Centenary Celebration

Lodge St Olaf 1188 was founded in 1919 by a group of local men, many returned to the area from the 1st World War.

The first official meeting was held on 4th May 1919, and on the 11th May 2019, the Lodge celebrated its 100th anniversary with a commemoration dinner and the donation and dedication of a commemoration bench which has been cited in the heart of the village for the convenience of all.

WRM George Hall was at the helm throughout the organisation and on the ceremony itself, and below is his personal reflection of that significant day in the Lodge’s history.

Lodge St.Olaf Centenary Celebration; A personal reflection by R.W.M. George Hall

When I became Right Worshipful Master of Lodge St Olaf 1188 in November 2017 I decided that we as a Lodge should do something momentous to mark our Centenary in May 2019.

Having researched the Lodge as best I could, I discovered that the Lodge initially met within the Port Erroll village Hall in Cruden Bay and continued to hold the lodge meetings there until the Simmers of Hatton Stables on Erroll Lane became available in 1969.

I felt it only right then to commemorate our centenary in the same building where it all began.
Arrangements were made to book the Hall for the auspicious occasion. After discussion it was agreed to hold the Consecration Ceremony on 11th May 2019 rather than on 4th May which would have been the actual centenary. This was to allow Brethren from Lodge St Olaf 1188 and brethren from Lodge St John Stoneyburn 1186 to attend each other’s respective celebrations as a strong bond had developed between the Masters of both Lodges.

I then put forward a proposal to the Lodge to commemorate the achievement by making a magnanimous gesture to the village of Cruden Bay by donating a memorial bench to the village.
A suitable manufacturer was sourced, and various designs discussed until it was agreed on the final design for the bench. A crowd funding page was subsequently set up and donations flooded in from all over the United Kingdom. In December 2018 I visited the manufacturer to finalise things.

So with the Village Hall booked and the village memorial bench being manufactured, time to sit back and relax? No! Although the village Hall was booked, the kitchen couldn’t cope with the numbers I envisaged would be attending as it only had a domestic cooker. This was when my stress levels started to rise! I had to find a caterer who would not only agree to do the catering but would have the ability to provide off site cooking facilities. I phoned and emailed numerous outside caterers but could find none who would be willing to take on the project of. Eventually a Caterer regularly used at Masonic events in the Peterhead Masonic Temple agreed to provide the catering and more importantly understood the logistics involved and took on the project comforting me at every meeting that ‘It will all be fine on the day’. A Menu was agreed and that was another task ticked of the check list. The next issue was the table ware; I had to source a supplier as again the Hall didn’t have sufficient quantities. Then one morning I received a phone call from my very good friend Charles Iain Wolrige Gordon, the Immediate Past Grand Master Mason of Scotland who offered to supply the table ware for the occasion, his kind offer was snapped up without hesitation. Another task of the list completed.

In discussion with the Provincial Grand Master of Aberdeenshire East it was agreed that the Provincial Grand Lodge would officiate the re-dedication of Lodge St Olaf.
Time now to plan the format of the day, write the programme of events, and design the tickets and source a printer..
The fund raising for the bench was by now complete and the payment forwarded to the manufacturer.

As the day edged ever closer, my stress levels increased accordingly. The Bench manufacturer repeatedly made excuses and broke numerous promises on the estimated time of delivery. With the event now just a matter of a few short weeks away my stress was sky high, I was ready to walk away from organising the Centenary! Then after numerous phone calls the bench was delivered at the end of April just two weeks before the event.

So that was it, Hall booked, caterers booked, Provincial Grand Lodge booked, Table ware booked, bench ready to be placed, All tickets sold out, ceremony rehearsals carried out. Raffle prizes sourced and piper booked.

I could do no more except wait for the day to arrive, On Friday 10th May 2019, along with some brethren who kindly volunteered; we transferred the Lodge furniture to the hall and quickly transformed it to Lodge St Olaf. Time now to visit the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel and meet and greet some of the visiting brethren who were attending the event the following day and to have a well-earned pint or three!

Well a very sunny Saturday 11th May finally arrived, it was an early start for me, having to open up for the caterer and her staff, place the reserved signs on various seats for the visiting dignitaries, and make final adjustments to the seating plan. Then home, shower, change and straight back to the Hall to meet the visitors as they started to arrive. Hoping all my timings worked.
The Lodge was tyled at 1300 hours after all the photographs were taken and I took my place in the East.

The re dedication Ceremony was carried out in a very slick and professional manner by Provincial Grand Lodge and was a joyous experience. After the ceremony The Brethren gathered outside the hall and the first masonic Parade in Cruden Bay commenced, the procession, left at 1500 hours and made its way behind the lone Piper via Serald Lane pausing outside the current Lodge building then onwards the Doctors surgery where the Lodge memorial bench was located, here the Bench was consecrated by the Provincial Grand Chaplain David Wymess , the bench was officially presented to the Village by the Provincial Grand Master Brother Ronald Simpson and accepted on behalf of Cruden Bay by Mr Hugh McIntyre Chairperson of the Community Association.
Whilst this was happening, the catering staff assisted by my wife set the tables for the banquet.

After a photo opportunity with the bench, the brethren formed up and paraded back to the Hall for a well-earned hot and delicious meal, and speeches.
When the festivities ended and brethren and guests made their way to their respective homes, all that was left to do was for my wife Annette and I to return the Hall, pack up the seats and tables and return the hall to its former glory.

Although planning and organising the centenary event for Lodge St Olaf 1188 was one of the most stressful times of my life, I am very proud to have produced a very successful event which was enjoyed by all who attended. I get a very warm feeling every time I pass the memorial bench and the wonderful floral display at it kindly donated by the Horticultural Society. If I am ever remembered for anything I hope it’s for the memorial Bench.

R.W.M. Bro. George Hall