More than 80 brethren travelled from around the Province to attend the celebration meeting of Peter Connolly to mark 50 years of service to the Craft
The Provincial Grand Master said: 'Peter you are a model as a man in the community and to Freemasonry.' The meeting was held at Old Lerpoolian Lodge No. 9270 which meets at Woolton Golf Club in Woolton.
After the meeting was opened and normal lodge business was concluded the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp, entered the lodge to inform the WM that the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker, demanded admission. Peter was accompanied by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Howard Jones, five Assistant Provincial Grand Masters: Tony Harrison, Philip Gunning, Tony Bent, Mark Dimelow and Roy Skidmore, and 13 other grand officers, Woolton Group Chairman Andrew Whittle and six acting Provincial grand officers.
Accepting the gavel, Peter occupied the chair and addressed the brethren, saying: 'One of my great pleasures and privileges in Freemasonry, following my appointment as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master in 2003, has been to lead the celebrations for brethren who are celebrating 50 years, 60 years or even 70 years of service in and to Freemasonry.
'As Provincial Grand Master, I had thought that my involvement in such celebrations would, sadly, be very few and far between. Not so, in the past five-and-a-half years in office as Provincial Grand Master I have been privileged to lead the celebrations for several senior masons, including my predecessor, the late Colin Penty Wright. This is another special evening for me as I lead the celebrations for our good friend and senior mason Peter Connolly.'
Peter then commenced his address: 'Peter, you were born on 4 August 1941 in Waterloo Liverpool. Your mother Gladys and your father William Joseph, known as Bill, brought you up at Seafield, Abbotsford Road Blundellsands in a large detached house. The house had originally been built for a sea captain, not, I hasten to add, the sea captain who was destined to be in charge of the Titanic. It has now been converted into a 16-bed home for the elderly mentally and infirm.
'It is interesting what childhood memories stay with us as we grow older, and what memories come to mind as we prepare for our celebration of 50 years as a Freemason. Peter, I know that your memories are many and varied. For you those memories include: chasing ‘Fluff’ the cat up the 106 stairs to the attic, and Fluff always won! Perhaps this prepared you well for winding and other staircases, which I will refer to shortly.
'Your father germinating tomatoes in the greenhouse with a rabbit’s tail - could this be your first introduction to a ritual - playing hide and seek in the 24 various rooms/pantries and cellars - I am not sure what this prepared you for.
'I know that both of us agree that memories of our fathers are particularly special. In particular, you recall trips on the Liverpool Overhead Railway with your father on the occasional Saturdays when he was not working. As you pointed out, your father could identify every vessel by its funnel - and knew its cargo as well. The docks were then six miles long. As the Works Director of Leyland Motors - my father could identify every bus by the grill, nose or front panel!
'After Ursuline Convent and Miss Milton's Prep School, you went to Merchant Taylor's School, Crosby for three years. In November 1952, your father died suddenly, aged 46 years, a devastating loss to your family. He had just joined Fairfield Lodge No 2290 in 1949 and only just - in October 1952 - reached the stewards' list. Dr Fred Wilson, who was then a medical officer for one of the shipping lines out of Liverpool, proposed you for the RMBI School at Bushey, which you attended for two-and-a-half years. The closure of the school was proposed, but anyone about to start their GCE course was moved to another school, so that their studies would not be interrupted. You were moved to Liverpool College as a boarding scholar. You left in 1959 having GCE O and A level certificates and equally important your athletics colours.
'Although you recall your boarding school was somewhat Victorian, you nevertheless enjoyed your schooling as you put it, your schooling certainly set you up for life. Perhaps, your many friends at school helped your upbringing. These included: Nigel McCulloch (subsequently Bishop of Manchester) Malcolm Thornton (Minister for Wales under Mrs Thatcher) and a touch of Richard Stilgoe. That mixture of religion, politics and humour has served you well.
'After studying at the College of Commerce, you joined Norwest Construction as a management trainee. You did two years as an internal auditor and then joined Southerns, a national firm of timber merchants. You started up their joinery department and eventually became a manager of the substantial ‘Door and Joinery Division’, with responsibility for a turnover of £2,000,000. Following a merger with Magnet, you were appointed to the Board of Magnet Joinery Sales.
In 1985, you resigned from the board, started your own business, and quickly became the second largest supplier of spiral stairs (should I say, winding stairs) in the UK. I realise that your stair-chasing activities with Fluff had obviously given you the necessary experience in this field. But there is more: you designed, marketed and sold extruded plastic products for the newly introduced roof ventilation regulations for 22 years, retiring in 2008.
'You married in 1964, you have three children: Andrea, Stephen and Paul, and four grandchildren aged four to 14 years of age. You re-married in 1999 to Lynn, as a result you have acquired a further three grandchildren. Your great joy is not playing hide and seek with your family, but going with them on trips to Llangollen, and many other heritage and narrow gauge railways. The excitement of the railways extends to trams, and with your OAP travel card you have been seen travelling on the new Blackpool Tramway, indeed you tell me that you can go from Starrgate to Fleetwood and back, six times in one day, and free of charge! Who needs the Pleasure Beach?
'Your other interests include caravanning and fell-walking. You are now an honorary Girl Guide, supporting your wife in her 10 years as commissioner. You recall taking 140 Brownies to London on a two-day trip, and being ceremonially presented with the badge of 'Wise Owl'. Peter, you told me that you were informed later that the Wise Owl badge was given to you because the powers that be could not find a 'Know-it-All' Owl badge. Having been in the Combined Cadet Force for five years at school, you joined the Territorial Army in 1959, being commissioned in 1960. You completed your career as Captain, Acting Major. You commanded 309 Signals at Prescott, but left the TA shortly after it became the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve.
'Your love of organ and organ music are special, and you particularly enjoy the great Willis organs made in Liverpool. This includes the Willis organ in our Craft headquarters at Great Queen Street. I belong to the Parish of Preston and I am pleased to say that St George's boasts a wonderful Henry Father Willis organ, but like me, not in the first flush of youth.
'All of this gives the clear impression of a very full and enjoyable life, but as we all know there is more to relate, a great deal more.
'Peter, you entered Freemasonry in 1963 when you were initiated into Fairfield Lodge, and became its WM in 1977. You are also a joining member of Lathom Lodge No. 2229 and Lancastrian Rose Lodge No. 7811.
'Importantly, you were a founder member of Old Lerpoolian Lodge No. 9270 in 1988, and became its WM in 2010. I particularly remember the consecration of Old Lerpoolian Lodge because I was the installing Provincial Junior Grand Warden, and I recall that you were the first director of ceremonies.
'You were exalted into the Chapter of Liverpool No. 292 in 1965, being just two years after you were initiated, clearly a man on a mission, anxious to complete his journey.
'Your first Provincial rank was that of acting Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 1984. Thereafter, you served with much distinction as the vice-chairman and the chairman of the Eighth Liverpool Group. It seems a long time ago that we had eight groups in Liverpool.
'Your first appointment in Grand Lodge was PAGDC in 1988, and you were promoted in Grand Lodge to PJGD in 2008. Your first Royal Arch Provincial appointment was that of acting ProvGSN. Your first appointment in Supreme Grand Chapter was PGStdB in 1989, and you were promoted in Supreme Grand Chapter to PAGSoj in 2010.
'I salute you as man and a mason, and you have certainly served your community and Freemasonry. I have said on many occasions that Freemasonry will be judged by the kind of life we lead. And you have certainly set a very high standard in all that you have done.'
Peter Hosker then asked Andrew Whittle, Woolton Group Chairman, to read out the certificate to mark Peter Connolly’s 50 years in Freemasonry.
The assembled brethren gave him a spontaneous accolade.
The celebration in the lodge complete, the brethren adjourned to a sumptuous festive board. After the meal Peter was presented with two celebration cakes.
As is customary at celebrations in the Province a toast to the celebrant was made, on this occasion Giles Berkley proposed the toast to Peter Connolly, in a most sincere manner, but, with several insights into Peter’s life which caused some hilarity from the brethren.
After the festive board the brethren of Old Lerpoolian Lodge presented Peter with a print of their old school.