In a full lodge room at Morecambe Masonic Hall, Keith Dorrington, the director of ceremonies for Poulton Le Sands Lodge No 1051, celebrated his golden jubilee in Masonry. The principal guest for the evening was Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger, but a most welcome addition to the guest list was the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, not surprising really given that Poulton Le Sands Lodge is his mother lodge. Tony and David were joined on this special occasion by grand officers Keith Kemp and Philip (Phil) Gardner, Lancaster and District Group Secretary Scott Devine, the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Barry Fitzgerald, together with eight acting Provincial grand officers including David Cole, Steve Plevey, John Eccles, Alfred Dickinson, David Rigby, Philip Burrow, Keith Halligan and Stewart Aimson.
The master of Poulton Le Sands Lodge Mike Ashton, welcomed Tony Harrison into the lodge and offered him the gavel, which he politely declined. The gavel was taken up by the principal guest for the evening David Grainger, who then asked Barry Fitzgerald to place Keith before him. After making sure Keith was sitting comfortably, David embarked on a very fascinating and enlightening reflection on Keith’s domestic, professional and Masonic life.
Keith was born in 1941 and David began his address by putting in context what other memorable events had occurred in the year of Keith’s birth. 1941 was a dark period in the history of this country as we stood alone against the might of Nazi Germany. In that year HMS Hood was sunk with only three survivors from a crew of over a 1,000, the carrier Ark Royal was sunk and London saw some of the heaviest bombing of the war. However, 1941 was also a great turning point in the war. In June that year Germany invaded Russia, which led it to fighting on two fronts. In December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbour bringing the Americans into the war and the Enigma Coding Machine fell into Allied hands allowing German coded messages to be deciphered.
However, the event of concern at the evening under review was the birth of Keith Dorrington at Parkfield Drive in Lancaster. Like many children born during the war, Keith spent a great deal of his early years being brought up by his grandparents. During these years Keith was often found accompanying his grandfather, who was an engine driver, during school holidays or at weekends.
Keith was educated at Bowerham Junior School and Greaves Secondary Modern and later went to Lancaster Technical School. On leaving school, Keith found employment with a local builder John Siddel, where he attended day release at the local college and obtained his ONC in building. In time, Keith became a clerk of works with the county council and it was around that period in early 1960, that he met his future wife Cynthia (Cindy), eventually marrying in February 1965. In the autumn of 1965 his work with the county council ceased and Keith found employment with a consultancy firm in Essex. Cindy relocated to be with Keith and it was while working in the south of England that they had two sons. In 1977 Keith successfully applied for a job with a firm of consulting engineers who were building a huge sewage works in the United Arab Emirates and went out to Abu Dhabi to work for them. Cindy and the boys joined Keith in 1978. Keith was in the Middle East for almost 10 years and besides Keith’s time as a resident engineer, he and Cindy also found time to home school their sons. Cindy also worked as a registrar in an English Language School and Keith acted, on behalf of the British Console, as an exam supervisor and invigilating officer for students taking GCE’s and American qualifications.
In 1987 Keith and his family returned to the UK. Various jobs then followed, including working as an examining engineer at Heysham 2 Nuclear Power Station. Finally, Keith found employment working on various road networks and bridges in the Whitehaven and Manchester areas until his retirement.
Keith’s Masonic journey started when his father-in-law proposed him into Poulton Hall Lodge No 6647 in 1965 and with good Masonic planning he had to wait until he was at the other end of the country before being informed he would be initiated in November 1967. At this point David asked the lodge secretary to read an extract from the minutes detailing Keith’s initiation into Poulton Hall Lodge on 8 November 1967. Keith became WM of Poulton Hall Lodge in 1996 and finally took over as director of ceremonies, a position Keith held until the amalgamation of Poulton Hall Lodge with Sandylands Lodge No 5702 and Rowley Lodge No1051 in 2007. Keith became director of ceremonies of Poulton Le Sands Lodge in 2016. Keith holds the Provincial rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon. In the Royal Arch, Keith was exalted into Heysham Chapter No 4108 in 1989, became its first principal in 2001 and holds the Provincial rank of Past Provincial Deputy Grand Sword Bearer.
David then asked the group secretary Scott Devine to read the commemorative certificate which the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison had caused to be issued, but in a change from the normal procedure David requested that Tony Harrison present the certificate to Keith himself. Tony congratulated Keith and wished him the health to enjoy many more years in Freemasonry.
During the festive board, the toast to Keith’s health was proposed by Phil Gardner, in which he expanded upon Keith’s Masonic history with some very funny anecdotes. Phil has known Keith for many years and has always been impressed with his ability with Masonic ritual. Phil concluded by saying all lodges are like families and Keith is one of the father figures of Poulton Le Sands Lodge.
Keith’s reply was very amusing, starting with how he met his wife Cindy in a Morecambe coffee bar. He then went on to talk about his love of dogs and said that all who know him have seen him walking his dogs in Morecambe. Keith said his ritual expertise was gained from long hours reading the ritual book whilst living and working away from home for many years. In conclusion Keith thanked everyone for their kind wishes.
Article and photographs by Paul Thompson.