What a remarkable evening it turned out to be for Blenheim Lodge No 7519, at their annual installation ceremony, held at Liverpool Masonic Hall. Assembled within the ‘Roman Room’, the lodge was opened in due form and ceremonial, according to Bottomley working, by WM Ian Turner, ably assisted by his two wardens Alan Ball and Brian Jackson. Ian welcomed all, particularly the visiting WM’s from other lodges; Ian Walton of Lodge of Peace and Unity No 314, Preston Group, David Jenkinson of Lodge of Triumph No 1061 South Fylde Group, Steve Roberts of Seacombe Lodge No 3468, Cheshire and John McKenzie of Aigburth Lodge No 4103, Liverpool Group.
On transacting the business of the lodge, a ballot was held for the admittance of George Christie of Anfield Lodge 2115 into Blenheim Lodge as a joining member, which proved favourable. George was escorted into the room by the DC Phil Pattullo and informed of the ballot result by Ian Turner and warmly welcomed. On thanking the lodge, George, who this year has the honour of being Provincial Assistant Grand Standard Bearer, requested permission to retire from the room and rejoin the Provincial entourage, ready for their processional entrance with the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison.
What was nice to see, was that when those brethren below a certain rank were asked to retire, the Liverpool Group Assistant Mentor John Leisk, accompanied them outside, which enabled him to put them at ease and answer any questions they may have, either about what was happening on the evening in general, or during the ceremony. The lodge was then taken up through to the third degree, which when reached, was the cue for the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp to enter and inform the master that the PrGM was without and demanded admission.
Accompanying the PrGM were Assistant Provincial Grand Master Derek Parkinson, Provincial Senior Grand Warden John Karran, Provincial Junior Grand Warden Barry Dickinson, PrGDC Keith Kemp, Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Malcolm Bell, Liverpool Group Chairman Mark Matthews, Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies Barry Fletcher, and as previously mentioned Provincial Assistant Grand Standard Bearer George Christie. Also, in attendance were other grand and acting Provincial grand officers, including all Liverpool group officers, David Johnson, David Kemp, Bob Paterson and Tim Burgess.
The PrGM and his retinue entered the lodge and were welcomed by the WM Ian Turner, who swiftly offered the gavel to Tony, which was graciously accepted before being returned with great alacrity. Following the salutations Ian requested for the installation ceremony, that John Karran occupy the senior warden position, Barry Dickinson that of junior warden, and Geoffrey Brown the position of inner guard, all of who readily acquiesced. The master elect, Alan Ball, was presented for the benefit of installation by grand officer John Wilcock and the ceremony commenced and elevated in a most exemplary manner, with Alan being installed into the chair of King Solomon.
During the ceremony, the perambulations were under the control of lodge DC Phil Pattullo and the salutations given for each degree were led by ADC Jon Owen. The explanation of the working tools of the third degree was given by John McKenna, those of the second degree by Lewis McGee and of the first by Steve Linton. During the investiture of the officers by Alan Ball, various addresses were carried out, that to the new SW Brian Jackson, was given by John Karran, to the JW Ray Marshall, by Barry Dickinson, who later would also give the address to the two wardens jointly. Geoff Brown gave the address to the new deacons George Christie and Steve Linton and to the IG John McKenna. That to the newly installed WM Alan Ball was delivered by Phil Kavanagh of De Bon Coeur Lodge No 6984 Leyland, while the address to the brethren was given by the PrGM Tony Harrison.
Tony also extended his own greetings to the new WM Alan Ball wishing him a healthy and happy term of office. He also thanked the immediate and installing master Ian Turner, for the work he had completed during his tenure and to all those who had taken office or took part in the ceremony, with special mention to the three junior brethren who had presented and explained the working tools in such an accomplished manner.
Alan then rose to present a number of charitable donations on behalf of Blenheim Lodge. The first in favour of the MCF 2021 Festival was for £500, £300 was given to Everton in the Community, while Friends of Tithebarn, The Whitechapel Centre, Wirral Narrow Boat Trust and the National Memorial Arboretum all received £150. The Royal British Legion and the Peter Taylor Trilogy each received £100, making a total of £1,600 on the night. Later in the evening, it was announced that during the collection and from the charity raffle, over £400 had been raised, which would go towards further donations in the future.
Upon completing the evening ceremonials, all moved to the Adams Suite to toast the new WM, before settling down for a festive board, which was to the highest of standards. So much so, that Tony Harrison would afterwards go to see the chef David Aitken to give his personal compliments, to both David and his staff. During the evening and in reply to the toast to United Grand Lodge, Derek Parkinson, on behalf of the Grand Officers, wished the WM a happy and enjoyable year. Before proposing the next toast, which was to the PrGM, Derek congratulated Tony Harrison on his appointment in the Emulation Lodge of Improvement, at which he will preside at their next meeting.
In reply, Tony Harrison thanked Derek for his kind and generous toast and again extended best wishes to all present, particularly the WM and his officers. Tony also gave his congratulations to those who had just been offered an appointment or promotion within the Province. Mention was made of Liverpool Group Vice Chairman David Johnson, who will be promoted to the rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden on 3 April at Blackpool, and in Royal Arch the promotion of Tim Burgess to Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah at Southport on 10 October.
Next mentioned was the steady growth in Craft membership within the Province and that 43% also actively participated in Royal Arch Masonry, a figure which gives scope for improvement, in what is after all, the completion of Craft Masonry. Covering various topics such as the 3R’s of recruitment, retention and retrieval, the launch of Solomon as a pathway and learning resource, which can be accessed online and of course the MCF 2021 Festival. In conclusion, Tony again thanked the brethren for their welcome which was met with heart applause.
As the evening unfurled, PrSGW John Karran responded to the toast to the Provincial grand officers and proffered congratulations to the officers and brethren of the Blenheim Lodge. In a ceremony which went as smoothly as tonight John said, it was obvious a great amount of preparation, hard work, learning and rehearsals formed the solid foundation on which it was built. For this a number of people needed to be congratulated, the secretary Tim Burgess, DC Phil Pattullo, IPM Ian Turner, the three junior brethren who effortlessly explained the working tools and the rest of the members of the lodge. John also praised the lodge for all its continuing efforts for charitable purposes, a record they could be justly proud of. He concluded by reminding everyone that the annual ball for the Province would be held at Bolton Football Stadium on 15 March, to which all were invited.
John Owen silently and lithely moved to the centre of the room and with his dulcet tones honed to perfection with a vocal dexterity nearer to Benjamin Gigli than Bob Dylan, sang the health to the WM, which was thoroughly appreciated by all. In his toast to the WM, Ian Taylor said how proud he felt to have been able to install Alan and looked forward to serving him in the coming year. Ian also handed Alan a congratulatory card signed by the officers of the Liverpool Group. In his response, Alan thanked Ian and all those who assisted during the ceremony and had great pleasure in presenting Ian with his past master’s jewel, on behalf of Blenheim Lodge.
The evening came to a conclusion with Alan presenting a beautiful bouquet of flowers to Tony Harrison, to be given to his equally beautiful wife Maureen back at home.