Well Brethren I got off to a wonderful start this month with a visit to Preston on 1 March. I was accompanied to Saul Street, Preston by Keith Kemp, where we attended a meeting of the Lodge of Peace and Unity No 314, which was hosting the Prestonian Lecture `Scouting and Freemasonry: two parallel organisations` which was delivered by Tony Harvey from the Province of Derbyshire
He first delivered his lecture in 2012 and the presentation he gave on this occasion was the 80th time that he had presented it to lodges throughout UGLE and Europe. Well over 100 brethren from around the Province joined me for this excellent presentation and left us in no doubt that the Scouting organisation had lots in common and much to offer to Freemasonry. It was wonderful to see a goodly number of both men and women from the Scouts joining us in the temple and at the festive board afterwards. Thanks to the brethren of Peace and Unity Lodge for their organisation and Preston Masonic centre for the excellent meal.
The following day I had a Group Chairman’s meeting, in Leyland where I met with all the group chairman together with my deputies in the Craft and the Royal Arch, my DC`s of both Craft and RA and the Provincial Grand Secretary. We enjoyed a most interesting and informative meeting which is necessary for the smooth running of our Province.
The afternoon was spent in the Provincial office attending to a great deal of general office work and following a reviving cup of tea I attended Cuerdon with Withy Chapter No 7733 for an enhanced ceremony of exaltation for David Forrest a Mason in St Margaret Lodge No 8544. The companions of the chapter carried out their duties in a delightful way and we all enjoyed an excellent evening of Royal Arch Masonry. Attending the chapter gave me the opportunity to thank Tony Hall, this year’s Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah, who is a member of the chapter, for the work he has carried out in that office on behalf of the Province. I was accompanied by many members of this year’s acting Provincial officers who came along to support Tony as one of their companions. A great evening was had by all who attended.
The next few days allowed me time to catch up on some further paperwork and reports for UGLE. The weekend weather was good and Maureen and I had several delightful walks along our Morecambe Promenade to both Heysham and the Village and to Bare, enjoying the wonderful scenery visible across the Bay from Barrow in Furness through Ulverston, Grange over Sands and the magnificent Lakeland hills capped with snow. What a stunning view it is!
The following week I caught the morning train to London accompanied by my Craft deputy Phil Gunning. On arrival in London we, (would you believe) took a bus to Gt Queen Street where we along with some 20 other brethren from West Lancashire, attended the quarterly communication of Grand Mark Lodge, and witnessed the re-election of HRH Prince Michael of Kent as Grand Master. A good meeting at which was announced the forthcoming changes of some of the Rulers in the Mark Degree. Following the meeting we enjoyed a delicious but most expensive banquet, in the Connaught Rooms, adjacent to the Temple. The evening gave both Phil and I the opportunity to meet and talk with many senior brethren and companions of other orders, who had also attended the meeting.
On Wednesday 9 March After an early breakfast Phil and I walked back to Gt Queen Street, where we met with some the officials of both the Grand Charity and the new Masonic Charitable Foundation. It gave us the welcomed opportunity to meet with those executives, responsible for our charities. Following a welcomed intake of caffeine, we went upstairs to the Grand Temple for the March quarterly communication of Grand Lodge. What a great spectacle it was as I along with all the other PrGM`s from around UGLE processed into the Grand Temple ahead of the Deputy Grand Master Jonathon Spence, and all his acting grand officers. The Grand Temple was filled to capacity for at this meeting it was proposed the HRH the Duke of Kent be re-elected as Grand Master of the Craft for another Year. His 49th year as Grand Master. Brethren he was re-elected to a thunderous applause. The meeting continued and various resolutions were passed and then we heard from Emporium Productions the TV company who are making a documentary series to be shown on a national TV channel later this year or early next year.
We then listened to a lecture on the new Masonic Charitable Foundation given by the president, James Newman and the CEO, David Innes. This report was very well received by all present.
Later in the afternoon I travelled home on the train encountering several delays due to flooding in various areas of the Midlands.
On the 10 March I drove to Morecambe Masonic Hall, just down the road, for the installation convocation of Heysham Chapter No 4108. What a great evening we all had being able to witness the work of Chris Larder installing his successor Richard Routledge and Richard in turn installing Joe Emmerson then Joe installed Ken Needham. I was accompanied on this occasion by Chris Butterfield AtoPrGP, Lancaster Group Chairman Jim Wilson, past Group Chairman and PAtoPrGP Tom Holroyd and Philip Gardner together with Barry Crossley Deputy PrDGC. I had a wonderful evening of Royal Arch Masonry and an opportunity to meet with many friends and companions from my old patch here in Morecambe
The big day 11 March – we have been waiting for some time – the Provincial Grand Ball at the Macron Stadium in Bolton. Maureen and I left home around lunch time for the journey to Bolton, arriving at the White`s Hotel about 1.15pm and checked into our room before enjoying a light lunch and then meeting with several brethren and their ladies prior to preparing for this special occasion in our Masonic calendar. We gathered in the Hall of Fame at 4.30pm for photographs and then into the reception for the many masters, first principals and their ladies. A great pleasure to meet so many of our brethren together with their ladies, who had come to support and enjoy our annual ball.
The ladies all looked beautiful in their ball gowns and accompanied by very smartly turned out husbands, partners, boyfriends and fiancés. It was a rather special evening in so much as the Ball was being filmed for the forthcoming TV production commissioned by UGLE and was featuring Garry Hacking a fellowcraft Mason and his fiancée Laura Chippendale. The meal was excellent and was followed by a welcome speech from the Provincial Senior Grand Warden Mike Threlfall and then into the ‘Grand March’, in which I believe, most of those present, joined in. This was then followed by dancing through to midnight and a final farewell from the Provincial Junior Grand Warden Peter Schofield. A great evening, however, Maureen and I were totally exhausted and ready to adjourn for a good night`s sleep. I do hope that all who attended this wonderful occasion enjoyed it as much as Maureen and I did.
We had a couple of days over the weekend to rest and recover from a very hectic week. On the 14 March after an early lunch Keith Kemp and I together with Mike Threlfall and Peter Schofield set off for Leigh Masonic Hall where we were to attend the installation meeting of the Lodge of Valour No 4322 It is quite some time since I had been to Leigh but it was nice to be back and to meet so many of the brethren and their guests prior to the meeting. We witnessed an excellent ceremony conducted by John Greenhough who Installed David Scase as the new worshipful master. It was nice to see some young in age and experience, Masons taking an active part in the ceremony and taking office in the lodge. I was delighted to have the company of Tony Bent APrGM, and grand officers Geoffrey Bent and Malcolm Parr together with many Provincial grand officers. We were all treated to a delicious Festival of St John before retiring for our homeward journey.
On Wednesday 16 March I enjoyed a relaxing visit to Wellington Park, Leyland, where I was attending Adoniram Mark Lodge and joined the company of Keith Beardmore the Provincial Gand Master of the Mark Province of West Lancashire and some 170 Mark Masons from West Lancashire to witness a demonstration of becoming a Mark Mason in 1795, presented by the PrGM and a delegation of Brethren from the Mark Province of Somerset. What an excellent meeting this was and so well presented by the visiting brethren.
On Thursday I travelled to Blackburn for the annual Provincial Grand Chapter convocation of the Province of East Lancashire. I was accompanied by the Grand Superintendents for the Provinces of Cumberland and Westmoreland and Cheshire together with our Deputy Grand Superintendent Danny Jones, David Randerson AtoPrGP and Peter Taylor my Provincial Scribe Ezra. An excellent convocation presided over by Sir David Trippier Grand Superintendent in and over the Province of East Lancashire. A most enjoyable meeting with companions from our adjoining Provinces.
I enjoyed some relaxation and time with Maureen and members of my family, over the Easter Holidays with a visit from Tracey and her husband Peter from the Isle of Man and Maureen`s sister and her husband from Stockholm, we took the opportunity to embrace some fine fresh air as the weather was kind to us. We also visited a few of those venues that we have not had an opportunity to visit for many years.
Well that completes my Masonic activities and enjoyment for this month. I hope to see you at my chapter – Provincial Grand Chapter on 11 April in the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre.
Provincial Grand Master