The Senior Warden of the Province, David Asbridge, attended the installation meeting of Lodge of Unanimity No 113 as the principal guest of the evening representing the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. Present with David were Bill Seddon and Frank Wilkinson accompanied by other grand officers, acting Provincial grand officer Terry McGill and the Preston Group Chairman Steve Bolton.
The master elect, Malcolm Berry, having only vacated the master’s chair in Preston Guild Lodge No 4408 some two months earlier, was well versed in the ceremony of installation.
After welcoming the visitors, the master of the lodge Vic Parker opened in due form to carry out the administrative business of the lodge. On completion, the lodge director of ceremonies Trevor Phillips requested permission to retire for a short time. He returned to announce the presence of the Provincial Senior Grand Warden of the Province David Asbridge. David duly entered, accompanied by grand and Provincial grand officers, to be formally welcomed by Vic. The lodge was then raised to the third degree for salutations before the lodge returned to the second degree. Commencing the installation ceremony, the master elect was duly presented for installation by lodge member Bill Seddon.
After Vic reminded Malcolm of his duties as master, he was invited to recite his obligation to carry out these duties. Returning the lodge to the third degree, Vic thanked the officers and brethren of the lodge for their support during his year in office. He then went on to install Malcolm as his successor into the master’s chair, ably assisted in the floor work by Trevor Phillips. Now as master, Malcolm had the pleasure of investing Vic as the immediate past master of the lodge for him to be addressed, as the IPM, by Trevor Phillips.
The working tools in the third degree were commendably presented by Gary Norris. As Malcolm, had served in the chair before, the working tools in the second and first degrees were omitted. The address to the master was delivered in an excellent manner by Bill Seddon.
As part of the investiture of officers, Stan Rigby, as the senior warden was excellently instructed in his duties by John Watson and Bill Seddon as the junior warden, was equally instructed in his duties by Douglas Atkinson. The address to both wardens was delivered in an admirable manner by Ray Taylor. Peter Rogers, the appointed charity steward of the lodge, was addressed by the Preston Group Charity Steward Vic Parker. The lodge deacons, Kevin Ruffley and Peter Rogers were jointly addressed by Gary Norris. The lodge stewards, John Watson, Gary Norris and Graham Swindell were addressed by Ray Taylor. All the addresses were delivered in a praiseworthy manner.
The ceremony concluded with the address to the lodge brethren, delivered in an exemplary manner by Peter Watson. The address is unique to the lodge in the Preston Group and 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, David brought his congratulations and best wishes to Malcolm in taking the chair of a lodge for the second time. He continued by congratulating Vic for his work in installing his successor and thanked those who had a part to play in what had been a worthy ceremony. He particularly congratulated Peter Watson on his excellent delivery of a ‘different’ address to the brethren.
Malcolm responded by thanking David for his generous comments on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master and had the pleasure of presenting him with four cheques, three to the value of £250 in support of the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, the MCF 2021 Festival and the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity respectively. The fourth cheque, for £200, was presented as a donation to the Masonic hall.
Concluding the ceremonial part of the evening, Stan Rigby had the pleasure of presenting Vic with his past master’s jewel, congratulating him on his year in office. He went on to mention Vic’s adaptation of the lodge ritual and his mispronunciation of the lodge title on many occasions; occasions that had provided so much humour and happiness during his year at the helm.
Later in the evening, in response to the toast to the grand officers, David brought his own congratulations saying how much he had enjoyed the ceremony. He congratulated the lodge on its over 200 years history and its willingness to adapt to the future by becoming a ‘daylight lodge’, a move that had proved very successful in increasing the lodge membership. He noted that the lodge had already achieved vice patronage of the MCF 2021 Festival, a situation that the lodge should be proud of. He congratulated the members on what had been a warm, generous and sincere ceremony.
Turning to the Masonic care structure, David mentioned the improvements that have been made and are already bearing fruit. However, he reminded those present to be mindful of care of their own lodge members and to help the lodge almoner look after those under his care.
He encouraged the brethren to support the Masonic Charitable Foundation through the 2021 Festival, the progress of which, the Provincial Grand Master is very proud. He reminded the brethren not to forget that the fund contributes £1,000,000 to West Lancashire every year and that it is only fair that we in West Lancashire help to top up the coffers.
Moving to recruitment, David commented that although there is a steady flow of men joining Freemasonry, there is still a need to attract new members. He concluded by encouraging brethren to support the forthcoming Grand Ball, that was again being held at the Macron Stadium.
The evenings proceedings were further enhanced by a delightful rendition of the master’s song given by Ray Beech, accompanied by Howard Linaker on the piano.