The photograph above shows the Brethren who attended, the front row shows, from l to r: Ken Hampson, Tony Nuttall,
Steve Ridgway, David Dredge, Gerry Hodson (APGP), Sir David Trippier (RW Provincial Grand Master),
John Pearson (APGM),Peter Douthwaite (District Chairman), John King, Stuart Tennant, Alan Smith) (Sorry everyone else)!
In 1989, the Chairman of Ashton & Mossley District was Peter Swain, and he organised the first of the District’s Masters’ and First Principals’ Assemblies. Peter, now in his nineties, but still sprightly despite wishing that his hips and knees were working as well as his now fully functioning eyes, remembers it well. I spoke to him about that first assembly. He told me that our function was not the first, “I went to several of these evenings”, he told me, “It came at a time when the Province seemed a bit too big, there were many Lodges and it was quite difficult to connect all of the Lodges together.” The Provincial Grand Master, Frederick Towns, had created the structure of Districts in an attempt to create more local links between Lodges and Masonic Halls, an attempt that has stood the test of time. “Having a Dinner for the Masters and First Principals of the District’s Lodges and Chapters was an obvious way to bring everyone together. Of course, in those days, you usually only went through the Chair once, so it was much more of an honour than it has become.” Peter remembers speaking to the redoubtable figure of the late Arthur Axford, at that time the APGM for what would later become the Southern Area of the Province. He had one piece of advice for Peter, “He told me that I must invite the Provincial Grand Master. He said, “If he comes, everyone else will come as well.” That was good advice, and it worked. We had the Provincial Grand Master or his Deputy as our principal guest, every year, for the rest of my time as Chairman.”
As it happens, it was a piece of advice that another Peter was more than happy to take when it came time to host the thirtieth anniversary. Peter Douthwaite became Chairman of Ashton & Mossley District in 2015 after serving as a District Officer, and Deputy Chairman, for some thirteen years. It was clear that the numbers who were attending the Masters’ & First Principals’ Dinner were declining overall and it seemed that a change was inevitable. So this Peter decided that we should make something special of the thirtieth anniversary of the first Assembly, and then look to introduce changes in 2020. He invited the RW Provincial Grand Master, Sir David Trippier, to join us to help us with our celebration, and was more than pleased when our PGM agreed. With that incentive it looked like a safe bet that we would get a good number in attendance, in the same way that Peter Swain had got a good attendance some thirty years before.
This sort of evening is not one for making long speeches. Our APGM, John Pearson presented Sir David with a cheque payable to the ELMC, on behalf of the District, and Gerry Hodson, our APGP, proposed the Loyal Toast. Peter Douthwaite, as Chairman made a short address in toasting Sir David as our honoured guest. He said, “The founding principles for this dinner remain the same, to honour the achievements of those who have become Master of their Lodge or First Principal of their Chapter, and we congratulate you all.” He also praised the Ladies who were present telling them that none of these functions could take place without their support, something of which all of us are certainly aware. That proved an ample introduction for Sir David who delivered a short but gently humorous address to everyone. Sir David is one of the best after dinner speakers that I have ever heard, and he did himself proud on this evening.
And finally, it would be remiss of me to fail to mention one final person. Peter Douthwaite had engaged the services of a young man called Tom Loughlin. Tom attended Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, internationally renowned as a school that will bring on the talents of the musically adept. Since leaving school Tom has studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, you are probably getting the drift aren’t you. On this evening, Tom regaled us for over an hour with a series of light classical arias, and Songs from the Shows, all of which allowed him to display his talents as a Tenor singer. He finished with “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s “Turandot”, a song that brought the house down. A most excellent ending to a wonderful evening.
Further photographs of most of those who attended the celebration, are available on line, on the Provincial Photo Gallery. They can be accessed by visiting https://bit.ly/2KCoOyO
Photographs may be downloaded freely for personal purposes but all photographs are covered by the copyright notice below.
The text of this article, and all the photographs either published here or available on line, are by
Kevin Hall, District Communications Officer for Ashton & Mossley District Freemasons.
All of the photographs and text are copyright ©Kevin Hall. Their use, in whole or in part, for commercial purposes,
without the express written permission of the copyright holder is strictly forbidden