On arrival at a meeting of Lytham Lodge No 6915 it was unlikely that Tom Fare, Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works, had the first idea of how the meeting would end. Having seen four other members of Lytham Lodge celebrate 50 years in Freemasonry within the last year he would have had a good idea but this particular meeting was to have a surprise in store.
With the normal formalities completed and the lodge opened in the third degree, the master of the lodge Craig Coltart welcomed Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Winder, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master Steven Reid, Chairman of the South Fylde Group of lodges and chapters Ian Ward and a retinue of grand and Provincial officers. Craig offered the gavel to David who accepted it and assumed control of the lodge.
In his now recognised format David Winder gave a flavour of what had happened 50 years ago, when the average price of a house was £3,800. It was the year that the hovercraft and the Harrier jump jet came into service. Star Trek and Batman had their first episodes shown on television and on a lighter note Pampers designed the very first disposable nappy. The Beach boys had ‘Good Vibrations’ and the Monkeys had their number one hit “I’m a believer” – a time long before mobile phones, emails and microwave ovens, with a gallon of petrol in today’s terms a mere 25 pence a gallon!
David proceeded with some details of Tom Fare’s life history to date. Tom was born on mid-summers day, 21 June in 1938. His father, who was also called Thomas, was a farmer working on the family farm, Stanley Grange Farm at Treales, with Tom’s grandfather. It was one of Lord Derby’s farm holdings. Tom was born in Kirkham and at the age of three moved to a cottage in Treales – Tom recalls having no running water and very limited toilet facilities.
Tom’s mother Edith acted as secretary for the local Women’s Institute and there being no telephones Tom would be tasked to take messages to the other members by hand. This he did on his prized pedal cycle. It may have been far too big for Tom, demanding wooden blocks on the pedals so that his legs could reach but it was Tom’s transport everywhere, irrespective of having no brakes! The payback for delivering messages was a hot drink and a great slab of homemade cake. Tom would also be tasked to ride into Preston to St Georges Road and take fresh eggs to his grandmother.
On leaving school Tom worked on the farm, his dad waking him up at 6am every day to travel about a mile on his bike to work. In time, Tom was to be found engrossed in every aspect of farming, particularly milking duties and mucking out cow sheds and pig stys.
Tom was a keen fan of Preston North End and recalls going to watch the games. He would sit on a rail on the cinder area adjacent to the pitch. If he was early and really lucky he got to sit on the steps at the Spion Cop. Later, Tom was to enjoy attending the Empress ballroom at Blackpool, or the Public Hall at Preston. He was a keen member of the young farmers club and went to dances on his trusty steed, now with a dynamo on the front wheel providing light. Tom had graduated to a new shiny ‘Humber’ cycle with brakes, 4 gears and handlebars that locked with a key!
It was at such a dance, aged 20 years old when Tom met Christine Pickervance; the rest as they say is history as three years later they were married. After the ceremony at the United Congregational Church in Kirkham in 1961 they honeymooned at Tossa De Mar in Spain. (That was trend setting in those days, when aeroplanes had propellers!) The following years would see the couple exploring different areas in the Mediterranean. Travelling to Austria in later years saw them develop an interest in skiing, becoming proficient enough to go on red routes. All went well until one year Tom crashed at speed into a log cabin, fracturing his skull and breaking his collar bone. A later trip to Florida saw Tom bitten by what might have been a sand shark while jumping waves with Christine. David Winder remarked, “There seems to be a recurring theme here brethren. Everyone has the right to be unlucky but some people simply abuse the privilege! The lengths people will go to, to avoid going back to work!”
On marrying Christine, Tom managed Greenland’s Farm and more especially the 3,500 pigs that it held. Tom was also involved with the management of the three other farms that the family owned and the total stock of in excess of 10,000 pigs. Tom later decided to diversify slightly into breeding as prices for quality ‘weaners’ had risen. Tom’s stock rose to a 1,000 or so and all was well until Tom and Christine’s family was thrown into turmoil by the 1962 and 1963 outbreaks of swine fever. All pigs had to be shot on site. They simply had to start afresh and build from scratch.
Tom subsequently became director of the company after Christine’s father Alf Pickervance passed away. It was then that Tom started breeding pigs at Hillock Cross Farm through to 2008 when he retired. Tom’s work with pigs saw him become chairman of the National Farmers pigs committee and National Pig Association.
At home and after 15 years of marriage Tom and Christine were blessed with their first son Richard. Then within two years and much to their delight, their son James arrived. It was when Richard was eight that they heard of the intent to set up a local scout troop. Encouraged by Christine, Tom went along, helped to fund the troop and became its first leader. Subsequently, Richard became a patrol leader and both became immersed in fund raising for its growth and support. Tom now has two grandchildren, Ben and Annie involved in cubs and rainbows, so the legacy flows into the next generation.
After Toms home life story, lodge secretary Michael Pyke read a précis of the minutes from Tom’s initiation meeting. Tom’s father-in-law Alf Pickervance was a member of Hesketh Lodge No 950, Kirkham Lodge No 6615 and Tarleton Lodge No 7871. He was not however the specific conduit to Tom joining Freemasonry. It was in fact his brother-in-law Bob Brewer, a member of Lytham Lodge who proposed him. Tom attended his ladies evening in 1960 at the Clifton Arms, his very first outing to a Masonic function, that being the same for Tom’s longstanding friend Tom Goodier. It would however be six years later before Tom was initiated on 7 December 1966. Tom was the last person to be initiated at the County Hotel, Lytham. Shortly after that the lodge met at the Clifton Hotel where Lodge of Triumph No 1061 also met.
Tom’s commitment to Masonry was first recognised by his appointment to Past Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1988. This was followed by Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon, then Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works.
The Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison was unable to attend the celebration of Tom’s 50 years in Masonry but had sent Tom’s 50 year certificate, which was read by Ian Ward and presented by David Winder. Group vice chairman John-Robbie Porter presented Tom with his 50 year badge and later, Craig Coltart presented him with a commemorative hip flask.
It was following this presentation that the surprise of the evening ensued. Ian Ward, who had been rustling around behind some seats, emerged with a set of regalia appropriate to Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer, which David helped Tom to put on and declared his promotion to that rank. At this point there were not too many dry eyes in the lodge room. The members present showed their appreciation of the proceedings and particularly to Tom for his presentation of a cheque for £300 towards lodge funds.
The evening was rounded off by a convivial banquet where a raffle raised £115, with the first prize going to Tom’s great friend and another veteran of 50 years, Tom Goodier. Well, fancy that!