Ashton and Mossley District Latest News
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VWBro Stephen Blank visits Lodge of Minerva No 300
VWBro Stephen Blank PGSwdB, APGM for Southern Area, presents the certificate to
WBro Stephen Ridgway PProvAGDC, the WM, on behalf of the Lodge
On Thursday 7th November, 2013, VWBro Stephen Blank PGSwdB, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Southern Area of the Province of East Lancashire made his final visit to an Ashton Lodge in his capacity as leader of the Area’s Masonic community. The occasion which gave rise to this visit was the presentation of a certificate acknowledging the fact that every single member of the Lodge of Minerva had made an individual donation to the 2015 Festival.
After entering the Lodge Room, accompanied by a delegation of the District Team, led by District Chairman WBro Ken Hampson PProvJGW, VWBro Blank was offered the gavel of the Lodge by the Worshipful Master, WBro Stephen Ridgway PProvAGDC, which he politely refused. In presenting the certificate to the WM of the Lodge of Minerva, VWBro Blank said that he was grateful to have the opportunity to visit the Lodge of Minerva again, especially on the occasion of presenting such a certificate for the very first time.
He noted that so far 53% of E Lancashire Freemasons had made an individual donation. This was a higher figure than the closing figure for 2004 Festival but the RW ProvGM wanted a higher percentage which is why the certificate was to be presented in recognition of the efforts of Lodge of Minerva, already a Grand Patron Lodge. VWBro Blank went on to ask for more, another £100 per member by the Festival close. He was then well and truly “gob-smacked” when the WM presented him with a cheque for £2,400 – well over £100 per member - in favour of the 2015 Festival.
The WM presents a cheque for £2,400.00 to VWBro Blank towards the 2015 Festival
As the Lodge of Minerva is already a Grand Patron of the Festival this means that they have now given in excess of £4,800.00 to the Festival. Lodge of Minerva No 300 is a proud old Lodge, which will celebrate 220 years since its foundation in just one month’s time. However, as you will see in the photograph showing the members of the Lodge, this does not mean that it is a big Lodge. That amply demonstrates the fact that it is not the size of a Lodge that controls what it gives to the Festival, but it certainly measures the size of its heart.
Members of the Lodge of Minerva who were present on the night
At the Social Board VWBro Stephen Blank thanked the Lodge for giving him the opportunity to visit them again, but also for giving him this final opportunity to visit an Ashton Lodge as “patch” APGM. He went on to talk about the upcoming changes to the leadership of United Grand Lodge and the forthcoming meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge on November 21st.
He then went on to talk about the Provincial Grand Master’s other, constant, theme, Recruitment. He mentioned the work that WBro Douthwaite and others have done to move the recruitment agenda forwards, including their attendance at Mottram Show and Rycroft Hall. “The central message, that we are ordinary people who do good work, will eventually come through. You must keep on trying, don’t give up, and you will eventually be rewarded as you deserve to be.”
VWBro Blank then concluded by telling everyone about the circumstances that had led to his forthcoming move to the Manchester Area. He explained why he had agreed to make the move, mainly because “you just don’t say “No” to the PGM.” However, he admitted that he had also been swayed by the fact that the PGM had suggested that he was minded to promote WBro John Pearson to succeed him as APGM for Southern Area, and “I realised that, in John Pearson, the Area would be getting an excellent and worthy successor.” He finished by saying that he had enjoyed his five years in Southern Area enormously.
Provincial Grand Stewards’ Lodge No 8408
The Worshipful Master together with his Wardens and Deacons
The first visit of one of the Province's premier lodges to Albert House took place on the evening of Monday 9th September.
WBro Alan D P Smith, J.P., PAGDC, currently has the honour of being Worshipful Master of East Lancashire Provincial Grand Stewards' Lodge no 8408 and he decided to hold the Lodge’s mid-term meeting at his home base. Alan, a member of Waverley Lodge at Ashton, is well known throughout the whole of the Southern Area.
On this occasion more than 85 Masons were present for the ceremony, nicely filling the Lodge Room at Ashton. Other prominent Southern Area Masons who took part in the ceremony included WBro David Williamson who is the Junior Warden of the Lodge, and WBros Ken Hampson and Peter Douthwaite, our own District Chairman and District Deputy Chairman, who are the current Senior and Junior Deacons. Not for a moment forgetting VWBro Stephen Blank, who as well as being the APGM for Southern Area also holds the position of Chaplain in 8408.
The Lodge Room
The Lodge Meeting was a triumph. The Provincial Deputy Grand Master, VWBro Derek Nelson Thornhill, was in attendance to see a marvellous ceremony. After the business elements of the meeting were concluded, there was an excellent talk on the subject of Hewlett Court by WBro Michael Williams who is its Secretary. This was a most appropriate subject for a talk because Hewlett Court is, of course, East Lancashire's own Retirement Home and, Alan Smith is its current Chairman.
Finally the Social Board was held in Ashton's superb conservatory. A sumptuous four course meal certainly showed off the quality of dining that Ashton can provide. There were the usual toasts and a fine speech by VWBro Thornhill. Everyone enjoyed a fine ceremony and a fine dinner making it a truly memorable occasion for one and all.
The East Manchester Canal Boat Project
On August 28th the District Charity Steward, WBro Brian Reynolds, accompanied the Provincial Grand Charity Steward, WBro Brian Sigsworth, on a VIP Sponsors Lunch aboard the canal boat, “Community Spirit”. The visit had been arranged by the East Manchester Community Boat Project, who operate the boat, as a way of thanking the major sponsors who help to keep the Project running
WBro Brian Sigsworth, WBro Jim Strudwick who was a member of the crew on the day,
and WBro Brian Reynolds during the excursion.
WBros Sigsworth and Reynolds had been invited to acknowledge the £6,000.00 in donations that have been made by the ELMC’s Community Fund to the EMCBP over the last five years, including the donation of £4,000.00 for a new hoist that was reported here last year.
Others who attended on the day included WBro Eric McConnell, who is Provincial Grand Almoner for the Province of Cheshire, and WBro John Crawford of the East Lancashire Mark Benevolent Fund, both of which have also made very substantial donations to this very worthy charity. Other attendees included representatives from local businesses and other community groups.
WBro Sigsworth gets to grips with the tiller under the expert tutelage of
Sue Steventon who is a member of the Trusteeship Committee
WBro Reynolds, who has now become a volunteer crewmember of the “Community Spirit” believes that there are many more brethren in Ashton & Mossley District who would enjoy assisting the Charity. He said, “We need to remember that there is more to Charity than just giving money. At a time when we are directing most of our charitable donations to the Festival, we can still help out groups like the EMCBP by giving of our time, rather than our money. I am sure that many local masons would enjoy the opportunity of working on the canal boat, and after a period of training they might well end up as a steersman.”
On this particular day the group enjoyed a pleasant sail along the Ashton Canal from Portland Basin to Droylsden and back. A journey that takes no more than a few minutes in a car takes almost two hours on the canal, so it is a very relaxing way to travel.
Nigel Anderson, President of the EMCBP (shown on the extreme left of the group photograph) said, "The East Lancashire Freemasons, and especially our friends in Ashton & Mossley District, have been among our most important supporters in the last few years. With their aid, together with our other sponsors, we have been able to continue to provide free trips on local canals for a wide range of community and especially disabled groups.
At our recent AGM we formally launched our quest to raise £100,000 to build a new community boat designed to provide even greater access for the disabled for the next 50 years. EMCBP are seeking further support to achieve its goal which should lead to the launch of the new boat in 2015. Any further assistance would be very much appreciated."
The whole party on their return to Portland Basin.
You will find all of the photographs taken on the day by following this link:
Freemasonry in Tameside
Readers will recall that earlier in the year we featured an article about the work of the District Recruitment and Retention Team. WBro Peter Douthwaite is the District Deputy Chairman and thus the District Officer with oversight of Recruitment and Retention. Last year he set up a team comprising himself with WBros Barry Dickson, Kevin Hall and Brian Reynolds to carry out this important work.
By the end of the last Masonic season they had visited almost all of the Lodges in the District to spread the important message about Recruitment. Everyone appreciates that numbers of Freemasons are declining in some parts of the country including ours and that we need to do something about it. You will no doubt remember the talk about the process of recruitment that was given in your Lodge and will be thinking about your Lodge's response to the challenge that was set.
However, this was only one part of the Team’s work. They have now taken part in three public shows. The visit to the Mottram Show in May has already been mentioned in these news pages. Since then the Team have ventured out twice more. On August Bank Holiday Monday they were to be found ensconced at the major Country Show at Mottram, a much bigger event than the May show.
Then, on the 8th of September, the team ventured nearer to home when they attended the Fun Day at Ryecroft Hall in Audenshaw. This was an entirely different sort of day with a huge array of child friendly entertainments. Fortunately, on this occasion, the "Freemasonry in Tameside" tent was located very close to the area where the St John's Castle Band were playing. It was clearly a coincidence that the conductor of the band was a close friend of Ashton & Mossley Masons and the tent would have been very useful in the event of rain.
On both occasions, the tent welcomed many visitors during the two days, possibly more at Mottram, but on both days there was plenty to do. There were at least a dozen serious enquiries about membership from a wide variety of people. Interest was expressed by a diverse group, from a member of the Scouting fraternity in his mid-twenties to those in their thirties, forties and even older. Most certainly there was cause for hope that at least some of those enquiries will turn into serious applications in the coming months.
The work of the R&R team will continue later in the year with a series of return visits to Lodges to discuss the methods we can use to retain members. After that the team will be looking forward to further visits to Mottram, and other shows, once the better weather returns.
Another Grand Day Out
A contingent of Southern Area Masons made the journey to London to take part in the June Quarterly Communication of United Grand Lodge in what is now becoming a regular event. Some 27 brethren took part in the visit this year, with just under half travelling down a day earlier to take part in Mark Grand Lodge. However, the majority of the brethren set off from Piccadilly at 8.15 am for what is now a quick and comfortable trip taking little more than two hours. After a short journey by taxi the whole group met up at Great Queen Street.
The June Quarterly Communications are in many ways like a short ballet. The proceedings take little more than an hour and always feature the report of the Board of General Purposes, the Accounts of Grand Lodge and the Annual General Meeting of Grand Charity, but most items are dealt with quite speedily. None of that really matters, though, for most masons seem to enjoy the spectacle, and the resonant sound of so many masons speaking together, more than the business itself. Freemasonry may or may not be in some sort of numerical decline but in the Grand Temple one really does feel part of a great organisation. One small item did catch the author’s eye; it was at this meeting that Hartshead Lodge No 7042, an Ashton & Mossley District Lodge which closed 18 months ago, was finally erased.
And so to Lunch in the Great Connaught Rooms, which is becoming as much of a tradition as the visit itself. The group dined exceedingly well, as ever, though one or two were caught out by a cold Vichyssoise soup. Nonetheless, they all enjoyed the braised steak and Eton Mess which followed and very few seemed to regret the plentiful supply of wine which accompanied the meal. After the meal our Assistant Provincial Grand Master, VWBro Stephen Blank PGSwdB, proposed the Loyal Toast and said a few words about the day. He thanked WBro John Pearson PAGReg for all of the work that he had done to organise the visit.
Then, in many ways, we reached the high point of the visit. Each year the East Lancs Masons have been privileged to receive a visit from the Deputy Grand Master and the Assistant Grand Master RWBros Jonathan Spence and David Williamson. On this occasion it seemed unlikely that such a visit would take place for, during Grand Lodge, it was obvious that RWBro Spence was not present this year. So it was with great delight that the group welcomed RWBro David Williamson when he walked into the room after lunch. But imagine the sheer surprise and delight of the group when RWBro Williamson said, “I’m sorry that Jonathan could not be with us today, but I found somebody else wandering around and I’ve brought him along as a substitute”, and into the room walked the Pro Grand Master himself, MWBro Peter Geoffrey Lowndes.
“Our Principals and our Special Guests, L-R EComp David Thompson,
VWBro Stephen Blank, MWBro Peter Geoffrey Lowndes,
RWBro David Kenneth Williamson, EComp Norman Clarke.”
The Pro Grand Master was, to say the least, welcomed with open arms just as a long lost East Lancs Mason might have been. We enjoyed the company of these two most senior masons not just for a brief visit, but for the best part of an hour. They both toured the room, talking at length to small groups of the Southern Area brethren. It would be most impolite to describe what was said, but everyone who was there will long remember the day that they were able to chat with two such splendid men.
Unfortunately, the extended visit to our Lunch meant that the time that was available for a personal guided tour of Grand Lodge was much more limited than usual. However, there was the opportunity to visit the Grand Temple and feel awed at its size and beauty. Some of the group had the opportunity to sit in the Grand Master’s chair and dream, if only for a few moments. We looked at the doors to the Grand Temple which were donated by East Lancs Province after the end of the First Great War. We walked down the long corridor where the processions form up, toured the room which is used as the robing room for Grand Officers and visited one of the many beautiful Lodge Rooms that are found in Grand Lodge. Do have a look at the photo gallery and you will see a number of photographs taken during this visit.
Then, after the tour, came the time to leave Grand Lodge, but with three hours to fill and the rain falling steadily, there was nothing for it but to retreat to the warm welcome that can be found in the Newton Arms. There a couple of pleasant hours were passed chatting and imbibing the occasional pint of ale. One small problem reared its ugly head when it came time to leave the Newton and make our way back to Euston Station. With the rain still falling quite heavily, and rush hour seemingly at a peak, it proved impossible to get hold of a single taxi cab, let alone the small fleet that was needed to get the group back to Euston. However, as the old saying goes, cometh the hour, cometh the man. Our APGM, VWBro Stephen Blank, was the brother who realised that the solution was staring us in the face, or at least was just down the road, in the form of the omnibus stop. London Transport and the old Routemaster may no longer be found on the streets of our capital, but the good old red buses provided by Transport for London proved more than adequate for the task. It seems doubtful if any of the other passengers on the bus realised quite who was accompanying them on that short journey although the DepDistCh of Audenshaw District, WBro Paul Waring, did seem determined to recruit a rather surprised elderly lady who was otherwise occupied with her knitting! I regret to say that there was no camera to hand to take a picture, but you may be assured that this event did take place, I would not lie to you!
There are a total of 53 photographs of the visit that were taken on the day, some are shown in
this report and some,in a reduced form, in the collage above. To see all of the photographs
full size, and download any that you want to keep, please visit the online web gallery which
you will find at:
Ashton & Mossley District holds its
24th Annual Assembly of Masters & First Principals
Our Hosts for the evening – WBro Ken Hampson and his wife Karen
The twenty fourth Annual Assembly of Masters and First Principals of Ashton and Mossley District was held at Mossley Masonic Hall on the evening of Saturday, 18th May 2013. The event was hosted by WBro Ken Hampson and his wife Karen, who had gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure that the Dining Room at Mossley looked at its very best.
The Honoured Guests for the evening were our Assistant Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Stephen Blank, accompanied by his wife Marilyn, and the Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals, EComp Norman Clarke who was accompanied by his wife Anne. All of the current officers of the District were also in attendance with their wives.
In total, more than fifty guests sat down to a sumptuous five course dinner, which gave everyone the opportunity to catch up with friends old and new. By the end of the meal it was clear to see that everyone was thoroughly enjoying themselves, and the evening.
After Dinner, EComp Norman Clark returned thanks, WBro Ken Hampson proposed the Loyal Toast, and also proposed a toast to our Honoured Guests. This gave VWBro Stephen Blank the opportunity to regale everyone with an excellent response, peppered with jokes and humorous stories.
Our Honoured Guests, VWBro Stephen Blank and his wife Marilyn
VWBro Blank said among other things that, “It’s wholly appropriate that the District should hold this special dinner to mark the occasion when you occupy the chair of your Lodge or Chapter. It’s even more appropriate that our wives are invited to thank them for their support during this special year. We all know – I most certainly do – that we could do nothing without that support and we thank all of you ladies.
I have very nearly completed five years as APGM with responsibility for this area and during that time I have visited every Lodge in the area. Our new Provincial Grand Master has already visited both Ashton and Mossley, and as far as I am aware I’m not going anywhere!”
He finished by stating, “Ken, your support has been outstanding. On behalf of myself and Norman, thank you, Ken for the work you have done and will do; for your friendship and for your kind toast. Thank you, Karen, Anne, Marilyn and all the other ladies and you, brethren & companions, for the manner in which you have received it.”
I have no doubt at all that every man who was present in the room that evening joined with VWBro Blank in his thanks to all of the Ladies present, for we all know only too well that we could not enjoy Freemasonry, as we do, without the support and encouragement of our Ladies.
You can find full size copies of every photograph taken on the evening by clicking on this link.
You will be able to look at all of the photographs individually, watch a slideshow or even download any pictures that you want.
RWBro Sir David Trippier Visits Mossley Lodge on May 1st 2013
On Wednesday, May 1st, we gathered together at Westholme, the home of Freemasonry in Mossley, to receive Right Worshipful Brother Sir David Trippier RD, JP, DL, our Provincial Grand Master, on his first official visit. It proved to be an unusual, entertaining and very informative evening and we all enjoyed a most convivial and fraternal evening.
It was unusual in that the meeting was held in the name of Mossley Lodge, but of the officers on the night, only the Junior Warden and the Senior Deacon were members of that Lodge. The Worshipful Master came from Stamford and Assheton Lodge, the Senior Warden from Three Shires Lodge, and the rest represented all of the Lodges who regularly meet at Westholme. As you have already surmised, this was a hosted visit which allowed the RW Provincial Grand Master to get a taste of all that is good about Freemasonry in Mossley.
Sir David entered the Lodge Room accompanied by a sizable Provincial Delegation, headed by our own Very Worshipful Bro Stephen Blank in his new rank of Past Grand Sword Bearer. After being welcomed by the Worshipful Master, Sir David took the chair of the Lodge and then introduced all of the delegation to a packed Lodge Room. This was followed by the “Explanation of the First Tracing Board” which was beautifully delivered by WBro Alan Collett PProvJGW. It is a piece of work that, though being clearly a difficult piece to learn, is not heard as often as it deserves to be.
“WBro Alan Collett PProvJGW explained the First Tracing Board”
And then we went down to partake of the Social Board. A sumptuous meal was quite evidently enjoyed by all those present and gave the opportunity for our Provincial Grand Master to respond to the usual toasts.
Sir David began by saying that he had enjoyed a fabulous night, for which he thanked everyone present. He commented that it could not have been a more hospitable greeting and that he was most impressed by the Masonic Building at Mossley, the outside, the temple and the way that the brethren had filled it. He referred to WBro Collett’s presentation, saying, “It was a brilliant explanation of the First Tracing Board and brought memories flooding back of my own early days in my mother Lodge in Rochdale.” He also commented that it had given him the greatest possible thrill to see WBro Reverend Dennis Thomas PastAPGM who had been able to join us at the Social Board. Sir David commented that “he has been to hell and back, shunted from one hospital to another, but it is good to see him on the mend at last.”
He went on, “One serious point, though, and that is to thank you for the money that you have given me tonight to pass on to the Festival. It is beginning to pick up. When I took over, the individual donations weren’t so good. A lot of individuals are on fixed incomes, and I understand how difficult it can be for some of our members. It was Martin Caller’s idea, supported by Stephen Blank, that we give a special certificate to Lodges where everyone has given a donation to the Festival. It doesn’t matter how much you give, just give something! Remember that the Festival won’t last forever. After the end of 2015 you will be able to give everything you want to the other Charities that you support, but please, while we have the RMBI Festival, I urge you to support it.”
He ended by simply saying that, “It has been a very happy and memorable occasion. Thank you very much.”
If you would like to see further photographs of this evening, especially of the Social Board, please follow this weblink by clicking on it, or by cutting and pasting it into your browser.
Masons at the Mottram Show
Mottram Show was held on the May Day Bank Holiday, May 6th this year. For the first time, we had a “Freemasonry in Tameside” Information Tent at the Show and it certainly proved to be a very worthwhile venture.
The idea to have an Information Tent at Mottram Show grew out of the work of the Recruitment and Retention Team that was set up by WBro Peter Douthwaite in his role as Deputy District Chairman for Ashton & Mossley, a job that includes oversight of the whole Recruitment and Retention Initiative in our District. WBro Douthwaite started this work just about twelve months ago when he first organised our R&R Team. The team comprises WBro Douthwaite together with WBros Barry Dickson, Kevin Hall and Brian Reynolds. All three of these brethren are established members of the District Team, covering Mentoring, Communications, the 2015 Festival and Charitable Giving.
In the last twelve months these brethren have produced a paper on the subject of Recruitment, and how it might be accomplished by Lodges, they have then visited every Lodge in the District to give that talk and set a task to help them to think about what they need to do to improve their chances of bringing new men into the Craft. They have already started work on the follow up paper that will be given when they revisit the Lodges in the next Masonic season. Hopefully all of the Lodges will have given some thought to how they want to move forwards and the second visit will be more proactive.
You will also have seen the Information Boards that the team introduced into both of our Masonic halls. Colourful and attractive Information Boards have been positioned so that they are easily seen by both Masons and other visitors to our buildings. Both are equipped with boxes containing leaflets that have been provided by United Grand Lodge and by our own Province. In addition, WBro Dickson produced a third leaflet which gives details of contacts within Ashton & Mossley District. It was these Information Boards that first led to the idea of an Information Tent that could be taken to outside events.
After outline permission had been granted to provide an Information Tent, WBro Barry Dickson obtained the Tent itself, and organised for us to have a pitch at Mottram Show. Strictly speaking, Mottram comes under the Province of Cheshire, so we decided to market ourselves as “Freemasonry in Tameside” and to take a determinedly nonpartisan position, simply offering advice about Freemasonry, without directing visitors to any particular location. WBro Douthwaite organised the items that would be used in the Tent, and we were ready to go.
The day was not the best in terms of weather, but it was dry and brightened up considerably as the day went on. There were certainly many visitors to the Show, attracted by the Show Jumping, Dog Show and the myriad other attractions that go to make up the Mottram May Show. Hundreds of visitors passed the tent during the day and, although it would be unfair to say that we caused a lot of interest, we caused some.
Holding the Fort
WBro Douthwaite said, “First of all I would like to thank everyone for the hard work they have put into today’s event. It was the culmination of all of our hard work over the last year and I hope that we have now helped to bring freemasonry into the wider community. Lots of people passed our tent during the day and they recognised who we were. There were certainly more positive reactions than negative. Overall, people were surprised to see freemasonry in such a public forum, but this enabled them to ask questions and they were able to take away the leaflets we presented and so gain a better understanding of our movement. We gave out at least 100 leaflets, and had at least 12 positive enquiries.”
In many ways the highlight of the day came when a young boy, towing his parents behind him, rushed into the tent because he had seen his Teddy Bear on the display inside the tent. Of course, his Teddy Bear which was actually at home, had been given to him during a visit to the A&E Department of Tameside Hospital. It was one of our TLC Teddy Bears. WBro Douthwaite said, “Doesn’t this show most clearly the impact we are having, and the positive recognition we are building within the community?” The young man in question was certainly too young to join us, but if we continue to create a positive image with the wider public by the things that we do, we will see positive developments in the future.
All in all, the first “Freemasonry in Tameside” Information Tent went down very well indeed. It gave an opportunity for several interested men to start asking about Freemasonry, it created an opportunity for Freemasons who are relocating to our area to ask about Freemasonry in the Southern Area, as well as in Derbyshire and Cheshire, and it offered a sanctuary for a number of brethren to pop in for a visit and a chat whilst visiting Mottram Show. All in all, it was a very good day. We will be returning to Mottram Show for the Summer Event on Sunday 18th August. Put it in your diary, and you might like to come and pay us a visit next time.
United Grand Lodge and Supreme Grand Chapter
Investiture Meetings - April 2013
A Masonic Pinnacle in Three days
It does not get much better than doing a great job, but sometimes being acknowledged is very close, and for VWBro Stephen Blank this has never been more true, being promoted to Past Grand Sword Bearer (PGSwdB) in Grand Lodge and performing his duty as Grand Sword Bearer (GSwdB) for the First Grand Principal in Supreme Grand Chapter has truly shown the recognition and regard the high rulers of Freemasonry have for such a dedicated and successful Freemason as VWBro Blank.
Reflecting on the events Stephen stated ‘I have said many times how very fortunate I have been in my Masonic career. But if Tuesday 23 April 2013 to Thursday 25 April 2013 doesn’t prove to be a pinnacle, I can’t wait to see what tops it!’
In April last year Stephen was elected as the Worshipful Master of British Lodge No. viii (consecrated 1722) which, being one of the 19 Red Apron Lodges, meant he was also appointed Grand Steward. Stephen explained ‘our year, as Grand Stewards, builds up to the Grand Festival on Wednesday 24 April 2013. The Grand Festival is the dinner for newly appointed and promoted Grand Officers and a select number of guests. My Board of the 19 Grand Stewards were the hosts for the 285th occurrence in its present form.’
I can’t wait to see what tops it!
On the evening before the Grand Festival, they entertained their successors, those being appointed Grand Stewards the following day, at dinner. Stephen further explained ‘the dinner for the 38 of us took place in the Crystal Rooms at the Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane and of course the experience was fantastic. Walking down what can only be described as an endless lobby of the Dorchester alone was an experience. Following a champagne reception we sat down opposite our successors, between two new Grand Stewards (des) for a sumptuous meal, great company and discussions on highs and challenges of being and becoming a Grand Steward.’
He went on to explain ‘my successor, Jonathan Morgan, was initiated into British Lodge No viii in 2007. He was understandably nervous and I had to keep thinking what all this would have been like had I been a new mason rather than a 37 year veteran! However he spotted someone he knew from years before when they had been in a band together and relaxed! Our Board’s President, RWBro Sir Fred Crawford PJGW, encouraged us to give our successors a few pointers as to what had worked and what hadn’t, emphasising that the final decisions were theirs.’
The Grand Stewards were on duty the next day in the Grand Temple from two o’clock for drilling from the Grand Director of Ceremonies on their duties during the Investiture. Ensuring everything was right for the processing in, working the ‘carousel’ escorting newly appointed or promoted Grand Officers including, finally, their successors, then processing out. Bro Stephen Blank added ‘that would have been exciting enough but I was also one of those being promoted! Those who have been Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies (DepGDC) receive promotion after a few years, usually to Past Grand Sword Bearer, assuming they have continued to support activities of UGLE and/or their Province when asked. Ranks from Grand Inspector to Grand Chaplain, such as GSwdB, are addressed as Very Worshipful Bro. Ranks over GChap, including of course ProvGMs, are addressed as RWBro. You will have worked out that we now should address Bro Blank as VWBro”.
Word had got around the the Grand Stewards pick up the bill
He had given his new GSwdB Apron and Collar to John Vazquez, who works at Great Queen Street, the day before. As soon as the GStwds formed up to do the carousel, he ducked out past the sound box and John was waiting outside to help him switch regalia. He then went back in, waited until the PGSwdBs were taken out of their seats and formed up with them. Chris Connop was the GStwd who escorted him, Stephen afterwards explained the WBro Connop had ‘carefully with tongue in cheek told him what he was expected to do! After a grin, a word and a handshake from the Pro Grand Master, I ducked out, John helped me switch back to Red and I re-joined my Bro GStwds helping in the carousel. They had managed without me! I missed the opportunity to escort most of the E Lancs brethren but was delighted to ‘catch’ Andrew Holland PAGSwdB especially as he had been one of my ProvDepGDCs. Of course WBro Martin Roche SGD APGM was also on duty as an acting officer.’
But no rest for the wicked! Keeping their long tails on, to show they were the hosts, straight to the Grand Connaught Rooms to put on carnations and escort their successors to a private room where they were introduced to the High Rulers, the Grand Secretary and the Grand Director of Ceremonies.
Only then were they able to take their places at dinner, the Grand Festival, where 500 Grand Officers were dining. Each Red Apron Lodge has a table which includes the GStwd, his predecessor and his successor as well as other members. Stephen had made sure that the East Lancs table of ten Brethren was close by. Two of the APGMs, Norman Cope who had been promoted to PSGD and Chad Northcott, sat on Stephen’s table, whilst Sir David was seated next to the Assistant Grand Master. Stephen said ‘word had got around that the GStwds pick up the bill for any overspends so very quickly the East Lancs table was out of wine and I personally had to provide the refill.’’
The meal was Lemon Sole, Red Mullet and Monkfish terrine, Twice baked Chees Soufflé with Cauliflower Velouté, Pan Fried Fillet of Beef and a chocolate dessert that had to be seen to be believed.
The meal and the wines were generally agreed to be among the best in recent years. Retiring to a private room afterwards - Bros Cope and Northcott as well – ‘but later the three of us had to leave and make our way to the Tavistock Hotel where we joined about 50 East Lancs Masons who were determined to celebrate the night away. The East Lancs celebrations continued’ explained Stephen after he went back to his own hotel late (but nowhere near the end of those celebrations) as he had to report for duty at 0915 the following morning at Supreme Grand Chapter.
First Grand Principal himself was presiding
To cap off his ‘annus mirabilis’, Stephen had been appointed the previous year as acting GSwdB in the RA since he had served as DepGDC for four years in the RA as well. He had missed the November 2012 meeting of Supreme Grand Chapter due to his wife’s illness. Stephen stated ‘the DepGSwdB was very happy to take my place although commiserated about the reason, so this would be my first and only opportunity to carry the Sword. It was made even better by the news that the First Grand Principal himself was presiding. I had drilled a few GSwdBs in my time but still was put through my paces by the GDC. All I was worried about was not falling down the five stairs, especially as I had seen a large East Lancs contingent, including ProvGDC and IP ProvGDC, carefully placed on the front row of the balcony facing me.’
All went well! And he enjoyed a pleasant lunch afterwards with the East Lancs investees, collapsing onto the 3:40 pm train home.
Still can’t quite believe it
‘A wonderful few days, still can’t quite believe it. But I would like to thank those brethren who made a special trip to be there and support me and other East Lancs brethren. I couldn’t get to see all of them and thank them in person but hope they will get to see this article’
VWBro Stephen M Blank PGSwdB APGM.
Freemasons Proud to Support Charities
The study for the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) found that the amount donated to charities has declined from £11 to £10 a month, which equates to a loss of £1.7 billion to charities in 2012. CAF chief executive John Low said: "The drop in giving shown by our survey is deeply worrying for those charities which rely on donations to provide vital frontline services. Freemasonry which is one of the largest donators to Charity, second only to the National Lottery, recently held a local Charity giving night in East Manchester.
As recipients started to arrive and take their seats the chatter grew louder and louder as hosts and charity representatives greeted each other with joyous congratulations and thanks.
The Freemasons of Audenshaw, Ashton and Mossley (Southern Area) brought together a wide range of local and national charities, ranging from Willow Wood Hospice, Tameside Community Gym, Make a Wish UK, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, RMBI 2015 Festival and many more to make donations of more than £48,000.
£48,693 donated in one Charity Giving Evening
The Assistant Provincial Grand Master WBro Stephen Blank in his introductory address highlighted that the principles of Freemasonry help local Freemasons to drive support to a wide range of charities and good causes. He referred to the four main Masonic Grand Charities and in particular to the Freemasons’ Grand Charity which all Freemasons support annually and which were able to donate grants of over £7.7 million in 2012. More than £2.5 million was donated to charities that have no masonic connection.
£7,757,758 donated in 2012 by the Freemasons’ Grand Charity
During the evening the Civic Mayor of Tameside Councillor Brenda Warrington commented on how humbled she was at the generosity of local Freemasons in the current economic climate and that it is truly heart-warming.
Un-sung heroes donate an impressive £321,123 in six years.
With a large range of Charities represented during the evening some of those recipients echoed the Mayor’s sentiments with the Willow Wood Hospice representative highlighting local Freemasons as Un-sung heroes of the community. The Southern Area Freemasons are proud and passionate about supporting hospices because the help and care they provide to people at emotionally difficult times is invaluable. Hospice services aim to ease pain and trauma through kindness, comfort and understanding, as well as by providing exceptional medical care. We have one such local hospice (Willow Wood) which Freemasonry supports through charity giving. The Freemasons’ Grand Charity supported 239 hospices throughout England and Wales in 2012 with a truly amazing total giving of over £600,000.
£1 million to Air Ambulance Services
The North West Air Ambulance received further donations during the evening raising the total giving to Air Ambulance Services in the last year, by Freemasonry, to more than £192,000. Lynda Brislin, Chief Executive of the North West Air Ambulance said ‘during the last 12 years of operation the Masonic groups in our area have been enormously supportive of the service. It is particularly nice to know that Freemasonry values the work we do and their generosity is very much appreciated’.
The funding of medical research is of real benefit to the wider community and is an important area of Masonic charity giving. Over the last year Southern Area have been raising funds to support the Royal College of Surgeons (fellowship research programme) with the East Lancashire Freemasons collectively looking to donate more than £20,000 in October 2013. Freemasonry have further supported medical research into Dementia with more than £90,000 donated throughout England and Wales. Cancer Research UK have been regularly supported by Freemasonry since 1981, with donations of more than £8 million.
£8 million to Cancer Research UK
Over the last year Freemasonry has donated more than £195,000 to Cancer Research UK, £100,000 specifically to fund researching Pancreatic Cancer. Dr Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK said ‘this research will provide insight into how cancer cells protect themselves from being destroyed by the immune system. Better understanding of this could have an impact on future treatments for both pancreatic and other cancer types. It is thanks to your support that we are able to discover and develop new, more effective treatments. Thank you’. More than 8,000 people in the UK die of Pancreatic Cancer each year and only 4% survive for more than five years. It is hoped that this research will lead to positive changes in these statistics.
The Freemasons of Southern Area have clearly excelled themselves in the last 12 months enabling them to donate more than £48,000 at the annual giving night held on the 12th April, at Stanley House in Audenshaw. It is clear that donations from Freemasonry nationally is even further reaching with the four Masonic Grand Charities supporting both our local and national charities, Freemasons are immensely proud to support our communities, those in need, those services which are so needed, yet have little support from government grants. Freemasonry’s core values are Brotherly Love – Relief – and Truth and acts as a ‘constant’, providing members with a unique combination of friendship, belonging and structure, with many masons saying they have made valuable lifelong friendships.
It should be emphasised that freemasonry is not a charity. We do not solicit donations from non-masons although they do support our events so contribute indirectly. So to quote the Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master, Peter Lowndes, ‘whilst charity may not be our reason for existence, it is certainly a most important part of masonic life of which we should be and are hugely proud. Indeed, it is a very natural result of leading our lives according to the masonic line and rule’.
There is a web based photo gallery with lots more pictures of the Charity Giving Night. Please click on the web link below to go to the Gallery. You can look at the pictures and you can download any that you would like to keep.
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and Willow Wood Hospice.
Each year The Freemasons’ Grand Charity provides financial grants to support hundreds of charities. In 2012, £2.5 million was donated to help people in a variety of difficult situations. The Charity is continuing a commitment to charitable support that began nearly 300 years ago in the earliest days of organised Freemasonry. In our Area, the most recent example of the work of the Freemasons’ Grand Charity came in the form of the annual grant, this year £2,203, to Willow Wood Hospice.
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity is a grant-making charity dedicated to supporting people in need. Each year, the charity provides relief grants for hundreds of individuals who are experiencing financial difficulty, as well as donating millions of pounds to nationwide charitable projects and services.
The charities supported by the Grand Charity are chosen because they aim to make a significant difference to people in need, provide maximum impact by benefitting as many people as possible and support issues that individual Freemasons and their families are concerned about and will be glad to help.
WBro Ken Hampson, WBro John Pearson and Joh Fellowes
Freemasons are passionate about supporting hospices because the help and care provided to people at emotionally difficult times is invaluable. Each year grants are available for all hospice services in England and Wales that receive less than 60% of their income from the National Health Service. Hospice grants are awarded for running costs only and no contributions are made to capital appeals - this means the money goes direct to caring.
In 2012, a further £600,000 was distributed amongst 239 hospice services, bringing the total to £9.9 million since 1984.
On Friday 22nd \march, 2013, WBro Ken Hampson, the District Chairman of Ashton and Mossley District, and WBro John Pearson, the District Chairman of Audenshaw Districts, attended Willow Wood Hospice in Ashton, where they presented a cheque for £2,203 to Mr John Fellows the Fundraising & PR Manager for Willow Wood Hospice. This cheque demonstrates the very real link between the Freemasons’ Grand Charity and our Area.
The Freemasons of Southern Area have been involved with the development of Willow Wood Hospice from its very earliest days. Freemasons as individuals, and acting together as Lodges and Districts, funded the building of the Hydrotherapy Pool and have continued to play a significant role in our local Hospice. It seems reasonable to say that, since the inception of the Hospice at Willow Wood, Freemasons have given something in the order of £80,000.00 to Willow Wood and I’m sure that I speak for all of us when I say I am sure that we will continue to do so in the future.
The 2015 Festival Dinner
WBro Newman, WBro Blank and WBro Scott
The second Festival Dinner was held on Wednesday March 20th, this year at Ashton Masonic Hall. The event was hosted by our APGM, WBro Stephen M Blank PDepGDC, GStwd who was accompanied by his wife Marilyn. The principal guests were WBro James Newman PSGD, who is currently Chairman of the Trustees of the RMBI and WBro John M Scott PAGSwdB, Chairman of the RMBI 2015 Festival accompanied by his wife Julie. The after dinner address was given by WBro Newman who will become the President of the RMBI – and hence a VWBro - in April.
A splendid turnout of 102 Masons and their wives and partners represented the Southern Area in fine style. A splendid meal of French Onion Soup, Coq au Vin and Lemon Tart, accompanied by the usual liquid refreshments, was followed by thought provoking speeches. Anyone who went home after this Dinner without thinking about the Festival would have been a very hard hearted soul.
In his introduction, WBro Blank introduced WBro Newman by saying that he has worked tirelessly for Masonic Charities and it is this which has led to his promotion to the Presidency of the RMBI. WBro Blank went on to say that it was a great privilege to have him with us.
WBro Stephen and Mrs Marilyn Blank
WBro Newman began by referring back to our first Festival Dinner in 2012 when we had enjoyed the company of VWBro Chris Cain. He said that we had been lucky to enjoy the company of Chris, “who is a fantastic speaker, very eloquent and knows his subject well, but he gives talks like this all of the time, and I am really just getting started.”
“The RMBI was founded in 1842 and is the second oldest of all the Masonic Charities. It was originally set up to support “worthy and decrepit freemasons” and I think that says a lot about how things have changed since 1842. We have 17 Homes spread across the country, we have 1000 residents, two thirds of whom are female. We have a staff of some 14,000 and a turnover of some £14 million. So you can see already that we really are a business and the biggest operation in freemasonry.”
WBro Newman - The Principal Speaker
“The average age of entry for one of our residents used to be between 65 and 70, but now it is about 88 or 89. That is partly because we are living longer. Among our residents we have 23 centurians, so I would suggest that we are doing something right. We offer long term care, holidays and respite care, which is, in itself, very important indeed.”
“Our core planning is all about Care Standards. There are some Care Homes that have problems with their care standards. We spend a great deal of time working with our staff to ensure the quality of our care. The old idea of regimentation has gone out of the window. Our residents do what they like, when they like. We provide communal areas and private areas, quiet areas and less quiet areas and it is the residents who decide how they spend their time. Two thirds of our residents now suffer from some form of dementia and they need different facilities and different types of care. We use the sort of Memory Boards that Chris showed you last year, and simple things like colour coded carpeting so that residents can make their own way back to their rooms with confidence. All of our staff, from top to bottom, have some sort of training in this specialist type of care. In addition, we have spent £30 million over the last five years upgrading our facilities.”
“One legacy that I want to leave is to move more dementia care services out into the community. We are looking at providing Day Care Centres, which we see as being one way of going out into the community. We need to build a workforce who know what they are doing because we are dealing with very frail, very vulnerable people and that is why training is so important.”
“The links with the Masonic community are very important to us. Every one of our homes has an Association of Friends and strong links with its local Masonic Community. Local Authorities pay between 60% and 70% of a residents’ costs, and it is for that remaining 30% that we need your support. Charity Stewards bear the main brunt of the fundraising. We do our best to minimise costs, but we must all remember that there are now just 210,000 freemasons when ten years ago there were 290,000. During the period of a Festival we really need you to support the main Charity that is being supported by that Festival. That will still leave you with the six years between Festivals when you can support all of the other Charities that we know you want to support as well.”
“All we are asking is that everyone gives something. The amount that they give is up to them, there is no fixed personal target, all of us know what we can afford. I urge you to keep asking every member, and don’t forget to ask new members as well. Look at the sort of things that other Provinces have put together to raise funds as a means of gaining new ideas. The core message to take back with you from tonight’s meeting is this, “Give what you can, but give!”
“I also need to mention “Freemasonry Cares” which is just starting to be publicised in East Lancashire. Freemasonry Cares brings the four Masonic Charities together under one banner. I will finish with this message. Some of you will need our services at some point in the future, and when we are needed, we will be there!”
WBro John and Mrs Julie Scott
WBro John Scott, the Festival Chairman, closed the evening by thanking WBro Newman and commented that it certainly helps him to have a speaker of such quality available. He continued, “Someone very close to me has dementia. As our society grows older then more and more of us will suffer from this tragic illness. Our own RMBI home at Ecclesholme is pervaded by a sense of calmness. I’d like to think that we are ready to support such a place. I believe that we ought to be willing, even if it is for selfish reasons, to give something to support this appeal, on a regular basis, even if it is no more than five pounds a month.”
There is a Photo Gallery for this article. You can see just under 60 photographs, and download any that you might want to keep, by going to the following web address.
For more pictures, click the link below:
A Concert for St George
Mossley Lodge of Freemasons No 6577 will be holding a Concert for St George at Westholme, Stockport Road, Mossley OL5 0RB. The Concert will feature MOSSLEY BAND and will take place at 7.30 pm on Saturday, 20th April 2013. The ticket price of £10.00 includes a potato pie supper. All proceeds are in aid of the RMBI 2015 Festival. Tickets can be obtained from behind the bar at Westholme as well as from Garry Errock on 0161 620 8945 / 07940 879476 or from Dave Johnson on 01457 838660
Grand Lodge Promotion for WBro Stephen Blank
I'm sure that you will all join us in congratulating WBro Stephen M Blank PDepGDC, GStwd who has been informed that he will be promoted to the rank of PGSwdB at the Investiture Meeting of the United Grand Lodge of England in April. As a result of this promotion he will become Very Worshipful Brother Blank. I am sure that we will all agree that this promotion is well deserved but also reflects well on the Province and of course this District.
RW Provincial Grand Master visits Duke of Athol Lodge No 210
The Provincial Delegation
Our Provincial Grand Master, Sir David Trippier RD, JP, DL made his first official visit to Ashton Masonic Hall on Wednesday 6th March 2013, and informed us straight away that he was "very impressed" with the place.
He came to visit Duke of Athol Lodge No 210 and to celebrate the 50th Masonic Birthday of WBro James Munroe Adams PProvDepGSwdB and so he brought with him the full panoply of a Provincial Deputation. He came accompanied by two APGMs, our own WBro Stephen M Blank PDepGDC, GStwd and WBro Alexander S McLaren PSGD. He was also attended by WBro Norman Clark PGStB who is the APGP for our Southern Area. You can see already that, if I continue to include the names of even the most important visitors, this will become a very long list indeed, so I hope they will forgive me for not naming them all, but you can see them in the photograph which is attached to this article.
In the Lodge over 60 Masons saw the RW PGM enter in procession and then take over the chair of the Duke of Athol Lodge from the WM, WBro James Clelland PProvDepGReg. He introduced all of the visitors and then led us into the ceremony, pointing out that WBro Jim Adams, or Big Jim as he is widely known, was born in 1940, a contemporary of John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Cliff Richard. He then introduced us to WBro Frank Gorrie PPrSGD, a recent President of Ashton Masonic Hall, who gave an excellent tribute to WBro Adams. If you are reading this on the website you will find that tribute immediately below this article. Then Big Jim thanked everyone for coming and said that he looked forward to seeing us all in another 50 years.
Members of the Lodge of Athol together with the Provincial Grand Master and the APGM for Southern Area
The RW Provincial Grand Master then presented Jim with a 50 Year Certificate, and the WM presented him with a cheque for the significant amount of £210.00 for the 2015 Festival. Then the Provincial Grand Master and his retinue retired and we closed the Lodge.
We enjoyed a marvellous Social Board, which I won't describe as it would only make you jealous. After the toasts, Sir David responded, saying that he had enjoyed a wonderful evening and that it had been a delight to share WBro Adams' birthday with him. He admitted that he was "mesmerised by the building" and said, "I can see why you are so successful in letting it out to others. Many Masonic Districts will envy you this building."
He went on to thank the Lodge for its donation of £210.00 to the Festival, and a further £210.00 which they had presented to him for his personal sponsored slim. He spoke movingly about the Festival which has now topped £1.3 million and promised that every Lodge where every single member makes a donation to the Festival will be presented with a special certificate by its APGM.
He finished by thanking everyone for being so kind and he ended by saying, "Thank you all for allowing me to share what has been a truly memorable evening."
WBro James Munro Adams BEM, PProvDGSwdB
RWBro Sir David Trippier RD, JP, DL presents the 50 Year Certificate to WBro James Adams
Also shown are WBro Stephen Blank, APGM & WBro Jim Clelland, WM
WBro James Munro Adams BEM, PProvDGSwdB is affectionately known in this and other Lodges as either “Big Jim” or “the Recruiting Sergeant”.
Jim joined Manchester City Police in 1959 and many of you will be unaware of the circumstances surrounding his being awarded the British Empire Medal, as it is not something he talks about. It was awarded to him in 1964 for an act of extreme bravery when he climbed onto the roof of Sunlight House, a very high building on Quay Street, and foiled a determined suicide bid. His medal was presented to him by Lord Derby who was then the Provincial Grand Master for East Lancashire.
Jim was initiated into his Mother Lodge, Lodge St Andrew, Denny & Loanhead No 176 in the Registry of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in December 1962. Although he was serving in Manchester, he travelled to and from Denny, a round journey of some 400 miles, for his Initiation, Passing and Raising. This showed, right from the onset, his determination to become a good Mason, a determination that I am pleased to say has never left him.
In the late 1970’s a series of changes saw the creation of the Greater Manchester Police Force and Jim found himself transferred to Ashton under Lyne where he worked in the Charge Office. This was where I first met him as I was a CID Officer at the same station. Also stationed at Ashton was WBro Angus MacKenzie, a keen member of the Duke of Athol Lodge, who invited him to visit us and Jim soon became a PIG (that is, a permanently Invited Guest).
In October 1983 Jim became a Joining Member of the Duke of Athol Lodge, a match made in heaven, for we liked Jim and he found that he could tolerate us. He soon showed his keenness to improve his own, and his brethren’s Masonic knowledge by joining a small unofficial practice group. In my first year in the chair in 1987 Jim helped me to come to terms with the Ritual Book, very necessary in those days, as we had ceremonies every month, sometimes even doubles.
In 1984 Jim arranged our first annual visit to Lodge St Andrew which proved to be a great success, so much so that they made it reciprocal. Indeed these visits still take place, but as the membership has decreased so have the numbers taking part in the visits. However, they have given rise to a great and lasting friendship, and that is all thanks to Jim. Jim went into the chair of our Lodge in 1989.
Since then he has made great progress in Freemasonry. He is currently Provincial Grand Master in the Royal Order of Scotland for the Province of Chester. He holds Grand Rank in both the Mark Degree and the Royal Arc Mariners, and is a member of several other side degrees.
He may well have attained 50 years in Freemasonry, but he has lost none of his enthusiasm. Jim never misses an opportunity to recruit brethren into the many Lodges with which he is involved, hence the nickname. He rarely misses a meeting of any kind, and if he does it will be because he is engaged in Masonic business.
It was indeed a lucky day for Duke of Athol Lodge when Jim joined us as he has gone on to become one of the mainstays of the Lodge. He is a great example to young and old members alike, indeed Jim is a great example to all in Masonry. Long may his health, and wealth, allow him to continue his Masonic career, which, with a bit of luck, and a following wind, will last for many years to come.
WBro Frank Gorrie PProvSGD
Masonic Hall Viability Study
A Message from WBro Stephen M Blank PDepGDC, GStwd
Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Southern Area
I am sure you are all aware that, as membership has fallen away after the post-war bulge, the number of Halls in our Province has stayed more or less the same. The Province has not been idle however; our position at Bridge Street has recently been secured (see Circular 115) and Bill Waite has been chairing a review process in Western Area that has resulted in a high degree of consensus about the future of Halls in that Area.
The RW ProvGM has therefore commissioned Viability Studies into Masonic Halls in Eastern, Northern and Southern Areas. He has appointed Keith Beeston PAGReg, who will be promoted to PJGD in April, and is a former Senior Grand Warden of the Province to Chair the Viability Study in my Area. Keith is a Burnley Freemason and a retired solicitor.
Keith’s Letter of Appointment from the RW ProvGM asks him to lead the study into the medium and long term viability of our three Masonic Halls. The Letter goes on to say to Keith that “[There should be no] preconceived ideas of solutions and I must ask you to take on the challenge with an open mind and a willingness to consult extensively with the Brethren, through the involvement of their Hall Chairmen and Secretaries at every stage of your deliberation”.
Keith has in turn appointed David Grimshaw of Ardwick Lodge 2185 to act as the Study’s Secretary on my recommendation. I have already held a meeting to introduce Hall and Committee Chairmen to Keith and David who are now in the process of visiting each Hall in turn. I am sure that at some stage a more general meeting will take place but this will be arranged by your committee.
It goes without saying that Keith and the Study have my unqualified support and I am sure he will receive full and unstinted cooperation from all the Freemasons, whether Craft, Royal Arch or Other Orders, who meet in any of our Halls.
Mossley Children’s Christmas Party
The Christmas Party for some of the children and grandchildren of Mossley and District was once again organised by the Masons of that town and took place in Westholme, Mossley Masonic Hall on the afternoon of Saturday, December 8th, 2012.
There were a good forty children present, along with lots of Parents, Freemasons, their Wives and others. The festivities opened with a show from a Children’s Entertainer, and then continued with Hot Dogs and Chips. Finally, as you might expect, there was a visit from Santa Claus who was ably assisted by a couple of notable Elves.
I have been told that no thanks are necessary, but you cannot let an event like this go by without thanking those who made such an entertaining afternoon possible. I have no doubt at all that every child who was present, every one of whom was given a Christmas Present by Santa, would say “Thank You Very Much” to the Masons of Mossley who made such a splendid party possible.
A visit to British Lodge No viii
On Monday 17th December 2012 ten officers of Southern Area together with past District Chairman, WBro Ian Casson, took advantage of a rare opportunity. Our Assistant Provincial Grand Master, WBro Stephen Blank, is also the Worshipful Master of a London Lodge. British Lodge No viii, which was constituted in January 1722. This certainly makes it one of the oldest Lodges in the English Constitution and it is also a ‘Red Apron’ Lodge. WBro Blank was good enough to invite the ten officers of Southern Area to attend and since this is the sort of opportunity that might never come again, they went.
After an uneventful train ride from Manchester, the visiting brethren arrived in good time for the 5.15pm start in Lodge Room No 17 at Great Queen Street. This was the Lodge’s final meeting before the Installation and, in addition to the regular business, the Summons indicated that Brother Robert Todd Sullivan was to be raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason. This was done in a fine ceremony that was never rushed and yet always moved with pace. The ritual was very similar indeed to that used in the vast majority of East Lancashire Lodges and the ceremony was carried out with aplomb by the Worshipful Master and several Past Masters. Most poignantly, the Traditional History was given by Bro Sullivan’s Father in Law and sealed the fourth generations of a link between their family and the Lodge.
After the Lodge closed, all of the brethren made their way to a dining room in the Grand Connaught Rooms next door, where an excellent dinner with liquid refreshments was enjoyed by all. So close to Christmas, the spirit around the dining table was very warm and convivial. The brethren who were visiting from the Southern Area of East Lancashire were made to feel very welcome indeed. The whole event made for an excellent and memorable day out.
Southern Area Carol Service at Christ Church, Ashton
Sunday 2nd December was one of those crisp, clear days that we all enjoy at this time of the year. On that day a large congregation of Masons, together with their partners and friends, came together at Christ Church in Ashton to celebrate the forthcoming Christmas Season. The service, which was led by Rev Dr Lee Longden, the Vicar of Christ Church featured a series of traditional carols which were sung with gusto by the congregation and four pieces from the bible which were read by Officers of both Districts. We also enjoyed two Carols which are heard less often sung by the Church Choir. The Rev Longden then addressed the congregation giving his own take on the importance of the Christmas message. Afterwards, many of the congregation retired to on the Broadoak in Ashton for what has become a traditional end to the Carol Service."
Archives Navigation: 2012
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WBro Kevin Hall, District Communications Officer for Ashton/Mossley District
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