A warm welcome was given to members of Tithebarn Lodge No 8446 along with their guests by the WM Mark Clifford (Bomber to his friends). Mark has enjoyed a successful year, with several social events raising £1,000s towards charitable causes. It was also clear to see that his year in office had enhanced his self-confidence by the manner in which he opened the lodge and dealt with the early items of business.
These business items included the ballots for Hugh Mett to become a re-joining member and for Assistant Provincial Grand Master Duncan Smith to become an honorary member. Both ballots proved in favour and both candidates will be welcomed as such on future occasions, as other commitments had prevented them attending on this occasion. The other, often tricky item, was a notice of motion to increase lodge subscriptions, which on this occasion went without a hitch. It was then on with the main business of the evening, that of installing the new master. That was to be Len Wiseman, however, being the current director of ceremonies Len had first to retire to form the procession of visiting dignitaries.
On re-entering Len announced that Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden Ben Gorry, representing the Provincial Grand Master Mark Matthews stood without and requested to be admitted. On entering the lodge Ben was supported by Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox, South Fylde Group Chairman John Robbie Porter, grand officers Keith Jackson and Ian Ward, acting Provincial grand officers Derek Lewthwaite and Neil Higgins, along with other Provincial grand officers.
With the principal guests welcomed and seated salutations were afforded to Harry Cox, who replied suitably, to the grand officers for whom Keith Jackson responded and the Provincial grand officers for whom Ben Gorry responded. This was followed by the installing officers being invited to take post, with Neil Curtis of Fairhaven Lodge No 5076 acting as senior warden, Clive Gitsham of Tithebarn Lodge as junior warden and Michael Tax of North Shore Lodge No 7916 as inner guard.
With these installing officers in place, Mark was pleased to invite Len Wiseman’s long standing friend Alan Mitchell to take over to conduct the first half of the installation ceremony. Len was then duly presented by Keith Jackson and Alan delivered the opening address, after which Len recited his obligation in a clear and confident manner. The lodge was then opened as a lodge of installed masters and Alan completed the process of installing Len into the chair with the assistance of the other past and installed masters.
After a short break the ceremony continued with the perambulations of the master Masons, saluting and greeting the new master which were very ably led by Mark Clifford, with the entire approbation of all those present. The working tools were explained by Shaun Keane in the third degree. Those in the second degree were explained in the long version by Jacques Brown in a very polished manner and those in the first degree by fellow craft Stephen Dobson in an equally impressive way for a young brother.
During the appointment and investiture of officers, Neil Curtis and Clive Gitsham ably installed the new wardens and Michael Tax installed the new inner guard with suitable aplomb. The address to the deacons was delivered by Ken Greenwood with quiet confidence. The ceremony was brought to its conclusion by Keith Jackson delivering the address to the WM as only a grand officer can, Clive Gitsham gave that to the wardens and Ben Gorry addressed the brethren of the lodge.
Following the phrase: “That concludes the ceremony of your installation,” voiced with some relief by Mark Clifford, Ben Gorry rose to bring the greetings and congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master. In doing so, Ben conducted his own perambulation while extending personal congratulations to those who had taken part in the ceremony. He was then pleased to accept cheques and information of charitable donations made by the lodge during the year. The sum of £5,880 was an outstanding testament to the amount of work that Mark had put in during his year in the chair. In thanking Mark for his work and the lodge members’ generosity, Ben remarked: “It was an incredible sum of money which would go a long way to helping many in need. It was a testament to the teamwork that had gone into the raising of these funds.”
During the raisings, John Robbie Porter referred to the work done as superb, Tom Sloan called it a feast of Masonic ritual proving it can still be done when required. John Donnelly, a past master of Lodge Craigielea No 1218 from the Scottish constitution thanked the lodge members for the warmth of their welcome and the excellence of the ceremony. Then before the last items of business and the closure of the lodge, Alan was presented with his past master’s jewel. The brethren then retired to the festive board.
During the toasts, Ben Gorry responded to that to the Provincial grand officers. During this he spoke of the impending celebration of Brian Sager’s 50 years in Freemasonry, touching briefly on Ton Sloan’s 50th celebrated. He also recounted on several notable events in the history of Tithebarn Lodge. He went on to congratulate Mark and his officers and members for their excellent charity work during the year particularly in reference to the foodbank support they had provided. As an aside he also thanked the South Fylde Group Charity Steward, Dave McKee, for all the work that he does in coordinating the charity work of the various lodges and chapters in the South Fylde.
Ben also praised all those involved in the installation ceremony, particularly those delivering the working tools but also those working in the background like the secretary Grahame Whattam who, along with Mike Heed is to receive the rank of Past Provincial Deputy Grand Superintendent of Works at the forthcoming 2023 Provincial Grand Lodge meeting. Another long serving member of the lodge was organist Malcolm Burrill, who is to receive Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon. Ben also congratulated Michael Tax, who is to be appointed the Provincial Senior Grand Warden.
Ben also discussed young Masons, the Royal Arch, WLFC support which is available to brethren or their families, the Provincial Grand Ball and the Group Dinner.
After an amusing toast to the WM’s health by Alan Mitchell the master’s song was performed admirably by John Darrell. This was followed by the WM’s reply in which he gave thanks to the many brethren involved in the night’s events and presented Ben Gorry with a present to take home to his wife.
Shortly after this the raffle was called with the assistance of John Robbie Porter, who had just presented Mark with his ‘Year Book’ and a memento specially made by Clive Gitsham. The raffle raised £336. The evening was then brought to a close by Chris Veevers who proposed the tyler’s toast.