A total of 55 brethren and visitors assembled to celebrate John England being installed into the chair of Wayfarers Lodge No 7544 for the first time. The lodge was pleased to have Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton as their principal guest for the occasion. Kevin was accompanied by fellow grand officers Harry Cox, North Fylde Group Chairman Peter Greathead and Malcolm Worsley. He was also supported by Provincial grand officers John Pitches, Steve Clarke and Gordon Smith.
Brian Coulter opened the lodge and warmly welcomed the brethren. He next took care of the administrative business of the lodge, which he dispatched with efficiency. Brian invited Jim Barnes to act as installing senior warden, Andy Walch to act as installing junior warden and Barry Thompson to act as installing inner guard. Brian then raised the lodge to the third degree. The lodge director of ceremonies Michael Thistlethwaite entered to announce that Kevin Poynton together with his distinguished entourage stood without and demanded admission.
Brian responded by saying that we would be honoured and delighted to receive him. What followed was a slickly choreographed, colourful procession into lodge. Brian formally welcomed Kevin and offered him the gavel of the lodge, which Kevin politely declined and returned it to Brian.
Following the salutations to Kevin and the other grand and Provincial grand officers, Brian announced that the next order of business was to install John England in to the chair of King Solomon. The master elect was duly presented for installation by Ian Hawtin.
When the board of installed masters had been closed and John had been installed into the chair the master Masons were admitted and the working tools of the degree were delivered by Ewan Macpherson. John then closed the lodge to the second degree and the fellow crafts were admitted with the working tools of this degree presented by Keith Senior. John proceeded to close the lodge to the first degree and the entered apprentices were admitted with the working tools of the degree being delivered without flaw by the newest member of the lodge, Jonny Colledge.
The new WM then installed and invested his officers. The address to the newly installed master was in the very capable hands of Ian Hawtin. The address to the wardens was delivered by the North Fylde Group Chairman Peter Greathead who showed what a good ritualist he is. David Thornton delivered the address to the deacons, while the address to the stewards was left to the safe hands of John Pitches. Kevin Poynton capped off the addresses by delivering the address to the brethren of the lodge.
Once the addresses were complete Brian Coulter announced that the ceremony of installation was complete, which was the cue for Kevin to rise again to bring the greeting of Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. Kevin congratulated the new master John and his installing master Brian. Kevin also congratulated the lodge DC Michael Thistlethwaite and all the brethren who had taken part in the ceremony.
As one of his first tasks as WM, John England rose to present cheques and amounts that the lodge had given to charity over the past year. These were: £1,250 to the Masonic Charitable Foundation, £3,000 to Trinity Hospice, £1,000 to the Brain Injury Group, £100 to Barnardos, £200 to the Blackpool Air Ambulance, £200 Rosemere Cancer Foundation, £200 to Brian House Children’s Hospice, £200 to Great Eccleston Friends of Cancer Research and £200 to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, giving an amazing total of £6,350. Kevin thanked the lodge for their hard work in raising such a magnificent amount.
The formal business of the lodge competed, John took to the helm for the first time to close the lodge and invite everyone to his first festive board as WM. The guests were treated to a fantastic festive board at the Park Club Suite.
Kevin’s response to the third toast was punctuated throughout with great humour, which at certain points had people laughing and others groaning. Kevin praised Peter Greathead and the North Fylde Group officials for their hard work. He took the time to bring his own congratulations to the new master John and his installing master Brian. Kevin praised the brothers who presented the working tools and particularly singled out for praise Jonny Colledge who had only joined the lodge a month before and presented the first tools. Kevin added: “You must look after the new members of your lodge as they are the future of not only your lodge but the future of the Craft.” He also thanked the acting officers who had come to support him and the lodge.
Kevin praised the group publicity officer Peter Dunn saying that the Province of West Lancashire was in the top three for publicity in the United Grand Lodge Provinces. The articles were bringing in 1,600 new items of press which equates to £247,000 worth of free advertisements which are read by 1,000,000s of people throughout the country.
Kevin promoted ‘Solomon’, which is a new initiative by United Grand Lodge of England where Masons can go to find out information on not only the Craft but Royal Arch. It includes short talks that can be presented when a lodge does not have a ceremony to perform. It is a platform for learning about all aspects of Masonry and can benefit Masons of all ages.
Shaun Haynes led the brethren in a rousing rendition of the master’s song. John England, in response to the toast to his health, thanked all the brethren who had took part in the installation ceremony and praised Brian Coulter saying that in a lodge that has 21 members he had raised the great amount of £6,350 which was an inspiration to all.
Before the principal guest retired John England presented him with a bouquet of flower for his wife as a token of appreciation for allowing him to attend the installation.
The raffle raised £343, a great start for the new master’s year. The meeting was completed by the tyler’s toast which was delivered by Ron Newton.