Although relatively small in terms of membership numbers, Knott End Lodge No 8674 has a large reputation for providing a warm and enthusiastic welcome to its visitors and a generous level of hospitality. This certainly proved to be the case at the installation meeting held at Springfield House Hotel, Pilling when a gloriously sunny spring day saw temperatures rising into the low 70’s and a large contingent of Masons falling into sun loungers and garden chairs prior to the start of the meeting.
If there was a little reluctance to ‘cease refreshment and commence labour’, it was perhaps understandable given the ambience of the location and the rarely experienced kindly weather. However, all in attendance were quickly in place within the lodge room to welcome the representative of the Provincial Grand Master, who on this occasion was John Robson. He was accompanied by fellow grand officers Lancaster District Chairman Jim Wilson, Keith Jackson, Jim Woods and Chris Butterfield (group secretary). Joining them in the processional entrance was acting Provincial grand officers; Peter Pemberton Provincial Senior Grand Warden, Paul Thompson Provincial Junior Grand Deacon and Richard Dennison Provincial Grand Steward.
The WM John Wright, gave effusive greetings to John Robson and his colleagues and stated his suspicion that the room was likely to get conspicuously warmer as the ceremony proceeded. However, following the presentation of the master elect Ian Henderson by his friend and senior lodge member John Morley, it transpired that John Wright confounded his earlier predictions by installing Ian into the chair for a second time with cool efficiency and enviable assiduity.
The working tools of the third degree were explained in an excellent manner by Ian McLellan, whilst those of the second and first degree were delivered in a unique and edifying manner by Mark Astbury. Ken Oxley superbly rendered the address to the wardens; the address to the master was performed with gravity and sincerity by Keith Jackson and the final address, being that to the brethren, was articulated splendidly by John Robson.
Following the appointment and investiture of the lodge officers, John Robson took his cue from the customary announcement of ‘and that WM, completes the ceremony of your installation’ to immediately bring both the sincere congratulation and best wishes of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. John commented that he had no doubt that Tony would have approved of the happy and relaxed way that the ceremony had been carried out and would have had a ‘wry smile’ at some of the ‘local variations’.
The new WM Ian Henderson was prompt in both his response and the presentation to John of several cheques totalling £1,400 in favour of both Masonic and non-Masonic charities. Amongst the beneficiaries were the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, Red Marsh Special School, Thornton-Cleveleys, Beat Cancer and Blue Skies / Heart of Gold Appeal, Blackpool Victoria Hospital. John expressed his thanks and especially his admiration for the charitable efforts of such a relatively small lodge.
In the interval between ‘labour and refreshment’ which ensued, thus allowing the temporary lodge room to be converted into a dining venue, the brethren quickly took advantage of the continuing balmy weather and retired to the hotel grounds where the scene quickly took on the appearance of a garden party or wedding reception rather than a Masonic installation. One guest dryly enquired of a colleague as he relaxed with a glass of wine, near the shrubbery: “are you a relative of the bride or the groom”?
A quick glance at the menu being offered at the Festival of St John explained the speedy gathering of everyone in the dining room with little need for prompting from the director of ceremonies. An excellent four-course feast which included black pudding and bacon stack, followed by roast pork with all the trimmings, with strawberry cheesecake and an assorted cheese board, completing the gastronomic offering that was enjoyed without exception.
John Robson, in his response to the third toast, gave a very well received response, which both entertained and informed his audience. He deftly included the core messages from Province regarding support for the WLFC, appropriate and timely promotion of Royal Arch Masonry to newly raised brethren, the pending merger of the national Masonic charities and encouragement to attend the Provincial meeting at Blackpool in support of the Provincial Grand Master. Interspersing his speech with appropriate humour, he also thanked both the grand officers and acting Provincial grand officers for their support in joining him on his visit before paying tribute to all the officers of Knott End Lodge for the excellent work that they had carried out.
In proposing the toast to the master, John Wright paid a glowing tribute to the commitment that Ian had given to the lodge over his many years of membership and voiced the opinion that the lodge was in very capable hands for the ensuing year. Before resuming his seat, he presented Ian with a ‘new WM’s starter pack’ which proved to be several packets of mints and some throat pastels! The traditional vocal tribute was provided by a fine rendition of the master’s song from Lewis Johns with accompaniment from Keith Jackson.
As the celebrations drew to a close, it was announced that the raffle in conjunction with the generosity from the ‘visiting masters table’ had realised a total of £392; a grand end to a gloriously warm and happy occasion.