Thursday, 7 April, and a generous turn out at the Installation of Brother Nirmal Singh Sunda with the North East Corner a veritable pageant of Grand Mark Lodge regalia. After the Lodge was opened by the Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother Peter Richmond, the usual business was despatched but with the extra special item of a ballot for an Honorary member.
This was none other than the Father of the Lodge, Worshipful Brother Alexander M Caldwell, for many years a fixture, undertaking anything he was asked, particularly Chaplain which he occupies at present, but I recall him as almost the permanent Bar Steward. Brethren will also remember that he was a member of the legendary Dam Buster Squadron No. 617, although not at the time of the dam’s raid, where he had the unenviable duty of being a tail gunner. Most assuredly one of the most likeable respected and genuine men you will ever meet. Honorary membership richly deserved and typical of W. Bro. Alex when told that he was now an honorary member, he said that he would continue to do anything to further the interests of Beaumont Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 1523, no change there W.Bro. Alex.
Attention then returned to the Agenda and the Personal representative of the Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother Dr. Andrew Wright Past Provincial Grand Senior Warden was admitted accompanied by Worshipful Brother John Wilberforce Ashcroft, Elected Member of the Charity Committee. W.Bro. Peter then very sincerely and very smoothly Installed his successor, Worshipful Brother Nirmal Singh Sunda, assisted by professional performances from a number of experienced Past Masters, congratulations to all who took part. The Officers of the year were appointed and invested with a surprise being the retirement of Worshipful Brother Lance Milburn who now lives in Rochdale being replaced by Worshipful Brother Michael Mercer, W. Bro. Lance has also been an exemplary servant to the lodge and I am sure that he will continue to be heavily involved.
A sumptuous Festive Board was followed by the usual Toasts. That to the Province ably proposed by Worshipful Brother Chris Carruthers. Responding, W.Bro. Andrew Wright mentioned the numerous Lectures available and the Mark Demonstration Teams that can be accessed via the web site to provide a meaningful Lodge evening when there is no candidate. He made special note of the Installed Masters Associations, these are not restricted to Installed Masters and Brethren can attend, and are very welcome. Allied to this is the need for Masters in the Chair to acknowledge that they are the face of the Lodge and retain the responsibility of representing their Lodge throughout, not only their own I.M.A. but also the wider Province. Particularly the Annual Meeting of the Provincial Grand Mark Lodge of West Yorkshire, perhaps being accompanied by their Senior and Junior Wardens, think about it.
Worshipful Brother John Wilberforce Ashcroft, Elected member of the Charity Committee spoke in some depth about the Mark Benevolent Fund, explaining the wide remit that allows it to make substantial bequests where specific need is seen. This applies to the mobile chemotherapy units, ‘Hope for tomorrow’, which are being supplied at a cost of circa £250,000 to areas of the country, Lincolnshire being one, where need is spread over a wide geographic area. This is an example of the use to which the funds raised by the West Yorkshire Mark Benevolent Fund Festival can be applied. Funds can be raised in many ways, think outside the box, with all Lodge donations going directly to the W.Y.M.B.F.F. Individual donations should be made to the Cleeves and Whitehead Trust, allowing gift aid tax to be reclaimed, and when a Collaret threshold is passed the appropriate funds will be transferred to the Mark Benevolent Fund and a Collaret presented to the individual concerned. Finally he stressed that we must continue to be vigilant, we are all Almoners and if we think a Brother is in need refer to the Lodge Almoner, do not delay, it can cause unnecessary discomfort.
In the course of my visit I had noticed a sleek limousine parked on the road whose registration was 00007IP, yes you have it, Worshipful Brother Ian Pattinson dreaming again, with the legend on the plate reading,’licensed to thrill’. I understand that his wife was heard to remark, Yes, just another of his unfulfilled ambitions!
Smile, be happy, and enjoy your Mark Masonry.
W.Bro. D Smith, P.S.G.D.