For any non-Masons reading this story, an installation ceremony is where someone is installed as the WM, effectively being in charge of a lodge for 12 months. It is both a special occasion and an honour for the person being installed because it shows that the lodge has every confidence in that person’s ability to manage the lodge in-line with the principles of Freemasonry. For Goodwill Lodge No 3896 ‘that person’ was experienced past master Robert (Bob) Williams.
As with all installation ceremonies it is usual to have many guests, and at least one guest of high rank within the organisation. On this occasion the lodge was honoured by the presence of Andrew Whittle who was representing the Provincial Grand Master of the Province of West Lancashire. Andrew was accompanied by Widnes Group Chairman Neil Pedder and grand officer David Redhead.
The installation ceremony was performed faultlessly by the outgoing master John Horn and his officers, and that was a reflection of the time and effort put in by the lodge officers and brethren during their many evenings of rehearsal. Everyone knew their part and no prompting of words were observed at all during the installation ceremony. The star of the show (for want of a better expression) was Bob Williams. Bob took his obligations with sincerity and just like those around him he knew exactly what was happening during the ceremony at all times.
During the annual installation ceremony, the new master of the lodge appoints and invests those who he would like to help him run the lodge for the next 12 months. Those positions include the almoner, secretary and treasurer who all work together to ensure that the lodge and the funds raised for varies charities are managed and distributed in the correct manner. This was typified on the night when the lodge donated £600 to the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Other officers were also appointed and invested and they each have their defined roles within the lodge.
Bob appeared really confident and happy at all times during the ceremony and also during the traditional meal that followed, that being known as the ‘festive board’. Many toasts were made and responded to before Bob introduced the principal guest, Andrew Whittle. Andrew relayed the good wishes of the Provincial Grand Master and outlined various topics of interest that were happening in and around the Province of West Lancashire. Thereafter the formal part of the evening concluded and whilst retiring to the bar many comments of congratulations on a splendid evening could be heard.
However, there was definitely something at the back of Bob’s mind. The ceremony, Bob’s solemn obligations and all the toasts that followed during the festive board were performed faultlessly so clearly no problem there. But there was definitely something niggling away deep in the depths of Bob’s cerebral cortex.
Bob had already made it known that very early the next morning both he and his wife Joan were going away to Thailand for a holiday, perhaps that was it? Had he packed everything? Had he forgotten anything? One could be forgiven for making that assumption but no, that was not it at all. Bob was as prepared for his holiday as he was for his installation ceremony. So what was it?
The thing that was at the back of Bob’s mind was that his next meeting at Goodwill Lodge would be in only four weeks’ time; just a few days after returning from holiday and that would be Goodwill Lodge’s centenary. Now that is a ceremony where the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison attends, along with many, many distinguished guests and friends; an occasion where Bob Williams and the lodge would be in the spotlight like never before. Absolutely no room for errors on that occasion, everything has to be just right.