Five members of the Chorley Group and their wives travelled to Brigantes Lodge No 9734 in Kendal to help celebrate a remarkable anniversary.
Douglas Lowe was celebrating 75 years in Freemasonry. Douglas was first initiated into Lodge Saltoun No 936, Scottish Constitution, in Shanghai, China.
A large and impressive deputation from Scotland joined the celebration. This deputation consisted of the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Kilwinning, David Bloomfield, Right Worshipful James Dunbar, Past Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Dunbartonshire, the Substitute Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Glasgow James Peddie, the Substitute Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Dunbartonshire David Irving and other distinguished brethren from those three Provinces.
Keith Young Deputy Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland occupied the chair of the Lodge. Douglas Lowe was placed in the centre of the lodge.
Keith then called the lodge from labour to refreshment and invited ladies to enter the lodge room. A total of 52 ladies entered the lodge, led by a piper and headed by Mrs Audrey Lowe.
The Deputy Provincial Grand Master then gave a talk on the long and illustrious history of Douglas.
After leaving school at the age of 14, Douglas worked for a while in the textile industry in Manchester then at 16 he took a slow boat to China to take up employment in the same industry in Shanghai.
As the son of Mason, he was initiated on his 20th birthday in Lodge Saltoun.
Towards the end of 1937 Douglas realised that his future lay elsewhere and he enlisted in the Royal Dragoons as a non-commissioned officer. He was posted to Palestine, where he stayed until the outbreak of the war. During this time, he became fluent in Arabic.
In 1940 he joined the Long Range Desert Group at its formation. His exploits with this unit were such that he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
When the Battle of El Alamein started he was shelled by his own side’s guns as he was six miles behind the lines having a go at the Italians. Douglas’s Unit was selected to take part in a raid on the airfield at Tobruk. Some 400 men went in and only 6 returned in one very badly shot up vehicle.
Following this incident he was promoted in the field to Lt Col by General Montgomery and later awarded the Military Cross, which simply put, was awarded to Officers for bravery in the face of the enemy.
Douglas survived the war, having been bombed by the Americans in Sicily, having been involved with the Special Boat Squadron, witnessed the liberation of the concentration camp at Belsen and appointed the personal bodyguard to the King of Denmark.
After the war he obtained a BA Degree in textiles and took a job in Egypt as a manager of a print works for Beida Dyers. During his time in Egypt, he was quite active in his Masonic pursuits and he often regales brethren with fascinating stories about how he flew to Masonic meetings, of the Police Chief who was initiated one day and by the end of the meeting, was a past master, and even of losing his regalia when the aircraft in which he was travelling shed its cargo door and all of the luggage, including Douglas’s regalia case.
Those present were told of his membership of many lodges and other orders his time as master of Melita Lodge No 6783, at St Annes and Royal Preston Lodge No 333 at Preston. They were also reminded of his dedication to his office as almoner of Brigantes Lodge, of the care he takes of those brethren and members of their families who need his attention.
On completion of this dissertation, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master presented Douglas with a certificate commemorating his 75 years membership of the Craft. The ladies were asked to retire, following which, the lodge was called on. Keith Young then asked the Provincial Deputy Director of Ceremonies to bring Douglas to the pedestal.
Keith commented that if it was good enough for General Montgomery to promote Douglas in the field then it was good enough for the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland to do the same. Keith then promoted Douglas to Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden.
The brethren present rose to their feet and applauded spontaneously. After the acclaim died down, came that moment when Douglas Owen Lowe could not find any words to say.
Dinner followed the lodge meeting, after which Douglas found out that all the good things had not yet all arrived. The Deputy Provincial Grand Master presented him with a full set of regalia to allow him to dress to his new Provincial Rank. He was also presented by Brigantes most recent initiate, David O’Shea, with a computer mouse. As Douglas wondered what he would do with it, David suggested that he might want something into which to plug it and handed him a new laptop computer.
Yes at 95 years of age, our special brother regularly uses a computer for communicating by email and Skype with his brethren and friends. A regular surfer of the internet, he can manage a computer better then many half his age. Mrs Mandy O’Shea presented Mrs Audrey Lowe with a bouquet of flowers on behalf of all present.
The toast to Douglas’s health was proposed by his great friend James Peddie. James then read letters from the Provincial Grand Lodges of Glasgow and Dunbartonshire. He handed Douglas a “Congratulations” card which had been written by the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, Brother Charles Gordon of Esslemont.
He also informed Douglas, that the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Glasgow Alaistair Henderson had appointed Douglas Honorary Provincial Grand Senior Deacon in the Province of Glasgow.
A beautiful glass vase suitably engraved, was presented by the David Bloomfield. Douglas promptly filled it with whisky and drank with David and others.
Jim Hunter presented an engraved quaich on behalf of the brethren of the Athole Lodge No 384, at Kirkintilloch. Terris Stoddart presented a set of cuff links from Lodge Mother Kilwinning No 0.
All too soon, the festivities came to an end. Some guests went home and others retired to the County Hotel where they were staying, including Douglas. There the party continued, for some through to about 3.00am!
Although he acknowledges that 75 years is a long time. Douglas is now planning for the celebration of his 80 years membership of the Craft in 2017.
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