A refreshing plethora of young talent was on show during the initiation of Graham Dew into Fairhaven Lodge No 5076. A fairly unusual team in these modern times consisted mostly of brothers wearing the light blue regalia of master Masons and past masters not yet awarded the dark blue of Provincial rank.
Every progressive office from the inner guard Stuart Hiley, to the master of the lodge John Conroy, was proudly wearing their light blue regalia. Even the immediate past master Philip Low and David Atkinson, the past master who conducted the ceremony, fell into the same category. Also the secretary Kevin Burns was proud to be one of the 17 ‘younger’ brethren on parade, which included two entered apprentices; Melvyn Gray of Fairhaven Lodge and Colin Taylor who was a visitor.
The candidate Graham Dew was blissfully unaware of this significance as he entered the lodge. He was guided around the floor by John Conroy who had traded places with stand-in junior deacon David Atkinson, (already a renowned expert at delivering ritual). John was Graham’s seconder and wanted to be his guide. He was ably assisted by the senior deacon Mick Steel who was Graham’s proposer.
David Atkinson delivered a flawless initiation ceremony from the chair blessed by the chaplain Robert Gregson, who was one of only three dark blues involved and the prayer was his only involvement. Of the other senior brothers, director of ceremonies Peter Robinson had done all of his work in practice sessions. Prompts from Peter during the proceeding were few, short and virtually soundless. The third senior member was Phil Bolton ‘tinkling the ivories’.
As a candidate, Graham was alert, quick to learn and a credit to himself and his proposers. The combination of excellent candidate, flawless ritual and expert guidance made for a most pleasurable spectacle, which was witnessed by an audience that included South Fylde Group Chairman Ian Ward, himself a senior preceptor of the Fylde Group Lodge of Instruction. Ian was obviously impressed from the amount of nodding and smiling he displayed during the ceremony.
With this fine display drawing to a close, the candidate and brethren were further impressed by Stuart Hiley, who presented the working tools with accuracy and precision. This was followed by junior warden Andrew Harwood and senior warden Terry Stevens-Lewing sharing a fine delivery of the ancient charge. Graham then proved that he had paid attention by giving a sharp salute before retiring. With the door closed, a brief moment elapsed before all present expressed their appreciation of the ceremony with a gentle hum of conversation until there was a knock on the door for the candidate to be readmitted and shown to his chair in the Lodge.
Ian Ward welcomed Graham into the lodge and order, on his own behalf and that of the group. He assured Graham that he had just been involved in one of the finest initiation ceremonies he, or anyone else present, had seen for a long while. He commended all those who had taken part for the high standard of work they had achieved, adding that it had been a delight to watch. Praise indeed from a celebrated expert!
Ian reiterated many of these points while bringing greetings from Grand Lodge officers. Bill Cowburn, speaking on behalf of Provincial officers described it as a marvellous ceremony and complimented Graham on his fine bearing throughout the ceremony. Chris Tittley, the secretary of Lodge of Fidelity No 1256, himself a light blue, spoke on behalf of the visitors. He too heaped praises on the lodge officers. Following these plaudits, the remainder of the lodge business was concluded and the brethren retired to the bar to reflect on a fine event and prepare for an excellent meal provided by Square and Compass Catering.
With spirits high, the meal was a very convivial affair. The customary toasts were observed with plaudits laced with much banter for master of the lodge John Conroy and past master David Atkinson. The general gist was, ‘we can’t let them get too full of themselves’, but what a good job they really did. Mick Steel proposed the toast to the candidate and praised the excellent qualities of a good friend, at the same time welcoming Graham into Fairhaven Lodge.
Paul Frieberg proposed the toast to the visitors in which he welcomed them all and urged them to return for yet more excellent evenings. In response, Paul Davies of Heber Lodge No 4388, which meets at the Bryn in Ashton in Makerfield, explained that this had been a particular joy for him as Graham was his brother-in-law. He assured the members that Graham would prove to be a great acquisition to the lodge, as he was very generous and always willing to help. He commended all of the officers and brethren for their hard work and for making him feel most welcome. His reply was well received and followed by the traditional Fairhaven song to the visitors, lead by Peter Robinson.
Bringing the evening to a close, Barry Hage first read a poem about an initiation ceremony, a copy of which he presented to the candidate. He then proposed the long version of the tyler’s toast.