Few installation ceremonies are as interesting and colourful as that of Acacia Lodge No 4512 and this year was no exception, held within the Roman Suite at Liverpool Masonic Hall. It was opened in fine form by WM Peter Howland, ably assisted by his wardens and officers.
After completing the standard business of the evening, a large and distinguished deputation from Lodge Irvine Newtown No 1662 of the Scottish Constitution was admitted, led by their WM Greg Ternent, their number swelled by representation from Lodge Dramatic No 571. WM Peter Howland welcomed the deputation, and Greg Ternent suitably replied.
Lodge DC Mike Cove then announced the arrival of the principal guest for the evening, Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Winder, accompanied by the Chairman of Liverpool Group Mark Matthews. David and Mark were admitted along with Andrew Whittle, Chairman of Woolton, acting Provincial grand officers David Kenworthy PrGSwdB, and David Pallister PrGStdB, accompanied by other officers of the Province. Peter warmly welcomed David on behalf of the lodge and proffered him the gavel, which was briefly accepted and returned. Mike Cove led the salutations to David and Provincial grand officers, to which David suitably replied, while Brian McLoughlin responded to those given to Provincial grand officers.
For the purpose of installation Peter Howland invited Tony Kennedy to occupy the SW chair, Graham Robinson to occupy the JW chair and Dave Thompson to occupy the IG chair. When all was ready, Peter Howland was proclaimed as worshipful master of Acacia Lodge by Mike Cove, while the working tools of all three degrees were given at the appropriate time by Robbie McBride. Peter, who has been a member of the lodge for over 30 years, became WM for the first time the previous year on retiring as ‘commodore’ after a long career in the merchant navy.
Following the proclamation, Derek Nuttall presented Peter with the Hall Stone Jewel. The origins of this jewel go back to the end of the First World War, when in 1919, Grand Lodge decided that in response to a suggestion from the then Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, it was agreed to embark on the building of a new headquarters for the English Craft. This was to be memorial to the many brethren who had given their lives during the War. For this purpose, a special committee was set up in 1920 and an appeal made to every member of the Constitution for contributions to the fund which, from the target set, came to be known as the Masonic Million Memorial Fund. Contributions to the Masonic Million Memorial Fund were to be entirely voluntary and were to be recognised three types of special commemorative jewels of the same basic design, but of different sizes, one for individuals, another for a lodge and the third for a Province and district.
That now worn by Peter is of the second type, as issued to a lodge. This jewel is on a light blue collarette and is worn by successive masters of lodges which at the time contributed an average of 10 guineas per member, such lodges to be known as Hall Stone Lodges (thus giving the jewel its name). 1,321 lodges at home and abroad qualified as Hall Stone Lodges; their names and numbers are inscribed on commemorative marble panels in the main ceremonial entrance vestibule of Freemasons’ Hall. Acacia Lodge is one of only two remaining Hall Stone lodges meeting in Liverpool Masonic Hall today, the other being Childwall Lodge No 5235.
Now it was the turn of Peter to appoint and invest his officers for the forthcoming year and at the appropriate juncture a number of addresses were given. That to the senior warden Graham Robinson, was presented by Tony Kennedy, with Gary Cross presenting that to the junior warden Ian Knowles. The group chairman Mark Matthews addressed the charity steward Keith Nuttall, while the address to the deacons was presented by Dave Thompson. The two wardens were then jointly address by Tony Kennedy, with the final address of the evening, that to the brethren of the lodge was given by the principal guest David Winder.
On completion of the ceremony Peter Howland had the pleasure and honour of presenting a cheque on behalf of the lodge for £300 in favour of the Freemasons’ Grand Charity.
All present ended the evening with a sumptuous banquet and festive board with a full installation menu, starting with tomato and basil soup, a roast lamb dinner, lemon tart and cheese and biscuits with accompanying port. It was during this period that WM Peter spoke warmly of how during his travels across the oceans he would always remember the brethren of Acacia at 9pm on the 3rd Friday, (time zones permitting!).
Later in the evening, in his response to the toast to the grand officers, David Winder commented that it was a privilege to attend Acacia Lodge and on his own behalf, congratulated the lodge members on the excellence of the afternoon’s ceremony and commended Peter for agreeing to accept the chair of the lodge for a successive year. He mentioned how pleasant it was to see so many visitors from Scotland and indeed Wales also.
On behalf of the ultimate recipients, David went on to thank the lodge members for their generous donation and reminded brethren that donations by way of the gift aid envelope scheme increases the donation to the particular charity at no extra cost to the brethren. He noted that since the mid 80’s, Masonic charities have quietly donated over £20,000,000 to non-Masonic causes.
He hoped everyone was enjoying their Masonry and continuing to have fun. He commented that if brethren enjoy themselves as they should, then they are more likely to talk about it in public. David concluded by mentioning the importance of Masonic halls. He urged the brethren to continue to support their halls as much as they can. He felt that in today’s climate, without the halls to meet in, Masonry would struggle to survive.
Sadly, the evening came to a close, and after many fond farewell’s the brethren returned to their native lands.