On the afternoon of 3 December, Maureen and I travelled to Christ Church in Fulwood for the Preston Group Annual Service of Carols. The group were very well represented at this service and we were delighted to see Peter and Julie Hosker together with the group chairman Stephen Bolton and his wife Carol along with many other brethren and their ladies from the group. Following this delightful service, we retired to the church hall for tea and biscuits and an opportunity to meet with those attending.
The following day I was off to Wellington Park at Leyland in the morning for a full cabinet meeting. I was joined by all my cabinet and we had a very informative meeting. Later that afternoon I travelled to Southport for the installation convocation of West Lancashire Chapter No 1403 meeting at the Masonic Centre in Duke Street. The ceremony was very well attended, and I was accompanied by Paul Renton, Barry Jameson, Ian Higham, David Barr, Peter Taylor and Paul Hesketh. What a wonderful meeting we had as we witnessed the installation of Keith Wilson, John Roberts and John Blair into their respective chairs. As usual we were treated to a most delicious dinner and had the opportunity to meet with the companions of the chapter together with their guests.
On the Wednesday of that week, I travelled to Litherland Masonic Hall and joined the brethren of our West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity for their Christmas luncheon. It was a great pleasure to meet with those of our brethren who so readily volunteer to assist in the charity office. I am sure that our WLFC could not function without the assistance given by these dedicated individuals.
The next day, after a leisurely morning, I travelled to the Masonic Centre in Saul Street, Preston in the afternoon. It was the enthronement ceremony of the Signum Caeleste Red Cross Conclave. It was imperative that I should attend, as I was to be enthroned at this meeting. All members of the conclave attended the meeting which was followed by a first-rate meal and excellent fellowship.
On the morning of 8 December, Martin Maynard and Mark Holloway converged on our home in Morecambe and we spent the morning recording my Christmas video message to our Masonic family. In the afternoon I travelled to Grange-over-Sands for the installation meeting at Arthur John Brogden Lodge No 1715 where we had the great pleasure of witnessing the installation of Chris Band, a Mason of long standing, a joining member of the lodge and also a Past Second Provincial Grand Principal. It proved to be an excellent meeting, enjoyed by the great number of brethren who filled the lodge room and later the supper room of this quaint, Masonic centre. A truly entertaining evening and great experience was had by all.
I set of for a busy, three days visit to London on the morning of 11 December. After checking into my hotel, I travelled across the metropolis with several fellow Masons who had journeyed from the frozen north. Our destination was Mark Masons’ Hall in St James`s Street in order to attend the Mark Grand Stewards Lodge installation. It was a very well attended annual meeting supported by brethren from all over the country.
On 12 December, after a very leisurely start to the day, I walked to Freemasons Hall in Great Queen Street for the annual investiture meeting of the Royal Ark Mariners. As the Grand Junior Warden this year I was honoured to be taking part in the ceremony. We were joined by the PrGM of the Mark for West Lancashire, Keith Beardmore and some 40 additional brethren who had travelled to London for the day to participate in this great meeting. It was a terrific occasion which culminated with the usual banquet in the Connaught Rooms. After having had a fabulous day, we returned to our hotel for a quiet drink and convivial conversation.
On the last day of the trip, I was off to Great Queen Street once again in the morning for the Quarterly Communication of United Grand Lodge. I was joined by Phil Gunning, Kevin Poynton, Derek Parkinson, Mark Matthews, Mark Barton, David Durling, Geoffrey Bury, Paul Broadley, Eric Drinkwater, Ernie Waites and I would not be surprised if there were other West Lancashire brethren hiding in the wings! We had a very interesting meeting, presided over by the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes in a packed temple. Following the meeting we had to dash for our train as the meeting had overrun somewhat. On reflection, a great day and another wonderful Masonic experience in the capital. The train journey home was somewhat of a problem, starting with no train driver at London Euston and then the train broke down around the Midlands. We were rather late getting home and indeed somewhat tired.
I was grateful to have a few days over the weekend to relax and recover after a very busy week.
On Monday 18 December, I travelled to Winmarleigh Hall, Warrington to join Keith Beardmore the Mark PrGM and his Provincial team where we were joined by a great many other brethren. We were there to celebrate a very special occasion; the 60th anniversary of Jack Forsyth as a Mark Master Mason. The meeting was supported by many of Jack`s Masonic friends, who were delighted to join in celebrating this magnificent milestone in his Masonic journey.
Two days later, Maureen and I travelled to Wellington Park, Leyland for the annual Christmas Provincial Office staff luncheon. It was a real pleasure meeting with all the staff, including many who volunteer their services to the Province and a most enjoyable Christmas lunch. We returned home for a short break before travelling in the evening to St Michael’s on Wyre for the annual Festival of Carols and Lessons for lodges and chapters in the Lancaster Group. We had a most pleasurable evening in the company of the group officers together with their ladies and had the welcomed opportunity to exchange Christmas greetings with the many local brethren, companions and their ladies who packed the church. It was, as always, a wonderful start to the festive season.
The next day, Maureen and I set forth on our Christmas cruise from Heysham, across a very calm Irish Sea to the Isle of Man. We were off to enjoy our Christmas holiday and a long awaited festive break with our daughter Tracey and her husband Peter. We were looking forward to a wonderful time with friends and family over this special time of the year, as indeed I trust that you were also looking forward to celebrating Christmas with all your loved ones. We hope your wishes were fulfilled; ours certainly were!
In concluding this final diary of 2017, Maureen and I extend to you all our very best good wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.
Provincial Grand Master