The Ormskirk Masonic Hall was filled to capacity to celebrate the 75th anniversary in Freemasonry of Ernest Richard McKay (Richie) who has reached the wonderful age of 103 years and is the oldest mason in the Province of West Lancashire
Maghull Lodge No. 7190 welcomed 67 members and guests to this auspicious occasion. The regular meeting was opened by WM Peter Yearsley with a very warm welcome to all attending. After the usual lodge business was completed, Malcolm Bell, Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, entered and informed the brethren that the Assistant Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning was without and demanded admission.
Philip then entered in a colourful procession led by Malcolm. Philip was accompanied by Frank Umbers Ormskirk and District Group Chairman, Grand Officers Roy Worthington and Jim Charnock, along with other Provincial and acting Provincial Grand Officers.
Having accepted the gavel Philip asked Malcolm to place Richie before him. It was with great enthusiasm that Philip said how much he had been looking forward to the evening and having the privilege of celebrating with, and telling, Richie’s story.
Richie was born on 6 November 1910 in the military town of Aldershot, where the family lived in the barracks. His father was in the army and served in the South African war where he was promoted to the rank of captain in the Royal Field Artillery. Philip said that looking back to the beginning of this decade, George V became King of England, and other famous people born in the same year included Jacques Cousteau, Mother Teresa and David Niven.
On the outbreak of the first world war Philip said Richie’s family moved to Hillsborough in Sheffield and then a further move to Aintree when his father was posted to the Royal Army Ordinance Corps in Bootle.
It was here that Richie experienced every boy’s dream of riding in a first world war tank. Richie attended Longmoor Lane Secondary school.
On leaving school Richie gained employment at a colliery and shipping agents, on the magnificent wage of five shillings a week, until the business closed following the general strike. By this time Richie had joined the territorial army and decided as a job to join the regular Army.
Having joined the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders he found himself in Jordan, a short time later at the start of the second world war he was posted to Alexandria with the rank of warrant officer II. Richie also saw action in Tobruk which was under siege by Rommel, before returning to Cairo. Whilst there, Richie having joined Freemasonry in 1939 spent time visiting many lodges.
Philip continued saying that on receiving a commission to lieutenant, Richie was posted back to England. In 1943 he was promoted to captain in the royal army service corp. In 1944 together with his company Richie arrived in Normandy just after the D-Day landings where in the port of Dieppe he and his men assisted in the unloading of supplies for the front.
In 1945 Richie returned to the UK and on the 9 May married Betty Nuttall who was the daughter of one of the founders of Maghull Lodge. Betty and Richie were blessed with two daughters, Allison and Lindsay.
After the war Richie remained with the NAAFI working from the head office in York as the head of supplies for the north.
In 1958 Richie started his own business the Lancashire Embroidery Company with a factory in Kirkby and a work force of 30, being a major supplier of embroidery work to all the armed forces. Richie’s daughters both joined the business and retired in their 60s. Richie continued working and only retired at the age of 97 when the firm was sold!
Richie enjoyed many caravanning holidays with Betty, particularly in the south of France. Sadly Betty passed away just a few years ago but he said that he is still well looked after by his daughters.
Richie enjoys a very active life which includes walking and his greatest love playing golf. He is a member of Ormskirk Golf Club which he has enjoyed for 58 years and has the honour of a challenge cup named after him. Philip said that Richie described his life in these terms: 'If I am not working, I am playing golf'. On his 100 birthday not only did he receive a telegram from the Queen, he also received letters from two of the greatest golfers of all time, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer (who incidentally is a mason).
Richie was initiated on 12 March 1939 into Lodge of the Holy City – Jerusalem No. 1372, Scottish Constitution, and raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason on 19 October. He was also exalted into United Services Royal Arch Chapter No. 631 on 15 October 1942 Cairo, being made a life member in 1946.
Richie attended the consecration meeting of Maghull Lodge No. 7190 at the Adelphi Hotel on 25 November 1952, as a guest of his father-in-law and a month later Richie was proposed and admitted as the first joining member of the lodge.
In 1965 Richie became WM and during his year in office he performed multiple ceremonies. At this time the meeting room closed down and the members made the decision to move to the Ormskirk Group. Richie said that it was the best move they ever made. Whilst working Richie had the honour of designing and presenting a magnificent 50 year anniversary banner to the lodge.
Being a frequent visitor to Lathom Abbey Lodge No. 6286 Richie joined on 1 April 1979 and has been a loyal and regular attendee ever since. Richie was promoted in 1989 to PPrGSupWks in recognition of 50 years in Freemasonry. On the 19 October 1999 Richie received further promotion to the rank of PPrJGW. Richie also holds high ranks in other masonic orders and Philip read out a letter of congratulations from Peter Connolly a PrGM in one of those Orders as Ritchie has been a member for 74 years in that Order.
During the evening Philip read out several letters of congratulations including one from the present WM of the Lodge of the Holy City – Jerusalem, also one from Steven Reid, Philip Gardner and Peter Hosker the Provincial Grand Master of the Province of West Lancashire.
Philip then asked Frank to read out the celebration certificate before he formally presented it to Richie. Philip concluded by saying that he hopes to be in office long enough to see Richie celebrate his 80th anniversary.
At the exceptional age of 103 years Richie stands proud in a lodge that can only admire his fortitude and longevity. He retains a remarkable recollection for ritual, often playing a very active role in the proceedings.
Richie has met every challenge presented to him and remains very committed to Freemasonry. Every mason in the Ormskirk Group wish Richie the very best for his continued masonic career and hope he has many more years of active service in the Craft.
Further celebrations continued at the festive board when Richie had the opportunity of warmly thanking everyone for their support and good wishes. He was then presented with a bottle of his favourite tipple and a 75 year lapel pin from the members of Maghull Lodge. This presentation concluded a most memorable and emotional evening.
Southport Masonic Hall was the venue for a centenary celebration for Southport Emulation Lodge No. 3675, and on this occasion the lodge was honoured by presence of the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker
Peter was accompanied by his Provincial team at this marvellous celebration. The team included the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Howard Jones, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning, Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor, Deputy Provincial Grand Chaplain Godfrey Hurst and Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp as well as many acting Provincial grand officers.
After accepting the gavel from the Worshipful Master, Neil Pacey, the Provincial Grand Master conducted a centenary ceremony.
The centenary warrant was read by Peter Taylor and then it was presented to the Worshipful Master by Peter Hosker, along with a centenary jewel.
The Rev Canon Godfrey Hurst then gave a splendid oration and re-dedication of the lodge which combined the lodge’s history with that of local history.
Neil Pacey then presented several cheques amounting to £10,100 to charities, which were accepted by Peter Hosker on behalf of the lodge. Peter thanked the lodge members and congratulated them on their charitable giving and of raising such a large sum of money.
After the ceremony, a centenary banquet was held. The dining room was full to capacity and a lovely seven course meal was enjoyed by all.
Several speeches of congratulations were given by Peter Hosker, Howard Jones and Philip Gunning, after which Neil thanked everybody for attending the celebration and he said he was looking forward to the lodge’s bicentenary!
Eight days after celebrating his 100th birthday Cyril McGibbon was installed as Worshipful Master of one of the oldest lodges in the Province of West Lancashire - the Lodge of Perseverance No.155.
This lodge, which meets in the Britannia Adelphi Hotel in the centre of Liverpool, dates from 1803 and has several unique traditions, one of which is that the only guests to the installation are invited by the new Worshipful Master. It was also the first time that any member has served as Worshipful Master on two occasions.
To mark this extraordinary occasion this tradition was broken and an open invitation issued for the first time in the lodge’s history. The membership of this venerable lodge is restricted to 25 brethren and the fact that there were 125 attendees, 23 members and 102 guests gives testimony to the high regard and affection felt by the Freemasons of West Lancashire for Cyril McGibbon.
An inspection of the Masonic year book will immediately show the calibre of the members, which includes a large number of Grand Officers many of whom have held high acting Provincial offices as well.
Indeed Cyril’s Masonic CV is very impressive. He was initiated in 1951 into his mother lodge University Lodge of Liverpool and was installed as its Master in 1964. In 1970 the then Provincial Grand Master, Sir Knowles Edge Bt recognised his qualities in appointing him as Provincial Senior Grand Warden Barely had Cyril relinquished that position when he was appointed as Assistant Provincial Grand Master an appointment that he held from 1973 to 1987, a run of 15 years continuous service. Prior to this Cyril became a joining member in 1971 of Lathom Lodge No 2229 and Setentia Lodge of Installed Masters No 7755 and then in 1974 joined The Lodge of Perseverance, becoming Master of this lodge for the first time in 1976.
The calibre of the members of Lodge of Perseverance would eclipse most meetings but this evening the calibre of the guests has exceeded that of the members. Principal guest was Howard Jones (Deputy Provincial Grand Master) accompanied by Colin Wright (Past Provincial Grand Master), Brian Gillbanks and Michael Hill, both of whom are Past Deputy Provincial Grand Masters and four Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Phil Gunning ,Tony Bent, Tony Harrison and Roy Skidmore. It should also be pointed out that another tradition of the Lodge of Perseverance is that all members and guests, no matter what their rank, are clothed in Entered Apprentice aprons.
After opening the lodge the Worshipful Master Robert Hall greeted the principal guest and proffered the gavel which was immediately returned. The normal business of the lodge was conducted during this part of the ceremony the lodge was introducing a joining member. Once the business was transacted the only Entered Apprentice retired and the lodge was then opened in the Second Degree.
The Master elect, Cyril McGibbon, Past Senior Grand Deacon, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master of the Province of West Lancashire was the presented by Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Moore to the Installing Master Robert Hall who, after congratulating Cyril on his election to Master elect proceeded with the installation ceremony. Having been installed in the chair of the worthy lodge in a very dignified manner by his predecessor Cyril was then invested with the Hall Stone Jewel of the lodge. As is customary an explanation of the origin and meaning of the jewel was delivered, on this occasion by John Price.
On completion of the ceremony of installation Howard then rose to deliver the congratulations and thanks of the Provincial Grand Master to Cyril which on this occasion took the form of a personal letter expressing his profound regret at being unable to attend the installation ceremony in person.
Before closing the lodge Cyril took the opportunity to thank the members for all their work and the multitude of guests for their support. He also informed the gathering that he had received 91 cards on his birthday which were decorating his dining room, at least until the end of the month! With such a large number he was unable to reply to them all but as a larger number of senders were present, he thanked them verbally.
The lodge was then duly closed and although there is no formal recession normally, all stood to allow the new master to retire first. The assembly were then transferred to the dining room where after the drinks were served an excellent meal was served by the hotel.
Another tradition of this lodge is that there are only three formal toasts and no others, yet another tradition was a casualty of this special evening when the Installing Master then with a few short words proposed a toast to the health of the newly Installed Worshipful Master. Cyril was then called upon to respond which he duly did. Citing some of the founding principles of the Lodge of Perseverance he concluded by thanking all the members of the lodge for their hard work, in particular the lodge's Director of Ceremonies, Sidney Ford, and his wife who had manufactured 70 extra white aprons for the occasion. He also thanked all the brethren for making a special day unforgettable. On taking his seat all those present rose and gave a prolonged acclamation to a very special man and Freemason.
The members of Excelsior Lodge No.3580 celebrated their centenary with a special meeting held at Hope Street Masonic Hall in Liverpool.
Excelsior Lodge was consecrated in Hope Street in 1912 and continued to meet there for their first 56 years. Following the ‘Great Fire’ in Hope Street in 1968, they moved to the Masonic Hall in Garston, but due to the large numbers wishing to attend the celebrations, they were given permission to hold the centenary meeting in Hope Street.
The Worshipful Master of Excelsior Lodge, Gary Jones, opened the meeting and after confirming the minutes he opened the lodge in the second and third degrees. At this point, the Inner Guard announced that the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp sought admission to the lodge.
Gary, said he would be pleased to admit him into the lodge, upon his entry Keith announced the arrival of the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker. Peter was escorted into the lodge room by Neil MacSymons (PrDCDC) at the head of the Provincial team in full splendour with the Provincial Grand Sword Bearer, Brian Blanchfield, holding the sword upright and the Provincial Grand Standard Bearers, John Stansfield and Martin Lynton (deputising), with their standards making the procession even more majestic and colourful.
Peter was accompanied by two of his Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, Roy Skidmore and Philip Gunning, the Provincial Senior Grand Warden, Paul Renton, the Provincial Junior Grand Marden, Ian Sanderson, and the rest of the Provincial team, along with Howard Griffiths (Garston Group Chairman) and 13 other Grand Officers. With over 125 brethren attending the celebration, there was not a spare seat in the temple.
Keith introduced Peter to Gary, who gave him a very warm welcome and invited him to take the gavel and occupy the chair of King Solomon, which Peter said on this occasion he would be pleased to do. Peter then appointed his Provincial officers to their respective positions and proceeded to open Provincial Grand Lodge.
In his opening address to the lodge, Peter said he was delighted to be able to celebrate the 100 years of continuous meetings that the lodge had achieved. Peter then requested Geoffrey Lee (Provincial Grand Secretary), to read out the details on the centenary warrant, which he did in his usual articulate style. The warrant was then delivered into the hands of Peter who took great pleasure in presenting it to Gary Jones.
Peter then requested Rev Graham Halsall (Provincial Grand Chaplain) to deliver an oration. Graham started his oration by taking the assembled brethren back to the mid 1800’s to a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow That was first published in the book ‘Ballads and Other Poems’ in 1841. Graham read the first verse: “The shades of night were falling fast, As through an Alpine village passed a youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice, A banner with the strange device, Excelsior!
Graham continued his oration with a translation of ‘Excelsior’ – ‘Onwards and Upwards’ he referred to the founding of New York City and the way ‘Excelsior’ defines the city ‘How far - How high’. During the final part of the oration Graham spoke of the way ‘Excelsior’ defines Freemasons, particularly the distinguished members of the lodge. He also congratulated the lodge on its support of the charities over the years, as he noted the lodge was a Gold Patron of the Samaritan Fund and the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. He also congratulated the lodge on the number of younger Masons who were filling all the progressive offices, which he said was a great indication of the lodges future.
The oration was followed by a dedication prayer after which Peter closed Provincial Grand Lodge and invited Gary to resume his chair, with the lodge officers then resuming their positions.
Gary then asked David Atkinson to give a short talk on the history of the lodge.
David started by saying that the consecration of the lodge was carried out by the then Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Robert Wylie and other officers of the Provincial team on 18 April 1912. The lodge consisted of many brethren from all walks of life, from the Liverpool and surrounding areas, many of whom were either business men, traders, labourers and service personnel, including sea fairing brethren. It was agreed that the lodge would meet on the third Saturday in the month and that all brethren must wear bow ties, unless they held Grand or Provincial Grand rank.
The first regular meeting of the lodge was held on 20 April 1912 with 13 members and five visitors present to witness a double initiation, which was not unusual for the lodge in its early years.
Throughout the periods of the First and Second World Wars, the members of Excelsior were undaunted and continued with their meetings, and at the meeting in May 1919 a motion to amend the bye laws in relation to the meeting of the lodge from the third to the first Saturday of the month was unanimously carried.
Unfortunately due to the great fire in 1968 much of the lodge history was destroyed, however, as a result of the remaining books of declaration it can be seen that the lodge continued to thrive between 1923 and 1968 with many initiations taking place with subsequent second and third degree ceremonies.
The first installation meeting to be held at Garston took place on 19 April 1969 and the lodge continues to meet at the Masonic hall at Island Road South, Garston on the first Saturday of the month, October to May.
David has produced a history of the lodge which contains a dialogue of the distinguished members of the lodge throughout its100 years, which was presented to all the brethren present at the festive board.
Gary then thanked Peter and the Provincial team for a magnificent ceremony and he presented him with three cheques for £3,580 made out to West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity, The Friends of Tithebarn, The South Liverpool Foodbank and one for £800 made out to KIND. Peter said that he was delighted he had been able to attend with his team and he was pleased on behalf of the recipients to accept the magnificent sum of £11,540, which he was sure that the cheques would be gratefully received and faithfully applied.
With the centenary celebration complete, Peter retired from the lodge accompanied by Grand Officers and escorted by the Provincial team. The final lodge business was transacted by Gary, before he closed the lodge and all retired to a splendid meal at the festive board.
Roy Skidmore replied to the toast to the Grand Officers saying: “it is a great pleasure to be here and be part of this wonderful celebration.” He then proposed a toast to the Provincial Grand Master in which he gave a comprehensive summary of Peter’s career, his work in Freemasonry and his work in the community which Roy said he had drawn from the CV on the West Lancashire Provincial website entitled ‘Peter John Hosker OBE - The Man and the Mason’, which he recommended the brethren to read.
In his reply Peter said: “It was a pleasure to lead such a celebration, a centenary is a very special landmark and I enjoyed going back into the chair.” He thanked Roy for his proposition of the toast and the brethren for the way they had receivecd it. He then conveyed his warmest congratulations to the lodge members and said it was a privilege to come along and share the celebration. He then said he had found the history of the lodge very interesting and he named a few of the brethren that stood out, these included; Brian Jackson, PJGD, William Roberts (Longest subscribing member) and Sam Robinson, PAGDC, a long serving Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, and now Deputy Chairman of the Liverpool Group of Lodges and Chapters.
Peter then presented Gary with a past masters jewel that was returned to the lodge in 2005 by family members of Edward Dewar who had been installed as WM in 1928. Peter said the members of Excelsior had decided that the oldest known past masters jewel should be presented to the Worshipful Master of the day at the time of the lodge centenary.
Proposing the toast to Excelsior Lodge, Peter said that he hoped the lodge would continue to prosper for very many more years to come.
Gary responded to this toast saying: “It is a privilege to respond to this toast, the lodge has a really good relationship and has lots of light blues coming up through the ranks. He thanked the brethren for their tireless work over a number of years in the planning of the centenary celebration. He then presented Peter with a set of cufflinks and a tie pin that had been commissioned to celebrate the centenary. He also presented Peter and Roy with flowers for them to take home to their wives.
Three prizes, a three litres of Jack Daniels, a £50 Tesco voucher and a bottle of whisky were up for grabs in the raffle; first prize went to Stephen Lyon from Royal Victoria Lodge No.1013. The sum of £585 was raised from the raffle and this will be donated to the Hope Street Masonic Hall Appeal Fund, in thanks for allowing the lodge to hold its centenary meeting in Hope Street.