Keith the master yet again

“Isn’t it nice to see a grand officer working?’ This was an observation made by one wag at the installation meeting of Tithebarn Lodge No 8446 held at the Masonic Hall, Poulton-le-Fylde. The grand officer in this case was Joseph Keith Jackson Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies, who is known as Keith. As master elect, Keith was preparing to take the chair of Tithebarn Lodge for the second time (the first occasion was in 1986 when the lodge was just 14 years old). Keith has also been the master of Dona Conferentes Lodge No 9392 in 2001 and Knott End Lodge No 8674 in 2007. Keith’s regular claim to fame is as an organist as he tinkles the ivories for several lodges and chapters on the Fylde Coast.

Stuart Thornber (left) congratulates Keith Jackson on attaining the chair again.

Keith’s old friend Stuart Thornber was representing Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison on this occasion. In support were Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master Terry Hudson, with grand lodge colleagues Peter Elmore and Chairman of the South Fylde Group of Lodges and Chapters Ian Ward, along with several other grand and acting Provincial officers. Stuart was welcomed into the lodge by the installing master Ken Greenwood and all was set for a fine installation ceremony. Before he did this however there was an important item on the agenda, which was to ballot for a new member. This was successfully concluded which means that Keith will have an initiation during his year in the chair.

Ken Greenwood invited Peter Elmore to act as installing senior warden, Bob Stafford as installing junior warden and Warren Yates as installing inner guard. Keith was presented by Mel Green who had travelled from his home in Oklahoma especially for the installation meeting. Accompanying Mel was George Valliere a well-known member of the Oklahoma Red Indian Masonic Demonstration Team. George had visited the Fylde Coast with this demonstration team on several occasions and was pleased to be back again as a guest.

Pictured from left to right, are; George Valliere, Keith Jackson and James Mason.

The ceremony was performed to a very high standard by Ken Greenwood, ably assisted by David Leahy delivering the third degree tools excellently. The long version of the second degree tools was demonstrated with aplomb by Jacques Brown, with the first degree tools delivered with polished style by David Calvert. The wardens received explanations of the jewels of their office by the appropriate installing officer. Several other addresses were delivered, particularly to the new master by John-Robbie Porter, to the wardens by Tom Sloan and to the brethren by Stuart Thornber, all of whom had delivered these before – and it showed!

Pictured from left to right, are; George Valliere, Keith Jackson and James Mason.

With several ambulance drivers and paramedics in the lodge, the guest organist was pleased to respond to the new master’s thanks for his continued musical input by saying that at his age it was comforting to play at a lodge with so many medical people present. Keith Jackson was also pleased to voice the thanks of lodge members to Peter Weller who had stepped down after 13 years as secretary. Philip Hope, the new lodge chaplain, received an address from Provincial Grand Chaplain Godfrey Hirst who explained things in his own inimitable manner.

In his response on behalf of the grand officers, Ian Ward referred to what had been ‘quite a cabinet reshuffle’ as a refreshing start to the Tithebarn year. He also offered warm praise to Ken Greenwood on the manner that he had dealt with the daunting task of installing one of the area’s most senior grand officers. Ian added that Ken had been a great ambassador for the lodge in the frequency of his visiting and ultimately raising the sum of £2,350, with the assistance of charity steward Tom Sloan, for a large list of recipients led by the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. The sentiments were echoed by John-Robbie Porter who responded on behalf of the Provincial officers and Derek Lewthwaite, master of Kirkham Lodge No 6615, who responded on behalf of the visiting brethren.

Stuart Thornber (standing) responding to the toast to the grand officers.

Speaking after dinner Stuart Thornber described the fantastic 40 years that he and Keith had enjoyed in Freemasonry. He also praised Keith’s wife Mary for her continued support. Speaking of the ceremony Stuart particularly mentioned the three brothers who had delivered the working tools, a point which received warm applause from his audience. He went on to applaud Clive Gitsham, the lodge treasurer, who was to be appointed acting Provincial Grand Senior Deacon at the next meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge to be held on 10 May 2017. He also congratulated many other brothers present on their individual appointment offers, in particular Godfrey Hirst on his re-appointment as Provincial Grand Chaplain. Godfrey had been invited as one of Keith’s guests and was shortly to sing the master’s song with more than his usual gusto, this for a brother who would normally be accompanying him ‘on the ivories.’

Stuart also spoke about the Tercentenary celebrations; the hard work carried out by group officers, the group and Provincial websites and the West Lancashire Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival, in particular the festival steward’s jewel, which incorporated the West Lancashire coat of arms in its design.

In proposing the toast to Keith’s health, installing master Ken Greenwood delivered an off the cuff speech in which he hoped that Keith would enjoy a fantastic year in the chair. In his response to this Keith stated, “It doesn’t seem like 31 years but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.” He added that he was looking forward to his year in the chair. He made special thanks for guests who had made things special – George Valliere who had travelled from Oklahoma and James Mason who had extended his visit to England from Victoria, South Australia to be at meeting.

Before the tyler’s toast, which was proposed by Warren Yates, Ian Ward had an important presentation to make. This was the immediate past master’s year book for Ken Greenwood. This consisted of summonses, invitations and other memorabilia from his year in office, which ran to two thick folders! Ian also presented Keith with a menu card signed by all present.

Stuart Thornber (standing) responding to the toast to the grand officers.