Well-known and highly esteemed Freemason Jim Wilson will lead Plantagenet Lodge of Installed Masters No 9357 for the ensuing year, following his installation into the chair of King Solomon, in a superb ceremony held at the Masonic Hall, Wyrebank, Garstang.
With his retirement as Lancaster and District Group Chairman, it has given Jim the chance to once again take the master’s chair of a Craft lodge. He was last in the chair in 1982, when he became master of Carnforth Lodge No 4951. In the intervening years, Jim has worked hard for the good of Freemasonry and has served in many important roles within the group and the Province. He has been group Hamer representative, charity delegate, regional care officer, group vice chairman and of course group chairman. As well as the Craft, he is also in other Masonic orders and his commitment to Freemasonry has seen him being awarded grand rank in the Craft, achieving Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2002 and promoted to Past Junior Grand Deacon in 2013 and in the Royal Arch, being awarded Past Grand Standard Bearer in 2010.
Given his illustrious career and his standing within the Province, it was not surprising that the principal guest for the evening was none other than the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. Accompanying Tony were Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger, together with grand officers Norman Thompson, Philip Gardner, Peter Mason, Christopher Butterfield, Malcolm Worsley and Christopher Band. Also in attendance were the Lancaster Group Chairman Neil McGill, vice chairman Scott Devine, group secretary Chris Larder, and seven acting Provincial grand officers. Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp, skilfully assisted by his deputy Barry Fitzgerald, adeptly orchestrated this inspiring assembly.
On completion of lodge business, Keith Kemp entered the lodge room and announced that PrGM Tony Harrison was without and demanded admission. The installing WM Stephen McClintock warmly welcomed Tony and as is the custom offered Tony the gavel of the lodge. Initially accepting the gavel, he said that nothing would please him better than to hold on to it and put “Jim Wilson in his place, but I will let you do that”, all of which created much laughter from the assembled brethren.
The master-elect Jim, was presented by David Grainger, before being installed in an undeniably first-rate ceremony by the retiring WM Stephen McClintock, who also gave a textbook address to the master. Equally splendid and sincere addresses were given to the wardens by the Provincial Senior Grand Warden John Karran and to the brethren by the PrGM Tony Harrison.
As the ceremony drew to a close Tony brought his own personal greetings. He congratulated Jim on attaining the chair of Plantagenet Lodge and thanked installing master Stephen on the dignified way he had placed Jim in the master’s chair. Stephen then had the pleasure of presenting Tony with a cheque for £300, made out to the MCF 2021 Festival. The cheque, together with donations made through the white envelope scheme, totalled £542, a fantastic effort by the lodge.
At the subsequent festive board, held in the Wyrebank Banqueting Suite, David Grainger, in his reply to the toast to the health of the grand officers, thanked Stephen for the way he had conducted the ceremony and congratulated Jim on attaining the chair of King Solomon, urging him to enjoy his time as master.
David thanked the PrGM for his company at the installation, to which Tony responded by saying that he was thrilled to be present, especially to witness Jim being placed in the master’s chair by Stephen, who he again congratulated on an excellent job. Tony went on to speak about the MCF 2021 Festival, membership in both the Craft and the Royal Arch and ‘Night with the Stars’, the main fundraising event for the MCF 2021 Festival in 2019, to be held in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, on the 6 April.
In response to the toast to the Provincial grand officers, the Provincial Junior Grand Warden Clive Barry Dickinson made special mention of Jim, saying that as Jim had been a founder of Plantagenet Lodge, he was sure that if it had not been for his dedicated service as group chairman, he would have been in chair of the lodge much earlier and wished him great success for the year ahead.
Continuing the tradition of Plantagenet Lodge, Phil Gardner presented the outgoing master with a specially hand turned miniature gavel, on an inscribed stand, as a permanent memento of his year as master of the lodge.
In responding to the toast to his health, Jim paid tribute to the brethren of the lodge for their cooperation and encouragement and to Tony and his team for their support.
The final announcement was to say the raffle had made £530, the maser’s swindle £30, with a further £227 from the charity collection, a fitting tribute to a wonderful evening.
Article and photographs by Paul Thompson.