Thursday, 16 April and a group of happy, cheerful and committed Mark Master Masons met at Eastgate Masonic Hall to witness the Installation of the new Worshipful Master of The Portal Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 127.
The proceedings were in the very safe hands of the present incumbent, Worshipful Brother Douglas Fielding. It is very appropriate at this juncture to record that W.Bro. Doug has represented his Lodge impeccably around the Province, not just in the South Yorkshire Association of Installed Masters. This is one of the key responsibilities that each Master inherits when attaining the Chair. Somewhere along the line it appears to have been forgotten as W.Bro. Doug is one of few that I have witnessed in my travels around the Province. The Provincial Grand Master has spoken of this on numerous occasions, repeating recently at Escafeld Lodge No. 1139, that the Master is the face of his Lodge and that it is his duty to put his Lodge on the map. I trust that we will see better attendance in the future.
W.Bro. Fielding installed his successor, Bro. Ian Schofield in a most sincere, warm Mark Masonic manner, welcomed by all present, and he can be very proud of his year at the helm. He was most capably supported by his team of officers, particularly his Director of Ceremonies, W.Bro. Ian Potter, who once again orchestrated proceedings in his usual efficient manner with occasional vigorous waving of his index finger.
The Appointment and Investiture of Officers of the Lodge was duly despatched but I must record that two stalwarts of the Lodge finally retired to the back benches. W.Bro. Ralph Thornton and W.Bro. Robert Murdoch retired from Chaplain and Almoner respectively. They have both served The Portal Mark Lodge No. 127 with distinction and their successors have hard acts to follow. It made me think that it will be a cataclysmic event when W. Bro, Ian vacates the Director of Ceremonies chair, how will they survive!
The Festive Board was of the usual high quality now apparent in these rooms, particularly the Roast lamb, well received by all. The Toast to the Province was in the hands of W.Bro. Roger Harvey and somehow he managed to eloquently praise, W.Bro. Paul Clarke, the Past Provincial Grand Senior Warden and the personal Representative of the Provincial Grand Master, for his southern accent and Royal Air Force heritage. In his response W.Bro. Paul reminded all that next year our own 2023 Festival will be launched but also emphasised that we are all part of the wider Masonic Community and that we need to support our Craft Lodges, this being the source of our own Membership. In respect of the Mark Festival, he stressed that if any Brother had any fund raising ideas to bring them forward to the Executive, they will be welcomed. In his response to the visitors Toast Bro. John Sealey of Lightcliffe Lodge No. 715 praised W.Bro. Paul for the pace, pathos and passion of his work at Portal in the Temple and at the Festive Board, particularly his address to the Brethren. What an exercise in alliteration, I could not have planned it better. This also applied to events throughout the Meeting where all present combining to provide an Installation to remember.
W.Bro. Ian Yates, Elected Member of the Charity committee spoke of the continued need to visit Brethren who do not , or infrequently attend Lodge to confirm that there is no requirement for the Cleeves and Whitehead Trust to be involved, it is still felt that we may be missing some in need, Brethren please be vigilant.
Finally, I have spent many happy hours at The Portal Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 127 in that I think that I have missed only 4 Installations in 30 years and that does not include all the regular meetings I visit. This however was a first in that, with the change in the Mark Sign which Portal has adopted, they now join the rest of the Province, they had always been different, whoopee.
Remember Brethren, Smile, Be happy, we are all Mark Master Masons.
W.Bro. D. Smith P.G.S.D., P.Prov.G.J.W.