As 2015 progresses on, St Paul’s Lodge No 5459 geared up for their first major event of the year. Barrie Collinson celebrated his golden jubilee in Freemasonry in a very well attended and well received ceremony and festive board. The brethren of the lodge were delighted to welcome Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton to the lodge accompanied by Widnes Group Chairman Derek Williams, along with other distinguished guests and visitors.
The celebrations started once the worshipful master Ian Locke had opened the lodge. In accordance with protocol Ian offered the gavel of the lodge to Kevin Poynton and on this special occasion he accepted and took the chair of the WM. Kevin proceeded to prepare for his address to the brethren and Barrie was invited to the centre of the lodge room and took his seat ready for the presentation. Kevin opened his address by thanking the brethren for inviting him to the lodge and to take part in the celebrations. Kevin also remarked on how difficult it was to obtain information about Barrie and that for such a long history of Freemasonry why no one had any stories they wanted to share.
Barrie was born in Widnes in February 1940 and was educated at Fairfield Infants Farnworth Church of England Primary and Wade Deacon Grammar School. As a boy, Barrie was a member of the scout movement and spent many happy years in the scouts and the senior scouts. After school Barrie’s first job was in Fisons Ltd, a local Widnes company that sent Barrie to Liverpool Technology College where he earned a degree in engineering. After jobs at Dunlop Ltd and Pilkington’s Ltd, Barrie went to work at Greenalls where he worked for 23 years and ended up as the chief engineer and director of the brewery.
During this time at Greenalls, Barrie took on a young apprentice by the name of Ian Boswell, whom we all remember and knew as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master. While employed at Greenalls, Barrie was appointed as a Governor at Warrington Collegiate and later a director on retirement from that role. In later life and not wanting to slow down at all, Barrie was appointed as a magistrate and served for 15 years before retiring in 2010. During this time Barrie was Chairman of Licensing for some eight years and a member of the Magistrates Court Committee for Cheshire.
Barrie married Wendy in 1962 in Farnworth and had two wonderful children, Mark and Sarah a few years later. Barrie is now a very proud grandfather with four grandchildren, Emma, Chloe, Matthew and Samuel.
Kevin then moved on to Barrie’s extensive Masonic career in the Craft, Royal Arch and other numerous side degrees, beginning with his mother lodge. Barrie was initiated into St Wilfrid’s Lodge No 7836 in December 1964 and attained the WM’s chair of the lodge in 1974 and again in 1999. He also took up the offices of director of ceremonies, lodge treasurer and group representative during his time. As well as the lodge roles and requirements, Barrie was the chairman for the hall appeal for Halton Haven Hospice which raised over £20,000. Unfortunately, St Wilfrid’s Lodge was forced to surrender its warrant and close, Barrie like others joined St Paul’s lodge where he has been an active member since.
In the Royal Arch, Barrie was exalted into Bold Chapter No 7583 in November 1966; he attained the first principal’s chair in November 1979. Overall Barrie has served some 28 years as chapter almoner and chapter representative for Bold Chapter.
Kevin concluded his address by talking about the Provincial honours that Barrie has received and listed a few of them. In the Craft, Barrie was honoured with Provincial Grand Steward in 1984, Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 1988 and Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2002. During his Royal Arch career Barrie was honoured with his first Provincial honour, Provincial Grand Sojourner in 1987 and was rightfully promoted to Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in 1994.
Finally, Kevin brought the congratulations from the Provincial Grand Master and again thanked the brethren for his invitation. In accordance with tradition, Kevin then asked group chairman Derek Williams to read aloud the commemorative certificate from the Provincial Grand Master, after which Kevin presented the commemorative certificate to Barrie. After Kevin was presented with a cheque for £30 for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, a standing ovation marked the end of the address and presentations to Barrie in the lodge.
To further the celebrations, the brethren were invited to the festive board; his friend Alan Locke proposed the toast to Barrie’s health and his achievements. Alan talked about the visiting they had done over the many years as Masons, as well as their time as Magistrates.
Towards the end of the evening a beautiful bouquets of flowers were present to Kevin and Barrie, who gratefully received them and will pass them on. Derek Williams then presented a lapel pin and lead crystal whisky tumbler and decanter set to Barrie, cut with Barrie’s name, the Widnes Group name and Barrie’s 50th anniversary date. Derek concluded by saying: “We hope that Barrie continues his daily advances in Freemasonry in Widnes and has many happy years to come.”