It is only now that I am finding some time to draw breath and reflect upon the almost whirlwind start which I have experienced since I began my commission as Provincial Grand Master on Thursday 4th. February.
On that day, I attended the Communication of Grand Lodge in Freemasons' Hall. Processing in at the beginning of the Meeting and taking my place in the East with other Provincial Grand Masters was certainly a memorable experience and what made it even more memorable was that when sitting in the East I could look down and see quite a number of our Brethren from this Province in attendance. It was an extremely comforting feeling to have them with "the new kid on the block" on his first day.
Earlier that morning, I had entered Freemasons' Hall with my son, my brother and the Master of Lodge Hope Bridge Castle, No. 827. The two of us (think about it) browsed around the shop, I purchased a new copy of the Constitution and Laws and resisted buying a bottle of the Grand Lodge whisky.
After attending Grand Committee, which was another new and interesting experience for me, lunch was partaken of in the premises.
The following evening, Friday 5th. February, was of course, the February Communication of Provincial Grand Lodge held within the premises of Lodge Lord Bruce, No. 1601. Again I must thank the Lodge for the excellent manner in which they hosted the meeting.
It was an absolute delight and honour for myself and my Commissioned Office-bearers to be introduced to the Brethren and presented to IPPGM, Brother Bob Scott, by Brother Tommy Duncan, in his office of Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. That memory will never fade.
In addition to the routine, but still important, business of the evening, I had the honour of paying tribute to Brother Tom Marshall, PM, Lodge Lord Bruce, No. 1601, who that evening had become the Province's newest Past Senior Provincial Grand Warden, and presenting him with his Past Senior Provincial Grand Warden's Jewel.
The rank of Honorary Senior Provincial Grand Warden was conferred upon Brother Ian Russell, MBE, PM Lodge St. John, Crofthead, No. 374, in recognition of the time and effort which he had given during his time as PG Almoner and I took great delight in thanking Ian and presenting him with his Diploma.
Another great personal and Masonic delight which I was privileged to enjoy that evening was highlighting the excellent leadership, contribution and support which Immediate Past Provincial Grand Master, Brother Bob Scott, had given to this Province during the term of his five year commission, and thereafter presenting him with his well earned and well deserved Past Provincial Grand Master's Jewel.
That evening, this Province was delighted to host a very distinguished deputation from our sister Provincial Grand Lodges, headed by Brother Alistair Marshall, Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Stirlingshire.
As would be fully expected, the Toast to the Visiting Provinces and the Toast to the Office-bearers by Brother David Rintoul, DPGM, and Brother Ronnie Gemmill, SPGM, respectively, were of an excellent standard as were their efforts during the Installation of Provincial Grand Office-bearers earlier that evening.
And so we arrive at Saturday 6th. February.
There are many important and enjoyable facets of our order which provide us with everlasting memories. Some of these, like cream, rise to the top.
One such occurred that Saturday - the 250th. Re-dedication Ceremony of Lodge Torphichen-Kilwinning, No. 13.
The principal parts of the wonderfully conducted ceremony were carried out by the Right Worshipful Depute Grand Master, Brother Ramsey McGhee, and by Brother George Kelly, Right Worshipful Substitute Grand Master, both of whom were supported with great dignity by Grand Chaplain and Grand Director of Ceremonies.
I congratulate all Brethren from Lodge Torphichen-Kilwinning, No. 13, who were involved and I am aware of the detailed and precise organisation required in undertaking such an event and applaud the input of, amongst others, Secretary, Brother Stuart Learmonth, PM, Treasurer, Brother James Walker, PM, Brother Andrew Fleming, PM, Right Worshipful Master, Brother Tom Stirling.
All arrangements were of the highest order and extremely well carried out. The Brethren from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, from this Province, from sister Provinces and, indeed, from other constitutions, could not have been anything but extremely impressed by all which transpired in the course of that afternoon.
The Brethren of Lodge Torphichen-Kilwinning, No. 13, can be extremely satisfied of the manner in which their historic milestone in their lodge's illustrious history was marked.
On Friday, 12th., accompanied by Brother Bob Scott, IPPGM, Brother George Preston, PPGM, Brother David Rintoul, DPGM, Brother Tommy Walker, PG Secretary and Brother Tom Chmylowskyj, I attended the Annual Installation of Provincial Grand Office-bearers of the Province of Midlothian, at which we were treated in a most friendly and fraternal manner, witnessing an extremely interesting ceremony.
The following afternoon, accompanied once more by members of PGL, I attended the Installation of Office-bearers of Lodge Ancient Brazen, No. 17.
This was a double celebration for Brother Eoin Poole - not only was he congratulated on being installed for his second year as Master, but also on, only two days previously, becoming a father for the first time, son James joining the family.
Provincial Visitations to Lodges in order to present the Annual Report always give us the opportunity to support each other in terms of bringing in a sizeable Deputation to the host Lodge. Brother Bob Scott, IPPGM, and previous PGMs, have been privileged to head large Deputations and I am grateful that this is continuing. At my first Annual Visitation as PGM, 39 Brethren comprised the Deputation to Lodge Lord Bruce, No. 1601, where a very fine FC Degree was witnessed.
On Monday 15th. February, 55 Brethren were in the Deputation to Lodge Polkemmet, No. 927. That was another special evening, Brethren. In addition to witnessing a faultless EA Degree, the Brethren present now have the memory of seeing two highly respected and loved Brethren receiving their 50 Years Diplomas. Brother Jim Hilditch, PM, also PPGM, and Brother John Lambie, received undoubtedly well deserved plaudits with reference to the manner in which they had promoted all which is good and admirable within our order during the past 50 years. Brother Leo Ferris, RWM, paid tribute to both Brethren before inviting Brother Norman Hyam, PM, to expand upon the praise and make his own observations. This was significantly memorable since Brother Hyam was the Master who initiated both Brethren in 1966. I was delighted and privileged to add my contribution and express my respect to both Brethren on behalf of Provincial Grand Lodge before both distinguished Brethren received their Diplomas.
Brethren, my week concludes with attendance at the Almoners' Committee Meeting at 10.00am. on Saturday then it is off to the Installation of Office-bearers of Lodge St. James, Harthill, No. 590, later that afternoon.
This has certainly been an extremely interesting and memorable start to my commission, a start during which I have witnessed and received the support and good wishes from the Brethren here in Linlithgowshire and for which I am truly grateful