Brethren and guests of Toxteth Lodge No 1356 assembled for their 147th meeting with WM Phillip Birch welcoming everyone as they prepared for the evening.
Lodge director of ceremonies Matt Wilson (snr) called the brethren to order to receive their WM accompanied by his wardens and deacons; they were led into the lodge by the tyler John Hibbert. Phillip Birch formally welcomed everyone and asked if they would not shake hands with the master elect as he was waiting for an operation on his hand – perhaps just give him a pat on the back!
The lodge was opened in due form and after the usual opening business had been conducted the director ceremonies asked permission to withdraw and on his return announced that the representative of the PrGM stood without and seeked admission. Sam Robinson, accompanied by Woolton Group Vice Chairman Mike Cunliffe with other Provincial grand officers entered the lodge.
Sam was warmly welcomed by the WM and Sam responded by thanking him for the warm and friendly welcome and for reminding him that it is a while since he attended the lodge so he must have made little impression on his last visit!
The WM then opened the lodge to the second and third degrees and Sam was saluted in due form. Ron Everard was saluted on behalf of the Provincial grand officers and the lodge was then adjourned to the second degree. Past masters who were going to assist in the ceremony were requested by the WM to take their places so that the two presenting officers James Hayden and Stephen Robinson could present the master elect Stephen James Lawler who had previously been in the chair in 2004.
Stephen reaffirmed his obligation. The lodge was then resumed to the third degree and the WM asked the brethren of the lodge to line up in the north so that he could thank them for all their support during his year in office, which had been a memorable one as he had achieved, and celebrated, 50 years in Freemasonry during the year.
All below the rank of an installed master were requested to retire for a short while so that the master elect could be installed into the Chair of King Solomon. Master Masons were then readmitted and saluted the newly installed master and the senior warden Stephen Robinson provided an explanation of the working tools. The lodge was closed to the second degree so that fellow crafts could be readmitted. They salute the WM and heard the explanation of the working tools provided in a faultless manner by the junior warden Ian Folksman.
Stephen Lawler then closed the lodge to the first degree allowing entered apprentices to re-enter the lodge, salute him and hear the explanation of the working tools provided by David Nickson. The officers of the lodge were appointed and invest in due form.
Matt Wilson gave the address to the master, John Leisk the address to the wardens, David Nickson the address to the deacons, James Hayden address to the tyler and Sam Robinson gave the address to the brethren.
The installing master Phillip Birch informed the master that the ceremony was concluded which prompted Sam Robinson to rise and convey the best wishes of Tony Harrison to the master and said that if Tony had been present he would certainly have congratulated the installing master and the junior brethren who had made an impression in presenting their work. Tony also wished all the brethren to continue to enjoy their masonry.
As Sam was about to sit the master presented him with some cheques. £375 for the MCF 20121 Festival, £100 for WLFC and £100 to the Woolton Group making a total of £500, to which Sam thanked the lodge very sincerely saying that those we will never know will have their life enriched.
After the representative and the group vice chairman had retired other communications were heard and then the lodge was closed in due form so the brethren could retire to enjoy good food and good company at the festive board.
In response to the toast to his health Sam reminded brethren of the importance of giving as he stood by the banner depicting ‘a 1,000,000 reasons to be proud’ saying that in the last festival over £5,000,000 had been raised and this province had received back much more than that. Sam went on to say that those Masons who had not joined the Royal Arch should consider doing so that they might complete their journey in Freemasonry and if they wanted to find out more they should contact their lodge representative.
Mike Cunliffe on behalf of the Woolton Group presented the master with a signed congratulations card and a small fruitcake, suitably inscribed, as a memento of the evening. John Hibbert, the tyler, concluded the evening by proposing the final toast.