What a wonderful combination; 50 years enjoying Masonry and even longer creating delicious pastries and cakes. Add to that, the satisfaction of travelling the world and using your skills to assist other aspiring bakers and pastry chefs achieve their ambitions and you have a winning recipe for a long and fulfilled life.
To acknowledge this achievement the members of Poulton le Sands Lodge No 1051 were very happy to join Raymond Ward (Ray) as he marked his 50 years in Freemasonry at Morecambe Masonic Hall.
Leading the celebrations was Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger together with grand officers Phil Gardner, who is a member of the lodge and Chris Butterfield, Lancaster Group Secretary. Also joining in the festivities and ensuring the smooth running of proceedings was David Thomas, Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, accompanied by fellow acting Provincial grand officers Mike Jenkins and Barry Fitzgerald.
On opening the lodge, the WM Steve Plevey, quickly ensured that the main item of the evening’s business was reached without undue delay. On welcoming David Grainger into the lodge, he gladly surrendered the gavel and thus ‘set the stage’ for an interesting and illuminating address by David, in preparation for which Ray was comfortably seated before him by David Thomas.
To provide some contextual background to the year of Ray’s birth, David observed that in the same year, 1931, the Empire State Building was completed and the Porsche Motor Company was founded. Sharing his year of birth were Norman Tebbitt, Les Dawson and Boris Yeltsin.
Ray was born in Darwen, Lancashire, on Christmas Day and spent his early years attending local schools before studying for a City and Guilds qualification in bakery and food preparation. After spending some time in the RAF and serving overseas, he returned to the UK and resumed his studies. It was whilst at Clitheroe College he met his future wife Mary and they were married in 1955. They have a son, Martin, who lives and works locally. A few years later, after time spent running the family business, Ray obtained a teaching qualification that ultimately led to him teaching Baking and Food Technology in local colleges, finally at Lancaster.
Following his early retirement, we learned that Ray had volunteered for service with the British Executive Services Overseas and assisted in the training and development of bakers and pastry chefs in such diverse locations as St Lucia and Zimbabwe. Regrettably, he and Mary had to relinquish this work and return to the UK when her health deteriorated. Sadly, Mary passed away in 2013 after almost 60 wonderful years spent together.
Ray began his Masonic career in 1965 when he was initiated into Shuttleworth Lodge No 6098 in East Lancashire. He became WM in 1973 and some years later was rewarded for his service with an appointment to Provincial Grand Lodge with the rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon. Shuttleworth Lodge unfortunately closed in 2013 and details of the minutes had not been obtainable. Ray became a joining member of Poulton Hall Lodge No 6647 in 1984 and remained a member following the amalgamation and its metamorphosis into Poulton le Sands Lodge in 2007. In conclusion, David thanked Ray on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master for his many years of service to the Craft and warmly congratulated him.
David then asked Chris Butterfield to read the commemorative certificate that the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison had caused to be issued. On completion of this task, David rose and presented the certificate to Ray, together with his own heartiest congratulations and expressed the hope that he would enjoy many more years of happy and productive fellowship in Freemasonry.
Once the master had been invited to resume his rightful place, Steve added his own congratulations and presented Ray with a personal gift and a 50 year lapel pin on behalf of the lodge members. At the first rising, Phil Gardner said that he was delighted to be able to congratulate Ray and to thank him for the support and encouragement that he had so kindly given to new members of the lodge over many years.
At the festive board that followed, the toast to Ray’s health was proposed by Mike Craddock who paid a very personal tribute to him and recalled the many occasions on which Ray had given unstintingly of both his time and skills to the benefit of the lodge.
In his response, Ray wryly remarked that he had not been forewarned of ‘this part’ and thought he had ‘got away with it’ by virtue of his reply in the lodge room! He thanked with sincerity all those who had contributed to making it a very special night for him and said how much he had enjoyed the wonderful experience.