It was very pleasing, for all who attended to witness one of the best and most enjoyable installation ceremonies that they may have ever attended; which saw Steve Cropper hand over the chair of King Solomon of Starkie Lodge No 1070 to John McGrady in a flawless ceremony.
The lodge members were honoured to have John Lee, Provincial Senior Grand Warden, representative of the Provincial Grand Master in attendance; also, Phil Stock, Vice Chairman of the Southport Group.
After the usual lodge business and salutations, Mike Foster, Jim Grant and Peter Stones, took over the senior wardens, junior wardens and inner guards positions, and the ceremony then commenced. Alwyn Johnson a long-time friend presented John to Steve; which was a moment of great pride for Alwyn and one of the memories which will stand-out in his long Masonic career.
An enjoyable and well performed part of the evening was the explanation of the tools by David Ellis, David Ginger and Alan Taylor, three light blues of the lodge who presented the third, second and first degree tools respectively, overcoming any previous attacks of butterflies they may have had.
The new WM then invested his officers, showing how good a ritualist John really is. The address to the master was superbly delivered with great feeling by the lodge treasurer, Mike Foster. It is doubtful you would hear better. Ian Jolly then gave the address to the wardens. One welcome addition was an address to the deacons, which the brethren had the pleasure of seeing ably presented by one of the guests, Bernard Snape, of St Michaels on Wyre Lodge No 8348 which meets in Garstang. Finally, Peter Martin gave the address to the brethren. As Peter was only told earlier in the day that he would be required to do this, his performance was excellent.
The WM then had the pleasure of presenting a number of cheques to John Lee amounting to almost £5,000. John informed the brethren that the £4,000 donation when added to a previous donation made by the lodge to the MCF 2021 Festival, gave Starkie Lodge the distinction of being one of the first lodges in the Province to qualify as Grand Patrons. This was marked with the presentation of a framed certificate, denoting the same, by Mark Matthews and Martin Lockyer.
After the completion of the usual lodge business and risings, the lodge was closed and the brethren retired to the festive board. The hall chef, Wayne Warhurst and his staff once again did the lodge proud, with Bury black pudding, lamb shank with all the trimmings, and hot cherries with ice cream or cheese and biscuits; the only complaint being that the portions were too generous!
After the usual toasts, John Lee rose to speak. A humorous, flowing and entertaining speech followed, during which he singled out for praise all the participants who had taken part in the ceremony.
Eric Morris entertained the assembled company with his rendition of the master’s song, which saw many brothers trying to set a record for the most glasses clinked in as short a space of time as possible.
The new WM’s speech saw him visibly moved in his thanks to the brethren of the lodge, the outgoing WM Steve Cropper, but importantly to the ever present DC, Tony Johnson.
It was evident that every member of the lodge, whether past masters, Provincial officers or newer members, owed a huge vote of thanks to Tony for his never-ending devotion to the lodge, its members and the tremendous amount of hard work he puts in behind the scenes.
John was especially taken with the large number of guests present which along with the members of Starkie Lodge saw an attendance of over 50 brethren present; an auspicious start to John’s year in the chair,
The resident musician, Mel Smallwood, once again gave a lift to proceedings both in the lodge and at the festive board and it is always a pleasure to have him in attendance ‘tinkling’ the ivories.
The evening’s festivities concluded as always with an excellent rendition of the tyler’s toast, given by the lodge’s long serving tyler, Gordon Kay.
For those who attended, the general consensus was that this was a superb ceremony excellently performed. It was brilliant that so many members and guests assembled in the bar after the festive board to enjoy the company of the visitors; the brethren of this lodge always endeavour to see they have a good time and are made to feel welcome.
Article by Alan Cornes. Photos by Richard Alty.