William Richard Seddon, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master for West Lancashire, celebrated 50 years as a Freemason at Preston Masonic Hall before a packed lodge room at a special meeting of Preston Guild Lodge No. 4408
Not only was Bill’s golden anniversary celebrated, the Lodge's banner was re-dedicated. The banner is traditionally re-dedicated in a year when the Preston Guild is held. This year the Lodge celebrates 90 years of existence and the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker, was present to lead the proceedings.
Peter spoke a few words before the banner was brought into the room, along with the banners of Commercial Travellers Lodge No. 3493 and Forest of Fulwood Lodge No. 6388, with whom Preston Guild amalgamated in 2004.
He then called upon Rev Graham Halsall as Provincial Grand Chaplain to give an Oration, which Graham delivered with his usual sincere style.
Peter then gave an overview of the Lodge history: 'Preston Guild Lodge was consecrated on 20 June 1922, a year in which Preston celebrated its Guild, a fact that was instrumental in deciding the name of the Lodge. This was reinforced with the dedication of the Lodge banner featuring the Victorian Preston Town Hall as its centrepiece on 16 November 1927.
'At the time of the next Guild in 1952 the Lodge marked the occasion and its 30th year anniversary with a presentation of the history of the Lodge by W Bro Pomfret. This was followed by a special festive board at which some 160 brethren dined.
'Having set the format, at the next Guild year in 1972 was marked by the consecration of Preston Guild Chapter and the Lodge celebrated its 50 years anniversary.
'The next Guild year in 1992, was marked by a special demonstration by the Burnley and District Ritual Demonstration Team circa 1759. That was combined with the Lodge's 70th anniversary which was again followed by a special banquet.
'In 2004 the Lodge amalgamated with Commercial Travellers Lodge No. 3493 and Forest of Fulwood Lodge No. 6388, whose banners will in a few moments accompany the Preston Guild banner into the Lodge.
'Preston is now celebrating its 2012 Guild year, and the Lodge its 90th anniversary. It is also Bill Seddon's golden anniversary. Bill has specifically requested that the Lodge continue with the tradition of marking the Lodge's Guild years by, on this occasion, holding a Lodge banner re-dedication ceremony prior to his celebrations.'
The banner was then re-dedicated and handed over to the Lodge Worshipful Master, Keith Jackson.
Peter then said the highlight of the evening had now arrived - to celebrate 50 years of service to Freemasonry of one William Richard Seddon.
Peter continued: 'One of my great pleasures and privileges in Freemasonry is to take the WM's chair and lead the celebrations for brethren who are celebrating 50, 60, 70 and, dare I say it, 80 years of service in and to Freemasonry. I feel that against these landmarks my own service pales into insignificance at a mere 44 years.
As Provincial Grand Master, I had anticipated that my involvement in such celebrations would, sadly, become very few and far between. I say sadly because such celebrations are always interesting and they have invariably enabled me to learn so much more about each celebrant than might otherwise be the case, and in so doing appreciate more completely the rich and fulfilling lives that they have led. As it has happened, during my first four years as ProvGM I have in fact continued to lead the celebrations for many distinguished Freemasons, and I have greatly enjoyed all of them. Tonight I have the pleasure and privilege of leading the celebrations for another distinguished brother, my good friend good friend Bill Seddon, PSGD, PAsstProvGM.'
Peter then asked the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies to place W Bro William Richard Seddon before him so that he could address him.
'Bill, was born on 21 January 1941. How appropriate that we are holding this celebration in the 2012 Preston Guild Year, because it is well known that you were born and bred in Preston, and proud of it. I too was born in Preston, and at the beginning of September this year Julie and I attended several of the Guild events. I am so pleased that the Lodge has continued with the tradition of marking the Lodge's Guild years by, on this occasion, holding a lodge banner re-dedication ceremony prior to your celebration. Indeed, I think it was Bill who specifically requested that this been done.'
Peter continued: 'Bill's overriding passion is for his wife Christine and his family, comprising two sons Andrew and David, and three grandsons and two granddaughters.
'However, brethren, unless you are aware of it, you may think that Bill is quite rational and well-adjusted, and yet he has a peculiar interest — some would say a fanciful and dreamlike interest — in Preston North End, where he has been a season ticket holder for 63 years. I suggest that the total money he has spent on season tickets over 63 years would now be sufficient to buy the club outright!
'Christine and Bill have been married for 45 years — but she is still unconvinced of the longevity of Bill's support for a football team, although she accepts that both sons and two eldest grandsons are committed supporters of Preston North End, especially with their second grandson this season being a ball boy at Deepdale for first team games!
'For over 30 years Bill has enjoyed "treading the boards" in amateur dramatics. Bill’s interest is with The Club Players at Broughton and District Club in Broughton, north of Preston, and for 27 of those years he was honorary treasurer of the Club Players.
'In 1990 he became President of Broughton and District Club in its centenary year, and that summer Christine and Bill were able to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace on a gloriously hot summer afternoon.
'Bill, belongs to the Church of Christ Church Fulwood, a member of the Parochial Church Council and Chairman of the Church Hall Building Committee which was originally charged with raising something approaching £120,000 to regenerate the Church Hall! Life has its difficulties — the committee was formed at the beginning of what turned out to be the banking crisis, but despite this much of the money has been raised, including a grant from the WLFC towards the cost of a totally refurbished disabled toilet. A previous application to WLFC in respect of other work had been rejected. If at first you don't succeed…
'Bill attended Harris Primary School in Fulwood and then Hutton Grammar School, and his first day at HGS coincided with the arrival of a new Headmaster, Charles W Lloyd, PAGDC, later Headmaster of Dulwich College.
'In the law, Bill was an old fashioned "Five years man", and served his Articles of Clerkship as a Solicitor with his father, who later introduced him into Freemasonry. Bill passed his solicitors' final examination in November 1961, two months before his 21 birthday. In those days you could not be enrolled as a solicitor until you were 21 years of age and had completed your Articles of Clerkship. Bill’s articles expired on 8 March 1962, so he was able to be enrolled the following month. I can tell you that in 1962, the 1 April fell on a Sunday, so Bill was actually admitted the next day and his first Practising Certificate is dated 2 April 1962 not on April Fools' Day!
'Much to his surprise, at the end of April 2012 Bill received a certificate from the president of the Law Society congratulating him on having been on the Roll of Solicitors for 50 years.
'And so to Freemasonry. Bill was initiated into Preston Guild Lodge on 19 September 1962 by his father, who had been Master in 1959/60. Bill himself became Master in November 1974, just two months after his father's death.'
At this point Peter said: 'I am well aware that becoming Master was both a very proud and a very sad day for you. I invite the Secretary to read out the minutes of the meeting held on 19 September 1962.'
The Secretary then read the minutes of the meeting of 19 September, 1962.
'Bill spent eight years as a Past Master until he was appointed acting ProvJGD in 1983. The following year he was appointed ProvDepGDC. He came into the Royal Arch in 1976, when he was exalted into Preston Guild Chapter later that year.
'In the Craft, Bill was appointed to Grand Rank as PAGReg in 1989, promoted to PJGD in 1997, and further promoted to PSGD in 1998. In the Royal Arch, he became PGStdB in1991, and was promoted to PAGSoj in 2000.
'From 1990 Bill served as joint Vice Chairman of the Preston Group. In those days there were two Vice Chairmen, and Peter reminded Bill that he was his junior vice chairman.
'He was appointed as Assistant to the Grand Superintendent in the Royal Arch from 1993 to 1997, with responsibility for the Chapters in the Preston and Leyland Groups. He relinquished that office on being appointed Assistant Provincial Grand Master in May 1997 from which office he retired in 2008. Initially, Bill had responsibility for the lodges in the Preston Group and then from 2003 also for those in the Chorley and District Group.
'Bill also holds high rank in several other masonic orders.'
Peter then invited the Chairman of the Preston Group, Stan Rigby, to read out the certificate in his possession.
After the citation had been read, Peter went on to say: 'Bill, over the years our paths have crossed on many occasions. In the law, where we both practised as solicitors in Preston; in Freemasonry, where you attended my initiation in 1968 in the Preston Group, in the Province, and at Grand Lodge and Supreme Grand Chapter; and as friends Bill, you are much loved and respected in every walk of life through which you have walked. I salute you as a man and a mason and I know that everyone will join me in offering warmest congratulations to you on this special night.'
The brethren retired to the festive board where Bill was delighted to be able to respond to the toast to his health.