The brethren of Birchwood Lodge No 8861 welcomed brethren from across South Lancashire and Cheshire to their installation meeting at Warrington Masonic Hall. It was attended by 63 Masons to see Glen Screeton attain the chair of King Solomon for the first time. There was a cheery demeanour about the working officers as they went about final preparations. Principal guest for the evening was Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton.
David Hobbs, the present WM, opened the lodge in his clear, crisp manner. Once done, he took time to express his personal thanks to the lodge brethren for their help and support during his year in office and reminded them that the high quality of their work was a mark of how well they had performed as a team.
The DC then announced that Kevin Poynton was without and demanded admission. He was admitted in due ceremonial style and accompanied by grand and provincial grand officers, including Dennis Rudd, Stan Churm, Andy Barton (group chairman) and acting Provincial grand officer Peter Ridehalgh. David extended a warm welcome to Kevin and his officers. The lodge was opened in the second and third degrees.
David then requested Charles Carr to act as SW, Gwilym Jones as JW and Phil Thompson as IG (standing in for Barry Corcoran, who was temporarily delayed at work). All were delighted to assist by occupying their respective offices. Before Phil could be called on to perform a duty he had not rehearsed and to his great relief, Barry gained admission and took the IG station.
Glen was presented for the chair of King Solomon by his seconder into Masonry, Norman Pritchard. The ceremony proceeded according to ancient custom and Glen accepted his role with dignity. A board of installed masters was opened for the relevant part of the ceremony. The new WM settled into his position easily, helped by the confident performance of David, his installing master.
The ceremony proceeded with the working tools of the third degree being explained by Chris Kehoe, the second degree working tools by Michael Hamilton and the first degree working tools by David Eccles, all of whom are junior brethren.
The address to the WM was delivered by Derek Hazlehurst, the address to the wardens by Andy Barton, the address to the deacons by Anthony Kolita, the address to the stewards by Peter Whalley, the address to the tyler by Stan Churm and the address to the brethren was delivered by Kevin Poynton.
Immediately following the installation, Kevin on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and on his own behalf, congratulated Glen on being installed into the chair. He commented on the excellence of the ceremony and emphasised this by shaking the hand of David the IPM, then complimenting the deliverers of the tools.
Glen’s first task as the new WM was to present charitable donations to Kevin: two separate cheques for £300 and £454 to Claire House, £300 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £200 to MCF 2021 Festival, £200 to the Blue Lamp Foundation, £200 to Meningitis Now, £100 to the Guides’ and Brownies’ movement and £200 to the Warrington Masonic Hall. This joined £200 to the Wirral Heartbeat charity and £300 to the Liverpool Heart and Chest Charity which had already been paid, this made a grand total of £2,454. Kevin received the cheques with the deepest gratitude and thanked the lodge brethren on behalf of the people whose lives this money would change. In addition to this magnificent giving, over £100 was raised as alms in the lodge.
An excellent festive board followed of a four course banquet served with red or white wine, port (donated by the WM) with the cheeseboard and tea or coffee to finish. Shortly after the meal, a raffle was conducted which raised the magnificent sum of £284.45, which, apart from being extremely generous, was quite a mystery as each ticket cost one pound.
Kevin brought greetings from Grand Lodge and praised the West Lancashire care system, where some of the charitable donations would end up. He again congratulated the junior brethren on their delivery of the respective working tools and was full of admiration for how many light blues there were in Birchwood Lodge.
David gave a hearty toast to the new WM, praising his performance through all of the offices. This dedication progresses beyond the normal duties and Glen has been instrumental in forming the Warrington Light Blues Club as a social gathering for newer members to Masonry. Indeed, Glen is the first Chairman of the Light Blues Club – truly a master of the ‘Light Blues’ in more ways than one.
The master’s song was sung by the lodge’s own Mathew Crawley, who was very ably accompanied by Keith Dickenson. After the toasts, there was a special moment when the lodge presented member Arthur Hamlett with a gift on his retirement.
At the close of the evening Glen presented Kevin and Andy with bouquets of flowers (for their wives) and thanked them for their attendance. Kevin and Andy returned thanks to the brethren saying they were delighted to receive such gifts and felt sure their wives would be similarly pleased.
Story and pictures by Eric Miller.