PrGM's Diary October 2018

The first day of October was not a very good start for me as I should have been attending Neptune Lodge No 1264 installation meeting at Hope Street in Liverpool. However, I was very much ‘under the weather’ with a rather heavy cold. So, in order to ensure the continuing good health of its members I felt it was not appropriate for me to attend the meeting and I had to extend my apologies. My deputy, Phil Gunning attended the meeting due to my unavoidable absence.

The following day was thankfully free of Masonic duties, allowing me some very welcome time to recover.

The next day I travelled to New Brighton accompanied by several of my Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, together with Peter Taylor for the Cheshire Provincial Grand Lodge meeting.  The event was very well attended, and we all had a most enjoyable meeting which was presided over by Stephen Blank PrGM. Following the luncheon, we returned across the border into West Lancashire for our homeward journey.

On Thursday 4 October I travelled to Bridge Street, Manchester for a lunchtime meeting and then returned to Leyland to meet with Phil Gunning, Paul Renton and Peter Taylor. We then set forth for a journey to Newcastle travelling up the M6 to Carlisle and then across the A69. We stayed at the Marriot Hotel overnight ready for an early start on Saturday morning.

The following day after breakfast, we travelled to the Federation Brewery. No, not for a visit round the brewery, but for the investiture of a new Grand Superintendent and Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Durham. John Arthur was invested and installed by Jonathon Spence and we witnessed the Grand Lodge Team in action. A well supported meeting by the brethren of the Province of Durham and many guests from other Provinces. Following the Royal Arch investiture, we witnessed the Craft investiture and then enjoyed a delicious meal in this great setting for such an impressive Masonic occasion.

 After a very relaxing day on 7 October, I was off to Wellington Park, Leyland the next day for the Royal Arch Cabinet meeting. It was attended by all members of the Cabinet team and we had a very interesting and informative meeting.

On the Tuesday of that week, I spent the morning endeavouring to complete some necessary paperwork before leaving home after lunch to pick up Keith Kemp Provincial GDC.  We were off to Ridgmont House at Horwich for the installation meeting of Rockhaven and Horwich Lodge No 2324.  We received a very warm welcome from all the brethren attending the meeting. Gerald Kay was well and truly installed for the third time as master of the lodge and supported by all his officers. It was an excellent ceremony, following which I was presented with a wonderful cheque for the MCF 2021 Festival. It was nice to meet with most of the brethren present during the pre-dinner drinks and then to enjoy a lovely dinner before having to leave this very friendly and convivial lodge for our homeward journey.

The trip to Horwich was followed by a quite relaxing day preparing for our Provincial Grand Chapter meeting. That afternoon I travelled to Southport to meet with Peter Taylor and Paul Hesketh for our pre-meeting get together at the Southport Floral Hall.

Rising early the next day and after a hearty breakfast, I walked to the Floral Hall where many companions were already very busy working away and undertaking rehearsals. I took the opportunity to be the first to have a PSA test, which was offered to all who attended the meeting.  After enjoying a cup of coffee, we commenced rehearsals for the afternoon meeting. These seemed to go quite smoothly, and the actual meeting was I believe, a great success.

A successful and enjoyable Provincial Grand Chapter meeting.

A successful and enjoyable Provincial Grand Chapter meeting.

The following day, Maureen and I set off on our journey to Llandudno, where we were staying for the weekend. We had a very uneventful journey down, arriving just after lunch at our hotel. Then the weather changed and became very wet and extremely windy.   We were in Llandudno for the investiture of a new Grand Superintendent and Provincial Grand Master for the Province of North Wales which wasn’t taking place until the following day, so we had a very relaxing day in advance of it.

Saturday 13 October dawned and following breakfast I took a taxi to the Venue Cymru on the Promenade. The weather was atrocious which kept Maureen away from all the shops!  I was joined at the meeting by Derek Parkinson, Paul Renton, Barry Jameson, Peter Taylor and Freddie Wright.   Many Masons from the Province were gathering in the morning, firstly for rehearsals and then for the Royal Arch investiture.

Sir David Wootton and his team from London arrived and we were off to a good start. Steven Hooky PrGM for West Wales was appointed acting Second Grand Principal and I was appointed as acting Third Grand Principal for the investiture of John Charles Hoult as the Grand Superintendent. The ceremony was conducted by Sir David following which the Grand Chapter was closed and we all adjourned for lunch.

In the afternoon we reconvened to undertake the Craft duties of investing John Charles Hoult as Provincial Grand Master for the Province of North Wales. This was conducted again by Sir David assisted by Steven Hookey as Grand Senior Warden and by me, as Grand Junior Warden. Both meetings were well supported by the brethren of the Province. The meetings finished at 5 pm and everyone went on their way.  I returned to our hotel to enjoy the evening with Maureen.

With new WM Mark Humphrey at Whitehills Lodge installation meeting.

With new WM Mark Humphrey at Whitehills Lodge installation meeting.

On the Sunday we saw that the weather was not easing in any way so decided to return home after breakfast rather than staying on for another day as we had planned. The journey home was horrendous with high winds and torrential rain. Driving on the motorway was the worst I have seen for a long time.

After quite a relaxing morning on the Monday, Keith Kemp and I travelled to Wellington Park, Leyland for the installation meeting of White Hills Lodge No.5209. WM John Sidgreaves conducted an excellent ceremony and installed Mark Humphrey in a delightful manner. It was nice to see so many brethren in the lodge room and all enjoying such a wonderful ceremony.

I was delighted to receive a magnificent donation to the MCF 2021 Festival and other community charities before retiring to the bar for pre-dinner drinks and an opportunity to meet with the brethren and their guests. We then enjoyed a hearty festive board well served by the staff at Wellington Park.

Congratulating David Weatherby of Victoria Lodge.

Congratulating David Weatherby of Victoria Lodge.

Tuesday 16 October I travelled in the afternoon to Southport with Keith Kemp for the installation meeting of Victoria Lodge No 2360. Upon our arrival we were greeted most warmly by the Southport Group Chairman Colin Jenkins and many brethren of the lodge. It was a great delight to see the lodge room full. 105 members and their guests witnessed an excellent and most sincere ceremony. The installation of David Weatherby was conducted by Les Gilston.  I was presented with a tremendous donation to the MCF 2021 Festival and other donations to local charities.

Following the ceremony, I had the opportunity to meet with many of the members and their guests prior to dinner. There was also the installation meeting of Shalom Lodge No 7541 taking place at Duke Street at the same time and I had the opportunity to visit them at their festive board. I had the pleasure of taking wine with their master, the principal guest, Kevin Poynton and the members of the lodge and their guests.  What a wonderful evening, a Masonic feast!

The next day, after a rather busy morning attending to necessary paper work, I picked up Keith Kemp and off we went to Ashlar House at Saul Street, Preston for the installation meeting of Festival Lodge No 8123. We received a really warm and friendly welcome from some 60 brethren and their guests upon our arrival. I was accompanied by David Winder and the Preston Group Chairman Stephen Bolton, many grand officers, the Provincial Grand Wardens together with other acting Provincial grand officers. It was a very special occasion as William Woods was installing his son Philip Woods.  A somewhat different ceremony with the `Cartwright` workings employed. I made a further advancement in my Masonic knowledge that evening. I was presented with a wonderful donation to the MCF 2021 Festival and other charities before tucking in to a marvellous festival banquet so well presented and equally well served by the caterers at Saul Street.

A very well supported installation at Festival Lodge for new WM Philip Woods.

A very well supported installation at Festival Lodge for new WM Philip Woods.

Thursday 18 October required an early start as I was setting off to Carlisle for the annual Provincial Grand Lodge meeting of the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland held in the Sands Centre. I was accompanied by David Winder, Stewart Seddon, David Walmsley, David Randerson, Frank Umbers, Neil Lathom, Keith Kemp, Godfrey Hirst and Peter Taylor. West Lancashire was very well represented. It was the first meeting for Bill Bewley the new PrGM. I was delighted to receive a wonderful donation of £5,000 from their Province for our MCF 2021 Festival. It was a very well supported meeting by local brethren and many distinguished guests who enjoyed the meeting and the following dinner, which was again held at the Shepherds Inn, Carlisle Auction Market. Needless to say, we had an excellent roast beef dinner!

I had a busy day on Friday, catching up on my paperwork and then on Saturday was off to Prescot Masonic Hall in the afternoon.  Keith Kemp and I travelled together to the James T Callow Lodge No. 3596 installation meeting.  We were well received upon our arrival by many members of the lodge together with David Ogden APrGM and the St Helens and Prescot Group Chairman Graham Williams and vice chairman Gratten Williams. It was a ceremony conducted by Bill Petterson who installed Gerry Gibbons.

All the brethren who took part performed excellently and I was so pleased to receive a wonderful donation to the MCF 2021 Festival. I was also very pleased but surprised to learn that I was the first PrGM to have attended the lodge installation since it was founded. We enjoyed a very good meal and the wonderful company of some 60 brethren before returning home.

On Monday of the next week I first called at Wellington Park in the morning for the Group Chairman`s meeting. All our chairmen were present for a very interesting and informative meeting.  In the afternoon I attended to some Provincial duties in the office before travelling to East Lancashire.  Bridge Street, Manchester was the venue for the installation convocation of Palatine Chapter No 2447.  This chapter has become a University Chapter supported by East and West Lancashire. Paul Renton, Mo Afsa and Barry Jameson were installed into their respective chairs and then continued to exalt three young Masons into the chapter. As this chapter is now a joint chapter, we were in the company of Sir David Trippier, the Grand Superintendent for East Lancashire. A marvellous ceremony was witnessed by some 75 companions from our two Provinces.  The next meeting of this chapter will be in Warrington on March 13 next year.

John Hutton takes charge at Border Lodge of Installed Masters.

John Hutton takes charge at Border Lodge of Installed Masters.

Tuesday provided me with a morning for catching up on some more correspondence before leaving home at lunchtime for the ‘Provincial Tour’. We travelled to Swinton, checked into our hotel, got changed and were then ready for our hosts, the Eccles Group of Lodges and Chapters who provided our transportation to Swinton Masonic Hall.

I was accompanied by Phil Gunning, David Walmsley, Peter Taylor, John Karran, Barry Dickinson, Keith Kemp, Barry Fitzgerald, Ian Halsall and Jason Dell. On arrival we were all greeted by the brethren of Border Lodge of Installed Masters No 9274 as it was their lodge installation meeting we were first attending.  John Christopher Hutton was put into the chair, so very well by Bob Huddleston who showed us all how it should be done. What an exemplary ceremony watched by some 90 brethren! I was also delighted to receive a wonderful donation to the MCF 2021 Festival. Following the meeting we enjoyed pre-dinner drinks and then a delicious banquet followed by very convivial conversation with many of the brethren present, before returning to our hotel.

The next day, the Provincial team departed for Old Trafford. Here we entered firstly the museum and then onto a full tour of the grounds. What an experience, not being a fan, I was a little unsure of what to expect, but I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to visit this world heritage experience. We then went on for some lunch and then we visited the Northern Imperial War Museum. This was wonderful and there was an exhibition of `Lest We Forget Them` with a much smaller version of the ‘Poppies’ at the Tower of London. A wonderful visit appreciated by us all.

A wonderful time at the South Eastern Group Annual Dinner.

A wonderful time at the South Eastern Group Annual Dinner.

We were then off to Urmston Masonic Hall or should I say, on this occasion the `Venue` for the South Eastern Group of Lodges and Chapters. The Group Dinner was attended by some 90 brethren and companions and it was a great delight to meet with so many of them and have the opportunity to chat about all sorts of topics during the reception We then sat down to a good, traditional Lancashire hot pot followed by apple pie and custard.  Very filling!  A number of speeches followed and once again I received a wonderful donation to the MCF 2021 Festival from the group chairman, David Durling. Well, it was too soon time to say goodbye and for the Provincial team to depart and make our way home. We’d had a wonderful Provincial Tour, so ably arranged by the Eccles Group and the South Eastern Group of Lodges and Chapters.  Thank you all for a wonderful time.

On 26 October after a leisurely morning and an opportunity to have a walk along the promenade with Maureen, I made the short trip to Derby Street in Morecambe for my Royal Ark Mariner lodge installation meeting in the evening. The meeting was not very well attended but it was a very good meeting and Neil McGill was installed as the Commander for the next year.

The following afternoon Maureen and I travelled to the Foxfield Hotel and Country Club near Whalley for the Annual Mark Ball. This was a new venue for this great event, was well supported by over 160 brethren and their ladies. The food, the company and the whole evening was just excellent and very enjoyable.

After a very comfortable night`s accommodation and a hearty breakfast we set off for Wigan where Maureen and I joined many brethren, companions and their families, of the Wigan and District Group for their annual Church Service. St Matthews Church was indeed filled with joy for this service which was attended by the Mayor and Consort of Wigan. Following the service, we travelled to Bryn Masonic Hall for a most enjoyable Sunday dinner, for which this venue is renowned. We had a most enjoyable day with our friends from Wigan.

The last week of the month and on Monday, I called at Saul Street, Preston in the morning for the ‘Annual Masonic Halls Seminar’. This year it was really well attended and almost all of the Masonic halls in the Province were represented by some of their management team. There were a number of very interesting topics on the agenda and all were presented in a very professional way.  I thank all those who attended this very important seminar and trust that they all went home, after a terrific buffet luncheon, much more well informed of some of the duties they are required to fulfil.

The next day I tackled a bit more paper work in the morning before leaving for Hope Street, Liverpool in the company of several Royal Arch companions from Morecambe. We were all attending the West Lancashire Provincial Grand Stewards Chapter No 8516. The installation convocation was attended by 120 companions and we had the pleasure of witnessing Kevin Poynton, Geoffrey Cuthill and Eric Kos installed into their respective chairs by Roy Cowley, Barry Robinson and John Williams. An excellent ceremony followed by an excellent banquet. A wonderful evening that I am sure was enjoyed by all who attended.

Having had a very leisurely and relaxing day on the final day of October, I travelled to Wyrebank Masonic Hall in Garstang that evening. I had been invited to attend an extra meeting of Garstang Lodge No 6633 which was attended by some 50 brethren and we enjoyed a talk by Andrew Bartlett on the history of the lodge. Following this we retired to the bar for pre-dinner drinks before entering the dining room for a ‘Gourmet Dinner’. What a dinner it was! Five courses of the most delicious food you could wish for. I enjoyed a great and relaxing ‘night off’, sharing an excellent dinner in the company of many old and new friends which brought me to the end of yet another very busy month.

Tony Harrison

Provincial Grand Master

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