Over 100 members and guests attended the installation meeting of Wyreside Lodge No 2605 to see Daniel Crossley installed into the chair of King Solomon at Garstang Masonic Hall. This celebrated lodge was honoured by the presence of their principal guest for the evening, Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison.
Tony was joined on this special occasion by Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger, Lancaster and District Group Chairman Jim Wilson, grand officers Chris Butterfield, Peter Greathead and Tony Hough, together with an impressive array of acting officers of Provincial Grand Lodge including the Provincial Senior and Junior Grand Wardens David Asbridge and Peter Allen respectively, David Kenworthy, Steve Plevey, David Cole, Keith Halligan, Stewart Aimson and Philip Burrow. The group vice chairman Neil McGill and group secretary Scott Devine were also in attendance. This talented assemblage was kept in line by the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp, ably supported by Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Barry Fitzgerald.
On completion of lodge business, Keith Kemp entered the lodge room and announced that the PrGM Tony Harrison was without and demanded admission. The installing WM Alan Gardner welcomed Tony and as is the custom offered Tony the gavel of the lodge. Initially accepting the gavel, Tony thanked Alan for his warm welcome, saying: “It was a delight to be here with you today and to see the lodge room so full. I sincerely hope you have an excellent installation and if that is to be the case I will need to offer the gavel back.”
Tony having taken his rightful place in the lodge, Alan asked David Asbridge and Peter Allen to act as installing senior and junior wardens respectively. The master elect was presented by the lodge director of ceremonies Stephen Jennings, before being installed by Alan in what proved to be a thoroughly first-rate ceremony.
Impressive presentations of the working tools by ‘light blues’ in the third, second and first degrees were effected by Paul Seacy, Adam Rowcroft and the WM’s brother Mathew Crossley respectively. The address to the master was given by Stephen Jennings in a delightful manner, whilst the delivery of the address to the wardens by David Asbridge drew particular praise. The address to the brethren of the lodge by Tony Harrison, was as we have come to expect, powerful and supremely meticulous in its delivery.
On rising at the end of the ceremony, Tony expressed his personal congratulations both to the WM on attaining the master’s chair and the brethren who had taken office, hoping they all had happy and busy year ahead. Turning to the IPM, he praised Alan for the manner in which he had installed the new WM, adding it had been a pleasure to witness. Tony also congratulated all who had taken part in the ceremony, particularly those young Masons who had presented the working tools.
After Daniel had thanked Tony for his kind words and for being present at the installation, the IPM Alan, presented Tony with details of the lodges charitable donations throughout the year, which included MCF 2021 Festival £1,500, Garstang Masonic Hall £1,000, Masonic sporting charities £160, Garstang Masonic Fellowship £200, St Thomas’s School, Garstang £200, North West Ambulance £1,000 and Brian House Children’s Hospice £1,000. Tony thanked the brethren of Wyreside Lodge for their generous donations, before presenting the WM with a certificate marking them as a Patron of the MCF 2021 Festival, in recognition of a total festival donation of £3,000. On behalf of the MCF 2021 Festival, Tony thanked the WM and brethren for their contributions which have made this landmark possible.
On retiring to the Wyrebank banqueting suite, the members and guests of Wyreside Lodge were treated to some excellent fare. The meal completed, David Grainger in his reply to the toast to the health of the grand officers, thanked everybody who had taken part in the ‘feast of ritual’ witnessed earlier. Reflecting on Tony’s enormous enthusiasm for everything Masonic, David commented that Tony has a genuine desire to advance Masonry and absolutely nobody works harder than him, however we can repay this commitment by supporting him in all he does.
In his response, Tony expressed his thanks to all the grand officers, wardens and acting Provincial grand officers for being present. Noting the Lancaster and District Group Chairman Jim Wilson’s forthcoming retirement from his post, Tony thanked him for his tireless efforts over the last 10 years, adding that the Province could not function properly without the efforts of the group chairmen and their teams.
Tony took the opportunity to invite everyone to visit the Provincial Grand Lodge of West Lancashire when it meets in Blackpool later in the year. He encouraged everyone to accept the invitation and make the event a memorable and enjoyable occasion for those brethren receiving honours.
Moving on, Tony was keen to discuss the Royal Arch, which for him can be best described as the ‘completion of Freemasonry’. It is not just another order, it completes the story of Freemasonry. Tony urged those brethren who were not in the Royal Arch to seriously consider joining.
Tony began his next subject by asking the brethren have you seen the article in the newspapers ‘Enough is Enough’ and if they hadn’t, he urged the brethren to read it. He added, that we cannot continue to be unjustly singled out, to many brethren fear prejudice. We should be proud to say we are Freemasons without fear and be open about our Masonry. The good news Tony said, was that right across the Province the number of young men wanting to join is increasing and it seems the tide is changing.
Thanking the brethren of Wyreside Lodge once again for their wonderful contributions to charity, Tony was thrilled to announce that the WLFC had donated two bikes for the North West Blood Bikes Lancashire and Lakes Charity, a fantastic charity that do a lot of good work, it is very worthwhile supporting it.
Finally, Tony thanked those brethren who had already taken patronage of the Festival and encouraged those who had not to please do so. Tony concluded with the rallying cry of ‘please enjoy your Freemasonry’, support the MCF 2021 Festival and please wear your festival jewel with pride.
In response to the toast to the Provincial grand officers, the PrJGW Peter Allen made special mention of the work that had been undertaken in the lodge and congratulated all who had taken part, especially the hard-working lodge DC Stephen Jennings.
The toast to the newly installed master saw IPM Alan deliver an interesting and often entertaining summation of Daniel’s career and personal details. Peter Baldwin and Roger Lloyd Jones then performed the master’s song with accompaniment from David Brown, before Daniel responded with gratitude to the many good wishes and congratulations he had received. Daniel finished by saying it had been an amazing experience being installed in the master’s chair.
Following the announcement that the raffle had raised an enormous £735, with a further £55 added to the charity plate via the ubiquitous ‘master’s swindle’, Daniel was presented with a solid silver flower bowl which was his to keep throughout his year in office.
Article and photographs by Paul Thompson.