The Lodge of Harmony No 298 held a 50th Personal Birthday celebration on Wednesday 2nd November for WBro William (Bill) Ballentine, PProvJGD.  The Lodge members turned out in strength for this celebration which was also well supported by the Rochdale District Officers led by Chairman WBro Peter Rhodes,  PProvDepGSwdB.
On such occasions it is customary to read an extract from the Lodge Meeting Minutes recording the Initiation details of a celebration – but on this occasion that was not possible.
Mr William Ballentine was working on an assignment for the Crown Agents in Zambia when he was first introduced to Lodge Luangwa No 4820 and into which, some months later, he was subsequently initiated on the 20th October 1966.  However, some 11 years later the Zambian Police raided the Lodge Room and seized all assets, including the Lodge Minute Books, and these were never returned to the Lodge.  The Lodge regrettably ceased functioning in 2001 and was erased in 2003.
After his return to the UK Bill became a Joining Member of Oldham Lodge No 5633 in 1969 where his masonic journey continued by being passed and raised in this Lodge.  Bill eventually became a Joining Member of The Lodge of Harmony No 298 on the 3rd October 1990 progressing through the various Offices with him being installed as Worshipful Master in February 1997.
Bill later introduced his cousin, WBro Norman Cooke, PProvAGDC, to The Lodge of Harmony which Norman then joined in 1999.  It was planned that Norman would have delivered a Tribute to his cousin Bill on the celebratory evening but, due to being stricken with a chest infection, the intended Tribute had to be delivered by WBro Eric Kirkbride, PAGDC.
The ceremony for Bill was conducted by WBro Peter G Hewitt, APGM, who gave an account of Bill’s travels in freemasonry and then presented Bill with his well-deserved Illuminated Certificate to the acclaim of all present.  The Director of Ceremonies for the evening was WBro Dr Simon K Archer, AGStB, ProvDepGDC.


At the Social Board the new Chef, Michael Parker, served Mushroom Soup followed by Braised Steak & Onions with all the usual trimmings.  There was a choice of deserts which complemented the preceding courses.
During the meal the Lodge arranged various little surprises for Bill including the presentation of a beautiful gold fob watch and chain suitably engraved to mark this wonderful achievement of 50 somewhat chequered years in Freemasonry.
This was a truly special evening for Bill to share with many friends and a fine tribute to WBro William Ballentine, PProvJGD.