There was nothing shaded or achromatic in colour about to unfold during an evening of celebration at Phoenix Lodge No 1730, in fact quite the opposite. There were no seats to spare and a full house in an array of bright hues of light and dark blue, gold and of course scarlet coloured dress regalia having filled the lodge room at Urmston Masonic Hall. There was one view in mind, quite simply to share an evening of intrigue and fascination about a much admired celebrant Terry Gray and his 50 year celebratory story as a Freemason.
So with the scene being set, the general lodge business having been efficiently and speedily convened by worshipful master Jan Davison-Fischer, this being Jan’s first meeting since his installation, there then came an expected knock on the door whereas the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Ian Higham requested admission.
Ian entered the lodge room and announced that Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Christopher Hutton stood without and demanded admission. Where with much delight to the members and visitors alike, John entered the lodge accompanied by South Eastern Group Chairman Mike Adams along with other fellow grand officers, Brian Hayes and Brian Durkin.
John, having been welcomed, was promptly offered the gavel by Jan and for the purpose of the celebration ceremony John accepted it and took his place in the master’s chair. He gave a short introduction indicating that the office of Assistant Provincial Grand Master carried a number of responsibilities and duties and said that it also has a number of privileges and that the prospect of being able to officiate at jubilee celebrations is, in his view, without doubt, one of the best.
It was at this point that John requested Ian to arrange for Terry to be comfortably seated before the master’s pedestal in readiness for John, as he put it, ‘to spill a few beans’.
John commenced Terry’s historical story by reminding the brethren that this anniversary was about a dedicated and much esteemed brother who was initiated into Freemasonry 50 years ago. He continued saying that Terry was born on 28 March 1943 in Stretford to proud parents, Doreen and Norman Reginald Gray. Terry’s father was an area sales manager for an office equipment company and his mother was a secretary prior to Terry coming into the world.
Most of the news from this period of course, concerned the war, including the famous ‘Dam Busters’ raid on the Ruhr Valley dams in Germany. But on a lighter note, at the same period of time, the American musician Duke Ellington played at Carnegie Hall in New York and a first production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Oklahoma’ premiered in the same city.
About Terry’s schooling years, he first attended Seymour Park Infants School and after which he moved up to Stretford Road Junior School, from there he continued at Old Trafford Boy’s School. Terry’s education continued at the Manchester College of Science and Technology.
Growing up, Terry had a very happy childhood which was much improved after his father had been demobilised from the armed forces in 1947, which of course was two years after the war had ended and returned to be with the family in Duke Street, Old Trafford, a suburb of Manchester.
Annual family holidays were always enjoyed in the seaside town of Morecambe which at that time, seemed like the other side of the world because it took all day to get there routed by the north western bus services.
Terry started his working life in the printing industry as an apprentice printer at a company known as James Lord and Son’s of Manchester. The business owner was in fact a fellow Mason, indeed, a grand officer called Harry Lord, who, previous to sadly passing onto higher service, had written a will. The terms of it revealed that Harry had left the company to three people who were to become partners. One of those partners was Terry and a second partner, most relevant to this story was David Shawcross, Terry’s eventual proposer into Freemasonry. The company continued to run for many years.
A few years on, Terry was attracted to a company called Print Craft of Royton, where he met and became a friend of company managing director, Arthur Knight, another fellow Mason who has in fact celebrated 50 years in the Royal Arch.
The next move by Terry was to a company called Cavendish Press of Leicester, taking on a position of area sales manager followed by a move to Buckley and Bland Printers of Stockport, where he was a technical representative and finally onto Haslam’s Printers of Chorley where he was an area sales manager.
John suggested to Terry that he would have no doubt that he knew the geographical north of England road maps exceptionally well as he must have covered many miles of travelling. Terry summed up that after 48 years in the printing industry he had loved every minute of it. He added that unfortunately he never managed to master printing bank notes so had had to earn his monies the hard way. Terry said: “Exchanging 1,000 miles a week at retirement for 6,000 miles a year in total seemed like a good swap, but having finished work, I have kept in touch with my former customers who have remained my personal friends to this day.”
During those working years, when Terry was in his early 20’s, he had of course met and courted his young sweetheart, Kathleen and they eventually married on 28 August 1968 at All Saints Parish Church in Stretford. Together they now have two children, Simon and Alison and they in turn have provided the family with three lovely grandchildren.
The main reason for the evening’s celebration was of course due to Terry’s other love in his life, his Freemasonry.
Terry entered into Freemasonry at the age of 21 years, after he was proposed into Talbot Lodge No 2231 by his former business partner David Shawcross and seconded by Bertram Holland. This was soon followed by Terry’s initiation into Talbot Lodge on 19 February 1965. John said that Terry clearly had his ceremonies in quick succession because he had been initiated, passed and raised by 19 November of 1965.
John requested Phoenix Lodge secretary Wally Fraser to read an extract of the minutes he had obtained as previously recorded appertaining to Terry’s initiation, Wally read out a section of the recorded minutes which noted that the lodge had tyled at 6pm that evening and the worshipful master Sidney J Hatton conducted the business of the lodge and then invited CW Gordon to preside over the initiation ceremony where Terry was initiated into Freemasonry, Sidney resumed his rightful place and the lodge closed in harmony.
Terry, having progressed through the various offices of the lodge was installed as WM on 13 March 1979 in a ceremony attended by Assistant Provincial Grand Master James A Walton, who also was the Provincial Grand Secretary for Cheshire and John Howarth.
During Terry’s year as master, he performed all three degree ceremonies and completed his year by installing his successor, as John said: “A perfect record.” Terry contributed greatly to Talbot Lodge, firstly in office as the ADC and then followed as DC for approximately 22 years. Adding to this he also served as assistant secretary and probably his most important role, as the almoner.
In October 1982, Terry was honoured with his first Provincial rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon by Alan Fletcher Ferris and then promoted to the rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 1989.
During 1990, Terry was a founding member of Athenaeum Lodge No 9368 in which he attained the master’s chair of the lodge in 2010.
Terry had related to one of his most saddening evenings in Freemasonry, which of course was the final meeting and hence followed by the final dinner, after the closing of Talbot Lodge in March 2007.
Talbot Lodge has since amalgamated in conjunction with Westbourne Lodge No 7257, Urmston Lodge No 1730 and Great Stone Lodge No 6737 and on 8 March 2007 they had all resurrected from the combined ashes of sadness as Phoenix Lodge, now one of those clearly, well attended, strong lodges in the South Eastern Group.
Terry’s Royal Arch career started in 1988, when he joined Steadfast Chapter No 5360 in another Province where he attained the first principal’s chair, thus completing his summit and perfection of ancient Freemasonry.
John concluded by saying: “In my consideration, Terry most certainly has an extensive Masonic knowledge and has clearly contributed enormously to his beloved Talbot Lodge, Phoenix Lodge, The South Eastern Group and of course to the Province of West Lancashire, for which reason he is so well supported by his friends celebrating his evening and of course many absent brethren not able to be present would similarly thank him most sincerely. I would like to add the congratulations, good wishes and personal greetings from the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. This evening we have come together in a spirit of true Masonic friendship to celebrate the jubilee of Terry Gray, who was initiated into Talbot Lodge 50 years ago.” He then called upon Mike Adams to assist him by reading the celebrants certificate.
Mike then rose and read out the contents of Terry’s celebratory certificate after which Ian took it from Mike and passed it to John to present to Terry.
Terry responded with an emotional pause by thanking John for his time and for the presentation that he had given, Terry said that as he was listening to John, it was almost as though he was listening to an old friend as John was orating his family related, business and Masonic stories, he said it was a joy and pleasure, Terry also thanked all the brethren for supporting him, indeed a good reason for Terry to receive such a rapturous applause.
Finally, before handing the gavel back to Jan, John thanked secretary Wally Fraser and many others for their contributions towards the celebratory evening. Jan having resumed the master’s chair thanked John for his presentation throughout the celebratory evening which of course was much enjoyed by all the brethren.
On the first rising, Mike Adams responded on behalf of the grand officers, he said that the officers had witnessed a happy day and a sincere occasion in celebrating an outstanding Freemason; he congratulated Terry and wished him continued good health and happiness for the future. Mike also congratulated the lodge members and gave thanks to all those brethren visiting and supporting Terry.
The celebrations within the lodge then extended to the festive board where much joviality, concord and addresses continued into the evening. The toast to the celebrant was quite unusual by the fact that it was given by David Shawcross, himself now 54 years a Freemason and Terry’s proposer into Freemasonry.
David would have given a similar toast 50 years previous on that night, however, this toast was well qualified in that David pointed out the qualities revealed of the man he had previously proposed was alas not that slim, red haired (with a quiff fringe) business partner he had introduced into this great fraternity, but instead this was a gentleman that had 50 years later clearly proved himself to be a kind, considerate, courteous, always in office, wonderful Freemason, no less a truer word spoken.