To all those poor old beans who, as spotty-faced young scholars, were forced to toil and sweat over their Latin grammar textbooks and pick their way through the myriad of unpronounceable Latin verbs, one phrase may have lodged firmly in the old grey matter – ‘nil sine labore’ (nothing without effort or some such thing). Well, this could well have been the motto that motivated the brethren of Rectitude Lodge of Blackpool No 4122 in their preparations for the lodge’s installation ceremony that saw Trevor Richards proclaimed as the new master of the lodge by immediate past and installing master John Lovie.
Central to the plot no doubt was the lodge’s director of ceremonies Terry Barlow who had, through exhortation and encouragement, whipped the brethren into a standard of perfection that would gain the admiration of even the most critical observer.
When Terry became director of ceremonies of the lodge he resolved not to shirk his responsibilities and has executed his duties with utmost efficiency. The ever efficient Terry, a keen, iron-souled man of industry, with all his verve and concentration dedicated to the administration of the ceremony, had darted hither and thither to ensure that all eventualities had been meticulously covered and every performer fully and thoroughly briefed. That was the level of perfection that Terry had striven for, nothing less would rest easy on his mind.
Even on the afternoon of the installation ceremony and up to the final moment, Terry was still bustling around ensuring that there would be no last minute hitches. A solitary meadow pipit frantically tending the noisy demands of a residing cuckoo fledgling could not have bustled about more assiduously.
But it was not just the general organisation of the event that impressed the principal guest Assistant Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning and his supporting dignitaries; the individual performances by the brethren were also exemplary. Philip could not have wished for a more enjoyable and inspiring ceremony for his final duty before his promotion to Deputy Provincial Grand Master. So inspired was he by what he had witnessed in the presentation of the working tools by Stephen Nield, Robert Marsden and Jim Wilkes who had performed the third, second and first degree tools respectively that, at the end of the ceremony, he felt compelled to walk round the lodge to personally thank each one for the hard work they had put into their roles, drawing spontaneous applause from the multitude.
Of particular note was the excellence of Jim Wilkes’ rendition of the first degree tools, a Mason who had only become a member three months before the ceremony; a young Mason who is undoubtedly destined to achieve greatness. Indeed, the performances by all those who participated were so good that it was rather sickening. After all, ordinary plebeians can only tolerate a certain amount of perfection before becoming agitated!
Ken Morris, Trevor’s proposer into Freemasonry, gave the address to the new master with such sincerity and passion that the gathering were so fully focused on his performance that one could have heard an ant skipping over a cotton wool bud. To no lesser degree, David Cook, Blackpool Group Treasurer, provided a delightful rendition of the address to the wardens. The installing senior and junior wardens, Rick Clarke and Richard Thompson also performed their recitals with equal precision and clarity, as did the installing inner guard Sammy Roy.
Stephen Lloyd, the lodge’s organist was not content with merely tickling the ivories and providing a genial atmosphere to the lodge room, he demonstrated his versatility with a perfect explanation of Euclid’s proposition in his address to the immediate past master.
That Philip was impressed and delighted by the performances of the brethren was clearly evident as he conveyed the best wishes of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison to the new master and his team. The adjectives brilliant, superb, wonderful, fantastic and better still exemplary drifted in and out of his speech like rays of sunshine. And that Philip is well qualified to appraise performances was clearly demonstrated by the magnificently sincere and passionate address to the brethren that he had delivered earlier.
Adding still further to his delight in having attended, he gratefully received charitable disbursements to the tune of £1,555.21, with £355.21 being donated to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £300 to the Blackpool Masonic Hall Building Fund, £300 to Aspire Futures, £300 to Boathouse and £300 to Joining Jack, a very specific charity aimed at finding a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The charity is administered by the parents of seven year old Jack who, in short will no longer be able to walk by the time he reaches adolescence and will lose the use of every muscle in his body thereafter. Eventually his heart and lungs will fail and he will die. The charity works to fund research into a cure for the disorder and one could not imagine a more worthy charity to support.
The overall excellence of the installation ceremony had not only impressed Philip Gunning but also accompanying grand officers Bill Eardley and Peter Bentham, Blackpool Group Chairman were equally enthused, so much so that after Peter had lavished praise on all the participants during his response to the first rising, Bill could not contain himself and felt duty-bound to add his own plaudits.
Retiring to the festive board, Philip was to enjoy the evening still further. Not only was there good food and a most genial atmosphere amongst the partygoers, he added to his own revelry by winning first prize in the raffle. If that were not enough, grand officer Bill Eardley then secured second prize! No doubt feeling that salt had been rubbed into their wounds, the inmates inevitably and in traditional manner chirped their suspicions that foul play had been afoot.
No wonder Philip was in such fine fettle when he responded to the toast to grand officers, treating the assembly to an oration jam-packed with humour and philosophical and practical advice. Above all, he emphasised the obvious returns that hard work had brought to the brethren who had participated in such a delightful ceremony. “There is no substitute for hard work” he stated. Roman philosophers Lucretius and Cicero could not have put it better.