The brethren and guests of Derby Lodge No 724, which incorporates Dingle Lodge No 4610, Rodney Lodge No 4625 and Duke of Devonshire Lodge No 6735 met at the Geoffrey Hirst Masonic suite within Woolton Golf Club.
This was something of a special evening insomuch as the WM was remaining in the chair. An Assistant Provincial Grand Master was to be present, along with a special guest from New Zealand and the Provincial Senior Grand Warden, son of the lodge’s inner guard and former pupil of the WM.
Derby Lodge past master Peter D Benstead, PSGW, President of the Board of General Purposes of New Zealand was making a special visit to his mother lodge where he had been WM in 1995. Peter left the UK for a three year work contract in New Zealand and has been there ever since. So it was a great pleasure for members of the lodge to meet with him and reminisce.
Prior to opening the lodge David Ashbridge, PrSGW and his father John met with the WM to reminisce on times past. David said that some 46 years ago, WM Malcolm Jolley had been his physics teacher and it was he who had been responsible for David achieving his physics exam.
Lodge director of ceremonies, Steven Williams, called the brethren to order to receive the WM accompanied by his wardens, who all duly took their places and the lodge was opened in due form. The usual opening business matters were despatched with alacrity so the lodge could be further opened to the second and third degrees.
The DC retired from the lodge and on his return announced that Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton was without and demanded admission, to which the WM replied: “We will be very pleased to receive him.” Kevin Poynton, accompanied by other grand and Provincial grand officers entered the lodge and was welcomed by Malcolm Jolley who offered Kevin the gavel of the lodge. Kevin thanked the WM and quickly returned the gavel so the ceremony could continue.
The lodge DC called the brethren to order to salute Kevin. Peter Rawlinson took the salute for the other grand officers, Peter Benstead was saluted in his own right and in reply thanked the brethren saying that it was a great pleasure to be back in his mother lodge. David Ashbridge took the salute on behalf of the provincial officers.
Director of Ceremonies Stephen Williams proclaimed Malcolm Jolley as WM for the ensuing year and Robert Cremor delivered the third degree working tools and the WM then thanked all his brethren for the work and support given during the previous 12 months. The lodge was closed to the first degree.
The WM was then asked to appoint his officers. David Spear provided the investing address to the SW and Albert Hogg to the JW. Andy Whittle gave the address to John Smith the charity steward. Robert Cremor provided the address to the two wardens and the deacons. David Ashbridge gave the address to his father who was invested as inner guard ending by saying: “Have a good year dad!” The address to the brethren of the lodge was given by Kevin Poynton.
The ceremony having concluded, Kevin rose to his feet to convey the congratulations of the PrGM Tony Harrison saying that Tony thanks Malcolm for taking the chair again and wished him good health for the year and he wished all the brethren a happy year.
Congratulations were also given to the star of the show, hardworking director of ceremonies Stephen Williams. Kevin also wished his thanks to be recorded to Bill Carter who had been secretary of the lodge for many years and was in the process of moving down south and also to the brethren who had provided brilliant addresses to the officers of the lodge.
Malcolm rose to present Kevin with a cheque for £400 in favour of the MCF to which Kevin thanked the lodge reminding them that we will never know the recipients but we have made their lives easier. The money is faithfully received and thankfully applied.
Alms were collected and the WM enquired if there were any communications from Grand Lodge after which the DC formed the procession of grand and other officers to retire. The lodge was closed in due form and the 38 Masons retired to the dining room for some well-earned refreshment.
In his response to the toast to his health Kevin personally thanked Malcolm for taking the chair for another year and made mention of the ‘big guns’ present, namely Peter Rawlinson, John Lee and Peter Benstead who had come over from New Zealand to visit his mother lodge. Kevin apologised for the main course being lamb but not from NZ! Kevin reminded everyone of the importance of supporting the 2021 festival.
Peter Benstead presented Malcolm with a suitably inscribed coat of arms of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand. Andy Whittle presented Malcolm with a card from the Woolton Group Execute and an inscribed fruitcake. After a very pleasant evening the tyler brought the proceedings to a close so the brethren could make their way home.
Story and photographs by Colin Roberts.