On a lovely spring day in April, the sun certainly shone inside as well as outside on the installation meeting of St Bartholomew Lodge 6071 which took place recently at Westhoughton Masonic Hall. The warmth of the reception given by the members of the lodge to their guests was a match for the temperature outside.
David Winder, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, the principal guest, was accompanied by several grand and acting provincial grand officers to witness the installation of Tony Fletcher who was to go back into the chair for a second time.
For the newly appointed acting officers, Allan Shields, David Parker, and Steven Lowe (St Bartholomew’s own secretary), the evening started early with a rehearsal as the lodge director of ceremonies, Mark Howard, put them through their paces and showed them what was required.
The stage was set, all were in place as Mark asked the members and guests to stand to receive the worshipful master and his wardens.
The business of the lodge was efficiently despatched by the master Steven Gregory before David Winder and his team entered the lodge signalling that all was ready for the installation to begin.
Ian Thornton then presented the master elect, Tony Fletcher, to Steven who then proceeded to install him in an exemplary manner.
It was a delight to hear three junior members of St Bartholomew Lodge present the working tools to the worshipful master with such confidence and feeling, well done Ian Wrigley, David Pimlett and Lliam Heavey.
This was matched when the more experienced brethren Steve Gregory, Peter Allen and David Winder presented the addresses to the worshipful master, wardens and brethren, all word perfect and with such feeling.
As soon as the lodge was put in the hands of Tony Fletcher, he presented David with charitable donations totalling £3,442. The recipients were MCF Festival £1,500, and £100 to each of Ecclesholme, Firwood School, Macmillan Cancer Support, St Georges Day Centre, Singing with Dementia, Just BU CIC, Boot Out Breast Cancer, Atherton and Wigan Metro Cats Protection, 13th Leigh Scout Group, Trackside Respite, Air Ambulance, Bolton Hospice, Spinal Injuries Association and Wirral Food Bank. This was in addition to donations already made of £242 to MCF Festival through the white envelope scheme, £200 to the Forget Me Not Trust and £100 to Children Heart Association.David commented on the magnificence and generosity of the donation and proceeded to congratulate all who had taken part in the ceremony commenting that it was self evident the St Bartholomew Lodge enjoyed their Freemasonry and had a united desire to give and deliver of their best.
Once the labours of the evening were over, the brethren retired to the bar and to the dining room to enjoy a meal in the company of friends old and new.
In replying to the toast to the grand officers, David said that St Bartholomew Lodge was consecrated on the 17 October 1945 with great euphoria and relief in the truth that the second world war had ended. It was a time when lodges would increase exponentially. They were places where sound morals, ethics and camaraderie could continue. The lodge would be a place for self reflection and personal improvement, a place where brotherly love and truth, affection and putting service before self was, and is, an essential criteria. He went on to say that we don’t stop playing when we grow old, we grow old when we stop playing and that he was delighted to see that 74 years on, the members of St Bartholomew Lodge were still playing and the lodge is such good heart and fine form!
David went on to say that his collective noun for grand officers is a squadron because they are high flying, jet propelled and in the new IPM, Steve Gregory’s, case so smooth that he doesn’t even leave a skid mark on landing! Irrespective of rank or position, the important thing to remember is that we are all masons together meeting on the centre, none above, none below, humility in each being an essential criteria.
David commented that as the WM was a time served electrician, he was sure that he would be live on the masonic circuit, be switched on, probably never be at ohm and take on his duties as a current master with power and energy. As to the installing master, Steve, David said that he was a man who recites ritual – perfectly faster than superman! David finished by offering many congratulations to all who took part in what was an excellent team display
The Brethren enjoyed a wonderful meal and were treat to a superb rendition of the Master’s song by Gary Smith, ably accompanied by Raymond Dainton. Having raised £305 in the raffle, the master presented David, and the group chairman, Peter Lockett with bouquets of flowers for their respective wives.
All too soon, the evening drew to a close and the brethren dispersed having enjoyed a wonderful evening and for the members of St Bartholomew’s Lodge, the satisfaction of a job well done!!!