As it is the first craft lodge in the Lancaster group to hold an installation ceremony each Masonic year, it can truthfully be said that Scorton Lodge No 5791 is the frontrunner every Masonic season. The representative of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison at this premier event was John Robson who welcomed the support of fellow grand officers Jim Wilson group chairman, and Keith Jackson. Group vice chairman Peter Pemberton also attended together with acting Provincial grand officers John Holmes PrSGD, Scott Devine PrGStwd and Gerry Lawes PrGStwd who had travelled from the Eccles group at the invitation of John Robson.
The stage was set for a memorable event as master of the lodge Andrew Curwen welcomed John, the grand officers and their Provincial escort into the lodge room and expressed the hope that everyone would have ‘an enjoyable time’. The main item of business was swiftly reached and Harry Parker stepped forward to present Richard Parker as master elect for the ensuing year. As a past master, Richard simply reaffirmed his obligation and was then installed into the chair by Andrew Curwen with a calm confidence that grew more evident as the ceremony progressed.
Other past masters of the lodge took up active roles in a real team effort that saw the working tools of the third degree wonderfully explained by Chris Yates, and the explanation of those of the first degree imparted in fine form by Brian Clark. However, as if to prove that the rigours of installing his successor were not challenge enough, Andrew Curwen rounded off an impressive performance with a masterly explanation of the second degree tools. Further examples of ritual prowess were to follow with the address to the master by Andy Gardner and that to the wardens by Arthur Ashcroft, both eliciting admiration from all quarters. In his address to the brethren, John Robson’s performance exemplified typical skill, sincerity and assiduity.
Following the appointment and investment of lodge officers for the ensuing year and the announcement that the ceremony of installation was complete, John Robson rose to communicate the customary greetings and congratulations from the Provincial Grand Master. He assured everyone that Tony would have enjoyed the ceremony and would have wished to express his thanks to everyone who had participated. In response to these kind words, the newly installed master presented John with cheques and additional details outlining the charitable donations made by the lodge. The beneficiaries of the magnificent sum of £2,200 included a number of children’s charities, Cancer Research UK and the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. In accepting the cheques, John paid tribute to the diverse generosity exhibited by the members of Scorton lodge.
The festival of St John, held in the Wyrebank Banqueting Suite, yet again provided evidence of the excellence of this venue. In terms of both quality and quantity, the catering staff once more demonstrated that they are providing sufficient cause for an entrepreneurial individual to design an ‘elasticated Masonic waistcoat’! The traditional roast beef dinner served as the entree in particular, attracted both praise and intense degustation from the diners. A noisy but very convivial atmosphere pervaded the room with many exchanges of good-natured ribaldry; a regular and welcome feature of lodges meeting at Garstang.
John Robson gave a humorous and very informative response to the toast to the grand officers and touched upon several issues that have a current impact on both the Province and Freemasonry in general. In his opening remarks he offered his personal best wishes to the newly installed master and his officers. He remarked that the ceremony had been marked particularly by its integrity and sincerity. Thanks were also proffered to the attending grand, acting Provincial grand and group officers for their very welcome support.
In the body of his address, he referred to the amalgamation of the Masonic charities and the establishment of the Masonic Charitable Foundation as a single institution. He encouraged continued support for our own charity, the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity that would undoubtedly see a reduction in income once the imminent national charity festival was underway. Other topics that he expanded on were Royal Arch recruitment and retention, changes to the local Masonic care structure and a reminder of the relocation of the Provincial office to its new home at Wellington Park, Leyland. In a tangential appreciation of the wealth of information provided in a relatively short period by John, the traditional ‘masters swindle’ raised an additional £55 to the already very generous total of £330 raised by the raffle.
As the proceedings inevitably progressed to their conclusion, Bob Tinsley gave a fine rendition of the ‘master’s song’ to accompaniment from Keith Jackson. Andrew Curwen prefaced his toast to the new master by stating that ‘he had been told to keep it short’. He therefore simply raised his glass and proclaimed “the worshipful master”, thus winning the night’s award for succinct brevity. Richard Parker replied with a few well-chosen words, in particular thanking every brother in attendance for their support and good wishes.
Scorton lodge may have the arduous task of ‘opening’ the Masonic season in terms of installations but can at least for now relax and invite other lodges within the group to ‘follow that’!