Like many lodges that have existed for over 100 years, St Annes Lodge No 2457 has many traditions that are still honoured today; one of which is the reading of the minutes for the corresponding meeting from 100 years ago – on this occasion the very poignant story of an absent brother who was grieving the loss of his son in the Great War. However, with the impending arrival of Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning and the installation of master elect Peter Rowan, the evening was to prove a more uplifting occasion.
Philip was supported by Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Winder, Chairman of the South Fylde Group of lodges and chapters Ian Ward, along with six acting Provincial Grand officers and other distinguished officers. On being handed the gavel of the lodge by installing master Mike Hornby, Philip explained that as Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison insists that we should all enjoy our Freemasonry, he would hand the gavel straight back to the man who would be doing the hard work.
With David Pallister, Bryan Bennett and David Hamilton taking their places as installing officers, Howard Farrar presented the master elect to the installing master, who delivered the traditional opening address before inviting Peter Rowan to give his assent to the ancient charges and regulations, read by lodge secretary Bill Hembrow. With this completed, Peter stepped up to the pedestal and declared his obligation as master elect. The junior brethren were asked to retire while Mike Hornby, assisted by the past masters, completed the process of placing Peter into the master’s chair.
With the new master in the chair, Mike Hornby invited the subordinate brethren to return and line up in the north. They commenced their perambulations around the lodge, saluting and greeting the new master in all three degrees. During this process the working tools were presented by Peter Rodwell in the third degree, John Brookes in the second degree and David Hamilton in the first degree, all of which were delivered in fine style.
Paul Cowan was appointed and invested as senior warden of the lodge and was placed in his chair by David Pallister, who explained his insignia, his gavel and his column in an excellent manner. Howard Monk was placed into the junior warden’s chair by Bryan Bennett with explanations delivered with equal skill. The master continued to appoint and invest the officers. The treasurer also received a breast jewel which has been handed down from the mists of lodge history but is always presented at installation meetings. While investing director of ceremonies Ken Grimshaw, the master was heard to say, “Good luck my friend, you’re going to need it!” This remark was understood to be a self deprecatory warning.
The officers continued to be appointed with inner guard John Brookes ably invested by David Hamilton. Colin Taylor was the only steward available to be appointed as Dave Whyman was on his honeymoon – lucky man! Finally, lodge tyler Terry Stevens-Lewing entered the room to the Star Wars theme music. Some expected him to be armed with a lightsaber but no, he had the drawn sword appropriate to his office. Guest organist Phil Bolton is well aware of Terry’s interest in the long running sci-fi saga and matched the music to suit. Ever popular, Phil provides much entertainment during this part of the ceremony by playing music appropriate to the person or office as they advance to receive their collars and return to their seats.
The ceremony of installation was completed after Howard Farrar, who was Peter Rowan’s matrimonial best man and one of his proposers into Masonry, had delivered the address to the master. David Winder (is there no keeping this man down?) had addressed the wardens and Philip Gunning had expertly delivered the address to the brethren of the lodge. With these completed Phil conveyed congratulations from the Provincial Grand Master and received cheques for various charities as follows: £750 for the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £750 towards the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival, £300 for Brian House, £300 to the Friends of Fylde Community Link and £357 for DEBRA (Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association, an international medical research charity dedicated to the curing of epidermolysis bullosa); amounting to a grand total of £2,457 (the number of the lodge on the register of United Grand Lodge of England).
During the risings Ian Ward, speaking for the grand officers, congratulated Mike Hornby for the work he had undertaken during his two-year stint in the chair and praised Mike’s officers for the support they had given him during that period. This theme was taken up by Peter Robinson, replying on behalf of the Provincial grand officers, describing Mike as a wonderful ambassador for St Anne’s Lodge and encouraged Peter Rowan to follow Mike’s example. With the business completed the lodge was closed and the brethren retired to the banqueting suite to enjoy a splendid five-course meal provided by the Square and Compasses catering team.
The after dinner toasts received some light hearted and amusing responses. David Winder poked fun at Philip Gunning’s attempts to get his ball out of a bunker, referring to Philip’s putter as Eva Peron! Philip advised Peter Rowan that he will witness many different variations of ritual while visiting during the year, describing some of it as ‘unique’ as it’s never been seen before and will never be seen again. Mike Hornby carried on in this vein by suggesting that Guinness was more of a hobby than a favourite tipple for Peter.
On a more serious note Philip Gunning thanked the lodge for what he described as a staggering amount of money to raise for a relatively small lodge, which had obviously been the result of much hard work. He congratulated Mike Hornby on a fine ceremony and the brethren who had assisted him for some fine work. He also spoke of the many different aspects of the change process in Freemasonry where the Province of West Lancashire was having significant influence and praised David Winder for his exceptional leadership of the preparations for the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival. Philip also hinted that a major revision of the book of constitutions was in the offing.
The master’s song was in the domain of Provincial Grand Chaplain Godfrey Hirst, which he performed with customary gusto, ably accompanied by Phil Bolton. A raffle was held which raised £228 with Dave Lucas and Randall Boyd winning the two available prizes. The meeting was brought to an end by Terry Stevens-Lewing who delivered the tyler’s toast.