A cold crisp evening welcomed over 50 brethren and visitors to the installation meeting of Hand and Heart Lodge No 4109, held at the Urmston Masonic Hall. The meeting was to install master elect Mike Harris into the chair of King Solomon for the first time.
The principle guest was Assistant Provincial Grand Master Dave Walmsley on his first visit to the South Eastern Group since his promotion. Dave was accompanied by the South Eastern Group Chairman David Durling and grand officer Brian Heyes. Also supporting Dave were two acting Provincial grand officers, David Marlor PrGStwd and Stewart Wilson PrGStdB.
The lodge was opened by the WM Ray Lord, who conducted the usual administrative duties. The lodge was then opened in the second and third degrees. Director of Ceremonies Peter Stockton retired from the lodge and was readmitted, announcing that the APrGM Dave Walmsley was without and demanded admission, to which Ray said that he would be pleased to receive him.
Dave was then admitted in due ceremonial style accompanied by his supporting officers. Ray extended a warm welcome to all present, saying that he was delighted to receive such distinguished guests and hoped an enjoyable evening would ensue. He then offered Dave the gavel, which he immediately returned, saying that because he had not attended the practices, it was best left to those brethren who had.
Ray then passed on the gavel to installing master Ezra McGowan to continue with the ceremony. Master elect Mike was presented for the benefit of installation by Peter Stockton. Ezra continued with the installation according to ancient custom, which he did with dignity and sensitivity, supported by his installing officers.
The working tools of an installed master were presented by Eddie Wilkinson with his usual efficient style, apart from dropping the trowel, to which someone quoted that he nearly through the trowel in. Eddie also presented the working tools of the third degree. The second degree working tools were presented by Ian Wood and the first degree working tools by Darren Gregory.
The address to the WM was delivered by Peter Stockton, the address to the wardens by Phil Gibbs and the address to the brethren of the lodge was delivered by Dave. Denis Tierney gave the address to charity steward Steve Masters and thanked him for continuing with this important office. Outgoing master, Ray Lord presented the Hallstone Jewel to newly installed master Mike Harris.
Following the investing of officers, Ezra claimed that that concluded the ceremony of installation, which was the cue for Dave to rise and extend the greetings of the PrGM Tony Harrison to Mike, his officers and the brethren, wishing them a productive year.
Dave also congratulated installing master Ezra on the ceremony and said that Mike could have no doubt that he had been truly installed into the chair of King Solomon. The first task Mike had to perform as WM was a very pleasant one of presenting Dave with a cheque in the sum of £200 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity.
Following the ceremony, the brethren retired to enjoy a superb festive board with much banter and camaraderie. In his response to the toast to the grand officers, Dave firstly thanked his grand officers and acting Provincial grand officers for their support throughout the evening and particularly to David Durling (group chairman) for his kind invitation.
Dave said how much we all appreciated the music provided by organist John Harty which was appropriate and fitting and expressed how music in the lodge adds to the ceremony.
Dave made mention of the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival and that it was not too late to purchase the special jewel which had been designed specifically for this celebration. He said that the last festival donated £5,000,000 of which £6,500,000 came back to our Province.
He said that those brethren who have not continued their Masonic journey should seriously consider joining the Royal Arch. He also said that 50% of Masons are members of the RA and that it would be nice to see this number increase.
Dave went on to say how proud we should be about our care system and that our Province is revered by Grand Lodge.
Referring to the membership, Dave said that we are doing something about recruitment and retention through are Ambassador Scheme and that this is starting to show signs of recovery. Also, the introduction of the Pathway Scheme and the use of our website is having an impact. To conclude, Dave thanked everyone for a most enjoyable and eventful evening.
A raffle for charities took place which raised over £300. The toast to the newly made master was given by the immediate past master Ray Lord and the master’s song was rendered by David Benson. At the conclusion of a splendid evening, the tyler’s toast was delivered by Phil Rampling.
Article and photos by Tom Fredrickson.