Fresh from the excellent celebration of 100 years of Semper Fidelis Lodge No 4428, it was time for Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master Steven Reid to hand over the reins of the WMs chair to senior warden and master elect, Tony Smith. This installation meeting signalled the end of Steven’s third spell as master of Semper Fidelis Lodge, having also been WM in 1982 and 2005.
What was most pleasing on this occasion was that the master elect was being installed into the chair of King Solomon for the first time. This wasn’t the least bit noticeable however, as Tony Smith carried himself with confidence and calm throughout. He no doubt took his cue from the example set by Steven and from lodge director of ceremonies Julian Hale, who took charge of proceedings from start to finish. This was particularly noted by the principal guest on this occasion, Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Ogden, who said: “Julian handled the whole event exceedingly well.”
Needless to say, with Steven Reid as the installing master the whole ceremony was faultless. Supported by Mike Hornby and Howard Monk as installing wardens and Peter Rowan as inner guard, all of whom are members of St Anne’s Lodge No 2457, the mother lodge of Semper Fidelis, the whole event was on a very sound footing. There were also some very sound items of ritual by others, including a very moving presentation of the Hall Stone Jewel delivered by Alec Sugden.
The group executive officers weren’t to be left out as group chairman John Robbie Porter delivered the address to the deacons, while that to the wardens was delivered by group vice chairman Ben Gorry. As there was also a bit of a lodge cabinet reshuffle addresses to the incoming treasurer and secretary were delivered by Stan Kitt and Steven Carr respectively and that to the new tyler John Nichols by Kevin Porter. John, as ever, received the sword and the address with great aplomb! Excellent addresses to the WM and to the brethren of Semper Fidelis were delivered by Nigel Bradshaw and David Ogden.
Julian Hale and Steven Carr were again in action to deliver the working tools in the first and second degree, however, the plaudits went to master Mason Paul Dunkow for a faultless delivery of the explanation of the third degree tools. Finally, although retiring from the office of secretary, Steven Carr was going out on a roll by delivering the address to the stewards.
While extending the greetings from Provincial Grand Master Mark Matthews, David Ogden congratulated Steven Reid on his wonderful delivery of every part of the ceremony. He also congratulated Julian Hale on his hard work as director of ceremonies, then he went ‘walkabout’ around the lodge to congratulate other participants in the ceremony, particularly stopping to give kind words of encouragement to Paul Dunkow. Other words of praise were delivered by John Robbie Porter who described the proceedings as a ‘delightful exercise in perfection.’ Congratulations were then given by Nigel Bradshaw who congratulated Steven Reid on the excellent work he had done to ensure the lodge’s centenary year was a complete success.
With the lodge business completed, the brethren retired to the banqueting suite where they enjoyed a feast peculiar to Semper Fidelis Lodge alone; where the wine flows like Niagara Falls and the port is pretty plentiful too. However, the meal is unsurpassed by many a Masonic caterer in the land and that to the great credit of Lee Munro and his Masonic Catering Team.
While responding to the toast to the grand officers, David Ogden enthused over what a wonderful evening it had been in the lodge room and at the festive board. He congratulated Steven Reid on an excellent job in his installing of Tony Smith into the chair and added warm praise for the support Steven had received from his team members.
David went on to discuss the use of digital marketing strategies and the use of social media in the recruitment of new members. This he said had produced several new members to the Craft but was keen to add that the final decision on who joins is down to the lodge members themselves. David also raised the need for closer cooperation between Craft and Royal Arch Chapter and advised that moves had been instigated to reinforce this process by the forming of just one Provincial Cabinet made up of the all the senior officers of both orders.
David also thanked those who had supported him on this occasion, including the grand officers, Provincial Junior Grand Deacon Alfred Dickinson and Past Provincial Grand Steward Philip Hughes. He concluded by reminding the brethren of the support available from the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity for those in need.
There were several presentations of during the toast to the new master, including those of the master’s jewel and the immediate past master’s jewel, as well as a special presentation to Steven Reid in recognition of his magnificent work during his year; this was made by Nigel Bradshaw, a past master of the lodge who has been a member for over 50 years. A rumbustious performance of the master’s song was delivered by the inimitable Godfrey Hirst before a fine evening was brought to its official close by John Nicholls who proposed the tyler’s toast. The unofficial celebrations continued in the bar for some time after that, to the great enjoyment of all.