The members of Poulton le Sands Lodge No 1051 together with their guests were delighted to mark the golden jubilee of Christopher John Preston (Chris), who has been a stalwart contributor of both time and skill to the lodge in his fulfilment of many offices over the last half century.
In fact it can be confidently stated that Chris has met the demands placed upon him with true mettle; aided no doubt in some measure by his professional skills as a metallurgist!
Leading the celebration at Morecambe Masonic Hall was Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger who welcomed the support of fellow grand officers Phil Gardner, Tom Holroyd, Lancaster Group Chairman Jim Wilson and group secretary Chris Butterfield.
Adding further lustre were acting Provincial Grand Officers Peter Pemberton Provincial Senior Grand Warden, Ernie Greenhalgh Provincial Grand Almoner, David Thomas Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, Paul Thompson Provincial Junior Grand Deacon and Richard Dennison and Barry Fitzgerald who are both Provincial Grand Stewards. The procession into the lodge room once again proved an impressive sight, led with due dignity by the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies. The WM Steve Plevey welcomed David Grainger to the lodge, remarking that with the number of jubilee celebrations held at Morecambe Masonic Hall recently, David was becoming a very regular and most welcome visitor.
Following the acceptance of the offered gavel, David took the master’s chair and asked that the celebrant, Chris Preston be placed before him. Having ensured that Chris was comfortably seated, David began by stating that it was both a pleasure and a privilege to be part of the celebration for such a respected Mason and individual.
He began by recalling the memorable events of 1938, the year of Chris’s birth. This year saw Neville Chamberlain return from Berlin waving the now infamous document that promised ‘peace in our time’. Ironically, it was also the year that gas masks were issued to the public in the UK. On a lighter note, the Beano was first published in the July and Len Hutton scored 364 runs against Australia in the final test played at The Oval. Also born in this year were Arthur Scargill and David Dimbleby.
Chris was born in Lancaster and attended Scotforth School, prior to taking a place at the Friends School, both establishments enjoying a well-deserved reputation for educational excellence. His academic achievements continued with Chris enrolling at the University of Manchester to study metallurgy and following his graduation in 1959, he took up his first post in Keighley before moving to Wigan where he worked for Park Forgemasters. The brethren learned that in 1970, Chris became a lecturer in engineering at Lancaster University and remained at that institution, extending his career involvement to include research and intellectual property management until his retirement after 25 years of service.
Chris and his wife Jennifer have enjoyed over 50 years together and are blessed with two daughters and three grandchildren. Having obviously taken the injunction given in the second degree to ‘extend your researches into the hidden mysteries of nature and science’ most seriously, the brethren were informed that Chris enjoys many pastimes and hobbies that have allowed him to pursue these objects of study. He is an avid naturalist, ornithologist, angler, conservationist and a one-time apiarist! A love of travel and the outdoors have become obvious adjuncts to these interests.
His Masonic achievements have been equally impressive. He was initiated into the then Rowley Lodge No 1051 in January 1965 and at this juncture, David Grainger asked the lodge secretary to read an extract from the minutes of the meeting. On completion of this, David continued observing that Chris had served in all the principal offices of the lodge throughout his membership up to and after the amalgamation, which resulted in the present name of the lodge.
Such stalwart service had been recognised by his initial appointment to the Provincial grand rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon and later promotion to the high rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden. In Royal Arch Masonry, he holds the rank of Past Provincial Assistant Grand Sojourner in addition to holding high rank in another Masonic order.
David summarised by paying tribute to Chris and in particular to the service he had rendered to the lodge. He formally conveyed the congratulations and gratitude of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison before asking Jim Wilson to read the commemorative certificate that the Provincial Grand Master had caused to be issued. On receiving the scroll from David, Chris expressed his gratitude and remarked that it was particularly pleasing that he had been able to celebrate his golden jubilee in the same year that marked the 150th anniversary of the foundation of ‘lodge No 1051’.
At a well-attended festive board held in the Morecambe Masonic Hall Dining Room, David Grainger added his own congratulations and best wishes whilst expressing the hope that Chris would have the health and good fortune to enjoy many more years of activity in Freemasonry.
The toast to Chris’s health was proposed in a most eloquent manner by his friend Brian Salmon. He deftly made use of many Masonic allusions, particularly referencing the professional skills and social interests that Chris had pursued and indeed excelled at. He observed that Chris was not a man to ‘blow his own trumpet’, therefore he, Brian, would provide the much deserved fanfare! The response to this excellent toast was appropriately enthusiastic and approving.
Thanking everyone for their participation in what had been a memorable occasion, Chris responded by inviting the assembly to join him in a toast to Poulton le Sands Lodge No 1051 and its distinguished pedigree and history. A fitting and concluding tribute to a fine lodge and equally fine Mason.