The officers and members of Widnes Group hosted their biannual group dinner at Widnes Masonic Hall and this year they were honoured to have the Deputy Grand Superintendent Danny Jones. Accompanying Danny on this occasion were Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton, Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Barry Jameson, Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor, supported by other distinguished grand, Provincial and acting Provincial officers.
The Provincial team first held an informal meeting in the Peter Browne Suite to introduce themselves and mingle amongst the group masters and first principals and other lodge and chapter officers whilst enjoying a cup of tea or coffee and biscuits.
The honoured guests and brethren then assembled for an open forum in the main lodge room where any brother could ask questions of the Province in an informal setting. Questions regarding both craft and Royal Arch were accepted.
Group charity steward Ian Lynch opened the discussions by asking if there was any need for both the charity steward and the almoner within a chapter as he believed that members would be covered by their craft officers. The panel were in agreement that these offices were important, as some members’ lodges were in other groups and may require assistance at some point, especially if they had not attended for some time for which the almoner should make contact.
Ben Smith of Goodwill Lodge 3896 asked about the new strategy of appointing ‘Ambassadors to Freemasonry.’ Danny went on to explain the role which will include meeting other organisations outside of Freemasonry and presenting it in a manner that might appeal to those who would enjoy membership of the order. A prime example in achieving this at the moment is by holding a Giving Day. Brethren wishing to apply should contact Assistant Provincial Grand Master Robert Wright at email@example.com with contact details and a brief résumé of their experience or knowledge. All applicants will be interviewed at the earliest opportunity.
Dave Berrington of St. Pauls Lodge 5459 wanted to know why a brother should pay Provincial and grand lodge dues if he joined other lodges either within or outside his group as he had already paid them in his mother lodge. He argued that more brethren may join other lodges, particularly smaller lodges who may be struggling, rather than just a visit, as the extra expense may deter brethren from doing so. The panel said that the money received by both the Provincial and grand lodge was not infinite and they thought that this would not be possible. They understood his concerns, but the panel pointed out that the cost of being a Mason is £80 per annum and that there is a discount of 50% for applicants under the age of 25.
A query was raised with reference to the UGLE quarterly magazine stating that West Lancashire Province did not appear well represented in the last edition. Kevin pointed out that as a quarterly it was dependant on when events took place and when they were presented for editing. He was sure that the next publication would include items from the Province and that we have been well represented in previous editions.
Once the question and answer session concluded, Danny thanked the brethren for inviting him and the panel and for the breadth of questions covered. The panel left the room to a round of applause and everyone moved into the foyer where Danny had a pleasant duty to perform. Danny was asked to unveil a plaque which was commissioned by the group to celebrate the tercentenary. The design was drafted by Les Williams and incorporates elements from all the current lodges and chapters in the Widnes Group. Barry Horabin’s brother-in-law Jeffery Bailey skilfully carved and constructed the plaque from reclaimed oak timbers from St Luke’s parish church in nearby Farnworth.
The brethren then moved into the Alan Locke Suite for the next part of the evening where they were served a hotpot supper, a variety of desserts and tea or coffee. During the meal the usual toast were given, especially the toast to the Deputy Grand Superintendent. This was given by Ben Smith who gave a résumé of Danny’s illustrious career in Freemasonry and finished by asking the brethren to rise and honour the toast.
Danny responded to the toast by thanking the Widnes Group for the generosity and hospitality shown to him and the Provincial team present. He also thanked Ben for the toast to his health. Danny reflected on the evening’s proceedings by thanking the brethren for taking part in the questions and answers session and for the manner in which the evening was organised and run by the group officers, in particular chairman Neil Pedder, vice chairman Norman Speed and secretary John Gibbon. Danny also mentioned the many events which are being held in Widnes and throughout the Province for the tercentenary celebrations. He then announced the introduction of the new pop up Royal Arch poster which will be displayed in all of the Msonic halls in the Province.
James Miller proposed the toast to the Widnes group which was responded to by Neil Pedder who thanked the Provincial team for attending and being subjected to the questions in the lodge room. Neil also thanked his team of officers for their support since his recent appointment as chairman. He also mentioned that the group will be holding a Gala Dinner later on in May which is held each year in support of a local charity. He urged all the brethren to attend.
At the end of an eventful and enjoyable evening the tyler’s toast was proposed by Ian Black, aka; ’The face of Widnes Masonry’.