Members and visitors of Foundation Lodge No 5394 were most honoured and delighted to welcome Philip Gunning Deputy Provincial Grand Master as principal guest to their installation meeting and to have him witness master elect Alan Tuft being installed as worshipful master for the ensuing year.
Phil was of course well supported and in good company being accompanied by grand and acting officers which included; John Hutton Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Mike Adams group chairman, past group chairman Brian Hayes, group vice chairman David Durling, and acting Provincial senior grand deacon Colin Ellis. Acting very ably in his role as Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies was Malcolm Bell.
Noel Grubb WM opened the lodge and conducted the initial business as on the summons. There then came an anticipated knock on the door and upon entering, Malcolm Bell announced that the Deputy Provincial Grand Master stood without and he demanded admission. Phil entered the lodge room in ceremonial procession accompanied by the grand officers.
Noel, having welcomed Phil, offered him the gavel and with a wry smile asked if he would ‘like to do the ceremony’? Phil accepted the gavel, but then after a very short consideration decided it would be better to hand it straight back to Noel saying that in view of the practice and hard work the lodge had put in, it would be better to return it.
Noel then invited lodge mentor Jeffrey Newbrook to take his place in the masters’ chair, an invitation which humorously prompted Phil to say: “I thought you’d asked me to do it!” Despite this appeal, Noel passed the gavel over to Jeffrey to enable him to continue the ceremony. It can be said that Jeffrey excelled throughout the ceremony and installed the new master Alan in a most excellent manner.
The new master having been installed there then followed excellent presentations of the working tools in the third degree by Mike Smithies, in the second degree by Trevor Bedder and in the first degree by John Newall. The address to the master was given by Brian Bush, followed by David Durling giving the address to the wardens. The address to the brethren was given in a very heartfelt manner by Phil.
On completion of the installation ceremony, Phil rose to bring the sincere greetings, best wishes and congratulations from the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. Phil said that Tony was aware that Alan was taking the masters’ chair and wished him and the members of the lodge a very happy, healthy and enjoyable year ahead. Phil also, on Tony’s behalf congratulated acting installing master Jeffrey and those officers and brethren who had taken part for producing excellent work in the ceremony throughout the evening.
In his response, Alan thanked Phil for the good wishes he had conveyed. He then had pleasure in presenting him details of a host of charitable donations. These included a cheque for £800 made payable in favour of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, the announcement of a further £282.94 to the charity by virtue of gift aid; £500 to the Cauldwell Childrens’ charity (www.cauldwellchildren.com), £500 to the Jigsaw Thornbury Charity (www.jigsawthornbury.org.uk) who provide specialist toys to children with learning difficulties and £500 to the Activity Memory Group, a charity for local dementia sufferers. Phil responded on behalf of all those whom he said we may never know but who would eventually benefit. He thanked the lodge for their extraordinarily kind and generous contributions to the charities.
On the first rising Mike Adams responded on behalf of the grand officers and said that he and they were pleased to see such an excellent and delightful ceremony. Mike welcomed Alan as a ruler in the Craft and similarly wished him and the brethren a happy and healthy year.
During the festive board, Phil gave his response to the toast to grand officers, where he offered his own congratulations to the lodge members by saying he thoroughly enjoyed the installation meeting.
In continuing his response, he initially offered his own congratulations to the WM and similarly to those individuals who had taken part in the ceremony during the evening; especially to Jeffrey for his work as the acting installing master. Phil said he was pleased to have been accompanied by so many grand and acting officers. He thanked them for their presence; thanking in particular Malcolm Bell and Colin Ellis.
Phil continued by referring to the tercentenary celebrations, encouraging support for the forthcoming MCF 2021 Festival but asking that where possible we should continue to support the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, as was amply illustrated by the lodge in their support of that charity earlier in the evening. Phil also mentioned that the United Grand Lodge of England are using the new ideas from West Lancashire as a blueprint for other Provinces and Districts so we should be proud of that achievement.
The newly installed master Alan, gave a moving and emotional response to the toast proposed to him. He said had been totally overwhelmed by the brotherly love and support provided by the lodge members and other Masonic friends., Alan said that over the last six months he had suffered poor health and had almost lost his life. He said that it had been his wife, who is a nurse and the NHS that quite literally saved him and brought him back to life and better health.
Alan said that Noel had set a very high standard in his year and despite suffering a sad family loss, with the aid and support of the lodge members had unselfishly carried on his duties. Alan said that he was looking forward to his year in the masters’ chair, quipping that he was only there ‘through the lodge’s persistence and patience, so the lodge will only have themselves to blame’. On concluding he was applauded with a standing ovation!
The charitable giving for that evening had not ended and Alan announced a further act of generosity by asking Noel to present Ezra McGowan of Hand and Heart Lodge, co-founder and trustee of the “Forget-me-not-Trust” (www.theforgetmenottrust.org.uk) with a donation of £150. The lodge director of ceremonies Terry Howard explained that historically at the installation, the IPM has the authority to disperse any unallocated charity monies from that year into whatever charity or organisation he wishes. This year it was Noel’s wish to support Ezra and his brother Nathan in their amazing efforts.
On this generous note the evening was brought to a close and a most enjoyable meeting concluded.
Article and photos by Eddie Wilkinson.