The first day of the month and on this morning, I travelled to the Provincial office at Leyland, for the Group chairman`s meeting which was attended by all the Group chairmen. A very informative meeting for us all.
Friday 3 March and on this evening, I again travelled to Garstang for a meeting of all the ‘Light Blue Clubs’ in the Province. An informal conference type meeting to develop and encourage the clubs to invite more of the new and younger brethren of our lodges to join these social groups in order that they may enjoy the company of other brethren who have not yet passed through the chair of their lodge. A very interesting time, I believe, was had by all who attended this first of what I hope will be many more similar meetings to come in the future.
On the Sunday following, we had the second of our Provincial Tercentenary Church Services, this one was held at St. Elphin`s Church in Warrington. It was supported by many Freemasons and their wives and families. It was a delight to see the church almost full for this celebration service. I offer my thanks to all who attended and I trust they enjoyed the service as much as Maureen and I did.
On the evening of the following day, I travelled to Westhoughton Masonic Centre with Philip Gardner for the installation and investiture of Ian Clarke as Inspector General of the Rose Croix for the district of South West Lancashire. It was a splendid occasion supported by many members of the order, who welcomed the Sovereign Grand Commander and his team from Duke Street in London.
Tuesday 7 March saw me off to London by train this morning for Mark Grand Lodge, held at Great Queen Street in the afternoon and following an overnight stay, I attended the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge on the Wednesday, again at Great Queen St. I was accompanied on this occasion by Phil Gunning, Robert Wright, Derek Parkinson, Kevin Poynton, Ernie Waites, Geoffrey Bury and Eric Drinkwater. I thank these brethren for their support at what was a most interesting communication.
Friday 10 March and the big day had arrived. Maureen and I travelled to Bolton, to the Macron Centre for the 157th Grand Ball and Banquet. A most spectacular event. It was supported by some 500 brethren, companions and their ladies. Maureen and I had the opportunity to meet with master`s and first principal`s and their ladies prior to the dinner, which I believe was the best meal we have had for some time. The evening got off to a good start with the ‘Grand March’ followed by dancing until midnight. It was another terrific occasion supported by the Provincial Wardens, John Lee and Jonathan Heaton and their ladies. I offer grateful thanks and congratulate all those who organised this wonderful evening for the benefit of all who attended.
On Monday I was off to Garstang once again, this time for the installation convocation of Knott End Chapter No 8674. I was accompanied by Jim Wilson the Lancaster Group Chairman, his vice chairman Neil McGill and secretary Scott Devine together with Neil MacSymonds, Provincial Deputy DC and several acting Provincial grand officers of the year, we were looking forward to a most interesting evening. Bernard Snape installed his successor Arthur Laycock and this was followed by Alan Brown and John Reed being installed in excellent form and we all enjoyed a most sincere ceremony. It was nice to meet with many companions that I had not seen for some time and we were able to catch up on local matters before enjoying a delicious festive banquet.
On 14 March I travelled to Bryn Masonic Hall in Ashton in Makerfield for the installation convocation of the Chapter of Faith No 484. This was a full Royal Arch team visit as I was attending the chapter to honour and thank Jim Miller, the Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in this current Masonic year. I was accompanied by Paul Renton. Ian Higham, Danny Jones Ian Cuerden, together with many other senior Royal Arch Masons. It was a delight to see the chapter room so full and we all experienced an excellent ceremony. We witnessed the installation of John Selley, Michael Gray and Mark Holloway as the principals of the chapter.
I was delighted to have the opportunity to thank Jim Miller for his work and manner in which he is carrying out his duties at PrGSN this year. Following the meeting we retired to the bar and dining room for drinks and dinner during which time I was able to meet with the companions and their many guests. A very enjoyable evening was had by us all.
A welcome dry day on 20 March, so I spent the morning in the garden catching up with some necessary chores assisted by my most able gardener, Maureen. Then in the afternoon I travelled to the Wyrebank Masonic centre at Garstang, yet again, for the installation convocation of Great Eccleston Chapter No 8895. I was accompanied by Chris Butterfield, the three Lancaster Group officers and some 56 companions for a delightful and most dignified ceremony. All members were to be congratulated on their hard work. I had the opportunity to meet and chat with many of the companions over a drink prior to enjoying yet another splendid dinner, which we have now come to expect at Wyrebank.
On Wednesday 22 March, after a day spent catching up with paperwork, I attended my Craft lodge, Poulton le Sands, on this evening. It was the first meeting following the installation of Mike Ashton as master and the new team did an excellent initiation ceremony for Edward Peter Griffiths. It was good to see many of my colleagues in the lodge who I had not seen for some time and we were able to catch up on the lodge activities over the past couple of months. A nice relaxing evening.
The next day I travelled to Barrow in Furness for the installation convocation of Henry Cooke Chapter No 1021. I was accompanied by the Royal Arch Provincial team, including Danny Jones, Paul Renton, Ian Higham, Christopher Butterfield, Peter Taylor, Jim Miller, Barrie Crossley, David Thomas and many other acting officers who had travelled from various areas of the Province. The meeting was held at Fairfield, the Masonic centre in Barrow in Furness and the chapter was supported by many members and their guests from the Furness Group. It was an excellent installation conducted by companions Barrie Bray, Graham Benson, and Stuart Dickinson.
The chapter room was full and we all enjoyed the workings of the chapter which differed in many ways to other chapters in the Province. Following the ceremony, we all retired to the newly refurbished bar for drinks prior to a very good dinner in the surroundings of the newly decorated dining room. A wonderful evening was enjoyed by us all.
On the next day, in the evening I attended my Morecambe Rose Croix enthronement meeting which was extremely well attended by members and guests.
On the last Monday of the month and after a very leisurely morning, I was off to Westhoughton in the afternoon, accompanied by Keith Kemp and Barry Fitzgerald for the installation meeting of Greenhill Lodge No 6260. I was joined by Stewart Seddon APrGM and Peter Lockett Chorley Group Chairman together with Ian Higham and other group officers including Peter Allen, vice chairman who is the Provincial Junior Grand Warden designate and who was joined by David Astbridge the Provincial Senior Grand Warden designate. The meeting was well attended by members of the lodge and their guests and we all enjoyed an excellent installation ceremony conducted by Bill Evans. Henry Causey attained the chair of the lodge for the second time and invested all his officers for the ensuing year. During the meeting, I promoted Jack Bithell to the rank of PPrGSuptWks, which was acclaimed by all the brethren present. Prior to the excellent banquet, I had the opportunity to meet with many of the brethren in the delightful surroundings of the Brookfield Masonic centre.
On the evening of Tuesday 28 March I was accompanied on a trip to Warrington, by Phil Gunning and Keith Kemp for what was a surprise visit to Boteler Lodge No 7367. It was their installation meeting and James Carrington was installing his successor Derek Houghton. All the brethren were obviously surprised by our visit, particularly the DC Paul Hankey who is to be complimented for the manner in which he dealt with our visit. It was an excellent ceremony with full marks going to all who took part. At the end of the proceedings I took the opportunity to promote the Chairman of the Warrington Masonic Centre, Eric Drinkwater, to the rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden for all the work that he has done on behalf of the centre and his efforts for all the brethren from all degrees of Freemasonry who meet in Winmarleigh Hall. Following the ceremony, I was delighted to meet with all the members and their guests over drinks prior to enjoying a marvellous banquet.
This was my last masonic visit for this month and as we approached the end of March we regrettably saw a change in the weather, but it was kind enough to allow Maureen and I to enjoy some brisk and bracing walks along our favourite stretches of Morecambe`s delightful promenade.
Provincial Grand Master