Almost 100 brethren charted a course to Wyrebank, Garstang, to see Andrew Jones take the chair of Pilling Lodge No 7879.
Andrew had previously been master of Pilling Lodge in 2014 but it was later remarked that it seemed as though he had never been away, so smoothly did he resume the role of ‘ruling and governing’ the lodge.
Philip Gardner was very warmly welcomed as the principal guest representing the Provincial Grand Master. He was accompanied by grand officers Jim Wilson and from the Grand Lodge of Scotland William Innes, together with Lancaster and District Group Vice Chairman Scott Devine, group secretary Chris Larder and acting Provincial grand officers Andrew Ridal, Terry Ridal, Alan Hilton and Ben Yates.
After being presented for installation by Harry Robinson, Andrew was installed as master for the coming year by John Eccles, in a ceremony which commanded a great deal of praise for its competence and dignity.
Of equal excellence were the addresses to the master, wardens and brethren given by John Helme, Bill Bamber and John Prest respectively and maintaining the quality of the proceedings Chris Wilkinson, Andrew Carville and Alan McMonagle delivered explanations of the working tools of the third, second and first degrees in superb style.
At the close of the formal ceremony of installation, Philip Gardner rose to bring the greetings of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. Philip was sure that Tony would have been exceedingly proud of the way the ceremony had been performed. Indeed, Philip said that only an effective and practised team could make such a superb display of precision ritual seem so relaxed.
On behalf of the PrGM, Philip congratulated the immediate past and installing master John Eccles, not only for his peerless performance during the ceremony but for all the hard work on behalf of the lodge and Freemasonry he had put in during his year in office. He also congratulated the brethren on their delivery of the explanations of the working tools the quality of which augured well for the future of the lodge.
Philip was delighted to receive from John the list of donations made to charities and other worthy causes totalling the astounding figure of more than £7,000 and included £2,200 for the MCF 2021 Festival, £1,000 for the Wyrebank Building Fund, £450 to the Encephalitis Society, £450 to the Miscarriage Association, £200 to the Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team, £500 to Blood Bikes NW, £400 to the appeal fund to help send 15 year old Georgia Mladenovic, who was bravely coping with a life-threatening brain tumour, for ground-breaking treatment in America, £380 to Brian House Children’s Hospice and £200 to Garstang Memory Café.
As a result of the lodge’s support for the MCF 2021 Festival, the lodge had qualified to be granted the level of ‘Patron of the Festival’ and the group charity steward Simon Hanson had brought along a framed certificate marking the lodge’s patronage, which he asked Philip to present.
At the Festival of St John held in the Wyrebank Banqueting Suite the brethren enjoyed a superb repast following which Philip Gardner, in his response to the toast to the health of the grand officers, was delighted to have the opportunity to express his own personal congratulations to all who had made the occasion such a memorable one.
He said that it was obvious that the occasion had been extremely well supported by all and he particularly gave thanks and encouragement to the brethren who had explained the working tools.
Of course the representative of the Provincial Grand Master is expected to convey to the brethren those issues which Tony Harrison considers to be of greatest import to the benefit of Freemasonry and the Province. One of these, Philip said was encouragement to support our Masonic meeting places which had clearly been taken on board by Pilling Lodge.
Charity, that bedrock of Freemasonry, was also very much at the heart of the lodge’s endeavours as exampled by such a magnificent sum of donations.
One of the ‘hot topics’ at the moment was membership of the Holy Royal Arch and Philip emphasised the importance of making the Royal Arch ceremonies and meetings much more easily understood and to take the time to explain such to new members and also to try to convince brethren that the RA should be the first order they should consider joining after becoming a Master Mason.
Concluding his response Philip said that the mantra of our PrGM for all brethren to enjoy their Freemasonry was very clearly in place at Pilling Lodge and he thanked everyone for the very warm welcome he had received and wished the lodge and brethren all the very best for the future.
The master’s song was professionally delivered by Bob Tinsley accompanied by David Tattersall and the evening’s raffle raised the magnificent sum of £440.