50 years at the Sharp end

Members of Borough Lodge No 3996, meeting at Bryn Masonic Hall, were delighted to be the hosts for a very special evening in honour of a very special man and Mason, Alexander Chalmers Sharp, affectionately known to all as Alex. The lodge was assembled to pay tribute to Alex who has recently completed 50 years in Craft Masonry and Assistant Provincial Grand Master Tony Bent was delighted to attend specially to pay tribute. Tony was accompanied by fellow grand officers Malcolm Taylor (group chairman), Bert Ross and David Ogden, supported by acting Provincial officer Barry Dickinson and local care officer John Lomax.

Tony Bent (left) congratulates the celebrant Alex Sharp.

Tony Bent (left) congratulates the celebrant Alex Sharp.

Worshipful master Brian Bawden was more than happy to step aside to allow the Assistant Provincial Grand Master take the chair and Tony was eager to do so, being a long time friend of the celebrant. Explaining to the brethren that it is not an everyday occurrence that we meet to acknowledge a brother’s 50 years in Freemasonry and that the occasion this evening is even more irregular in that the 50 years to which we refer during this tribute reflect the Masonic career of Alex Sharp under the English Constitution, the full complement of his membership of the Craft actually numbering 59 years and so next year will see another landmark in a very commendable career. It was though, quite appropriate to set aside an evening in Borough Lodge to offer this tribute to a man who has devoted many years to the cause and whose achievement so many have gathered this evening to celebrate.

Alex was born at Newmains near Wishaw in Scotland in February 1932 to Thomas and Christina Sharp, the youngest of three children, his brother Thomas being 14 years older and his sister Margaret seven years older. Very sadly his mother passed away just three weeks after Alex was born.

A lifelong love of Alex’s has been music, particularly brass bands and he had his first instrument, a cornet, at the tender age of eight years. He played in a junior band then onto playing in various works bands. It was many years later when Alex, now in Wigan, became the conductor and bandmaster of DW Pemberton Old Band for eight years. His other musical passion was singing which became another life-long interest and was amply evidenced in his founding the Wigan Masonic Choir after joining Arrowhead Lodge No 8500 in 1974.

From the age of 12 he was a member of the Boys’ Brigade in which he served for over 30 years. After moving to England, he became founder member of the 19th Wigan Company of the Boys’ Brigade. His dear wife Marjorie became Captain and Founder of the 1st Appley Bridge Girls’ Brigade. Alex became an engineer, serving his six year apprenticeship in Coldness Iron and Steel Company and like most of his generation, served two years National Service with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

In Masonry, Alex joined St Clare Lodge No 427 in Cambusnethan village in October 1956 under the Scottish Constitution and when he moved to London with his work as an engineer, he joined Pillar Lodge No 5484 in January 1965. He resigned in October 1976 as time and distance prevented his attending regularly. Moving to Wigan in 1974, following his appointment as a works engineer in Skelmersdale, he joined Arrowhead Lodge, where he was a member until 2012.

He joined Borough Lodge in May 2012, proposed by Graham Finney and seconded by Jim Jackson. Having retired from his work as an engineer, Alex became the steward and manager of the Masonic Hall at Tower Buildings and held that position from 1985 to 1997 and many Masons in the group and much further afield will have first met him there and shared his companionship. Alex is an honorary member of Wigan Lodge No 2326, Heber Lodge No 4388 and Norley and Langtree Lodge of Antiquity No 178.

In Province, he was appointed Provincial Grand Steward in 1978, promoted to PPrSGD in 1989 and to PPrJGW in 1989. He was appointed to Grand Lodge in 2002 to PAGDC. He is a member of a number of other orders in Freemasonry and his service in each has been rightly recognised and rewarded. Additionally, he is a life member of many lodges in Scotland.

Tony concluded by saying that this tribute this evening scarcely does real justice to a Mason, whose career and service to our order and to this great Province of West Lancashire in particular, that has earmarked him as a special man and Mason. Tony stated that he counts Alex among his dear friends in Freemasonry, has always enjoyed his company and openly acknowledged that it had been a privilege to preside over this evening’s proceedings. He then asked the brethren to join him in acclaiming the membership, service and contributions of Alexander Chalmers Sharp. All the brethren stood and gave rapturous acclamation that seemed to go on forever.
A fine festive board followed, at which Alex got to take wine with his many friends and colleagues. Bert Ross delivered a very heartwarming toast to the celebrant, singing the praises of Alex and his wife Marjorie for all the companionship, help and support they have given him over the years. A special tribute from Alex’s friends in Scotland was read out. It was sent by the current Provincial Grand Master Ian Clark, who was present at the meeting.

Alex with the members of Borough Lodge.

Alex with the members of Borough Lodge.

Pictured from left to right, are: John Lomax, Bert Ross, Tony Bent, Alex Sharp, Brian Bawden, Malcolm Taylor, David Ogden and Barry Dickinson.

Pictured from left to right, are: John Lomax, Bert Ross, Tony Bent, Alex Sharp, Brian Bawden, Malcolm Taylor, David Ogden and Barry Dickinson.