Lodge of Lights No 148 welcomed over 90 brethren from across the Province as one of its stalwarts, John Starkey, once more attained the chair of King Solomon for the 5th time. As one would expect from an illustrious lodge, business was conducted well and principal guest for the evening Andrew Whittle (Chairman of Woolton Group) was admitted with due ceremony.
Master of the lodge David Harrison welcomed Andrew and a plethora of grand officers; Dennis Rudd, Jack Forsyth, Gordon Amos, Stan Churm, David Redhead, Chris Eyres and Andy Barton (Warrington Group Chairman). These were supported by a large number of senior Provincial grand officers and acting Provincial grand officer Stephen Clarke.
The installing master for the evening was Gwilym Jones, the installing senior warden was Chris Eyres, the installing junior warden was Norman Pritchard and the installing inner guard was Charles Carr. John was presented for installation by Geoff Wright and Alan McElhinney. Alan interviewed John 44 years ago before joining Freemasonry and was present at his initiation into Winmarleigh Lodge No 6101. John said Alan is a friend of long standing and someone he holds in high regard.
John then received the benefit of installation at the hand of Gwilym. The third degree working tools were presented by Danny Wheatley, the second degree working tools by Peter Range (both junior brethren) and the first degree working tools were given by George Range. Addresses were given to the WM by David Tabron, to the wardens by Keith Dickinson, to the tyler by Stan Churm, to the SW by Chris Eyres, to the JW by Norman Pritchard, to the deacons by John Gregory, to the stewards by Ken Smith and to the brethren of the lodge by Andrew Whittle.
The installation part of the ceremony being over, Andrew offered the good wishes of Tony Harrison, congratulating John on being installed again and congratulating Gwilym as installing master, David Harrison as IPM and Eric Delamere as DC.
In reply, John presented Andrew with an envelope for charitable donations for the truly amazing amount of £3,100. This comprised of £1,500 to the MCF 2021 Festival (making the lodge a Grand Patron), £200 to Ecclesholme, £300 to Warrington Masonic Hall, £400 to West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £100 to Headway, £100 to Homestart, £100 to Help for Heroes, £100 to St Rocco’s, £100 to Mindful, £100 to the Walton Lea Project and £100 to Francis House Children’s Hospice. These donations add to the £900 already donated to the lodge widows this year.
Music in the lodge was ably produced by Keith Dickinson, who afterwards accompanied Gwilym’s dulcet tones for ‘the master’s song’.
After an excellent meal at the festive board, shared by 88 of the brethren, Andrew made a point of celebrating the quality of the work performed in lodge, the outgoing DC, the installing master and the junior brethren presenting working tools. He was very impressed by the charitable giving of the lodge and emphasised the importance of that giving by highlighting, as example, the work of the two ‘blood bikes’ given by the Province to the NHS. Finally, Andrew remarked on the age of this lodge, with its own traditions and the huge tracing boards that are unique in this lodge.
36 ladies of lodge members and guests dined separately, joining their partners at the end of the festive board. Among these was Jean, John’s wife of 51 years – which is a remarkable feat of devotion and longevity. The evening ended with a presentation of bouquets of flowers for the principal guests.
Story and photos by Eric Miller.