Aegis Lodge No 9115, gave a fond welcome to the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, when he attended as principal guest to their installation meeting, held at the Masonic Hall in Garstang. Tony was supported by a magnificent team of grand and acting Provincial grand officers, including Assistant Provincial Grand Master Keith Kemp, grand officers Alan Elstone, Geoffrey Lee, Peter Connolly, Provincial Grand Chaplain Geoffrey Hurst, the recently appointed Provincial Senior Grand Warden, Provincial Junior Grand Warden and Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, David Edwards, Paul Storrar and Malcolm Bell respectively, together with acting Provincial grand officers Paul Mason and Ben Yates. Also in attendance were Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Ian Halsall and the Lancaster and District Group Vice Chairman Scott Devine.
Present also, were eight brethren from Lodge Saltfire Lodge No 1505 in the Scottish Constitution, who were making one of their regular visits owing to their common association with Aegis Lodge through the Fire and Rescue services.
On completion of lodge business, the PrGDC entered the lodge room to announce that the PrGM stood without and demands admission. Tony was greeted by the WM Melvyn (Mel) Cross and offered the gavel of the lodge, with the words “I know you won’t keep it”. Tony replied “ah, but I might surprise you”, creating much laughter amongst the brethren. Tony continued by saying how delighted he was to be at Aegis and that he was grateful to be offered the gavel and that one day he would love to say he would hang on to it for the rest of the installation – but not today!
The ceremony that ensured was a predominantly happy and laid-back affair, led by installing master Mel Cross. Master elect Raymond (Ray) Arthur Firth was presented by the director of Ceremonies Tony Cross (Mel’s son) and placed in the master’s chair with full dignity and splendour by Mel.
Mel continued his busy schedule by giving both the address to the master and presenting the working tools in each degree, whilst the address to the brethren was orated with precision and gravitas by Tony.
At the conclusion of the installation ceremony, Tony rose to extend his congratulations to the newest ruler of a lodge in the Province of West Lancashire. He hoped Ray had a happy and busy year ahead and the good health to enjoy it. Tony concluded by saying the ceremony had been a delight to witness.
At this juncture, Tony was presented with details of the very generous disbursements that the lodge had made to both Masonic and non-Masonic charities. This included £1500 to the MCF 2021 Festival and £200 to local charities. The money donated to the MCF entitled Aegis Lodge to become ‘Patrons’ of the festival and accordingly Scott Devine presented Mel with a certificate recording their great achievement.
Before the installation ceremony was concluded, Mel rose to ask Tony to present Ray with the Arthur Foster Jewel, in memory of Aegis’s mother lodge, Stanley Lodge. Arthur Foster, who became Deputy Provincial Grand Master of the Province in 1949, was born in 1876 and sadly passed away in 1959. He donated his past master’s jewel to Stanley Lodge in 1946 and today it was being offered to Ray to wear with the love and pride Arthur Foster had for Masonry.
Article and photographs by Paul Thompson.