Due to circumstances beyond their control, the brethren of Longridge Lodge No 8077 had to be innovative when planning their installation ceremony at Wyrebank, Garstang. The WM Colin McNamee could not attend the installation, so the lodge had to call on the skills of two of their past masters Paul Street and Michael Monks to share the work.
Paul acted as WM for the evening and conducted the ceremony up to the board of installed masters, following which Michael continued with the installation. To complicate matters even further, 15 minutes before the meeting began, the fire alarms sounded and everyone had to vacate the building. An ‘alarming start’ to the proceedings, but a false alarm luckily and a distraction the brethren could certainly have done without.
The lodge was highly honoured by the presence of John Robson, who was the principal guest and the representative of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, along with Lancaster and District Group Vice Chairman Neil McGill and grand officer Tom Blackburn. They were accompanied by acting Provincial grand officers David Kenworthy, Steve Plevey and Stewart Aimson.
Paul Street got the proceedings off to an efficient start and on the conclusion of routine business, conducted the first part of the installation. In an impressive ceremony, Michael Monks had the privilege of presenting Andrew Thiele as master elect for the ensuing year, before he took over from Paul as installing master and placed Andrew into the master’s chair. This is the second time Andrew has been master of Longridge Lodge, having already occupied the chair of King Solomon in 2012. Originally from Surrey, he holds the rank of Past Provincial Deputy Grand Sword Bearer in that Province.
After assuming the master’s chair, Andrew was presented with first-rate explanations of the working tools by Matt Mason (third degree), Cliff Carefoot (second degree), and Tony Ollerton (first degree). The address to the master was superbly delivered by non-other than Michael Monks, as the saying goes, ‘you cannot keep a good man down’. The address to the wardens was given with equal skill by Simon Hore and the address to the brethren of the lodge was splendidly presented by Tom Blackburn.
The closing of the ceremony presented the opportunity for John to bring the fraternal greetings of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. John said that had Tony been able to be present in person he would certainly have congratulated the two installing masters for their excellent work and wished Andrew and his officers the best of health for a busy and happy year. John was delighted to receive notification of donations made by the lodge to charity and good causes totalling £2,300, including £1,200 to the WLFC, £600 MCF 2021 Festival and £500 to Garstang Masonic Hall. On behalf of all the recipients John offered grateful thanks.
Responding to the toast to the grand officers, John thanked both Neil McGill and Tom Blackburn for their support, together with that of the acting Provincial grand officers. John continued by appraising the brethren of the forthcoming Provincial Grand Lodge meeting and congratulated both Graham Timbrell (lodge charity steward) and Martin Slater (lodge secretary) on their promotions. John moved on to discuss the MCF 2021 Festival, congratulating the lodge on their support of the festival.
Offering his own congratulations to all who had taken part in the ceremony, John made mention of the three junior Masons who had presented the working tools and was also particularly pleased to witness the addresses articulated by the more experienced brethren.
John welcomed Neil McGill to his new role as group chairman and hopes everyone will support him. Concluding, John hoped everyone will consider attending Jim Wilson’s retirement event, to make sure he receives a royal send-off for all the work he has done for the group.
Following the toast to the master by Paul Street, the master’s song was splendidly performed by Fred Parker and the master’s swindle at the festive board raised £55.
Article written by Paul Thompson.
Photographs courtesy of Stewart Aimson.