It was a full lodge room gathered to witness the installation of Barry Fisher into the chair of Willows Lodge No 5343 which meets at Bryn Masonic Hall. Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox was the principal guest, accompanied by fellow grand officers Graeme Hughes and David Fairclough, supported by acting Provincial officers Peter Ridehalgh and Alan Johnston, together with group chairman Geoffrey Porter, group secretary John Selley and charity steward Chris Reeman.
The opening business, including a ballot for another candidate in this thriving lodge already resplendent in light blue and white aprons, having been concluded the distinguished guests were received. Installing master Frank Laird offered the gavel to the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, who quickly informed him that he was not going to get away with it that easily, and hastily returned it. It was a wise move, as Frank had obviously put a great deal of effort into the preparation, as had DC Arthur Robinson and his assistant John Thompson.
As a result, Harry and all assembled were treated to a delightful ceremony of installation and the APrGM was greatly impressed, lavishing praise on the installing master and all the officers who took part. Worthy of special mention was how pleasing it was to see the working tools delivered by two young master Masons and a fellowcraft, namely Mark Anders, Darryl Millman and Craige Dean. New WM Barry was presented by Arthur Robinson who later gave the address to the Master, when safely installed in fine style by his predecessor Frank. Graeme Hughes, lodge member, grand officer and a past acting warden in the Province of Cheshire, delivered that to the wardens. Graham also explained the ionic pillar at the WM’s pedestal, and made the presentation of the Hallstone jewel to Barry, a very special tradition in Willows Lodge. The significance of it was explained to him, representing the four years of extreme sacrifice between 1914 and 1918 and the generosity of former members of the lodge. It was explained to him that it had since that time always been worn by masters of the lodge as part of their Masonic clothing. The final address to the brethren was faultlessly delivered by the distinguished guest.
Once all the officers were appointed and invested, Harry brought the greetings and congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master. On the PrGM’s behalf he congratulated Barry on taking the chair in such a fine ceremony and wished the lodge well for the ensuing year. He was delighted to receive charitable donations from the IPM totalling a magnificent £2,750, consisting of: £1,000 to West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £250 to the Masonic hall, £350 to the Wigan and Leigh Hospice, £200 to the Newton Community Hospital, £200 to the Newton le Willows branch of Age Concern and £750 to Macmillan Nurses. Harry was extremely impressed by this wonderful charitable effort and all of Willows Lodge can feel proud of their achievement.
As is the ‘norm’ in Willows Lodge, a fine and lively festive board followed.
Barry has only been a member of Willows Lodge for just over four years, but is an experienced Mason and, despite being an avid Manchester City fan, has served twice as WM in his mother lodge, Everton Lodge No 823 in 1999 and 2011. He holds the Provincial rank of PPrSGD. He is married to Eileen, and they have two children, Catherine and Ian, plus seven grandchildren. Barry is a retired gas engineer and having spent his working life keeping people warm, he is safely keeping the seat warm for the entourage of light blues following him up the ladder.