On a day that will live long in the memory of David Charles Wright, a full lodge room at Garstang Masonic Hall, Wyrebank, witnessed an excellent ceremony that saw him installed into the master’s chair of Wyreside Lodge No 2605.
The guest of honour and representative of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison was a familiar and much respected local Mason, Phil Gardner. Accompanying him were grand officers Chris Butterfield group secretary, Alex McLaren, William Thompson and Jim Woods. Complementing and completing the array of distinguished guests was a trio of acting Provincial grand officers, namely Andrew Bartlett PrGReg, Paul Thompson PrJGD and Richard Dennison PrGStwd.
The installing and immediate past master John Smith opened the lodge and on completion of the necessary business items, thanked the members of the lodge for their support during his year in office before installing his successor, David Wright in a dignified and excellent manner. He was ably and expertly assisted by the lodge DC Steve Jennings and other members who contributed to a delightful ceremony. The master elect was presented by his proposer into Freemasonry Sam Thornton who later gave a warm and personalised performance of the address to the master. The additional addresses were performed with equal eloquence. That to the wardens was rendered by Steve Jennings and the address to the brethren was delivered with the inimitable, profound and measured style always associated with Phil Gardner’s orations.
Stepping up to the high standards set, Stephen McClintock gave a perfect presentation of the working tools of a master Mason but the undoubted highlight of the day was the ‘double act’ of Dan and Matt Crossley, two master Masons who are ‘brothers’ in both senses of the word. Their delivery of the second degree extended version and first-degree explanations were magnificent. Further proof, if it were indeed needed, of the lodge’s confidence in these two ‘stars’ was evidenced by their appointment later to the offices of senior deacon and charity steward respectively.
Phil Gardner, at the appropriate moment, brought the congratulations and best wishes of the Provincial Grand Master and was fulsome in his praise of all who had taken part in the ceremony, assuring them that Tony would have been more than happy with the quality and sincerity of each participant. Before resuming his chair, he paid particular tribute to the three members who had delivered the explanations of the working tools. Phil had little time to relax as the lodge had another pleasant surprise in store for him as they presented cheques and details of other charitable disbursements totalling in excess of £4,600. The West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity was the main beneficiary receiving £3,500, Garstang Masonic Hall £1,000 and the balance divided equally between the Lancaster Masonic Group sporting sections. Phil expressed both his surprise and delight at the magnificent total, before thanking the lodge for its generosity on behalf of the ultimate recipients.
The Festival of St John was held in the Wyrebank Banqueting Suite and proved an occasion of culinary and Masonic excellence. Four sumptuous courses married with fine wine and good company assured the participants of a memorable evening. In his response to the toast to grand officers, Phil Gardner began by stating that he believed that Wyreside Lodge was so successful because he sensed that it had the ‘It factor’. Now at this point a definite division of understanding would perhaps be expected. Those who may be a little older can maybe recall the actress Clara Bow as the star of the 1927 film ‘It’, which led to her being known as the ‘It girl’. The title ‘It’ was also given to a short story penned by that famous writer and Freemason Rudyard Kipling who wrote, “”It isn’t beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It’s just ‘It’ “. Younger listeners perhaps thought that the ‘It’ referred to was the modern acronym for ‘information technology! This latter assumption could have been given additional credence by Phil’s next topic, which was communication and its use in encouraging and promoting recruitment and retention of members. He recommended the use of social media such as ‘Twitter’ as a valuable tool in not only keeping in touch with developments and current news in Freemasonry but also its use in enabling sharing of news within our Masonic group and even within individual lodges. He suggested that the lodge had all the necessary factors in place to assure its continuing success – ‘a wealth of experience, the energy and enthusiasm of youth and fantastic Masonic hall facilities’. In his closing remarks, he repeated his earlier praise of the installation ceremony, thanked the secretary and DC for their hard work and assistance and expressed his gratitude to the acting Provincial grand officers for their company.
The toast to David Wright was a personalised and warm tribute given by Sam Thornton who outlined David’s personal, professional and Masonic career. It became apparent from the details provided by Sam that it was almost a ‘miracle’ that David had found time to join Freemasonry. He outlined a very busy working life as both a railway maintenance manager and retained firefighter that had left almost no time for other interests or pursuits. Fortunately for the lodge, Sam’s persistence bore fruit when he eventually persuaded David to join Wyreside Lodge when retirement gave him some free time.
The master’s song was then excellently performed by Tony Dawson with accompaniment from David Brown. In responding to the toast to his health David paid tribute to several lodge members whom he said had been ‘colossal’ in their support in helping him to ‘reach the master’s chair at last’. He thanked all who had attended and said that he was looking forward to year that both he and the lodge would enjoy.
The final announcement that the raffle had raised over £400 for deserving causes proved that another quality of the ‘It’ factor at Wyreside Lodge is generosity – a worthy Masonic characteristic found in both its members and visitors.