To be appointed senior warden is, by its very nature, a special occasion. Not only are you 12 months away from becoming the master of your lodge but there is the realisation that you have certain responsibilities associated with that high office. There are ceremonies to learn, ladies’ nights to organise and plans to make for visiting other lodges.
But no matter how carefully the year is planned, something may still go wrong. As our famous brother Robert Burns once said: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, gang aft agley.” Loosely translated, and apologies to our fellow brethren in the far north, ‘what can go wrong, will go wrong.’
Jimmy Wilkes, senior warden of Rectitude Lodge of Blackpool No 4122 had all these plans in mind when United Grand Lodge of England suspended all Masonic meetings and the plans of Jimmy and the lodge were put on hold.
An added disappointment was that 2020 was due to be the lodge’s centenary year and celebrations were also being planned for the November of that year.
Many months later the lodge installation is back on the summons. Under the special emergency measures allowed by United Grand Lodge, the first meeting of the lodge must be a business meeting to elect a new master followed by the installation meeting.
The first item of consideration was to stand in memory of Hughie Clarke who sadly passed to the Grand Lodge above whilst master of the lodge in July 2020; the immediate past master Bob Marsden becoming caretaker master of the lodge for the duration of the suspension.
Bob, also the almoner of the lodge, kept the brethren continually informed on the wellbeing of the members and widows as well.
Returning to the agenda of the day, the business of the lodge was completed and thankfully, senior warden of the lodge Jimmy Wilkes was, once again, declared master elect of the lodge.
After a very short time as master elect, the item on the agenda, ‘To install the master elect’, suddenly became a reality.
On a report, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master Derek Parkinson who was representing the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, entered the lodge accompanied by a fine entourage of grand officers and Provincial grand officers, including the Provincial Junior Grand Deacon John-Paul Lovie (who happens to be the director of ceremonies of Rectitude Lodge of Blackpool). Consequently, John had magnanimously and temporarily handed over the duties of the director of ceremonies to lodge stalwart Terry Barlow who performed his duties with the skill and confidence that only years of experience can command.
In typical Rectitude tradition, Jimmy was installed into the chair of King Solomon by his friend and colleague Bob Marsden.
The third degree tools were given by Michael Sjollema; the second degree tools by Bob Marsden and the first degree tools by John-Paul Lovie. The exuberance of these young Masons is infectious and contagious, giving hope to the lodge for the next 100 years.
Not to be out-done, group chairman David Cook gave the address to the wardens and Derek Parkinson gave the address to the brethren of the lodge in a calm and confident way.
At the conclusion of the ceremony Derek rose to congratulate Bob Marsden on an excellent installation ceremony, considering the inactivity of the lodge for the past couple of years. Derek also brought greetings and congratulations from the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison.
Derek was pleased to inform the lodge that £300 had been donated to the Brian House at Trinity Hospice during the past year.
Suitably impressed, the brethren retired to the bar for a few well-earned drinks before taking their places at the festive board in the Museum Dining Suite.
In his reply to the toast to the grand officers Derek thanked the brethren for a spectacular afternoon and he was pleased to see the members of the lodge working together to make this a special day for Jimmy. Following this, Jimmy thanked Derek for his kind words, hoping he would be able to visit the lodge again soon.
Before returning home Derek announced that he had a surprise for the lodge. He explained that a recent visitor to Blackpool Masonic Hall had brought in his grandfather’s Grand Lodge Certificate, framed in a beautifully gilded frame with Masonic imagery around the edge.
Herbert Henry Vickers was initiated in Rectitude Lodge of Blackpool on 19 September 1928: just eight years after the consecration of the lodge. The frame and certificate will be re-gilded and expertly preserved for posterity by museum curator Martyn Jones and displayed in the Blackpool Masonic Hall Museum for everyone to admire.