Escorted visit to Ainsty Lodge of Mark Master Masons No.1739

Wednesday 17th January 2024, and a cold, dark evening in West Yorkshire; frost and ice threatened anyone who dared to venture out after sunset. However, those brave enough to make the journey to Wetherby Masonic Hall, some fifty Brethren on this occasion, were greeted with the usual warm, friendly welcome that is well-known across our Order.

The Brethren took their seats and the Lodge opened.  The minutes were read and the W.M. W.Bro. Richard Brown, clearly keen to get proceedings moving, must’ve taken an executive decision to approve the minutes himself…fortunately though, the I.P.M.  W.Bro. Jim Brown was quick to address the matter and the W.M, this time with the help of his Officers and Brethren, approved the minutes accordingly (“nunc pro tunc”, some might say).

The next business was to read the postal notice of proposition and to ballot for Bro. Timothy Dean, proposed by Richard Brown and seconded by Jim Brown, to be Advanced into Ainsty Mark Lodge. The ballot proved favourable.

Next a report announcing that W.Bro. Mark Holland, the Prov. G.D.C., was outside the Lodge and requested admission. Mark was welcomed into the Lodge and announced that R.W.Bro. J. Trevor Bolton, the Prov. G.M., along with W. Bro. Andrew James Brown, the A.Prov.G.M., and a delegation of acting Provincial Officers, were without and demanded admission. The W.M. was, of course, pleased to welcome Trevor into the Lodge; an escort formed, and the delegation processed into the Lodge with great pomp. The W.M.  greeted the Prov.G.M., saying it was a pleasure to have him join us for the evening and offered him the Gavel. An almost concerned voice came back, with Trevor commenting on how serious the offer sounded! But that he had full confidence in the W.M. and, promptly handed the Gavel back.

Salutations then followed. Recognition must go to the Prov. G.D.C., not only for the sheer number of salutations that he led, but for remembering every name and rank of each Brother receiving salutations.

On to the Advancement and what a line-up Bro. Tim was greeted with; a P.Prov. G.S.W. in the Chair, P.A.Prov. G.M. V.W. Bro. John F. Clough as Reg.Mks.  and, to top it off P.Prov.G.M. R.W.Bro. Jim Steggles as stand-in S.W. Add in to this the Prov. G.Chap. W.Bro. Roger Quick on the organ, providing theatre and ever-increasing tension to the proceedings seemed almost unfair on the poor candidate; and with the number of top-brass in the room, the amount of gold braid was enough to dazzle anyone. Luckily for the Candidate he had W.Bro. Ian Tillet, the Prov.G.J.W., as his Senior Deacon, conducting him around the Lodge.

For a man suffering the effects of long Covid, Richard Brown did an absolutely sterling job. From the Obligation to the signs and secrets, and the “conclusion”; Richard delivered his ritual with passion, ensuring the spirit and meaning of the ceremony was properly conveyed. During one of the brief breaks in the ceremony, the W.M. was overheard giving his sincere thanks to the I.P.M. for his constant support throughout the past year; this surely is what Mark Masonry is all about and a true reflection of the principles of the order.

Off to collect the wages…(enter Roger Quick on the organ)…darker and more ominous came the music as the candidate drew nearer; luckily he escaped, relatively unscathed, if a little deflated for having his work rejected (a difficult pill for our candidate to swallow, particularly, as we later learned, as he’d owned his own building company in previous years). Fortunately, all came good in the end; Bro. Dean persevered and was awarded with the distinguishing badge and jewel of a Mark Master Mason, presented to him by no less than Jim Steggles, and explained to him by Bro. Simon Gray, the J.W.   W.Bro. Brian Smart explained the Working Tools and John F. Clough delivered the Northeast Corner. A fantastic ceremony throughout for our newly Advanced Brother.

Back to the agenda and the Almoner’s report, Charity Steward’s Report and update from the L&D.I.M.A. were delivered.

Somewhat unexpectedly, the stand-in S.W. was called to be presented to the W.M.’s pedestal. R.W.Bro. Trevor rose and joined R.W.Bro. Steggles on the floor of the Lodge, explaining how the Brethren of the Province had raised a collection in recognition of the hard work and dedication that Jim had shown the Province; not only during his time as Prov.G.M. but, for the 21 years he’d served the Province so diligently. Jim, in his usual, modest and humble manner, thanked Trevor for his kind words and the Brethren for their generosity. He went on to say that his success as Prov. G.M. was all down to the commitment and support that the Brethren of the Province had shown him during his tenure and, that he was incredibly proud and privileged to have been able to serve this Province as Prov.G.M. The Brethren gave Jim a rousing round of applause before he was returned to his situation in the West.

The Prov. G.M. A.Prov.G.M. and the delegation of acting Provincial Officers retired from the Lodge and the Lodge was then closed accordingly.

On to the Festive Board where the Brethren were treated to a hearty three-course meal including steak and kidney pie and, sponge with custard. Jim Brown proposed the toast to our newly Advanced Brother.  Jim gave a short biography of Timothy’s working and Masonic career with the Brethren, sharing his hobbies of fast cars and cooking. Timothy responded in perfect fashion, commenting on the fantastic ceremony and giving thanks to all Brethren who were involved, particularly the “Brown Brothers” who had been responsible for starting this next chapter in his Masonic career. The W.M. then presented Timothy with a new Mark Provincial tie.

A wonderful evening all-round. A fantastic ceremony of Advancement delivered by the Brethren of the Lodge, and a special presentation to a true champion of Mark Masonry.

With thanks to W.Bro. Christian Holmes

Andrew Johnson

Communications Manager