Tapton Hall, Sheffield, Wednesday 15 June, and 43 Mark Master Masons met for the Escorted visit to Escafeld Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 1139 but there was no one to Escort at the appointed hour of 6.15.
Huddles were held to discus, where do we go from here? Easy, open the Lodge, no problem in the hands of the Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother James Ambler, and deal with all the business other than admitting the Provincial Grand Master and his team and undertaking an enactment of the Advancement Ceremony. This was accomplished perfectly to time when a report heralded the admission of Worshipful Brother John Maxwell, the Master Overseer; this relieved yours truly who had been in the seat pro-tem. A further report, and to acclamation, the Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother James Steggles, G.M.R.A.C. was admitted together with an escort of 17 Provincial Grand Lodge Officers of the year, a sight to behold.
The Provincial Grand Master apologised for his late arrival, the first time he can remember ever being late for a visit, and allocated all the blame to his chauffeur, W.Bro. Maxwell. Not true Brethren, problems on the A1 M creating traffic chaos on the diversion routes to blame.
Accordingly, with all now in place, and with Worshipful Brother Philip Glover, Worshipful Master of the Cleeves Lodge of Mark Master Masons No.618, acting as candidate, the ceremony commenced. All who took part are to be congratulated on a delightful display of the advancement ritual with the W.M. W.Bro. James leading the way with the obligation. The Overseers, Worshipful Brothers John Maxwell, Michael Nowell and Alan Corbridge, all experienced Mark Master Masons, who knew their task and executed it perfectly. One has to say, however, that all were upstaged by the Signs and Secrets, superbly delivered by Worshipful Brother Clifford Watson; I doubt anyone has seen them executed better. Worshipful Brother Brian Richardson, who had also enlivened the proceedings by his amusing musical interludes on the organ, explained the Working Tools and, finally, Worshipful Brother David Bacon delivered the conclusion, well done to all.
A most acceptable festive board which, if anyone had any doubt, finally put to rest any adverse comment in respect of the food at Tapton, was then enjoyed by all. The Worshipful Master, W.Bro. James proposed the Toast to the Provincial Grand Master, congratulating him and stressing the considerable amount of work R.W.Bro. Steggles does for the Province of West Yorkshire and the wider Mark Masonic community. Responding, R.W.Bro. Jim said that he had been delighted to attend with the Provincial Team and that they had all enjoyed an excellent enactment ceremony. He also thanked all who had attended the Annual Meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, West Yorkshire and hoped that they would return in 2017, Saturday 22 April at Bradford. All Mark Master Masons are welcome and perhaps Masters in the Chair, who surely all attend, will consider bringing with them their Senior and Junior Wardens.
The toast to the visitors was eloquently proposed by the Junior Warden, Worshipful Brother Philip Drury in what can only be described as a thoughtful and reflective vein. It was so good that I have no hesitation in repeating it, almost verbatim, enjoy.
‘Each one of the visitors here tonight comes for a reason best known to himself; respect for Grand Lodge, admiration for our Provincial Grand Master, perhaps an interest in the running of Escafeld Lodge. All are good reasons, but underlying all is a desire to join with fellow Mark Masons for an evening of friendship and brotherly love; something that can never be measured in terms of worldly values. I trust that we of Escafeld Lodge have greeted you and treated you, each and every one, as someone special. May you continue to be a visitor, as the hand of fellowship in this Lodge is always extended to you’.
‘Brethren of Escafeld Lodge, will you please be upstanding and drink with me a toast to our visiting brethren:
A toast to all our differences,
A toast to common ground;
A toast to what we’re seeking,
A toast to what we’ve found;
To what brings us together,
To what sets us apart;
A toast to many different souls,
United with one heart’.
The response was in the very safe hands of Worshipful Bother Jim Stanley who began by saying ‘for the benefit of the late comers’, that brought the house down. No need to say anything else, but he did, congratulating all the members of Escafeld for a wonderful evening.
Finally, if you are sitting comfortably, let me tell you a story. At the Grand Lodge meeting last December, Brethren were enjoying a last libation before returning to Kings Cross and the journey home. Some decided to forgo a last pint at Great Queens street opting to find a taxi when one Brother said no need,’ I have the Uber App.’, to the uninitiated like me that is a facility on your mobile to call a taxi. Others considering this too risky, despite assurances to the contrary, left whilst the App owner and his close friend stayed. Eventually a taxi was called, duly appeared but sadly owing to heavy traffic, often dire in that area, it arrived late and their train had gone. New tickets had to be purchased, cost circa. £120 each, woe upon woe. The moral of this story, have your last pint at the Station but make sure that you take W. Bro. Philip Drury with you.
W.Bro. Duncan Smith, P.S.G.D