Melvyn (Mel) Cross was placed into the chair of Aegis Lodge No 9115 by installing master William (Bill) McGhee, in a dignified and earnest ceremony held at Wyrebank, Garstang. Bill had just completed three consecutive years in the lodge (the final year by dispensation), whilst it was Mel’s third time in the chair of Aegis Lodge, the last time being in 2014.
Aegis Lodge was delighted to welcome Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden Peter Pemberton, as the representative of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, together with Lancaster and District Group Chairman Jim Wilson, grand officers Jim Woods and Raymond Firth, as well as acting Provincial grand officer Stewart Aimson.
The lodge was formed in 1984, originally for the benefit of the fire service and associated personnel. In classical art and mythology, the word Aegis refers to an attribute of Zeus or Athena, usually represented as a goatskin shield, but more commonly means ‘with the protection or support of someone or something’. Also attending the ceremony were the WM and brethren of Lodge Salfire No 1505 in the Scottish Constitution. A close relationship has existed for many years between the two lodges, as Lodge Salfire was also formed as a lodge for fire service personnel.
Mel was presented for installation by grand officer Raymond Firth and having occupied the chair of King Solomon, Mel was presented with the working tools in each degree by Bill McGhee. The address to the master was superbly presented by Mel’s son Melvyn Anthony Cross, the address to the wardens was splendidly given by Robert Tinsley and Peter Pemberton gave an excellent address to the brethren of the lodge.
As the end of the ceremony of installation was announced, it marked the opportunity for Peter to bring to Mel the very best wishes and congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison on becoming the newest ruler in the Province. Peter was sure that had Tony been able to be present in person he would also have wished to congratulate the installing master and all who had taken part in an excellent ceremony. On behalf of Tony, Peter wished all the brethren the very best for the year ahead. Peter was absolutely delighted to receive notice of a £300 donation made by the lodge to the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, a superb charity who undertake to bring world class cancer treatments and services to cancer patients across South Cumbria and Lancashire.
The festival of St John was held in the Wyrebank Banqueting Suite, where Peter, in responding to the toast to the Provincial grand officers, was able to offer his own congratulations to the WM and offer his thanks to all who had taken office and for their dedication to this small tightly knit lodge and to Freemasonry in general.
He apprised the brethren of some of the initiatives being introduced within Masonry and how it was essential that we not only seek to recruit new members but importantly, that they should be of the right calibre, believing that the recruitment of unsuitable candidates would surely be just as damaging to our institution as those who criticise and denigrate our work from outside. That is why, Peter said: “The Members Pathway has been introduced to help lodges attract, introduce and retain members – and most importantly the ‘right’ members.”
Similarly, we need to make the benefits of Freemasonry – both to individual men and to our community – more widely appreciated. This is something that the Ambassadors to Freemasonry Scheme is intent upon doing.
Peter stressed that although the Royal Arch is an integral part of Freemasonry, there are still brethren who do not understand or appreciate its importance and significance. That is why chapters are being encouraged to introduce aspects of the ceremony which dramatically help candidates to understand the important story this degree has to tell. He said that if any brother has yet to take this important fourth step in Freemasonry they should certainly consider doing so and would not be disappointed.
Complimenting the lodge again on its charitable giving, Peter said that in the Province of West Lancashire we have over 1,000,000 reasons to support the MCF 2021 Festival as our Province receives over £1,000,000 in support of our brethren, their families and dependents each year. He thanked those who had already signed up to become a patron of the Festival and exhorted any brother who has yet to do to please consider pledging their support – “You will”, he said, “in the process, be helping those in need which may one day be you or those you love.”
Peter concluded his response by thanking group chairman Jim Wilson, for inviting him to represent the PrGM and for his support and guidance over the 10 years of his tenure as chairman. He joined with all the brethren in wishing Jim well for his well-earned retirement.
The master’s song was superbly delivered a cappella by Bob Tinsley and in response to the toast to his health, the WM proudly announced that the evening’s raffle had raised £200, supplemented by a further £40 from the so-called ‘masters’ swindle’.
Article written by Paul Thompson.
Photographs courtesy of Stewart Aimson.