macmillan Nurses £500, Alan Mills sky dive in aid of St John’s Hospice £800, Bob Malcolm sponsored walk £120, WLCPS £25 and £1000 donated to Derian House in memory of Peter Roberts’ niece. The grand total, an amazing £7,715.75. In reply John commented that the generosity of the lodge was an example of what makes us all proud to be Freemasons, and that the donations would help so many people.

The brethren who presented the working tools with class. Pictured from left to right, are; Darren Reeve, Martin McGowan and John Clark.

The brethren who presented the working tools with class. Pictured from left to right, are; Darren Reeve, Martin McGowan and John Clark.

At the Festival of St John held at the Heysham Golf Club, over 120 brethren were present. In an engaging reply to the toast to the Provincial grand officers, John began by thanking the grand officers for their support and offering praise to them all, but especially Jim Wilson, who as chairman has worked tirelessly to improve the practice of Freemasonry within the Lancaster Group and has likewise supported many members of our fraternity in the process. Praise was also proffered to the acting Provincial grand officers in attendance for their commitment, not just in supporting him on the day, but throughout their year in office.

John next turned his attention to the immediate past master and the new master. He began by commending Ben for pulling off a fabulous installation ceremony, certainly one to be proud of. To Lee, he again offered his congratulations on reaching the master’s chair, wishing him the happiness and health needed to make the most of this huge achievement in his Masonic career and in furthering the lodge’s history. John noted that the lodge has a busy year ahead, with two third degree ceremonies, two new candidates and a further gentleman to ballot for. He hoped all the visitors would play their part in making those occasions both memorable and enjoyable.

The brethren next on the receiving end of John’s accolades were John Clark, Martin McGowan and Darren Reeve, the brethren who had performed the working tools. To see three light blue members performing such top-notch ritual had made his day and certainly enhanced the installation ceremony.

John then moved on to discuss the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival, which he defined as being the single most important project that we all must focus on over the next four years. In his opinion it is absolutely essential that we all show complete unity in supporting this worthwhile festival. West Lancashire, John said, has a fine heritage and proven track record of giving to charitable causes, both Masonic and non-Masonic. Our own Province receives over £1,000,000 every year in support of brethren’s families and their dependents. It follows that there are at least 1,000,000 good reasons why our support of this festival is so needed. Before moving on to discuss the Royal Arch and our Masonic halls, John rounded off his address by imploring the brethren, as Freemasons, to make a positive difference to the lives of others, whether that be domestically, professionally or Masonically, saying: “This country needs Freemasonry now more than ever before, for when we stand together we offer a shining light to all that is good in society.”

Enjoying the moment. Pictured from left to right, are; Jim Wilson, John Lee, David Malcolm and Lee Taylor-Craddock.

Enjoying the moment. Pictured from left to right, are; Jim Wilson, John Lee, David Malcolm and Lee Taylor-Craddock.

Before sitting down to a huge round of applause, John offered some sage advice; always take life like a pinch of salt, plus a slice of lemon and a shot of tequila. Please continue to care and support each other, be thankful for what you’ve got but be ever mindful of the needs of others.

The toast to the newly installed master was a very personal address, given with warmth and sincerity by his father-in-law Paul Cradock, commending all present to get to know this very committed family man. Fred Scofield then performed the master’s song with accompaniment from David Tattersall. This was Fred’s last time singing the master’s song at Heysham, having now retired his vocal cords for a well-earned rest. In his reply, Lee took the opportunity to thank not just the brethren for their support, but also Fred Scofield for all his efforts over the years in singing the master’s song, the junior brethren for their excellent working tools and his father-in-law Paul, being especially glad to follow in his footsteps.

It was agreed by all that it had been a fantastic installation and as if to prove it, the money raised for charity on the night reached an amazing total of £1,238, a quite extraordinary amount for one evening.

Article and photographs by Paul Thompson.

Pictured from left to right, are; Philip Gardner, Philip Preston, Joe Hall, Scott Devine, John Lee, Lee Taylor-Craddock, Ben Yates, Jim Wilson, Steve Plevey, Alan Jones and Stewart Aimson.

Pictured from left to right, are; Philip Gardner, Philip Preston, Joe Hall, Scott Devine, John Lee, Lee Taylor-Craddock, Ben Yates, Jim Wilson, Steve Plevey, Alan Jones and Stewart Aimson.