Over 50 members and guests of Woolton Lodge of Unity No 1086 gathered at the Geoffrey Hirst Masonic Suite within Woolton Golf Club to congratulate a Freemason who had achieved 60 years.
Woolton Lodge of Unity was formed in December 2005 when four lodges amalgamated; these being Walton Lodge No 1086, Lodge of Prudence No 2114, Allerton Lodge No 6653 and Warbeck Lodge No 6976 and one of the brethren who played a major part in that amalgamation was George Henry Wilkinson who was a member of the former Lodge of Prudence.
The WM of Woolton Lodge of Unity being unable to attend, it fell to Chris Taplin, who is the immediate past master of the lodge, to step into the chair once again to assist with the evening’s proceedings. Incidentally, Chris was installed in the presence of Tony Harrison and 80 guests. Chris opened the lodge in his usual confident manner to the first degree so that the usual business could be despatched with alacrity and then opened the lodge to the second and third degrees.
Answering a knock on the door, the inner guard Thomas Smith informed Chris that Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Mark Barton requested admission. On his entering the lodge Mark informed Chris that Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton stood outside and demanded admission. Kevin, accompanied by grand officers David Withey and Andrew Whittle and acting Provincial grand officers entered the lodge in procession and Kevin was introduced to the Chris who bade him a warm welcome. Kevin was offered the gavel of the lodge and on this occasion accepted it so that the evening’s celebrations could continue.
Mark presented salutations to Kevin who aptly responded welcoming everyone and saying how pleased he was to see the lodge so full. Kevin closed the lodge to the first degree and requested that the tyler, John Hibbert, be allowed to sit in the lodge to listen to the celebrant’s story. Kevin asked Mark Barton to place George Wilkinson in front of him and ensure that he was comfortable and went on to say that a celebration cannot happen unless there are people to share it with one.
10 years ago, it was probably Assistant Provincial Grand Master Dennis Rudd who had presided over George’s 50 years celebrations so much of his life history was already known to the lodge and members. However, Kevin had met with George and managed to get further information out of him.
One of the things that was mentioned was that George had been in Blackpool during the war years and had made good use of the dance halls. History tells us that Hitler commanded that his bombers did not bomb Blackpool as Hitler wanted to send his troops there for RNR (Rest and recuperation) after the invasion of the mainland. This was somewhat remarkable as the Fylde area had no fewer than four aerodromes for fighter planes which protected the region. The full text of George’s story can be found by clicking here.
George mentioned that it was his dad who had suggested he join the Masons, a step he took and never looked back. During his many years he actively participated in the work of the lodge, 21 years as secretary and countless years helping and supporting the many facets of Masonry.
After Kevin had concluded telling George’s story, he asked the Woolton Group Chairman Andrew Whittle to read the commemorative certificate that the Provincial Grand Master tony Harrison had instructed to be made and then Kevin had the greatest of pleasure in presenting it to George to the acclaim of the brethren.
On the completion of the formal celebration, Kevin asked Chris Taplin to resume his seat and quickly moved on to the next item of business, to receive communications from grand lodge, following which Mark formed the procession to retire.
After the further risings the lodge was closed in due form and the brethren could then join George for pre-dinner drinks. During the meal a raffle was held which raised £169 which the lodge would use to donate to charitable causes.
Andy Whittle proposed the toast to Kevin who in his response thanked George for allowing him to lead the celebrations and for the time he had given him when they met earlier in the month. Kevin also thanked the acting officers for attending, especially Mark Barton who had kept the proceedings running smoothly and attended upon Kevin even though it was Mark’s birthday. This prompted a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’. Kevin went on to thank his publicity team for all the work they do and generating revenue for the Province. The team is regularly first or second in the UGLE league table of providing publicity stories.
Trevor Tomlinson was honoured to propose the toast to the celebrant’s health and Chris Taplin had great pleasure in presenting George with a 60 year pin and a bottle of his favourite libation.
In response George said that he really enjoyed his Freemasonry and he has had a good innings. He admitted that he often completed the task himself knowing that it had been done correctly. Although now approaching his 96 birthday George is a spritely, confidently spoken Mason and it is easy to see why he has enjoyed his Masonry.
As the evening drew to a close the tyler John Hibbert was called upon to give the last toast and then the celebrant and all the members and guests made their way home.
Article and pictures by Colin Roberts.