The brethren of East Lancashire gathered at Rochdale Masonic hall for the annual Provincial Meeting. They were joined by many distinguished visiting brethren from far and wide including East Scotland, the West Midlands and southern counties. Also from a little nearer over the border from Yorkshire as well as neighbouring West Lancashire.

Once assembled in the superb surroundings of the large lodge room the Provincial Grand Supreme Ruler, Frank Hood Smith accompanied by his Deputy, Chris Givvons and a delegation of the out going officers paraded in. This perfect entrance was under the guidance of Stephen Holcroft who later was appointed as the Provincial Director of Ceremonies. Music is the perfect accompaniment to any procession and this was provided by Rochdale’s very own Stephen Holt, Provincial Grand Organist.

Stephen Holcroft,left with Stephen Holt at the organ

Stephen Holcroft,left with Stephen Holt at the organ

Once assembled, Frank proceed to open Provincial Grand Conclave and welcome everyone to the meeting. The visiting dignitaries were introduced as well as the heads of some of the other masonic orders and greeted with acclamation by the brethren.

Reports were received from the Recorder, Treasurer and The Guide all as part of the business section of the meeting. It was the final report given by Les Bond who was to step down after giving sterling service as Provincial Guide for the last two years. He has martialed his troops in the form of the Visiting Deacons to ensure each meeting was attended by a Visitor which is a vitally important part of the makeup of our order.

Frank then appointed and invested his officers for the year, with a little bit of a ‘geordie’ flavour as Ken Laidlaw (Counsellor) and Allan Shields (Guide) both hail from the same home town of Jarrow on Tyneside.

Provincial Standard Bearer Aiden Murphy, Left with Chris Givvons and Paul Joynson newly appointed Sword Bearer

Provincial Standard Bearer Aiden Murphy, Left with Chris Givvons and Paul Joynson newly appointed Sword Bearer

With all his team in place Frank delivered his report on the Province which is doing well. With new members joining the order and conclaves that were low in numbers now thriving. The hall is very large so a PA system was in use which had been set up by Les Bond, Frank was ‘Miked up’ and had said that he felt a bit like a TV star! The meeting was conducted with sincerity and warmth by Frank and the final Knock from acting Sentinel, Nigel Dunlop signified the closing of another successful meeting of Provincial Grand Conclave.

Paul Joynson ,right being congratulated by Nigel Dunlop

Paul Joynson ,right being congratulated by Nigel Dunlop

Frank Smith (centre) flanked by his acting Officers for 2019

Frank Smith (centre) flanked by his acting Officers for 2019

The brethren now retired to the festive board which was a superb meal of Roast Beef and Apple Crumble for dessert.

Frank was delighted to be able to take wine with his distinguished guests, visitors and his officers. Toasts were made to which Frank in his response thanked all those who had attended. He also thanked his Recorder and Director of Ceremonies by saying’ meetings don’t just happen’ they take much hard work to be as successful as today’s had been

He wished the brethren good health and a safe journey home following what had been a most enjoyable day for all who had attended.

Photos Courtesy of Wayne Barnes

Article by Allan Shields.