Jaunty refrains of alluring organ music beckoned the brethren of Saturnian Lodge No 7563 to the opulent lodge room of Blackpool Masonic Hall for its installation meeting at which retiring master of the lodge Ken Winstanley installed his successor Mark Brierley into the chair of King Solomon in a charming and sincere manner, befitting of a lodge with such a powerful selection of first-rate Masons. The cheery musical accompaniment courtesy of maestro George Holden, generated a warmth and sense of fun that flavoured the evening with a carnival mood.
Whilst the warmth of the welcome was instantly felt on arrival, the fun element gradually evolved over the course of the evening. Commencing with respectful and appreciative enjoyment from well performed ritual in which excellence descended on all those who participated, light-hearted friendly banter gradually crept into the proceedings and culminated in an occasion of sheer merriment at the festive board that followed the ceremony.
Revelling in the charm of the performances and the ambience of the evening was principal guest Stuart Thornber who was representing the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. Accompanying dignitaries included Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master Terry Hudson and Chairman of Blackpool Group John Turpin, along with group vice chairman David Cook, group secretary Steve Jelly and acting Provincial grand officers John Guest, Martin Gray and John Hicks, all of whom were equally impressed by the standard of ritual.
No sooner was Stuart Thornber comfortably located in the principal guest’s seat than he was called upon to receive charitable disbursements to the tune of £1,000, comprising of £500 to the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival, £100 to the Blackpool Masonic Hall Building Fund and £400 to ‘Safenet’ Women’s Refuge. On receiving the donations from master of the lodge Ken Winstanley, Stuart was lavish in his praise of the lodge and assured the gathered throng that the members’ generosity would be faithfully applied by the recipients. It was an ideal start to a most enjoyable evening for Stuart.
Although Ken appeared slightly diffident at the commencement of the installation ceremony, his performance proved that his apprehensions had been wholly unfounded. From the moment master elect Mark Brierley was presented by his good friend Dryden Hyde, Ken gradually grew in stature to execute a charming and sensitive display. Mark, on his part, showed no signs of nerves and threw himself into his performance with zeal and gusto.
Benefitting no doubt from the reassurance that director of ceremonies Jon Selcoe would always be on hand to guide the members through the ceremony’s several parts, each performance became more and more enchanting. Jon looks after the members of the lodge like a benevolent squire over his tenants; encouraging, supporting and guiding them. He can be relied on to bring out the best in any member. There is none like him.
The team around him however brimmed with excellence. The choice of the three installing officers could not have been better; Rod Gee as installing senior warden; Dryden Hyde as installing junior warden and Colin Goodwin as installing inner guard – a more perfect trio would be hard to find.
On having placed Mark in the chair of King Solomon, Ken took a well-earned break and delegated the ubiquitous Jon Selcoe with the task of proclaiming the new master in each of the three degrees, a task that Jon, as with everything he does, he performed with eloquence beyond the ordinary.
The young talent in the lodge also demonstrated their potential in presenting the working tools of each degree. Scott Holden, Stephen Bird and Stephen Williamson each performed superbly with the third, second and first degree working tools respectively. They each certainly took to ritual in the most wonderful way. It seemed to come naturally to each of them.
Following the investiture of officers, it was time for the address to the newly-installed master and it was up to – yes you’ve guessed – Jon Selcoe to deliver the goods. He did so abundantly and in heaping measure, once again demonstrating his mastership of ritual.
Relinquishing the secretary’s post for a few moments, Malcolm Woods proved his versatility with a splendid address to the wardens, and finally, Stuart Thornber, having been graciously escorted from his present sphere by Jon Selcoe to the allotted spot at the south east corner of the lodge room, the traditional location where the address to the brethren is performed, he delivered his piece in a genuine spirit of pleasure and kindness. Stuart is one of those chaps who earn respect by the warmth of the respect that he radiates to his fellow man.
On the cue that the installation ceremony had been concluded, Stuart again rose to convey the greetings of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, assuring Ken that, had Tony been present, he would have congratulated him on the delightful manner in which he had installed Mark and the quality of the performances from the other members of the lodge. It was clearly apparent that a great deal of hard work had gone into ensuring the success of the ceremony and that there was a genuine desire to make the day as memorable as possible for Mark. Turning to Jon Selcoe, Stuart was lavish in his praise for the manner in which the proceedings had been choreographed and executed.
The lodge having been formally closed, the happy band of revellers sojourned to the banqueting suite to push down their evening feast, at which they all took aboard a healthy cargo. The joy of the installation ceremony seemed to have promulgated a healthy appetite. All were deeply conscious of an air of approval surrounding them. They had done superbly well and they knew it.
In a relaxed mood, the party-goers chatted enthusiastically and the air was filled with laughter and geniality, an atmosphere that continued throughout the evening. In response to the toast to grand officers, Stuart entertained his audience with a balanced diet of humour and seriousness while drawing attention to current Masonic issues that the Provincial Grand Master deems most important. Stuart Thornber is an articulate speaker of astute intellect who exudes efficiency in whatever activity he immerses himself, an efficiency that is not a conscious effort but one imprinted in his DNA; it comes that naturally to him.
One would not have thought that the evening could have got better but Nick Harrison of Emblem Lodge No 6727 produced a powerful rendition of the master’s song that prompted a standing ovation from the appreciative throng. It was dynamite! And to make things even better, a raffle raised a further £280 for good causes. The evening could not have been better for Mark Brierley and the brethren of Saturnian Lodge.