Keith Blackburn first came across Freemasonry whilst attending the Southport Flower Show in 2007. Accidently, after stooping to pick up a 50 pence piece which had been glued down at the entrance to a small gazebo, he became aware of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ trailer parked next door. Having never been that interested previously, but having moved recently to Southport, he thought it might be an excellent way of meeting new people.
Keith is a retired general manager who served over 27 years with Remploy, the largest employer of people with disabilities across England, Scotland and Wales. Keith was initiated into North Meols Lodge No 5828 on 22 April 2008 and has progressed through every position on the ladder since joining.
At the installation meeting at Southport Masonic Hall, WM John Walters opened the lodge and following the general business being completed, DC Andy Hall informed John that Liverpool Group Chairman Sam Robinson, representing the Provincial Grand Master, was outside the lodge and seeked admission. John responded that the lodge members would be very happy to receive him.
Sam was then admitted into the lodge accompanied by Michael Kinsella, Christopher Hamilton and Colin Jenkins (Southport Group Chairman). Also in attendance were two acting Provincial officers, Alan Southworth PrAGStdB and Brian Griffiths PrGStwd. After John formally greeted Sam to the lodge he took his seat where he could enjoy the ceremony.
Master elect Keith was then presented by Christopher Hamilton, his proposer into Freemasonry and who himself was an ex Remploy employee whom Keith had met initially during a tour of the Masonic hall following his enquiry made at the Flower Show.
For the purpose of the ceremony John asked Mark Matthews to occupy the chair of the senior warden, Tony Small to occupy the chair of the junior warden and Leslie Linforth to occupy the inner guard’s position. An excellent ceremony followed which was conducted by John and very ably assisted by the other officers of the lodge.
The brethren were then admitted by rank and Keith was proclaimed the WM of North Meols Lodge for the ensuing year. The third degree working tools were then presented by David Howell, second degree tools by Ian Murphy and the first degree tools by David Murphy, all of whom did a very fine job.
Keith’s first task as master was to invest his IPM John Walters, whom Keith had worked with during his retirement at John’s company, Access Community Services. Keith thanked him for conducting an excellent ceremony and for the support he had received over the past few years and added that he would be looking forward to his continued support throughout the year.
Following the completion of the ceremony, the address to the worshipful master was then given by Chris Hamilton, the address to wardens by Mark Matthews and finally the address to brethren of the lodge by David Townes.
Sam brought greetings from the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and congratulated Keith on being installed in the WM’s chair for first time. He also congratulated John and the officers who had taken part in what had proved to be a very enjoyable ceremony.
Keith then presented Sam with five cheques totaling £5,828 which coincidentally is the number of North Meols Lodge. The recipients being Southport Masonic Hall Foundation, West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, Southport Sea Cadets, McMillan Trust and the Southport Lifeboat.
After the ceremony the festive board was attended by 45 brethren who all enjoyed an excellent meal. In his response to the toast to the grand officers, Sam thanked the members of North Meols Lodge for their kind hospitality and said how much he had enjoyed the ceremony.
In response to the toast to his health, Keith then thanked all the brethren, especially those who had taken part in the ceremony and mentioned that since his chance encounter with the Masonic trailer he has been hooked on Freemasonry and it had delivered everything he had been looking for: companionship and good friends, and he was pleased to say that many were present sitting in front of him.