With a long family history of Freemasonry, it was inevitable that Arthur Steven Varley – always known as Steven – would become a Freemason himself
‘My grandfather was the fourth initiate into St Werburga Lodge, No. 4147, in Derby when it was consecrated in 1920,’ says Steven. ‘He initiated my father, who in turn initiated me in 1983. I am third generation, and it was a fair cert I was going to become a Freemason. I became Worshipful Master in 1994 and had my first Provincial acting rank in 2001. I was then Provincial Junior Warden in 2006, Past Assistant Grand Registrar in 2011, APGM in 2012, Acting Senior Grand Deacon in 2013 and Provincial Grand Master in 2015. I am the fourth PGM to come out of the St Werburga Lodge in its 100 years.'
What inspires you about Freemasonry?
The way in which Freemasons always rise to the occasion to provide support and assistance, not only to Freemasons but to the wider community, no matter what the circumstance. Also, the camaraderie and friendships forged.
Has Freemasonry improved your life?
It grounds you and creates a moral framework with which to live your life by.
Most memorable part of your initiation?
Hearing my father’s voice and then, when I was able to look around, realising just how many members of Derby and Nottingham RFC, my old school – Denstone College – and Derby Rowing Club were present.
Is there a hero in life you aspire to?
Hero is overused these days. I have several people who I admire or who have influenced my life. Lord Denning, the former Master of the Rolls, was never worried that his judgements might not be universally liked, and was his own man. John Dawes and Willie John McBride, former captains of the British Lions, for their quiet, calm but firm leadership qualities. Sir Colin ‘Pinetree’ Meads was definitely his own man. My late father, W Bro Arthur Varley, influenced me greatly in both my home life and career as well as being my guide in Freemasonry. I wish I had listened more closely to him. Then there is RW Bro Martin Jones, a past Derbyshire PGM, who was tremendously supportive to me after my father’s death.
Is there advice that you live your life by?
Be your own man.
What is your favourite hobby?
Rugby. I played as hooker for New Brighton, Derby and Derbyshire while at university and then spent the rest of my senior career playing for Nottingham and the county championship side of Notts, Lincs and Derby (The Three Counties). Injury ended my career in 1984 but I continued to be involved in a small coaching capacity at Nottingham and Derby and as a spectator. I have been a vice president of Derby for many years. I enjoy watching my son play for Derby Bucks, which is a Mixed Ability side and which the Derbyshire Freemasons are proud to sponsor.
Which book would you recommend?
The Lord of the Rings. I used to read it on long coach trips to away games. I’d also recommend the Bernie Gunther detective novels by Philip Kerr and the Inspector Montalbano novels by Andrea Camilleri.
Where would you most like to visit?
Cuba, before it gets too modernised. Also New Zealand (for rugby and The Lord of the Rings), Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Sicily, and to travel on the Ghan (the passenger train from Adelaide to Darwin).
Who is your favourite band?
I have an eclectic taste in music ranging from the Beach Boys and Fleetwood Mac through to Tina Turner and Iron Maiden. My favourite band has to be The Beach Boys, but Albatross by Fleetwood Mac is my all-time favourite number.