Woolton Group dinner

The Woolton Group was honoured to receive a visit from the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Philip Gunning accompanied by other distinguished members of the Province.

Pictured from left to right, are: Andy Whittle, Kevin Poynton, Philip Gunning, Sam Robinson, John Lee, Peter Taylor, Mike Cunliffe and Stephen Riley.

Pictured from left to right, are: Andy Whittle, Kevin Poynton, Philip Gunning, Sam Robinson, John Lee, Peter Taylor, Mike Cunliffe and Stephen Riley.

The masters and first principals of the Woolton Group met in the Royal Suite at Woolton Golf Club to welcome Philip and his team so that they could ask questions and discuss matters of interest with them. After a short while other brethren of the group also joined the assembly and the provincial team chatted to everyone. After the informal chat had concluded some 56 members adjourned to the dining room.

Andrew Whittle Woolton Group Chairman welcomed everyone and called upon the chaplain to offer grace. Following the meal, the group chairman proposed the ‘Loyal Toast’ and subsequent toasts. It was then an opportunity for a young Freemason Andrew Prowse, IPM of City Lodge No 2514 to propose the toast to the principal guest. In so doing Andrew thanked Phllip for all the hard work he does for the Province and reminded people that one of Philip’s passions was Rugby Union and asked if he would explain what the Italian team were up to in the recent match! Andrew also informed the brethren that Philip had been initiated into Anfield Lodge No 2215, which now meets at the Golf Club, in 1975.

In response to the toast to his health Phillip tackled the burning question first – that of the Italian team tactics recently displayed on the pitch and said that he was a former referee and not a coach! He thanked Andrew for the manner in which he had proposed the toast and went on to update the brethren of items appertaining to the Province. One such matter was that of the forthcoming introduction of new Data Protection legislation which would impact on secretaries. The Province had taken professional advice and would send out information to everyone in due course. Philip thanked his colleagues, Kevin Poynton and Sam Robinson for accompanying him on this occasion along with the Provincial Secretary Peter Taylor and the two Provincial Wardens.

John Lee (left) chats with David Boyes (centre) WM Lodge of Tranquillity No 3877 and Doug Lace, a member of the group publicity team

John Lee (left) chats with David Boyes (centre) WM Lodge of Tranquillity No 3877 and Doug Lace, a member of the group publicity team

Philip was pleased to say that this Province was seen as a leading light by London and demonstrates much good practice. Other reminders of Provincial events included the forthcoming Church service at Warrington, the screening of the Freemasons documentary on April 17 which will be five one hour programmes, some of which was shot within the Province and the launch of the 2021 Festival in May. He thanked the masters and first principals for meeting with the team upstairs and said that there had been a good atmosphere. Finally, he wished to thank and congratulate Howard Griffiths for all the contributions he had made to the Garston Group and the help to the Provincial team. He wished Howard a long and happy retirement. In concluding his response Philip wished, in the words of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, that everyone would continue to enjoy their Masonry.

The toast to the Woolton Group of lodges and chapters was ably provided by the Provincial Senior Grand Warden John Lee. In opening he said he had been given a tremendous privilege and felt it was a fantastic honour to be asked to propose this toast. He went on to say that Freemasonry represents the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political and charitable organisation, the members of which come from all walks of life. Change, he said must be embraced by us all and our ancient and honourable institution is having to continually alter too. He quoted Sir Winston Churchill “to improve is to change and to be perfect is to change often”. Happiness is not about getting everything you want, it’s about enjoying everything you have and he referred to the wonderful setting of the Golf Club and the facilities the Freemasons have within it brought about by the talented Group executive led by Kevin Poynton and Sam Robinson and reinforced by group chairman Andy Whittle along with the other group officers.

Left: Philip Gunning responds to the toast to grand officers. Right: Philip receives flowers for his wife

Left: Philip Gunning responds to the toast to grand officers. Right: Philip receives flowers for his wife

John went on to congratulate Gordon Sandford Provincial Grand Sword Bearer who has played such a positive part of the Provincial team, so much so that they have had to take out a restraining order against him! John thanked the Woolton Group for their hospitality and asked everyone to stand and drink a bumper toast to the Woolton Group of lodges and chapters.

In conclusion to the evening’s formalities, Andy Whittle thanked everyone for their support, reminding the brethren of the plethora of events that the Group is undertaking during the year; the London trip, black tie dinner and other events planned with the members of the Golf Club and in closing he presented the Deputy Provincial Grand Master with some flowers for his wife Ann and a bottle for his personal consumption.

An enjoyable evening was brought to a close by the acting tyler Stephen Riley, who is also the group secretary, who proposed the Tyler’s toast.

Story and pictures by Colin Roberts