It is traditional in West Lancashire for the Provincial Grand Master to visit the lodge of his wardens during their year of office. Accordingly Tony Harrison attended the installation meeting of Semper Sursum Lodge No 5622 of which Peter Schofield, the present Provincial Junior Grand Warden, is a member.
It is also a tradition in the Furness and South Lakeland Group for the masters of the two lodges which meet at Millom, in the adjacent province of Cumberland and Westmorland, to be invited to installations and consequently there is a great deal of inter-Province visiting.
One regular visitor to the group from Millom was Norman Thompson, but protocol has prevented him from attending as often as he once did because of his elevation to the position of Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland. On this occasion though, Tony was pleased to welcome Norman to the meeting at Barrow in Furness Masonic Hall.
In addition there were two Assistant Provincial Grand Masters present in the persons of David Grainger and Robert Wright, two wardens, with Provincial Senior Grand Warden Michael Threlfall adding his presence and two group chairmen, namely Alan Jones of the Furness and South Lakeland group along with Jim Wilson from the Lancaster Group. A copiousness of grand and acting Provincial grand officers added further lustre to the occasion.
With a firm but reassuring hand on the tiller was Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp who ensured all the necessary protocols were followed and that everyone was where they should be, when they should be.
The temple was packed to capacity to witness Nigel Fryer install Alan Tomlinson as his successor in a delightful manner. It was particularly poignant as Nigel had been Alan’s proposer when he first became a Mason. So full was the room that upon his entry and following the welcoming remarks from Nigel, Tony commented: “I’m just glad you reserved me a seat worshipful master.”
Following Alan’s ascension into the chair, Ken Robinson delivered the address to him as the new master of the lodge. Somewhat appropriately Peter Schofield was called upon to address the wardens as to their duties. Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger gave the address to the brethren.
As impressive as all three were however, they were eclipsed by the work of three junior brethren who undertook the presentation and explanation of the working tools of the degrees. Danny Leitch set the standard with an oration of the third degree tools which was impeccable in terms of both accuracy and delivery. Not to be out shone Stuart Braithwaite was faultless in delivering the long version of the second degree tools. It left Dave Shaw with the unenviable task of following up with the first degree tools. He did not let the side down and also proved word perfect.
To undertake the work in the presence of the Provincial Grand Master and a full room must have been quite nerve jangling but their confident and precise presentations belied that and indicated that they had put in many hours of practice. The three young men were later appointed as stewards. They thoroughly deserved the enthusiastic and sustained applause they received at the installation banquet.
Everyone enjoyed their work but taking particular pride was group secretary Barry Hadley who is the grandfather of Danny Leitch.
Following the installation, the banquet was held in the Fairfield Suite. The dining room was also packed with 142 sitting for the meal for which there was a waiting list in case of cancellations.
In responding to the toast to his health, Tony paid tribute to Nigel as the installing master and all those who had taken part in a superb ceremony. He reserved particular praise for Danny, Stuart and Dave. Tony also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the manner in which Peter had discharged his duties during his year as Provincial Junior Grand Warden. He, along with Michael, had been ever-present at the meetings he had attended. The fact that Peter normally had the longest journey to events proved no obstacle and showed his great commitment.
Both lodge secretary Bob Durkin and director of ceremonies Barry Fitzgerald were thanked for their work in ensuring that everything had run so tremendously well. It was Barry’s last outing as director of ceremonies as in May he will be appointed a Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies. Observing the work of Keith on the day was a master class for him on the duties he is about to undertake.
It was indeed a day from which great pride can be taken not only by those who had played an obvious part in the proceedings but Semper Sursum Lodge brethren collectively, for an installation ceremony that cannot have failed to impress two Provincial Grand Masters.