Over 60 members and guests of Lodge of Lights No 148 visited Warrington Masonic Hall to celebrate with Dennis Wilding his 50 years in Freemasonry. The principal guest on this special occasion was Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton, accompanied by Barrie Crossley Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies.
The lodge was opened in due form by the WM Stanley Jackson and the usual administration duties undertaken. Shortly afterwards, when the lodge was in the third degree, Barry Crossley announced that the Assistant Provincial Grand Master was without and demanded admission. Kevin was then admitted in due ceremonial style and was accompanied by grand and Provincial grand officers including Gordon Amos, Stan Churm and group chairman Chris Eyres.
Stanley welcomed all present saying it was a great honour and privilege to see so many very distinguished brethren attending this auspicious occasion and continued by saying he hoped everyone would have a most enjoyable evening.
Kevin thanked Stanley and the brethren of the lodge for their very warm welcome and commented that he felt privileged and honoured to witness the celebration of such a long standing member of the craft. Kevin continued by bringing sincere good wishes from Tony Harrison the Provincial Grand Master.
Stanley, as a matter of procedure and as a mark of respect offered Kevin the gavel, which on this occasion he was delighted to accept and occupied the WM’s chair.
Kevin started by saying: “We all have to try and make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge. I am sure we all like to think we are well versed in our Craft rituals and those in the Royal Arch know there is a lot of ritual that has to be learned, but making a daily advancement isn’t just about ritual. It’s also how we go about treating our brethren and companions, how we live our lives and how we view those in the outside world who are not members of this fantastic organisation, we are all individuals! It is being different that makes it interesting, but we do all have one thing in common, that is, each time we meet we are happy to meet and we communicate happiness and if we do that we can safely say we have made our daily advancement. One of the daily advancements I made recently was right here in this building. Quite often, as is the case this evening, I have the honour bestowed upon me of being allowed to join in, or even lead the celebrations of a brother who has enjoyed 50 years in Freemasonry and recently, after talking with one of those celebrants, I suddenly realised that I had made a very important daily advancement in my Masonic knowledge. The lesson that I learned was that no matter where you go or what you do, nothing in life is worth anything unless you can share it with someone.”
That’s the reason why we are here this evening, to share in the celebrations of one of our own who has completed 50 years in Freemasonry and we have over 60 members and guests to witness the celebration. Kevin asked Barrie to place Dennis on the floor of the lodge and to ensure that he was seated comfortably. Kevin gave a comprehensive overview of Dennis’s life and career history. Some of which is here recorded.
Dennis was born on 9 September 1943 in what is now part of Runcorn old town. In 1947 his father, a turbine driver at Mersey Power Station, who had also served in the Home Guard (Dads’ army), bought a newsagent’s in Penketh and they eventually moved to Great Sankey. After attending Stocks Lane Primary School, Penketh and Great Sankey Secondary Modern School, Dennis passed the entrance exam to Newton-Le-Willows Junior Technical School in 1957. Leaving school he went to work as a student apprentice at Z D Berry and Sons Ltd., a firm of heating and ventilation engineers in Warrington. During this apprenticeship he attended Warrington Technical College and gained his Ordinary National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering, before completing a Diploma in heating, ventilating, refrigeration and fan engineering in London. This qualification enabled him to become a corporate member of the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers. Later he gained the Higher National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering and one of his tutors was a certain Stan Churm. Dennis achieved an examination pass mark of over 90% in his subject and on being awarded a prize for this achievement on prize giving night, Stan commented: “Well lad, you could have done better!”
After completing his apprenticeship he remained in the industry, becoming a contracts manager on a number of notable local building projects. These included the new Vauxhall Motors factory in Ellesmere Port, the Ford Motor Co. at Halewood, the Warrington Hospital redevelopment, the Warrington Market, the Lord Daresbury Hotel, the Science Research Council Daresbury Laboratories with particular reference to the white tower building, plus the Widnes Leisure Centre (swimming pool), Halton Hospital and the Empire Theatre refurbishment in Liverpool.
In 2005 ill health forced him to leave full time employment and he became self-employed, working with a former boss as a part time consultant estimator, a role he still fulfils to this day.
Dennis’s Masonic career started on the 9 February 1965. He was initiated into Good Companions Lodge No 7531, being conducted around the lodge by his father, who in addition to being his proposer was also the junior deacon of the lodge for that year. It was during his early years in Masonry that he attended Travellers’ Lodge of Instruction, where through his friendship with members of Travellers’ Lodge No 4679 he attended one of their social functions in 1973 and met a young lady by the name of Margaret Elston. They were married two years later on 10 October 1975 and went to live in Frodsham where they have been ever since. In 1993 they adopted Anthony and now have two lovely grandchildren, Cody who is three years old and Chloe who is one.
Throughout his working life Dennis has always found time for his Freemasonry and was WM of the Good Companions Lodge in 1976 and again in 1994. In 1982 he was appointed assistant director of ceremonies, in 1984 director of ceremonies and then treasurer in 1995, retiring in 2006. During this time he was appointed Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon in the Province of West Lancashire in 1988, promoted to Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 1996 and then Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2003. Following the amalgamations, in 2006, he became a member of Optima Lodge No 6101, serving for a substantial time as ADC and DC until its closure in 2014.
In 2006 Dennis joined the Lodge of Lights No 148 and became its WM in 2012, as well as a Warrington Masonic Hall Company shareholder, the Royal Arch contact and latterly the lodge mentor. He was exalted into the Elias Ashmole Chapter No. 148 in 1971, becoming its first principal in 1984. He served as ADC from 1987 to 1989 and DC from 1989 to 2013, being appointed Provincial Grand Standard Bearer in 1990, promoted to PPrGSoj in 1994 and then PPrGSN in 2001. As well as being the group lead Royal Arch contact from 2009 to 2011, he found the time to join Loyalty Chapter No 897, a chapter of installed principals, in 2014.
Despite such a heavy involvement in the construction industry and freemasonry, he has the usual hobbies of gardening and DIY and in 1992 qualified as a PADI open water scuba diver. Dennis’s main interest however, is one that he shares with his wife Margaret, the love of Samoyed dogs. They have shown Samoyed dogs at Crufts a number of times with some success. They are both judges and have travelled as far north as Scotland and as far south as Kent to officiate at dog shows. Dennis was, for 20 years, the treasurer of Chester City and County Canine Society and is currently treasurer and vice chairman of the Samoyed Association. It is through this association that they help in the re-homing of dogs and though all these activities demand a great deal of time, they still find time to travel demonstrating that keeping busy is a recipe for a healthy life.
To mark the occasion the Provincial Grand Master has caused a commemorative certificate to be issued and Kevin asked Chris Eyres to read it. Chris read the certificate and handed it to Kevin who formally presented it to Dennis saying: “Sir, I now humbly present you with your certificate and thank you on behalf of the entire Province, for all you have done for Freemasonry in general and this lodge in particular and thank you for sharing this evening with us. Brethren, I give you Dennis Wilding, Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden of the Province of West Lancashire.” Much applause followed. Stanley resumed the chair and closed the lodge.
A fine banquet followed which included pate, cod mornay, roast turkey and chocolate profiteroles, all served with a generous helping of red and white wine. For the toast, a glass of port wine was supplied by the celebrant.
A raffle was conducted which generated a magnificent sum of £177. In conclusion Dennis thanked everyone for their support saying that he had enjoyed the day tremendously and was looking forward to his 60th!