Masonic Hall, Wellgate, Rotherham and an excellent attendance of Brethren, including 28 visitors of which 16 comprised the Escort of Provincial Grand Lodge Officers.
The Lodge was opened in due form by the Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother Geoffrey Pilley when, upon a report, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother Richard Boswell Puttrell was admitted accompanied by his Escort. He was duly offered the gavel which, for the moment – but more later, he graciously declined.
The most important part of the proceedings then ensued, with Brother Simon Mark Hill, a Master Mason of Gothic Lodge No. 5238 being advanced. The Ceremony was well performed and it was clear throughout that Bro. Hill, an imposing man of upright bearing, was taking a keen interest and carefully taking note as proceedings unfolded. In this regard he was superbly directed by W.Bro. Terry Beatson acting as Senior Deacon, ably supported by a relatively young Mason, Bro. Martin Clay, acting Junior Deacon, the latter explaining the tools later in the Ceremony; one to watch for the future.
The remaining business was then dealt with without incident until we arrived at, ‘any other business’. At this point the Deputy Provincial Grand Master enquired if the offer of the Gavel still remained open. After being admonished for not taking it earlier and allowing W.Bro. Pilley to have a quiet evening, he took the chair. We very soon learned that this was to recognise a stalwart, not just of Rother Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 651 but also of Freemasonry in the area, particularly the Masonic Hall. I refer to Worshipful Brother Cecil William Birks Hartley; I have to give him his full title for this item, who was promoted in the Lodge to Past Provincial Grand Senior Warden, an honour that W.Bro. Bill fully merits. In my visits to Wellgate, and they have been very numerous over the years, I have come to the conclusion that had it not been for W.Bro. Bill the building may have collapsed, he has done so much in keeping the place going. Surprisingly for someone who is not normally lost for words, W.Bro. Bill thanked the Deputy Provincial Grand Master and promptly went back to his seat.
The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, W.Bro Richard Puttrell explained, when responding to the Toast to the Province , that Escorted visits were established some years ago by Right Worshipful Brother George Henry Philip Birch when Provincial Grand Master. The main focus being for the Provincial Officers to get together, establish relationships which would, in turn lead to increased visiting throughout the Province. In that respect they have most certainly achieved their objective and there are many examples to testify to the fact. Generally there will be 6 visits per year, shared across the three rulers, and considering all the Lodges in the province this means each individual lodge will receive a visit, on average, every 7 years
Bearing in mind the number of special events that have taken place at Rother Lodge of Mark Master Masons over the past two years, the Centenary celebration, 50th certificate presentation to R.W.Bro. George Henry Philip Birch and the Keystone Dedication, I wonder what they will come up with next! Just watch this space.
Enjoy your Mark Master Masonry.
W.Bro. Duncan Smith P.G.S.D.