Foxhall Lodge No 7484 has been in existence since 1957 and has celebrated its 60 years anniversary this year; a year in which they have been very ably led by their master Bob Taylor. Serving his second term as master of the lodge, the first being in 1996, Bob was about to make Foxhall Lodge history by being the first brother to hold that office for a third year.
From the manner in which this effervescent character has led his team and represented his lodge during the year, by attending many other lodges as a visiting master and entertaining the brethren at many a post-meeting banquet, it was no surprise that the members of Foxhall Lodge had no qualms about electing him to continue in post.
Chairman of Blackpool Group John Turpin was representing the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. John was supported by South Fylde Group Chairman Ian Ward and several grand and acting Provincial grand officers. These included grand officers Keith Jackson, who is currently master of Tithebarn Lodge No 8446, along with Mike Goodwin of Melita Lodge No 6783.
Accompanying the grand officers were Provincial Grand Sword Bearer David Kenworthy and Provincial Senior Grand Deacon Clive Gitsham. Getting himself a deacon’s job but nonetheless getting in on the act was South Fylde Group Vice Chairman John-Robbie Porter. They were welcomed into the lodge by Bob Taylor and were afforded warm applause.
Salutations were afforded to the grand and Provincial grand officers and the lodge proceeded to install Mike Goodwin as installing senior warden, Tom Goodier as installing junior warden and Willy Barrow as installing inner guard. Director of ceremonies Juan Topping declared Bob Taylor as master for the ensuing year, after which he led the younger members of the lodge who saluted and greeted the master in the three degrees.
The third degree tools were presented by Frank Hardy, those in the second degree by Derek Lewthwaite and the first degree tools were explained by John Aplin. The second degree tools were explained in what is known as ‘the long way.’ This piece of ritual is one of Derek Lewthwaite’s party pieces and worth the effort of attending just for that. Derek has been away from the lodge for several years but was voted back in as a re-joining member later in the proceedings, much to the satisfaction of all the lodge members.
The address to the master was excellently given by the master’s good friend Willy Barrow, that to the wardens by Kit Keefe and that to the brethren of the lodge by John Turpin. Other addresses were given; first to the director of ceremonies by John-Robbie Porter, then to the charity steward by group charity steward Dave McKee.
Bob Taylor presented cheques to John Turpin which added up to a magnificent sum of £1,050. This total included £300 to the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival, £100 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £100 to the North West Air Ambulance, £100 to Blackpool Lifeboats, £100 to Men United – Prostrate Cancer, £100 to Sail4Cancer, and £50 to each of Poulton Masonic Hall, Haemochromatosis, Blackpool Young Carers, Shelter and Blood Wise. John thanked the master and brethren of Foxhall Lodge for their generosity and assured everyone that the monies would be well applied.
Ian Ward brought greetings from Grand Lodge. He wished Bob the best of health to enjoy his year, as he thoroughly deserved it. He continued by offering his congratulations to all the brethren who had taken part in the ceremony for the hard work they had put in.
Graham Bannister, master of Baines Lodge No 7844 brought greetings on behalf of his own lodge and all the visitors. He congratulated the director of ceremonies for all his hard work and hoped that he would see Bob Taylor on the masters’ circuit as frequently as he had so far. Lodge business was concluded with alacrity after this and the members and their guests retired to the banqueting suite where they enjoyed a hearty feast.
In responding to the toast to the grand officers, John Turpin congratulated all those who had taken part in the ceremony. He commented on the great ritual, particularly those who had explained the working tools. In particular he expressed his wish that Bob Taylor should experience the health and happiness to enjoy his year as master. He also extended his congratulations to the director of ceremonies for the way he had choreographed a most enjoyable ceremony, at the same time thanking him for the work that he does for the Royal Arch in the Blackpool Group. He also thanked lodge secretary Roy Sibley for his excellent communications and organisation in preparing for the meeting.
John went on to urge members to sign up to the MCF 2021 Festival and wear their jewels with pride, pointing out that festivals would be the main source of income for the Masonic Charitable Foundation. He went on to explain that the MCF had been formed from the four major Masonic charities and would be the source of many cost effective improvements in the way that grants would be paid.
In response to Roy Sibley’s toast to his health, Bob Taylor thanked Roy for his tireless work behind the scenes, particularly for the organisation of this event. Bob went on to thank all those who had worked hard to ensure that the declaration ceremony proceeded without a hitch. He then thanked Kit Keefe for his melodious rendition of the master’s song and John-Robbie Porter for his accompaniment on the piano. He presented them both with gifts of thanks – which caused much good-humoured heckling from the audience!
The evening was brought to a fitting end by Vinnie Carte who proposed the tyler’s toast.