For any group to have the Provincial Grand Master visit is a special occasion, but Wyre Lodge No 7740 was honoured to have the first of three visits by Tony Harrison to the North Fylde Group this season.
Since the pandemic, Wyre Lodge has gone through a transformation with members from two closed lodges joining its ranks. Normoss Round Table Lodge No 8741 and Biscopham Lodge No 7646 which had been struggling due to declining membership closed just after the lockdown.
Wyre Lodge held its installation at Cleveleys Masonic Hall and brethren came out in numbers to support the members and witness Martin Clement being installed into the chair of ‘Wonderful Wyre.’
The evening’s proceedings commenced with the current master David Platt opening the lodge and moving smoothly through the business on the summons and opening the lodge in the third degree, at which time the Provincial Grand Master entered the lodge, heralded by the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Malcolm Bell saying: “The Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison stands without and demands admission.”
Tony was accompanied by a distinguished team of grand and acting Provincial grand officers including the Provincial Senior and Junior Wardens Daniel Cross and Ben Gorry, the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Malcolm Bell, Peter Greathead, Neil MacSymons, North Fylde Group Chairman John Cross, Ryan Modlin, Gavin Egan, Michael Tax and Adam Simpson, with Mark Mallinson also joining the glittering line-up.
Prior to the installation the installing master David Platt asked the brethren of Wyre Lodge to line up in the south at which point David thanked them for all their hard work and support during the pandemic. Once the installation had got underway the master elect was presented by the lodge’s director of ceremonies Bob Hopwood and Martin was installed into the chair of King Solomon in a splendid ceremony by David, during which the master’s tools were presented by Bob Hopwood.
At the completion of the inner workings the third degree tools were presented by Tony Blundell, the second degree tools by Clive Chenery and those of the first degree by Andy Walsh. The senior warden was addressed by Daniel Crossley and the wardens’ address was given by Ben Gory. The final address to the brethren of the lodge was in the more than capable hands of the Provincial Grand Master.
Once the installation had been completed and the officers installed, Tony once again rose to his feet and congratulated the new master Martin, then moving across the lodge thanked David for doing such a good job of installing his successor. Martin’s first pleasant duty was to present Tony with cheques. Amounts given to charity and local good causes during the lockdown on behalf of Wyre Lodge were £7,500 to Trinity Hospice, £300 to Sefton Boys FC, £100 to the Blue Skies Charity, £750 to the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival and £350 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity.
Martin also presented on behalf of the two lodges that merged with Wyre, £500 to Brian House and £500 to Trinity Hospice from Biscopham Lodge and £700 to Trinity Hospice, £229.42 to Blackpool Scouts, £200 to Blue Sky Charity, £500 to Great Arley School, £100 to Fleetwood Trust, £229 to the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival, £2,000 to the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, £200 to the Cleveleys Masonic Hall Building Fund, £100 to the Mustard Seed Group, £95 to the Children of Watamu ‘Happy House’ and £120 to the Freemasons’ Grand Charity from Normoss Round Table Lodge. To say that Tony was overcome with the generosity of the three lodges would be an understatement with the overall total presented amounting to an outstanding £14,473.42.
At the festive board the toast to the Provincial Grand Master was proposed by John Cross. Unfortunately, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Duncan Smith couldn’t attend because he had contracted COVID. The brethren heard from John and he is well on the way to recovery.
In response to the toast Tony Harrison started by thanking the grand and acting Provincial grand officers for supporting him. He also congratulated the new master Martin and thanked his installing master David for the hard work he had done during the pandemic. Tony again thanked the lodge for their outstanding work in raising almost £15,000 which had been donated to charity.
Tony moved to the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival, thanking the brethren for helping to raise over £3,500,000, making note that Wyre Lodge had gained Grand Patronage. Tony added that the nice thing about the Masonic Charitable Foundation is that the Province will receive more money than it has paid in and subsequently supporting those brethren within the Province who need it.
Tony said to the brethren: “Now that the Festival is over, we need to turn our attention to other charities and in our giving to local charities could we look to supporting our own West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity because over the period of the Festival they did lose out considerably. In addition to this the Province will be repeating the successful Foodbank Appeal and may I ask for the brethren’s help to ensure another bumper appeal?”
Moving to another charitable initiative that the Province is going to support, ‘Teddys for Loving Care’ that is supported nationally by the Masonic Charitable Foundation, Tony said: “A hospital visit can be a frightening experience for a young child, especially in an emergency situation. Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) is a way of providing much-needed comfort to children in Accident and Emergency Departments, helping to reduce the shock and distress of their experience. Every child that receives a teddy gets to take it home.”
Continuing, Tony said United Grand Lodge’s digital marketing campaign is proving successful in attracting new members to the Craft, with adverts on Facebook and, as far as West Lancashire is concerned, in the last three weeks the Province had received 57 very positive requests to join Freemasonry on top of the 250 that had applied to join during the pandemic. Tony asked the brethren to consider being membership officers and talking to friends, work colleagues and neighbours about joining.
Finishing his response Tony turned his attention to his role as Grand Superintendent of the Royal Arch Province of West Lancashire, saying that he noticed that many of the brethren were Royal Arch members, adding that it wasn’t just another degree but that it was a completion of Craft Freemasonry and is a very enjoyable, vibrant and stimulating degree and he would love to see master Masons joining at their earliest opportunity.
To complete a night of highlights, the master’s song was rendered by Peter Bowden. Tony was presented with a paperweight to remember his visit to Wyre Lodge and the tyler’s toast was delivered by Peter Mann.