Brian Woodburn returned to the chair of Halcyon Lodge No 6500 after a gap of 15 years. The lodge was honoured by the presence of Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox, who was accompanied by grand officers, Ian Greenwood and the Preston Group Vice Chairman, Geoff Saul. They were supported by acting Provincial grand officers, John Rimmer and Terry McGill.
After welcoming the visitors, the master of the lodge Keith Astbury opened in the usual manner to carry out the administrative business of the lodge. On completion, the lodge was raised to the second degree before the lodge director of ceremonies, Ray Lamb, requested permission to retire for a short time. The lodge was then raised to the third degree before Ray returned to announce the presence of Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox. Harry entered in due form accompanied by grand and acting Provincial grand officers to be formally welcomed by Keith. Salutations were given before the lodge returned to the second degree. Brian was duly presented for installation by lodge member Harold Sutcliffe.
After Keith reminded Brian of his duties as master, he was invited to recite his obligation to carry out these duties. Returning the lodge to the third degree, Keith thanked the officers and brethren of the lodge for their support during his year in office. He then went on to install Brian as his successor in the master’s chair ably assisted in the floor work by Ray Lamb. Now as master, Brian had the pleasure of investing Keith as the immediate past master of the lodge before the address to the master was delivered in an excellent manner by the principal guest, Harry Cox.
The working tools in the third, second and first degrees were commendably presented by master Masons, Chris Barry, Steve Bentham and Alan Bowerman respectively.
During the investiture of officers, the senior and junior wardens were both instructed in their duties and addressed in admirable manner by Malcolm Sugden. As there was a change of both treasurer and secretary, they were addressed in turn, Peter Ledder, by the outgoing treasurer, Harold Sutcliffe and Paul Bastow by the outgoing secretary Roger Hinchliffe. Malcolm Sugden, the charity steward of the lodge, was addressed by the Preston Group Charity Steward, Vic Parker. The lodge deacons, Steve Bentham and Alan Bowerman were addressed by Brent Sutton. The inner guard and lodge stewards were in turn, addressed by John Taylor. The final individual address, to the outer guard, was given by Terry McGill.
The ceremony concluded with an extended address to the lodge brethren, delivered in an exemplary manner by Ray Lamb, an address that was greatly admired and appreciated by all the visiting brethren.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, Harry brought his congratulations and best wishes to Brian in taking the chair of a lodge for the fourth time. He continued by congratulating Keith for his work in installing his successor and thanking those who had a part to play in what had been a worthy ceremony. He particularly congratulated Ray Lamb on his excellent delivery of a very extended address to the brethren wishing that he himself had had the opportunity to learn that version.
Brian responded by thanking Harry for his generous comments on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master and had the pleasure of presenting him with two cheques, both to the value of £250, the first in support of the MCF 2021 Festival and the second, as a donation to the running of the Masonic Hall.
Later in the evening, in response to the toast to the grand officers, Harry brought his own congratulations saying how much he had enjoyed the ceremony. He was pleased to have the company of grand officer, Ian Greenwood, remembering the time when they were group chairmen together. He also thanked John Rimmer and Terry McGill for their support as acting rank officers.
He congratulated all those who had a part to play in the ceremony, feeling it showed just how essential good teamwork was in contributing to the effective working of a lodge. In particular, he mentioned the excellent work of Chris Barry, Steve Bentham and Alan Bowerman, as the working tools team. He congratulated Brian on his return to the master’s chair for the fourth time, wishing him well for an excellent year in office. Although this was the first time Brian had occupied the chair of Halcyon Lodge, Harry was sure he had attended Brian’s three previous visits to the master’s chair as a member of Wayfarers Lodge No 7544.
Turning to the 2021 Festival, Harry informed the brethren that the Province is in festival to provide funds for the Masonic Charity Foundation, the overarching charity set up to support the four existing Masonic charities. He found it particularly rewarding to observe that the Province of West Lancashire had been selected as the first Province in the country to hold a festival in its name. He encouraged those who had yet to make a pledge in support of the festival to consider doing so.
He reminded the brethren of Tony Harrison’s instruction to all to enjoy and be proud of their Masonry, to keep a watchful eye out for good men and true who have still to take that step into the Craft. He stressed how new members are the foundation for moving forward no matter what age group as everyone has something to offer.
Harry mentioned the importance of good mentoring in retaining the interest and continued membership of brethren and, for those brethren who have yet to take that step, he reminded them that Royal Arch Freemasonry was an integral part of the whole.
Continuing, Harry stressed how proud we should be of our own Masonic hall, paying particular thanks to the hall chairman, Terry McGill, for all his work in running the Masonic hall. He thanked Ray Lamb for all his efforts and attention to detail as the lodge director of ceremonies and commended him on his delivery of the ritual during the installation. He concluded by thanking the retiring secretary, Roger Hinchliffe, for his communications prior to the meeting and for his contribution to Halcyon Lodge during the 21 years he had served as secretary.