February was a rather quiet month, with little to report other than the New Perfectees’ meeting hosted by Bethel Chapter at Rawtenstall, which justified its own posting.
March, however, was a complete contrast with many meetings, both locally and further afield and a great variety of ceremonies.
The month started in style on Saturday 4th March with a meeting of Accrington Chapter Rose Croix, when E&P Bro Geoff Hayhurst became the newest member of the Order in a superb Perfection ceremony conducted by the MWS and his Officers.
Swiftly onwards to Monday 6th March when the great and good in the Ancient & Accepted Rite and many other Orders gathered at Brookfield Masonic Hall, Westhoughton to witness the Installation of V.Ill.Bro Ian Clark, 33° as the Inspector General for the District of South West Lancashire, conducted by the Sovereign Grand Commander, M.P.Bro Alan Englefield 33° and the team from Supreme Council.
An early train to London for Grand Mark Lodge on Tuesday 7th March and UGLE Quarterly Communication on Wednesday 8th March, good to see both teams in action and enjoy an excellent talk from Diane Clements and VWBro John Hamill on the Freemasons who were awarded the Victory Cross during the Great War.
The week continued on Friday 10th March for a meeting of Whalley Arches with Gratitude Chapter at Clayton-le-Moors where we celebrated the 50th anniversary in the Royal Arch of EComp Graham Inskip.
To round off a busy week, on Saturday 11th March, I attended the inaugural East Cheshire District Meeting, hosted by Toft Chapter Rose Croix held by dispensation at Oaklands Masonic Hall in Hyde. An excellent demonstration of the Perfection ceremony followed by a very enjoyable lunch in the company of the Inspector General for East Cheshire, V.Ill.Bro Nigel Cooper, 33° and colleagues from near and far.
Monday 13th March was rather special, as I was able to squeeze in 3 meetings (although fortunately only two meals) starting at Whalley Arches Lodge in the morning, followed by back-to-back meetings of Shuttleworth Council of the Order of the Allied Masonic Degrees and Gawthorpe Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners, meeting for the first time at Colne Masonic Hall since their relocation from their original home at Burnley.
A full team visit from the District of East Lancashire certainly helped to boost the numbers in the Council and Lodge and created a special atmosphere for the candidate, Bro David Leach, who was Admitted as a Brother of St. Lawrence the Martyr in a splendid ceremony.
Later that week I attended the Annual Convocation of Provincial Grand Chapter at King George’s Hall, Blackburn and then, in a vain attempt to keep in Susan’s good books, we both attended the 50th (and sadly final) Charter Dinner of Soroptimist International of Barrow-in-Furness on Friday and the 74th Charter of SI Burnley on Sunday.
With the month only just over half-way through, the next big event was the Installation meeting of Brierfield Lodge at Padiham, where I had been standing in as Master since our WM, Bro Maurice McGaffin was called to the Grand Lodge Above last September. All went well and WBro Michael Maunders was duly installed into the Chair of King Solomon for the 4th time – and people say I’m a glutton for punishment!
The following night, in the same venue but with very different furniture, E&P Bro Martin Blades was Perfected in James D Murray Chapter Rose Croix. This venerable Chapter has received a massive ‘shot-in-the-arm’ since moving to Padiham from its previous home at Burnley, with a rejoining member and 2 candidates at their last two meetings and a further candidate in the pipeline.
Monday 27th March saw me at Silverwell Hall in Bolton for a meeting of St. Peter’s Chapter Rose Croix to witness the Enthronement of E&P Bro Bob Findlay as Most Wise Sovereign, carried out in excellent manner by Ill. Bro Ken Alker, 31°. An added bonus was the proposal of a candidate for the meeting in November.
By mid-week, I was heading south again to attend a meeting at 10 Duke St. St. James’s on Thursday 30th March when the 33° was conferred on V.Ill.Bro Peter Harborne, Inspector General Designate in Charge for Buckinghamshire and V.Ill.Bro Graham Flight, Grand Sovereign of the Masonic and Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine.
Finally, as there was a 5th Friday in March this year, the half-yearly meeting of Michael Edward Herbert Council of the Order of the Allied Masonic Degrees was held at Bury Masonic Hall on Friday 31st March when we received an excellent talk linking various Biblical events with the Degrees in Freemasonry.
April looks to be no less busy than March, watch this space!