The 805th regular meeting of Acacia Lodge No 4512 was the annual ceremony of installation, held at the Masonic Hall, Liverpool. It can be said that few installation ceremonies are as interesting and colourful and this year was no exception. It was opened in fine form by WM Peter Howland, ably assisted by his wardens Graham Robinson and Ian Knowles. After completing the standard business of the evening, two ballots took place, one for a new candidate, while the second was to admit Brian McLoughlin as a ‘joining member’, both proving in the affirmative.
A distinguished deputation from Lodge Irvine Newtown No 1662 of the Scottish Constitution was admitted, led by their past master Bill Kirkwood. Their numbers were swelled by representation from Lodge Dramatic No 571. Peter welcomed the deputation and Bill suitably replied.
Acacia Lodge DC Mike Cove, then announced the arrival of the principal guest for the evening Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger, accompanied by the Chairman of the Liverpool Group Mark Matthews. David and Mark were admitted, along with Chairman of the Woolton Group Andrew Whittle, acting Provincial grand officers Barry Fletcher, Reginald Wilkinson and George Christie, accompanied by other officers of the Province. Peter warmly welcomed David on behalf of the lodge and proffered him the gavel, which was briefly accepted and returned. Mike Cove led the salutations to David and Provincial grand officers, to which David suitably replied, while Brian McLoughlin responded to those given to Provincial grand officers.
For the purpose of installation, Peter Howland invited Gary Cross to occupy the senior warden’s chair, Tony Kennedy to occupy the junior warden’s chair and Dave Thompson to occupy the inner guard’s chair. When all was ready, Peter Howland installed his successor Graham Robinson as WM of Acacia Lodge.
The working tools of all three degrees were given at the appropriate time by Robbie McBride. Ian Knowles presented Graham with ‘The Hallstone Jewel’, the origins of this jewel go back to the end of the First World War, when in 1919, Grand Lodge decided that in response to a suggestion from the then Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, it was agreed to embark on the building of a new headquarters for the English Craft. This was to be memorial to the many brethren who had given their lives during the war. For this purpose, a special committee was set up in 1920 and an appeal made to every member of the constitution for contributions to the fund, which from the target set, came to be known as the ‘Masonic Million Memorial Fund’. Contributions to the fund were to be entirely voluntary and were to be recognised by three types of special commemorative jewels, of the same basic design but of different sizes, one for individuals, another for a lodge and the third for a Province and district.
That now worn by Graham is of the second type, as issued to a lodge. This jewel is on a light blue collarette and are worn by successive masters of lodges, which at the time contributed an average of 10 guineas per member. Such lodges were to be known as Hall Stone Lodges (thus giving the jewel its name). 1,321 lodges at home and abroad qualified as Hall Stone Lodges, their names and numbers are inscribed on commemorative marble panels in the main ceremonial entrance vestibule of Freemasons’ Hall. Acacia Lodge is one of only two remaining Hall Stone lodges meeting in Liverpool Masonic Hall today, the other being Childwall Lodge No 5235.
Graham next appointed and invested his officers for the forthcoming year and at the appropriate juncture a number of addresses were given. That to the SW Keith Nuttall, was presented by Gary Cross, with Tony Kennedy presenting that to the JW Ian Knowles, while the address to the deacons was presented by Dave Thompson. Gary Cross also gave the address to the stewards, with Stuart Kane having the honour to give the address to the WM. The two wardens were then jointly addressed by Tony Kennedy, with the final address of the evening, that to the brethren of the lodge, was given in an exemplary manner by the principal guest David Grainger.
On completion of the ceremony Graham Robinson had the pleasure and honour of presenting a cheque on behalf of the lodge for £1,500 in favour of the MCF 2021 Festival, with a second to the North West Sea Cadets in favour of £300.
The evening ended with a sumptuous banquet and festive board and later in response to the toast to the grand officers, David Grainger commented that it was a privilege to attend Acacia Lodge and on his own behalf, congratulated the lodge members on the excellence of the afternoon’s ceremony. He commended Peter for the manner in which he had installed his successor and mentioned how pleasant it was to see so many visitors from Scotland and indeed Wales also.
On behalf of the ultimate recipients, David went on to thank the lodge members for their generous donation and reminded brethren that donations, by way of the gift aid envelope scheme, increases the donation to the particular charity at no extra cost to the brethren. He noted that since the mid 80’s, Masonic charities have quietly donated over £20,000,000 to non-Masonic causes.
David hoped everyone was enjoying their Masonry and continuing to have fun. He commented that if brethren enjoy themselves as they should, then they are more likely to talk about it in public.
David concluded by mentioning the importance of Masonic halls. He urged the brethren to continue to support their halls as much as they can. He felt that in today’s climate, without the halls to meet in, Masonry would struggle to survive.
Sadly, the evening came to a close, and after many fond farewells, the brethren returned to their native lands.