Michael Melling has been installed into the chair of King Solomon at the installation meeting of Freshfield Lodge No 8165 at Southport Masonic Hall for the second time.
After the opening of the lodge by WM Nigel Hughes the current DC Michael Melling and master elect asked permission to retire for a short time. This was the queue for Dave Phillips to take over the role of DC for a short period to welcome back into the lodge, Michel and the IPM Greg Clements who had recently received promotions of PPrGSuptWks and PrAGStdB respectively at Provincial Grand Lodge. With everyone back in their positions Nigel asked that Lou Vinnyey help by occupying the chair of senior warden, David Phillips to occupy the chair of junior warden and Tom Roberts to occupy the inner guard’s position, for the installation ceremony.
Following a report Michael informed Nigel that Assistant Provincial Grand Master Robert Wright was outside the lodge and demanded admission. Nigel responded that he would be very happy to receive him. Robert was then admitted accompanied by Derek Hughson PAGDC, with Neil Latham PrGTreas, Ronny Wright PrAGDC, John Karran PrGStwd, Greg Clements PrAGStdB, Mark Barton PrDGDC each of whom hold active rank in the group along with Colin Jenkins the Southport Group Chairman and Phil Stock the group’s vice chairman accompanied by other Provincial grand officers
Nigel then formally greeted Robert who was on his first official visit in his new position as Assistant Provincial Grand Master and welcomed him and his colleagues to Freshfield Lodge. Robert was then offered the gavel which he was happy to receive, but said he was happy to hand it back to its rightful owner so that he could witness the ceremony, adding that it was great to see the room full and to enjoy what he was assured would be a great evening.
The master elect Michael was then presented to Nigel by Paul Carr where the usual observations were put to him and he was asked the usual questions. Michael has already been master of this lodge in 2010 and having first taken the chair of his mother lodge, Acanthus Lodge No 4624, in 1995. On this occasion he had only to reaffirm his former obligation and was duly invested with the collar and jewel before being placed into the chair of King Solomon. Nigel then presented him with the gavel of the lodge in a word perfect and well-executed ceremony.
The third degree working tools were presented by Alan James, the second degree working tools by Sean Doherty and the first degree working tools by entered apprentice Bill Jones, all of whom proved to be a credit to the lodge by delivering faultless recitals.
Michael’s first enjoyable task was then to install his officers and he took great delight in presenting his immediate past master with the jewel of his office and thanked him for the way in which he had conducted the evening’s ceremony. He then left his chair, taken by Greg Clements and with Nigel presented Lou Vinnyey with the collar and jewel of senior warden.
Following the appointment of officers the address to the deacons was given for the first time by the newly appointed PrJGD Eddie Harrison, to the stewards by newly appointed PrGStwd John Karran. The address to the WM was given by Nigel Hughes, the address to the wardens by Russ Hird and finally the address to the brethren of the lodge by the distinguished guest Robert Wright.
After the ceremony Robert brought greetings from the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and congratulated Michael on being installed in the master’s chair again of this very fine and respected lodge. He added that if Tony had been present he would also like to congratulate Nigel for his sterling work during the evening and all the officers who took part in a very enjoyable ceremony and hoping that they all have a very pleasant year, which he understands will be a very busy one.
Michael then presented Robert with cheques totalling £500 from the lodge; £300 for the Queenscourt Hospice and £200 for the Southport Masonic Hall Foundation.
Robert then thanked the treasurer and secretary for their help and support arranging the ceremony and keeping him up to date. He went on to say that the lodge was consecrated in 1967, so for 48 years there have been times and people we remember in this brotherhood of Masons and sometimes there are people who do not solicit praise and unsuspectedly this evening praise falls on such a brother, whose warmth and generosity, care and work carried out for the good of Masonry, needs to be rewarded. And tonight is one such occasion.
Robert then made his way over to the senior warden’s chair where Lou Vinnyey was sitting and like something out of “This is your life” started to recount some of Lou’s history. Robert said that Lou was initiated into Freshfield Lodge in 2004, holding regular offices until he became master in 2011, spent a year as IPM and then became lodge mentor to help other brethren learn ritual in the lodge. Robert added that it is these qualities that are recognised by the Provincial Grand Master and one that tonight he wanted the lodge to witness. Robert then read out the letter of patent announcing the appointment of Lou to become PPrAGSwdB and asked Ray Wheatley the lodge secretary to bring over the regalia that had been purchased in secret for Lou so that Robert could formally invest him with the collar, jewel and distinguishing badge of his Provincial rank. Lou was quite obviously shocked and overwhelmed by this surprise to a point that he acted in a manner that the brethren of the lodge had never witnessed before; he was completely speechless. The equally overwhelmed brethren could not wait to congratulate him in the heartiest manner.
After the ceremony the high spirited festive board was attended by 70 brethren who all enjoyed an excellent meal. In his response to the toast to the grand officers Robert thanked the members of the lodge for their kind hospitality and said how much he had enjoyed the ceremony.
Michael presented Nigel with a past master’s jewel of particular significance, it first having been presented to one of the founders Phil Routledge in 1976, passed on to Lou in 2012; who, given the events earlier in the evening, was delighted that it should go to such a worthy Mason.
At the conclusion of the festive board Michael thanked all the brethren who had attended and took part in the ceremony and announced that the collection had raised £112.45 and the raffle £230