Chris Eyres was welcomed by Liverpool Epworth Lodge No 5381 members to their installation ceremony which saw George Christie proclaimed as worshipful master of the lodge. George enjoyed his first year in office so much that it was agreed he could extend it to a second year. As this only necessitated a proclamation it was a quick and quiet ceremony rather than a full installation. Chris, who had arrived in plenty of time, was given a grand tour of Liverpool Masonic Hall prior to the meeting. Although he had attended a meeting at the hall on a previous occasion he had not then fully realised the true size and grandeur of the building.
Chris was attending the installation as the special representative of the Provincial Grand Master and was accompanied by Bob Povall in his capacity as vice chairman of Liverpool Group of Craft lodges. It was heartening to see the tremendous support given to George, with his son Mark in attendance along with George’s brother Brian, who drove from Scotland to attend the meeting. Brian left after the festive board to drive to Dundee for a business meeting the following morning, such loyalty.
On being proclaimed for a successive year and after investing his officers George received the greetings and good wishes from the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, which were expressed by Chris.
George thanked Chris for his kind words and on behalf of the members of the lodge presented him with three charitable cheques, one drawn in favour of the baby’s hospice Zoe’s Place for £500, one for £200 to Liverpool Masonic Hall Building Fund and one for £100 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. Chris responded by thanking the lodge members for their generosity as illustrated by the donations made. Chris said: “I am particularly pleased to see the support for the WLFC. In this Province we are pretty well unique, in having our own registered charity. Last year the WLFC made grants to support the needs of Freemasons of the Province who had fallen on hard times, to the widows and to good causes in the community and education. I hope that illustrates that your donation will be well spent.”
Continuing, Chris said: “I am also very grateful to you for your donation to the Liverpool Masonic Hall. The Provincial Grand Master has asked me to remind you of the importance of our Masonic hall to our enjoyment of Freemasonry, that regular upkeep and maintenance is required and that we need to ensure that they are profitable and run in a business-like manner.”
The lodge almoner Paul De-Ville Forte gave a full report with particular emphasis on the lodge widows. At the worshipful master’s suggestion Christmas hampers had been delivered instead of the usual cheque and this had proved to be an overwhelming success. Next came the treasurer’s report in which it was stated that the lodge was in a financially healthy state. A report from the charity steward Geoff Cuthill, gave account of the charitable donations during the previous calendar year, the majority of which had gone to non-Masonic charities and the lodge had already paid out one donation this calendar year, plus the three cheques presented this evening. Geoff also said that following last years very successful charity bike ride which raised just short of £6,000, another ride was being planned for this summer, this time from Hull to Liverpool, thanking the lodge for its kind donation last year and the members who individually gave their support through the ‘just giving’ scheme. It was at this time the benevolent fund was honoured.
On completion of the ceremonials within the lodge room the members and their guests retired to the adjacent banqueting suite to partake in the traditional toast to the WM and to enjoy the installation banquet. During this Chris addressed George by saying: ‘I welcome you as a ruler in the Craft and congratulate you on being installed master of this distinguished lodge for a second consecutive year and I trust that you will have a happy and fulfilling year as master and that it proves a successful one for your lodge.” This was greeted with applause. Chris also congratulated the director of ceremonies David Bruffell for the manner in which he conducted the ceremony of proclamation and to the officers of the lodge for the hard work which had been carried out prior to today’s ceremony.
During the evening, Chris told how that when Liverpool Group Chairman Sam Robinson asked him to represent at the installation he had to admit that he had no knowledge at all about Liverpool Epworth Lodge, but research led him to realise his mother lodge has a lot in common with this one. He understands that this lodge, founded in 1932, is one of a number of lodges founded by Methodists in tribute to John Wesley, who was born in the village of Epworth in Lincolnshire in 1703. Chris’s lodge is Lodge of Charity No 2651 and was founded by Methodists in 1897 and in obedience to the founders the lodge, like Liverpool Epworth Lodge, abstains from alcohol at the festive board unless an exception is made for the installation and special occasions by the WM.
Chris added that our most famous member was the great Scotland and Liverpool footballer Billy Liddle, who he believed brought along as his guest on occasions, Joe Mercer, ex Everton, Manchester City and England. A little bird had also told him that, at one time the WM took wine at each meeting, first with Liverpool supporters and then with those Everton fans present. In like vein there is a connection between a well known north western football club and Lodge of Charity and Chris well remember the occasions when Nat Lofthouse used to visit them.
Chris reminded all that this year the Provincial meeting will be held on 7 May at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool followed by a meal at the Hilton Hotel and this would be the only Provincial meeting for the year and hoped as many as possible would be in attendance. At this juncture he said how delighted he was to congratulate Geoff Cuthill on his well-deserved forthcoming promotion within the Province which he will receive in May.
In closing Chris said he would like to acknowledge the warmth of the reception he had been given by this lodge today and that we all continue to enjoy our Freemasonry, it has been a thoroughly enjoyable evening. In his final comment, Chris said: “Liverpool Epworth Lodge appears to be a very happy and close-knit lodge and I am sure that, with the support of the brethren, you George will have another good year in office and I thank you for allowing me to participate in your Installation ceremony.”