Great Eccleston Lodge No 8895 was honoured to welcome David (Dave) Thomas as the representative of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. David was accompanied by grand officers Jim Wilson and David Rhodes, as well as acting Provincial grand officers Reg Wilkinson, Les Newlands and Barrie Bray. Attending in a dual role was the Lancaster and District Vice Chairman Scott Devine, who is also the chaplain of Great Eccleston Lodge.
The master elect John Thornton, having been presented by the presenting officer Stuart Mowbray, the installation ceremony was duly conducted with competence and sincerity by the immediate past and installing master Andrew Keith, assisted in an equally superb fashion by the other officers of the lodge. It is worth noting that this is the third time John has taken the chair of King Solomon, already having been master in Great Eccleston Lodge and Royal Preston Lodge No 333 on previous occasions.
The brethren who attended the installation at Garstang Masonic Hall, were particularly impressed with the presentations of the working tools by brethren of the lodge. The working tools of the third degree were given by Les Newlands, those of the second degree by David Sawyer and the first degree tools were presented by Stephen Fisher.
The address to the new master was given by his presenting officer Stuart Mowbray, that to the wardens by the lodge secretary Graham Davies and to the brethren by Dave Thomas, all of which were delivered in excellent fashion. Further addresses were given by David Hodkinson to the deacons and Scott Devine to the inner guard. As is becoming the custom at installations, the acting officers in attendance were also called upon to contribute to the ritual. The address to the stewards were provided in a most capable manner by Jim Stewart.
The close of the ceremony marked the cue for Dave to bring greetings from the PrGM Tony Harrison. He felt sure that had Tony been present he would have been proud of the quality of the proceedings and would have offered his personal congratulations to the installing master and the officers who had contributed to such an excellent occasion. He would have also expressed his appreciation to John for taking the chair of the lodge for a second time. Dave was delighted and impressed to receive notification of disbursement made to charities and good causes, during Andrew’s tenure as master, totalling £3,377.39. These included the MCF 2021 Festival £1,277.39 (white envelope scheme, tax recovery and charity plate cash), Masonic sporting charities £100, Garstang Masonic Fellowship £100, Great Eccleston Lodge emergency giving account £450, Garstang Scouts £100, Garstang Girl Guides £100, Garstang Masonic Hall £450 and Bryan House £800.
At the festival of St John, which was held in the magnificent Wyrebank Banqueting Suite and attended by over 80 brethren, Dave was very pleased to be able to bring his own sincere congratulations and thanked the brethren for the wonderful welcome he had received.
Dave also proffered his thanks to all those who had accepted office and to the acting Provincial grand officers for their support, before updating the brethren on some of the major initiatives from the Province. In particular he called attention to the continuing need to support both the MCF 2021 Festival and our Masonic halls, as well as encouraging Masons who are not in the Royal Arch to join.
In conclusion, Dave thanked both Paul Thompson for his work as the group publicity officer and Graham Davies, who stepped down as lodge secretary after 16 years of loyal service.
Following the toast to the master, an impressive rendition of the master’s song was given by George Fox with accompaniment by David Tattersall.
The charity coffers were further boosted by the magnificent sum of £405 raised from the raffle, together with £45 procured from the ‘masters swindle’.
Article and photographs by Paul Thompson.