WBro Peter Douthwaite, District Chairman of Ashton & Mossley District accompanied by his wife Catherine (extreme left) 
and their principal guests ( l to r) EComp Eddie Barlow APGP and his wife Linda, WBro John Pearson APGM with his wife Denise and
WBro Gerry Hodson, District Chairman of Audenshaw District

Every year, on the last Sunday in November, the District Officers of the Southern Area come together at one of our Masonic Halls to celebrate the newly Appointed and Promoted Officers of the Provincial Grand Lodge of East Lancashire. This year it was the turn of Ashton & Mossley District to host the luncheon, so we met at Mossley Masonic Hall under the benevolent eye of our Host, District Chairman WBro Peter Douthwaite and his wife Cath. Our principal guests were, as ever, our Assistant Provincial Grand Master, WBro John Pearson who was accompanied by his wife Denise and our Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals, EComp Eddie Barlow with his wife Linda. Making up this illustrious group were WBro Gerry Hodson and his wife Carol. This is really a social gathering for those who will be playing an important part in the lives of our Districts, Lodges and Chapters in the coming year. The high point, though, is the address to the gathering which is given by WBro John Pearson. This is what he said on this occasion.
“I shall start by welcoming EComp Eddie Barlow and his wife Linda who join us for this special occasion. It is an occasion when we welcome everyone who has received an appointment or promotion in Provincial Grand Lodge. These appointments are given in respect of the work that an individual had done in their Lodge or Chapter, for their Hall or for the Community more generally. There are not as many opportunities for gaining honours these days as the number of Freemasons has reduced over the years meaning that there are fewer honours to be given. So those who have received honours should be doubly privileged to receive them and make the most of the opportunities that they give. I should also remind you that this was probably the only free lunch that you will ever get out of Freemasonry.

I must also congratulate Nigel Johnson who has now taken over as Deputy District Chairman of Audenshaw District, and wish him well for the future. Nigel previously served as District Charity Steward at Audenshaw. He was in that post when we had a wonderful Charity Giving Evening at Audenshaw last April. It was the best such evening we’ve had, and we’ve been doing them for the last ten years. More people than ever came along to receive the grants that Lodges and Chapters had given to them. However, it also gave them the opportunity to talk about their own particular causes. It was the very first time that we have had our own Provincial Grand Master with us, along with the Civic Mayor of Tameside, and both of them were hugely impressed first of all by the amount that we gave, but also by the number of people who turned up from so many different organisations. It was a truly memorable occasion.
That event was matched by the District Community Open Day and Fun Day that we held at Ashton in the middle of July. I know that many of you will have been there, there were hundreds of people there showcasing their own groups and communities, their own Charities and causes. I spoke to the Scouts who were particularly glad that they had come along not only because it had given them the opportunity to attract future scouts, but also because it had allowed them to attract three possible adult leaders. Both of these events made us all very proud to be Freemasons, for we had brought that enormous crowd together. So, thank you to all those of you who worked so hard to make both of those events happen.

This has been a very busy year for Freemasonry. As part of our Tercentenary we have had many different events. Grand Lodge created a lot of publicity for us through the series of programmes that were shown on Sky Television. It put us in a very positive light overall and has certainly attracted a lot of interest in joining Freemasonry. They also organised the tributes to those Freemasons and Soldiers who won the Victoria Cross in the First World War. I don’t know if you know, but 628 Victoria Crosses were awarded in the First World War and 64 of them were Freemasons, which is better than 10%. You might also have heard of the occasion when 6 Victoria Crosses were won before Breakfast, well, three of those were Freemasons. There was a lot of coverage of this in the press, and that is also very positive coverage for us.
The last Tercentenary event that I want to talk about was the Tercentenary Service in Manchester Cathedral. I was particularly moved by the sermon given by our Provincial Chaplain, Canon Richard Hawkins. What impressed me most of all was when we had Freemasons representing three great World Religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, who each read a portion of their Holy Law, actually the same reading, in English, Arabic and Hebrew. It was a reading that expressed one of the core tenets of Freemasonry. It was a very moving sermon.
So moving on from all of that positive publicity, what we now need to do is to introduce more men to Freemasonry. We’ve raised the profile of Freemasonry, now we need to attract more people into it. There will never be a better time to tell our friends, the husbands and wives of our friends, the friends of our friends, to take the opportunity of coming along with us to a social occasion and to enjoy it with us. That’s the way that we are going to be able to attract more people into Freemasonry.
Thank you very much to everyone who has been involved in today’s reception. Thank you to all of you for the work you do for Freemasonry and particularly the Ladies without whom we would not be able to do what we do. If we can’t keep you happy, we have no chance of keeping anyone happy. Thank you very much for your support, we really do appreciate it. Finally, I thank you all for your support and, when it does eventually come, I hope that you all have a very Happy Christmas.”
The text and all of the photographs, either posted in this article, or available through an online photo gallery, are the work of, and copyright to
©WBro Kevin Hall, District Communications Officer for Ashton & Mossley District.
All of the photographs taken at this event are available in a Gallery on Google Photos at the following address https://photos.app.goo.gl/K5SthF8tvudTR1IT2