The sunshine of a fine summer evening was falling graciously on the calm waters lapping upon the golden beaches of Blackpool’s promenade. It was one of the warmest evenings of the year and the members of Senatores Lodge of Installed Masters No 8966 extended an even warmer greeting to the Province’s newest Assistant Provincial Grand Master David John Walmsley, as he attended the lodge’s installation meeting at the Savoy Hotel, Blackpool, as its principal guest.
Offering moral support and guidance to David if required (which he most certainly didn’t need) were fellow Assistant Provincial Grand Masters David Winder and Harry Cox. David was calm, collected and showing all the signs of a seasoned pro. He was hot under the collar nevertheless, as indeed was everyone else. Temperatures soared and with a full house in the lodge room and festive banquet, beads of perspiration were soon glistening on the faces of those in attendance. However, in a good cause one is prepared to suffer and fully enjoy the evening – and enjoy the evening they most certainly did.
Things were warming up nicely from the start when master of the lodge Ken Buckley opened the meeting and discharged its general business with style and finesse. Ken is as confirmed a Mason as ever slipped an apron around his midriff and can be relied on to perform ritual to the highest of standards. And, in installing Derek Abbott into the chair of King Solomon, Ken did not divert from his well-earned reputation as a ritualist. Sincere, dignified and precise are terms that declare the general layout of this report when recording Ken’s performance.
Derek, on his part, was equally impressive in taking his obligation and serving as the newly installed master. Mind you, quality is expected of one who is presented by an Assistant Provincial Grand Master, few enjoy the privilege of being presented by Harry Cox, himself a past master of the lodge.
Although the installation ceremony was an abbreviated version of that generally performed in Craft lodges (being a lodge of installed masters) it was not lacking in splendour and emotive content. The standard of performances produced a memorable event.
Marshalling the facts, shortened versions of the working tools of a master Mason, fellow craft and entered apprentice were superbly rendered by Victor Medding, Michael Tax and David Edwards respectively.
Peter Bentham continued the splendour of ritual with his address to the newly installed master and Alan Whitehouse gave a dramatic and sincere address to the wardens before David Walmsley, proving his credentials as Assistant Provincial Grand Master, provided a faultless rendition of the address to the brethren of the lodge.
The formalities of the ceremony concluded and Derek’s close friends Trevor Hunt and Edwin Fisher duly invested as senior and junior wardens respectively, along with all the officers of the lodge in place, David rose to convey the greetings of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. He was particularly lavish in his praise of Ken Buckley’s performance, delighting in the clarity and preciseness of its delivery. Speaking clearly and confidently, there was no impression that the evening was his first installation as principal guest. He was at ease, charming and highly professional.
In response, newly installed master Derek Abbott wasted no time in presenting David with charitable disbursements totalling in excess of £2,830, including more than £1,500 towards the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival, meaning that the lodge had qualified as a vice patron of the Festival.
David Walmsley’s delight at receiving the generous donation was evident to all but he was not the only one to express pleasure. David Winder, as Vice President of the MCF 2021 Festival, was equally impressed with the generosity of the lodge members and was eager to ensure that those involved received his warmest thanks. His gratitude was further expressed when, at the festive board, brethren sponsored him to the tune of over £111 in his canal walk, feeling assured that it will put a bit more spring into his steps during the event. All money raised by David from the walk will be attributed to the South Fylde Group Festival Fund.
The installation ceremony proper concluded, the first rising declared and an appropriate response completed by David Winder, the dignitaries beetled off, leaving the plebeian population in proud and joyous mood. At the denouement of the meeting and with the lodge closed in style by Derek Abbott, the remaining throng retired to the comforts of the bar to wrestle with a few cooling restoratives. The warmth of the evening air was matched by the warmth of feeing amongst the brethren as they downed their chosen refresher.
The cheeriness continued throughout the festive banquet and in his response to the toast to grand officers, David Walmsley expressed his delight at having attended and how impressed he was with the lodge, feelings that were reciprocated by the mutual delights of the members. David made a lasting impression and was hailed as being of the right stuff for his illustrious position.
Calling on Godfrey Hirst to perform the master’s song in his inimitable style was a perfect close to an evening of warmth, friendship and pleasure. It was a first for David Walmsley as the newest Assistant Provincial Grand Master but the lasting impression was one of an old and well established addition to the ranks. The new boy on the block has definitely settled in!