There’s an old saying: “You can’t keep a good man down” and that is very true in the case of Peter Gratrix, who was installed into the chair of Bispham with Norbreck Lodge No 4731. The ceremony was very ably performed by WM Josh Patterson.
Josh was supported by an experienced team of installing officers, as the installing senior warden was Mike Casey, with Glenn O’ Brien as the installing junior warden and Ken Turner Past as installing inner guard. Keeping order in the proceedings was director of ceremonies Gordon Major.
Representing Philip Gunning, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge, was grand officer Ted Rhodes, who is also the Regional Charity Steward for the Fylde Coast. Accompanying Ted were Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox, grand officer Jim Woods (himself WM of this lodge in 2003), North Fylde Group Chairman John Cross, Provincial Deputy Grand Registrar Peter Bracegirdle, Provincial Grand Deacons Paul Smedley and Derek Lewthwaite and a retinue of North Fylde Group officers.
It was appropriate that Ted Rhodes was present on this occasion, as he and Peter Gratrix had been local police officers together in the past, although they are both now happily retired. A point which Ted would highlight later at the festive board. However, before that the brethren present witnessed a calmly delivered ceremony by Josh and once he had placed Peter into the chair, the master Masons were invited to return and some fine explanations of the working tools were delivered by Ken Hart in the third degree, Derek Broadbent in the second degree and John Whitley in the first degree.
The ceremony proceeded with addresses to the WM delivered with great gravity by Peter’s long-time friend Ken Turner, an address to the director of ceremonies by North Fylde Group Secretary Mike Brown and a few kind words of thanks by Peter to long serving guest organist Malcolm Burrill. This moving ceremony was concluded by an excellent address to the brethren of the lodge by Ted Rhodes.
On the announcement that the ceremony was concluded, Ted rose again to bring the greetings from the Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge. He congratulated Peter on being installed for the fourth time, advising the brethren that Peter had been the master of the Lodge of Benevolence No 6340 in 1986 and 1990, and of Kirkham Lodge No 6615 inn 2008. Ted also congratulated the brethren involved in the ceremony for the amount of work they had put in to prepare for this installation ceremony.
Before Ted resumed his seat, Peter handed him several cheques for charity. These were for the Ukrainian Appeal £100, Brian House £200, Cancer Research £200, West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity £200 and the proceeds from the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity yellow envelopes £150. Ted received these with grateful thanks on behalf of all those who benefit from the lodge’s generosity.
During the risings, greetings from the grand officers were offered by Jim Woods, who told the members of the lodge that they should be justly proud of their efforts during the ceremony and equally proud of their donations to the various charities. Mike Casey offered the congratulations from the Provincial grand officers in like manner and Peter Baldwin thanked the lodge on behalf of the visitors for a thoroughly enjoyable meeting. The remainder of the lodge business was then dispatched and the brethren retired to the festive board.
Responding to the toast to the grand officers, Ted Rhodes again thanked the lodge for the hard work that had been carried out to ensure the success of the meeting. This time he also thanked lodge secretary John Whitley for his assistance and information prior to the event. Ted also thanked Malcolm Burrill for his harmony during the meeting, particularly his rendering of the Z Cars theme music. This led him into some humorous and a few serious anecdotes of his time with Peter as traffic police officers.
Ted also reported on the increase in funds being made available for food bank appeals and the fact that personal grants from the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity had been increased by £1,000 per grant. He went on to talk about the investiture of the new Provincial Grand Master Designate Mark Matthews and concluded by inviting brethren to attend the celebration of Peter’s 50 years in Freemasonry, to be held at the Lodge of Triumph No 1061 at St Annes.
After a short proposal of the toast to the WM by Josh Patterson, a unique rendition of the master’s song was jointly performed by Roger Lloyd-Jones and Peter Baldwin. They were joined by all the brethren present in a rousing last verse of the song, which ‘lifted the roof’ and proved to be a fitting tribute to the new master.
In his response, Peter thanked Ted for his kind words and he thanked Harry Cox and Jim Woods for their company. With some humour he added a few anecdotes of his own whilst recounting the circumstances which led to this being his fourth installation and his history within Masonry up to this point. He then paid an emotional tribute to the brothers who had been influential in his progress. These included Bill Rimmer, Ron Burnside, Mike Franklin, Len Hayton and Ivan Beecham, all of whom had been well respected members in their day.
Before the meeting ended a raffle was held with several fine prizes which raised the sum of £255 towards Masonic charities. The final toast at the end of an excellent meeting was proposed by Gordon Ivett, the guest tyler.