Malcolm, who is now 60, was born in Epsom and lived in Leatherhead as a child although, in his own words, he spent most of his time until the age of 12 in Great Ormond Street Hospital. He was born with the condition syndactyly which means form the Greek 'together fingers' and is an hereditary condition. The digits on his hands and feet were fused together. At the age of just 4 years both his legs were amputated at the knee and with many skin grafts from his stomach and much surgery this hands were partially separated to give him at least some ability to grip. He was educated in Leatherhead but will tell you that the best years of his young life were spent on Romney Marsh. His first set of legs sound Dickensian, they were wood and tin, 'my Long John Silver period' he calls it.
During his childhood he was a Scout, including being a member of the Great Ormond Stree troupe, and took part in many activities that even the able bodied might not attempt, including abseiling, hiking and sailing. He loved the Scouts and has a soft spot for the Sea Scouts. Such was his commitment that he won the Cornwell Medal, named after the boy seaman Jack Cornwell, VC (won at Jutland in WW1) and commonly known by many as the Scout VC. It was presented to Malcolm by Her Majesty the Queen at St Georges Chapel, Windsor on St George's day, and she subsequently presented him with the Queen's Scout badge! These are awarded to cadets who excel at scouting. 'My great claim to fame though is appearing on Blue Peter,' jokes Malcolm regularly, casually dismissing his other achievements.
After his education he joined the Meteorological Office at Bracknell. He really loved the job, but realised that his life in the weather was not for him. Rather, he wanted to be outside and at 21 he started his own company. He has for many years owned and managed Elvy Transport following qualification as an HGV driver – amazing in itself. His main contracts are with the RNLI and the Royal Navy and he was the chosen contractor for transporting 'Gloriana', the Queen's barge, in readiness for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations last year.
He is committed to aiding charities and often moves decommissioned lifeboats for free, including the 'Mary Joycey' to Newbiggin-on-Sea for restoration. He always transports Sea Scout vessels when approached as a way of 'giving back'. He spent over 20 years as an organiser for the Ringwood Carnival in Hampshire and even today lends his vehicles.
Malcolm had an interest in Freemasonry for many years and several times spoke to masons in the hope that he might be able to join, but things went nowhere until he met W Bro Max Preece. Max told him that Freemasonry is in your heart not your legs, and he was initiated into Elizabethan Lodge No. 7262. 'I had begun to think that Freemasons didn't like the disabled, as nothing ever went anywhere,' he now says with a smile. During his years as a Deacon one of his prosthetic legs collapsed and he suffered multiple injuries. It was an awful time for him, but he filled his role from a wheelchair as both Junior and Senior Deacon. While a Warden the furniture and pedestals were adapted for him, and as Worshipful Master the whole kit is on the main floor. He accepts that this must be so but spent months working with his physiotherapist practicing kneeling for his installation. It looked great when he did so. Not bad for a man with no knees, lower legs and malformed hands.
As if that were not enough, Malcolm also suffers from dyslexia and finds learning the ritual a little difficult. 'I learn it one way round, and it often comes out another!' His installation on 15th April 2013 at the Diamond Jubilee meeting of the Elizabethan Lodge was one of the most emotional and magnificent many had ever witnessed. Tears of joy appeared when W Bro Max gave the address to the Master and later when listening to him sing the Master's song. What a special evening for a special mason.
Brian Todhunter, a member of Tuscan Oak and Lambert Head Lodge No. 6387, which meets at Pemberton Masonic Hall in Wigan has been invested with the Royal Victorian Order Medal.
Brian played a significant part in the Queen's Jubilee celebrations by leading the team of engineers which restored the Royal Yacht Royal Barge which carried the Queen and Prince Phillip as part of the Thames pageant on that very special day.
The Royal Victorian Order recognises distinguished personal service to the monarch or members of her family. Established in 1896 by Queen Victoria, the order has five hierarchical grades and one medal with three levels, each representing a different level of service.
Brian, who is a member of the Royal Yacht Association, was specially re-called and selected for the task to ensure that the barge, which had not seen service for over 15 years, was restored it to its former pristine condition. For his personal service to the sovereign he was awarded the prestigious Royal Victoria Medal (Silver) which is awarded to non-commissioned officers of HM Forces. Brian served for a period on the Royal Yacht Britannia when it was still in service.
His Royal Highness Prince Charles conducted Brian’s investiture at Buckingham Palace and during a conversation, Prince Charles recalled that using the Royal Barge and escort boats from HMY Britannia had brought back many happy memories for him, Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.