The members of Leyland and District Group held their biannual group dinner at Wellington Park, Leyland and the principal guest for the evening was none other than Tony Harrison, Provincial Grand Master of the Province of West Lancashire. There were over 90 members and visitors keen to have a chat with Tony on this special occasion.
The evening was split into two parts; the first was a question and answer session where Tony was to face a number of questions posed by the members of the Leyland Group. It is fair to say that Tony wasn’t alone and he was more than pleased not to be on this occasion. Some of the questions were tricky to answer and he was ably assisted by his team for the evening; Assistant Provincial Grand Master Ray Martland, Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Paul Renton and Provincial Secretary Peter Taylor, each being able to fill in the blanks. The second part was to relax and enjoy the camaraderie of each other’s company at the dinner in the Balmoral Suite. Also in attendance on the evening were Peter Pemberton Provincial Senior Grand Warden and Martin Lockyer Provincial Junior Grand Warden.
Dave Thomas and Malcolm Bell, Provincial Deputy Grand Directors of Ceremonies, introduced the team to start proceedings. Tony then took the opportunity to welcome everyone to the event. He said that he was more than happy to field any questions, providing he knew the answer. One of the questions presented on the evening was related to lodge fees and how the actual fee was arrived at. This was answered with Peter Taylor breaking down the fee into its respective portions. A further question asked was related to the fees and in respect of encouraging new members: “How was the joining fee justified when the administration fee was a substantial amount for a newcomer to pay?”
Another question asked was regarding the West Lancashire Festival and whether there was to be one and when. The response was yes, there will be one, however and as yet there was no defined timescale. Another member asked: “When will the role of mentor become official in the Royal Arch?” The response given by Tony was that this is currently under due consideration and is still being discussed. Ray Martland answered a question relating to the promotions process and whether he thought it was a just and fair process. He responded in the affirmative and was supported by Paul Renton who outlined the process.
The question and answer session was over very quickly and Tony thanked the audience. The team left the room to a round of applause. Everyone moved into the Balmoral Suite for the second part of the evening where they dined with a tasty meal consisting of steak pie, chips and mushy peas followed by cheese and biscuits with coffee being served.
During the evening there were a number of toasts following the banquet and none more important to that of the Provincial Grand Master. This was given by Jason Astley, past master of Eccleston Lodge No 7754 on behalf of the group. He presented Tony’s Masonic CV, slipping in a little entertainment along the way before rounding off asking the brethren to rise and honour the toast. Tony’s response was succinct and he thanked Jason for the toast to his health. He reflected on the evenings proceedings by thanking the brethren for taking part in the question and answer session earlier and by commending Wellington Park for being the host venue and providing convivial surroundings and an excellent meal and service.
Stewart Seddon, Chairman of the Leyland Group, in his speech reflected on the evening too and he thanked Tony for being approachable, honest and concise with his answers to the questions. He also thanked the team for being on hand and he thanked Tony for his presence and hoped that he would visit on another occasion in the not too distant future. During his speech Stewart presented a cheque on behalf of the Leyland Group to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity for £500.
At the end of the evening, Tony was presented with a bouquet of flowers by Stewart to take home for Maureen on behalf of the Leyland Group. The evening ended and everyone left on a happy note with memories of the evening.