Members and visitors of Peel Moat Lodge No 7633 were most honoured and delighted in receiving Philip Gunning, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, to their installation meeting. Philip was accompanied by Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Hutton, Mike Adams, (South Eastern Group Chairman) and fellow grand officer Brian Hayes. Acting offer John Harrop (Provincial Junior Grand Deacon) was also present along with group officers and other Provincial grand officers and distinguished members, all being admirably directed by Malcolm Bell, Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies.
A dispensation having been read in accordance with rule 142 and the lodge being authorised to meet at the Davenport Hotel in Stockport and the general lodge business having been efficiently convened by the WM Brian Cross, there then came a somehow expected knock on the door whereas the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies requested admission. Malcolm entered the lodge room and announced that the Deputy Provincial Grand Master stood without and demanded admission, where with much pleasure to the members and visitors alike, Philip entered the lodge room in ceremonial procession accompanied by the grand officers.
Philip, having been introduced was promptly offered the gavel of the lodge by Brian, there was a slight hint that Brian would have been most pleased to have handed it over, but Philip was of course ensured that Brian and his team had perfected their ceremonial standard and that he much preferred to see their ceremony from his own seated position.
Brian commenced the ceremony of installing Terry Levison into the chair which was completed in a very sincere manner. For Terry, this is the third time in his Masonic career as master; his previous terms of office were in his mother lodge, Ashton Lodge No 1140, in 1998 to 1999 then again in the consecutive year of 1999 to 2000. Ashton Lodge used to meet at South Manchester Freemasons’ Hall on Edge Lane in Chorlton, sadly the lodge handed its warrant back in 2005.
Terry having been installed, there then followed very eloquent presentations of the working tools in all the degrees initially those of a master Mason presented by Nigel Sharp, to those of a fellow craft by Philip Lowe and finally the working tools of an entered apprentice by Peter Howard.
After the lodge officers had been invested, there followed an address to the wardens by Peter Beswick, followed by the address to the master by Nigel Paton and being the ostensible steward of the lodge, the newly installed junior warden Nigel Sharp, gave an excellent address to the newly appointed stewards of the lodge and finally, Philip presented a most heartfelt and relaxed address to the brethren of the lodge.
On completion of the ceremony, Philip rose and brought the congratulations and good wishes for a happy and healthy year from the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. Philip said: “Had Tony been present, he would have witnessed a sincere ceremony” and as Philip then approached Brian, said: “Tony would have also been very pleased to have congratulated the installing master Brian on his work”, which Philip did and indeed, congratulated all those other members of the lodge who took part in the ceremony.
Terry responded by thanking Philip for his very kind words and for his communication of congratulations from the Provincial Grand Master. Terry, on behalf of the lodge members then presented a charitable donation to Philip, by way of an envelope containing cheques and a list of the lodge donations.
Philip revealed their contents as being a cheque for £500 made out in favour of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £500 made out in favour of the Masonic Province of Cheshire of which Philip then presented that cheque to Colin Ross, Provincial Grand Charity Steward for the Province of Cheshire. Colin thanked Philip for receipt of the cheque and on behalf of Stephen Martin Blank, Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Cheshire, and on his own behalf, thanked the members of Peel Moat Lodge indicating that their generosity will go towards helping others through the Masonic Samaritan Fund.
Further donations of a cheque for £300 made out in favour of the Tercentenary Celebration of Grand Lodge, £250 to the Wellspring Ltd (a resource centre for homeless and disadvantaged people), £250 to the Heaton Norris Salvation Army Branch, £200 to the Hope Community Village and £60 to the Ecclesholme.
Philip thanked the lodge members on behalf of the charities for the various donations saying that £2,060 was an incredible amount of money and that those charities would ultimately benefit through their very kind generosity.
On the first rising, Mike Adams responded on behalf of the grand officers and was delighted to see Terry installed as master of such a vibrant and socially active lodge, he concurred, as he said, with the comments of the Deputy Provincial Grand Master and also said he was pleased to see Terry had now settled into the lodge and also very pleased to see younger brethren coming through the ranks of the lodge, Mike wished them well and said it was indeed a pleasure for him and the grand officers being in attendance.
During the festive board, Philip gave his response to his toast, where he offered his own congratulations to the lodge members, saying he thoroughly enjoyed the installation meeting. During his response he touched on the values and the membership and about being open and speaking about of Freemasonry. He was reminded of a period of time 28 years ago when he and his family experienced a very sad family loss, Freemasonry was fresh to Philip, but his attentions were drawn to a comforting comment from a Masonic vicar from Wigan who said: “It’ll be reet.” This comment has clearly stayed with Philip and richly enforces the values and associations of Freemasonry, Philip said that if ever a non-Masonic individual ever asked what does our fraternal organisation offer, ‘well, it offers the feeling of being valued, it looks after people, it feels proper’.
Philip commented on non-Masonic charities receiving benefit, Peel Moat Lodge, along the duration of the evening, clearly demonstrated charitable giving to non-masonic charities. But he also referred to another example of Masonic giving some few years ago that went towards the purchase of the RNLI Penlee lifeboat and with contributions from the Grand Charity, the Royal Arch and another masonic order, enabled the price tag of £2,600,000 to be met and in so doing the lifeboat was called ‘The Essex Freemason’.
Philip also mentioned the recent floods in and around the Province where further aid was again distributed. Philip then went on to congratulate the lodge recipients of Provincial honours, he said as chairman of the ranks committee he was aware of certain lodge member recipients being present and individually congratulated those particular members.
To Terry, Philip gave his own congratulations and wished him and his members a happy, enjoyable and healthy year. In amusement he said Terry had, in a sincere and quirky sense, ‘just about got through the installation’ but as Philip said, him being a Manchester lad, it was his opinion that ‘it was reet on the night’
There followed a rendition of the master’s song given in that inimitable Peter Beswick fashion. A very friendly and jovial festive board, which had continued well into the evening, concluded a most enjoyable meeting.