John Harrop was proclaimed as the worshipful master of Stretford with Trafford Lodge No 4379 for the sixth time at the installation meeting held at Swinton Masonic Hall.
The principal guest was Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox accompanied by grand lodge officers, Tony Edden and Dave Walmsley (Chairman of the Eccles Group). Also in attendance was the group secretary Patrick Walsh and acting officers, Craig Sutton PrAGDC and Stephen Rhodes PrGStwd (installing master). On arrival, Harry was presented with a bag of the traditional Eccles cakes by Dave Walmsley.
Te ceremony was performed with perfection and dignity by the installing officers under the watchful eye of director of ceremonies Graham Wood. The master Stephen Rhodes proclaimed John into the chair of King Solomon in a solemn and sincere ceremony.
The working tools of an installed master were presented by Jerry Lawes. The working tools of the third degree were presented by Paul Wood, the second by Graham Brew and the first by Olu Jatto. The address to the worshipful master was given by Graham Wood and the address to the wardens by Graham McHugh.
On conclusion of the proclamation Harry rose to extend the greetings and congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and paid tribute to all the brethren who had taken part in the ceremony. John presented Harry with a £500 cheque for the MCF 2021 Festival and £100 for Reuben’s Retreat which is a charity that was born in memory of Reuben Michael Graham who tragically passed away aged 23 months. Harry thanked the lodge for their generous cheques which he assured would be faithfully applied.
Following the ceremony, the brethren retired to join their distinguished guest at the festive board and to partake in an enjoyable meal. In his response to the toast to the grand officers, Harry extended his personal congratulations to John on taking the chair for the sixth time adding that he hoped he would have a healthy and busy year in his term of office. Harry paid tribute to the two younger brethren Paul Wood and Olu Jatto for their presentation of the working tools and that they had put Provincial officer Graham Brew under pressure to perform to their standard when presenting the second degree tools. He also paid tribute to Jerry Lawes on his presentation of the working tools of an installed master. He also thanked the acting officers Craig Sutton and Stephen Rhodes and group secretary Patrick Walsh along with grand officer Tony Edden for his contribution to the work carried out at Swinton Masonic Hall. Harry also thanked regional publicity officer Tom Fredrickson for the important work that is carried out by the publicity team.
Harry extended his thanks for the support of Dave Walmsley and wished him well in his continuous good health and improvement against illness. Harry reminisced that they go back a long time when he and Dave were both in acting office as Provincial Grand Stewards, way back in 1994.
Harry went on to promote the start of the year of the tercentenary and encouraged that brethren should try to attend some of the many events that are to take place. The first is a service of thanksgiving taking place at the Lancaster Priory Church followed by another service at St Elphin’s Church, Warrington. A ‘Gala Ball’ is to be held in November at Blackpool. He also reminded brethren of the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting to be held in the Opera House, Winter Gardens in Blackpool on 10 May 2017. He recommended that the junior brethren should support the Provincial Grand Master at his lodge on this occasion.
He expressed that the PrGM’s wish that brethren should make a particular effort to promote Freemasonry by talking about it openly. This openness will be supported by a forthcoming TV documentary, due for release in a few months that will help dispel the myths about Freemasonry, but more importantly he hoped that that we should enjoy or Masonry.
The newly installed master presented Harry with a bottle of his favourite tipple before Harry retired, in appreciation of his attending the lodge on this special occasion.
The master of Swinton Lodge No 6100 James Allison responded to the toast to the visitors as the newest WM on the circuit. He passed on the traditional ‘black spot’ to John and said he looked forward to seeing John on the master’s circuit.
Article and photographs by Tom Fredrickson.