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Provincial Grand Lodge 17 November 2011


"Look after each other, love one another and God Bless you all"


The Annual Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge was held on a tremendously well supported afternoon at King George's Hall, Blackburn. A thousand brethren gathered in the auditorium and welcomed the Heads of other Orders, Distinguished Guests from this and other Provinces, the Leaders of the Provincial Grand Chapter of East Lancashire, the Acting Provincial Officers of the year and then finally, the VW Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge, Bro Harold Woodward, accompanied by present and past Chain Bearers of the Province of East Lancashire.

VWBro Harold Woodward, PGSwdB, Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge

Following the opening of Provincial Grand Lodge VWBro Woodward received salutations from the brethren assembled and he responded warmly. His first duty then, was to refer to the sad loss of Jack Price:

"Since the last meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge held on 18 November 2010, our RW Provincial Grand Master passed to the Grand Lodge above on 23 October 2011. Those who met with RWBro Jack Price, our beloved Past Provincial Grand Master, all bear witness to the fact that he enriched their lives; that they were made to feel that their worth was recognised and that their contribution was appreciated. Jack ‘walked the talk’; showing that it was more important to make friends with the nobodies than to seek to be a great somebody.

Jack was born on the 3 April 1937 and on the 26 January 1972 [aged 34 years] he was Initiated into Freemasonry in Justice Lodge, No 4632. Two years later [in 1974] he was Exalted in Empire Chapter, No 3803. Little did Jack realise how much Freemasonry was to change and enrich his life; nor could he have imagined just how much, in subsequent years, his leadership would change and inspire the lives of others. He consistently sought to emphasise the indissoluble link between the Craft and the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch.

Jack was dedicated to serving those for whom he had responsibility. And therein is a lesson for us all.  Learning how to serve is an essential qualification of a great leader and Jack possessed this qualification in abundance. He was Installed as our RWPGM / MEGS on the 18 June 2008 and what an impact he has made and will continue to make. I stress that 'he will continue to make' Brethren, because what we leave behind is not engraved on tablets of stone but is enshrined in the lives of others.

His passing to The Grand Lodge above requires us to be committed and dedicated to work together in peace, love and unity, that we might complete his unfinished Masonic work here on earth, to translate his vision for this, our Province, into a vibrant reality. Jack left his mark on his work, a workman who never needed to be ashamed of that which he undertook and accomplished in the name of Freemasonry. Thank you Jack for the quality of your workmanship,  for being a man of quality and character and for the example and standards that you set and maintained in your everyday living.

Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave; and impossible to forget. Jack, our dear friend and Brother, we will never forget you.

There are others who have made their unique contributions to and through our Order, they too will be remembered for the lives they have lived and for what they have left behind. In addition to Bro Jack Price we have been informed of the death of the following Grand Officers:

WBro Bernard M Rother, PAGDC       2 February 2011
WBro Fred Kemp, PJGD                         8 February 2011
WBro John D Cook, PGStB                     1 April 2011
WBro Brian Gee, PAGSuptWks            4 May 2011
WBro Norman H Nash, PSGD             29 May 2011
WBro Derek Livesey, PJGD                  11 June 2011
WBro Victor F Hodgson, PJGD            17 June 2011
WBro John A Knowles, PAGDC            24 July 2011
WBro Kenneth Halstead                      12 November 2011

together with 104 Provincial Grand Lodge Officers and many brethren from private Lodges. They will be sadly missed by both the Brethren and their families."

The Brethren then stood for a few moments silence to remember departed merit.  

The Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge then proceeded with a number of items of business and presentations which will be referred to on page 3 of this report. Then followed Harold Woodward's address to Provincial Grand Lodge:

Address of the Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge to Provincial Grand Lodge

This is a special moment for me Brethren, speaking to you as your Deputy Provincial Grand Master for the final time; and I know it is a special afternoon for you, here in splendid numbers to support both this glorious Province and also your colleagues; those who will shortly be appointed or promoted in Provincial Grand Lodge.


The feeling for me on this stage is extremely positive but we are all aware that I am addressing you while we share the recent and inexpressible loss of our Provincial Grand Master, RWBro Jack Price. You should know that he continued to work for you and the Province until a few days before his departure to the Grand Lodge above. He dearly wanted a little more time with us, but God had greater plans for him.

Jack and Dorothy Price at the Salford Flower Festival, 2008

The strength and unity with which we supported him to the end and beyond, in some measure demonstrates the depth of love we held for Jack and Dorothy, together with their children, Jonathan and Janet.  His second family was always us and, although we have often expressed it, there will always be a tremendous debt of gratitude we owe to Dorothy, who supported Jack and Freemasonry to an exceptional level throughout the years. At the beginning of this Meeting of PGL  I stated that, in every capacity in which he served, Jack Price was a singular and exceptional individual who possessed all that was required of a leader: that he had a very large heart, which enabled him to touch all those he encountered with warmth and love. He often asked us  to ‘love one another’; in this context he meant  the process of nurturing one another for mutual benefit and growth on this earth. Love is a doing process and ‘action’ is what I intend to talk about this afternoon.

Freemasonry may be defined by some as a secular society, but only in the sense that it is not a substitute for religion. Freemasonry is 'in' but not 'of' the world; a world that would seek us to conform to its standards rather than be transformed by our standards. Freemasonry possesses a unique set of fundamental principles grounded in the values of many religions, ancient civilisations and influenced by many philosophies. If those fundamental principles are true, then Freemasonry is of vital importance and if false Freemasonry is of no importance; what Freemasonry cannot be is moderately important.

We live in a world of shifting values, so often characterised by need and greed. We must never compromise our standards and we must constantly strive to live to a high moral code of conduct; underpinned by the fundamental principles of our Order. It is a time for us to step 'forward' and not 'backwards', to embrace challenges and convert them into opportunities. Let us be pro-active so that we make a real difference and are welcomed as an integral part of our communities. As men of quality and character we are the conscience of society. There is nothing out there to replace us!

Brethren, there is much activity within the Province with which each of us needs to be associated at one or more levels. From today we have a new organisational structure serving our medium to long term future. Our former seven Areas have reduced to six forming a strengthened base, with the Craft Areas now being co-terminous with those of the Royal Arch and with a consolidated leadership focussed on our future success.  At this point, I wish to formally place on record my appreciation for the vital work undertaken by our District Chairmen: those who are retiring, continuing in Office or are newly appointed.  Each of them has undertaken / will undertake a key role in ensuring a smooth transition to the new structure.  I call upon each of you to give them your full support in the discharge of their important duties [ the Chairmen were then introduced by name and collectively received the acclaim of the brethren].

 Redevelopment of Freemasons’ Hall (the headquarters of the Province, the Secretariat and the home to many Craft Lodges, Royal Arch Chapters and other Orders) is to commence in the first half of 2012. The Redevelopment will provide an affordable, impressive and comfortable 'fit for purpose' Masonic home for Freemasonry in the City.  Salford Freemasons will be looking after their Manchester colleagues for the period of the work, and for that we are most grateful.  I refer you to the Provincial Website for the answers to most frequently asked questions regarding the Redevelopment and the interim arrangements: these questions and answers will be regularly updated.

Any society or organisation can be judged by the way it cares for the least fortunate of its members; and so it is with Freemasonry. We have been in Festival mode to raise funds for the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution for 2 years and to date just in excess of £750,000 has been donated by individuals, Lodges, Chapters and others. In the present climate, this is very commendable, however only one in six of us has entered into a commitment to make a regular donation / contribution. There are of course other Brethren who have chosen to make 'one-off' contributions. To all who have supported the Festival thus far [and in doing so have helped to improve the quality of life of our vulnerable members and / or their dependents] and who will be invited to further support the Festival today, please accept my 'thank you'. In every Festival that I can remember we have called for commitment from the Brethren, that each shall give in accordance with his means and without detriment to himself or family. I ask you to revisit your commitment to support charity, made at the time of your Initiation into Freemasonry.
Let me remind you that the RMBI operates 17 Care Homes with some 1000 residents and that a donation of £5 enables one such resident to be provided with a single meal. I invite each individual, each Lodge and each Chapter to re-examine their priorities in relation to charitable giving whilst the Province is in Festival mode, please remember that it is your Festival and that its success depends on you.

In this Province, the future health and viability of each Lodge will, in very large measure, be determined by the enjoyment and value its members gain from their regular meetings, rehearsals, committees, social and charity functions. Enjoyment and value are wholly dependent on the contribution each member makes / is allowed to make to those meetings and the quality of the content that is provided. For most Lodges this means that if you are not focussed on your relationship with each other; if you are not embracing mentoring; if you are not doing something about planning and investing in securing its future; if you are not thinking about recruitment; if you are not thinking about costs and if you are unable to showcase the real essence of the many facets of Freemasonry, to your colleagues and to the outside world; then Freemasonry does not have a future. Don't leave the responsibility for defining and securing the future of your Lodge to somebody else, make sure that you are part of a winning team.

A little thought, time and action to ensure our fellow Brethren are valued, engaged, supported, encouraged and accepted is all that is needed to enhance the quality of the relationship within our fraternity. Brethren do notleave Freemasonry, they leave relationships where they are not valued or cared for, or at worst when relationships no longer exist. Let us become men of value and treat one another with dignity and respect, let us care enough to care.
Windows of opportunity present themselves to us, sometimes only once in a lifetime, and we need to take advantage of them while we can see them. Some of us are leaders, some have special skills, but all of us have a part to play; everyone has something to give. In the end it comes down to attitude and action. There are no free rides and doing nothing is not an option. Success is about being focussed and using our resources effectively, about doing things the correct way, about building bridges and placing stepping stones (not creating obstacles or stumbling blocks) and offering pastoral care (without preaching).
The leaders of the Province and our various Committees continuously work at providing tools to help you prosper and flourish. For example, we have a Strategic Planning Group which has recently restructured the Provincial organisation and is currently looking at the health of the Craft and the Royal Arch generally; developing recruitment and retention initiatives and examining the role of our Grand Officers (who share a wealth of knowledge and experience). As individuals or as a corporate body the responsibility for defining and securing the future of Freemasonry is yours, there are no 'opt-out' clauses.

Abraham Lincoln said, ‘Whatever you are; be a good one’. Brethren, whoever we are, let us each choose to follow a path of excellence and quality through this life. As we were so often reminded by RWBro Jack Price :

‘Look after each other, love one another and God bless you all.’

The full text of the Address by Harold Woodward can be viewed / downloaded HERE


Harold Woodward concluded his tenure of Office with a very special task, that of appointing WBro Derek Nelson Thornhill, PSGD, APGM, to preside over the Provincial Grand Lodge of East Lancashire as Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge:

WBro Derek Nelson Thornhill, PSGD
Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge

Harold Woodward began, "The translation of our Past RWPGM’s vision into a vibrant and sustainable reality requires the virtue of continuity of leadership at all levels within the Province. He passionately believed that such continuity could be effectively be provided by WBro Derek N Thornhill, when appointed as my successor. And so, Brethren it is with much pleasure that I ask our Brother DC to conduct Bro Thornhill to the Pedestal.

WBro Norman Cope, then brought Derek Thornhill to the Pedestal, accompanied by his Chain Bearer, WBro Paul Aspinall, PAGDC, Chairman of East Ribble District. The Provincial Grand Secretary, WBro Alan H Garnett, then read the Patent of Appointment. This was then presented to Harold Woodward who inspected it and confirmed that it was in order.

"Brethren, Bro Thornhill was Initiated into Cathedral Lodge No 7814, in 1981 and became Worshipful Master in 1985. In addition, he is a joining member of Fortitude Lodge No 64, the East Lancashire Provincial Grand Officers’ Lodge No 3747, Verity Lodge No 3949 and the Lancashire Scouting Lodge of Allegiance No 6384. He was appointed a Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon in 1992 and promoted to Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer in 1997. In 2000, he was appointed by the United Grand Lodge of England to the rank of a Past Assistant Grand Sword Bearer. In 2006, he was appointed an Assistant Provincial Grand Master, with special responsibilities for Blackburn and Accrington Districts and received the rank of Past Senior Grand Deacon in the same year. Bro Thornhill was Exalted into Abbey Chapter No 2529 in 1987 and became the MEZ in 1994.  He was a joining member of the East Lancashire Provincial Grand Officers’ Chapter No 3747 and a Founder of Cathedral Chapter No 7814. He was appointed the Provincial Grand Sword Bearer in 1999 and promoted as an Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals with special responsibility for Northern Area No 1 in 2004.

He was appointed by Supreme Grand Chapter to Past Grand Standard Bearer in 2005. He has been the Deputy Chairman and Chairman of Blackburn District over a 9 year period. He was a member of the 2004 Festival Committee for some 3 years and, latterly, has been one of the driving forces behind the negotiations on the re-development of Freemasons’ Hall, Bridge Street, Manchester.

Bro Thornhill, clearly you are more than fully qualified to act as Deputy Provincial Grand Master of this Province, but I must nevertheless formally ask if you are willing to accept the duties of that high office?"

Bro Thornhill stated that he was and the Provincial Grand Chaplain was called upon for prayer, after which Bro Thornhill recited his Obligation as the Deputy Provincial Grand Master. Following this the Provincial Grand DC escorted Brother Thornhill to Bro Woodward for Investiture. The Provincial Grand DC then proclaimed Derek Thornhill as the Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge and the brethren gave salutations.

WBro Derek Thornhill, in the Chair, then continued with the business of Provincial Grand Lodge. The next item of business was to re-appoint the Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, appointed by Jack Price, who were continuing in Office: WBro Philip G Mountford, PSGD, WBro Martin S Caller, PSGD, WBro Stephen M Blank, PDepGDC, WBro Alexander S McLaren, PJGD, WBro Martin P Roche, PJGD

      The Assistant Provincial Grand Masters shown here with Derek N Thornhill, Harold Woodward
      and the retiring APGM, Jim Sutcliffe

The APGMs were given salutations and WBro Martin Caller responded on their behalf.


The next item of business was the Appointment of WBro Chad Antony Northcott, PProvJGW, as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master

WBro Chad Antony Northcott, Assistant Provincial Grand Master

WBro Thornhill said, "I now have great pleasure in the next item on the Agenda, that of appointing WBro Chad Antony Northcott as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master. I have known Brother Northcott for approximately 10 years and in that time he has always shown immense energy, enthusiasm and ability in every active position he has held and I am sure this will continue in his new office. So, Brethren, it is with much pleasure that I ask our Brother DC to conduct Bro Northcott to the Pedestal." Bro Chad Northcott was conducted to the pedestal accompanied by his Chain Bearer Bro Tim Northcott, his younger brother and a Past Master of Arcturus Lodge, No. 7252.

 The Provincial Grand Secretary read the Patent of Appointment which Bro Thornhill examined and stated was in order.

"Brethren, Brother Northcott was Initiated into Arcturus Lodge No 7252 on 12 October 1992 and became Worshipful Master in 2000. He is a joining member of Salford Ionic Lodge No 3248, the East Lancashire Provincial Grand Officers Lodge No 3747 and the East Lancashire Provincial Grand Stewards’ Lodge No 8408. He was appointed a Provincial Grand Steward in 2001, promoted to Past Provincial Deputy Grand Sword Bearer in 2004, Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 2006, and Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer in 2007.  He received his current rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in May of this year.

He was Exalted into the Marquis of Lorne Chapter, No. 1354, in 1993 and became First Principal in 2001. He joined Trinity Chapter 5651 in 2001 where he became the First Principal in 2004. He is also a joining member of Alexandra Chapter No 993, the East Lancashire Provincial Grand Officers Chapter No 3747 and the East Lancashire Provincial Grand Stewards’ Chapter No 8408. He was appointed a Provincial Grand Steward in 2006, promoted Past Provincial Grand Sojourner in 2007 and received his current rank of Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer earlier this year.

He was a Salford District Officer for some 7 years; 5 of these spent as District Secretary. He is the current Communication Committee Chairman and has responsibility for the Provincial Website. Bro Northcott, clearly you are more than fully qualified to act as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master of this Province, but I must nevertheless ask you formally if you are willing to accept the duties of that high office?"

Bro Northcott responded “I am Very Worshipful Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge”.

The Brethren were then called to order for prayer after which Brother Northcott recited his Obligation as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master. Brother Northcott was then escorted to Bro Thornhill for Investiture, after which he was proclaimed as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master and saluted.

The next item of business is the investiture of newly appointed and promoted Officers. 

The Provincial Grand Secretary read the names of those to be honoured and theProvincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team escorted each of them to the Pedestal. All in all some 251 brethren received appointment or promotion in Provincial Grand Lodge.

Before Provincial Grand Lodge was closed the Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge took time to thank three special brethren for the service they had given to the Province:

VWBro Harold Woodward, PGSwdB
WBro James Sutcliffe, PSGD
WBro H Alan J Garnett, PJGD

Derek Thornhill said: "VWBro Harold Woodward, PGSwdB, has served the Province at a senior level in Craft and the RA. He was a Dora in L997 for 5 years, Senior Warden of the Province in 1999 - 2000, became an APGP in the old Northern Area Number 1 for 2 years prior to becoming a well-respected APGM for 5 years in Rochdale and Oldham. In 2009 he became our Deputy Provincial Grand Master. His experience in Human Resources will be missed and the devolution of the secretarial work to the Districts will remain an epitaph to his work and expertise.

Harold has served our PGM's and our Province well, and maybe now he may have the time to start playing his trombone again. Thank you Harold for your service to this Province, and I am sure that you and Phyllis will both enjoy your retirement.

WBro James Sutcliffe PSGD has served the Province as a District Officer, having been District Secretary, Deputy Chairman, and District Chairman in Rossendale District, in 2005 he was appointed APGM in Northern Area Number 2 moving latterly, specifically at the request of our late PGM, to Salford. As well as holding these important offices Jim has been Chairman of Whalley Masonic Hall since 2000. He is currently Chairman of the 3rd Floor Working Committee, involved in the layout and refurbishment of the new 3rd floor in Bridge Street. I have personally known Jim for over 25 years as we are in the same mother Chapter and, therefore, know the amount of hard work and effort that he has expended and continues to expend, on work for the Province. Thank you Jim for your dedication, commitment, and your friendship.

WBro Alan Garnett PJGD has served the Province as Provincial Grand Secretary/Scribe Ezra for 15 years, and I know that he has been one of the longest current serving Provincial Grand Secretaries / Scribe Es.
Prior to being appointed to those positions he also was one of the first District Officer Royal Arch, in which capacity he served for 3 years, and Prov Organist in the Craft and RA for  4 years and 6 years respectively.

Alan has left an indelible footprint by the positive impact that he has had on the Organisation and Administration, and his efforts, have enhanced the smooth running and operation of the Province over the tenure of his office. Thank you Alan for all your tremendous hard work and dedication and I know that your experience and your immense knowledge will be missed.

Brethren could I please ask you to show your gratitude to the three Brethren for their tremendous service and support to our Province."

The newly appointed Provincial Grand Secretary (Provincial Grand Scribe E) is WBro (EComp) John Farrington, PAGDC. John has served the Province over many years, most recently as District Chairman for the Rossendale District and as Honorary Secretary of the East Lancashire Masonic Charity.


WBro (EComp) John Farrington
ProvGSec (ProvGScribeE)