There were 52 members, visitors and distinguished guests gathered at Ulverston Lodge 7872 to pay tribute to Peter Gardner, on his golden jubilee in Freemasonry. The tributes were led by Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Schofield. Peter was accompanied by grand officers Norman Thompson, Past Provincial Grand Master of Cumberland and Westmorland and past group chairmen Rowley Saunders and Alan Jones. Acting Provincial grand officers Ryan Modlin, Phil Renney, Andy McClements, Tony Jackson (also group secretary) and Mort Richardson, along with group chairman Alan Pattinson and vice chairman Chris Gray were all in attendance to support the proceedings.
The gavel of the lodge was offered by the master of the lodge Tony Taylor and accepted by Peter Schofield. The celebrant was then seated before him.
The son of Harold, a railway engineer and hairdresser Betty, Peter attended Church Walk Infants School in Ulverston from September 1946 before moving to Lightburn Boys School in Ulverston. It was at this time that Betty was admitted to High Carley Hospital with tuberculosis and sadly in May 1949, just before his 8th birthday, she passed away as a result of this awful disease. Peter’s grandmother, Mary Gardner, who lived close by, moved into the family home and continued to care for both him and Harold until his father eventually remarried to Phyllis Tinkler, with whom he had a wonderful relationship.
It was at this time that a good family friend, namely Les Preston and his good lady Jean stepped in to ensure, along with Mary, his father and Phyllis, that Peter had as normal a childhood as possible and he can remember many days out with Les and Jean on trips to the coast having ice-creams and spending many happy times with their family. Memories he will never forget, and remain indebted to Les for all the care and devotion he demonstrated during that difficult time in Peter’s life.
As a scholar, Peter was successful in achieving GCE O Levels in the subjects of maths, English language and English literature, French, history and Latin before, as expected, progressing on to the upper sixth form. During those sixth form days, Peter realised that University was not going to be for him and in 1958 he took the decision to leave education and seek a career in the big wide world.
Peter applied to the Provincial Insurance Company in Kendal, who were looking to recruit a trainee Fire Insurance Assessor. He received an interview and was offered the position. The training programme involved postings at various offices throughout the country which for Peter involved moves to Manchester and London over a two-year period.
His final move to London became his permanent working location, which provided him with excellent work experience. It soon became apparent that the cost of living in London was no match for the salary offered and because of a lack of development opportunity and promotion, Peter decided that it was time for a change of direction. Almost immediately he was successful in securing an interview with the Civil Service Commission for the position of Clerical Officer. The interview was held at the Home Office in Whitehall. He was successful in being awarded the position and by good fortune his first position was in the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance at Barrow-in-Furness.
Peter soon settled in to his new position and rapidly gained the necessary experience to more than adequately fulfil the duties. Very quickly he gained the respect of management and colleagues alike, so much so that he was elected the union representative. This resulted in him receiving extensive training in all aspects of the various departments within the Commission.
Peter was appointed management representative on the staff council with the Civil and Public Services Association covering the local area and the regional committee covering issues and situations throughout Lancashire. This involved joining a special team of representatives to establish pop-up centres in public buildings around areas of industrial dispute in many different locations, examples being Fords at Halewood, Pilkington Glass at St Helens and even here during Vickers Armstrong disputes, offering advice and guidance to employees involved in strike action.
After 10 years of service with the Civil Service, Peter decided to seek a change in employment and look for a position more suited to family life. Peter secured employment with Ashley Accessories Ltd in Ulverston as an assistant buyer, and due to the unexpected departure of the purchasing manager, he was rapidly promoted to Assistant Purchasing Manager, being deemed suitably qualified for the position.
Previous union representative experience was once again acknowledged and Peter was appointed representative on the staff council. Peter’s reputation as an excellent, hardworking assistant manager was again recognised and he was appointed Deputy Purchasing Manager before a reassessment of responsibilities ensured promotion to the very high position of Manufacturing Manager, a position he held up to his early retirement on 2 August 2000 at the relatively young age of 57 following 30 years of service to the company.
Having taken early retirement, Peter started working as a coach driver for Travellers Choice working 16 hours a week. The company soon recognised his integrity as a hardworking dedicated employee and before long he suddenly found himself working 60 hours a week driving all around the country.
Back in the early 60’s, one of his duties when the transitional move was taking place to the new office accommodation in Furness House, was to help the appointed GPO telephonist to establish the new telephone system and switchboard in the building. That person was Miss Gwyneth Osmotherley, who was the sister of Owen Osmotherley. Peter spent many days making Gwyneth feel welcome and advised her of the operational telephone needs of each department. They soon became very good friends and Peter eventually asked Gwyneth out for a date. The friendship soon developed into a romance and a suitable courtship. They were married at St. Mary’s Parish Church, Dalton on 25June 1966 and moved into their first marital home in Delhi Street, Walney.
Two years later they moved to Highlands Avenue in Barrow before their final move to Hartland Road where they both still reside today. The couple were blessed with two children, son David born in March 1974 and daughter Susan Elizabeth born in September 1976. Peter and Gwyneth were further blessed with two grandchildren, Sophie and Theresa, who live with their parents in Poland and enjoy dual nationality here in the UK and Poland.
Peter’s hobbies have included being an active member of Ulverston Amateur Operatic Society and he has appeared in the production of Me and My Girl and is actively involved in planning next year’s show Oklahoma. For many years he has been a member of the Savoyards, again starring in many productions such as HMS Pinafore, Yeoman of the Guard and Trial by Jury.
Peter’s early connection with railways through his father has continued throughout his life and he has become a member of the Keighley to Worth Valley and East Lancashire Bury to Rawtenstall Steam Railway Societies. Peter had a model railway set up in his garage which filled the whole building until Gwyneth said: “Enough is enough” and he had to reluctantly dismantle his pride and joy. However, rumours persist that the sections of the model have been retained and are due to make a reappearance in the not too distant future.
Peter is a lover of real ale and is partial to a pint or two now and again, which resulted in him becoming an active member of the local Campaign for Real Ale Branch and enjoying planned visits to local pubs to enjoy the various local brews.
For many years Peter has been an active member of Ulverston Round Table, enabling him to support the community in many charitable events including festivals and fetes in the area. Peter has, over his lifetime, been very actively involved in local churches, commencing in 1946 when he joined St Mary’s Parish Church Ulverston Sunday School and on his move to Barrow-in-Furness he became an active member of the congregation at St Aiden’s Church, a relationship which has continued for over 40 years. During that period of time, he was an active member of the deanery synod involved in all aspects of administration of churches in Barrow and Walney, including regional matters from Penrith to Furness for the diocesan synod, stepping down from those positions only after years of committed service.
Peter helped to raise almost £300,000 for St Aidan’s Church for a major refurbishment programme within the church. This outstanding achievement was recognised in 2017 when he was awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Services which was presented to him by Princess Anne. Further community service includes being Trustee and Director of the Barrow Food Bank, a position he held for a period of 8 years and he continues to be actively involved in the administration of this service to date.
Peter’s father Harold was a member of Ulverston Lodge, so it came as no surprise that he was proposed by Harold as a suitable candidate for Ulverston Lodge. His seconder was Harold Jackson. Peter was initiated into Ulverston Lodge on 14 January 1974. He was passed to the degree of a fellow craft on 10 June 1974 before being raised to the degree of master Mason on 9 December that same year.
Following his initiation Peter progressed through the various offices of Ulverston Lodge, all of which he fulfilled with great commitment and dedication, becoming WM in 1985. Peter served as lodge secretary from 1991 to 1994, fulfilling the office with great commitment and care. Peter had a reputation as a bit of a perfectionist, the administration of the lodge affairs had to be just right.
In Provincial Grand Lodge, Peter was appointed to the rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon in 1992 before receiving promotion to the rank of Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 2005, no doubt just recognition for his commitment and dedication shown to Ulverston Lodge. In 1991 Peter became a founder member of Lonsdale Lodge of Installed Masters No 9422 and has remained a member of that lodge ever since.
In the Royal Arch, he was exalted into Furness Chapter No 995 on 26 March 1985. He progressed through the offices of the chapter before becoming first principal on 25 November 1997, again all the offices of which were fulfilled with excellence. In Provincial Grand Chapter he was appointed to the rank of Past Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2005.
At this jubilee meeting, the alms collected in the lodge room amounted to £133.30 and the raffle at the festive board realised £206.00
As a footnote, it seems fair to mention that four of the brethren present were celebrating birthdays that day or the day previous. Many happy returns to the lodge assistant secretary Ben Cauldwell, Tony Taylor, Norman Thompson and Andy McClements.