In an installation ceremony that was very artfully crafted and delivered, the members of City of Lancaster Lodge No 281 together with their many guests, watched with admiration and appreciation as Michael Cole installed his successor, Geoffrey (Geoff) Careless into the chair of this prestigious and venerable lodge.
Representing the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison at Rowley Court, Lancaster on this occasion was Peter Schofield, Chairman of the Furness and South Lakeland Group, who together with other colleagues from the ‘wild north’ had been granted safe passage ‘over the sands’ on their promise of ‘good conduct’ whilst in more civilised territory!
An impressive total of six acting Provincial grand officers, namely David Kenworthy, Steve Plevey, David Cole, John Eccles, Keith Halligan and Phil Burrow were in support together with Jim Wilson, Lancaster Group Chairman and the lodge’s own grand officer Chris Butterfield. Also present was Scott Devine, group secretary.
Due to some last-minute changes resulting from the personal crises, sadly suffered by two of the lodge’s key officers, Chris Butterfield found himself having to relinquish his regular high profile Royal Arch personae and rapidly reacquaint himself with the role of Craft director of ceremonies. Lodge stalwart Jack Baxter fulfilled with amazing dexterity the roles of secretary, deacon and installing senior warden with a series of quick change routines that would have made most people dizzy. Oh, and he also effortlessly managed to squeeze the address to the master into his packed repertoire as well!
With Peter and his party safely greeted and seated, Geoff was presented for installation by Steve Dougherty and from that point forward a masterclass of ritual was very deftly delivered by the installing master Michael. Many of the guests were impressed and fascinated by the extended workings that this ancient lodge includes in its inner workings. An excellent presentation and explanation of the working tools of an installed master by Adrian Wells brought this illuminating and indeed educative part of the ceremony to a close.
The City of Lancaster Lodge then brought its star players to the fore, with superb explanations of the working tools in the third, second and first degrees by a trio of talent, these were ‘light blues’ Jake Arkinstall, Ben Goldsworthy and Lee Fisher. The address to the wardens was delivered with passion and precision by honorary lodge member John Stanley and that to the brethren by Peter Schofield drew much admiration for its fine oratorical style.
At the appropriate moment, Peter rose to bring the greetings of the PrGM and was both sincere and accurate when he said that it had been a ceremony that Tony would have thoroughly enjoyed. Following very effusive praise for all who had participated, he brought the traditional greetings and good wishes to the new master and the lodge members. In his response, WM Geoff requested that greetings were also reciprocated to the PrGM.
The presentation of the details of the lodge’s charitable disbursements was made by the charity steward John Speak to Peter, who then disclosed that they totalled a magnificent figure of £3,350. Beneficiaries were both Masonic and other charities with some seven local organisations supported. Indeed, such was the generosity of the lodges donations, that Simon Hanson, group charity steward was able to step forward and present Geoff with a certificate marking their achievement of Vice Patronage of the MCF 2021 Festival.
Geoff then appointed and invested his officers and it was gratifying to note that so many of the progressive positions were filled by ‘light blues’.
At the festive board, held in the adjacent banqueting suite, a well filled room was soon vibrant with the busy and noisy chatter of happy and well-fed Masons. In responding to the toast to Provincial grand officers, Peter brought his own congratulations to the new master and his team as well as thanking the grand and Provincial grand acting officers for their support.
Peter highlighted the important and strategic role that the lodge plays as a member of the Universities Scheme and praised it for it’s undeniable and continuing success in attracting and supporting new members. Before moving on to the regular topics that the Province wished him to communicate, he paid special tribute to and thanks for the support and welcome he had received and praised the special bond that continues to exist between the Lancaster and the Furness Groups.
In his toast to the newly installed master, Michael Cole assured Geoff that he had all the right skills to ensure the lodges continuing success and closed his tribute by assuring him of the full support of all the officers and brethren for the coming year. At somewhat short notice, the master’s song was then performed, a cappella by George Fox.
The very successful and enjoyable evening came to a conclusion with news that the raffle had raised a worthy sum of £234 and that this had been boosted by a further £55 resulting from the traditional ‘master’s swindle’.