A goodly crew assembled on the gangway to board the good ship, Welcome Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners No. 651 as it embarked on its voyage to install a new Commander. This was undertaken in the very safe hands of the Skipper, Worshipful Commander, Worshipful Brother Alex Geddes, current President of the South Yorkshire Association of Installed Master in the Degree of Mark Master Mason.
After navigating the calm waters of the opening procedures with sails set and sheets tightly secured, W. Bro. Alex welcomed the Provincial Grand Master, the Admiral of the Royal Ark Mariner Fleet, Right Worshipful Brother James Steggles, G.M .R. A. C. and offered the helm, the Sceptre. However despite much ingratiation and pleading, the offer, whilst courteously acknowledged, was steadfastly refused as R.W.Bro. Steggles was looking forward to observing what he knew would be a most enjoyable voyage of Installation.
In the event this turned out to be the case with W. Bro. Alex installing his successor Brother Nicholas David Jacques, on the foredeck, in superb form no notes or ritual in view and only the occasional prompt. He was most ably supported by his Officers and Crew, Worshipful Brother Michael Minns presenting the Keystone Collaret in only the way he knows, a delight. W. Bro. Michael does his research and includes numerous historical references, on this occasion pointing out that the Jewel was given to the Lodge when Worshipful Brother Bill Halstead, who many remember, was Worshipful Commander in 1980. A treat for all followed with the address to the newly Installed Commander in the very capable hands of Right Worshipful Brother George Henry Philip Birch, an example to all, the Tools very capably despatched by Worshipful Brother Terry Roebuck.
The Officers for the ensuing year being duly appointed and invested, W. Bro. Jacques continued with the Agenda for the meeting, the next item being the presentation of the Past Masters Jewel to W. Bro. Alex by Worshipful Brother Morrison Pearce. He congratulated W. Bro Alex on steering the lodge through the tempestuous waters of the past 12 months, elevating a new Brother, Brother John Beavon and arranging a very interesting lecture by Worshipful Brother Brian Emmet. This was entitled Just a farmer and related to President Harry Truman, sounds very interesting.
The Lodge being duly closed, all adjourned to a very pleasant Festive Board in the Wardroom. Responding to his toast, ably presented by the Worshipful Commander, W. Bro Nick Jacques, the Provincial Grand Master looked forward to 2018 when the Lodge will celebrate its Centenary and wished the Worshipful Commander and all the Brethren every success in the preparation. In respect of the West Yorkshire Mark Benevolent Fund 2023 a number of initiatives are in progress, one being Workshops for Lodge Charity Stewards to assist them in their endeavours. The Mark Benevolent Fund has arranged a 7 mile Walk around 4 London Parks following the route of the ‘Princess of Wales Memorial Walk’. Provinces were invited to submit Teams and West Yorkshire has obliged. Several Brethren have been asked to visit Lodges to explain the format, donations etc. and these will be held over the next 2/3 months. Finally, a reminder that the Annual Meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of the Province of West Yorkshire will take place at Bradford Grammar School on Saturday, 22nd April 2017.
With hearty farewells, the Crew and Guests disembarked to wend their way home after a most enjoyable Royal Ark Mariner meeting, Smile, be happy and enjoy you Royal Ark Mariner Masonry.
Worshipful Brother Duncan Smith P.G.S.D.