After 19 years of service to the Garston Group of lodges and chapters, group chairman Howard Griffiths retired from office at the meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge. The brethren of Garston Group felt that Howard deserved a fitting farewell and so, on a beautiful early summers evening, a packed hall ensured an unforgettable memory for Howard and his lady wife, Linda.
If Howard was in any way unsure of the respect and popularity in which he is held both within Garson and the wider Masonic community, he should now be under no doubt. Within days of the event being announced a sell-out attendance of over 100 brethren and their ladies had booked their seats.
The guest list included two Assistant Provincial Grand Masters; Derek Parkinson, who was accompanied by his wife Joan and Kevin Poynton and his wife Sue. Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master Howard Jones and his wife Pat joined the celebrations along with Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Sam Robinson and his wife Julie. Woolton Group Chairman, Andy Whittle and his wife Amanda, along with Howard’s predecessor, Sid Ford and his wife Val added their support to the evening.
The evening started with a bucks fizz reception held in the bar prior to master of ceremonies for the evening, Dave Atkinson, requesting the guests to make their way into the dining room. Dave then introduced Linda and Howard who were greeted by a standing ovation.
With the dining room full to the brim, group treasurer Barry Tomlinson said grace before an enjoyable three course dinner was served and enjoyed by all. At the conclusion of the meal Barry was called upon to return thanks.
Dave then invited Derek Parkinson to propose a toast to Howard. As is usual, Derek had taken the time to do his research, saying: “Howard you have served the Garston Group with distinction for 19 years. Beginning in 1998 when you were appointed group secretary and then as vice chairman prior to undertaking the chairmanship some five years ago.” He went on to thank Howard for his tireless efforts adding that: “Your dedication had been recognised with promotion within Grand Lodge and Supreme Grand Chapter in the same year.” As Derek said: “Not unique, but very unusual, and a fitting reward”. He continued by thanking Linda for her appreciation of the many demands on Howard’s time and for her unstinting support.
In his response to the toast Howard gave his thanks, firstly to Linda for all her support, patience and understanding in allowing him the time to undertake the many commitments his roles have demanded. He went on to offer his thanks to Sid, former group vice chairman, Ken Bradley, as well all the officers of the Garston Group. He then made special mention of the hall directors who have done so much to improve the hall and its facilities whilst controlling costs. He went on to say that he felt the hall to one of the finest Masonic halls within our Province.
Howard’s final thanks were to new group chairman John Murphy and group vice chairman Dave Atkinson for all their efforts in arranging and managing the evening. He then congratulated them and newly appointed group secretary Garry Mason on their new roles wishing them every success in the future.
Howard was then presented with gifts of new tablet computer, a cheque for £270 from the lodges and chapters of the group and another for £100 from Garston Masonic Hall. He also received, to quote Howard: “A bottle of medicine,” in fact a fine malt whiskey from another of the group’s lodges. Linda was presented with a wrist watch and a beautiful hydrangea shrub for their garden so ensuring a lasting memory of the Garston Group and its gratitude and affection for Howard and Linda.