A Fabulous Day at Tapton Hall Saturday 7th October 2023

Not sure what it is about Sheffield and Pork Sandwiches with Apple Sauce Stuffing and Crackling, but it seems it’s the thing in that part of the world.  W.Bro. John Gray spotted several Brethren tucking into them on the car park before going inside to get on with their day.  John will not confirm or deny but it looks very much like they were Brethren from a little further North.  Perhaps junction 26 of the M62 sign posted Cleckheaton.  Maybe a treat not regularly available where the sun never sets! 

It really was a great day and a very busy meeting indeed.  The Carl Whitehead Lodge No.110 playing host to the annual Provincial R.A.M. Assembly.  Made more enjoyable with a lot of our ladies present who were to join us for lunch after the meeting.  The meeting opening bang on time but of course it would – W.Bro. Andrew Brown Prov. G.D.C. in charge with support from W.Bro. Mark Holland the Dep. Prov.G.D.C. who was also the Lodge D.C. Various business was dealt with including an increase in subscriptions which was confirmed.  The W.C.N. W.Bro. Phillip Drury saying despite the increase the treasurer W.Bro. Alan Corbridge still appeared to be popular!  

Time for the Provincial Grand Master R.W.Bro. James Steggles G.M.R.A.C. to be admitted.  Entering in style with an escort of fine Provincial Officers.  Jim was given a warm welcome from Philip who then went on to offer the gavel saying he had done this many times over the last twelve years and felt sure that on this occasion it would be taken.  Philip a little shocked when Jim said well….. we’ll see.  He did in fact take it this being his tenth and last time saying he would be pleased to do so.  He then put in place his own officers and opened Provincial Grand Assembly.  The main business was to make appointments to Provincial Royal Ark Mariner Grand Rank.  In the names of:

Stuart Taylor – Old York T.I.

Marios Adamou – Prince Edward No.14

Stephen Anthony Joseph Bray – Fearnley No.58  

John Arthur Barnes – Bronte No.535

Jason John Cunningham – Dewsbury No. 641   

Graham Pearce – Dewsbury No.641

Nicholas David Jacques – Welcome No.651

Kevin Lloyd – Abbey No.768

John Raymond Pease – Thorne No.1004

Jim then Addressed the Provincial Assembly.  A very emotional and sincere address.  Thanking his Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Past Rulers and his Provincial Team.  He also gave apologies sent from the Deputy Provincial Grand Master who would certainly be thinking about us all today.  Going on to congratulate W.Bro. Trevor Bolton on his forth coming appointment as our new Provincial Grand Master.

He talked about the support, loyalty, enthusiasm, guidance and advice he had been given over the last eleven years was full of thanks to lots of people for their help and support over the years which, included all our ladies and partners and his wife Joan.  

Then a change of pace.  First congratulating all those receiving Provincial Royal Ark Mariner Rank saying this was the start of their journey to promote and extend our wonderful order across the Province.  Then congratulating this year’s recipients of Royal Ark Mariner Grand Rank announced recently.  These were Gary Parker, Mark Holland and Mark Kenyon, a very special preferment.  Also, to Martin Roche courtesy of East Lancashire.  He also congratulated all our Royal Ark Mariner Lodges on achieving Grand Patron Diamond Award with the help of course of our wonderful charity the Cleeves & Whitehead Trust.  We were the second Mark Province to qualify and certainly the first Royal Ark Mariner Province to do so.  A magnificent achievement.

Now some surprises.  He talked of R.W.Bro. Jim Truswell who as Provincial Grand Master in 2010 introduced an award for long and distinguished service called the West Yorkshire Royal Ark Mariner Distinguished Service Award.  Only a handful of Brethren hold this award.  He then asked for W.Bro. Laurie Wroe to be escorted to him.  Laurie spoke with pride in receiving his award saying it had been a joy and a privilege to be in the order and recommended visiting to all.  Well said Laurie – so true.  

Finally, Jim returned to the Festival.  So much had been done during this time, barge pulls, cycling around the Province, a variety show, hoe down, pig races, concerts, walks and many other things.  We enjoyed ourselves doing all of this and raising just short of £1.6 million the second highest ever, despite losing two years to covid.  Everyone had Marked Well.  There were however a few Brethren and Ladies who were more intimately involved in the Festival and its administration over a prolonged period.  All the committee doing an amazing job, but a few went that extra mile bringing on the next surprise.  W.Bros. Richard Puttrell, Ian Wolstencroft and Chris Oldfield being escorted to him to receive the Provincial Grand Masters Special Award.  Only four such presentations in the last eleven years and now another three.  Giving them many congratulations.  That brought Jim to the end of his final address and with emotion clearly with him and all around he said ‘may wisdom, strength and beauty continue to guide all your footsteps Brethren.  And may the Supreme Commander of the universe continue to bless you all’.  This received a rousing standing applause.  Jim together with his team retired and business continued.  The main item being approved was a donation to the Cleeves & Whitehead Trust for £2000.

Lunch was fabulous.  Jim paying many complements to our ladies for all the support which does take many forms.  Ironing shirts and pot washing was mentioned, although Jim did admit to doing some dusting!  Putting the joking to one side he mentioned the support they give us on such functions as today and allowing us to enjoy our Freemasonry saying he certainly couldn’t have done without the support of his lovely lady being at  his side over the last eleven years and was sure the same applied to many of us.  Then a further surprise.  Two ladies had been involved for seven years with the Festival committee and so Ruth Drury and Pamela Bolton were awarded and presented with the Provincial Grand Masters Special Award the highest he was able to give which received rapturous applause.  Closing with the toast to our ladies, receiving further applause.  It was time for Jim and Joan to also receive a surprise to mark their retirement.  A silver picture frame and an amethyst necklace and flowers for Joan.

Royal Ark Mariner Masonry.  A wonderful order with a sincere message but having lots of fun too.  When the time is right for you why not come and join us?

Andrew Johnson

Communications Manager