At 6:30pm prompt Standish Lodge No 4955 was opened in the first degree by the WM David Smith and his regular offices. The proposed business of the evening was balloted for and passed unanimously by the members. The lodge then proceeded to the third degree and the principal officers and guests admitted.
Sincere greetings from the Provincial Grand Master, Mark Matthews were extended to the master by the principal guest, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Malcolm Bell, who was accompanied by the Ormskirk and Bootle Group Chairman Graham Chambers, Malcolm Alexander and the Wigan Group Chairman John Selley. The gavel was offered by the master to Malcolm Bell, but was declined on this occasion, “Due to the special nature of the ensuing ceremony” Malcolm said.
The lodge returned to the first degree by virtue and David Smith was then proclaimed master of Standish Lodge for his fourth term by Terry Worthington the director of ceremonies. All offices were then declared vacant and the master requested officers to remain in position and to individually affirm their desire to continue in their current roles by responding with a court bow.
Malcolm Bell then congratulated the brethren for their dignified and orderly ceremony stating that both he and Mark Matthews appreciated the great efforts that lodge members had put into maintaining the spirit, traditions, continuity and generosity of Standish Lodge, noting that they must over the past nine decades have given £10,000s to charity which will have unknowingly changed many people’s lives for the better and this was genuinely appreciated by both the Provincial Grand Master and himself.
On a similar note, he also encouraged those present to make all brethren aware that during this prolonged period of economic distress, which many are experiencing, the WLCF has made considerable funds available for any brother or member of their family that may find themselves in financial need.
The master then presented Malcolm with cheques to the value of £1,600 for mostly local charities including WLCF, Derian House, Wigan and Leigh Hospice, St Catherine’s Hospice, North West Air Ambulance, The Brick, and Pemberton Hall. Which he accepted on their behalf with much gratitude for the efforts of the members in gathering such a substantial sum from their own resources during such financially distressing times.
As the father of the lodge, the director of ceremonies then gave a brief history of the lodge and its various locations over the past 97 years consisting of an upstairs room at the Globe from 1927 to 1984, Chorley Hall 1984 to 2011, Mill Hotel at Croston from 2011 to 2013 then Heskin Hall for 18 months and Park Hall for 7 years. They have currently been at Pemberton Hall for the past 12 months. He also poignantly commented on many of the exceptional characters, traditions, enduring friendships and supports that had been formed in the lodge over his past 57 years as a member.
Following some moments for reflection, alms were collected for the benefit of the hall and the warrant was presented to Malcolm. The principal officers and guests then regressed from the lodge. The risings being ended the lodge was closed in due form for the last time and all then gathered at the festive board for a sumptuous four course feast accompanied with wine, lively, good-natured conversation, reminiscences, and laughter.
In his response, Malcolm spoke of the Royal Arch being the next step in Masonry and that currently in the Province there were some 1,500 unattached Royal Arch Freemasons. He went on to encourage the brethren to consider re-joining the chapters and encouraging new master Masons to consider it as their next progression in the Craft. He also once again, at the request of Mark Matthews, encouraged the brethren to inform all brothers of the charitable help that had been made available by the WLCF. Finally, he noted that although the lodge was closing, all nine of the members were moving to another local lodge thereby strengthening the Tuscan Oak and Lamberthead Lodge No 6387 which also meets at Pemberton Masonic Hall.
The final act of the evening was the tyler’s toast given by Terry Worthington, following which the brethren departed the hall looking towards a positive future.