Brethren and companions of Blackpool Group held their bi-annual group dinner at the Blackpool Masonic Hall in the presence of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, senior members of the Provincial team along with the Blackpool Group officers.
The evening commenced with a tea and coffee reception in the Tom Bailey Lounge for masters in office, immediate past masters, first principals and immediate past first principals. This provided the opportunity for everyone to meet Tony and the team for a casual chat.
The evening continued with an informal meeting in the Fylde Suite dining room. Tony and the team circulated amongst the brethren answering questions and discussing relevant topics of Freemasonry in a more relaxed atmosphere. Afterwards, everyone retired to the Eric Sharples Suite dining room where 70 guests sat down to enjoy a fine dinner and convivial conversation.
After the required toasts of the evening were dispensed with, Joe Codling of Blackpool Lodge of Integrity No 5864 and Blackpool Chapter of Integrity No 5864 delivered the toast to the health of Tony.
Joe regaled the diners with a very comprehensive resume of Tony’s life. Informing the guests that Tony was born on the wrong side of the Pennines, achieved the high rank of deputy head boy at school, was initiated into Sandylands Lodge No 5702 in 1977 and after leaving business school he joined the family firm of Harrison’s Coaches. He married Maureen in 1967 and she has supported Tony throughout his personal, business and Masonic careers.
Highlight of the toast was the information that Tony is a Justice of the Peace; this allowed him to officiate at a relative’s wedding in America but first he had to be sworn in as a sheriff. This brought a chorus of laughter in the room, everyone wondering where he had tethered his horse.
In his reply to the toast, Tony thanked Joe for the toast to his health wondering whom he had been speaking to, and yes, he had been sworn in as an American sheriff and responsibility for tethering the horse was left with his sidekick David (Smiler) Thomas.
Tony thanked group chairman John Turpin for the invitation to the group dinner and to David Randerson and Duncan Smith for attending, along with the Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor, Provincial Senior Grand Warden David Edwards and Provincial Junior Grand Warden Paul Storrar.
Tony continued to thank John for all his work as a group officer and as the chairman of the Blackpool Group. Wishing John every happiness in his future retirement and congratulating David Cook on his forthcoming appointment to group chairman and to David Edwards on becoming group secretary in April at the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in Blackpool.
The toast to the Blackpool Group was in the capable hands of the Provincial Junior Grand Warden Paul Storrar, who thanked the group chairman John Turpin for the invitation and offered John best wishes for his upcoming retirement after many years with distinction as a group officer and group chairman.
In responding, John thanked Paul for his toast to the Blackpool Group and to all the group officers who have worked so hard to make Freemasonry in Blackpool a success.
John continued by thanking everybody for attending the group dinner. Adding that the group owes a great debt of gratitude to David Cook as the group vice chairman and to Steve Jelly as the group secretary, ably assisted by the group officers. John ended his speech by asking the brethren to support the Masonic museum, the cost being only £10 a year to become a friend of the museum.
The evening ended with the tyler’s toast given by the Provincial Grand Tyler, Jim Finnegan.
Story and photography by Gordon Ivett.