As we now find ourselves just a handful of days from the final meeting of our season, at which our current Master Elect will be installed into the chair of King Solomon, I find myself reflecting on my own time as Master of the lodge, which seems to have passed in the blink of an eye.
I was installed as WM of Loddon Lodge back in May 2015, which was the last meeting before our long summer break. Plenty of time then to spend lots of late nights and early mornings poring over that little blue book – or so you might think! Life, of course, often gets in the way.
Realisation that a new Masonic season looms usually begins to set in during August, when the members of Loddon Lodge, together with our families and friends, enjoy an annual summer BBQ and garden party. As well as being a wonderful social event, this is an excellent opportunity to kick-start fundraising for the WM’s chosen charity. Thanks to the generosity of the 115 people present, the lodge raised a magnificent £1700. All this and the new season was yet to get underway.
At our first meeting of the season, back in October, we threw ourselves in at the deep end by starting off with a third degree ceremony. We followed this up in November with a second degree, and December a first.
With the Masonic business for the calendar year now complete, we were then able to prepare for the usual festivities.
The first Christmas-period social event was our annual ‘Friends of Loddon’ lunch. This is held every December at the Basingstoke Masonic Centre, for the widows of any of our deceased members. We are always grateful to be able to share some festive cheer with so many long-term friends of the lodge.
The Basingstoke Centre’s annual Carols Concert at All Saints Church was then enjoyed by the members of each of the various Basingstoke lodges and their families, and it’s always a pleasure to see the smiles on the children’s faces upon meeting Father Christmas (the real one, I’ve little doubt!) at the Masonic Centre immediately afterwards.
As we found ourselves in the opening days of 2016, a very special privilege was bestowed on Loddon Lodge; at our January meeting we had the great pleasure of Passing a member of Ariel Lodge 8166, based in Andover. This had the dual benefit of allowing Ariel to avoid conducting a double ceremony and giving Loddon something special to do at our meeting, as until this was arranged, we’d had a gap in our programme. It came about at the suggestion of Loddon’s Visiting Officer, who is a member of Ariel Lodge. This was a tremendous experience and is, we hope, the start of a great relationship between our two lodges. Inter-lodge collaboration such as this really should be more commonplace; I can see no negative aspects.
For our February meeting, we were fortunate to secure the valuable services of WBro Tony Ayres, Provincial Orator for the Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight. WBro Ayres delivered a most enlightening lecture on the subject of ‘Gonfalonic Symbolism in Masonry’, which was warmly received and enabled all present to make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge. Having this break from ceremonies in February gave us all ample time to take stock and to polish our ritual in readiness for our March meeting, at which we conducted another second degree ceremony, our third Passing of the season.
Next in the calendar was our Ladies Festival, a one-nighter at Audleys Wood in Basingstoke. This was an evening of food, wine, live music, and great company in beautiful surroundings. The generosity of those brethren, ladies and gentlemen present resulted in a further £1130.31 being raised in support of this year’s charity. Truly humbling stuff.
April is traditionally when Loddon hosts its annual Past Masters’ night, and this year was no exception. The brethren were treated to a superb ‘Festival of Ritual’ which was masterminded and led by our Director of Ceremonies, WBro Templeton, who conducted proceedings from the chair. This was arranged as a series of short lectures punctuated by Q&A sections, across all three degrees, around aspects of rarely-heard ritual. Yet another daily advancement – we are beginning to make a habit of this!
And so we now turn our attention to the upcoming May meeting, Installation, which for Loddon Lodge marks both the closing of this Masonic season and the beginning of a new chapter in the history of our lodge. I feel certain that my successor will have a wonderful time during his year as WM and that although he may find his year to be demanding of his time and energy, above all he can expect it to be both enjoyable and rewarding.
Sitting in the East provides a unique and fascinating vantage point over the workings of the lodge. I have watched the Officers and brethren of this lodge working together as a team, in the spirit of friendship and shared experience. Serving as Worshipful Master of Loddon Lodge has been nothing short of a privilege, and I can only echo what I have so often been told – the time passes all too quickly.
On behalf of the brethren of Loddon Lodge, may you have much health and happiness over the summer break.
WBro B. Waring
Worshipful Master, 2015-2016