The 71st Annual Festival was held in the Province of Somerset on Saturday ISt September, hosted by Taunton School Lodge No. 8215 in their Golden Jubilee year.
The Provincial Grand Master for Somerset RW Bro C.A. Stuart Hadler was in attendance with his wife Susan and, following a gap of many years, a High Ruler, the Assistant Grand Master RW Bro Sir David Hugh Wootton, was the principal guest. He was attended by the Assistant Director of Ceremonies W.Bro. Matthew Burrows. A further 155 members, non-Masonic guests, and ladies were present.
After registration and coffee, the Festival Programme commenced with a nondenominational Service in the splendid School Chapel which has been gifted by the Wills family of Bristol in 1907. Members and guests were welcomed by the Worshipful Master of Taunton School Lodge RW Bro. David Jenkins, Past Provincial Grand Master for Somerset, and by the Rev. Jeremy Hillier PPrGChap, a member of Wellington School Lodge, who conducted the Service. In his address the WM referred to the 1004 Old Boys who had served in WW1 of which 168 had made the final Sacrifice and had their names immortalised on the School Memorial in the beautiful Science Block, which the school had built to honour its war dead. The names of 155 boys who died out of 1510 who served in WW II were subsequently added. A new Sports Pavilion was built in 1956 to commemorate those from WWII.
The FSL Annual Business Meeting was held in the Arts Centre Theatre was chaired by the FSL President VW Bro. Nigel Bramley-Howorth PGSwdB, and was attended by the AGM
The Lodge meeting was also held in the Arts Centre Theatre at which the WM welcomed the President FSL and Officers of the Federation, the AsstGM and other distinguished guests and Brethren and wished them a happy day at Taunton. The main feature of the Lodge Agenda was to receive a talk entitled ‘ The History of Grand Lodge since 1717’ from VW Bro. Roger Jago PGSwdB. This informative and very interesting talk was well-received and suitable thanks expressed by the WM.
While the Lodge was in session, the Ladies and non-Masonic guests were entertained to an excellent and amusing talk entitled ‘A Passion for Pearls’ given by Francis Benton. The proceeds from subsequent sales were donated to a school for autistic children.
Following a reception in the Old Library and Theatre Foyer, an excellent luncheon, prepared by the school catering department, was provided in the Upper Dining Room, and presided over by the Worshipful Master. Formal Toasts were proposed and a response given by the Asst GM. The WM rounded off proceedings by thanking the AsstGM for his attendance and presenting him with some traditional Somerset fare. He also thanked all the members of the Lodge for their hard work and made a special presentation to the Festival Steward, W.Bro. Mark Coray.
The WM thanked everyone for making the journey to Taunton, hoped they had enjoyed the day and would have a good journey home.