Gladstone Group Chairman Bill Culshaw, proudly hosted the fourth group dinner held since the re-organisation of the Liverpool lodges. He was delighted that the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning, had accepted the invitation to be the principal guest. The dinner was held in the Pearce Suite at the famous and historical Adelphi Hotel. Lodges have met on this site since the early 1800’s, which is appropriate as Adelphi is the Greek word for brother.
The night belonged to members and guests of the Gladstone Group. Following a tea party in the Empire Suite, Bill introduced to Philip many of the masters, first principals, entered apprentices, fellow crafts and master Masons that were present during the one-hour reception. Adelphi staff and volunteer stewards passed around the delicately prepared canopies, glasses of prosecco and specially imported for the occasion – fine champagne. Philip gladly posed for photographs whilst happily chatting to as many of the brethren as possible, especially the newer Masons that were present. Those brethren meeting Philip for the first time, commented on his natural approach, his down to earth manner, personality and overall friendliness.
At 7:00pm prompt, the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Ian Halsall, called for the 120 guests to be upstanding and applaud the VIP’s into the dining area. Philip was accompanied by Assistant Provincial Grand Master Derek Parkinson and the Provincial Wardens Dave Asbridge and Peter Allen. Other distinguished guests included the Ormskirk and Bootle and Woolton Group Chairmen Frank Umbers and Andrew Whittle respectively. Assistant to the Grand Principals Sam Robinson, completed the line-up.
After the group secretary Ian Sanderson had said grace, the diners proceeded to feast on a fine three course meal, consisting of assorted smoked seafood platter, baked breast of chicken topped with mozzarella cheese and wrapped in bacon, sticky toffee pudding and finishing with a fine cup of coffee. Throughout the meal Philip broke off to take wine with various officers. When taking wine with all the brethren present and according to antient custom, Philip stood whilst the brethren remained seated.
The toast to Philip was one of the highlights of the evening. The brother who is given the privilege of proposing the toast at the group dinner is always carefully selected and Peter Lingfield, Provincial Grand Steward designate, of Liverpool Mercantile Lodge No 4319 was no exception, as he proceeded to deliver a toast with discernible sincerity.
Prior to Philip’s response, Bill presented him with a large box of chocolates to take home for his lovely wife. There were also boxes of chocolates for Derek and Sam to take home to their equally lovely wives. Philip’s response to the toast was just as spellbinding and covered a number of salient details. Philip thanked Bill for inviting him to attend and wished the Gladstone Group and its member’s good health for the future. He was certain that the group would continue to go from strength to strength and congratulated all those brethren who were to be appointed or promoted at the meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge in May.
Philip went on to speak about the changes to be introduced due to the ‘data protection act’, which will affect us all. Following the broadcasting of the television programme, ‘Inside the Freemason’s’, Philip wanted to know via a show of hands, if the brethren thought it had been a good programme and if it had shown Freemasonry in a good light. At the conclusion of Philip’s response he received a huge round of applause from the brethren present.
The PrSGW Dave Asbridge, proposed the toast to the health of the Gladstone Group in an eloquent manner and was gratefully received. In his response to the toast, Bill thanked Philip for accepting his invitation and hosting the pre-dinner informal meeting with the reigning masters, IPM’s, principals and past principals. Bill was able to report that overall the Gladstone Group was currently in good stead, with specific praise for the membership vetting scheme, headed by Terry Forsyth.
Following the tyler’s toast, the members and guests said their goodnights, fully satisfied that the evening had been a resounding success.
Article and photographs by Phil Marshall.