The annual installation ceremony of the Royal Victoria Lodge No 1013 has taken place in the Adams Suite at Liverpool Masonic Hall. The lodge was opened in due form by WM Steve Dovaston ably assisted by his two wardens Stephen Lee and Tom Kelly. On welcoming the brethren, Steve continued with the usual lodge business, then invited the brethren to stand for departed merit in respect of honorary member John Davies who held the high rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden.
The director of ceremonies Mark Powell, next announced Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Ogden stands without and demands admission, at which Steve invited all to stand. David, accompanied by Liverpool Group Chairman Mark Matthews, group vice chairman David Johnson, the Provincial Junior Grand Warden Barry Dickinson, Provincial Assistant Grand Standard Bearer George Christie entered the lodge room. Steve gave a warm greeting to David and offered him the gavel, which was politely declined.
With the exchange of pleasantries completed, the lodge, which follows the Emulation system of working, proceeded with the ceremony of installation. Stephen Lee as the master elect, was presented to the WM and after giving assent to his expected duties, was installed as the 155th master of Royal Victoria Lodge. With this being the first time Stephen had been installed as a WM the full ceremony was strictly adhered to. The standard of ritual throughout the ceremony continued at a very high level, with the working tools being presented by Derek Seymour, Tom Kelly and Paul McCann in the third, second and first degrees respectively. The warrant of the lodge was presented to Stephen, along with the by-laws, Book of Constitution and notes for guidance, before calling upon him to appoint his officers for the coming year. This was the moment when Mark Powell relinquished the role of director of ceremonies, an office he has filled with great distinction for some time, to John Leisk, who without doubt will also fill his role with great dignity and knowledge, as is expected in Royal Victoria.
The address to the master was given with particular sincerity and import by Bernie Moran, whilst the delivery of the address to the wardens by Barry Dickinson drew particular admiration. David Ogden rendered the address to the brethren of the loldge with a particularly profound inference, which was much appreciated and admired by all present. At the appropriate moment on the conclusion of the installation, David rose very promptly to offer the congratulations and best wishes of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, to the new master Stephen Lee, installing master Steve Dovaston and all participants, with special emphasis given to the three newer members who had presented and explained the working tools. It was observed that it looked to be a boom time for Royal Victoria with so many of the roles taken by a ‘light blue’ with plenty more awaiting their turn sitting around the room.
On closing the lodge, as is customary, the brethren retired to the main banqueting suite to drink a toast to the health of the new master and it proved once again to be an excellent venue for the festive board, with diners enjoying a substantial and most enjoyable four course menu. The conversation was particularly lively, always a good indicator of a harmonious evening and was accompanied by the soothing background of clinking glasses and enthusiastically employed cutlery. As the meal progressed, toasts were proposed, honoured and responded to in a relaxed and dignified style. In his response to the toast to grand officers, David Ogden reiterated his praise for the quality of the installation ceremony and communicated the topics that the PrGM had asked to be covered at installation banquets.
David also had some thoughts to express on recruitment and retention, especially his belief that senior Masons should be viewed not just as ‘rulers in the Craft’, but also as approachable and empathic individuals who are very keen to engage with fellow Masons of all ages, rank and experience and learn about the concerns and ideas that members are expressing. He was also most complimentary of the facilities and ambience provided by the magnificent and grandiose Liverpool Masonic Hall, a building of outstanding architectural merit, indeed where else could one find so many inspiring rooms within one building, each completely different. It was pleasing to see how the hall committee was now inviting the community to participate fully in the use of the building and the number of visitors was growing. Again, it was members of Royal Victoria Lodge, Bernie Moran and Dave Sayce, who had worked so hard on the building fund, that the money they raised had been the reason why so many improvements had been able to proceed.
Touching on the enjoyment and friendship that we all derive from our involvement in Masonry and especially that gained by visiting other lodges, he reminded everyone that Tony had sent out an invitation to everyone to visit his ‘main lodge’; the Provincial Grand Lodge of West Lancashire, when it meets in Blackpool. He encouraged everyone to accept the invitation and make the event a memorable and enjoyable occasion, and to support their lodge member Graham Hamilton-Taylor, who would be promoted to the rank of Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer at the event. In concluding, he thanked the Liverpool Group for the invitation and said how much he had enjoyed his visit to the hall and to the Royal Victoria Lodge in particular. In conclusion, David was presented with a bouquet of flowers for his wife.