Tony visits Leyland for a chat

Tony Harrison, Provincial Grand Master, noticed a lot of talking going when he turned up for a lodge meeting at the Leyland Masonic Hall. Surprisingly, he joined in!

It was to be expected as Tony came along to witness a presentation given by the Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London along with over 160 brethren from across his Province. The presentation was titled ‘Talking Heads’ and was on the subject of an Introduction to the Royal Arch.

Pictured from left to right, are: John Hubbard, Ian Currans, Tony Harrison, Ian Clark Mike Baker and Derek Muston.

Pictured from left to right, are: John Hubbard, Ian Currans, Tony Harrison, Ian Clark Mike Baker and Derek Muston.

Some of the brethren noted that Talking Heads were an American rock band formed in 1975 and, that it was also a series of monologues produced by the BBC which was broadcast in 1988. None were disappointed with the Talking Heads on offer though, as this was the reason for them being there.

The lodge was opened by the worshipful master, Trevor Brooks, who extended his warm welcome to everyone present on this auspicious occasion. The business of the lodge was executed with ease and there was even time to ballot for a joining member which proved in favour of the new member, Glenn Hornby. There were visitors in the lodge room from far afield including from Lancaster in the north of the Province and Liverpool towards the south. Each was suitably entertained before, during and after the meeting by a wonderful accompaniment of music from Dougie Little.

Following the business of the lodge Trevor invited Keith Kemp, the Provincial Director of Ceremonies into the lodge room. Keith announced that the Provincial Grand Master was without and demanded admission. The doors opened and Tony Harrison entered the lodge room, preceded by a number of Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, Grand Metropolitan and Grand Officers along with acting Provincial officers. Each took their seat in readiness for the ‘show’.

Pictured from left to right, are: Harry Cox, Tony Harrison, Howard Jones, Ray Martland and David Grainger.

Pictured from left to right, are: Harry Cox, Tony Harrison, Howard Jones, Ray Martland and David Grainger.

Trevor welcomed Tony, in particular, and everyone into the lodge saying that he hoped they have an enjoyable time and offered Tony the gavel of the lodge. This he took and thanked Trevor, Leyland St Andrews and the visitors for the very warm welcome. He was pleased to be here and thanked Trevor for the gavel which caught Tony off guard as it is quite large and heavy. At this Tony exclaimed that due to its’ size he needed to give it back so the WM could handle it properly. Tony, with relief, promptly returned the gavel.

Following the salutations from the brethren, the next item was to receive the presentation by the Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London entitled “Talking Heads, an Introduction to the Royal Arch”.

The WM introduced Ian Currans, an Assistant Metropolitan Grand Master and Assistant Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, who promptly took up a position in the lodge room to introduce himself and his team who were to give the presentation. He also enthused that this was the 108th time that this piece had been presented to lodges and chapters across the country. Ian also suggested that on average, and following their presentation, two new members had joined the Royal Arch – not necessarily straight away but in the coming months and as a direct result of their production.

There were three companions taking part in the ‘play let’ and they were notably, Derek Muston the narrator, Mike Baker who played the part of the WM and Ian Clarke who played an inquisitive master Mason. The scene set and Mike and Ian dressing in their relevant craft regalia started their conversation with the usual welcome to the Masonic hall of, enquiring as to each other’s health and, whether the day had gone well thus far. It was during this conversation that leads Ian, the master Mason, to mention the tie and jewels which Mike was wearing. Mike responded with the answers and then the conversation turned to their meaning and how does one get to join the Royal Arch. Ian asked how much time was required and how much would joining the degree cost him both financially and time away from family. The narrator filled in the back ground as to the history of how the Royal Arch was formed; from the days of the Old Testament through to their being two institutions fighting for their organisation to be the adopted one, and eventually to unification and hence todays modern organisation.

Tony Harrison surrounded by his assistants and various grand, Provincial and grand metropolitan officers.

Tony Harrison surrounded by his assistants and various grand, Provincial and grand metropolitan officers.

The presentation had teased the audience and gave references to aspects of the Royal Arch which might not have been considered until now. For example, the breast jewel with its markings both on the front and reverse sides, the different colours and their meanings. All these things the master Mason enquired about and were briefly explained.

It was hoped that none Royal Arch members in the craft, who were sitting in and listening to all that was being presented, would one day be quizzical enough to want to join the order. Following the presentation was a short question and answer session. One question was related to the qualifications required to become a member of the Royal Arch – the answer you need to be a master Mason for four weeks and upwards.

The presentation being complete it only left a few words to be uttered by Howard Jones, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, thanking the team on behalf of the Province, and in return he was presented with a CD containing the script of the evening’s presentation.

The meeting ended with the dignitaries leaving the lodge room in recognised procession and by following the Provincial Grand Master out through the lodge room door.

With the meeting ended and the lodge room closed everyone retired to the dining room for a meal of exceptional quality. There were 147 members dining and during proceedings they all contributed to a raffle, the proceeds of which were split between the Leyland Masonic Hall fund and the Metropolitan Grand Charity – the total was £660 were each organisation took £330 for their respective funds.

Ray Martland made a toast to the health of the Provincial Grand Master and Tony responded with a retort befitting of the rank. He exclaimed that this had been a most wonderful evenings’ entertainment and thanked the travellers from the Metropolitan Grand Chapter for affording the time taken on this particular journey. He also thanked Leyland Masonic Hall, and Leyland St Andrews lodge in particular, for hosting the event and to the staff of Wellington Park for making their festive board a very relaxed one.

The toast to the visitors from London was made by Peter Elmore who set a very light hearted tone with a humorous speech. The response given by Ian Currans on behalf of the visitors was too a light hearted repost. It was also noted by Ian that this had been by far the largest gathering of freemasons that the presentation had been given to in one go. He thanked the members of Leyland St Andrews for their hospitality and Wellington Park, Leyland Masonic Hall, for allowing them to make use of the ‘hotel next door’ in order to rest up before travelling back home to London the following day. It was also noted that Ian had, when asked if they would like to stay over the masonic hall, thought about bringing his sleeping bag and gas stove heater not expecting there to be resplendent rooms and furnishings attached to the hall.

The evening had ended all too soon as everyone in attendance had yet again been truly pleased with having been a part of this special evening. Everyone left Leyland Masonic hall having had an exceptionally good time with memories to last for a long time.

Members enjoying the camaraderie and meal at the festive board.

Members enjoying the camaraderie and meal at the festive board.