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District Newsletter No 2 - January 2011

District Newsletter No 1 - September 2010



District Officers presentation - Verity Lodge

LtoR: WBro Aspinall, WBro Salt, WBro Caller, WBro Thornhill, WBro Lightbown

With the forthcoming amalgamation of Blackburn and Accrington districts and the promotion of WBro Derek Thornhill to Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Verity Lodge was chosen to host a presentation to WBro Thornhill and the retiring District Officers. So at 10:30am on Saturday 22nd October Verity Lodge was opened in due form by the Worshipful Master, WBro Michael Dodson PProv DepGReg with no less than 7 Grand Lodge Officers in attendance, including WBro Thornhill and WBro Martin Caller, PSGD, APGM.

WBro Caller, PSGD, APGM then presented WBro Thornhill with an engraved decanter to mark his service to Blackburn and Darwen District over the last 17 years. WBro Paul Aspinall, PAGDC, District Chairman then presented WBro Thornhill with a personal present of a bottle of single malt to fill the decanter with. WBro Caller then presented WBro Thornhill with a bouquet of flowers for Mrs Thornhill.

WBro Thornhill then presented engraved decanters to WBro Frank Salt, PProvDepGReg, the retiring District Mentor and WBro John Rimmer, PProvDepGReg, the retiring Charity Steward, whose presentation was collected on his behalf as he was unable to attend. WBro Aspinall then presented both with a personal gift of a bottle of single malt to charge their decanters with.

After the presentations and a ballot for two joining members the next item on the agenda was a reading of masonic poems by WBro Thornhill, which was given in good humour and received in the same manner. After the lodge closed the members and visitors retired to a festive board luncheon of potato pie followed by jam roly-poly.

Verity Lodge is a very friendly lodge that in their own admission "doesn't take itself too seriously" and is there for the members and visitors to enjoy themselves and have a good time, which was certainly the case at this meeting.


Soldiers Support Group - Blackburn District Charity of the Year - Presentation

Darwen 1940's day on Saturday 3rd September was the venue for a cheque presentation to Blackburn District's Charity of the Year, the Soldiers' Support Group from Darwen. The group is led by David Baldwin, an Accrington freemason who has 3 sons all serving in Afghanistan. The group is fundraising on behalf of the ABF - Soldiers Charity.

The highlight of Darwen's annual 1940's day was to be a fly past by the Red Arrows display team but this was cancelled following the sad death of Fl Lt John Egging last month. The wartime themed event was however a great success with plenty of attractions to keep the crowds entertained including a parade, vintage and military vehicles and entertainment provided by 40s singers the Octavius Sisters with swing music from singer Ricky Lee. Popular folk group The Houghton Weavers were also a favourite attraction.

Richard Sutlieff, WM 269, David Lightbown, and John Rimmer present the cheque to the Mayor of Darwen Coun Paul Browne, with David Baldwin and Kingsman James Kenyon watching on.

What do freemasons do during the summer recess?

What do freemasons do during the summer recess? Well I suppose that most of you will spend time in the garden or even have a break away from it all and relax on a well earned holiday. For six masons from Blackburn and Accrington Districts, including yours truly, the summer recess was the time for two weeks away at Annual Camp with the Army Cadet Force.

All six are serving Officers or Senior NCO's with Lancashire Army Cadet Force and every year spend two weeks away from home looking after 400 cadets who go away to an Army Training Camp to undertake military training. This year the venue was Wathgill Camp near Catterick Garrison where a whole range of training opportunities were given to the cadets.

The masons are:

WBro Lieutenant Colonel Alan Jones PProvSGD - Papyrean Lodge - Deputy Commandant (cadet training)

WBro Major Paul Smillie PProvSGD - Horizon Lodge - Camp Adjutant

WBro Major Steve Whittaker PProvJGD - St Aidens Lodge - OC C Company

Bro Captain Danny Cassidy - WM Horizon Lodge - 2i/c C Company

Bro Major Andy Gray - Horizon Lodge - OC S Company

Bro Lee Lynch - St Aidens Lodge - Company Sergeant Major C Company

LtoR: CSM Lee Lynch, Major Andy Gray, Major Steve Whittaker, Lt Col Alan Jones, Major Paul Smillie, Capt Danny Cassidy

This year Steve, Danny and Lee as HQ C Company were tasked to run the field training exercises. Andy Gray with S Company was tasked with running the Adventurous Training package consisting of canoeing, rock climbing, mountain biking and archery. Whilst Alan and Paul co-ordinated the camp from headquarters, Alan overseeing the whole training program for the cadets and Paul looking after the discipline and administration for the camp.

HQ C Company: Capt Cassidy, Major Whittaker and CSM Lynch "on exercise"

Next year we are all off to Otterburn Training Area in the North East for another two weeks of hard work and fun. In the mean time we are hoping to recruit a few more of our colleagues into Freemasonry.


Cancer Research UK Presentation

At a recent small garden party for the local Cancer Research UK group the District Charity Steward, WBro John Rimmer accompanied by WBro Chris Allen, WM of Harmony & Industry Lodge and WBro Dougie Aspen, Charity Steward of Sunnyhurst Lodge attended to present the group with a small donation of £400. Receving the cheque was Lynn Rudge, in blue, along with 2 helpers from the group. Unfortunately at the time of the presentation the heavens opened and the garden party had to withdraw indoors for the presentation.

British Heart Foundation presentation

WBro Bernard Spencer, WM of Perseverance Lodge and WBro John Rimmer, District Charity Steward, recently visited Blackburn Hospital to present a donation to Barbara Dunne the fund manager/coordinator for the British Heart Foundation appeal in Blackburn for a 3D Echo Scanner for the Heart Department. The donation came from Perseverance Lodge and the District Charity Stewards Fund.

Charity Presentations

Blackburn District Charity Stewards distributed charity funds at two events recently. in the first event a cheque for £300 was presented to the local East Lancashire Hospice on behalf of Old Blackburnian Lodge and the District Charity Stewards Fund. The donation will help the Hospice with their running costs.

WBro John Wishart the Worshipful Master of Old Blackburnians Lodge No. 7933 presents a cheque for £300 to Mrs Sharon Crymble Fundraising Manager for the Hospice
watched by WBro John Rimmer District Charity Steward.

Day care patients from the Hospice

The second event was a presentation of cheques to three local charities at Darwen Masonic Hall. The first presentation was to the Darwen Explorer Scouts who were presented with a cheque for £400 from Harmony and Industry Lodge. The money will go towards supporting the members trip to LaNoChe Scout Camp in Florida USA where some of the members are spending this summer. On their return the scouts plan to visit the Masonic Hall to give a presentation of their american adventure.

WBro Chris Allen, Worshipful Master of Harmony and Industry Lodge presents a cheque for £400 to Darwen Scouts

The second presentation on the evening was to The Meningitis Research Foundation. WBro Paul Smillie of Horizon Lodge presented a cheque for £200 to Mr Ian Pickup of the charity. Mr Pickup got involved with the charity 10 years ago after his then 27 year old son came home one evening from his dentistry practice feeling very unwell. Within hours he was in a high dependancy hospital ward with meningitis and not expected to survive, fortunately he did and ever since Mr Pickup has supported the charity. WBro Smillie was delighted to present the cheque to the charity as his wife, Joanne, caught meningitis as a baby leaving her profoundly deaf.

WBro Smillie presents the cheque to Mr Pickup with WBro Rimmer

The final presentation of the evening was a cheque for £450 to the North West Air Ambulance. The money was donated from Sunnyhurst, Ribblesdale, Fidelity and Crusaders, and Horizon lodges and from the District Charity Stewards Fund. The cheque was presented by WBro Peter Neimeyer Charity Steward of Ribblesdale Lodge to Mrs Freda Whittle representing the Air Ambulance.

WBro John Rimmer, Mrs Freda Whittle and WBro Peter Neimeyer

Personal 50th WBro Raymond Robinson - Update

Over the first weekend of June WBro Bernard Spencer, WM of Perseverance Lodge, accompanied by his wife, June, made a trip to Bournemouth to present WBro Robinson with his 50th certificate. They visited Riseborough Care Home where they were met by Mr Brian Pople, who had organised their visit. Mr Pople introduced them to WBro Robinson, who suffers from Parkinsons Disease, as they had not met before. Raymond was very glad to see Bernard and June. After chatting to Raymond for a short while they made the presentation of the 50th certificate. They also presented Raymond with framed photographs of the lodge presentation evening, as the ones in the story below. It was a very pleasant weekend.

Personal 50th WBro Raymond Robinson

Members of Perseverance Lodge with the delegation

Perseverance Lodge celebrated the 50th anniversary of one of their longest serving members, WBro Raymond Robinson, at their May meeting, although the birthday boy was not present himself, living in Bournmouth and not being in the best of health to be able to attend. The landmark was however well celebrated by the brethren present.

The lodge being opened in due form, on a report WBro Derek Thornhill PSGD, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, accompanied by a district delegation led by the District Chairman, WBro Paul Aspinall PAGDC, were admitted. On being offered the gavel of the Lodge WBro Thornhill took the chair of the lodge.

WBro Derek Rushton PProvSW then gave a resume of the career and masonic history of his long-time friend and masonic brother WBro Robinson, recounting his life as a funeral director before moving down south.

WBro Thornhill then read and presented an illuminated certificate from the Provincial Grand Master to WBro Bernard Spencer PAGDC, the Worshipful Master to pass on to WBro Robinson.

WBro Thornhill presenting the certificate to the WM WBro Spencer

The delegation then retired and after the lodge was closed the brethren enjoyed a festive board where WBro Robinson was remembered in the toast to Absent Brethren, as he is at every lodge festive board.


The Provincial Grand Mentor visits Loyalty Lodge

After being the Representative at the installation of Loyalty Lodge in October WBro Tony Costello PAGDC, Provincial Grand Mentor, kindly agreed to return and deliver a lecture.

Members of Loyalty Lodge with WBro Costello and the District Chairman

Along with WBro Costello a District Delegation led by WBro Paul Aspinall PAGDC, District Chairman, was also present. Also attending the meeting were several brethren from West Lancashire as the Worshipful Master, Bro Alan Davenport is a member of a lodge in that province.

The lecture chosen was an explanation and demonstration of the First Degree Ceremony. WBro Costello was assisted by WBro Richard Sutleiff, the mentor of Fidelity Lodge who acted as the candidate, Bro Roy Greenall of Peaceful Valley lodge acting as Junior Deacon and fifteen junior brethren from lodges within the District reading parts of the ceremony and explanations of the meanings behind why we do what we do. WBro Costello then answered questions taken from the brethren.

District Chairman, Worshipful Master, Provincial Mentor along with those taking part in the demonstration

It is a bit of a family affair in Loyalty Lodge as the Worshipful Master, Bro Alan Davenport is joined in the principal offices by his son Bro Damien Davenport as Senior Warden, and his son-in-law Bro Chris Molyneux as Junior Warden.

Bro Alan Davenport WM, WBro Costello Provincial Mentor, Bro Damien Davenport SW, Bro Chris Molyneux JW

After the lodge was closed the brethren retired to the festive board to end a very interesting evening.

The Thwaites Theatre receives a cheque  from ELMC Community Fund

The ELMC Community Fund has for the last few years given a grant to the Thwaites Empire Theatre in Blackburn, which allows them to put on a Christmas pantomime for local children. This year is no different. The ELMC Community Fund and Blackburn District are happy to support the Theatre in this effort.

A District team of WBro Paul Aspinall, District Chairman, WBro David Lightbown, Deputy Chairman and WBro John Rimmer, District Charity Steward visited the Theatre to hand over a cheque for the sum of £4,000 from the ELMC Community Fund to support this year’s pantomime production of Sinbad.

Freemasonry is well advertised on the productions webpage

Photo: Theatre manager Paul Mason and Managing Director Michael Berry receiving the cheque from WBro John Rimmer, District Charity Steward accompanied by WBro David Lightbown and WBro Paul Aspinall

100 Masons celebrate 100 years of Coronation Lodge

At the March meeting of Coronation Lodge the Provincial Grand Master, RWBro Jack Price, accompanied by a Deputation from Provincial Grand Lodge, was in attendance to celebrate 100 years of continued existence of Coronation Lodge No.3479.

There were a total of exactly 100 brethren at the centenary meeting, one for each year of the lodge’s existence!

The lodge was opened by the Worshipful Master Bro Ellis and on a report WBro Norman Cope, the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies was admitted and with due ceremony the provincial delegation led by RWBro Jack Price The Provincial Grand Master entered the lodge.

The Provincial Grand Master took the gavel of the lodge offered by the Worshipful Master for the centenary proceedings. The Centenary Warrant was then read and laid before the lodge.  WBro David Astbridge then gave a very comprehensive history of the lodge.

WBro David Halford, the Provincial Grand Chaplain gave an excellent oration followed by the formal presentation of the Centenary Warrant to the Lodge and instruction from the RW Provincial Grand Master to wear their centenary jewels with pride.

There was a surprise for WBro Ron Greenhalgh, a senior past master of the lodge, when he was brought before the Provincial Grand Master and appointed to the rank of Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works for the Province of East Lancashire, for his contribution to Coronation Lodge. He was then proudly escorted back to his seat by the Provincial Director of Ceremonies to the acclaim of the brethren.

The RW Provincial Grand Master accompanied by the Provincial Deputation then retired and the lodge was closed with solemn prayer. The brethren then enjoyed a wonderful festive board which went on into the late evening.

The RW Provincial Grand Master, with the Worshipful Master and Lodge DC, WBro P Ellis and his father WBro B Ellis


Blackburn and Darwen District Chadwick Weekend

Blackburn and Darwen District held their annual Chadwick Weekend over the 21 – 22 January, with 80 guests enjoying a weekend away at the Chadwick Hotel Lytham St Annes on the Fylde Coast. This number, made up of Freemasons with their partners and friends, included 18 guests from Accrington District.

The highlight of the weekend was an excellent 5 course meal on Saturday evening, when the theme was Gangsters and Molls. Guests dressed up for the occasion in flamboyant style for a fancy dress competition.

The men’s fancy dress competition was won by WBro Paul Smillie, District Communications Officer and the ladies competition was won by Mrs Beryl Aspinall, wife of the District Chairman Paul. With a special prize going to WBro John Kenyon of Perseverance Lodge who got totally confused and came as a Moll.

Mrs Joanne Smillie and WBro Paul Smillie, DIstrict Communications Officer, Mens Fancy Dress Prize Winner

Mrs Beryl Aspinall, Ladies Fancy Dress Prize Winner

WBro John Kenyon - Perseverance Lodge Special Prize Winner

After the meal the draw took place for the Annual Charity Stewards Prize Draw, which raised over £1200 for charity. There followed music, singing and dancing into the small hours with an excellent entertainment package of two live acts, a superb Tenor and a guitar duo, and disco from the hotels compare.

An excellent weekend was had by all and our sincere thanks must go to the Chadwick Hotel and also to Mrs Doris Lamb who organised most of the weekend and spent a lot of time arranging it all so that we could have a relaxing weekend.

This annual event will take place again next year over the same weekend 20th – 21st January and the theme will be Abba Mania, so get out your spandex trousers and platform shoes!  The weekend can be booked for either a one, two or three night package to suit all. For all enquiries please contact the District Secretary Joe Lamb.

Mrs Lamb managed to bag a prize in the Grand Raffle, presented by WBro Paul Aspinall, District Chairman


    Mother Goose at the Thwaites Theatre, Blackburn, 2010

    Once again this year the ELMC sponsorship of the annual Pantomime, Mother Goose, allowed the Blackburn and Darwen District a special sponsors performance at the Thwaites Theatre on Friday 17th December which was attended by over 300 guests, unfortunately due to the severe snow that fell during the day several guest including the RW Provincial Grand Master, Jack Price were unable to attend the performance. The official photographer was also unable to make it from Kirkham so we are unable to give you the usual superb quality pictures of the event. However not wanting readers to miss out on the star performance we can include some of a much lower quality for which we apologise.

    Attending the performance were beneficiaries from ELMC, guests from local charities and organisations that we have formed relationships with in our community, including school children from Newfield School. This year’s design a costume competition attracted over 3500 entries from local school children to design a costume for Mother Goose. The winner, Rebecca Wilkinson of St Wilfrid's School was there to see her design in person.

    Design versus reality

    For the third year running we had the assistance of our Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VWBro Dr Nigel G Bramley-Haworth, PGSwdB and our very own Assistant Provincial Grand Master, WBro Derek N Thornhill, JP, PSGD, AKA the Ugly Sisters, who gave a much too convincing performance as pantomime dames. Their official duties were to present the competition winner, Rebecca Wilkinson, with her certificate and draw the raffle for the evening.

    Everyone present, especially the children, who may not otherwise have been able to attended a Panto,  had a very enjoyable evening including free entry, free programme, and ice creams.  So many thanks must go to the ELMC grant and to Blackburn and Darwen District for their efforts to enable us to put on such an enjoyable evening.

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

    WBro Paul Smillie, District Communications Officer for Blackburn & Darwen. Tel: 0777 939 5566