Saturday, 03 December 2016 15:03

Bryn Lodge’s pilgrimage to Paris

As autumn nears its end and the signs of winter start to dominate, and as the nights draw in and temperatures fall, members of Bryn Lodge No. 6553 which is member of the Wigan Group in West Lancashire start to get ready for their annual pilgrimage

A pilgrimage it must be acknowledged to be, as the hardy brethren have religiously made the journey to visit a lodge in a different country / jurisdiction for the last 16 years.

Last year was a trip to Flanders and Chevalier Ramsay Lodge No. 4 of the Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium and in previous years the team of lodge members visited Ireland in 2001, then Scotland, Germany, Czech Republic, Spain, Holland (to a lodge working under the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts), Portugal, Majorca, Jersey, Greece, Gibraltar, Bulgaria, Luxembourg and Hungary. On each occasion, they have visited an English-speaking lodge, and seen many variations of ritual, customs and culture. This year it was to Paris, and to St George’s Lodge No. 3, under the jurisdiction of the Grande Loge National Française, meeting at the Grand Lodge headquarters in the northern suburbs of Paris.   

So, it was a cold and frosty (very early) Thursday morning when the intrepid travellers set off from Bryn Masonic Hall, on one of David Ogden’s coaches, loaded with bacon and sausage sandwiches, pies, chicken legs, boiled ham barm cakes, tea and coffee, and perhaps a little beer. 20 brethren made the trip, including the WM Mark Seddon, his wardens, all the light blue officers, stewards and to make the trip perfect, a new fellow craft and a recently initiated entered apprentice, as well as the ‘old stagers’ who originally started the trips all those years ago, as ‘juniors’ themselves. After a very pleasant, albeit long, journey the team based themselves in the Montmartre area of Paris, near to the famous Sacre Coeur church. In such a great location, they had a great time exploring the local area, bars and restaurants, and entertaining the locals with some melodious, albeit partisan, singing in the early hours.

All refreshed and rested on Friday, it was time to head for the lodge, suitably attired and raring to go. The 659th regular meeting of St George’s Lodge was to be an initiation ceremony. Two of the brethren, John Tabern and Garry Rowland, were a little exited as well as a tad apprehensive, having been given the honour of taking part in the ceremony, John as Junior Deacon and Garry in delivering the address at the NE corner.

With the assistance of satnav, following a short journey which battled through that nightmare which is Paris traffic, the expectant and eager brethren were dropped off just around the corner from the lodge with plenty of time for a relaxing drink at the bar, or so they thought! They were victims of a cruel turn of fate, there being two addresses in Paris with similar street names, one in district 6, the other in district 17, and guess what? Yes, you’ve got it, they were at the wrong one, some 40 minutes away from the lodge, through the rush hour.

A quick apologetic phone call was made to Michael Hawksley, WM of St George’s Lodge, who was very understanding and volunteered to open the lodge and deal with business and domestic matters until the brethren’s arrival. And so it was, the lost explorers were eventually re-united with their coach and arrived at the Grand Lodge building and were received into the lodge enthusiastically by Michael and his officers and distinguished guests.

St George’s Lodge, despite being in Paris and operating under the GLNF, work our familiar Emulation Ritual in English. Warranted in 1914 as a civil lodge, it obviously attracted much attention from visiting brethren during the troubled years that followed and rapidly became an Army Services Corps and Royal Engineers military lodge.

All present were treated to a fine initiation ceremony. Bryn Lodge can quite rightly be proud of their junior brethren who took part in the work, something that not many get a chance to do. The lodge room was significantly smaller than they were used to and John Tabern adapted quickly to manage the perambulations with skill and performed his task efficiently with a relaxed manner and infusion of appropriate humour that helped the candidate feel comfortable. Garry Rowland, for his part, delivered a word-perfect address from the NE corner.

The business of the evening being ended, the Bryn brethren joined their hosts at a fine festive board. The building accommodated several lodge rooms and several meetings were going on at the same time. There were also a number of dining rooms and the festive board was held in one of the larger ones. The brethren were treated to traditional French cuisine and fine wine, and the company of a great bunch of guys.

Mark Seddon was delighted to respond to a toast to the visitors and did so in his own inimitable style, enthusiastic, thanking the lodge and brethren, interspersed with ‘Scouse wit’, before presenting the lodge with an inscribed gavel and stand to commemorate the visit. He had been presented with a gift from St George’s Lodge, an inscribed tankard, in the meeting earlier. Following the response, as is the tradition at Bryn and to the delight of the assembled company, the visiting brethren stood and sang ‘Let us have harmony’, joined by the rest to complete the final verse. The evening was completed by a visit to the Masonic Museum filled with interesting artefacts and stories and historic anecdotes. After that it was back to Montmartre and a few nightcaps.

Saturday was a typical tourist’s day, with a boat trip on the River Seine, an ascent of the Eiffel Tower and a stroll down the Champs D’Elise and the Christmas markets, followed by dinner and drinks back in Montmartre. The journey from Paris to Calais on Sunday was a little fraught as news of storm Angus was filtering through. It was raging in the channel and crossings were delayed, a ship having gone down in the adverse conditions just off the English coast.

Fortunately, there was nothing to worry about, as, after a three-and-a-half-hour delay in Calais, the seas calmed smiling on the faithful brethren allowing them a safe return to their native shore, as was so desired. It was a tired and motley crew that arrived back at Bryn after midnight, but reflecting on a very successful and enjoyable trip. Freemasonry is truly universal, but surely, after 16 years, Bryn Lodge must be running out of options for future trips? Can they find another foreign clime and jurisdiction next year, that is home to a lodge that works in the English language and meets on or near to the weekend, to make it 17? We’ll just have to wait and see.

At a very special evening, over 80 members and guests of St Paul’s Lodge No. 5459 assembled in the McCausland Suite at Widnes Masonic Hall where they were honoured by the presence of the Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton at the initiation ceremony of Christopher (Chris) George Farley

Also present was Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning and Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Kevin Poynton and Robert Wright.

The lodge was opened by the WM David Berrington and the usual administration undertaken. A ballot was then taken to admit the candidate, Mr Chris Fairley into Freemasonry, the ballot proved favourable to the candidate. The secretary and treasurer confirmed that the candidate had paid his dues and signed the necessary declaration.

There was then a report and the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp entered the lodge to announce that the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison stood without and demanded admission. David said that he and the brethren would be pleased to receive him.

Tony processed into the lodge accompanied by Philip Gunning, Kevin Poynton, Robert Wright, Neil Pedder (Widnes Group Chairman) and other acting Provincial grand officers. David warmly welcomed Tony to the lodge and offered him the gavel of the lodge trusting that he would have an enjoyable evening. Tony returned the gavel thanking David for the warm welcome and was looking forward to the ceremony and the festive board.

DC Joe Stanners retired from the lodge and on his return, he announced that the Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton stood without and demanded admission. The WM said he and the brethren would be extremely pleased to receive him. Sir David processed into the lodge led by AGDC Barry McCormack with Ian Grindley and David Clews acting as Provincial deacons. Sir David was accompanied by grand officers Alan Locke, David Redhead, Derek Williams, Sam Robinson, Dennis Rudd and Andy Whittle.

David Berrington gave a very warm welcome to Sir David and thanked him for accepting his invitation. He was offered the gavel of the lodge which he returned saying that he would prefer to see the ceremony done the ‘Widnes way’.

At the appropriate time, Mr Chris Farley was admitted in due form and regularly initiated into Freemasonry by the WM David Berrington in an exemplary manner. Chris was guided on his journey through the ceremony by the junior deacon Ian Morris assisted by the senior deacon George Yarwood. David directed Chris to the senior warden Les Williams who gave a fine explanation of the working tools of the first degree. Excellent musical accompaniment throughout the ceremony was provided by the Provincial Grand Organist Stephen Derringer.

Following the explanation of the working tools, Chris retired from the lodge and on his return the charge after initiation was delivered by David Clews in a manner any thespian would have been proud of and gained him loud acclamation.

Sir David rose to congratulate the WM and the officers who participated in what was a memorable ceremony. He made special mention of David Clews, saying that he had never heard a better rendition of the charge of initiation. 

The lodge was closed in due form by the WM and the brethren processed out of the lodge and assembled in the Alan Locke Suite for a superb festive board supplied by the hall catering staff Sugar and Spice.

After receiving the principal guest Sir David Wootton and other distinguished guest to the festive board the brethren sat to enjoy a three course meal of fish cakes with seasonal salad, chicken breast in white wine and mushroom sauce and homemade sherry trifle accompanied with wine and followed by tea or coffee.

Once the brethren had been wined and dined they stood to sing the national anthem and raised their glasses to the Queen. Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison proposed the toast to the Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton thanking him for his attendance and making it a very special evening for St Paul’s Lodge and specially the candidate Chris.

Sir David responded to the toast to his health by again congratulated the WM David Berrington for an excellent ceremony and that he had now experienced the ‘Widnes way’, he would ensure that when he returned to Grand Lodge he would pass on that experience. He was pleased to see that Widnes Group was embracing the Tercentenary celebrations and was impressed by the plaque which had been commissioned for the event.

David Berrington, who proposed Chris into Freemasonry, proposed the toast to the initiate Chris and welcomed him as a member of St Paul’s Lodge. David said that by the way he had conducted himself in the ceremony he had no doubt he would make it as a Mason. He informed the brethren that Chris had two or three friends who wish to join, which is good news for the lodge and Widnes masonry in general. Chris responded by thanking everybody for making it a night to remember.

Provincial Senior Grand Warden John Lee responded to the toast to the guest with humour and sincerity. He complimented the WM on a faultless ceremony and also the senior warden Les Williams for the explanation of the working tools. John also agreed with the AGM Sir David that the charge by David Clews to the initiate was outstanding.

Unfortunately, the time came for the principal guests to retire, at which the AGM Sir David Wootton was presented with a bottle of whisky and the PrGM Tony Harrison presented with a bouquet of flowers for his wife Maureen. It was a delightful and memorable evening which was enjoyed by all present.

2016 British Transplant Games

For 300 years Freemasons have been helping their local communities in many ways. The most commonly known has been by making donations to support the charity, organisation or individual. However, one of the most effective over the years has been by giving up their time to support the charity, organisation or individual.

The 2016 British Transplant Games which were held in Liverpool at the end of July are an example of Freemasons in West Lancashire continuing to support their community and the people from across the country taking part in the games.

The British Transplant Games are the flagship project of the charity ‘Transplant Sport’ and have been in existence for over 30 years when the first Transplant Olympics took place in Portsmouth in 1978. At that time, these games were an international event and included teams from France, Greece and the USA.

Since these early beginnings the games have grown and are held every year in different cities throughout the UK, including Portsmouth, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Belfast, Medway, Sheffield, Bolton and Newcastle Gateshead.

The games aim to demonstrate the benefits of transplantation, encouraging transplant patients to regain fitness, whilst increasing public awareness of the need for more people to join the NHS Organ Donation Register and discuss their wishes with their families. They also seek to thank and celebrate donor families and the gift of life.

The West Lancashire Freemasons Charity was pleased to coordinate the selection of some 30 Masons from West Lancashire who volunteered to act as games ambassadors.

Jim Fallow, a West and East Lancashire Mason is a member and trustee of the Donor Families Support Group and he writes: 'Following the conclusion of the very successful Transplant Games, can I on behalf of the Donor Family Network, thank all the volunteer Freemasons and their partners for the assistance that they gave to the smooth running of the games. At the Gala Dinner it was mentioned on several occasions that, without the volunteers, it would be impossible to run such an event. Favourable comments were also made about the cheerfulness, helpfulness and friendliness of them all.

After the games I spoke to Les Newman (St Helens and Prescot Group Charity Steward) who told me that all of the volunteers enjoyed the games and found them inspiring. I gave Les a number of Donor Family Network pin badges and for them to be distributed amongst the Masonic volunteers. I’m sure that those who assisted now have a better understanding of organ donation.

As a trustee of the charity, along with my daughter Andrea, if any group or lodge would like a talk about the Network and Transplant Sport at a meeting, please contact me and if I can’t do it, somebody will.'

A few days after the games the WLFC also received a letter of thanks from the Assistant Mayor of Liverpool Councillor Wendy Simon, she wrote:

This weekend has seen the City of Liverpool host the largest ever British Transplant Games with over 900 athletes and a further 1,400 accredited family network members participate in 23 different sports.

The event organisers and participants have been full of praise for the event describing it as not only the biggest but also the best they have been involved in.

Liverpool is now fully established physically as an event city, but it fills me with tremendous pride to hear the underlying feedback to the success of this year, it was the friendly nature and welcome from the people of Liverpool.

It has been drawn to my attention that you and your team of volunteers made a massive contribution towards this in not only giving up your time but really fully supporting the athletes, officials and organisers in delivering an outstanding games.

As the chair of the Liverpool Organising Committee please accept my heartfelt thanks.

Kind Regards,

Councillor Wendy Simon,
Assistant Mayor of Liverpool

Six day diary of the games, as written by Les Newman in his own words.

Monday 25 July

1 pm, arrive at Wavertree Sports Ground for registration

Meet up with Barry Jameson (Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals) and look at the tasks in hand which included 2,500 T-shirts that need sorting into sizes, water bottles to be laid out, 20,000 leaflets, 8,000 bus timetables and 3,600 safety pins for pinning the competitors numbers on T-shirts and an accreditation pass specific to each competitor, supporter and hospital to be put into the day sacks.
We split into two teams of four and started work!

Tuesday 26 July

9 am continue yesterday’s sorting.

The supporting hospitals have cardboard boxes which need completing: Guy’s, Barts, Alder Hey, Addenbrooke’s, and St Helier all have teams in the games. There is even a team of two from France!

Wednesday 27 July Competitor team registration day

The volunteers managed the registration process throughout the day

Thursday 28 July

4 pm, preparing for 6.30pm parade to the opening ceremony at the Arena and Convention Centre in Liverpool.

The volunteers acted as marshals on the parade route, directing competitors and guests to the muster point.

Barry Jameson distributed each hospital’s name banner at the parade muster point.

6:30 pm, the parade starts. Transplant patients proudly march from the Maritime Museum, past a Royal Navy Vessel and the Pump House where the Concertina Band was in full swing. The parade travels over a bridge towards the ACC, where there are 2,000 people!

The master of ceremonies does the introductions and brings on the Liverpool Signing Choir, which was followed by a stunning display by a young gymnastic troupe.

Finally, the teams enter the hall to standing ovations from all present. It was a tear-jerking half an hour!

Beth Tweddle, the renowned gymnast, was introduced to the audience and The British Transplant Games was declared officially open after Andrea Fallow lit the flame of the games. Andrea’s dad Jim, a member and trustee of the Donor Families Support Group, may have been the proudest man in the room!

As I looked at the flame with a lump in my throat thinking about all the young children who need transplants.

Friday 29 July

9:30 am. My job for today was to man the information and help desk in the Wavertree Sports Centre with Gemma Nichols from Liverpool City Council.

Gemma listened to the charitable work Freemasons do and is given a copy of Charitable Giving. We were both kept busy with inquiries all day.

My heart goes out to two little girls, one no older than five who is on a tube feed but still a competitor! She stood proudly with mum and her sister as her photograph is taken.

A young girl who has her face painted was so happy she has won a medal. She proudly showed me her medal – it was clear to me that it means a great deal to her.

Saturday 30 July

9:30 am. At the Indoor Tennis Centre with Barry, where we help set up the table tennis. We were asked to referee some of the matches and thankfully Barry remembers all the rules! The more important games thankfully have a professional referee, so we then supervise supplying new balls and bottles of water!

As the day wears on, the litter and empty water bottles pile up, so we get bin bags and walk around picking up the litter and generally give advice and help.
Sunday 31 July.

9:30 am, Field and Track Events Day, at the scoreboard Barry is on the long jump.

The Liverpool Harriers laser finish line with linked photo-finish camera was very impressive. The scores and pictures were sent to an observation platform above the stand.

We got two copies of the results - one was put on a noticeboard, the second was taken to the official who presented the winners’ medals.

Jim Fallow appears and kindly gives me 30 Donor Family Network lapel badges for all the Masonic volunteers.

The day is drawing to a close and I think of the patients and volunteers.

Volunteer Kathy was fighting cancer; another volunteer’s son was in remission from cancer having been given a successful bone marrow transplant. The message of the games is clear – donate your organs and let others survive!

All the volunteers agree that they really enjoyed the games and found them inspiring and they plan to meet again soon for a Liverpool reunion.

Les Newman

Tuesday, 07 June 2016 00:00

Community support on the streets

At the vanguard

When Ezra McGowan started handing out crisis packs to the homeless from a burger van, he knew he had found his calling. Imogen Beecroft discovers how it complements his Freemasonry

At 10pm on a cold February evening, a biting wind is rattling the windows of Ezra McGowan’s house. But while most of us would keep warm inside on a night like this, Ezra zips up his fleece and heads out to work. 

By day, Ezra runs a waste disposal company, but he spends his free time handing out food and other necessities to homeless people in London, Peterborough and Manchester. 

Ezra, who is a member of Hand and Heart Lodge, No. 4109, started The Forget Me Not Trust two years ago with his brother Nathan because, ‘We were seeing homeless people everywhere we went in these major cities. We realised this was an epidemic problem, so we thought we should try to do something about it. We’ve been blessed in our own way with business, so we’re in a fortunate position and wanted to give something back.’

The brothers acquired an old burger van, pitched up in Manchester city centre, and started giving out food and hot drinks to the local homeless population. Ezra and Nathan are both self-employed, which gives them a certain degree of flexibility with their working hours. However, Ezra explains, ‘If we finish work at 3pm, then we’ll go out for a few hours, but usually we like to go out late in the evening. Those are the hours when we’re really needed.’

Ezra is modest about what they can provide. ‘It’s not à la carte. We try to serve food that we can make go a long way – soup, coffee, tea, biscuits, sandwiches. If we can, we serve hot food, but it’s really about how far we can make it go.’ A meal or hot drink isn’t the only necessity on the menu, however. To those in particularly desperate circumstances, the brothers also provide vital crisis packs, which contain hats, gloves, socks, toothpaste, a toothbrush, toilet paper and sanitary products for women. 

‘We’ve been blessed in business, so we’re in a fortunate position and wanted to give something back.’ Ezra McGowan

Nowhere to turn

The Forget Me Not Trust mainly operates in Manchester, where Ezra lives, and Peterborough, where he owns property, but the brothers also travel down to London for weekends when they’ve raised enough money to do so. 

In London the van pitches up at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, just a stone’s throw from Freemasons’ Hall. 

Revisiting the same areas means Ezra has a few regulars who he gets to know over time, and he’s even met some people who have masonic connections in their families. 

He stresses that the homeless people he meets come from all walks of life. ‘Some people have been very successful businessmen and have just fallen on hard times. Maybe they’ve missed mortgage payments and things have got on top of them so they’ve been reduced to homelessness. It could be anyone. It could happen to each and every one of us.’

Just last month Ezra met a boy from Ireland who was living on the streets of Manchester with his dog. When Ezra spoke to him, the boy explained that he’d had an argument with his parents and, with no money and nowhere to turn, ended up homeless. 

‘We gave him some hot food and a crisis pack, but he had no one to turn to. I’m not an angel; I fell out with my parents as a child, but we always had family members I could have turned to,’ explains Ezra. ‘Some of the people we work with have no family at all. Others might have mental health problems, which makes it so much harder to get help.’ 

Luckily, he says, some people do get rehoused, but all too often these stories don’t have happy endings. ‘A few months ago a man was killed. He was beaten up by some youths because he was homeless and they burned him to death. The people we try to help are often neglected, abused and forgotten. That’s how we chose the name for the charity: we wanted to show them that they haven’t been forgotten by everyone.’

Ezra finds it particularly difficult when he encounters young women living on the street. ‘While the homeless population is mainly male, there are usually about three or four women for every 25 men coming to us for help. Women on the street are in a very vulnerable position and it’s heartbreaking to see. I have daughters myself and I’d like to think that if anything like this ever happened to them, there would be someone looking out for them.’

Ezra sees his work with the homeless as his calling, explaining: ‘Some people are blessed to be doctors or psychiatrists. My brother and I haven’t been able to do that, but we’ve always been hard workers and can help people by offering them food and support. We’re everyday lads, not multimillionaires, but this is what we were meant to do. It’s very satisfying and is a breath of fresh air.’

While helping people in this way is undoubtedly rewarding, it isn’t an easy ride. He says: ‘We do get some abuse, particularly on a Friday or Saturday night, when it’s busy in town. Some people call us “do-gooders” and “churchgoers” or swear at us. It’s not all rosy on the street.’

Despite these challenges, Ezra estimates that they can help 60-70 people every night. However, providing everyday essentials, food and drinks to this many people is a costly business, and he can only do so much of it on his own. 

Initially, Ezra and Nathan funded the project themselves, buying supplies in bulk from wholesalers. When it started to grow in scale and ambition, however, Ezra turned to his lodge for extra support. 

Tony Harrison, the Provincial Grand Master for West Lancashire, emphasises that the ideals behind The Forget Me Not Trust coincide wholly with those of Freemasonry. ‘Ezra told me of the work they do to support these individuals in need by providing warm food and clothing. This is a wonderful example of members of our fraternity working in the community to support others less fortunate than themselves.’

‘We’re everyday lads, not multimillionaires, but this is what we were meant to do.’ Ezra McGowan

Spreading the word

Since reaching out to other Freemasons, the response has been excellent. ‘The feedback we’re getting from brethren has been fantastic,’ says Ezra. ‘Hand on Heart Lodge has been wonderful – the brethren have given donations and arranged a raffle to raise money for The Forget Me Not Trust. I don’t think anything like this has really been heard of in Freemasonry before and now other lodges have started donating, which is great.’

In return, Ezra proudly displays the square and compasses wherever he can. He explains that he’d been a mason for 15 years when he had an accident and was offered help through the fraternity. ‘It was a wonderful, unexpected thing to have people knocking on your door offering to help you. I thought it would be nice to give something back, so now we try to promote Freemasonry in the community.’

Ezra is hoping to increase his fellow masons’ involvement with the charity, and has big plans for the future. ‘We’ve started small, but once we’ve got everything running perfectly in Manchester we’d like to branch out to other major cities. It’s our ambition to reach a point where we can advise other Provinces how best to run these events. Ultimately, we’d like to have one event a week run by Freemasons in every major city in the UK.’

Ezra enjoys engaging people in lively discussions about Freemasonry and challenging their existing preconceptions about the fraternity. ‘Lots of members of the public come over and talk to us when they see the badge displayed. Sometimes they might have a negative impression of Freemasonry, but we’re finding that we can open their eyes and change their perspective. Often we have people saying, “Oh, that’s fantastic – I never knew that about Freemasonry.” ’

Find out more about the charity’s work and how to lend your support at www.theforgetmenottrust.org.uk 

Shining example to us all

Not many lodges can boast that amongst their membership they have the second oldest subscribing Freemason in England

Lathom Abbey Lodge No. 6286, meeting at the Ormskirk Masonic Hall in the Province of West Lancashire, is proud to say they have just such a member, at 105 years young Richie McKay is a regular attender. 

Richie celebrated 75 years as a member of the Craft in 2014 when the then Assistant Provincial Grand Master, now Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning, presided over what was a very emotional night. Philip, who in his inimitable style, highlighted, what was a very full and rewarding life of a remarkable Freemason. At that meeting he had the privilege of bringing the congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master in the form of an illuminated certificate.

Two years on from that eventful meeting Phil Stansbie, lodge Secretary, received a communication from Grand Lodge asking for confirmation of the date of birth for said Richie McKay. Phil having duly responded to the request confirming Richie’s date of birth as being 6 November 1910, some days later he received the incredible news that Richie was indeed the second oldest subscribing member in England and if the communication is to be believed Richie is a mere baby as the oldest member is an incredible 111. Nevertheless, Richie, who recently had a short stay in hospital, is now well on the way to recovery and was looking forward to the next lodge summons.

As the last meeting of the lodge was to be presided over by the immediate past master Bill Dutch, due to the WM being away on holiday, and as this meeting coincided with the 70th anniversary of the presentation of the warrant of the lodge, it was decided to ask Richie with Bill’s help to occupy the chair of King Solomon in what was to be a very informal meeting to show the great affection that the membership have for this remarkable man and to allow them to enjoy his company on this special occasion.

Phil duly approached Richie with the proposition only to receive the answer: 'I would love to but can you please invite Philip Gunning.' Phil pondered this request replying that he would do his best but that Richie should not get his hopes up as the Deputy Provincial Grand Master was a very busy man. Having contacted Philip, Phil was greatly gratified to receive a heartfelt response saying that he would be delighted to attend on what was to be a private visit to celebrate and catch up with Richie once again.

On the night, the lodge was further honoured by the presence of Ormskirk Group Chairman Frank Umbers, deputy vice chairman Stephen Brereton and Grand Lodge officers Malcolm Alexander Group Secretary and Martin Walsh lodge member. There was some disappointment when the group chairman informed the lodge that Philip Gunning had been delayed and had indicated that the lodge should be duly opened and he would arrive as soon as possible. Bill opened the lodge and conducted the usual business following which there was an alarm. The usual protocols being adhered to the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp was admitted to inform the assembled brethren than none other than the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison accompanied by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning were without and demanded admission.

It was at this moment you could have heard a pin drop in the lodge room such was the shock of the revelation that the lodge was to receive not one but two exalted visitors. The lodge rose to receive the PGM and his deputy who were warmly welcomed by the WM. Tony was offered the gavel of the lodge as is his right but thanking Bill for the welcome he had received he declined saying that it would be better placed in his hands as WM for the duration of the meeting.

Bill then invited Richie to occupy the Master’s chair which he duly did, the lodge Secretary Phil then instructed the deacons to distribute copies to all the brethren of the summons for 25 March 1939 for the Lodge of the Holy City No. 1372 (Scottish Constitution) meeting in Jerusalem were a certain Mr Ernest Richard McKay was to be balloted and if accepted, initiated on that night and the rest as they say is history.

Philip Gunning rose to congratulate Richie recounting some of the memories that he held dear regarding their last meeting when he presided at Richie’s 75th celebration. His contribution brought a warm response from the brethren. Tony then took to the floor to bring his own greetings saying that he had not had the pleasure of meeting Richie previously but that he had read a great deal about him and his remarkable achievements over the many years that he had been a mason. He then informed Richie that Philip had a communication that he would read out to the assembled brethren on his behalf.

Philip then had the pleasure of verbally presenting to the assembled brethren the patent of appointment signed by the PGM promoting Richie from Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden to the exalted rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden of the Province of West Lancashire. A collarette of that rank was presented to Tony who with great warmth proceeded to invest Richie with his new rank. At the conclusion of this the brethren rose to give a standing ovation showing the high respect that Richie has amongst the membership of the lodge.

Later at the festive board suitably refreshed and having enjoyed a delightful meal of breaded mushrooms for starters followed by salmon with asparagus spears, broccoli, green beans and new potatoes, complete with crème brûlée for dessert. At the conclusion of the meal and following the usual toasts Philip had the honour of proposing the toast to the continued good health of the PGM; this he did in his usual eloquent unscripted manner.

During his response Tony said that he had thoroughly enjoyed himself by just ‘dropping in’ on the occasion of Lathom Abbey Lodge celebrating 70 years and apologised by saying that he hoped his appearance hadn’t upset the apple cart. (Apart from Philip, Keith and Frank who was sworn to secrecy, no one was aware of this visit). Then with a broad grin on his face Tony said: 'Brethren you should have seen your faces when we made our entrance.' Tony went on to congratulate the lodge and said that he hopes to live as long as Richie and if so he will come back for the lodge’s centenary. Tony concluded by wishing Richie good health for the future and to continue to enjoy his Freemasonry.

Bill then proposed the toast to the worshipful master and in his response Richie said: 'I stand before you very humble for all the good wishes you have shown to me and I thank you all for being here.' He went on to say that he joined the Ormskirk Group as a member of Maghull Lodge No. 7190, (no longer in existence), joining Lathom Abbey Lodge because his best friend was a member and he has enjoyed every minute.

This concluded a night of celebration with many pleasant surprises which will live long in the memories of the brethren and guests, especially Richie who is a shining example to us all.    

County council honours local masons

The great work of Freemasons from the Provinces of East and West Lancashire has been praised by Lancashire County Council at a specially organised reception at County Hall, Preston.

Cllr Margaret Brindle, Lancashire County Council chairman, welcomed masonic representatives from across the county and thanked them ‘for the voluntary, charitable and fundraising work done throughout Lancashire to support a range of important and needy causes’.

Warrington lodge reaches 250th anniversary

Lodge of Lights, No. 148, the oldest lodge in the Warrington Group in the West Lancashire Province, has celebrated its 250th anniversary. Among the 150-strong gathering were Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence. During the evening WM Stanley Jackson presented Tony with charity donations of £14,800.

Monday, 22 February 2016 15:57

Eureka Lodge No. 3763 celebrates 100 years

Eureka Lodge No. 3763 having been consecrated on 18 February 1916, held at the Litherland Masonic Hall, by dispensation, an extra special meeting in the lodge’s history, that being its centenary meeting, 100 years to the day of its consecration.

In the lodge room, full with the brethren and the many guests for the evening, the WM Don Fraser opened the lodge and requested the secretary Iain Beckett to read out the special dispensation as the first order of business.

The lodge members and their visitors were then most pleased to receive an expected knock on the door from the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp, announcing that the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison was without and demanded admission.

The lodge room rose and were immensely pleased to receive Tony who was accompanied by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning, the Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Derek Parkinson and Tony Bent, accompanied by Ian Gee the Bootle Group Chairman and the grand officers, along with his Provincial team entering the temple in a magnificent, colourful procession.

Keith introduced Tony to Don and acceded to Don’s request to accept the gavel of the lodge and he took his place in the chair of King Solomon.

Tony then appointed his Provincial team in readiness to open Provincial Grand Lodge. For that purpose, Philip Gunning was requested to assist in continuing in the role of Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Derek Parkinson was requested to assist by continuing in the role of Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Michael Threlfall continued in the position of Provincial Senior Grand Warden and Peter Schofield as Provincial Junior Grand Warden, Rev Canon Godfrey Hirst as the Provincial Grand Chaplain, Peter Taylor as Provincial Grand Secretary, Keith Kemp as Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Gordon Ivett as Provincial Grand Tyler, along with other acting officers David Thomas (Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies), William Kilmurry (Provincial Senior Grand Deacon), Edward Harrison (Provincial Junior Grand Deacon), John Houlding and Stephen Lyon (Provincial Grand Standard Bearers), Arend van Duyvenbode as acting Provincial Grand Sword Bearer, Peter Maxwell (Provincial Grand Pursuivant), Stephen Derringer (Provincial Grand Organist), all in their respective positions for the purposes of the centenary ceremony.

Tony opened Provincial Grand Lodge and called upon the Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor to read out the centenary warrant to the brethren. After which a blue bow was tied around the rolled certificate before Tony presented the warrant to Don. Tony then presented and placed the centenary jewel on Don, with the brethren of Eureka Lodge then being told that they could now show their centenary jewels.

Tony then called upon the Provincial Grand Chaplain Godfrey Hirst to give an oration to the lodge. Godfrey started his oration by a reference to the lodge’s name ‘Eureka’, reminiscing to science lessons when being told that the exclamation 'Eureka!' is famously attributed to the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes reportedly proclaiming 'Eureka! Eureka!' after he had stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose whereupon he suddenly understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged. Godfrey mentioned that the founding brethren of the lodge must have also cried ‘Eureka!’ when they formed the lodge in 1916. With brief exhorts from the lodges history and the connections to the lodge’s name,  in 1941 the secretary and treasurer even named their homes Eureka, Godfrey then went on to give a detailed explanation of the lodges banner, with the image of Archimedes between the two pillars from its dedication to the lodge in 1931.

Once Godfrey had finished his oration, he gave a prayer, before all the brethren sang the national anthem. Tony then closed Provincial Grand Lodge, handing the gavel back to Don, who said: 'It was an honour and a privilege to see the Provincial team conducting the ceremony this evening.' Don also said: 'It was a privilege to hear the oration by Godfrey.' The Provincial officers where then replaced with the officers of the lodge with Don commenting that: 'Normal service will now be resumed.'

Don then called upon and asked Ron Lofthouse and Shaun Lavery of Eureka Lodge to deliver a reading of the lodge’s history. Ron gave the first part of the history starting from when Eureka Lodge was consecrated on 18 February 1916 at the Bootle Town Hall by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Louis S Winslow, with Mark Wilkinson being installed as the first WM.

Stating the reasons given to form this new lodge were that three lodges at Bootle are getting unwieldy on account of the large membership particularly Bootle Lodge No 1473 and there has been no new lodge stationed in Bootle for over a period of 21 years in which time the population has nearly doubled.

The lodge meetings held in Merton Hall, Merton Road apart from the installation which was always held in Bootle Town Hall. Numerous candidates were admitted, always in two's, but with dispensation up to four. The lodge flourished and although the war was still in progress there seem to be no problem in attracting candidates. During the early years the working of a number of degrees on the same night, often conducted by the WM occurred, even being a first and second degree on the same night with multiple candidates. Every meeting from the beginning of the lodge’s history had a degree worked, until February 1929 when no degree was performed.

The lodge moved after the installation in September 1930 to the Masonic Hall in Balliol Road, the Bootle Group’s former home. One thing that had been missing from the lodge was a banner, so on 23 January 1931 a banner for the lodge was donated by J V Thompson Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer and J H Howard.

Ron continued with the history until the 1940s when he handed over for the second part of the history which was taken over by Shaun.

Shaun continued to inform the brethren, mentioning that in February 1959 the lodge held its 300th meeting, with a double second degree being held on that night.

The current secretary's father Gordon Beckett was installed in September of that year and with Iain himself being initiated in January 1976 by his father and was subsequently installed as junior warden, senior warden and into the chair by his father, a unique occurrence.

Also of note, Les Lownds proposed and initiated in November 1959, left a legacy to the lodge to be used for the centenary celebrations.

The 50th anniversary of the lodge was held in 1966 when Geoffrey Carr was initiated.

Arrend Van Duyvenbode Snr was installed in the chair in September 1989 and a team from Holland gave a demonstration of the first degree in October of that year according to the Dutch ritual.

A story from the lodge’s history which occurred in Balliol Road, on one occasion the acting senior deacon Fred Glover was introducing the candidate to the senior warden when he came to that part of the ceremony, which mentioned, 'By an ear of corn near to a fall of water', the ceiling above them decided to give way to the weight of water above their heads, the candidate thought it was all part of the ceremony and was not impressed.

Due to the compulsory purchase of Balliol Road hall, the lodge moved to its current home in Litherland in September 2007.

Arend van Duvyenbode Provincial Deputy Grand Secretary was promoted to Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in April 2012. Meaning the lodge now has two Grand Lodge officers. Due to his service over the years to the Province of the Isle of Man, Fred Wright was made a Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in that Province. A further promotion was awarded to Fred in April 2013 when he was promoted to Past Junior Grand Deacon together with a promotion in Provincial Royal Arch.

Both Ron Lofthouse and Shaun Lavery delivered their readings in a clear and concise manner, keeping the brethren enthralled with the lodge’s history. Don thanked Ron and Shaun for their readings and also gave special thanks to Stan Edwards for his hard work in compiling the lodge’s history for the evening.

Don then presented Tony with the Cheques for various charities, with total amount totalling £3,763, as it was the centenary the lodge wanted donate the same amount as the lodge number. Tony then read out the donations with the money going to; West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity £282.30, The Linda McCartney Centre (Breast Cancer) £232.30, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital £232.30, Myaware (Myasthenia Gravis Association) £232.30,Merseyside Society for Deaf People £232.30,Head and Neck Cancer £232.30,Bootle YMCA £232.30, Alzheimer’s Society £232.30, Woodlands Hospice £232.30, Claire House £232.30 and theLitherland Masonic Hall £1,390.                                                                                             

Tony thanked the lodge members on behalf of all those who would eventually benefit by such kind generosity with the donations to the charities and was equally pleased to see the same generosity given towards the Litherland Masonic Hall.

Keith Kemp then commandeered the proceedings with excellent precision and the Provincial team exited in the same inimitable, magnificent colourful procession. The lodge having closed, the celebrations were continued at the festive board and there was an exceptional event of joviality and concord.

Tony in his response to the toast to his health congratulated the lodge members and commented in saying he was delighted to attend as principal guest this evening and with being accompanied by Philip, Derek and Tony for this special evening in your good company and amongst friends.

Eureka is a cry of joy and satisfaction, Litherland is part of Bootle, Bootle has its own motto: ‘respice, aspice, prospice’ which translates into ‘look to the past, the present, the future’, which the founders achieved when they founded the lodge. Tony gave congratulations to all the brethren of Eureka Lodge for the wonderful evening, congratulations were also given to all the brethren who have recently received letters informing them of their appointment and promotion in Provincial Grand Lodge. 

Tony again said he was delighted at the amount the lodge members had donated to the various charities and towards Litherland Masonic Hall. Giving special thanks to Freddie Wright and Arend van Duyvenbode for the many hours they have given to the our Province, but others further afield saying: 'Freddie you’re a legend'. Tony thanked Arend for the amount of time he has devoted to Masonry, saying he hopes he enjoys his retirement from the role and continues to enjoy his Freemasonry in the future.

Tony also mentioned John Moore saying he has learnt a lot over the years from him and the Bootle Group are honoured to have him as a member.

Tony concluded his response by informing the brethren about 2017, the 300 anniversary of Masonry in Lancashire asking all the brethren to help support the celebrations and events that are going to happen in 2017. Hoping to see an increase in the number of the brethren joining Masonry, stating we are quite fortunate at the moment as we are seeing an increase in joining members.

Derek Parkinson then proposed a toast to the brethren of Eureka Lodge, starting the toast with the information of the period of when the lodge was formed, when Britain declared war on 4 August 1914 and with English Freemasonry facing unprecedented circumstances. Freemasonry was, and remains non-political, but during this period the United Grand Lodge of England, the governing body for Freemasonry in England, Wales and across much of the British Empire, had to deal with the impact of global war.

Eureka Lodge was created, formed and consecrated during the dark days of the First World War, and much credit is due to the founders who persevered in its formation, in spite of innumerable difficulties. There were other difficult times to follow but due to the tenacity and fortitude of its members over the years the lodge continued and in fact increased popularity and membership when other lodges were struggling.

On such an occasion as this centenary meeting it is important to emphasise the importance of the efforts and work put in by our forebears and those who are members of the lodge to look forward to the future with a similar positive frame of mind, to rededicate yourselves to those Masonic principals which are so close to our hearts and to ensure that those who follow will be encouraged to celebrate not only the 150th but also the bi-centenary of the lodge, Derek said: 'To which of course, I and my immediate colleagues around the table would be delighted to receive an invitation.'

Derek finished the toast by saying: 'The future begins today WM and we are certain that under you leadership Eureka Lodge will continue to be a leading light in Freemasonry in the Province of West Lancashire and that with the guidance and support of your past masters and brethren the lodge will continue to serve not only Freemasonry in this area but the wider community.'

Don responded on behalf of the lodge and the brethren for the toast, saying: 'It is a privilege standing here today and hope the lodge will continue to go from strength to strength, it’s been a tremendous night.' Don gave thanks to Gary Adamson the lodge treasurer, who had organised the centenary and presented a gift to him from the lodge members for his hard work. Thanks were also given Iain Beckett and Howard Jones.

Don mentioned that Jeff Carr’s golden anniversary should have been held on this evening and that he generously moved the celebration to next month.

As it was a special occasion a fruit cake with the lodge name was made to commemorate the event by Cathy Bousfield, the wife of the lodge DC Stephen. It was brought to the top table with four candles on, which Don blew out before cutting, this was later distributed amongst all the brethren and guests. 

As a treat for the guests the members of Eureka Lodge sang the visitors song, with Michael Threlfall responding on behalf of the guests, commented that he will tell his wife that he sitting next to and was sung to by John Lennon, John is the current senior warden of Eureka Lodge.

A raffle was held on the night, raising £455, which will be given to the Litherland Masonic Hall. With the evening being drawn to a close, Don on behalf of the lodge members presented Tony with a special bottle of single malt whisky to commemorate the evening, also presenting flowers to be given to his wife Maureen on behalf of the lodge members.

The evening finished with the Provincial team leaving, after an enjoyable evening with much celebration in good company and jovial fun.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016 10:22

Father and sons act on the square

Through the years many Masons have had the pleasure if initiating their son into Freemasonry. Very few Masons have had the honour of initiating two sons into their lodge. One such Mason who has had that immense honour is Paul Ashton Both sons were initiated aged 18 years, thanks to dispensations from two  Provincial Grand Masters – Peter Hosker and Tony Harrison.

The current worshipful master of William Fleetwood Lodge No.2814, Lesley Neville, kindly agreed to allow Paul, who is a past master of the lodge and currently the lodge’s senior deacon, to take the chair for the initiation ceremony.

Paul is a construction site manager. He is married to Karen and they have four children, two girls: Michele is a medic in the Royal Navy and Hayley is a physiotherapist. Paul’s eldest son Daniel was initiated by his father in April 2014. He is currently studying Aerospace engineering at Loughborough University and has just been accepted to take his Master’s Degree in Aerospace engineering when he completes his degree in 2017. James is currently in his last year at sixth form college and has applied to study Chemical Engineering at Loughborough University. James is a keen sportsman and plays hockey for England.

Lesley opened the lodge and efficiently worked through the initial business before asking Paul to occupy the chair of King Solomon. James was formally announced and escorted into the lodge by the junior deacon, Brian Carrier to start his journey through the first degree to become an entered apprentice Freemason. James was ably conducted throughout the ceremony by Brain who kept James at ease and on the right course at all times.

The ceremony conducted by Paul, was word perfect and was an absolute pleasure to witness. Daniel delivered the working tools of an entered apprentice to his brother in a faultless and sincere manner. The charge after initiation was superbly delivered by lodge director of ceremonies, Jim Thomason, who has known Daniel and James since they were born.

At the end of the ceremony Paul thanked Lesley for allowing him to initiate his son. He also said: “Bringing my sons into Freemasonry has been the proudest moments of my life. Both my sons are now my brothers.”

One more special moment was to mark this special meeting when the lodge secretary announced that he had received a grand Lodge certificate for Daniel, which Lesley duly presented to Daniel after he had signed it at the secretaries desk.

The festive board which followed the ceremony was enjoyed by everybody. After an excellent meal and the formal toasts to grand and Provincial grand officers Paul had the pleasure of proposing the toast to James. Paul said: “James has always ben keen to help others and had spent his summer holidays last year, working for the National Citizen Service (NCS). James worked with 15 to 17 years old children in need at a summer camp where the children made lasting friendships, embraced the outdoors and learned the skills they don’t teach in the classroom.” Pauls toast to James was received with loud acclamation by the brethren.

James responded by thanking his ‘Brother Dad’ for proposing him and and senior lodge member  Don Kelso for seconding him and all the members of the lodge for welcoming him into the lodge. James concluded by saying: “It was a very interesting ceremony and I found it very interesting, I have been looking forward to joining Freemasonry for a long time - in fact since I first remember watching my Dad leaving for the lodge in a smart suit and carrying his black case. After Daniel was initiated I was more determined to become a Freemason. I will try to be a good member of the lodge”

George Skarratts a frequent visitor to the lodge and in-fact had stood in at short notice as JW during the ceremony read out Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘The Lewis’.

St Helens and Prescot Group Chairman, Colin Rowling welcomed James into the group and explained that he is not only a member of William Fleetwood Lodge but also a member of a worldwide fraternity. Colin then presented Daniel with a welcome pack containing information about the first degree, the St Helens and Prescot Group and other useful information, including the meeting dates of all the lodges in the group – explaining the benefits of visiting other lodges.

The Warrington Museum of Freemasonry has come a long way from its small and rather dusty beginnings. It was in January 2014, when it was formally established under a Trust Deed and trustees appointed; Barry Jameson, John Pether, Jim Cartledge, Mike Williams, Vic Charlesworth, John McIntyre and Caroline Crook, a non-Masonic trustee and archivist.

Two of the initial key objectives for the trustees were firstly, to establish and agree a constitution for a charitable incorporated organisation and secondly to gain charitable status for the museum.

A considerable amount of effort has been applied to this and in January 2016 the trustees received confirmation that the museum had been accepted as a registered incorporated charity. Its registered charity number is 1165077.

Kevin Poynton, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master responsible for the Warrington Group of Freemasons, was delighted to be able to present the certificate to the trustees during their meeting on Tuesday 19 January 2016. He said that it was a considerable achievement for the museum and thanked the trustees for their collective efforts since their appointment. He said that the development of the museum was both impressive and an example of good practice. Getting charitable status was another important step in its development.

The trustees have also established a support group in the form of ‘Friends of the museum’, for individuals and groups. Securing charitable status opens up the opportunity to have future donations under this structure from individuals and to benefit from ‘Gift Aid’. This will allow the museum to claim back a further 25% in addition to the donation, subject to the donation being from a UK taxpayer.

Vic Charlesworth, the museum’s hard working curator, said that it was difficult to comprehend just how far the museum had progressed in the last two years. Achieving charitable status underpins the museums mission, to provide a varied and high quality heritage experience for all members of the community.

 

 

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