Alan Tibbetts WM, Internet Lodge 9659EC, 2010 - 2011
In keeping with the tradition of Internet Lodge No. 9659 since our founding, I present my final report on my year as Worshipful Master. The year started with a very special Installation ceremony at Bridge Street, Manchester. Because of the tragic loss of Worshipful Master Bill Holden shortly before the meeting, we had several Past Masters quickly step up to help by sitting in the East for various portions of the meeting. As senior Past Master, WBro John Belton opened the meeting, and then WBro John Dutchman-Smith took over and presented the eulogy for his great friend and brother which was very moving for all of us. WBro Chris White then occupied the chair for the first portion of the business, with WBro Larry Porter presiding as Installing Master. It was all done with great grace and all members appreciated their efforts.
Our new Provincial Grand Master, RWBro Jack Price and his Provincial team were in attendance, which was a particular thrill for me coming from overseas, experiencing the extra ceremonial involved with his attendance at our meeting. I also enjoyed the opportunity to sit with him at the Festive Board following the meeting, and become acquainted with him. It had been 14 long years since I had sat in the chair of King Solomon, and this in another jurisdiction, so his help making me at ease for this whole new experience was appreciated.
In late May, Jane and I hosted members to a visit to the Niagara region of Canada, where we were based in St. Catherines. The weather was lovely and we managed to pack many activities into a very short time. We toured 1812 battle sites and the home of our last English Provincial Grand Master, visited the Mennonite farm country and the Six Nations Native Indian Reserve and toured several wineries by coach. Thank goodness a Masonic friend with a travel business came forward, who made the arrangements come off so easily. Our fraternal visit to St. Andrews Lodge No. 661 GRC in St. Catherines was, I hope interesting and enjoyable with its Scottish flavour. The visit also resulted in several applications for membership by Canadian brethren.
Chester was the venue for the August meeting, which was almost short-circuited when the Masonic Hall in the city was declared unsafe for us to use. Fortunately, a couple of our members found us an alternate site, at the Cheshire View MH which turned out to be a first class facility. An interesting talk at the meeting was delivered by WBro Alan Turton, on Elias Ashmole, who was initiated in Cheshire. The talk emphasized the role of women in Ashmole's life, and was an unusual take on a Masonic subject, which was enjoyed by all.
Chester also saw a first for our Lodge and perhaps English Freemasonry, when we web cast a portion of the Festive Board to our members worldwide. I gave the "Toast to Absent Brethren" on line, and uniquely, we had a reply to the toast, given by WBro David Holder from his home in Sydney Australia after midnight the next day. Brethren from across the globe, some thirty in all, tuned in. Special thanks are extended to WBro Larry Porter for organizing and carrying out this ground breaking effort.
We had the pleasure of a visit to this meeting by VWBro Grahame Elliott CBE, member of the Lodge and President of the Grand Charity. Our Friday social event was a canal boat dinner cruise, and many of us also enjoyed a ghost talk by a local expert in a haunted pub on the Saturday evening.
The Ladies Festival weekend took place at Wells, Somerset in October. We were based at the historic Swan Hotel right in the centre of town, and overlooking Wells Cathedral. The Masonic Hall here is housed in a 13th century building attached to the cloisters, with Gothic windows on the north side of the room giving a lovely aspect of the Cathedral. Our lunch before the meeting was in the Vicar's Hall, another historic part of the church precinct. The presentation at the meeting was by Mrs. Simone Enefer-Doy, Chief Executive of Lifelites, our chosen non-Masonic charity for the years 2010-12. She gave a very good account of the wonderful work they do providing computer and other electronic equipment to all the childrens' hospices in the UK.
A special pleasure for me was to meet in the home of Benevolent Lodge No. 446, which shares its warranted number with my Mother Lodge in Ontario, Granite Lodge No. 446. I was also given kind permission to use their very special Master's gavel set, which is carved from the oak of Admiral Horatio Nelson's flagship HMS Victory.
As this was the Ladies Festival weekend, a series of activities were planned involving our spouses. Because of my unfamiliarity with English Ladies Nights, I opted for a more informal approach for our Saturday evening event, held at the Swan. It included a more casual dress code, a buffet supper and rustic entertainment by the Somerset Morris dance troupe. Several of our members and their ladies were good sports and got up with the dancers to learn a routine that involved whacking sticks together noisily and dangerously, but no injuries were sustained and much laughter resulted.
During the year, the ladies of Internet Lodge organized themselves under the leadership of my wife, Jane Tibbetts and Jaqui Porter, wife of PM Larry Porter. They took over responsibility for organizing many of the social activities, which have been developing over the years in conjunction with our meetings. They are now ensuring that our spouses are made aware of what is going on during the meeting weekends using their own LILIES web site and e-mail list, ensuring their attendance and providing planning, organization and the actual work involved in carrying out these events. The involvement of the ladies will ensure that the Masonic experience for the members of Internet Lodge truly has added value, and that Freemasonry as we practice it is a family experience, and not just a men's club as in the traditional past. We are truly a ground breaking Lodge, and I hope we will continue to provide a model for others in our fraternity for years to come.
Our membership rolls grew substantially during the year, with 55 joiners successfully balloted at the three meetings in 2010, and I sincerely thank those members who have contributed to these numbers by promoting our Lodge with their friends and brothers, and specially thank WBro John Dutchman-Smith, our Assistant Secretary, who has worked tirelessly for the past several years on processing these new members.
I extend my sincere thanks to the brethren mentioned above, to all those who served as officers of the Lodge this past year, and all who assisted me in any other way during my year as Master. It makes it a little harder on everyone to have a Master from a foreign jurisdiction, but we have come through the year in great form. It was a pleasure serving you during a year I will always remember.
I wish my successor, WBro Chris Malpus, success in his year of Mastership and pledge my support as Immediate Past Master to him. I am sure our widespread and diverse membership will give him the same loyal support that they have shown me in 2010.
Immediate Past Master