THERE has been a change in personnel among the freemason groups in the Furness and Lancaster area as David Grainger stepped down from his role as senior figure.

At the annual meeting of West Lancashire freemasons Barrow resident Mr Grainger was replaced by Keith Kemp from Morecambe.

The groups are two of 19 in the largest masonic province in the country.

Mr Kemp was installed in his new role by the head of West Lancashire freemasons Tony Harrison in front of 1,200 masons at the Opera House in Blackpool.

"David has been my representative in the Furness and Lancaster areas for five years and has given unstinting service," said Mr Harrison.

"In Keith I have an experienced replacement who will continue his good work."

For several years Mr Kemp has been the director of ceremonies for West Lancashire and overseen the formalities at the annual meeting and on other important occasions.

Masons from throughout the masonic province of West Lancashire from Liverpool, Stockport, Hawkshead and all places in between were at the meeting.

They were joined by distinguished guests from other areas including the head of Cumberland and Westmorland Freemasons Bill Bewley.

The meeting was addressed by Paul Crockett who is the national fund raising officer for the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The Foundation offers support to Masons and their families who may be in need.

Following the formalities of the Opera House it was time to discard Masonic regalia and enter the Winter Gardens were some 650 masons enjoyed a celebratory meal. Somewhat appropriately, as both Tony Harrison and Keith Kemp, reside in Morecambe the starter was potted Morecambe Bay shrimps.