A Game of Two Halves but, Who Won?

Wednesday 29th of November 2023 and an early 5 p.m. kick off at Northfield Place, Wetherby.  It was a cold night and a bit of frost about, but the pitch was in good order and the game went ahead as planned.  It would have been a shame if it had have been called off, there were over 40 Brethren filling the ground.  Claro Lodge of R.A.M. No.525 starring in the first half with the Rugby Football Lodge of R.A.M. No.1965 dominating the second half.  Both teams had a few players in on loan for the game and they made a great contribution to proceedings. 

It was in fact installation meeting for Claro with W.Bro. Ian Cotton being installed as Commander.  W.Bro. John Fred Clough doing a fantastic job.  Some great ritual too.  R.W. Bro. James Steggles G.M.R.A.C. presenting the keystone collarette and W.Bro. Richard Brown doing a fantastic job in delivery the Exposition (Gopher wood address).  Further good news for Claro as there was a proposition for a candidate.  Under any other business W.Bros. Edward Wilkinson and Andrew Johnson of Old York Lodge of R.A.M. T.I. delivered to the safe keeping and for onward presentation the travelling Porphyry stone.  It is to encourage visiting, and I am sure the now Commander Ian will not delay in taking his team on an away fixture soon so that this tradition can be continued.  So on to the second half and the turn of the Rugby Football Lodge to take over.  Not even time for the usual half time orange.  Another great meeting.  First a proposition of a joining member in the name of Bro. Robert Ian Bachelor, again great news.  Then on to their main business which was to Elevate Bros. Michael Astley of Aries Lodge No.669 and Lee Foster of Integrity Lodge No.110.   The Commander W.Bro. Ian Cotton, yes, the same Commander from the first half did a fabulous job as did all the Brethren taking part.  Richard Brown this time delivering the secrets in a first-class manner with Edward Wilkinson explaining the working tools and perambulations again in a first class manner.  Andrew Johnson giving the final explanation.

On to the Festive Board.  Great food and good company with plenty of chatter and banter.  A surprise for Jim Steggles as there was also a surprise birthday cake which was cut for all to share.  Ian Cotton gave the toast to the Province saying what sterling work they do, and it was an honour for him to do the toast at what was perhaps the first R.A.M. meeting done as a double header.  Thanking everyone taking part and making it such a good night.  In responding W.Bro. Andrew Brown A.Prov. G.M. said it had been a pleasure and privilege to be there at such a great meeting.  Passing on best wishes from both R.W.Bro. Trevor Bolton, W.Bro. Alan Oldfield and of course himself.  He said that perhaps two was today a significant number.  He remembered that our recent Especial meeting at Bradford Grammar school he had somehow picked up the name Andy two chains!  Well tonight there had been two Lodge meetings, two candidates and two collarettes worn by Ian and so from now on he might be referred to as two collarettes Cotton!  He said it was good to see R.W.Bro. Jim Steggles with us this evening.  Now there is protocol to be adhered to but just occasionally things are allowed to happen and as it was Jims own Lodge and his birthday it was right, he be here this evening.  He then paid tribute to both Jim and his Wife Joan for all they had done over the last eleven years and the nearly £1.6 million that our Festival under his leadership had achieved.  He also gave congratulations to both our own John Vause and, Steve Cox from our neighbouring Province of North and East Yorkshire on their forthcoming appointments as A.P.G.M. in their own Crafts Province, a fantastic achievement.  He also thanked John for all his help, support and guidance over the years which certainly helped him to be where he is today.  Going on to promote the carol service in Brighouse at 2.30 p.m. on Subday 10th December 2023 and our Provincial meeting on Saturday 6th April 2024 with dining again at the Midland Hotel Bradford.  Finally mentioning the R.A.M. Assembly in London on Monday 11th of December 2023 where W.Bros. Gary Parker, Mark Holland and Mark Kenyon will receive RAM Grand Rank.

Jim then gave the toast to the Commander two collarettes Cotton.  It was a special night being the commander of both Claro and the Rugby Football Lodge and so Joan had let him out for the night which got him out of doing a bit of housework as well!  He congratulated Ian on his work for both Claro and, the Rugby Football Lodge where he had been a founding member.  Ian responded by thanking him for the kind words going on to speak with passion about his close friend V.W.Bro. John Fred Clough who installed him in a first class manner and was also a founding member of the Rugby Football Lodge.  John said it had been a delight to Install two collarettes Cotton today. Responding on behalf of the visitors Edward Wilkinson said it had been a great evening with ritual heard which would probably never be heard again!  It had certainly been a good show and cannot fail to have impressed our friends or perhaps ‘spies’ W.Bros. Paul Barham and Steve Cox from the Province of North and East Yorkshire.

And the winner?  Royal Ark Mariner was the winner.  A fantastic night.  Thank you to two Collarettes Cotton and all the Brethren.

Andrew Johnson

Communications Manager