Hartington Lodge No 1021 is the latest lodge to be able to style itself as a Grand Patron of the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival, having been presented with the appropriate certificate at its installation meeting.
Travelling north to Barrow-in-Furness Masonic Hall for the meeting was Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton. On his formal entry into the lodge Kevin was accompanied by seven other grand officers and eight acting Provincial grand officers, as well as Furness and South Lakeland Group Chairman Peter Schofield.
The numbers attending meant that many made their way into the lodge room early to get their seat of choice whilst those who stayed downstairs to enjoy the wonderful afternoon tea being served up were left to occupy the less comfortable chairs.
They were able to witness outgoing master Mort Richardson install Andy Baxter as his successor in fine style. The fact that the room was packed to capacity must have added even more to the pressure on Mort, but it did not show. He went about his work in a dignified, accurate and sincere manner which was a pleasure to observe. In reciting his obligation and later when investing his officers, Andy showed that he too can deliver ritual.
There was a noticeable change of accent as the new incumbent of the senior chair took over the reins. Mort’s accent betrays his Irish origins whilst Andy’s still shows traces of his tender years spent in Papua New Guinea and his schooling in Sydney, Australia.
Although Mort excelled in his work, this was to be no one-man-show. Under the thoughtful direction of director of ceremonies Graham Benson, others too played important roles in offering up an installation ceremony to remember. Lodge secretary Ian Thompson presented the working tools of an installed master in a delightful manner and to the usual high standard associated with his work.
The thunder was stolen however by three junior brethren who presented the working tools of the three degrees. David Proctor led the way impeccably with those of the third degree, despite the added pressure of his father Bryn, who had travelled up from Wigan, being on hand to proudly witness his son’s work. Darren McBryde never missed a beat in delivering the long version of those of the second degree and Arthur Lyness was as equally assured in presenting those of the first degree. The accolades which they later received were truly merited.
Continuing this outstanding work, David Dryden and Harry Chatfield delivered, respectively, the addresses to the master and wardens with both style and precision. There was another change of accent to one forged on the banks of the Mersey as Kevin Poynton orated the address to the brethren. The unique style and élan of his delivery grasped the attention of all those bearing witness to it.
Acting Provincial grand officers Steve Plevey and Keith Halligan were also called into action to address the deacons and stewards as to their responsibilities.
During the past year Hartington Lodge has donated £1,269.26 to the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival, as well as £600 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. On the evening, Andy presented Kevin with a further donation of £1,748, bringing the total to £3,017.26. The first £200 of this was match-funded with a cheque from the group charity account which was presented by Provincial Charity Steward Phil Preston. Phil announced that the lodge had achieved the status of Grand Patron of the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival and presented Andy with a framed citation denoting this fact.
The fact that Andy is a member of the Roa Island lifeboat crew and has been so for 23 years means that, although Mort can reflect on a job very well done, he will always have to be ready to move across from the immediate past master’s chair in the event of Andy being summoned to duty.
Amongst the numbers in the lodge room were many younger Masons including members of the recently formed Cavendish Club which caters for junior Masons. As Kevin remarked on looking down the lodge room when the salutations were given to the Provincial officers: “It is great to see so many young Masons stand to give the salutations.”
It is a feature of the lodge that the collars of the master and immediate past master carry small silver plaques on which are engraved the names of all the Masters since the inception of the lodge in 1864. The resultant weight of each collar means that being master of Hartington Lodge is truly a heavy responsibility.
Following the formalities, 133 members and their guests enjoyed a four course meal in the Fairfield Suite of the hall. It is only fair to report that the response from Kevin to the toast proposed to the health of the grand officers was extremely well received. There was the usual humour in the response, which you associate with Kevin, but this only assisted him in getting the points across which he wanted to make.
Lodge stalwart Ken Boon was called into service to sing the song to the newly installed master and did so with his customary style.
There was a raffle at the installation banquet in aid of the hall building fund. Hall treasurer Bill Glassey was on hand to receive the proceeds which amounted to a remarkable £1,021.
As is often said, these occasions do not just happen and secretary Ian, director of ceremonies Graham and the many others who made the event such a great success can take great satisfaction from the fact that all the time and effort they had put in was really very worthwhile.