A somewhat sombre start to the meeting in that the Lodge have suffered the loss of three members in the recess. R.W.Bro. Brian Emmett, W.Bro. Tom Watson and Bro. Neil Gaunt. Worshipful Brother Trevor Bolton, Assistant Provincial Grand Master spoke movingly about the loss of R.W.Bro. Brian with Worshipful Brother Paul Leach in respect of W.Bro. Tom and Bro.Neil. The Brethren then stood in silence and contemplation in respect of departed merit.
The Ceremony was of a short duration as the Commander Elect was Worshipful Brother John Hendry, Past Commander of the Lodge in 2006/7 who had decided he wanted a second chance and the Brethren acceded to his request. Accordingly it was in the safe, gentle hands of the Worshipful Commander, Worshipful Brother Gilbert Stone to muster all hands on the quarter deck to attend to ships duties. That being to install W.Bro.John as Worshipful Commander which W.Bro.Gilbert achieved in a sincere, thoughtful manner assisted by W.Bro. Paul Leach and W.Bro.Alex Steele together with Worshipful Brother John Clough, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master and Representative of the Provincial Grand Master.
The new Skipper installed at the helm, W.Bro. John dealt efficiently with the appointment of Officers for the next years voyage. The only surprise being that the Scribe had jumped ship to be replaced by an experienced rating, W.Bro.Bob Winterflood. His predecessor claimed that he now had more important issues which to attend to, a likely story! There might be something in it however, he is W.Bro. Trevor Bolton, our new Asst Prov. Grand Master, and OK I believe him. The new Crew appointed and business matters concluded all adjourned to the Mess deck to enjoy a delightful Festive Board.
Attention then turned to the Toast list, the first item of substance that to the Province, no problem for the newly installed First Lieutenant, Brother Geoffrey Wood. In time honoured fashion his toast contained the right level of deference, praise and ingratiation, he will do well. Responding, W.Bro. John began by congratulating the Worshipful Commander and wishing him a happy, health year in office with particular reference to his wife Shirley, at present receiving chemotherapy; our thoughts are with them both. He then spent a few moments emphasising the role of the Almoner in the Lodge, a most important duty focusing on the precepts of our order, welfare of our Brethren, nothing else comes close. A new R.A.M. lodge is to be consecrated in May 2018 and based at Morley Masonic Hall; it will be called The Rugby Football Lodge of R.A.M. No.1965 and be moored to the Mark Lodge, of the same name and number in East Lancashire. Finally he gave the Brethren a taster of the Barge Pull event which will take place 2nd to the 10th May approx, 2018 from Barnoldswick to Leeds , 41 miles, 44 Locks,, more of that in the next month.
I rarely comment on the Toast to the Master but I must in this case, in the capable hands of W.Bro. Trevor, it took the form of a travelogue referring to a flight to Hawaii when their families met. Some detail was forthcoming but that which clicked with me was the fact that Trevor’s Son had spent much time in conversation with W. Bro. John. When asked by his Father what they had talked about the answer was , “I cannot tell you as I could not understand a word”, When W, Bro John, one of the nicest and most caring men I have met in Freemasonry, responded , I had the same dilemma, translator will be necessary next time. I did pick up that they have two candidates in the pipeline and a possible third, what a star.
As I walked down the gangplank to the quayside, I pondered how lucky I was to have these enjoyable nights out, spending my most precious asset, my time, with wonderful Brethren, thank you all for your company.
Smile, be happy, and remember you are a Royal Ark Mariner.