It may have been wet, windy and uninviting outside but in complete contrast there was a warm and welcoming atmosphere inside Ulverston Masonic Hall for the installation meeting of Thurston Lodge No 2525.
Principal guest on the day was the Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor. Peter was a very appropriate choice to represent the Provincial Grand Master at the meeting as the brother being installed into the chair of the lodge was his deputy Andrew Ridal.
Peter was in the company of six other grand officers and five acting Provincial grand officers. Group chairman Peter Schofield was delighted to see that there were 11 masters present from amongst the other lodges of the Furness and South Lakeland Group. The appearance of so many distinguished brethren did not affect installing master Robert Fearnett as he undertook his duties with great accuracy, timing and depth of feeling. It was a delight to witness.
Before Andrew could be installed however he had to be presented and that duty fell to his father Terry who was obviously very proud to undertake the task. Terry followed it up when he later orated the address to the newly installed master.
Andrew gave an indication of what was to come as he recited his obligation faultlessly in a clear and sonorous tone which reached every corner of the room. In fact, all who took part in the proceedings can be proud of their work. Jim Richards presented the second degree tools, Gary Neal undertook the address to the wardens and Peter Taylor was made to sing for his supper and deliver the address to the brethren of the lodge.
Special mention must be made however of junior brethren in the shape of Mark Rigby and Bryan McKenna who delivered the working tools of the third and first degrees respectively. They maintained the high standard of ritual and attracted much favourable comment.
Others were called upon to further add to the enjoyment of proceedings. Father of Andrew and lodge charity steward Terry was addressed as to his duties by his group counterpart Richard Wilcock whilst group care officer Brian Coward undertook the same role in respect of newly-appointed almoner Bryan McKenna. Acting Provincial grand officers Steve Plevey and Phil Burrow also added to the occasion as they informed the deacons and stewards, respectively, as to their responsibilities.
The involvement of so many different personnel, with each having a different style of delivery, worked well and was appreciated by those looking on.
One of the first duties undertaken by Andrew as master of the lodge was to present Peter with a cheque for £600 in favour of the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival. As with every lodge in the group, an additional £200 was added from the group charity account which had been bolstered by the monies raised at the various group functions throughout the year. Richard was on hand to present the cheque from the group and as this lifted the donations from the lodge to the required threshold, he also presented Andrew with a certificate identifying Thurston Lodge as vice patrons of the festival.
In addition to their charitable giving the lodge had, during the past year, raised £973 for the Ulverston Masonic Hall building fund
Although the ceremony passed with due decorum and propriety there was still room for a smile or two during the course of the proceedings. The smiles turned to wide grins when Robert, as is required, delivered the book of constitutions to Andrew. It is normally the Deputy Provincial Grand Secretary who refers others to that great tome in Freemasonry and this ironic turn of events was not lost on those gazing on.
Following on from the formalities of the afternoon, 84 members and their guests enjoyed good food and pleasant company at the installation banquet held in the hall.
Thurston Lodge was originally based in the lovely Lakeland village of Coniston. In fact, to this day the lodge summons, as well as the lodge banner, bear the legend ‘Now’t Caps Coniston.’
Given the excellent standard of ritual, the undoubted warmth of welcome and the overall ambiance of the occasion it will indeed not be too easy to beat the efforts of Thurston Lodge.