Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Winder was delighted to attend Widnes Masonic Hall as the principal guest for the installation ceremony of Lodge of Equity and Appleton No 1384. David was accompanied by fellow grand officers Alan Locke (PJGD) and David Redhead (PAGDC), they were supported by group chairman Derek Williams and two acting Provincial officers Ian Lynch (PrSGD) and Peter Kenny (PrAGDC) with further support added by group vice chairman Neil Pedder and group secretary John Gibbon.
After the lodge was opened in the third degree worshipful master Andy Maginn was pleased to receive David on his visit to the Widnes Group and offered him the gavel, which David politely returned, saying: I am here to enjoy myself so I will return the gavel to you so that I can!”.
Andy then asked the lodge mentor Geoff Enwright to assist him for the next part of the ceremony. Geoff occupied the master’s chair and after resuming labour in the second degree he obligated the master elect after asking the installing senior and junior wardens and inner guard to assist him. After resuming labour in the third degree Geoff asked the lodge ADC Brian Rafferty to assist by taking the WM’s chair for inner workings. Brian completed this part of the ceremony and then asked Andy if he wished to conclude this part of the installation to install his stepson and brother Christopher Douglas into the chair of King Solomon Andy then installed Chris into the chair for the first time – it was at this point in the ceremony a few eyebrows were raised as Brian had forgotten to put his past masters apron on under the WM’s and having given Chris his apron he found himself with one!.
The director of ceremonies Derek Parker resolved the missing apron with calm dignity and the ceremony proceeded as if nothing had happened Derek then declared Chris as WM in the third degree with David Penney delivering the working tools. In the second degree Ian Edge explained the working tools and in the first the tools were presented and explained by Brian Rafferty.
Chris then appointed and invested his officers with outstanding addresses given to the master by Norman Speed, to the wardens by lodge secretary Trevor Price and the brethren by David Winder.
At the conclusion of the ceremony David congratulated the WM, installing master and all the officers who took part, David said he was delighted to bring the greetings of the Provincial Grand Master, who would have been really impressed by the work carried out by all the officers who assisted in the ceremony. He then congratulated all those who took part by shaking their hand’s as he walked around the lodge and even left the lodge to congratulate Geoff Enright who had been invested as the tyler and was outside the door of the lodge.
David was also pleased to receive charitable donation in the sum of £550, in favour of West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. The following donations were also made £500 to the Widnes Masonic Hall Development Fund, £200 to Mcmillan Nurses, £200 Halton Havern Hospice, £100 to the RNLI, and £50 to Ecclesholme.
Over 50 brethren retired from the lodge to enjoy a fine festive board in the Alan Locke dining room. David Winder responded to the toast to grand officers and brought his own personal greetings and congratulations to Chris on occupying the chair of King Solomon for the first time. He also congratulated Andy who was clearly emotional as he installed his stepson into the chair. David said it had been a pleasure to see such a perfect ceremony and he paid tribute to everyone who took part, particularly the junior brethren who had presented the working tools, noting that it was really pleasing to be in a lodge that had light blue brethren climbing the ladder.
Proposing the toast to the new WM Andy said he had known Chris since he was 11 and had always found him to be level headed, intelligent and hard working – he said he was very proud to see him in the chair of the lodge and he has also been appointed as the group publicity officer so he was certainly going to work hard in his year as WM.
The masters song was delivered by Norman Pritchard in his inimitable style – on this occasion he made history as he sang the second verse twice once to the acting senior warden and then to the senior warden who was sitting on the top table as he is also the group chairman.