Brethren from Whitwell Lodge No. 1390 held a memorial service for Freemason Bro Tom Fletcher Mayson VC on 31st July 2017 – 100 years to the day that he was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC)
The service was given by the Provincial Grand Chaplin for Cumberland and Westmorland and was attended by their Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Norman Thompson DL, members of Whitwell Lodge No. 1390, Huddleston Lodge No. 6041 and Bro Mayson’s family.
Bro Mayson was initiated into Whitwell Lodge No. 1390 on 23 June 1943.
He was a 23 year-old Lance-Sergeant in 1/4th Battalion, The King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) when his actions on 31 July 1917 led him to being awarded the Victoria Cross.
His citation is as follows: 'For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when with the leading wave of the attack his platoon was held up by machine gun fire from a flank.
'Without waiting for orders, L/Sjt. Mayson at once made for the gun, which he put out of action with bombs, wounding four of the team. The remaining three of the team fled, pursued by L/Sjt. Mayson to a dugout into which he followed them, and disposed of them with his bayonet.
'Later, when clearing up a strong point, this non-commissioned officer again tackled a machine gun single-handed, killing six of the team.
'Finally, during an enemy counter-attack, he took charge of an isolated post, and successfully held it till ordered to withdraw as his ammunition was exhausted. He displayed throughout the most remarkable valour and initiative.'
After the war, Bro Mayson worked at Sellafield Power Station and died aged 64 in Barrow-in-Furness in Lancashire on the 21st February 1958. His Victoria Cross medal is currently displayed at the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum in Lancashire.
The United Grand Lodge of England paid tribute to 64 English Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross in World War I earlier this year, including Bro Mayson, by unveiling a set of commemorative paving stones outside Freemasons’ Hall.
As part of the Tercentenary celebrations, 300 masons and civic dignitaries came together for the dedication of the Masonic Memorial Garden in Staffordshire
In late 2001, Lichfield mason Roger Manning suggested the creation of a masonic memorial to be sited at the newly created National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Burton-on-Trent.
It was agreed that the masonic garden should serve in the remembrance of all Freemasons, whether they had died in the service of their country or through sickness, accident or old age. There would be no reference on the site to specific lodges, groups or individuals.
Over the next 16 years, following four different Provincial Grand Masters, two architects, more than a dozen designs, planting failures, floods, dozens of detailed reports and many meetings, the Masonic Memorial Garden was finally unveiled on 18 April 2017 to over 300 brethren and civic dignitaries.
The service was witnessed by Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes, Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence, Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton, President of the Board of General Purposes Anthony Wilson and Grand Secretary Willie Shackell.
A welcome to all in attendance was given by local builder and brother Eddie Ford, who had been responsible for the garden’s development over the entire 16-year period. The dedication service was undertaken by the Provincial Grand Chaplain, the Reverend Bernard Buttery.
Civic leaders at the event included the Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Ian Dudson; the Mayor of East Staffordshire, Cllr Beryl Toon; and the Mayor of Tamworth, Cllr Ken Norchi. Provincial Grand Masters from many neighbouring Provinces, together with representatives from all of the 96 Staffordshire lodges, were also present.
The Members of Widnes and Knowsley Lodge No.3581 celebrated their centenary with a very special meeting attended by the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker.
Peter Hosker was accompanied by his Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Howard Jones, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Ian Boswell, Widnes Group Chairmen David Redhead and the Provincial team and a host of other Grand and acting Provincial Grand Officers. With a total of 96 brethren attending to celebrate the event, eight of whom were visiting masters; extra seating had to be put out in the lodge room to accommodate all present.
The Worshipful Master of Widnes and Knowsley Lodge, Robert Winch, (for the fifth time), opened the meeting and conducted the initial business of the lodge. With this business complete, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp announced the arrival of Peter Hosker. Peter was escorted into the lodge room by the Provincial team in full splendour with the Provincial Grand Sword Bearer, Brian Blanchfield, holding the sword upright and the Provincial Grand Standard Bearers, Andrew Thompson and Alan Lock (deputising), with their standards making the procession even more majestic and colourful.
Keith introduced Peter to Robert who gave him a very warm welcome and invited him to take the gavel and occupy the chair, which Peter did. 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: “what a magnificent occasion this is and a wonderful achievement for the lodge”. It is an occasion made even more special as when Widnes Lodge No.2819 and Knowsley Lodge No.3581 amalgamated in 2006 the members of Widnes Lodge proposed the use of Knowsley Lodge number for the new lodge to allow Knowsley Lodge to reach its centenary as Widnes Lodge had already reached its centenary in 2000.
Peter then requested Arend Van Duyvenbode, (acting Provincial Grand Secretary), to read out the details on the centenary warrant, which he did very articulately. The warrant was then delivered into the hands of Peter who took great pleasure in presenting it to Robert Winch. This was followed by a presentation of the centenary jewel to Robert, after which the members of the lodge were given permission to display their centenary jewel.
After the presentation, Peter requested Rev Graham Halsall (Provincial Grand Chaplain) to deliver an oration. In his oration, Graham gave the assembled brethren an interesting account of the history of Knowsley Lodge. The lodge was consecrated on 25 March 1912 in the presence of the Provincial Grand Master, The Honourable Arthur Stanley MP, third son of The 16th Earl of Derby, at Hope Street in Liverpool.
The following years were very busy with many initiations taking place with subsequent second and third degree ceremonies. The initiation of the youngest member took place in 1918 after special dispensation was granted to permit the son of a subscribing brother from another lodge be admitted as a minor or Lewis, he was just 19 years old. Membership of the lodge peaked in 1960 at 155, today membership stands at 26.
Throughout the periods of the First and Second World Wars, the members of Knowsley Lodge were undaunted and continued with their meetings. During the First World War servicemen were permitted to attend in uniform and during the Second World War, when as prisoners of war, they continued in the privacy of their quarters to practice ritual.
Following an approach by Widnes Lodge, the amalgamation of Knowsley Lodge with Widnes Lodge in 2006 came about after many meetings and a harmonious agreement was reached and the lodge got off to a busy start. In the first three months they had three important events; the celebration of 50 years Masonic service by Hartley Sanders, the amalgamation ceremony and a celebratory dinner to mark the retirement of Alan Griffiths as Widnes Group Chairman.
David Cook was the first to be initiated into Widnes and Knowsley Lodge, he was made an Entered Apprentice by Derek Williams in 2008 and if all goes to plan, Derek will install him into the chair of King Solomon in 2013.
The oration by Graham was followed by a dedication prayer after which Peter closed Provincial Grand Lodge and invited Robert to resume his chair, the lodge officers then resumed their positions.
Robert thanked Peter for a magnificent ceremony and then presented him with two cheques; one for £3,581 made out to West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity and one for £800 made out to Widnes Masonic Hall Limited. Peter said that on behalf of the recipients he was sure that the cheques would be gratefully received and faithfully applied.
The Alms collection for charity raised £306 of which £217 was gift aided.
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 Robert, before he closed the lodge and all retired to a splendid meal at the festive board.
Howard Jones replied to the toast to the Grand Officers saying: “Thanks for having me back after being here for the installation meeting; 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 said that Peter does a lot of work in the background, this is not the first centenary celebration this year and there are a few more to come.
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 Ian Boswell for his involvement in making the website very successful and the Provincial team for the excellent work they carried out in the lodge room. He then conveyed his warmest congratulations to the lodge members and said it was a privilege to come along and share the celebration.
Proposing the toast to Knowsley Lodge, Ian remarked how the lodge had benefitted from the amalgamation by sharing the number of the former Knowsley Lodge. He said that the lodge is now lively and vibrant and may it prosper for very many more years to come.
Robert Winch responded to this toast saying: “It is a privilege to respond to this toast, the lodge has a really good relationship since the amalgamation and we now have two light blues coming up through the ranks.” He thanked Derek Williams and Peter Carter for their tireless work over a number of years in the planning of the centenary celebration.
Four bottles of whisky were up for grabs in the raffle; first prize went to Howard Jones, second to Paul Smith, third to Alan McElhinney and forth to Hartley Sanders. The sum of £455 was raised from the raffle and this was presented by Robert Winch to Allen Yates and Paul Burrows who are doing a coast to coast walk for charity.
The significant influence exerted on Freemasonry in Warrington by the Lodge of Rectitude was highlighted by Provincial Grand Master Peter Hosker when he headed the centenary celebrations of the Lodge of Great Endeavour No.3597 and urged members to build on its legacy while planning for the future.
For this “very special landmark” Peter opened Provincial Grand Lodge in Warrington Masonic Hall. He had the help and support in the Provincial team of Assistant Provincial Grand Master Ian Boswell (who acted as Deputy Provincial Grand Master), Provincial Grand Secretary Geoffrey Lee, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp, Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Barrie Crossley, Provincial Grand Wardens Paul Renton and Ian Sanderson and Provincial Grand Chaplain Rev Graham Halsall. There were two Provincial Junior Grand Deacons, Jim Cartledge and Eddie Wilkinson, Assistant Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works Dennis Tierney, Provincial Grand Charity Steward Barry Jameson, Provincial Grand Stewards Arthur McArdle and Ian Rowan.
More than 100 brethren attended the special celebration including Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master Dennis Rudd and Grand Officers Jack Forsyth, Frank Starkey, Gordon Amos, Stan Churm and Derek Hunt.
When presenting the Centenary Warrant to Worshipful Master John Tyrer, Peter said it was a “very special moment” and he urged members of the lodge to study the “very special document” when it is on display at future meetings. John said the lodge would take great care of the warrant and that it would be handed on “pure and unsullied” by masters from generation to generation.
Provincial Grand Chaplain Rev Graham Halsall gave an oration and also said a prayer of rededication of the lodge. Peter praised Graham for “his input and particularly for his inspirational oration.”
Peter presented John Tyrer with a Centenary Jewel and then gave all other members of the lodge permission to immediately wear their new jewels.
As Provincial Grand Master, Peter said it was within his power to make certain special appointments. He asked for John Tyrer to be placed before him and promoted him to the rank of Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works. John said he was “totally surprised” and did not know how it had been kept such a secret. He said that even with 31 years as a detective he had not heard anything in advance of being promoted in Provincial Grand Lodge on the night of the centenary celebration.
After giving a brief history of the lodge John presented Peter with cheque’s for the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity and Warrington Masonic Hall. He praised the selection of these two recipients, as he said the charity had suffered during the 2010 Festival and that Masonic halls were now being given the priority they deserve.
In response to the toast to grand officers at the festive banquet Ian Boswell said it had been “a privilege and a delight” to share in the lodge’s very special occasion. He then went on to propose the toast to the health of the Provincial Grand Master.
In proposing the toast to the Lodge of Great Endeavour No 3597 Peter said: “Today's story begins in 1912, when Freemasonry was flourishing in Warrington, with five lodges. However, with the ever increasing number of Masonic candidates not even five lodges were sufficient to provide opportunities to those who sought either membership or advancement in Masonry. Accordingly, to supply that need, Lodge of Rectitude was formed and consecrated on 13 May 1912,
Unfortunately, the then Provincial Grand Master, the Hon Sir Arthur Stanley, was unable to attend to consecrate the lodge in 1912. Whenever I think of Sir Arthur Stanley, I am reminded that one of his lasting legacies to the Province was the creation of the group system, and that group system is still in place today. In his absence, the ubiquitous and evergreen W Bro W Goodacre stepped in. His office was that of the Provincial Grand Secretary of the Province of West Lancashire, and he held that office from 1884 to 1918 a total of 34 years. He was in education, being the headmaster of Talbot House School Old Trafford. There are, in fact, similarities between Bro Goodacre and our current Provincial Grand Secretary - Geoffrey Lee was also in education, being an English teacher and the House Master of Spread Eagle House Rossall School on the Fylde Coast, and although Geoffrey has only served as Provincial Grand Secretary for 16 years, he tells me that it feels more like 34 years!
I am certain that in 1912, Bro Goodacre, as the honored guest, would have been entirely at home with the professional and local businessmen from various walks of life, including members of the Indian Civil Service. who came together on that consecration day.
The lodge has much to proud of, and over many years it has had a significant influence on the development of Freemasonry in Warrington. That influence is evidenced over the years, and this evening I have chosen three examples.
In 1944, the substantial expansion of Rectitude led members to promote the formation of a daughter lodge, which was consecrated on 10 May 1944 and that lodge was named Great Sankey Lodge No.5939.
In 1947, as Rectitude continued to prosper and enlarge its membership, the members sought permission to sponsor a new lodge, the result was the formation of Warrington Temple Lodge No.6420 - a lodge that continues in existence today.
And in 1968 Rectitude had expanded its membership to become once again one of the largest lodges in the Warrington Group, prompting members to seek permission to sponsor a further daughter lodge. The Warrant is dated 13 November 1968 and the lodge was named the Lodge of Good Fellowship No.8258.
I appreciate and understand that when numbers increase, additional lodges are consecrated, and when numbers decrease, changes need to be made. Lodge of Rectitude properly recognized the need for change, and what better way forward than for mother to invite two daughters to return to the family and amalgamate together. Thus the amalgamation of Lodge of Rectitude No.3597, Great Sankey Lodge No.5939 and Lodge of Good Endeavour No.8258 took place on 13 June 2007, with the No 3597 being retained and the name being changed to Lodge of Great Endeavour.”
Peter concluded: “Give thanks for your history and all those who have made Lodge of Great Endeavour what it is today; build on the legacy that you have inherited; in building on that legacy of the past 100 years, enjoy the present; but at the same time plan for the future.”
Replying to the toast on behalf of the lodge, John said that when the amalgamation took place it was “the coming together of the family”. He said the lodge is looking forward to the future and aims to “grow and grow”.