Ross Proctor returned to the master’s chair of Fraternity Lodge No 4072 for the third time, some 18 years after he previously occupied the position of master. The event was witnessed by Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Winder, accompanied by Preston Group Chairman Steve Bolton and grand officers Peter Hadfield and Chris Butterfield. They were supported by acting Provincial grand officers, David Kenworthy, Terry McGill, Clive Gitsham, David Pallister and Creag Williams.
Those attending the meeting witnessed an excellent ceremony as Ross was duly installed as master of the lodge. Merrick Wilding, as the installing master, was ably assisted by the director of ceremonies John Whittall and other members of the lodge.
Both Ross and Merrick are members of Brigantes Lodge No 9734, in the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland, and were pleased to be supported by a contingent of members from that lodge.
Following the completion of the administrative business of the lodge, the director of ceremonies requested permission to retire from the lodge. He later returned to announce the presence of Assistant Provincial Master David Winder. David entered in due form, accompanied by grand, Provincial grand and acting Provincial grand officers to be welcomed by Merrick.
Following salutations, the lodge was opened in the second degree and Ross was duly presented to the installing master by lodge member Chris Butterfield. Ross recited his obligation as master elect before the lodge returned to the third degree. Merrick then proceeded to install Ross in a flawless text book manner. The working tools of the third degree were presented by Cliff Bell, those of the second degree by Mark Walton and those of the first degree by Alan Brindle, all of whom gave first class presentations. Following his installation into the chair, Ross was addressed by Chris Butterfield who repeated the high standard set by the working tools team.
Continuing with the investiture of the lodge officers, Ross invested the senior and junior wardens who were escorted to their pedestals and instructed in their respective duties by Merrick, and addressed by Norman Thomas. Merrick, as the appointed lodge charity steward, was in turn, addressed by the Preston Group Charity Steward, Vic Parker. The senior and junior deacons were each addressed in turn by John Whittall and Abraham Sonnah, and the invested inner guard was addressed by Ross. The investiture of officers was completed with Gerry Cox as steward of the lodge addressed by the visiting Provincial Grand Steward Creag Williams. The ceremony of installation concluded with the address to the brethren of the lodge being presented by the principal guest David Winder.
David had the pleasure of bringing the congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, on what had been a faultless ceremony. On his behalf, he particularly praised the work of Merrick as the installing master, congratulating him on the excellent quality of his ritual and his successful second time in the chair of Fraternity Lodge. David continued by going around the lodge, personally congratulating all those who had a part to play in the proceedings, thanking them for their contribution. Ross in turn, thanked David for his kind and generous comments on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master and presented him with a cheque to the value of £300 in favour of the MCF 2021 Festival.
Concluding the proceedings, Merrick was presented with a Founders Jewel to wear with pride by lodge member, Barry Kay.
Later in the evening, in his response to toast number three, David commented that he was particularly delighted to visit Fraternity Lodge and see it perform so well as it approaches its centenary. The lodge is an amalgamation of Broughton Lodge No 5437, Vanguard Lodge No 7170 and Fraternity Lodge. David observed that Merrick was a member of the original Fraternity Lodge, Ross, a member of the former Vanguard Lodge, and the projected next master Chris Butterfield, a member of the former Broughton Lodge. Furthermore, to complete the set, it is planned that Chris will be followed into the chair by master Mason Alan Brindle, an initiate of the amalgamated lodge.
He was pleased to have the company of the three grand officers, the group chairman and the five acting Provincial grand officers, thanking them for their attendance and support; a support that added greatly to the occasion. He welcomed the addition of the contingent from Brigantes Lodge, although he could not have failed to recognise the many familiar faces among them.
Turning to the earlier ceremony, on his own behalf, he congratulated Merrick for his superlative work as the installing master, work that included the address to each warden, and for his input during his year in office. David continued by congratulating all those that had a part to play in the ceremony, in particular mentioning the brethren who delivered the working tools so eloquently. He felt sure that Ross, in his role as master, would continue the work of actively driving the lodge forward to its centenary in 2020 noting that, as a starter, there were two further initiation ceremonies in the offing.
Moving on, David thanked the lodge for the generous donation to the MCF 2021 Festival made earlier. He asked those who had not yet signed up to be a Patron of the Festival, to consider doing so as such donations make a real difference to those in the Province who benefit from the Masonic charities. He reminded everyone that the Festival still has three and a half years to run, setting up a mandate, at a current cost of 20p per day, would ensure that brethren would qualify for a Patrons Jewel, a jewel that would be made available immediately and one they are encouraged to wear with pride. He hoped that this would sit alongside the new Provincial tie that, for the first time, along with the Festival Jewel, is emblazoned with the coat of arms of the Province.
David concluded his response by thanking the lodge members for their kindness and hospitality on what had been a rewarding and enjoyable evening and wished Ross, as master, health and fulfilment for the year ahead and prosperity for the lodge.
The evening’s proceedings were further enhanced by a delightful rendition of the master’s song given by Peter Sorsby, accompanied by John Whittall on the piano.
Thinking of all the ladies potentially sat at home, Ross’s wife, Val, had organised a ladies’ get together in an adjoining room. Whilst the installation meeting was in progress, they enjoyed an excellent three course meal in each other’s company, a meal prepared by the hall’s excellent chef, Alister.
During a lull in the proceedings David, Steve, Ross and Merrick visited the ladies to thank them for their support and wished them well on this important occasion.
Towards the close of the evening, David took to the floor mentioning that the lodge’s forthcoming centenary in 2020 reminded him of the late John Wilmer, a popular Mason within the group, who possessed an exceptional singing voice. Accompanied by John Whittall, he was always in demand to sing the master’s song at lodge installations and the special hymn John had made his own, ‘Who’ll be here in 2020.’
Much to everyone’s surprise, David then produced the words from his pocket and gave a very creditable rendition of the hymn, accompanied by John Whittall on the piano, a rendition that was followed by a round of applause from all the brethren.