James takes the saddle of Mount Lodge

A total of 61 brethren and guests came together at Fleetwood Masonic Hall to celebrate James Whiteside being installed into the chair of King Solomon of Mount Lodge No 6654.

James Whiteside (left) is congratulated by Giles Berkley

To see so many people at the installation was in stark contrast to circumstances less than 2 years ago, when the wording on the summons stated that, at the next meeting: “The WM will propose that at the next regular meeting, Mount Lodge will surrender its warrant.”

How was this calamity averted? Well, at the last minute a hero rode in, not on a horse in gleaming armour, but on a motorbike in shiny black ‘biker’s leather’s’. The biker was Damon Tait who suggested that themed lodges like motorcycle lodges were enjoying great success and thus Mount ‘Motorcycle’ Lodge was born.

The following January saw not only Damon Tait joining the lodge but James Whiteside as well. In February that year Damon became master of the lodge with James his senior warden. The lodge had a great year with many fundraising events and informative lectures and who could forget Mrs Tait’s ladies evening with the one and only Lionel Vinyl?

Moving to February of the present year, the stage was set for James to take, not so much the reins but more the handlebars from Damon and ensure that such a firm foundation set by his predecessor is being built on and the lodge will go from strength to strength.

The lodge was extremely pleased to have as its principal guest, fellow biker Giles Berkley who was accompanied by fellow grand officers including North Fylde Group Deputy Chairman Tony Hough, Harry Cox, Keith Jackson and Duncan Smith. Giles was also supported by assistant group chairman John Cross and acting Provincial grand officers John Pitches and Peter Maxwell.

James Whiteside shares a glass of wine with Keith Jackson (right)

Damon opened the lodge and showed all his skill as a former director of ceremonies by dealing swiftly with the early part of the lodge business, after which Giles entered the lodge and was formally welcomed by Damon.

Damon then proceeded to ask Chris Sage to act as installing senior warden, Steve Mitchell to act as installing junior warden and Peter Maxwell as installing inner guard. The master elect James Whiteside was presented for installation expertly by Keith Jackson.

The ceremony of installing James into the chair was executed with the greatest of care and professionalism by Damon, watched over by the multi-talented and hard-working David Cook who was on this occasion was the DC, the ADC and treasurer.

The brethren toast the new WM during the master’s song.

The third degree working tools were presented by Rod Sherwood, with Duncan Smith’s presentation of the second degree tools a treat to see. Peter Maxwell finished off by presenting the first degree tools. Keith Jackson delivered the address to the master with great feeling and sincerity. The address to the wardens was delivered by Harry Cox who never fails to impress. Once all the officers were invested Giles completed proceedings with the address to the brethren of Mount Lodge.

The installation complete it was time for Damon to breathe a sigh of relief and Giles to bring the greetings of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. Giles congratulated James and wished him health for the coming year. Giles then thanked Damon for his hard work and dedication not only over the past year but in helping to save the lodge.

James spoke of his great pleasure in presenting Giles with cheques and details of donations that the lodge had made over the past year. They included: £1,500 to the Masonic Charitable Foundation, £130 to the Alzheimer’s Society, £15 to the Fylde Masonic Golfing Society, £150 to Hope for Evie, £15 to the Masonic Trout and Salmon Fishing Society, £200 to the Positive Youth Trust, £100 to the Wyre District Scouts, £100 to the North West Air Ambulance, £120 to the North West Blood Bikes, £15 to the North Fylde Charity Bowling, £25 to the North Fylde Group Ball and £15 the West Lancashire Clay Pigeon Shooting Society. In all a very impressive £2,385 was presented to charitable causes.

Giles Berkley (left) receives a gift for his wife, from James.

The brethren then retired to the hall’s dining room for a festive board filled with good food, company and much merriment.

In response to the toast to his health, Giles said that it was great to be back at the lodge and witness such a wonderful ceremony. He praised the ‘star team’ that did the presentations. Giles moved to the MCF 2021 Festival saying that it is now the charity combining all the other charities and this Province is the first to support it. He added we are the first Province to have its own crest on the jewel. He asked those brethren who had not taken up patronage of the festival to consider supporting it.

Giles progressed on to the Pathways project and the Ambassador’s scheme saying that these were playing an integral part in increasing membership.

He also told the group that they must be proud of their Freemasonry and to open up to people about what was loved about the Craft.

The master’s song was rendered in great style by Peter Baldwin accompanied by the lodge organist Dave Brown. A West Houghton raffle was expertly performed by the group treasurer Mike Brown and raised a superb £350 that will go to Masonic and non-Masonic charities. To round off the evening the tyler’s toast was given by Gordon Ivette.

Pictured from left to right, are: Peter Maxwell, Tony Hough, harry Cox, James Whiteside, Damon Tait, Giles Berkley, Duncan Smith, John Cross, Keith Jackson and John Pitches.

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