For the 2023 installation, brethren of Makerfield Lodge No 2155 were honoured and delighted to have as their principal guest, Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning. Philip was accompanied by Malcolm Bell AProvGM, Antony Bent PAProvGM, other grand officers, John Hurst and Jonathan Heaton, the group chairman. Acting Provincial grand officers present were; Colin Thorne, Ian Moss, Rick Winfield, Russell Forsyth, Robb Fitzsimmons and Anthony Roe the lodge DC.
Philip was presented to the WM Peter Beswick by Robb Fitzsimmons and after the initial formalities, Peter offered Philip the gavel and asked would he mind continuing with the ceremony on his behalf. Philip politely declined, suggesting he is not falling for that one and politely returned the gavel to Peter saying he had every confidence in his ability as WM, this brought quite a bit of amusement in the lodge.
This particular installation also had a personal reason for two people. In 2017 Michael O`Neill installed Anthony Roe in the chair of King Solomon in a previous lodge, now both being members of Makerfield Lodge, Michael agreed to be master and Anthony for posterity wanted to install him as master, having previously asked Peter for permission to do so.
Michael attended Saint Joseph’s School in Leigh, then to St. Marys until leaving in 1961. He started an apprenticeship in electrical engineering with the National Coal Board working at Astley Green colliery. When the colliery closed, he was transferred to Parkside Colliery in Newton-Le-Willows, he remained there until it closed in 1994, at that time was employed as a shift electrician by a company in Hindley Green, then took voluntary redundancy at age 63.
He was introduced into Freemasonry by Gordon Melling, a former workmate of his wife. He was initiated into Lilford Lodge No 3022 in 1999 was installed into the chair for the first time in December 2004. In 2006 he became secretary, an office that he held for 15 years, eventually he had a break from the role to become WM for the second time in 2014. The reason for this break was to enable Michael to install Anthony Roe into the chair of King Solomon. He was given the Provincial rank of PPSGD and later promoted to the rank of PPGSuptWks, a rank he still holds today.
Having joined the Marquis of Lorne Chapter No 1354 in 2002 to eventually become first principle in 2006 and again in 2015, that led him to become Scribe Ezra in 2016, an office that he held until the chapter surrendered it’s warrant in 2022. He then joined Makerfield Chapter No 2155, he was given the rank of PPADC and later promoted to PPAsstSoj.
He met his wife in 1964 at Leigh Casino dancing to the Johnny Prior sound. He later found that Johnny Prior was a member of Lilford Lodge. They have two children and have been married for 57 years. His interests are grandchildren, cruising and weekends away.
Michael was proclaimed by virtue down to the lower degrees, Peter Beswick offered to do the proclaiming of the new master in the three degrees as often the case in Makerfield Lodge.
The full emulation working tools were done in the three degrees; the third degree by David Bridge, second degree by Daniel Ackers and the first degree by the newest member David Banks, who joined the lodge in May 2023 now a fellow craft who did a double ceremony recently with Alex Riley.
Moving on to the presentation of the cheques by Michael to Phillip, these were as follows, Blessing’s in Disguise £800, The Royal House Care Village £350, Derrian House £150, The Leigh Group Charity Account £115, Leigh Masonic Hall £500, The Bridge £100, Man Leigh £200, Three Wishes Charity £100, Garry Dose £100, Leigh Masonic Group £65, making a grand total of £2,480.
Phillip, accompanied by the grand and acting Provincial grand officers retired from the lodge, and following the completion of all lodge business, the lodge was eventually closed in peace and harmony.
The festive board went well with the usual preliminary toasts. Phillip gave a wonderful speech to the brethren, mentioning to the younger members who were enthralled by what he had to say about them, of their attitude to the level of commitment they have given. He also mentioned the importance of PSA testing, saying do not take things for granted with prostate cancer.
The group chairman gave greetings to Michael, thanking him for his current commitment to the lodge and his past loyalty to the Leigh Group. The health to the master was given by Anthony Roe who thanked him for originally proposing him into Craft Freemasonry and supporting him in the Royal Arch and being a loyal friend in his 13 years of Freemasonry.