The Ormskirk and Bootle Group recently held their first bi-annual masters and first principals’ festival dinner, since the group’s amalgamation last May with the meeting being held on this occasion at the Litherland Masonic Hall. The occasion was very well attended with a total of 81 brethren and companions, honoured by the presence of the Deputy Grand Superintendent, Danny Jones, who was accompanied by Robert Wright, Assistant Provincial Grand Master. Also in attendance were Sam Robinson and Tony Hall the Assistant’s to the Provincial Grand Principals, Peter Taylor the Provincial Grand Secretary and representing the group were Frank Umbers, Ormskirk and Bootle Group Chairman, group vice chairmen John Marsden and Stephen Brereton; also present were representatives from the Southport group.
The running order for the evening was left in the very capable hands of the two Provincial Deputy Grand Directors of Ceremonies Neil MacSymons and David Thomas.
The evening began with an informal ‘meet and greet’ where the WM’s, IPM’s from Craft lodges and the first principals and IPZ’s from the Royal Arch from within the group, were able to meet for an informal chat with the senior officers of the Province. Following this session everyone was asked to make their way into the main lodge room for a question and answer session. Once the brethren were seated Neil MacSymons asked the brethren to stand to receive the honoured guests.
Danny started by welcoming everyone before introducing Robert Wright, Sam Robinson, Tony Hall and Peter Taylor, who between them were able to answer all the questions. The question and answer session was very friendly, lively and open, with a wide range of topics involving Masonry covered, including Royal Arch recruitment, the Ambassador’s to Freemasonry and the potential for attracting University students into the Craft, with many more topics being discussed before Neil called proceedings to an end.
With the question and answers session being completed everyone made their way to the dining room, where an excellent dinner was served starting with black pudding with bacon and caramelised onions, followed by roast breast of chicken wrapped in bacon with a cheese and leek sauce and vegetables, and for dessert an old English strawberry trifle was served followed by tea or coffee and mints.
After dinner Barry Jones, a PZ of Thornton Chapter No 8008 had the privilege of proposing a toast to the health of the principle guest Danny Jones, touching on Danny’s life and Masonic career, with some interesting facts on his working life and hobbies.
In response Danny thanked Barry for the toast to his health and the way he had delivered it. Danny then went on to inform the brethren that the question and answers session held earlier in the evening was one of the best ones he had attended.
Danny then said: “As a former group secretary I know how much work goes into organising a masters’ and first principals’ dinner and I would like to thank Malcolm Alexander for all his hard work.”
Danny went on to speak about the Royal Arch asking brethren to encourage Craft members in their lodges to consider joining the Royal Arch; proudly pointing to the Royal Arch recruitment banner which held pride of place in the dining room. Danny said that each Masonic hall in the Province will have one of these banners displayed within it. He informed the brethren and companions about the Royal Arch Provincial Grand Chapter meeting in October in Southport, saying: “I hope that many of the companions will be able to attend and I look forward to seeing you there.” In conclusion to his response, Danny thanked Frank Umbers and the group for inviting him, before addressing the brethren and companions saying: “The Provincial Grand Master hopes you have a good year and you continue to enjoy your Freemasonry.”
James Miller, Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah, had the pleasure of proposing a heartfelt toast to the Ormskirk and Bootle Group. During his toast James named the brethren who were attending that evening from the group who will be receiving Provincial honours in Blackpool in May, with every name mentioned a round of applause was received.
In response to the toast to the group, Frank thanked James for his toast, before presenting a number of cheques on behalf of the Ormskirk and Bootle Group of Lodges and Chapters to various charities, the recipients being £250 for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity; £250 for the Masonic Fishing Charity; and £1,500 for the Litherland Masonic Hall. Frank then called upon the groups’ charity steward, David Sullivan, to present a cheque for the amount of £3,500 to John Wrennall, the Regional Charity Steward on behalf of MCF 2021 Festival. John thanked the brethren and companions for their kind donation, saying: “The money will help and benefit all the recipients.” John then presented Frank with two MCF Festival certificates for the group. The final cheque for £500 was then presented to the Friends of Tithebarn.
Frank said: “All this charitable giving is down to the brethren and companions from our own lodges and chapters please could you go back to your lodges and chapters and give my thanks to your brethren and companions.”
With the evening coming to an end a presentation of a bouquet of flowers was made to Danny by Frank on behalf of the group for his wife Kathleen. Everyone retired to go home after agreeing it was a very successful and enjoyable occasion.