The 1st of April was certainly not intended to be a Fool`s day for me as I set off early for a long day in London. An excellent journey down with Virgin keeping to their promise and arriving bang on time.
I firstly made my way to Great Queen Street for a short meeting at Grand Lodge, before making my way across the city to 86 St James`s where I was attending two Lodge meetings one being an Installation meeting. Following the meeting in the Bar, prior to enjoying a wonderful festive banquet, I heard that there was a major problem, a fire had broken out in Kingsway at the end of Gt Queen Street. Fortunately this was not going to cause me any personal problems with my travelling arrangements. However, I had to return to Euston Station for my return train journey to Morecambe.
Arriving in time for the very last train back to West Lancashire I found that I could hardly get on to the concourse for 1,000s of rail travellers all waiting for their trains. Was this the April Fool`s that had been waiting for me. All trains out of London were delayed by at least 50 minutes. Well a train eventually appeared even though very late and after an extremely long day I arrived back in Lancaster to be met by Maureen, just before the clocks turned to 2 April.
The Easter Holiday came at just the right time for Maureen and I, in order to have a little more relaxation and spend some time in the garden and enjoying some exhilarating walks along the Promenade taking in the breath-taking views across the bay and up into the Lakeland hills. It gave me time to prepare for the forth-coming Provincial Chapter meeting.
Wednesday 8 April was my first Provincial Chapter meeting and I was most excited travelling to Southport for what I knew would be an exhilarating and most interesting day for us all. I believe that I proved myself right. For the new venue of the Southport Floral Hall and Convention centre was just the ideal setting for our Provincial Grand Chapter meeting. The attendance was stunning as some 600 companions of West Lancashire were joined by 28 distinguished guests from eight other neighbouring Provinces, for what was my first Provincial Chapter Convocation since my appointment as Grand Superintendent. I had the honour to invest some 187 companions on their appointment to or promotion in Provincial Grand Chapter. It really was a splendid day ending with an excellent festive banquet.
Thursday 9 April was a relaxing day, and allowed me the opportunity to visit my own Sandylands Chapter for the installation meeting of Colin Westwell, David Liptrott and Donald Poulson. I accompanied our principal guest Chris Butterfield Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals. We all had a most enjoyable evening.
On Friday 10 April I travelled with Keith Kemp to the Blackpool Lodge of Fellowship No 7692, at Adelaide Street. The sojourn to Blackpool was fraught with heavy traffic but we were out for some “fresh air and fun” and that is exactly what we received from the many brethren who attended the meeting. APrGM Harry Cox, PAPrGM Terry Hudson, Peter Bentham the Blackpool Group Chairman, together with Geoff Pritchard and Malcolm Townley, we witnessed the proclamation of Philip Houldsworth so ably carried out by Ben Clarkson the IPM. Following the ceremony I was introduced to the brethren of the lodge and many of the visitors before enjoying the culinary delights of an excellent Festival of St John.
A wet and windy weekend kept Maureen and I from enjoying any outdoor activities but we had plenty of work around the house to keep us busy and I had quite a lot of Masonic paperwork to catch up on. The weekend sped by and Monday April 13 came round very quickly. I travelled to Westhoughton, where I was attending Rivington Lodge No 8013 Installation meeting at the Brookfield Masonic Centre. It has been many years since my last visit to Brookfield but I was still very impressed with the facilities available to the brethren meeting there. I was accompanied by APrGM Ray Martland and had the very great honour of having two special Provincial Grand Directors of Ceremonies in Keith Kemp and Ian Higham taking very good care of me and ensuring that the proceedings went well. And well they did go well, for the installation ceremony for Jayson Jackson was carried out with great dignity and sincerity by the IPM David Parker. Following the excellent ceremony I met many of the brethren attending the meeting prior to us all enjoying an excellent festive board for which I now understand why Brookfield has such a good reputation for its fine cuisine.
Tuesday 14 April took me on a sojourn to the far North East of England, to the Province of Northumberland, where Peter Elmore, Peter Taylor and I were guests of the Province at the annual convocation of their Provincial Grand Chapter. A most enjoyable occasion and to our great surprise had the pleasure to witness a West Lancashire Freemason installed as the Second Provincial Grand Principal of the Province Fredrick George Dye. It really was a wonderful surprise to us all and Fred made a special mention of his time in West Lancashire and wishes all his friends and colleagues here, his best wishes and looks forward to meeting them at our Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in Blackpool, when on that occasion, he will be accompanying colleagues from Northumberland.
On Friday 17 April I travelled to Leyland, Wellington Park, for the Leyland Group of Lodges and Chapters dinner. I was accompanied by Ray Martland APrGM, Paul Renton AtoPrGP’s, Peter Pemberton and Martin Lockyer, the Provincial Wardens, Peter Taylor Provincial Grand Secretary and David Thomas and Malcolm Bell, Deputy DC`s for what was a very interesting question and answer session prior to enjoying pre dinner drinks followed by dinner with the brethren and companions of the group.
Saturday April 18 and the weekend upon us Maureen and I set off for an outing to Liverpool, which on this occasion took rather longer than the normal hour and a half journey, due to long traffic delays. Arriving just after lunch we went into the city centre and found a delightful pavement café, where we sat for lunch and watched the wonders of the Liverpool scenery pass by. Not only the shoppers but those almost ready for their night out in the city.
That evening Maureen and I joined Mark and Hilda Dimelow at Hope Street Masonic Hall for the annual Liverpool Group Ball, where we had the opportunity to meet with the many brethren and their ladies enjoying this splendid occasion. The meal, the company and the occasion were excellent and I thank all those attending this ball for their kind welcome and friendship during a wonderful evening.
Before returning home on Sunday we enjoyed a lovely walk along the waterfront of this great city of Liverpool.
This following week was quiet as far as Freemasonry was concerned so I could spend some time in the garden and enjoying the good weather.
Friday 24 April took me Widnes for the group dinner. Upon my arrival at the Masonic hall I was welcomed by all the group officers, the APrGM Kevin Poynton and AtoPGP’s Barry Jameson and again I had the opportunity to meet with the many brethren and companions who attended the dinner. I believe all who attended enjoyed the occasion and the delicious hot pot supper.
The morning of Saturday 25 April took me to Chorley, where I attended the annual district meeting of another Masonic Order. I was welcomed by the District Grand Prefect, William Seddon and his deputy Paul Snape. A splendid meeting attended by many brethren from West Lancashire and visiting distinguished brethren from many parts of the Country.
In the afternoon Maureen and I were accompanied by Jim Wilson, chairman of the Lancaster and District Group and his partner Pat for a lovely journey around Morecambe Bay to Ulverston in the Furness and South Lakes Group. It was here at the Masonic hall in Kings Road, that we were entertained to a lovely buffet meal before walking across the road to the Coronation Hall where many local Freemasons, Rotarians and local people filled the Civic Hall for a charity concert in aid of the local MacMillan Nurses. The performer at the concert was no other than Anne Breem who entertained us all throughout the evening singing our favourite songs with here delightful Irish lilt.
Monday 27 April took me to Leyland for and Installation meeting in another Order, Being the IPM I was pleased that I could sit back and enjoy a great ceremony in the company of many old friends.
Tuesday 28 April saw an early start for the train to London. Today was the start of a busy few days at Grand Lodge. Arriving in London at Lunch time I checked into my Hotel before making my way to Freemasons Hall in Great Queen Street for a meeting with the Pro Grand Master and the other High Rulers of the craft together with other Provincial Grand Masters and District Grand Masters from around the world.
This most interesting meeting was followed by dinner at the Old Hall at Lincoln`s Inn. It was a delightful experience meeting with so many PrGM`s and brethren in high office within UGLE.
On Wednesday 29 April I enjoyed an early hearty breakfast in order that I could attend my first meeting at Great Queen Street at 9am followed by the PrGM`s Forum, which I found most interesting. I had the opportunity to enjoy lunch with many of the brethren from West Lancashire who were accompanying me on this occasion. Sadly we encountered heavy rain during the morning but it cleared just after lunch in order to enjoy a walk before the Grand Investiture.
It was yet another fantastic occasion to be able to march in procession into the Grand Temple, to the fanfare from the newly restored Organ. The Grand Temple was full, not an empty seat to be seen and the ceremony commenced with salutations to the High Rulers and then the main business of investing the newly appointed Grand Officers. I was delighted to witness the investiture of the brethren from West Lancashire who had made the journey to London for the occasion and what a splendid occasion it was. We all enjoyed the festival banquet which followed in the magnificent Connaught rooms, before retiring to our various hotels after a long but most enjoyable day.
Thursday April 30 saw yet another busy day for many companions who joined our sojourn to London for their investiture as Grand officers in Supreme Grand Chapter. We were honoured to have the First Grand Principal, HRH the Duke of Kent, presiding over this convocation and the many companions from West Lancashire who received their appointments are “still not washing their right hands”. It really was a grand occasion followed by another delicious grand festival banquet.
All the festivities were over by mid-afternoon so my companions and I made our way back to Euston Station for our homeward train journeys following what has been a most enjoyable but somewhat tiring visit to Grand Lodge and Supreme Grand Chapter.
What a wonderful and most fulfilling month I had enjoyed, being in the company of so many brethren and companions of the Province.
Provincial Grand Master