The ceremony of being raised to the sublime degree of a master Mason is one of the most memorable in the Masonic career of a Freemason but when the ceremony is conducted and performed to perfection, it is also memorable to those who were privileged to be in attendance at the event. Just such an evening occurred at Blackpool Lodge of Integrity No 5864 when Benjamin Rodgers passed through his third degree in the craft.
Wallowing in the joys of the occasion was Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox, along with grand officer David Thomas and Chairman of the Blackpool group John Turpin. Dispensing with formalities, Harry and the other dignitaries were present purely for enjoyment – and enjoyment was in abundance. There was an ambience of reserved confidence, yet with the apprehension that invariably puts that vital edge on all performances. It was a young Mason, and a Lewis to boot, who was the principal protagonist and all the stops had been pulled out to ensure an unforgettable experience. It was as if the whole lodge had been inspired.
Opening the lodge and discharging its general business, master of the lodge Kevin Croft established an efficient and lucid start to the meeting. Fresh to the office of master of the lodge, Kevin instantly stamped his mark on the proceedings. His diction was clear; his instructions were meticulous and he conducted himself with dignity, decorum and efficacy, whilst radiating warmth and cordiality. All the participants kept rigidly to the script but delivered it with fluidity and spontaneity. The scene had been set for something special.
Slightly overwhelmed by the occasion, the candidate Benjamin took his place in the lodge in readiness for the customary questions. Senior deacon Granville Coxhill quickly put him at ease with reassuring smiles and words of encouragement. The result was that Benjamin played his role with confidence and clarity. He knew his part in full and gave faultless responses to each and every question.
A particularly nice element of the ceremony was the number of lodge members who involved themselves in the ritual. Young, relatively inexperienced Masons worked alongside the highly experienced and senior members of the lodge with seamless precision. There were no uncomfortable pregnant pauses. There was no hesitation. None required direction. Everyone had worked meticulously to ensure that all were in the right place at the right time to produce an impressively smooth performance.
Senior member and perfect gentleman Trevor Drabble demonstrated his impeccable credentials as a ritualist, as did John Wall who temporarily relinquished his seat at the organ to participate in the dramatics of the evening. John delivered his recital with no little animation and plenty of vim, moving sprightly around the lodge room to more fully illustrate and emphasise the ritual. It was a delight to watch.
Throughout the ceremony, Granville continued to reassure Benjamin and led him around the lodge in a gentle but controlled manner; a perfect exhibition of the role of a senior deacon.
The highlight of the ceremony, if indeed there is such a thing as a highlight in a perfect ceremony, was when Colin Rodgers stepped forward to recite the traditional history and working tools of the degree. It was a particularly emotional moment for Colin. Colin is Benjamin’s father and, no doubt, he was experiencing mixed emotions of pride and trepidation as he began his narration. It may well have been that, at that moment, he was suffering from a considerable strain on the old nerves but to the casual observer, he appeared as cool as an oyster on ice. His performance was sincere, articulate and faultless.
The whole ceremony had been a delight and deservedly received the approbation of all present. “You won’t see a better ceremony than that” was the resounding verdict of the populace who were fortunate enough to be present. They left with manifest gladness to retire to the festive board and further enjoy what had already been a superb evening.
At the festive board, the lodge members and their guests were beaming into their carte du jour with distinct vigour and each slice of chicken and prong of roast spud brought added mirth and joviality. The tone of the banquet was cordiality itself and the toners were hell-bent on enjoying their success; adding further pleasure to a perfect day.