The brethren of Academy Lodge No 9382 and their guests had a number of reasons for celebration at the installation meeting at the Warrington Masonic Hall. A total of 46 Masons assembled to see Kenneth Croft once again attain the chair of King Solomon. But what made this extra special was that Kenneth was one of the founders of the lodge 25 years ago, and the installation fell on the 25th anniversary of that founding. Not only was Kenneth an acting officer of the lodge, but two other founders had acting roles: Keith Gatley as junior deacon and Eric Kehoe as secretary.
The lodge was opened efficiently by John Walkey, the present master, with all due ceremony. Upon a report being given, Charles Carr, standing in as DC, announced that Dave Thomas, acting as representative of the Provincial Grand Master, was without and requested admission. Dave, the principal guest, was then admitted in due form and was accompanied by grand and acting Provincial grand officers including Dennis Rudd, Stan Churm and Andy Barton group chairman.
John extended a warm welcome to Dave and the officers, saying he was delighted to receive such distinguished guests. An entered apprentice, Thomas Smith, travelling over the border from Cheshire’s Affinity Lodge No 4872, left briefly while the lodge was opened in the second and third degrees.
John requested Jim Cartledge to act as SW, Andrew Sharp as JW and Nick Woodward as inner guard. All were delighted to assist by occupying their respective offices.
Kenneth was presented for the chair of King Solomon by Colin Boardman and Norman Pritchard. The ceremony proceeded according to ancient custom, and Kenneth accepted his role with dignity. It is the third time that Kenneth has been in the chair, once in his mother lodge, and once in 2013 for Academy.
The ceremony proceeded with the working tools of the third degree being explained by John Wright, the second degree by Derek Hart, and the first degree by Warren Whalley.
The address to the WM was delivered by Norman Pritchard; the address to the wardens by Colin Boardman and that to the brethren by Dave Thomas.
Immediately following the installation, Dave, on behalf of Tony Harrison, Provincial Grand Master, and on his own behalf, congratulated Kenneth on being installed into the chair of such a distinguished lodge. The first task Kenneth had to perform as the new WM was a very pleasant one of presenting donations to Dave: firstly £200 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £200 to MSF 2021 Festival, £200 to St. Rocco`s, £200 to Widnes Fire Cadets and £200 to the Warrington Masonic Hall; a grand total of £1,000. Dave commented on the excellent amount from such a small lodge and received the cheques with the deepest gratitude. Alms to the amount of £95.17 were also collected.
An excellent festive board followed with a four-course banquet served with wine and tea or coffee to finish. Shortly after the meal a raffle was conducted among the 44 dining brethren which raised the very creditable sum of £140.
Dave thanked the senior brethren for their tireless work behind the scenes, and recounted how different the world was at the time of the lodge’s founding: the world had its first web page; Nelson Mandela and Terry Waite were released; the poll tax; Margaret Thatcher’s resignation; the end of the Soviet Union; the first Gulf War and the fall of the Berlin Wall. He toasted the three founders who were still working hard for the lodge. Dave once again celebrated the amount given to charity by the lodge. Then Dave made special mention of Warrington’s Masonic Hall and the hall committee, headed by Eric Drinkwater. John Walkey and the brethren of Academy were celebrated for their excellent ceremony. Brian Wilson (stand-in organist at short notice) was thanked for his delightful music in the lodge and finally Charles Carr was thanked for standing in (also at short notice) as DC.
The master’s song was sung by Norman Pritchard and he was accompanied by Brian Wilson, both to acclaim.
A celebration cake showing the lodge banner and the names of all of the Founders was displayed in the dining room during the festive board. It was duly portioned and devoured by the diners and 11 partners of brethren who were dining in an adjoining room. The consensus was that it was delicious.
At the close of the evening Kenneth presented Dave and Andy Barton with bouquets of flowers, thanking them for their attendance. Dave and Andy thanked the brethren saying they were delighted to receive such gifts and felt sure their wives would be similarly pleased.
Article written by Eric Miller.