What a wonderful combination. After celebrating his 50 years in the Craft just 18 months ago, Anthony Woof Jackson (Tony) is now celebrating 50 years in the Royal Arch. To acknowledge this achievement the members of Rowley Chapter No 1051 were very happy to join Tony at the Masonic Hall, Lancaster as he marked another golden anniversary.
Leading the celebration was Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Christopher Butterfield (Chris), together with the Lancaster and District Group Chairman Jim Wilson and fellow grand officers Tom Jackson, Peter Mason and David Kellet. Also joining in the festivities and ensuring the smooth running of proceedings was Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Barrie Crossley, accompanied by acting Provincial grand officers Paul Thompson and Stephen McClintock.
On opening the chapter, the first principal Bill Byrne quickly ensured that the main item of the evening’s business was reached without undue delay. On welcoming Chris into the chapter, he gladly surrendered his chair and thus set the stage for an interesting and illuminating address by Chris, in preparation for which Tony was comfortably seated before him by Barrie Crossley.
To provide some contextual background to the year of Tony’s birth, Chris observed that in the year 1936 a policeman’s average annual salary was £230 (equivalent to £15,000 now) and a nurse was paid £80 a year (equivalent to £5,200). A new Ford Prefect cost £305 (£19,500), with a litre of fuel costing two pence, equivalent to £1.12p today. Notable events of that year included the first test flight of the Supermarine Spitfire, the introduction of the speaking clock by the GPO, the BBC began broadcasting and locally, July 1936 saw the opening of the outdoor swimming pool at Morecambe, which at the time claimed to be the largest open-air pool in Europe. Around the world Jesse Owen won four gold medals at the summer Olympics in Berlin and the novel ‘Gone with the Wind’ was first published. Some famous people were also born in that year including the actors Albert Finney, Glenda Jackson, Robert Redford and Burt Reynolds, as well as the artists Bill Wyman, Englebert Humperdinck, Glen Campbell and Roy Orbison. Sadly, that year also saw the death of King George V and Rudyard Kipling.
Tony’s early schooling took place first at Christ Church Primary School, before moving to Bowerham Primary School. During his early school life Tony’s parents welcomed a younger brother for him, some eight years his junior. Following a successful 11-plus exam, Tony entered the Lancaster Royal Grammar School where he excelled at both rugby and cricket, ultimately playing for two local teams, the Vale of Lune Rugby Club and Torrisholme Cricket Club.
Leaving school at the age of 16, Tony joined the family firm of Thompson and Jackson, Joiners and Building Contractors, based in Lancaster, ultimately becoming its managing director many years later. Tony has served on the Council of the National Federation of Building Trade Employers, serving as its president in 1979, has been a member of the City and Guilds National Advisory Committee for building, and a representative for the Confederation of British Industry on the European Centre for Development and Training.
In 1957 Tony was called up for National Service and served with the Kings Own Royal Border Regiment in the orderly room carrying out all manner of office procedures. After training, Tony was transferred to Berlin to work in the Russian zone and during this time was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal. On finishing his National Service, Tony resumed work in the family business until retirement in 1997. In 1963 Tony joined the Army Cadet Corps, 5th Cadet Battalion, Kings Own as a training officer and served in this post for nine years, reaching the rank of Acting Captain, 2nd in command of the battalion. Tony has also served his community by becoming a Justice of the Peace and was appointed as a magistrate in 1980, becoming chairman of the bench on a number of occasions. In 1988 Tony was awarded the MBE for services to training in the building industry and received his award from Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
It was during Tony’s time in the army that he met his future wife Joan Margaret Frankland, whom he married in 1959, shortly after finishing National Service, meaning he has just celebrated his 58th wedding anniversary. Tony has four children, who between them have given Tony and Joan five lovely grandchildren. Also, a great granddaughter has been born.
Given Tony’s busy life, it was a wonder he had time to join Freemasonry, but he did and was initiated into Silverdale Lodge No 6926 in 1966 at the relatively young age of 30 and only 18 months later was exalted into the Royal Arch in Rowley Chapter. Tony’s exaltation took place on the 16 October 1967, 50 years ago to the very same evening he celebrated his anniversary. At this point Chris asked the Scribe Ezra to read an extract from the minutes detailing Tony’s exaltation into Rowley Chapter. Tony ultimately became the chapter’s first principal in 1990, then later the chapter director of ceremonies, the charity steward, chapter mentor and chapter auditor; the last two are positions he still holds. Tony became the worshipful master of Silverdale Lodge in 1980 and again progressed through many of its offices. To this day, just like his role in the chapter, he is still an auditor for the lodge.
Provincial appointments followed in due course, with the culmination of his appointment in the craft to the very high rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2006 and in the Royal Arch to Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in 1999. Tony is also an active Mason in the Province of Cumbria and Westmoreland and has held a number of high profile appointments across many other Masonic Orders.
Chris then asked the group chairman Jim Wilson to read the commemorative certificate which the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison had caused to be issued. On completion of this task, Chris rose and presented the certificate to Tony, together with his own heartiest congratulations and expressed the hope that he would enjoy many more years of happy and productive fellowship in the Royal Arch.
At the festive board after the ceremony, Chris Butterfield rose in response to the toast to his health and thanked Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Barrie Crossley and the acting Provincial grand officers for their company, adding he was not going to talk long and promptly sat down.
The toast to Tony’s health was proposed by Brian Milner, a past first principal of the chapter, who proffered a number of well-earned tributes and then on behalf of the companions of Rowley Chapter, offered him a small gift so that he may remember the occasion. In response Tony thanked the companions, not only for the gift but also their friendship, adding: “I have had some great times in this chapter.”
Article and photographs by Paul Thompson.