On February 9th 2018, a new lodge was consecrated at the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool by the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master for the Province of West Lancashire, Bro. James Anthony Harrison. The lodge in question is Pro Patria Lodge, No. 9952 and has been formed for serving and former members of the Armed Forces. The lodge will meet in various masonic venues on the Fylde Coast.
Having heard of this new lodge, it became an ambition for some of the members of the Lodge of Uniformed Services No. 9911 to pay a fraternal visit. As there was some considerable travelling involved for many of our members to affect this visit, careful planning had to take place.
On Friday 30th November 2019, Pro Patria met at the St Anne’s Palace, at St. Annes on the Sea and our Worshipful Master, Bro. Bob Reeves led a small deputation consisting of himself, W. Bros Peter Brookes-Tee, Bob Erett and Bro. Dennis Marks to St. Annes to visit the lodge.
On arrival, we were made very welcome by brethren of Pro Patria Lodge and by a group of brethren from the Blackburn area of East Lancashire Province.
The lodge was opened, in due form, a recording was played of a bugle fanfare by the buglers of HM Royal Marines. The Fanfare is named “Pro Patria.” Of particular interest to the brethren from 9911 was the substitution of pace sticks for D.C.’s wands. Another change from the norm is the use of a Royal Naval sailor’s cap, bearing the cap tally from HMS London, as a collection receptacle. We were informed that moves are in hand to procure headdress from the Army and Royal Air Force to complete the set.
After the usual confirming of minutes and accounts, the main business of the evening was the initiation of Mr. Roderick Farr. He is a former member of the Para Signals and the
Dartmouth Royal Naval Reserve. He was well and truly initiated in fine style by the Worshipful Master, Bro. Bob Wareham, who was assisted by brethren of the lodge in a shared ceremony.
As is to be expected among a gathering of ex-servicemen, there was a good amount of friendly banter and as usual, the honours proved to be fairly equal, although it did seem to me that the Royal Air Force, as the junior service, may have borne slightly more of the brunt of it.
On completion of the ceremony a photo shoot took place.
At the festive board, approximately 50 brethren sat down to enjoy a sumptuous dinner of soup, Roast Beef and Sticky toffee pudding. Not all on the one plate as some of us would have experienced back in the day.
Then came the toasts and speeches. Our Worshipful Master presented one of his famous sticks to the Worshipful Master of Pro Patria Lodge. It was gratefully
received and W. Bro. Wareham promised that it would find an appropriate place, probably on display at Cleveleys Masonic Hall.
The Junior Warden, W. Bro. Juan Topping proposed the toast to the visitors. W. Bro. Peter Brookes-Tee could not understand why he was selected to respond. Perhaps his highland dress caused him to stand out more than others. In any event, he did respond, with a wonderful reply to the toast.
All too soon, it was time to say our “goodbyes,” and the journey home commenced. For some, it was a few short miles and for others, a journey of a couple of hours. One thing that we all agreed on though, was that we had enjoyed the evening immensely and that we would like to do it again.
Subsequent communication with Pro Patria Lodge reveal that its brethren would very much like to arrange a reciprocal visit to the Lodge of Uniformed Services. The dates of our meetings and the programme have been sent and in due time, the necessary arrangements will be made. Let us hope that we can make regular, probably annual, visits to each other.
This was not the end of the activities of the Worshipful Master of Lodge of Uniformed Services. Having travelled down South unscathed, he took the opportunity of visiting Brigantes Lodge No. 9734. Brigantes held its regular December meeting on Saturday 1st December and Bob attended to the witness the raising of Brother Robin George. Bob’s wife, Sam joined the brethren and ladies of Brigantes Lodge at the festive board, which was the annual Christmas celebration and dinner. The two visits were both enjoyed very much by Bob and could perhaps be used as a template for future Masters to consider in the years to come, I can’t think of a better way of kicking off the festive season.