Skelmersdale Mark 141 and its anchored Royal Ark Mariner Lodge have witnessed a major change in fortunes over the past 18 months. Committee meetings to discuss the future had been held, with fears the lodge would close. Skelmersdale Lodge was founded in 1871 and It was argued strongly that it should remain open and celebrate its 150th year in 2021. The same year as the Festival. Hard work by its existing members and help from the Deputy Provincial Grand Master and acting officers of the year turned the fortunes of the lodge around. 6 acting officers of the year joined both the Mark and RAM Lodges with most taking office almost immediately. Both Lodges are now in a far stronger position than ever, with the members enjoying their new friendships and the new offices they have taken in the Lodge.
Skelmersdale Mark Lodge celebrated its Installation meeting at 6:30 pm on Tuesday 18th February at the Masonic Hall Ashton under Lyne. This was preceded however by the RAM Meeting at 6:00 pm to appoint officers not able to attend the RAM Installation. The Assistant Provincial Grand Master W.Bro Gerald Noel Howard Young PGJD was in attendance and was greeted by the members present. The Worshipful Master Bro. Peter Cole opened the lodge and ably conducted the business on the summons. W.Bro Andrew Hickson was appointed as Director of Ceremonies and W.Bro Bob Summers as Junior Warden. There was also a ballot for a joining member, W.Bro Stephen Loofe who is a member of Constitution RAM lodge 949 which proved successful, and Stephen was admitted to the Lodge room. The Commander for the ensuing year was elected, that being the incumbent Bro. Peter Cole who remains in office for a further year. All other business was concluded in a timely manner and the lodge was closed at 6:30 pm.
The trappings of the RAM lodge were removed, and the Installation in the Mark degree commenced. The Assistant Provincial Grand Master was welcomed to the Mark Degree meeting and once again greetings were offered by the brethren. The Worshipful Master offered the gavel, which was skilfully returned by the APGM. The business of the evening, being similar to that in the RAM was conducted, and W.Bro Stephen Loofe welcomed to Skelmersdale Mark lodge as a joining member. The Secretary proposed a notice of motion that the lodge would ballot for a new candidate and that a ceremony of advancement would take place at an additional meeting date to be confirmed.
The Worshipful Master Bro Peter Cole then conducted a first-rate installation ceremony of a past master in the Mark Degree and installed W.Bro Bob Summers as the Worshipful Master of the Lodge for its 149th year. The officers of the Lodge were all appointed and invested for the coming year with only one office not filled. A long way from 12 months previous. Looking around the lodge room it was plain to see that the members were happy to be in attendance and the level of ceremonial was exceedingly high. Confidence had returned and a relaxed atmosphere was evident in the Lodge room.
One item on the Summons stood out and that was Donations to Charity. W.Bro Donald Crawshaw, chairman of the Trustees of the Arthur Lomax Fund, stood to deliver several cheque donations to various local charities and one to the 2021 Festival. This cheque was handed to the Assistant Provincial Grand Master W.Bro Gerald Noel Howard Young PGJD in an envelope and Donald went on to explain the origins of the donation and the role he and other trustees had taken in getting to this very point. The envelope was opened and the APGM, visibly taken by the amount, announced the sum of £5000.00 for the 2021 Festival, the very year Skelmersdale was due to celebrate its 150th. W.Bro Young then went on to announce that with this donation Skelmersdale Lodge would achieve the status of Grand Patron Diamond for the 2021 Festival and that we were the first lodge in the Province of East Lancashire to do so. What an achievement.
The festive board as expected, was a lively affair with the members enjoying a hearty dinner of beef and all the trimmings. The IPM who is a keen gardener produced a large jar of his homemade horseradish sauce, which was swiftly passed around the tables. The Assistant Provincial Director of Ceremonies Steven Boyle conducted the toasts and wine taking and kept us all under his control for the majority of the evening. The Lodge Director of Ceremonies W.Bro Andrew Hickson, who was in office as DC for his very first time, then took over his duties and the Tylers toast concluded the social gathering. On reflection, it was an amazing transformation for Skelmersdale Lodge. Facing closure one year, then going on to welcoming six new joining members in 2019, a joining member and a new candidate to the degree in 2020 and the lodge being first to donate to Gold Patron Diamond status. Confidence has returned and there is a buzz in the lodge. If this is what you are looking for in a Mark lodge you wouldn’t go far wrong in considering membership of Skelmersdale Mark 141.