Gillingham’s Franklin Road Masonic Centre was the venue on Friday 1st September for a special “Emergency” meeting of the Renham Lodge No 8211. The “emergency” in question was the Appointment and Investiture of a new Assistant Provincial Grand Master, in the person of Neil Johnstone, a Past Master of Renham Lodge.
Neil, a retired Police Officer, lives, with his wife Margaret, in Rainham, Kent. They have two children and five grand-children.
The meeting attracted over one hundred East Kent Freemasons from all parts of the Province to see their Leader, Provincial Grand Master, Geoffrey Dearing, and his team, conduct the Investiture Ceremony.
The lodge room was a magnificent sight, awash with Dark Blue and Gold regalia. As well as the Provincial Grand Master, the meeting was attended by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Peter Williams. There were also all four Assistant Provincial Grand masters, fifteen other Grand Officers and a huge contingent of supporters and friends. It prompted Terry Perkins, one of the members present, to light-heartedly comment: “…you practically needed sun glasses…”.
Before proceeding with the investiture, the Provincial Grand Master paid a fulsome tribute to outgoing Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Peter Rodd. He thanked Peter for his tireless and unstinting work in support of the Province’s Charities. He mentioned in particular the “It’s a Knock Out” event held by the Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons’ Charity earlier in the year. This event raised over £20,000 in a single day in support of Macmillan Nurses.
He then went on to express his personal thanks to Neil Johnstone for his many years of service. He mentioned in particular his recent work as Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. The Patent of Appointment was then read by the Provincial Grand Secretary, Philip South, and Neil was duly invested with his chain of office.
The Provincial Grand Master then proceeded to appoint Andrew Stevens as the new Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. Andrew is the Managing Director of an engineering company and is a member of Whitstable’s Chestfield Lodge No 9058. He lives in Herne Bay with his wife Gemma and two teenage daughters.
At the celebration dinner held after the formal meeting, the Provincial Grand Master said: “I am very much looking forward to working with both Neil and Andrew in these senior and important roles. I would also like to thank the members of the Renham Lodge for the help and assistance they have provided. It has allowed us to appoint and invest Neil in his own Lodge. Something which I am sure has made the occasion extra special for all concerned.”
Report: Richard Carney. Photos: Richard Wingett and Richard Carney