Ashton and Mossley District Latest News
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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:
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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