And warm it certainly was as was testified by the Junior Warden, Brother Stuart Sands when proposing the Visitors Toast .He is a Mason of some 20 years standing who was advanced into the Mark Degree some 5 years ago and wished that he had done it earlier He expressed the hope that the most welcome visitors had experienced the warmth of the Pontefract welcome which was confirmed by Worshipful Brother Ron Lewis, Worshipful Master of Legioleum Lodge of Mark Master Masons No.457 who responded. He added that he had responded to the visitors toast at a Pontefract Installation before, that when he was previously in the chair of Legioleum and hoped that those who had heard it before would forgive him, not likely, that was back in 1975!!
The Lodge had been opened in due form by the Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother William Sables when, upon a report, the Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother James Steggles G.M.R.A.C. was admitted accompanied by Worshipful Brother Paul Leach, Elected member of the Charity Committee and to the delight of all, Right Worshipful Brother Frederick Arthur Smith, Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master of the Province of North and East Yorkshire. Astonishingly, R.W.Bro. Fred is 95 years old, the present Worshipful Master of the Grand Stewards Lodge of Mark Master Masons, looking hale and hearty, bright as a button, long may it continue.
Bro. Bill, very nervous, then commenced the Installation of his successor Brother John Clayton which he dealt with in commendable fashion, no ritual book in sight, and for which he and his Officers can be truly proud. Smoothly and effortlessly, Worshipful Brother John Clayton was placed in the Masters Chair whereupon he was asked to appoint and invest his Immediate Past Master; the actual words at this point being, ‘you will now be pleased to Invest, AS WILL I, your I.P.M.’, much laughter and a lovely touch. W. Bro. Bill at this stage had a relieved look on his face but he had a lot left to do as he dealt with all the appointment and Investiture of the Officers himself. This was another Installation that I have witnessed in recent times where the Working Tools, Worshipful Brother Martin Millward, Addresses, that to the Worshipful Master, Very Worshipful Brother Philip Mann, Wardens, Very Worshipful Brother Ian Wolstencroft, Overseers, Worshipful Brother George Ward and the Brethren , Worshipful Brother Sam Brown were exemplary. That also applied to the Keystone Collaret, also in the hands of V.W.Bro. Ian, he has done it before, many times and it shows, faultless.
The Toast to the Provincial Grand Master was sincerely delivered by Worshipful Brother Paul Levey where he referred to the ‘magic dust’ which R.W. Jim has alluded to in the past; it being that special something that distinguishes we Mark Masons and with which, R. W. Bro. Jim is well endowed. Responding, he pointed out that W. Bro. Clayton was not yet a member of the Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners, providing him with a R.A.M. brochure and exhorting him to consider. Brethren, no surprises, Royal Ark Mariner reflects the Mark with its fellowship and concern for our Brethren. He then drew attention to the impending retirement of Most Worshipful Brother Richard Victor Wallis, the Pro. Grand Master to be replaced by the current Deputy Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother Raymond John Smith and he, by the present Assistant Grand Master Right Worshipful Brother John Herbert Prizeman. The latter will be succeeded by the present Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Leicester and Rutland, Right Worshipful Brother Steven Davidson. Promises to be a very busy day for all concerned at the Grand Lodge Investiture meeting on the 13th June Well worth a visit and places may still be available for Dinner at the Freemason Arms along with our Friends from North and East. Finally two reminders, Annual Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge, Bradford Grammar School, Saturday 22nd April and the Provincial Social Committee Ladies Sunday Lunch at the Consort Suite, Sunday 14th May. Look forward to seeing as many as possible at both, bear in mind the Lunch at the Consort Suite is an A la carte menu!!
In regard to the Charities, W. Bro. Leach confirmed that the objects of the Cleeves and Whitehead Trust remain unchanged; primarily the relief of Past and Present Mark Master Masons of the Province of West Yorkshire, their relatives and dependants. To this end, two Almoners Luncheons will take place this year and the Llandudno holiday but at a new venue, the Chatsworth House Hotel from the 3rd to 10th June. The festival is now fully in flight but he emphasised that it is to be enjoyed not endured, it is a marathon not a sprint. The Funds raised will be for the benefit of the Mark Benevolent Fund whose recent initiatives include, ‘Hope for tomorrow’, mobile chemotherapy units primarily for rural areas and upgrading St John’s Ambulance fleet which we originally provided in 2000, the Mark Masonic family can be justly proud of this tangible confirmation of our Charity.
Another joyous manifestation of this wonderful organisation that we are so lucky to have found. Smile, be happy.
Worshipful Brother Duncan Smith P.G.S.D.