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The Travelling Keystone Returns Home

Having started its journey at Bond of Friendship Mark Lodge No. 1576 in November 2016, the Travelling Keystone has now been claimed back by members of the Lodge. At Redhill Mark Lodge in Croydon on 9th January 2020, five members of the Bond of Friendship Mark Lodge; W.Bro. Norman Jones, the Worshipful Master, W.Bro. John Hardy, W.Bro. Chris George, W.Bro. Mike Neville and Bro. Mark Tatum, made up the biggest 'Raiding Party' and claimed back the prize.

The Mark meeting was preceded by a Royal Ark Mariner Lodge meeting where W.Bro. Martin Fowler acting as Commander ably discharged the duties of that office. W.Bro. Paul Fitzgerald, RAMGR, presented a Royal Ark Mariner Certificate to Bro. Ender Soyuak who is proving a positive addition to the Order.

The Provincial Grand Master RW. Bro. Ian Clark had a busy day. First representing Surrey MMM in an event at Christopher Children’s Hospice in Guildford prior to coming to Croydon for the Redhill Mark meeting. There the Advancement of John Lyons and Gary Billington was carried out by an excellent team led by the Master W.Bro. Tony Taylor, which included some Visitors. W.Bro. Mike Neville who acted as Senior Overseer and W.Bro. Terry Carpenter acting as Senior Deacon. The two Candidates were obligated together. After W.Bro. Tony had overseen John's passage through the quarries. W.Bro. Paul took the Chair and saw Gary through them, and then took both Candidates to the end of the ceremony, where W.Bro. Tony welcomed them into the Lodge, and RW. Bro. Ian gave a welcome into the Province.

In addition to the new Members, the Lodge was delighted to see the return of Bro. Michael Lyons to the Lodge. Michael had to withdraw from the Lodge several years ago due to commitments elsewhere. These have now eased, and on returning to Redhill Lodge Mike brought his father, John, into the Order. After a lean spell, Redhill has now received five new members into the Lodge within the past year.

Before the meeting closed, W.Bro. Mike led a raiding party for the Keystone from his Lodge, Bond of Friendship (a most inappropriate name for a Lodge attacking a genuinely friendly Lodge like Redhill! This act of daylight robbery was almost prevented at the banquet, when at the appropriate time the Provincial Grand Master got in quick and said that it was actually Rose Mark Lodge who were going to take it!! This unsurprisingly caused a great deal of angst among the Bond of Friendship raiders (we swear its leader and head honcho, W.Bro. Mike was in tears!!) So it was fortunate that, the Provincial Grand Master took pity on them and in an act of true Masonic charity withdrew his claim!

The Travelling Keystone Returns Home
Consequently, at the banquet, the Master of Bond of Friendship Mark Lodge, W.Bro. Norman Jones was presented with the Keystone by Redhill Lodge's Master, Big Tony. However, as W.Bro. Paul is the Official Visitor Designate to Bond of Friendship Lodge, they should anticipate he will remember the war party they sent to raid his Lodge....so beware guys, there maybe low marks (no pun intended) coming your way when he makes his Official Visit.

As W.Bro. Norman Jones received the Travelling Keystone from W.Bro. Tony Taylor, the Master of Redhill Mark Lodge, there was a spontaneous outburst of a Mark version of the football song, "It's coming home, it's coming home, the Keystone's coming home!”

The Travelling Keystone Returns Home
At the banquet W.Bro. Tony thanked everyone for attending, with a special vote of thanks to those Visitors who stepped in and assisted in the ceremony. In proposing the toast to the visitors, W.Bro. Paul expressed his appreciation. He also proposed the toast to the newly Advanced Brethren. In doing so Paul first noted the Lodge’s pleasure in seeing Bro. Michael rejoin. He also provided some background information on Bro. John, indicating that both father and son would be considerable assets to the Lodge. Paul went on to indicate the same with Gary, who had asked him if he could obtain a US $10 bill signed by the President, and present it to him on the day. Gary being unaware that it is illegal to deface currency, actually ended up with something better... a signed picture which was duly presented to him. Apparently Gary is a bit hard up (or so he says) so Paul put a US $20 bill inside the frame (double the amount originally requested). Some might say Gary had to be bribed to join the Mark Degree and Redhill Lodge? But of course, one could not possibly comment!

With the Tyler unable to dine, an extremely enjoyable, and entertaining evening, concluded with the rare occurrence of the Tyler’s Toast being given by the Master!

The Travelling Keystone Returns Home
The Travelling Keystone can be raided from Bond of Friendship Mark Lodge at their meeting in Croydon on the morning of Saturday 18th January. There will be an Advancement Ceremony and the Festive Board is a two-course lunch. More details from the Secretary, W.Bro. Mike Neville, at mrmikeneville@aol.com.

Article by W.Bro. Commr. Paul D. Fitzgerald AAC (USA) AFA (USAF) and W.Bro. Mike Neville. Photos by W.Bro. Norman Jones