Our Story: Back in business!

Well…. we took a major step along the road back to normality this week when we held our first Installation meeting in almost 2 years! However it was a very different occasion this year as Covid safety compliance meant that numbers attending were restricted and the Ceremony was reduced to the bare essentials in order to minimise the time in the Temple.

Freemasons Hall in South Molton was built in the second half of the 19th Century, long before anyone thought about ventilation in the face of a pandemic! Our Trustees have put members’ health and safety first, which means we are having to curtail our activities until remedial ventilation upgrades are complete.

A major departure from normal practice meant that we were unable to welcome a delegation from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire who normally attend every Installation. However rather than view this as a problem, we saw it as an opportunity. The Presiding Officer was our long serving Secretary WBro. Frank Handscombe BEM, PJGD, and the addresses were given by our VGO WBro. Barry White, and Lodge members WBro. Peter Kyle and WBro. Richard Carney.

One particular aspect of the meeting was that it marked the end of three years as Master of the Lodge for WBro. John Finch. Having already committed to carry on for a second year following the sudden resignation of his Senior Warden in 2019, Covid meant that we have been unable to elect a successor until now. In presenting a Past Master’s jewel to John, Frank Handscombe paid tribute to the way John’s leadership, stamina and determination had held the Lodge together during a very difficult period.

Frank Handscombe presenting John Finch with his Past Master’s Jewel

His monthly Zoom meetings had proved to be a vital way of maintaining the spirit and enthusiasm of the members and ensuring that when the time came, we were ready to resume our normal activities.

As is usual on these occasions, the Lodge made substantial donations to both The Province of Devonshire’s Benevolent Fund and the 2023 Festival in aid of the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Following the ceremonial part of the meeting we all repaired to the dining room where we enjoyed a sumptuous Festive Board of Tomato and Basil Soup, Roast loin of Pork (with crispy Crackling) and Apple and Blackberry Crumble with piping hot custard!

During his response to the Toast to the Province of Devonshire WBro Frank again paid tribute to the “extraordinary generosity” of the Lodge and it’s members, and passed on both the thanks and the good wishes of the Provincial Grand Master RWBro. Ian Kingsbury JP.

We now look forward to our November meeting!