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Eric Aldred, an 87 year old resident of the Broadoak area of Ashton, regularly drives to Scotland, France and the South Coast of England to visit Friends and relatives. Recently he found that members of his family were advising him that, at his age, this was no longer the safest way to travel such long distances. However, Eric has a mind of his own and, rather than simply giving in to these suggestions, he decided to look for some advice. It was at this same time that Eric came across a leaflet from the Institute of Advanced Motorists inviting him, and people like him, to “Assess Your Skills” under a scheme called “Drive Check 55”.

Eric, who is a Freemason and a member of Waverley Lodge which meets at Ashton Masonic Hall, took up the challenge and signed up for the course. He did so well that his instructor asked him if he would like to follow this up by signing up to take an Advanced Driver’s Class. Eric agreed and thus joined the “West Pennine Advanced Motoring Group which meets weekly in Oldham". Eric said, “I really enjoyed doing the classes. It meant that I had to go to Oldham every Sunday morning for six weeks, in my own car. When I got there I would spend two or three hours in the company of an Advanced Driving Instructor, learning how to improve my driving".

At the end of the six week course Eric was put forward to do his final test, and found himself being tested by the Chief Examiner for the Police Motorway Group. At the end of the test, Eric was astounded to be told that not only had he passed the test, but he had been rated as Excellent in every one of the 27 Competencies that are tested in the Institute of Advanced Motorists test. His examiner commented that it had been an, “excellent drive which was smooth, progressive and of a great standard”. Eric was later told that the he was the first person in the Oldham Group to pass the test at such a high level. What an achievement.

I am sure that we would all like to congratulate Eric on his performance, and hope that we will be doing as well as him when we reach his age!

This article appeared in the "Advertiser" Tameside edition.



Happy Ever After

Written by Sue Carr of the Manchester Evening News

A couple whose dream day was almost derailed when their wedding reception venue fell through have finally got their happy ever after. Emma Jeffreys and Dave Mullaney were left devastated after finding out on Facebook that the venue in Stalybridge  – where they had booked to hold their reception – was closing.

The newly-weds, who had been engaged for 12 years and forced to cancel their wedding plans twice before, were just weeks away from the big day and feared they may have to postpone for a third time. But, after Ashton Masonic Hall stepped in, the couple got hitched without a hitch and say they couldn’t be happier.

Emma, who lives in Stalybridge with Dave and their two children Joshua and Jessica, said: “The wedding was perfect. It was a hot and sunny day and everything went to plan, it was beautiful. We ended up better off in a way because the Masonic Hall was so much nicer.”

Emma, 34, who works as a cleaner at Hyde Town Hall, wore a simple gold and champagne dress to wed her long-term partner Dave, 46, who works at Manchester Airport. The Masonic Hall, on Jowetts’ Walk, was more expensive to hire but waived the extra charges so the bride and groom wouldn’t be left out of pocket. Manager Anne-Marie Wilde said: “We didn’t charge them any more than they were going to pay because they were on a budget and they didn’t have any spare funds. We’re lucky because we have two rooms and there was another function on so the building was open and there were staff in anyway. I just felt sorry for them. You don’t like to see people let down at the last minute and they were a lovely couple so we were happy to help.”

(This item has previously appeared in the Tameside Advertiser and appears by permission of Manchester Evening News Ltd. The item is copyright Sue Carr and MEN Ltd. The photograph is copyright Rachel Burbidge Photography. All Rights Reserved.)



East Manchester Community Boat Project

On Wednesday 13th August, East Manchester Community Boat Project held their eighth VIP/ Seat Sponsors Buffet Lunch and Cruise on board the narrowboat “Community Spirit”. The event began at noon and the sponsors enjoyed a two-hour sail from Portland Basin to Droylsden and back.   The weather was fair and the buffet lunch, once again provided by Bridge View Cafe at Portland Basin, was a great success.

The photograph (see attachment) shows Nigel Anderson (President EMCBP) (1st Left) and Ed Cheadle (Chair of the ELMC Communities Fund (4th from Left) together with representatives of all the other Community and Masonic Sponsors of the EMCBP.

During the cruise, Nigel Anderson, the President of the EMCBP, updated sponsors on the EMCBP’s plans for a new, state-of-the-art, narrowboat. He said, “The East Manchester Community Boat Project members and Trustees have agreed the design of their new charity boat that will be even more accessible to people with disabilities. The new boat will replace the current craft, ‘Community Spirit’, which has to date seen approximately 20,000 passengers over 20 years enjoy its facilities free of charge.

Modern wheelchairs are causing some difficulty when boarding and embarking. A survey of all users has concluded that a new boat with a new design is required to meet current and future needs. The Community Fund of the East Lancs Masonic Charity has already donated £4,000 to pay for the wheelchair lift that will be installed in the new boat. In addition, the new boat will further empower wheel chair users by providing them with an opportunity to steer the boat from a remote control facility that will sit on the lap of a wheel chair user.

The challenge is to find £113,000 to build it. The members as a result of fund raising and other activities have raised £13,000 as their contribution. The Trustees have applied for 4 grants of £25,000 in order to secure the necessary funds to place the order. Decisions are now awaited. However, these are exciting times and EMCBP looks forward with confidence to supporting people with disabilities for another 20 years.”

Ed Cheadle, who is the Chair of the East Lancashire Masonic Charity’s Communities Fund, said, “I had a great afternoon and I am really glad that I came. These are a smashing group of people doing tremendous work. I am happy that we were able to help them and I am sure we will be able to do so again in the future.”



Freemasons Charity Gives £600.00 to Denton Youth Football Team

Denton Youth Football Club was established in 1984 and has teams of young people from the ages of five 5 upwards. At the higher end of the age range there are open age teams. The Club has just opened up as an academy for scholarships.

Denton Youth Under 8s Football Team

Steve Pitt took over as Manager of the Under 8s team twelve months ago. At the time they were regarded as a group who tried hard but were not really achieving success. Steve determined that one of their problems was that they were not playing in a distinct kit, but were all turning up in a variety of football shirts. As the Manager of the team it was Steve’s responsibility to provide them with a playing kit and everything they needed in terms of equipment. Not an easy thing to do in today’s financial climate.

Mark Reader is a Freemason, a member of Duke of Atholl Lodge which meets at Ashton Masonic Club, and is also a keen supporter of Denton Youth. Hearing about Steve’s plight he explained about the possibility of applying for a grant from the East Lancashire Masonic Charity Community Fund. With Steve’s agreement, Mark applied for a grant and recently heard that he had been successful. The Community Fund has provided £600.00 for the use of the Under 8s team. Brian Reynolds, the Ashton & Mossley Freemasons’ District Charity Steward said, “It was a great pleasure to present the cheque on behalf of the East Lancashire Masonic Charity Community Fund. This is one of the reasons we, as Freemasons, like to help out. We know that the money will be well spent on the youth team.”

Ken Hampson, District Chairman of Ashton & Mossley Freemasons looks on as
Brian Reynolds presents the cheque for £600.00 to Team Manager Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt said, “We are not just a team but a family and my team and their parents are all good friends and work well together. I believe that there is no better cause than children and I am very proud to be able to work with them and see them succeed. The money from the Community Fund will be spent on improving the team’s equipment and also for training and morale boosting sessions. I cannot thank the Freemasons enough for their kind and generous contribution towards these children.”



Walk The Province

Your intrepid walkers have completed their gentle stroll through our part of the Province, and very enjoyable it was too. Taking part were John Pearson our APGM, Allan Bennion, Paul Waring and his pal John, Ray (riding his chariot) and Shirley Charlton with their granddaughter Paige along with Brian Reynolds and myself bringing up the rear.

We set off right on the stroke of ten under rather cloudy skies, fortunately the rain kept away as we made our way down to Portland Basin. As we passed along the canal Allan decided he wanted a banana from Asda, so the rest of us made our way across Asda car park toward the little path that guides walkers to the Huddersfield Canal and waited for him, two minutes later Allan appears sans banana, they don’t start serving until 10.30am! 

Our gentle stroll now commenced in earnest, under bridges and at one point through a tunnel built especially for the horses that were used to draw the canal barges. We passed old mills until we came to the cast iron Stakes aqueduct that crosses the river Tame designed and built by Benjamin Outram,  and still being used for its original purpose. 

We continued onwards through Stalybridge, under Mottram Road and out into the countryside past the remains of a power station. we came across various locks with boats being worked through them on their way up to the great Standedge tunnel. The longest canal tunnel in the Kingdom. Around the next bend was Scout tunnel, all 188 metres of it, luckily the tunnel towpath had a hand rail or Ray and his chariot might have ended up in the canal’s murky depths! Alas this was too much for the chariot, which expired on the other side, so it was there we left the peace and tranquility of the canal and made our way up a couple of Mossley’s steepest hills to Westholme. 

A pint of John Smiths never tasted so good

A pint of John Smiths never tasted so good, and after that, Westholmes delicious barbeque. After a good laugh about the events of the day we said our goodbyes and made our way back to Ashton Masonic Hall in my Rolls Royce. Brian and I would like to thank those who were able to take part. 


Brethren, if you would be so kind as to forward your Lodge and Chapter donations (and any personal ones) to my home address, Nigel Johnson, 11 Lines Road, Droylsden, Manchester, M43 7FA.  As soon as you can please so I can get them to Chris Wildman.

Text ©Nigel Johnson 2014 - Photographs ©Brian Reynolds 2014

From Floorcloths to Tracing Boards – The Kirkwall Scroll

About two years ago Denton Lodge No 5234 came very close to handing in its Warrant. At almost the last minute they came to an agreement with a group of Masons, mostly based in Mossley, which saw Denton Lodge continue, albeit moved from Ashton to Mossley and with a reduced pattern of meetings. Most of the original members of the Lodge continue to attend the reborn Denton Lodge as Honorary Members of the Lodge though their regular attendance would suggest that they do not regret the continuance of their Lodge. One of the biggest changes in the Lodge is that it no longer seeks new initiates, though it is more than welcoming to Joining Members. The other major change is that the Lodge has set out to offer significant talks of Masonic Interest at its regular meetings. The meeting that took place on Friday 20th June was a perfect example of that aim.

The meeting was attended by our Assistant Provincial Grand Master, WBro John Pearson PSGD and our District Chairman, WBro Ken Hampson PAGDC, together with most of the District Team and two of the Area’s Acting Officers of the Year. However, it was not a formal meeting, but rather a very happy occasion marking one of the last Masonic Meetings of the season as well as an interesting and diverting talk, and all on a Friday evening. What is more the talk, which was entitled “Roslyn Chapel and the real origins of Freemasonry – Floorcloths to Tracing Boards – The Kirkwall Scroll and 600 Years of Masonic meaning” looked as if it would be of great interest, especially as the speaker was to be Brother Dr Robert Lomas, the author of “The Hiram Key” and other international bestsellers.

Bro Dr Robert Lomas

Brother Dr Robert Lomas is an internationally renowned, best selling author. He gained a first-class honours degree in electronics from Salford University before earning a Ph.D in solid-state physics. He went on to work on cruise missiles and Fire Service Command and Control software. In 1986, he became a Freemason and quickly established himself as a popular lecturer on Masonic history before co-authoring a series of international best-sellers beginning with “The Hiram Key.” He currently lectures in Information Systems at Bradford University. It has been suggested that his ideas may have inspired Dan Brown, author of the “DaVinci Code” and it was suggested in an article in the Yorkshire Evening Post that the central character of that book, Robert Langdon, is based on Dr Lomas. He is certainly an author who inspires strong feelings about his work and he presented an excellent, and extremely thought provoking, illustrated talk.

(From L to R) WBros Bryan Bancroft, Robert Lomas, John Pearson APGM, Ian Stone (WM),
Ken Hampson (Chairman) and Harvey Taylor 

WBro Ian Stone PProvGStwd, the Worshipful Master of Denton Lodge, personally invited Dr Lomas to come to Denton Lodge with his talk which illustrated aspects of the history of the Craft. Though the talk was entitled “Rosslyn Chapel and the real origins of Freemasonry”, it actually concentrated far more on the Kirkwall Scroll and the development of the Masonic tradition”. Here I must be careful, as not everyone who has read the works of Dr Lomas necessarily agrees with him and his theories. Certainly, his contention that modern Craft Freemasonry began in Scotland, well before the creation of United Grand Lodge in England, does not go down too well with United Grand Lodge itself, though it is easy to follow the arguments that Dr Lomas puts forward regarding the early development of Freemasonry in Scotland and England. Dr Lomas regards himself as a symbologist, another close connection with Dan Brown’s hero, though he admits that he theorises while Dan Brown’s character discovers. Much of the talk was centred on the insights we can gain by interpreting the symbols in an artefact like the Kirkwall Scroll. Nevertheless, this carefully argued talk was unquestionably a real step in masonic knowledge.

If you wish to see all of the photographs taken on the evening and have the option of downloading them,
please follow this link to the online photo gallery



Southern Area Trip to United Grand Lodge 2014

Over the last several years a contingent representing the Southern Area has visited the June Quarterly Communications of United Grand Lodge. This year we continued the tradition when thirteen masons from all three of our Masonic Halls got up very early on Wednesday, June 11th, in order to catch the 8.15am train out of Piccadilly. This year we travelled First Class when the Train Manager discovered that our ticket entitled us to an upgrade, so that we enjoyed the extra of a full English breakfast courtesy of Virgin Trains. Somehow that made the journey even easier.

WBro John Pearson, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Southern Area

We arrived at Euston Station just before 10.30 am when most of us packed ourselves into a series of taxis for the brief journey to Great Queen Street. Audenshaw Masons will, I am sure, take great pride in the fact that their Chairman, WBro Gerry Hodson, eschewed the taxi and walked from the station. Still, we all arrived promptly in Great Queen Street where we always congregate on the pavement opposite the entrance to Freemasons’ Hall. I am sure that you will realise that there is no truth in the rumour that the particular piece of pavement is also just outside an Irish hostelry. It is also at this point that we meet up with the 15 Masons, including our Assistant Provincial Grand Master, WBro John Pearson, who is the guiding light behind this continuing visit, who had come down on the previous day to take part in a meeting of Grand Mark Lodge.

The process of attending the meeting of the Quarterly Communications is something of a ballet, following the same routine each year. First you change into your regalia and leave any bags in the cloakroom, then you sign in and finally you go up to the balcony, or in certain special cases directly into the Grand Temple. I realise that this sounds just like any other Masonic Meeting, but I assure you that it is not, and this part of the proceedings is as enjoyable as all the other parts. The meeting itself runs like clockwork, especially with the Grand Director of Ceremonies, VWBro Oliver Lodge, utilising his military background. Indeed, no sooner have you gone in than you are coming back out again, for the ceremony, though quite brief at one hour, is well worth the effort. It is always a great joy to see all the different parades and, to be honest, you don’t often get a chance to see the Pro Grand Master running a meeting if you live in the North West.

Our Provincial Grand Master, Sir David Trippier RD JP DL, was pleased to meet two
Master Masons who were making their first visit to United Grand Lodge

After the meeting was over we made our way down Great Queen Street to the Grand Connaught Rooms where a Dining Room and an excellent meal, with wine, had been booked for us. We enjoyed Dinner together and had just joined in the loyal toast and our rendition of the National Anthem, as well as a toast to our principal guest, our erstwhile APGM VWBro Stephen Blank, when the door opened and in walked our Provincial Grand Master, Sir David Trippier, who was dining in another part of the building, but had taken the time to join us for a short while. He was especially keen to say hello to the two young Master Masons who were with us on their first visit to Grand Lodge. Then, to add a little gilt to the gingerbread, or so I thought, the door opened again but this time in order to admit the Deputy Grand Master, RWBro Jonathan Spence, who had taken the opportunity to come and visit us after meeting some of us at the Lodge of Union in January. RWBro Spence went around the table speaking to everyone present, but then he had to leave for other pressing business.

The Deputy Grand Master, MWBro Jonathan Spence in conversation with two Southern Area Masons

And that, I thought, is that – and haven’t we done exceptionally well. Just as we were thinking about moving off so that we could enjoy our tour of Grand Lodge, the door opened yet again. Back came RWBro Jonathan Spence, but he had brought someone else to visit us. This proved to be none other than MWBro Peter Geoffrey Lowndes, the Pro Grand Master himself. So, not only did we get to see him chair a meeting of Grand Lodge, now we got the opportunity to meet him and chat to him. The point, you see, is that the Pro Grand Master spent at least an hour and a half with us. He toured the room, speaking to every member of our party, and he took his time. This was the truly marvellous thing about this visit, because it is one thing to make a toast to the Pro Grand Master and the other high rulers of the craft at our regular meetings, it is another thing entirely to get the opportunity to chat with them. It helps you to realise that these men are really no different from us, and that they enjoy their masonry just as much as we do, though perhaps on a different scale. Certainly I would doubt that anyone who was with us on this occasion will ever drink the toast to the Grand Rulers of the Craft without thinking of the men they have met. It is such chance encounters that make this annual visit so worthwhile.

WBro John Pearson with the Pro Grand Master MWBro Peter Geoffrey Lowndes

Perhaps unfortunately the visit by the Pro Grand Master meant that we were unable to start our tour of Grand Lodge until half past four in the afternoon, and tours have to end by five o’clock to make way for Masonic Meetings. Fortunately we do not go on a regular guided tour, but always seem to enjoy the company of one particular member of Grand Lodge’s staff, John Vazque. He was able to give a small number of us the opportunity to visit the Grand Temple and another, small, Lodge Room. Notwithstanding the enforced brevity of our tour, we still got to see the Grand Temple from a different perspective and a couple of our brethren had the opportunity of having their photographs taken in the chair. That isn’t something you can do every week.

WBro Lee Marsh was one of the brethren who got a chance to try the Chair for size

Finally, our visit always ends with a brief visit to the Newton Arms, which must have some specific connection with the Craft as it always seems to be full of Freemasons. Then it is back to Euston Station, and on to Manchester and home. Another successful visit to United Grand Lodge had ended. This is a visit that I can heartily recommend to all those brethren who have not yet visited Grand Lodge, especially Master Masons.

If you wish to see all of the photographs taken on the day, of which there are more than fifty,
and have the option of downloading them, please follow this link to the online photo gallery



A Celebration of 50 years in Freemasonry by TWO members of Kershaw Lodge No 3838

On Tuesday May 13th, WBro John Pearson PSGD, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Southern Area, accompanied by a District Delegation, attended Kershaw Lodge No 3838 for the purpose of celebrating 50 years in Freemasonry which had been achieved by two members of the Lodge. WBro Barry Carey JP, PProvJGW and WBro Brian Bancroft PProvSGD who were initiated respectively in April and February of 1964.

The two Principal guests at the ceremony were the “Birthday Boys, WBros Barry carey and Brian Bancroft,
with the Worshipful Master WBro Peter Gichero and the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, WBro John Pearson

WBro Pearson was processed into the Lodge Room by WBros Simon Archer and John Griffin, both Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies. He was accompanied by WBro Eddie Barlow who is our Area APGP in the Royal Arch, and by four members of the District Team and three Acting Officers of the year. He was offered the gavel and the Chair of the Lodge which he gladly accepted. WBro Pearson then announced the main business of the evening, saying, “If the RWPGM was physically able to attend all the 50th anniversaries in the Province there is no doubt he would be here today. I am very privileged to be here and to take the Chair of KS.” He then introduced all of the members of the Delegation. He then invited the Provincial Deputy Grand DCs to conduct WBros Carey and Bancroft to their places of honour.

The Minutes of the Lodge Meetings when the two men were first initiated into Freemasonry were then read by the Lodge Secretary, WBro Brian Bell PProvJGD. The first tribute, to WBro Barry Carey, was then delivered by the Worshipful Master, WBro Peter Gichero. “WBro Barry Carey JP, PProvJGW, who is 75 years young, has been a member of Kershaw Lodge 3838 for 50 years. He was born in Ashton-under-Lyne in 1938, educated at Ashton Parochial School where the headmaster, Aaron Challenor, was a member of Kershaw lodge. Later he moved to Audenshaw Grammar School and then Openshaw Technical College. He became Managing Director of the company in 1975 and retired from full time employment in 2005. Barry has been married to Kathleen for over 52 years with a daughter Caroline and a foster daughter Michelle. Barry was initiated into Kershaw Lodge by his father WBro Albert Carey in March 1964, progressing through all the offices to become Worshipful master in 1976. He is Treasurer of the Lodge. Over the past 30 years he has served as a school governor, a member of Hyde Rotary club of which he is a past president. He was appointed a magistrate in 1991 and served on the Tameside bench for over 20 years. He was approached more than 40 years ago to join a Christian based registered charity supporting homeless people in Manchester City centre. He was Chairman of this charity for five years and oversaw its integration into the English Church Housing Group which is still thriving to this day. His hobbies include cooking, eating out, following sport, DIY and travelling abroad. He has been a committed and active member of St Mary's Church, Newton for over 40 years, serving several terms as a church warden and PCC member. His 50 years in freemasonry have been interesting, enjoyable and rewarding and long may they continue.”

WBro Brian Bell PProvJGD, the Secretary of Kershaw Lodge, read the second tribute, to WBro Brian Bancroft PProvSGD. “After leaving school, Brian served an apprenticeship as a Sheet Metal Worker. He then spent time working at Bradford Colliery in Manchester serving as a Maintenance engineer. This is a part of his life of which he is particularly proud. Brian is married to Kathleen and they have three sons Martin, David and Adrian. Martin was initiated into Kershaw Lodge in January 1993. Brian's introduction to Masonry was due to his father in law Bro Harry Green who was a steward of the lodge when he proposed Brian for membership, on the 11th February 1964. Brian was balloted for on the 10th March 1964, at the same time as Barry Carey. Brian was initiated on the 12th May 1964. At that time there were 12 Stewards so it was February 1977 before Brian was installed as Master, on Tuesday the 8th February 1977, by WBro Barry Carey who had gone through the Chair of Kershaw Lodge first.”

The Members of Kershaw Lodge No 3838

After the tributes, WBro Pearson continued, “Who can remember what was happening in 1964? Bro Carey was initiated on 14 April 1964. On the next day, 15 April, 12 Great Train Robbers were sentenced to a total of 307 years imprisonment. Bob Dylan released "The times they are a changing", which certainly appears to be true for Manchester United, who were then the holders of the FA Cup having won it in 1963. In 1964 a Manchester United season ticket cost £8.50 and a pint of bitter was 1s 8d (8p). Manchester City finished 6th in the Second Division.
WBro Bancroft was initiated on 12 May 1964. I was 12 years old when with a group of friends from Hulme Grammar School in Oldham I took the train to Old Trafford cricket ground to sit on the grass for one of the longest days I can remember. It was the 4th test against Australia, (described in the papers as "the murder of test cricket") when the Aussies needed a draw to retain the Ashes. Bobby Simpson and Bill Lawrie batted most of the first day for a stand of 201 before Lawrie was run out. Simpson went on to make 311 in his first ever test century.

Barry was born on 22 November 1938, the day after the Nazis occupied Western Czechoslovakia. In that same year the Spanish Civil War began and the Church of England accepted the theory of evolution. Instant coffee was available for the first time, as was Dennis the Menace.
Brian was born on 7 June 1939 and on the same day King George VI became the first King to visit the USA. He also had his first hot dog at Franklin D Roosevelt's BBQ. In that same year Joe Louis took the heavyweight title, Frank Sinatra made his first recording and as we will all realise WW2 started when Germany invaded Poland.

All of those who attended this excellent ceremony

Barry Carey was initiated into Kershaw Lodge No 3838 on 14th April 1964 by his father Bro A Carey. 44 years later he was exalted in Chapter of Perseverance on 15th April 2008. They do say one should wait until one is ready and I entirely agree. He was appointed as PProvDepGSuptWks on 8th May 1986 and promoted to the rank of PProvJGW on 9th May 1995.

Mr Brian Bancroft was initiated into Kershaw Lodge on 12th May 1964 and exalted in Chapter of Perseverance on 15th November 1966. He was appointed as PProvAGSwdB on 6th November 1986 and promoted to the rank of PProvSGD on 14th May 1996. In the Royal Arch he was appointed as PProvAGDC on 8th April 1986, promoted to PProvGSoj on 10th April 1991 and as PProvDepGSwdB on 22nd February 2012.

It doesn't take a genius to work out that you must have known each other for at least 50 years — how marvellous that you have reached this wonderful milestone together.”

WBro John Pearson then read the Provincial Grand Master’s letter and Certificates before requesting the Provincial Deputy Grand DCs to conduct WBro Carey and WBro Bancroft around the Lodge to the rapturous acclaim of the Brethren.


Ashton & Mossley District
25th Masters and First Principals Dinner held on Saturday April 26 at
Ashton Masonic Hall

Our 25th Annual Dinner for Masters and First Principals took place at the end of April in 2014. This year our venue was Ashton Masonic Hall and the Conservatory was an excellent venue on a warm, spring evening. The Dinner was hosted by our District Chairman, WBro Ken Hampson with his wife Karen and our principal guest was, of course, WBro John Pearson, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Southern Area, accompanied by his wife Denise. As ever, the evening commenced with the taking of a group photograph of all the Masters and First Principals who were present.

After that the gentlemen re-joined the Ladies in the Conservatory and an excellent dinner was thoroughly enjoyed by all those present. After Dinner, WBro Hampson gave the Loyal Toast and then thanked everyone for attending and offered his hopes that everyone had enjoyed themselves. He then invited WBro Pearson to say a few words.

WBro Pearson said, “Ladies. You’ve probably already gathered that we Freemasons have our secrets. If you don’t already know, Freemasons are Initiated, Passed and Raised, some then go on to be Exalted and some to be Advanced. One day Denise discovered that in another degree I was to be Perfected but was then disappointed when I returned home from that particular evening that I was still not a perfect husband.

Tonight we are here to honour the Masters of our Lodges and the First Principals of our Chapters. I offer my thanks and congratulations to all of you.

WE had a very successful Charity Giving Evening at the start of the month and gave away £34,381.00 to worthy Charities both big and small. That means that we have given away £361,604.00 in the last seven years. The Civic Mayor, Councillor Joe Kitchen was with us on the evening, along with the Mayoress, and was surprised at how much we give to Charity.
We belong to an organisation of which we are justly proud. Ladies and Brethren please do not be afraid to tell your friends how much you enjoy and benefit from Freemasonry. In the words of our Deputy Provincial Grand Master, “We take good men and make them better.” No organisation seems to be truly safe in this day and age but we hope that by spreading the good news about Freemasonry we can still be here in another 300 years. Thank you all for your friendship.”

If you wish to see all of the photographs taken on the evening/, and have the option of downloading them, please follow this link to the online photo gallery



Freemasonry in Tameside

On this occasion the team consisted of WBros Barry Dickson, Peter Douthwaite and Kevin Hall

Our second year of taking the Freemasonry in Tameside tent “on the road” began on Sunday May 4th, when the (reduced) Ashton & Mossley Recruitment Team made their third visit to Mottram Show. To be accurate, this was our second visit to the Spring Show, which is a little smaller than the Mottram Agricultural Show which takes place later in August. However, we felt that, although we do not seem to have picked up many new memberships from last year’s jaunts, we should still continue with the work this year. After all, there were always intended to be two outcomes from this work. We always hoped that we might pick up one or two new members from our participation in the show, but we also felt that it was very important for us to take Freemasonry out into the community. There is no doubt that last year we got a great deal of interest, almost all positive, and lots of comments about “I thought you lot were supposed to be secretive”. That, by the way, is an excellent response because it allows us to enter into a dialogue with that member of the public, and explain what Freemasonry is all about.

This year we obtained a new Mark 2 Tent for our Roadshow

If you wonder about the banner, by the way, we decided to work under the “Freemasonry in Tameside” sign because of the curious nature of our little Borough. Though we are all Ashton & Mossley Masons, Tameside also includes quite a number of Cheshire Masons, and Mottram is actually closer to Derbyshire than Ashton. By using the “Tameside” tag we are able to talk about Masonry in general and we would be more than willing to point someone in the direction of a Derbyshire, Cheshire or East Lancs Masonic Hall.

This young couple came to ask a question and stayed for half an hour

We got a lot more specific interest this year with at least a dozen young men approaching us for more details and brochures. You’ll see a picture of one young couple who popped in for a quick chat and ended up staying for half an hour. Having taken part in the show in early May, it is still very early to say if any of those who showed interest will convert that interest into an application, but I certainly hope that they do. If we want this fraternity of ours to continue and to grow we have to do something. As Sir David has said on a number of occasions, “there is no plan B and doing nothing is not an option. If anyone wants to join our little team, we will be there at the Mottram Agricultural Show in August. Just look for the Mark 2 Tent with the bright blue banner, we’ll certainly make you welcome.



Southern Area Charity Giving Evening – 4th April 2014

Let us just start by considering the Southern Area as a whole. We have three Masonic Halls in two Districts. Ashton & Mossley District has 15 Lodges and 10 Chapters, Audenshaw District has 23 Lodges and 12 Chapters. Between those Lodges and Chapters we have something in the region of 6 or 700 Masons. So when we say that, at the Charity Giving Evening on April 4th, the Masons of Southern Area gave away a total of £34.381.00, that is the 700 of us who did that. If you then consider the fact that, over the last seven years, we have now given away a total of £361,604.00. It rather makes you think, doesn’t it?

The principal guests at the Charity Giving Evening from the left: - WBros Gerry Hodson, District Chairman for Audenshaw,
Ken Hampson, District Chairman for Ashton and Mossley, John Pearson, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Southern Area,
The Mayoress – Mrs Shirley Kitchen and the Civic Mayor of Tameside, Councillor Joe Kitchen

This was our seventh annual Charity Giving Night which was held on this occasion in the Banqueting Suite of Ashton Masonic Hall. We were joined on the night, as we have been on every occasion, by the Civic Mayor of Tameside, this year Councillor Joe Kitchen who was accompanied by his Mayoress, Mrs Shirley Kitchen.


Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Pearson Opening the Charity Giving Evening

The proceedings were opened by WBro John Pearson PAGReg, the APGM for our Southern Area. He introduced the event by saying, “Freemasonry provides members with a unique combination of friendship, belonging and structure, with many Masons saying they have made valuable lifelong friendships. We place great importance on Charitable Giving – Freemasons are the largest charitable givers after the National Lottery and also are among the very first to make major emergency contributions to International Disaster Relief Funds. The Freemasons’ Grand Charity alone gave a total of £6,607,000 in 2013. That is in addition to the donations made by all the individual Lodges in England and throughout the world, such as those we are giving this evening here in Tameside. I should emphasise that we do not ask for donations from non-masons, although they do support our events and so contribute indirectly. Our Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Kent, has said that we need to work towards regaining our enviable reputation in society, to show how and why we are relevant and to concentrate on the positive aspects of Freemasonry, in particular our generous tradition of giving to a wide variety of causes. We have a huge amount to offer to our communities.” He then went on to thank the Civic Mayor and Mayoress for their attendance, to thank the Brethren of the Southern Area and all those who had prepared this evening’s meeting.

WBro John Cavanagh once again acted as Master of Ceremonies for the evening, introducing the various recipients of grants. Every one of those who received a grant on the night took the opportunity to say a few words about the Charity that they represented, or to thank the Brethren for making a personal grant. Altogether some 57 Charities, or charitable causes, received donations from our brethren. The grants most certainly included the big names that you would expect, the RMBI 2015 Festival alone received a total of £16,401 from 37 Lodges and Chapters. Other major Charities which attracted donations included Hewlett Court, Francis House Children’s Hospice, Christie Hospital and our own Willow Wood Hospice which received £3,231.00. But it is not just the big Charities which receive grants from the Masons. Some of the recipients are much smaller organisations and received much smaller grants, but they are just as essential. The £140 received by Ashton Amateur Boxing Club, the £100 for Mossley Juniors FC, the £100 for the Sea Cadets, £200 towards the cost of a new wheelchair, £50 to a family who had lost their home in a fire. The amounts are small, the impact of those grants can be very significant indeed and the list of grants would fill this page.

Councillor Kitchen, the Civic Mayor was brought onto the stage and was presented with a cheque for £500.00 to be put towards his own Mayoral Charities. He later said of the evening, “Shirley and I were pleased to attend the Charity Giving Evening at the invitation of the Freemasons of Ashton, Mossley and Audenshaw. The Freemasons hold this event each year to present charitable donations to local good causes and I was both surprised and delighted to receive a cheque for £500 for my Mayoral Charity Appeal Fund, which is dedicated to helping a small number of charities close to my heart including SSAFA Tameside, Tameside for Good and When You Wish Upon A Star. It was a lovely evening and it was wonderful to see so many charities receiving donations. I am grateful to the Freemasons for their work within our local community and for their overwhelming kindness and support.”




Lodge of Union No 268 visits Lodge Pioneer No 1305 (SC) – a personal view.


I should start by saying that I’m not really sure how, where or when this story begins. Certainly it was well before I became a member of the Lodge of Union. If you want to know the details then you really need to talk to someone who knows, like WBro Alan D P Smith. However, we can begin with the salient fact that, at some time in the past, WBro Walter Sneddon was Worshipful Master of Tame Valley Lodge meeting at Ashton under Lyne. In due time, when WBro Peter Douthwaite became Worshipful Master of Lodge of Union in 2001, Walter, either in cahoots with Jim Tuey, or on his own accord, persuaded a significant number of high ranking Scottish Masons to form themselves into a highly spurious Travelling Lodge and come down to Ashton to demonstrate the proper, (that is Scottish) way to do a ceremony of Raising. I had been a member of the Lodge for little more than a year by then, I was still overawed, but I will never forget that night, in a packed Lodge Room, watching so many Masons have so much fun.


We set off on a very pleasant spring morning at the end of March, travelling in a sort of convoy made up of three cars. There were eleven masons taking part in the end, nine of us were from the Lodge of Union, but we agreed to take a couple of interlopers with us in order to keep us from harm. WBro Alan Smith came in order that we would be accompanied by a Past Officer of United Grand Lodge, and WBro Alan Collier came as well because he said that we needed someone from the Province of Derbyshire along to look after us. Well, it sounded like a reasonable idea, so we readily agreed. Pausing only for a Pie Break at the Westmorland Services just outside of Tebay, we headed ever northwards. We arrived at our hostelry in late afternoon, just in time to partake of a cup of tea, or some such, at a nearby tavern and at four thirty we set off, in taxis, for the Palace of Linlithgow.

Lodge Pioneer No 1305 (SC) is a Lodge of Instruction and Research. We were told quite early in the visit that because of its nature the Lodge only performs one ceremony a year, the Installation, and that is what would be happening that night. The Lodge Room, which actually belongs to a different Lodge was a barrel shaped room on the ground floor. From the very beginning it was clear that the layout of the Lodge was going to be different to what I was used to, and from the number of chairs being set out it was clear that this was going to be a packed meeting. I shall not try to describe the ceremony that we saw because if you get the chance to attend a Scottish Lodge you would not thank me for spoiling the experience. The one thing that I will say is that it was a long ceremony. Before it began I was reassured that as the Master Elect was already a Past Master we would only see the short version of the Installation. So I was singularly unprepared for the fact that the ceremony started at 6.30 pm and ended just after 10.30. Mind you, I must say that I doubt if the three fire alarms that went off during the ceremony, which caused the entire company, including the Provincial Grand Master of Linlithgowshire, to decamp into the now rainfilled streets of the town, were actually intended. Then they set to with a will, cleared the floor, brought in trestle tables and we sat down to the Social Board.

The Grand Temple of the Grand Lodge of Scotland

I won’t tell you what time we headed back to our hotel, but by the time we got there it was well into Saturday morning. Nothing daunted we were up with the lark, breakfasted and ready to go. Brother Walter Sneddon had told us, during the previous evening, that he had arranged for us to receive a tour of Scotland’s Grand Lodge in Edinburgh. However, on our arrival at 96 George Street we found a pair of sturdy bronze doors were well and truly locked and a large sign telling us that Grand Lodge was closed to all visitors on Saturdays. Walter told us that this was certainly true, but that he had been given special permission to take us around ….. by the Grand Master. I told you that this man had serious connections – or maybe they had heard that Steve Stanley had powerful friends! Within minutes the doors were opened and we were allowed inside.

I must tell you that the Grand Lodge of Scotland is very different to Great Queen Street, the home of United Grand Lodge. The building is much more modest in size and the decoration is very much simpler and even a touch austere. It is a wonderful building which is clearly well loved by its members. We were shown around the main temple, taken up to the very top of the building to see the exquisite museum. We saw Bro Robbie Burns apron in its glass case and any number of highly interesting artefacts. We visited the Committee Room where the Grand Officers robe and saw the Royal Arch Regalia that had been left out the previous evening. All the time we were regaled by Bro Sneddon and another of his colleagues with stories about Scottish Masonry. It is quite clear that Masonry north of the border is dissimilar to that practiced in the South, but while the adherents of each of the Grand Lodges will no doubt believe that their way is the best and only way, I think that the truth is that they are similar but different, neither being better or worse but equally wonderful. I know that we were treated wonderfully well by everyone we met and I can only thank those, like Walter Sneddon, who made this trip a reality.

If you wish to see all of the photographs taken during the weekend, and have the option of downloading them, please follow this link to the online photo gallery






The Prestonian Lecture for 2013 given at Alphin Lodge 8461 on April 1st, 2014

The Prestonian Lecture, the only official lecture held under the authority of the United Grand Lodge of England, is named after William Preston (1742 – 1818), the foremost Masonic educator of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. He died in 1818 but in his will he bequeathed a sum to Grand Lodge, to provide for the annual delivery of a lecture. These started in 1820 but later fell into disuse before being revived in 1924. Since then, apart from a break from 1940 until 1946, a lecturer has been appointed each year, charged with delivering a lecture on a Masonic subject of his choosing, to “instruct and entertain a general Lodge audience”.

The Worshipful Master of Alphin Lodge, WBro Barry Dickson, together with
WBro John Pearson, our APGM and VWBro Calderwood who delivered the lecture

On 1st April 2014 VWBro Paul Calderwood PGSwdB, who was the Prestonian Lecturer for 2013 was persuaded to come to Alphin Lodge 8461 which operates out of Mossley Masonic Hall. The Prestonian Lecture is very prestigious, and considering that there is only one lecture series given each year in the whole of England, it is quite surprising to note that this was the 5th time in six years that Alphin Lodge has hosted the lecture.

The Lecture was delivered in the Lodge Room as part of the Lodge’s regular meeting. WBro  John Pearson PAGReg, the APGM for the Southern Area was processed into the Lodge, accompanied by WBro Calderwood, as well as by WBro Ken Hampson, District Chairman, and a District Deputation. VWBro Calderwood then delivered his lecture, suitably illustrated by relevant slides, on the subject of “Freemasonry and How the Press See Us.” Admittedly, we did not receive the full lecture, but an extended segment which covered the development of Freemasonry in the light of its changing relationship with the Press during the Twentieth Century. This proved to be an absolutely fascinating review which looked at the fact that Freemasonry, and Masons, were held in high regard by both the Press and the general public, in the early years of the century. However, the decision to make the Craft a more secretive organisation at around the start of the Second World War, a position which continued up until the 1990s, was responsible for a decline in public regard towards the Craft

VWBro Calderwood was quite clear in his opinion that the current attitude which is attempting to put the Craft into a better light with the general public through a policy of openness was the right one, and was more likely to see the craft raised up in the public’s estimation. In the long run, this policy of openness is the only really valid approach if we are to see the craft thrive again. At the end of the lecture, the Worshipful Master, WBro Barry Dickson PProvDGDC, thanked VWBro Calderwood for his fine lecture and assured him that the brethren had certainly enjoyed more than one day’s advancement in Masonic knowledge.

The members of Alphin Lodge together with their principal guests

At the Social Board, WBro Pearson, our APGM first thanked the Lodge for their very kind hospitality, and VWBro Calderwood for coming and sharing his thoughts with us. He continued by talking about the changes taking place in United Grand Lodge, where Sir David Wootton had been appointed as the Assistant Grand Master on 12 March 2014. He also mentioned that WBro Ken Hampson had received notice that he would be appointed to Grand Rank at the forthcoming Investiture Meeting. He went on to talk about the 2015 Festival and the Charity Giving Evening which would be taking place on Friday evening. He concluded by saying that, “We have an enviable reputation. We do good work, in 2013 the Freemason’s Grand Charity gave away £6,607,142 to good causes. So let us get out there and spread the word about our fraternity.

If you wish to see all of the photographs taken on the evening, and have the option of downloading them, please follow this link to the online photo gallery 1308920/



Freemasonry Today

Back in January of this year an article appeared on this page describing the surprise visit of the Deputy Grand Master, RWBro Jonathan Spence, to Lodge of Union 268 meeeting at Ashton Masonic Hall.

This special occasion has now appeared in 'Freemasonry Today' in the form of a letter from District Communications Officer, WBro Kevin Hall. You may view this letter by using the following link. Lodge of Union Letter. Unfortunately the link cannot take you directly to the letter but flip through to Page 73 and you will find it there.

It is assumed that when the hard copy of 'Freemasonry Today' pops through your letter box then the letter will be on the same page.

See the original article HERE

Mossley Band in Concert at Westholme

The concert was well supported by Brethren and their partners from over 10 Lodges throughout this and neighbouring Provinces, together with 6 residents from Hewlett Court (a big thank you to WBro Mike Williams for organising the transport from Bury).

Mossley Band treated the audience to a selection of excellent brass band music throughout the evening, ably conducted by Musical Director Duncan (did I mention our new CD) Byers, the Worshipful Master of Mossley Lodge 6577, ending with a rousing rendition of Land Of Hope And Glory (or Elgars Pomp and Circumstance to the purists).

A potato pie supper was enjoyed by all, who also gave generously to our raffle, which meant a total raised for the Festival of a magnificent £441 !



Installation Meeting at Milton Lodge No 1144

WBro John Pearson APGM with the Worshipful Master and Members of Milton Lodge

Milton Lodge No 1144 held its Installation Meeting on Thursday 13th March 2014. 34 brethren, including our AProvGM, WBro John Pearson PAGReg, met together to see WBro Ian Walvin PProvAGDC, installed into the Chair of King Solomon for the fourth time, by proclamation. Also present on the evening were a District Deputation as well as WBro Martin Paul Roche, the AProvGM for the Northern Area of East Lancashire who was present on this occasion as a member of Milton Lodge, a fact of which all the brethren are clearly very proud.

Additionally, during the ceremony WBro Pearson had the very pleasing duty of presenting a Certificate to WBro Walvin marking the fact that every brother in Milton Lodge has made a donation to the East Lancs 2015 Festival. WBro Pearson said that it gave him great pleasure to make this presentation, the first one he has been able to make at Ashton. He noted that the donations made by the members of Milton Lodge average out to £370.00 per member and that this level of giving makes them the biggest donors, on a person by person basis, of any Lodge in Ashton & Mossley District.

John Pearson with the WM of
Milton Lodge

WBro Martin Roche PSGD APGM
and a member of Milton Lodge
with his WM

Later, at the Social Board, WBro Pearson spoke about his evening in glowing terms. “I expected a very happy and fraternal evening. We have all enjoyed your friendship in the Lodge and I thank you, and all the brethren of Milton Lodge for your kind and generous welcome. I first met you, Worshipful Master, when we walked the Province together, a year or two back. I must also comment on WBro Martin Roche, who cannot be beaten for eloquence. He is at his best when he is talking about Recruitment and Retention, a subject that he has made his own. It is good to see that he has achieved a good deal of success with his own Lodge.”

Just about everyone present, including the photographer, managed to get into this picture

WBro Pearson then continued by congratulating WBro Ken Hampson, our District Chairman, who had just received notice of his own appointment to the rank of PAGDC. “This, Ken, is a reward for all the work that you have done in this District over many years. We all have a great deal to be proud of as Freemasons. Inside your copy of Freemasonry Today, which you will have received by post, is a small pamphlet which lists all of the donations that have been made by Grand Charity. No one should be at all unsure about the real value of the work that we do in terms of Charity.”

WBro Pearson then closed by saying, “The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VWBro Derek Thornhill, recently said that “We take good men and make them better.” I’m sure we can all identify in ourselves, (even if it isn’t always immediately apparent to others) ways in which we have as individuals improved as a result of our learning through Freemasonry. But I have to say that looking at the photographs from past Masters & First Principals Dinners that are hung in the Lodge anteroom, and after the excellent dinner we have enjoyed tonight, perhaps we should also say, “We take thin men and make them fatter.” Worshipful Master, thank you very much for your hospitality and thank you for the cheque you have presented on behalf of your Lodge, for the 2015 Festival

If you wish to see all of the photographs taken on the night, and have the option of downloading them, please follow this link to the online photo gallery




WBro Martin Roche PSGD, APGM has sent the following Open Letter to all of the brethren of the Northern Area. I believe that this is an excellent letter and puts forward a very important issue, and so I have asked permission to reproduce this article for you. I commend this article to your attention – I believe that the points it makes are very worthy of your consideration.

WBro John Pearson PAGReg, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Southern Area.

"We are now some 19 months away from the end of our RMBI 2015 Festival and it is worth just pausing to remember who we are trying to assist and why.

There still seems to be some confusing messages about our Festival and who we are helping. The simple thing we all need to focus on is that the beneficiaries of your kindness are our own Brethren and their families. They are not strangers. They are not a group of people who all live in the south of England. They are members of our own Province. They live in our own Ecclesholme as well as living in any one of the other 16 RMBI homes. They are members of our own extended family whom we have never had the pleasure of meeting. More importantly, never had the joy of appreciating how our kindness, how our generosity, how our commitment to them has done more than help them. And we need to be very, very clear on this. For all of them it has changed their lives. But changed them in a very fundamental way. I am not speaking about giving them something extra, a benefit. It is something far more profound. We are giving them something that you and I take for granted: quality of life and above all else, something that has no price, that we all expect for ourselves and our loved ones – dignity.

The RMBI may have provided the services, the infrastructure to make that happen, but you have done it. You have made it happen. You have changed and improved the lives of people you will never know with your money in a way which may have a monetary value, but possess a worth in human terms which is priceless. On a daily basis you are changing peoples’ lives.

As Freemasons through our Festival we are given the amazing opportunity to change peoples’ lives. The lives of a unique extended family which only a fraternity such as ours can be privileged to affect.

Every day and with every pound you are touching and improving a life. That means that every pound counts. And for every pound we divert away from this vital work, we diminish the benefit we are imparting.
I therefore implore you. We have 19 months left and in that time, you may only have one installation left to make a difference through your charitable giving. So simply reflect on what I have written and consider in this last, final push to make all your giving count towards our extended family within the RMBI. Just for one year. Yes, we all have our favourite charities, me included. I would gladly give every penny I will ever possess to The Stroke Association if I thought it would help prevent another loss like the one I experienced. And you all have the same stories. But as a Freemason, I balance that against a greater responsibility. I simply ask you to make the same consideration as I have. By all means, personally support those good causes which are close to your heart through your own personal charitable giving. But when it comes to Masonic giving by your Lodge, remember where that specific money can make the greatest difference and where our priorities really need to sit.

And that has got to be first and foremost with the RMBI.

So. When your Lodge next sit down to consider who you are giving your Masonic charitable monies to, remember the beneficiaries of the RMBI. They have no voice but ours, no money but ours, no help but ours, no one else to rely on but us.

I am immensely grateful and humbled for what you are all doing and you all have my unreserved thanks, gratitude and respect."

WBro Martin P Roche PSGD
Assistant Provincial Grand Master

Installation Meeting at Mossley Lodge No 6577

Mossley Lodge No 6577 is now 66 years old, having been consecrated in 1948. Unlike many Lodges in these straightened times it has seen a good deal of growth in the last few years and seems to continue to attract new members. Perhaps it has lessons to teach all of us that we would do well to learn. Certainly, during the meeting that took place on Tuesday 11th March, besides the regular business of the evening, there was a joining member coming in and notice of three Raisings that will no doubt take place in the near future. However they are growing, though, I have no doubt that they would welcome visitors to any of their forthcoming meetings.

There was a splendid turnout for the Installation Meeting of Mossley Lodge

The business of this evening, though, was the Installation of Bro Duncan Byers, the leader of Mossley Band, as the sixty seventh Worshipful Master of the Lodge. Since Duncan comes, originally, from the west coast of Cumbria, we had the delight of being joined by a number of Freemasons from the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland. Indeed, had not other business prevented it, we might well have had the company of the Provincial Grand Master of that Province as a guest on the night, but sadly that was not to be.

We did, however, have the always delightful presence of our Assistant Provincial Grand Master, WBro John Pearson PAGReg, who was making an official visit to the Lodge, accompanied by a delegation of Provincial and District Officers. John entered the Lodge under the direction of WBro Mark Reader AProvGDC, and accompanied by WBro Ken Hampson PProvGJW, the District Chairman and others. As soon as he was settled, WBro Pearson introduced his team to the well filled Lodge Room and the ceremony began.

The members of a thriving Mossley Lodge

We were privileged to see an excellent demonstration of an Installation Ceremony, splendidly performed by the Installing Master, WBro Andrew Palmer PProvSGD, most ably assisted by a number of officers of the Lodge. There was no doubt, by the end, that Bro Byers had been well and truly installed into the Chair of his Lodge, something which really is the pinnacle of a Mason’s career. Bro Byers then ably demonstrated his own capabilities by carrying out his duties, appointing and investing his officers and finally closing his Lodge in a manner that brought great satisfaction to all those who saw it.

At the Social Board, WBro Pearson, responding to several toasts, spoke extremely well, as he always does. He started by thanking the Lodge for the kind hospitality and warm reception he had received, a sentiment which was surely echoed by all the visitors. He commented that it had been a wonderful ceremony and was only sorry that RWBro Norman J Thompson DL, the Provincial Grand Master for Cumberland and Westmorland, had not been able to come and hoped that he would be able to make a visit at some time during Duncan’s year in office. “Never mind,” he said, “I’m sure that we’ve all had a happy evening”, and how right he was.

The Worshipful Master with some very special guests

WBro Pearson continued by speaking of the visit by RWBro Jonathan Spence, the Deputy Grand Master, to Lodge of Union in January, commenting that this had shown that when we toast the rulers of the Craft, they are not just names on a Toast List, “rather, they are people who actually care about East Lancs Freemasons.” He went on to comment on our own Provincial Grand Master, Sir David Trippier, saying, “he is a great leader for the Freemasons of East Lancashire, he is very much involved and far from being some kind of figurehead. I know that we will achieve great things under his leadership.” Carrying on to comment on the progress of the 2015 RMBI Festival, John noted the fact that Mossley Lodge was already a Grand Patron of this important Charity, but said that there was still the opportunity for individual members to give a little more in order to boost the overall total. “Just the price of one pint of beer a month for four years would make such a difference to the final total, and make it into a sum of which we could all be proud.”

Finally, at the end of the evening we were regaled by WBro Parker Wilkinson PAGDC, a Past Master of Alauna Lodge No 8808, in Maryport. Cumbria, who, in his reply from visiting brethren told us stories of how the new Worshipful Master had first learned the craft of being in a Brass Band. He assured us all that Bro Duncan Byers would be a credit to his Lodge, his Province and Freemasonry in general. It really was the perfect end to a splendid evening, and one that none of us who were present will soon forget.

If you wish to see all of the photographs taken on the night, and have the option of downloading them, please follow this link to the online photo gallery



An Appointment and a Promotion in Grand Rank

WBros John Pearson and Ken Hampson at a recent meeting

It is with great pleasure that I can announce a first appointment to Grand Rank, and a promotion within Grand Rank, for two of the leaders of our Masonic community here in the Southern Area. At the Investiture Meeting of United Grand Lodge, which will be held on April 30th, our Assistant Provincial Grand Master, WBro John Pearson PAGReg will be promoted to the rank of Past Senior Grand Deacon. At the same meeting, the District Chairman of Ashton & Mossley District, WBro Ken Hampson PProvJGW, will be appointed to the rank of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies. Both John and Ken are extremely well known and highly regarded Freemasons. They both put an enormous amount of time into Masonry and have many friends within our fraternity. I know that there will be many brethren who will wish to offer them congratulations and best wishes for this signal honour both for themselves and for our area.

WBro John Pearson was initiated into Westholme Lodge 9101 on 9th November 1988, so is currently in his 26th year in Freemasonry. He was installed in the Chair of Westholme Lodge in 1995. He was exalted into Pennine Chapter 8798 in 1992 and was installed as 1st Principal in 1998. He is a founder member of Waverley Chapter No 1322 and has served that Chapter in the office of 1st Principal. He is a member of several Mark Lodges and is a member of University of Manchester RAM 1001. He tells me that his 2 claims to fame are, “first that I was President of the Board of Grand Stewards and proposed the toast to the Pro Grand Master in the Connaught rooms in London following the Investiture meeting; and secondly that I won the Mark Golfing Society wooden spoon for 3 years on the trot before I gave up to let someone else win it.” John is also a member of both the Rose Croix and the Allied Degrees.

Outside Freemasonry, John was a member of Saddleworth Round Table 558 from 1978 until he was obliged to leave at the age of 40. Whilst he was in the Round Table he served as Area Chairman for South East Lancashire before becoming a member of the National Executive of the Round Table of Great Britain and Ireland.

John served as District Chairman of Audenshaw District from March 2009 until 21st November 2013 when he was Invested as the Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Southern Area. I asked him what he did before becoming District Chairman, to which he replied, with customary modesty, “I behaved disgracefully.” John is “blissfully married” to Denise and together they have three, “gorgeous daughters.” In his spare time John enjoys fell walking, bird watching and gardening. “When I was younger I enjoyed playing all kinds of sport – football, rugby, cricket, tennis, squash but my sporting activity now is confined to lending much needed support to Oldham Athletic.” Finally, John was, and still is, a very successful solicitor, becoming, in 1975, the third generation of his family to become a Partner in his family firm.

WBro Ken Hampson is not so very different in many ways. In June of this year he will celebrate 25 years in Freemasonry, so he joined a Mossley Lodge just seven months after John Pearson did, and of course both had very successful careers in the Law. Ken Hampson was initiated into Mossley Lodge 6577 in June 1989, being installed in the Chair in March 1999. He was exalted into Three Shires Chapter 9397 in December 1993, being the joint first candidate to join the Chapter after its consecration. He has served as 1st Principal of his chapter on two occasions in 2002 and 2006. He is also a member of Three Shires Lodge 9397, Prince Alfred Chapter and Denton Lodge which he was instrumental in saving from closure. Ken became Secretary of Mossley Lodge in March 1991 and is still going strong. He has been Scribe E of Prince Alfred Chapter since joining and was Scribe E of Three Shires Chapter for 12 years, only retiring this year.

Ken is a member of three Provincial Lodges and is also a member of the Mark, RAM, Rose Croix, Red Cross of Constantine and the Allied Degrees. He is currently serving on the ELMC Young Persons Committee and has been a member of the Westholme Scottish Association for 20 years. He has served on the Hall Committee of Westholme for 16 years, 4 as Deputy Chairman and three as Chair. He was appointed District Secretary in 2003 and served in that role for three and a half years before becoming Deputy Chairman for five years and Chairman for the last three.

Outside of Freemasonry (though I remain far from convinced that there is any such place for Ken) he has been very happily married to Karen for the last 29 years. Together they have two daughters who are both in their twenties and are delighted to have a grandson and a granddaughter who Ken informs me are “GREAT!” He makes no secret of the fact that he is the devoted follower of a certain local football club, the one that plays in blue and is somewhat larger than Oldham Athletic. Ken was a serving policeman for a number of years, rising to the rank of Inspector.



Stamford and Assheton Lodge No 6427

The W Master of Stamford and Assheton Lodge surrenders the Warrant to
WBro John Pearson, the APGM for the Southern Area

Some thirty Masons attended the 595th, and final, Regular Meeting of Stamford and Assheton Lodge No 6427 on 3rd March. I would like to say that those who attended “enjoyed” the meeting and the truly excellent Social Board that followed it, but somehow it does not feel right to say that you enjoyed seeing one of our Lodges close its doors for the last time. However, these things do happen and, while several of the members present looked ready to shed a tear from time to time, they were all eager to go out with a bang.

The meeting went well. The Lodge was opened by the Worshipful Master, WBro Philip Thompson PProvJGW, then a deputation entered, led by our APGM, WBro John Pearson PAGReg. He spoke briefly and introduced the members of the Deputation, which included almost the whole District Team from Ashton & Mossley, as well as the Chairman of Audenshaw District, WBro Gerry Hodson PProvSGD, and WBro Ian Screen PProvGSuptWks, the Area Coordinator, plus two Acting Officers of the Province WBro Mark Reader ProvAGDC and WBro Roy Tindall ProvAGStB.

The Provincial Deputation

The business of the meeting then resumed. WBro Bryan Bancroft PProvJGD, the Secretary of the Lodge read a brief but very interesting history of the Lodge. (You can find a link at the end of this article that will allow you to download a copy of Brian’s History.) It was fascinating to discover that the two Lodges which amalgamated to form this Lodge were consecrated just 65 days apart in 1947, making the combined Lodge 66 years old. WBro Pearson then addressed the members of the Lodge, reminding them that for many years the average Lodge only managed to exist for 25 years, whereas they had lasted for much longer. Then the Worshipful Master handed over the Warrants and Amalgamation Certificate to WBro Pearson and just like that, the Lodge was closed. If you have never attended the closure of a Lodge you might be surprised at how quickly it happens, for once the Warrant has been handed over, there simply is no further business.

The Members and Visitors at this last meeting of the Lodge

At the Social Board, after a wonderful meal, WBro Pearson thanked the members of the Lodge for their hospitality and said that it had been a sad but memorable occasion and reminded the members of the very enjoyable visit by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master just two months ago when he spoke very movingly about the changes that were occurring in the Lodge. He thanked WBro Ian Screen, the Area Coordinator, for all the work that he had done in helping the Lodge to reach this point. He ended by saying, “There are some really lovely people in this Lodge. I hope that you get the opportunity to meet together at some time in the future, then you can reminisce about all the good times that you had in this Lodge.

The members of Stamford and Assheton Lodge No 6427

The IPM, WBro Ward, PProvAGDC, in proposing the toast to the WMaster, said to WBro Thompson that, “It is wholly appropriate, given your long service in the Lodge, that it is you who should “turn out the lights.” It is a testament to you that, although you have not enjoyed the best of health recently, you have continued to turn up to our meetings.”

Finally, the Worshipful Master, WBro Philip Thompson PProvJGW, spoke. “On my way here this evening I was pretty sure that there would be no toast to the WMaster, because by this point there really is no WMaster, so I didn’t prepare anything. When we amalgamated the two Lodges we did think that there was a chance that we could keep things going. It is due to health and geographical issues that it has not been possible to do so. I am very happy to have been in the chair for the final year of the amalgamated Lodge’s life. I hope that you all continue to enjoy your journey in Freemasonry, and I wish you all the best for the future.”

To download a copy of WBro Bryan Bancroft’s Brief History of Stamford and Assheton Lodge – click here

If you wish to see all of the photographs taken on the night, and have the option of downloading them, please follow this link to the online photo gallery.



Alphin Lodge No 8461 Installation of WBro Barry Dickson


WBro John Pearson PAGReg, the APGM for the Southern Area, with WBro Barry Dickson PProvDepGDC,
the newly installed Master of Alphin Lodge.

Tuesday, 4th February 2014 saw WBro Barry Dickson PProvDepGDC, installed as Worshipful Master of Alphin Lodge No 8461for the fourth time.  Some 55 Freemasons from a number of different jurisdictions gathered to see this ceremony. Seven of the visitors came from Lodge Leven St John no 170 from Renton in Dunbartonshire (Grand Lodge of Scotland), but there were also two or three other Scottish Masons present. We were also joined by 3 German brethren from Zur Weltbruderkette Im Vest Lodge No 973 from Recklinghausen in the District of North Rhine Westphalia under the Grand Lodge of Germany and even one Brother who represented Lodge Puldin No 26 from Plovdiv in the United Grand Lodge of Bulgaria.

Starting 4th from Left: WBro Ken Hampson, District Chairman, WBro John Pearson, Bro Richard McKenzie,
WBro Barry Dickson together with the visitors from other jurisdictions

WBro Dickson was well and truly installed by the Immediate Past Master, WBro Brian Smith PProvSGD, in a sparkling ceremony. It was watched by our Assistant Provincial Grand Master, WBro John Pearson PAGReg, who commented that it was wonderful to see the Lodge Room so full for such an excellent ceremony.

Later, at the Social Board, after enjoying a splendid meal, it was time for the toasts. In answering the first three toasts, WBro Pearson began by thanking the Lodge for their very kind hospitality. He again commented on how nice it was to see so many brethren joining together to celebrate such an occasion, commenting that it was especially nice to see visitors who had come from so far away, even in one or two cases from Cheshire. He went on to say that the pleasure was, this evening, compounded for him by the fact that his father had been one of the founders of Alphin Lodge.

Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Southern Area, WBro John Pearson PAGReg

WBro Pearson went on to talk at some length about the RMBI 2015 Festival which, as he said, was very close to our Provincial Grand Master’s heart. He reminded us that, “Sir David has worked at the highest ranks of government and industry. He is really very committed and I know that we will have great success under his leadership.” He commented on, “the exceptional work being done by Ecclesholme, our nearest RMBI property. They have just received a gold star for the quality of their care. They use coloured carpets to help residents to find their way back to their own rooms, memory boards alongside the doors to remind residents about what they will find in each room and pictures on the wall that are selected to reflect the changing seasons and help residents to stay in touch with the world around them. About 40% of Masons in our Province have not yet made a personal donation. All it will take is for everyone to give the price of one pint of beer a month, or about £25.00 a year, for four years, to enable us to reach a total of which we can all be proud.”

The Social Board

Finally, in a twist on the usual visitor’s toast, there were gifts. First, Bro Richard McKenzie, the Master of Lodge Leven St John presented WBro Barry Dickson with a Quaich. Now, just on the off chance that you don’t know what this is, it is a special kind of shallow two-handled drinking cup or bowl used in Scotland. They are often made of wood, but this one was metal. Fortunately for Barry, Bro McKenzie also gave him a bottle of Scottish firewater to drink from it. Not to be outdone, the German brethren demonstrated the German way of honoring a toast, which was distinctly different, and then proceeded to hand out small gifts of alcohol, chocolate or sausages to every brother who was present. It certainly made for a memorable end to a wonderful meeting.

If you wish to see all of the photographs taken on the night, and have the option of downloading them, please follow this link to the online photo gallery.



A Surprise Visitor to the Lodge of Union No 268


The Deputy Grand Master, RWBro Jonathan Spence, The Provincial Grand Master, RWBro Sir David Trippier RD, JP, DL
with the Worshipful Master of the Lodge of Union No 268, Bro Steven Stanley

Sometimes, what could be described as impertinence, or just as plain cheek, can really get you into deep water. Sometimes it can reap rich rewards. This is a story in which both of those statements are true.

In June 2012, just a bit more than 18 months ago, three members of the Lodge of Union No 268 were among the 25 brethren who took part in the Southern Area’s annual trip to Grand Lodge, organised by WBro Pearson, the then Audenshaw Chairman. As part of that visit the group enjoyed lunch in the Grand Connaught Rooms where they were most surprised to receive a short visit from RWBros Jonathan Spence and David Williamson, the Deputy and Assistant Grand Masters.

One of the brethren from Lodge of Union was the then Junior Warden of the Lodge, Steven Stanley, making his first visit to Grand Lodge. Here comes the impertinence, or the cheek. When he was introduced to RWBro Spence, Steven blithely invited The Deputy Grand Master to come to his Installation. “When is that?” asked the DGM. “Oh, in January, 2014” said Steven. And normally, that would have been that. The rulers of the Craft must be invited to many events, and a polite comment will usually indicate that it’s just not possible. In this case, though, something must have intrigued the Deputy Grand Master, for he said “Well. We’ll just have to see what can be arranged.”

The members of the Provincial Deputation and the Members of the Lodge with their Distinguished Guests

Most of us thought nothing about it, and although Steven did keep dreaming about his special visitor, we worked hard to convince him that nothing would happen. Then in late October of 2013 we were informed that the Provincial Grand Master, Sir David Trippier, would be making an official visit to our Lodge on the occasion of Steven’s Installation, which also happened to be our 225th Anniversary. That was surely a most magnificent piece of good news for Steven, but the fact that Sir David would be accompanied by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, as well as our APGM and a long list of other Provincial Visitors led me to ask a question of our District Chairman, Ken Hampson. I was sworn to secrecy and inducted into a very small group of people who knew “the Truth”.

So it came to pass that on the 16th January, a crisp winter’s day at Ashton Masonic Hall, we made a start on the Installation of Bro Steven Stanley. All went well, the Minutes were read, the report was made, the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies was admitted, he announced the fact that the Provincial Grand Master attended without and demanded admission. Just what you would expect! We all enjoyed the entrance of Sir David and the Provincial Team, and nobody was surprised when our Worshipful Master offered the gavel to him, nor when Sir David politely refused it. Steven was replaced by the Installing Senior Warden and was brought to sit in the North East Corner, just next to my table, just where I could see him.

The Members of the Lodge of Union No 268 with their principal guests

All was in readiness for the Installation to begin when our DC paused and said, “Brother Inner Guard, just check that there is nobody waiting outside will you, we don’t want anyone to miss the ceremony.” I heard the Inner Guard open the door, and a short muttered conversation, then he closed the door, turned to the Worshipful Master, and in a slightly less than normal voice said, “Worshipful Master, WBro Philip Hall, Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies seeks admission.” I watched Steven Stanley as he took in what was happening and his head started to turn. “Oh, admit him” said Walter, the WM, (for he was in on the secret).

WBro Philip Hall entered the Lodge Room as only a Grand DC can do it. “Worshipful Master, outside the door of the Lodge stands RWBro Jonathan Spence, the Deputy Grand Master.” I saw Steven Stanley’s lips saying “Oh, My God.” And I realised that the surprise was complete, we had kept it a secret and it was all just perfect. I swear that as RWBro Spence advanced to the East, he turned and winked at Steven, but I would never tell anyone.

From then on we enjoyed an unbelievably good Installation Ceremony. Having said that the Deputy Grand Master was attending your Installation, would you expect that he would take the ceremony, because that is what he did. He accepted the gavel and took the Master’s Chair. He was brisk, word perfect and did just about everything except the heart of the Installation. It was easy to see that he had been a very effective Grand DC in his day. Nor must I fail to mention that, as the cherry on top of the cake, our Provincial Grand Master gave the address to the brethren. What more could you want?


At the Social Board

Afterwards there was a very relaxed and easy Social Board. Needless to say, the Deputy Grand Master replied to the toast to the Grand Officers, and it is important to report a little of what he said. “Worshipful Master, you must by now realise that that although cheeky chappiness will get you so far, it really can also land you in a mess. It is really good to know that, as I saw your face on entering the Lodge, there are still some secrets in Freemasonry. I must tell you that, up here in East Lancashire, you don’t do anything the way that it’s done in London. I think that means that you have given me the next six months’ worth of Daily Advancements. I cannot fail to comment on the undoubted ceremonial strengths of this Province. I must say that I am very grateful to Sir David for making it possible for me to come here today. He has always been a diligent and faithful Mason in his own Lodge, it is quite clear that you are happy to have him as your leader and I can tell you that the view from London is that East Lancashire is in very safe hands.”

As Sir David Trippier, the RW Provincial Grand Master said, a little later, “It was a wonderful evening.” No one could disagree with that.


You can find all 74 photographs that were taken on the night by following the link below. Please feel free to download any
photographs that you want to keep as a personal memento. Copyright is reserved by the owner of the photographs.



A Celebration of Sixty Years in Freemasonry


VWBro Derek Thornhill PGSwdB, Deputy Provincial Grand Master presents
WBro Philip Thompson PProvJGW with his 60 Year Certificate

On Monday 6th January 2014 more than 40 Masons from across Southern Area came together to celebrate the 60 years of Craft Masonry that have been enjoyed by WBro Philip A Thompson PProvJGW, the Worshipful Master of Stamford and Assheton Lodge No 6427. The Principal Guest for the meeting was the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VWBro Derek Thornhill PGSwdB, who took the Chair and conducted the celebration. He was ably supported by WBro John Pearson PAGReg, our own APGM, WBro Martin Roche PSGD, the APGM for the Northern Area, WBro Norman Clark PAGDC, who is our APGP in the Royal Arch together with the full District Team and a number of other officers of the Province.

The regular business of the Lodge was followed by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VWBro Thornhill entering the Lodge in procession. After he took the Chair of the Lodge, VWBro Thornhill caused WBro Thompson to be brought to the centre of the Lodge for the celebration of his 60 years in the Craft. The Secretary of the Lodge read extracts from the Minutes of the Lodge for December 1953, when WBro Thompson was initiated, and from February 1965 when he was installed as Master. It is worth recording that, at the former meeting there were 50 masons present and at the latter 54.

The brethren who attended the meeting

WBro Thompson was, then, initiated into Assheton Lodge No 6467 on 7th December 1953 by his father, WBro Sydney Thompson, who subsequently Passed him on 5th April 1954 and Raised him on 5th April 1955. He was Installed as Master of the Lodge in 1965, and then again in 1992 and 2003. He was appointed to the rank of Junior Grand Deacon in Provincial Grand Lodge in 1979 and was promoted to the rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in July 1993, the rank that he holds today. He has held every office in his Lodge, except that of Secretary and he is currently the final Worshipful Master of the amalgamated Stamford and Assheton Lodge No 6427, for he will still be in the Chair of the Lodge when in closes in March 2014.

The Members of Stamford & Assheton Lodge, present on the night,
together with the Deputy Provincial Grand Master

After the meeting had closed and the brethren had all moved downstairs for an excellent meal at the Social Board, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master addressed the gathered brethren. He spoke, as everyone expected, about the events that were taking place in Grand Lodge, and about the progress of the 2015 Festival, but he spoke most pertinently about Philip Thompson and his sixty years in Freemasonry. He said, “Of course you know that you are sharing this event with the Duke of Edinburgh, who celebrated sixty years in Freemasonry last year, and with our Grand Master, the Duke of Kent, who celebrated fifty years in December, so that is not at all bad company to be in. Your Lodge simply could not have chosen a better Worshipful Master at this time, just two months before the Lodge will close. You’ll be joining another Lodge, no doubt, and that will simply spread your qualities to other Lodges. That is what Freemasonry is all about.”

WBro Philip Thompson PProvJGW

Finally, in answering the toast to the Worshipful Master, WBro Thompson got his chance to speak to the brethren. He said, “I’m sorry that the Lodge has to hand in its Warrant in two months time, and I want to thank all the brethren of the Lodge for keeping the Lodge going for an extra year so that this celebration could take place in this Lodge. I would like to thank VWBro Thornhill, along with all of the officers of Provincial Grand Lodge, WBro Hampson and the Officers of Ashton & Mossley District for coming along and making this such a wonderful evening. I shall remember this evening for the rest of my life.”

The photographs taken on the evening can be found by visiting the online photo gallery at the following web address.


Stephen Blank’s Farewell Party


At the end of the evening Stephen Blank was presented with an inscribed Whisky Decanter

On Saturday 14th December 2013 many of the past and present officers of the Southern Area, who have served with Stephen Blank over the last five and a half years, came together to celebrate his moving on. When Martin Caller decided to step down as the APGM for the Manchester Area, our Provincial Grand Master, Sir David Trippier RD, JP, DL, asked Stephen to make the sideways move from Southern Area to Manchester Area. Stephen later commented that there were two main reasons for his accepting, “You just don’t say “No” to the Provincial Grand Master, and his suggestion that my replacement would be John Pearson made perfect sense.”

Once the change in personnel had taken place at Provincial Grand Lodge last November, the only remaining question was when, and where, to have the party. In the end a considerable number of those who have served as District Officers during Stephen’s stewardship of the Southern Area, together with their wives or partners, came together to celebrate his leaving. The venue was the Phoenix City Restaurant in Stalybridge. Since it was so close to Christmas the restaurant was packed with groups of people who were determined to have a good time, which ensured that it was an interesting evening.

Some of the members of the District Teams, celebrating with our honoured guest

The evening was a celebration of what has proved to be an exciting time of change in both Ashton & Mossley and Audenshaw Districts. Later in the evening Stephen spoke quite movingly about his time in Southern Area, and wished John Pearson all possible success in the coming years. Paul Waring, the Deputy Chairman of Audenshaw District, who had organised the evening, presented Stephen with a suitably inscribed Whisky Decanter, and a bottle of something to put into it. It is even fair to say that Stephen was pleased to accept the gift.

I am sure that all of the Masons of the Southern Area will join us in wishing VWBro Stephen M. Blank, PGSwdB, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, the greatest success in his future Masonic career.

A selection of photographs taken on the evening can be found by following this link to the Web gallery:



Secretaries Workshop

The team from the Provincial Secretariat who carried out the training

On Monday 9th December a group consisting of a dozen Secretaries and Scribes E from Ashton & Mossley Lodges and Chapters, together with a couple of interlopers from further north, gathered together at Ashton Masonic Hall. On this occasion the purpose of this meeting together was to take part in the Secretaries Workshop. To this end they were met by the Provincial Secretariat’s “A” Team comprising of Duncan Ferguson, who is Chair of the Provincial Education and Development Committee, together with John Farrington and Andrew Holland, the Provincial Grand and Deputy Grand Secretaries, and Susan O’Neill from the Secretariat team.
In the introduction to the evening it was explained that the original purpose had been to roll out the new Secretaries Handbook, but that the process, of which this was the third workshop, had now gone well beyond that. It was also explained that the workshops were being done on a District basis to allow the meeting together of smaller groups which would allow a better exchange of opinions.
Andrew Holland took the meeting through the various tools that were available to Secretaries, including all the different tools that were now freely available from the Secretariat’s website. That in itself represented a real change from past trainings, for we were not handed copies of the Handbook, nor were we taken through the contents page by page, but we were informed as to where these materials could be obtained.

The audience of Secretaries and Scribes E

Next, John Farrington took us through the Provincial Honours Process, explaining how it worked and the timeline that orders the process. Finally, Susan O’Neill explained about the relocation of the Provincial Secretariat to Ashdale Lea in Rawtenstall, and about all of the people who work there, and the very specific functions that they each have.
Finally there was a general discussion where our views were sought, and there was a ready willingness to listen to a very different range of questions and opinions. If I can just add a personal point of view, in a past life as a teacher I have attended more than my share of trainings. I ca genuinely say that this was probably the best training session that I have ever attended. It was not over long, it did not go over and over the same points, and there was a ready willingness to listen to the questions and concerns of the audience. So a very big, electronic, vote of thanks to the team from the Secretariat. Well done, all of you.

The question and answer session



The Masonic Carol Service

On Sunday 8th December, at 3.00 pm on a cold but pleasant Sunday afternoon, More than 50 brethren, and their families, representing both Districts of the Southern Area came together to celebrate Christmas. This year the Masonic Festival of Lessons and Carols was held at St Michael and all Angels Church in the centre of Ashton under Lyne.
The service began with the parading of a number of Lodge Banners which were placed by the Church’s Altar. Then the Rev’d Roger Reece, who presided over the service, took his place in the very unusual raised desk that dominates this wonderful Georgian Church.

The service proceeded with the congregation joining in with some old favourites that are always sung at this time of year. The four lessons were read by WBros Ken Hampson, Gerry Hodson, Kevin Hall and John Pearson. Two extra special Carols were sung solo by Peter Lee, who is himself an inactive Mason and previously a member of King George V Lodge, and Rev’d Reece gave an interesting and appropriate sermon.
All in all it was an excellent service that everyone present enjoyed. Afterwards, many of those who had taken part moved on to the Broadoak Pub for an enjoyable meal together.
(By the way, if you are looking for the many photographs that were taken at the Service, the photographer managed to take all of the photographs without a memory card in the camera.)



Newly Appointed and Promoted Provincial Officers Reception 2013

The annual reception for all those who have received either a first appointment or a promotion in the Provincial Grand Lodge of East Lancashire during 2013, took place on Sunday 1st December. Altogether, more than 60 recipients of Honours in either the Craft or the Royal Arch came together to celebrate at Mossley Masonic Hall. There they enjoyed a buffet lunch, together with most of the Officers from the District Teams of Audenshaw and Ashton & Mossley. You will see from the photographs which are either attached to this report, or are shown in the photo gallery, that they enjoyed themselves tremendously. The Principal guest for this event was WBro John Pearson PAGReg, who attended with his wife Denise.

WBro John and Mrs Denise Pearson

The high point of the event was, without doubt, the address to the assembled group that was given by WBro Pearson who is the newly promoted, invested and appointed Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Southern Area. He began by welcoming the assembled company to this meeting in Mossley, “the Costa del Sol of the Southern Area.” He thanked everyone present for all the work that they had done and reminded them that appointments and promotions were essentially a mark of appreciation from the Province for all of that hard work. He also thanked the Ladies, who were present, for without their support none of the brethren present would be in a position to enjoy freemasonry.

WBro Gerry and Mrs Carol Hodson

John then introduced WBro Gerry Hodson PProvSGD who, together with his wife Carol, was present. Gerry has now taken over as the new District Chairman of Audenshaw and John said that he looked forward to a long and successful working relationship with him. He also introduced Ken Hampson, the District Chairman of Ashton & Mossley District, though, as he pointed out, he did not need to introduce a man who everyone in his District knows so well. He also thanked Chris Byrom, who has just retired as the Area Coordinator, for all the work he has done in connection with the amalgamation and closure of Lodges.

WBro Ken and Mrs Karen Hampson

John then spoke about Recruitment and Retention which, as he reminded us, was one of the two central themes of the RW Provincial Grand Master’s speech at the recent meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge. He reminded the gathering that, as Sir David put it so eloquently, “Doing nothing is not an option.” So he encouraged everyone present to go back to their Lodges and Chapters and make sure that every member feels that they can, and should, talk freely about their freemasonry. That was the best way of bringing new people into this Craft that we all love so much.


John ended by thanking WBros David Dredge and Michael Porter, respectively the Secretaries of Ashton & Mossley and Audenshaw Districts, for all their hard work in organising such a wonderful celebration.

All of the photographs taken at this event can be found in a Web Gallery by following this link

You can look at all of the photographs and download any that you would like to keep or share.




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If you have any new stories you would like to see published here, please contact

WBro Kevin Hall, District Communications Officer for Ashton/Mossley District

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