The Ormskirk and Bootle Group held their biennial Masters and First Principals Dinner, the first to be held since 2019 following the cancellation of the 2021 meeting due to Covid restrictions. The meeting was held on this occasion at the Litherland Masonic Hall.
For the evening’s festival dinner, the group was honoured by the presence of the Provincial Grand Master Mark Matthews as their principal guest. Mark was accompanied by Assistant Provincial Grand Master Frank Umbers, along with Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor, Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Malcolm Alexander, Provincial Senior Grand Warden Chris Jones and Provincial Junior Grand Warden Sylvester During and representing the group, the Ormskirk and Bootle Group Chairman Graham Chambers and group vice chairman Derek Midgley.
The running of the evening was left in the very capable hands of the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Malcolm Bell, ably assisted by Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Gary Smith.
The evening began with an informal ‘meet and greet’ in which the masters and immediate past masters from the craft and the first principals and immediate past first principals from the chapters within the group were able to meet for an informal chat with the senior officers of the Province who were in attendance that evening, all being treated to tea, coffee and biscuits during the discussions.
Once the meet and greet session had been concluded, all 91 attendees made their way to the dining room where an excellent dinner was served, starting with black pudding with caramelised onions and bacon, followed by beef bourguignon with horseradish mash and seasonal vegetables. And for dessert, there was raspberry and coconut sponge pudding with custard, shortly followed by tea or coffee and mints.
After dinner, the WM of Eureka Lodge No 3763 David Lyon had the privilege of proposing a toast to the health of the principal guest Mark Matthews, touching on Mark’s life and hobbies, with some interesting facts on his working life.
In response, Mark thanked David for the toast to his health and the way in which he had delivered it. Mark went on to inform the brethren of the success of the group in bringing new initiates through the ‘Pathway Initiative’ but also explained that we should look closer at friends and family who may be interested in joining. Mark also drew the Royal Arch to the brethren’s attention as it was the completion of every brother’s third degree progression through the veils from the Craft. He also thanked Frank and Graham for all the hard work they have given to the group over the years. Mark proceeded to thank the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Malcolm Bell and Gary Smith for their assistance during the evening.
Provincial Junior Grand Warden Sylvester During had the pleasure of proposing a heartfelt toast to the Ormskirk and Bootle Group, during which he touched on the history of the Ormskirk and Bootle Group and acknowledged that there are several very old lodges within it.
In response to the toast to the group, Graham Chambers thanked Sylvester for his toast, before having the privilege of presenting a number of cheques totalling £9,000 on behalf of the Ormskirk and Bootle Group. They included; a cheque for £2,000 to the Litherland Masonic Hall which was received by Litherland Masonic Hall Chairman Ian Mackinnon, £2,000 to the Ormskirk Masonic Hall which was received by Ormskirk Masonic Hall’s Treasurer Ray Thompson, £1,000 to FROTH, received by FROTH Chairman Stephen Oliver, £1,000 to HOME, received by HOME Chairman Jim Carrie, £2,000 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity received by group charity steward Mike Dutton, £500 from the Bootle Ladies Group for Sefton Women’s and Children’s Aid, which was received by Russell Skidmore on behalf of the Bootle Ladies Group and finally £250 for Broadgreen Hospital, Liverpool and £250 for Pancreatic Cancer Research on behalf of the Ormskirk Ladies Group which was received by Alan Johnson.
With the cheque presentations being over, Graham thanked the brethren and companions for their charitable giving, asking the brethren and companions to thank the members of their lodges and chapters.
With the evening coming to an end, Graham made a presentation of flowers on behalf of the group to Mark and a bottle of gin to Frank. These presentations completed, everyone retired to go home after agreeing it was a very successful and enjoyable occasion.