Over 130 guests and brethren joined Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and his Provincial team to celebrate the centenary of Thornton and Cleveleys Lodge No 3854 at the Savoy Hotel Blackpool. Tony was accompanied by Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Randerson together with many grand and acting Provincial grand officers.
Mark Tomlinson, WM conducted the early part of the business with a style and dignity that was a hallmark of the ceremony to come. With the initial business complete, the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp announced that the PrGM stood without and demanded admission. Mark announced that the brethren would be pleased to receive him.
Tony and his Provincial team processed into the lodge room in full splendour preceded by the Provincial Grand Sword Bearer and the Provincial Grand Standard Bearers. They were accompanied by the Provincial Senior Warden John Karran and the Provincial Junior Warden Barry Dickinson. All of whom made the procession majestic and colourful. Tony was also accompanied by North Fylde Group Chairman Peter Greathead.
Keith introduced Tony to Mark who gave him a very warm welcome and invited him to accept the gavel, which on this occasion he willingly accepted. Tony took the chair and invited his Provincial officers into their respective positions before opening Provincial Grand Lodge. In his opening address to the lodge, Tony expressed his pleasure at leading the celebrations for what was a magnificent occasion and a wonderful achievement for the lodge in attaining its centenary.
Tony called upon the Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor to read to the assembled brethren the centenary warrant issued by the Grand Master commemorating the centenary and permitting and authorising the members of Thornton and Cleveleys Lodge to wear their centenary jewel. Tony then formally presented the warrant and centenary jewel to Mark Tomlinson, who promised to keep and pass on the warrant to his successors pure and unsullied as he had received it.
Next, Tony called upon the Provincial Deputy Grand Chaplain Rev Canon John Hall to deliver an oration to the assembled brethren, recalling that Thornton and Cleveleys Lodge was consecrated on 8 August 1918 at a time of great upheaval and loss but that the lodge provided a place to return to fellowship and belonging.
Following the oration, Tony then called on Thornton and Cleveleys Lodge secretary Roger Lloyd-Jones to read a brief history of the lodge starting with the lodge consecration. It was mentioned that the lodge had many family connections with many fathers bringing their sons into the Craft. Notable examples of this tradition are Eric Peat who initiated his son Richard into the lodge and is carried on to the present time with father and son, Raymond and Mark Spragg adding to those numbers.
Throughout the Second World War Thornton and Cleveleys Lodge welcomed several American brethren which have since seen reciprocated. During this time government departments like the Ministry of Pensions were moved to Blackpool which formed a close relationship between Thornton and Cleveleys Lodge and Burton Court Lodge No 3864.
As the ceremony neared completion Tony Harrison had one more surprise in store for the brethren and one member of Thornton and Cleveleys Lodge in particular in the person of Eric Peat. Tony promoted Eric to Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden. Eric said later that he would never forget the evening and it was a special honour to receive the promotion in his lodge surrounded by friends and brothers. Tony then closed the Provincial Grand Lodge and returned the gavel of the lodge to the WM Mark Tomlinson.
Mark rose to present cheques to Tony for £3,000 to the MCF 2021 Festival, £300 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £100 to the Swallow Dale Children’s Trust, £50 to the Blackpool Society for the Blind £50 to the Blackpool Society for the Deaf, £100 to Donna’s Dream House, £127 to Children with Cancer September Push and £127 to the Rosemary Cancer Foundation, totalling a magnificent sum of £3,854; the lodge’s number. Tony said he was extremely pleased to present Mark and the members of Thornton and Cleveleys Lodge with a Festival Grand Patron certificate.
After the lodge was closed the brethren assembled in the sumptuous surroundings of the Savoy Hotel Ballroom for a lavish festive board where David Randerson proposed the toast to the Provincial Grand Master.
Tony responded to the toast to his health by proposing a toast to Thornton and Cleveleys Lodge and the officers and brethren for all their work in planning the centenary celebrations. He made mention to all brethren to try and encourage new members to join Freemasonry. He also encouraged those members who had not yet committed to the MCF 2021 Festival to consider signing up and not to forget that the Province of West Lancashire receives approximately £1,000,000 from the MCF annually for charitable purposes.Raffles at the Savoy Hotel and the Ladies Evening held at Cleveleys Masonic Hall raised a magnificent sum of a further £931.71 which is being donated the Cleveleys Masonic Hall Building Fund.
After the event Thornton and Cleveleys Lodge had not finished treating the brethren. Mark Spragg arranged (and drove) a vintage Blackpool tram to transport everyone to join their ladies at Cleveleys. The world famous Blackpool Illuminations provided the perfect backdrop on the way home. A donation of £200 was made to Blackpool Transport’s chosen charity Brian House in thanks for their support in letting the lodge use a tram and their donation of raffle prizes.