Well, February is having a quiet start for this year. The weather, being very mild, has allowed me to enjoy some outdoor activity.
On Thursday 2 February, I attended the office at Leyland for a general meeting with my deputy Philip Gunning and the Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor.
During the following few days and over the weekend, Maureen and I had time to ourselves and did some shopping and made preparation for our visit to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We were off on a week’s holiday to the Emirate States. Flying from Manchester we enjoyed excellent flights through to Dubai where we started our coach tour. Yes, a ‘Bus Man`s Holiday’, enjoying the wonderful sights of the two largest Emirate States. The skylines of these modern cities were something quite unbelievable and we took the opportunity to visit the ‘Burj Khalifa’, the tallest building in the world and the ‘Burj Al Arab’, the city’s iconic landmark.
In Abu Dhabi, we paid a visit to Yas Island, the man-made island better known for its Formula One racing track, the ‘Yas Marina Circuit’. The sights and sounds of these incredible states were really fantastic, seeing the four and five lane road systems, with their seemingly endless masses of cars travelling through the city centres at quite high speeds, demonstrated how the discovery of oil could transform these vast desert areas into massive international cities. Hundreds of individually designed skyscraper building have risen from the ground over the last 15 years, and millions of people from all over the world were now living and working in these extremely wealthy areas of our planet.
Having had a somewhat exhausting experience on a ‘coach holiday’ we returned home to some quite mundane weather for much needed rest and recuperation. It was however, a fantastic experience.
Saturday 18 February and I travelled to Leyland, Wellington Park for a luncheon today. I was an invited guest attending the luncheon, following the annual meeting of the Order of Royal and Select Masters, in the District of Lancashire. Brethren attending this meeting were not only from West Lancashire but from our adjoining Provinces and it was nice to meet with them prior to our luncheon.
The following Monday I had a very short journey in the afternoon to, Lancaster, Rowley Court, for the installation meeting of the Plantagenet Lodge of Installed Masters No 9357. As a member of this lodge it was a great pleasure to attend as the principal guest of the evening and be joined by some 90 members and their guests. An excellent ceremony was conducted by the master Paul Broadley, in installing his successor Doug Willougby. I was accompanied by Dave Grainger APrGM, Philip Gardner PAPrGM and many more grand officers for what was a wonderful Masonic feast of ritual, friendship, fellowship and food.
On 22 February, Keith Kemp joined me for the journey to Liverpool this afternoon. We were off to the King David Lodge No 7256 installation meeting that was being held at Childwall Synagogue. What a wonderful occasion this was. There were many brethren present that I had never met in Freemasonry, but there was also many who were well known to me. The lodge was opened by the master Russell Start who then invited Steven Kayne, the lodge secretary, to take the chair and conduct the installation of Colin Higginson. This was done in a most excellent manner and all present enjoyed a delightful meeting before closing the lodge and retiring to the sumptuous banquet that followed.
On the evening of 24 February, I went to Leigh, accompanied by Keith Kemp, Tony Bent, Ian Cuerden, Peter Taylor and the Provincial Wardens John Lee and Jonathon Heaton for the Leigh Group Dinner. This was extremely well attended with over 100 brethren and companions from the group. I had the opportunity to meet with all those attending this bi-annual dinner and many very interesting questions were posed and worthwhile discussions took place. We all enjoyed a delicious steak pie and chips supper and a really good evening was had by all.
The afternoon of Sunday 26 February marked the first of the Provincial Services of Thanksgiving to celebrate the Tercentenary of UGLE. This was held at the Priory Church in Lancaster and was extremely well attended by brethren and their ladies and families from the northern part of our Province. I was supported by my deputy Philip Gunning and my APrGM`s together with Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor and many grand and Provincial grand officers who were joined by brethren of all ranks. It was particularly welcome to have an Entered Apprentice and a Fellowcraft reading lessons during the service, which was led by our Provincial Grand Chaplain, Godfrey Hurst. We were all delighted to have the full choir of the Priory present which gave our service of thanksgiving a wonderful inspirational lift and ensured that the event will long live in our memories.
On 28 February, during the afternoon I travelled to Liverpool, Hope Street for the installation meeting of my Knight Templar Preceptory. We were honoured to have the presence of the Rt. Eminent Prior for Lancashire, David Gallear. It was a very enjoyable and for me, a relaxing evening even though the weather and driving conditions were atrocious!
This meeting brought to a conclusion another busy month of most enjoyable Masonic meetings and a holiday which both Maureen and I will remember for a long time.
Provincial Grand Master