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Most Worshipful Brother Mark Winger, Grand Master, performs part of the rededication cere mony in the West End Hall lodge rooms.

by Claire Allison

In a ceremony replete with ritual, Freemasons rededicated the lodge rooms in Timaru’s West End Hall on Saturday.

Almost two years since a fire gutted the hall, ousting the four lodges that used the adjoining lodge rooms, Freemasons and their spouses from the Midland district and further afield gathered to mark the event. Most Worshipful Brother Mark Winger, Grand Master of New Zealand, conducted the ceremony.

The West End Hall complex, including the newly-created Lodge Rooms, was opened in 2008, bringing together on one site the Lodge of St John 1137, Caledonian Lodge 16, Lodge Timaru 196 and Koranga Lodge 197.

After the June 13, 2016 fire, the lodges, along with other building users, relocated while the facility was rebuilt. The hall reopened in November last year.

Saturday’s ceremony is carried out on rare occasions; when a new lodge rooms is built, or, in circumstances similar to those in Timaru.

Grand Master Winger called on those present to spread the word of Freemasonry.

“If we are going to get men of calibre to join Freemasonry, we need to talk about it, we need to speak up about Freemasonry, and if we do that, the future of Masonry will be looking bright.”

Special guests at the service were members of the Timaru Fire Brigade’s Blue Watch, who were first to arrive at the scene of the fire.

Midland District Grand Master Peter Smith presented Senior Station Officer Garry Parker with a donation of $3000, to be used to install smoke alarms in the homes of the poor and needy.

Mr Parker said he had attended three fatal fires in his career, and smoke alarms, while not preventing fires, gave householders early warning and the chance to escape.

“I’d rather go into houses and put these in than go into houses and pull bodies out.”