As expected, it was an impressive turn out for the ‘Masters and First Principals’ Festival’ of the Liverpool Group, held within the magnificent Masonic hall on Hope Street. The Liverpool Group was pleased to welcome Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning to the informal meeting, along with Peter Taylor Provincial Grand Secretary. In addition, Provincial wardens John Lee and Jonathan Heaton, completed the distinguished line up whilst Malcolm Bell Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies provided his usual skills to ensure the event ran smoothly.
Following the very successful tried and tested format, the evening started with tea, coffee and biscuits accompanied by informal socialising in the Adams Suite, before all moved into the main banqueting suite for the formal section of the evening. A fine meal followed, with lots of chatter throughout the room. Malcolm Bell managed the proceedings with the usual formal toasts being taken. Gary Jones, first principal of The King’s Chapter, proposed the toast to the Deputy Provincial Grand Master who was pleased to respond by thanking Gary for the generous toast to his health and recognising and thanking all of the group officers for their contribution to the effective running of the Province. Philip congratulated designates present who had received Provincial first appointments and promotions, and hoped that they enjoyed their Masonry as much as he had. He told of his initiation into Anfield Lodge No 2215 in December 1975, held in the Adams Suite, in which this evenings reception had been held, an initiation he still vividly remembers.
Philip enthused on how fortunate it was that the Liverpool Group had such a magnificent hall within the city, and how with the past decline of city life, the membership had suffered in proportion, but that had now stopped, with many lodges starting to show an expansion in membership. Philip proffered his congratulations to all within the group who would be rewarded with Provincial appointments and promotions at the forthcoming meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge in Blackpool. It was also pleasing, he said, to see many representatives from the other groups based in the Liverpool area present on the night, particularly the chairmen, Bill Culshaw from Gladstone, Howard Griffiths for Garston and Frank Umbers of Ormskirk and Bootle Groups.
He then talked about the forthcoming Tercentenary, the MCF 2021 Festival which he knew was well publicised, but also explained and endorsed the Masonic Fishing Charity (MTSFC), an initiative supported by the Pro Grand Master, which was aimed at providing an enjoyable, rewarding and stimulating experience to those suffering from disability and serious learning difficulties. This was met with hearty applause
John Lee, Provincial Senior Warden, proposed the toast to the Liverpool Group in which he mentioned the oldest lodge, Merchants No 241, meeting within the hall, and how Liverpool is seen worldwide as a ‘beacon of light.’ He went on to say a city with a truly remarkable heritage, and a glowing future ahead, and within this hall a sense of camaraderie which is always a joy to be welcomed into whenever he visits. John then thanked all for the hospitality which is always extended to him in Liverpool.
Liverpool Group Chairman, Bob Povall proudly responded, explaining he had been a group officer for the past 12 years and he was fortunate in being a member of a remarkable team, extolling their achievements and offering his thanks to all concerned. In this he included the hall executive team and the Liverpool Masonic Hall Building Fund; all working together tirelessly to maintain the economic viability of such a large and grand building. He also expressed his delight at having the Deputy Provincial Grand Master as the principal guest, accompanied by so many distinguished colleagues. It was a delightful duty for Bob to present a bouquet of flowers to Philip, and a present of Scotland’s finest export, this particular one produced on the shore of Dornoch Firth.