A significant number of Masonic colleagues, friends and even family turned up to witness a rather special occasion at Eccleston Lodge No 7754. The special occasion was that of Michael Iddon Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works having served in the Craft for 50 years. It was in fact his 51st year. However, who knew we would have to put celebrations on hold whilst the COVID-9 pandemic took hold.
On the evening, the WM Andy Sumner opened the lodge and discharged the business of the lodge in time honoured fashion. Following a knock at the door of the lodge, Andy admitted Peter Lockett Assistant Provincial Grand Master as he had demanded admission. Following the obligatory exchange of pleasantries, Andy gave the lodge’s gavel to Peter who accepted and kept it to ensure that he would oversee and lead the evening’s celebratory proceedings.
Peter announced that the next item of business was to celebrate 50 years in Freemasonry by Michael Iddon. He went on to say: “This evening we are summoned to a very special meeting to honour and pay tribute to one who has served the Craft, loyally and faithfully for 50 years, and it is so nice to see so many brethren here this evening, sharing in Michael’s special occasion; this wonderful milestone on his Masonic journey and he can now add ‘golden jubilee’ into his portfolio.”
The celebrant was placed in front of the master’s pedestal and Peter asked whether he was sitting comfortably. Looking around the lodge room, Michael suggested that he wasn’t sure given that all eyes were upon him. The brethren chuckled at this and this seemed to settle Michael’s apprehension and nerves for what was about to happen next. Peter took everyone to the year 1939 which turned out to be a very important year in history for a number of reasons. King George VI was on the Throne, Neville Chamberlain was Prime Minister, the Spanish Civil War ends with Franco victorious, WW II began as Germany invaded Poland, Albert Einstein and President Roosevelt began the American ‘A-Bomb Programme’ and on a Wednesday in December over in Bury Infirmary, Mrs. Mary (Molly) Iddon gave birth to a son to be named Michael, joining his older brother Gerald in the Iddon family.
Michael and his family lived in Bury for a period of six years before they moved to live at Thornton Cleveleys for a further five years. Whilst there, Michael’s brother Richard was born. The family were on the move once more when his father Cyril, a police Sergeant with Lancashire Constabulary, took up office at Chequerbent Police Station, near Westhoughton. During this period Michael’s sister, Carol was born.
School life started in Bury followed by Thornton Junior School, on to Fleetwood Grammar School, Hindley and Abram Grammar School, and finally to Balshaws Grammar School in Leyland. His school career closely following his father’s police career.
A significant move in Michael’s life turned out to be something completely different; it was to Auldene Nurseries in Ulnes Walton in 1955. His parents managed to scrape together enough money to purchase the nursery for the grand sum of £5,000.
Michael left school in 1956 with five ‘O’ Levels and immediately went to work at the nursery. The new business started as a nursery and roadside shop, eventually becoming a garden centre. He was involved with the growing side of the business and physically building the facilities. Throughout his working life he only ever worked at Auldene Nurseries. In 1992, his business had the honour of becoming the ‘Garden Centre of the Year’ in North West England.
In January 1961, Michael met his wife Joyce at the Floral Hall Southport. They married in June 1963 in Ormskirk, where they lived for three years in a caravan on the nursery site followed by a move to Much Hoole where they lived for a further 12 years. They then lived in a house on nursery land and in 1997, after 42 years in the business; they decided to retire and Michael now lives in Eccleston.
There are three children, Lesley, Roger and Kathryn and as a result of that he now has five grandchildren and a great granddaughter. Unfortunately, and following a long illness, Joyce passed away between Christmas and New Year in 2017.
Michael has been extremely active in the community, serving as a Borough Councillor for two years in Chorley. He is a member of two woodcarving clubs, deriving a lot of pleasure from this activity. He has started cycling, where most are giving up at his age! He also enjoys attending philharmonic concerts.
Michael was proposed into the Eccleston Lodge in 1970 and initiated on 17 December, 1970. He was passed to the second Degree on 18 March 1971 and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason on 18 November 1971. Progressing through the floor offices he was installed as master on 15 October 1981. He served Eccleston Lodge well, holding the office of treasurer (2014-2018). He was the assistant director of ceremonies for two years. Michael left Masonry for a while and later re-joined Eccleston Lodge in 2011 when his son Roger informed him that he was joining the Royal Sussex Lodge No 491 in Jersey. Michael has also joined that lodge as an overseas visitor. He was also a member of the Royal Arch for a period.
Michael was honoured by the Province in 1990 when he was appointed Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon. Promotion followed and to the rank of Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 2018.
Peter exclaimed: “There is no doubt at all that your entire life has also been an example of what makes a good Freemason, as well as a good citizen, a good husband, a good parent and in every way, a contributor to society as a whole.” He also said: “There is also no doubt that during the last 50 years, anyone who happened to learn that you are a Freemason, could not fail to see you as anything other than a good ambassador for our Order.”
Peter at this point, invited Peter Allen, Chairman of the Chorley and Leyland Group, to read a certificate which is an acknowledgement of the Province of West Lancashire’s great appreciation of the half a century of membership of the Craft. The certificate was then presented to Michael and the lodge was subsequently closed by the WM before everyone retired to the dining room. Here, further celebration took place and once Michael’s son Roger had given the toast to his dad’s health, Michael suitably replied.
All members and visitors at the occasion where treated to both an enlightening and most enjoyable social evening. Everyone personally congratulated Michael before departing for home knowing they had witnessed a great celebration.