AMBLHello and welcome, March 17th, 2018 seems a long time ago BUT on the other hand time seems to have flown.

Having successfully reached the chair by manifesto after the sad loss to The Grand Lodge Above of WBro Peter Clark, in 2017, along with more sad news losing WBro David Slack who was to be appointed the Junior Warden. I was feeling what I can only say as a little depressed BUT the friendship and comraderie of our wonderful Lodge lifted me above the abyss.

It has been a very eventful year for both the Lodge and me. I have to say even though I had been “through” the chair before I was taking those final steps to the pedestal with some trepidation. The worry should have been dispelled though as the comfort zone approached with WBro’s Carl Freeland, John Dutchman-Smith and David Hedley leading me through and the cobwebs flying away.

The newly decorated Goulburn suite brought light and lustre after the temple.
Looking back at the records I believe it shows we were out of the Temple in record time, so David’s speed as DC was not found wanting?
The fantastic festive board followed the 5-minute photo call (and if you believe that you have never stood on the other side of the camera!) but all seems to have turned out nice again!

So adjourning to the AC Marriott Hotel to wash and brush up before heading with others to the Salford Masonic Hall for entertainment from the Manchester Police Band, a wonderful comfort and enjoyment BUT wait as the curtain falls the snow and blizzard conditions have hit Manchester along with a United home game not a Taxi to be found, but we did managed to get one for half the party! and a decision (not mine!) to attempt the walk back!
That’s when life became dizzy, a slip on the ice, leather soled shoes not ideal and don’t drop the “Rosé” ended up with a nasty graze to the right knee cap and a big “bloody” gash on the right palm BUT still no taxi! Hold on we spy the “Golden Arches” and time to wash the wound, the young lady manager gets a taxi before you can say “Jack Robinson”. Back at the hotel I’m cleaned up by the wonderful team but persuaded to get to Salford A&E, I think they didn’t want blood all over the bedsheets! So off we go to A&E in taxi provided by the Hotel, four hours latter having been triaged, x-rayed, cleaned up and super glued the hotel taxi is back in the snow to collect us, I certainly couldn’t fault the Hotel staff or the A&E staff in Salford.

So that was Installation Weekend, on the Lodge side we reached 500+ membership, and I looked forward to the challenge of the year starting with the oversea adventure to Northern Ireland.

So, May dawns and 30+ take to the road to our overseas sojourn with the majority flying in to one of the two Belfast airports and then the short journey to the Europa Hotel right in the centre of Belfast, well known for begin at one time the most bombed Hotel in Europe, Vicky said the beds will be new then! No, the staff were wonderful, the close proximity of the Hotel to the coach station meant that our visits to Mount Stewart, Castle Ward, Giants Causeway, Bushmills, Bangor for Lodge could not have been easier (for most!).
Whilst in Belfast opportunity had been organised for a visit to a sitting Lodge, 633 Queens University Lodge where the Ladies enjoyed the company of their ladies before all enjoying the festive board, before the meeting most took the opportunity to view the hall being guided by the hall caterer, the second Lodge meeting was at 746 Bangor Union Lodge where the Brethren witnessed the Entered Apprentice degree and an initiation, which I understand was truly well received and an eye opener to the Irish Constitution. Everyone “appeared” to enjoy the events and a very big thank you was given to our wonderful driver of the coach who nothing was to small or large for him, from getting to see the “Dark Hedges” to the Portrush sea front to a smaller coach for the last day and the Portaferry ferry glide across the Strangford Lough, thank you Brother David.

Our relaxing summer leads us to the Province of Staffordshire and Tamworth, home of the “Plastic Pig” and “Switch curtail rails” plus more! A Friday night welcome in the Snow-dome and the regular meeting in Tamworth Masonic Hall which was followed by the festive board and then a talk with slides about the National Memorial Arboretum and the New Masonic Garden of Remembrance. Early night (for some) as Sunday saw the visit in regalia to the NMA and the daily service of Remembrance and a short service by the Lodge at the Masonic Garden, and the weather wasn’t too bad!

October sees the Lodge in Harrogate, this venue was one chosen by WBro Peter Clark BUT could not have been better, the Hotel was within 5 minutes of the Masonic Hall close to the town but quiet enough for light sleepers. The Friday evening welcome meeting saw us all in the Hotel private function/dining room with our own entertainment, with WBro Peter Dodds our local contact, Saturday and over to the Masonic Hall. The main Temple was used for our Lodge of Sorrows demonstration team from Glossopdale Lodge, this was organised originally by WBro David Slack who as I mentioned above sadly passed to The Grand Lodge Above in early 2018. The Lodge meeting being held in a “comfortable” if not compact temple in the halls. After the meeting we and the ladies were entertained to a wonderful demonstration of the Lodge of Sorrows, I was so pleased that our ladies along with two of our Lodge widows Mrs. Heather Clark and Mrs Anne Williams were able to witness this ceremony, it certainly brought more than a lump to my throat! So, the Ladies Festival was enjoyed in the evening within the Masonic Halls and the enjoyment flowed, no need for dancing opportunity to sit and talk the night away.

Whilst on holiday in Bangor NI in January I took the opportunity to attend the Installation meeting of Lodge Ireland 2000 the Irish “Internet Lodge” taken place in Comber Masonic Hall here the Grand Secretary RWBro Philip Daley was installed into the chair, I along with the Deputy Grand Master RWBro Rodney L McCurley, The Senior Grand Warden RWBro Richard Gray (who we all met at Arthur Square and Bangor in May) and a small but very welcoming Brethren enjoy the afternoon and an equally warm evening at Le Mound Country Club with our ladies for the festive board.

But what I have enjoyed the most this year is the everlasting friendship of our wonderful Lodge, the warm charity shown to my chosen charities from 1st Bangor Scouts who have put their donation to excellent use in improvements to the Scout Hall, the donation was further enhanced by the very kind donations when our group visited Bangor and the ladies were entertained to an exciting “Gin” tasting whilst we were in the Lodge and the feedback on the evening was excellent. A very sincere letter of thanks has been received from the Group Scout Chairman and is in the hands of the secretary
The second charity I chose was/is the “Fisher house” charity supporting injured veterans’ families around the world, again a very nice thank you has been received from the charity this time to the Treasurer.
That dispensed with £1000 BUT due to your generosity we are able to support more charities, and these will be distributed soon, £500 to Manchester Children’s Hospital “Radio Lollypop” a local and well deserving charity and £500 will be given to the “Not Forgotten Association” another military charity supporting veterans in their time of need.

So, as I close the year installing WBro Cristian Mihutoiu I am looking forward to 2019 and the left-hand chair relaxing!

Thank you again Brethren for your support during my year in the chair and I look forward to seeing the new and not so new brethren in the coming months.