The brethren of the Duke of Lancaster Lodge No 1353 were honoured by the presence of the Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger for the propitious occasion of celebrating Alan Physick’s 50 years as a Freemason. David was joined by the Lancaster and District Group Chairman Jim Wilson as well as Neil McGill and Scott Devine, the group vice chairman and group secretary respectively. In addition, there were four acting Provincial officers in attendance, namely Richard Wilcock, Ian Thompson, Christopher Gray and Christopher Larder, all skilfully orchestrated by Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies David Thomas.
Having accepted the gavel of the lodge from its master Alan Long, David asked for the celebrant Alan Physick to be placed before him. After making sure Alan was sitting comfortably and that he could hear him clearly, David began his address by giving a brief but often humorous overview of Alan’s personal history, from mopping up after terrorists in Kenya and Aden, to artificially inseminating cows in the green fields of England and a spell as a male model for a local hairdresser in Lancaster.
Moving on, David reflected on the social and economic events that were taking place at the time of Alan’s birth in 1936. This was a particularly unique year for the country as it had three kings; George V, Edward VIII and George VI. It was also the year Bill Butlin opened his first holiday camp at Skegness in Lincolnshire; the Spitfire made its first test flight and the Queen Mary made her maiden voyage to New York. In that year, the average annual wage was £130; a loaf of bread cost the equivalent of 4.5 pence; a pint of beer 14 pence and the Daily Telegraph cost one penny.
Alan is the eldest of three boys born to his parents Annie and Charles Physick. His early schooling took place at Scotforth Primary School in Lancaster, before moving to Lancaster Royal Grammar School. After finishing school and having always been interested in agriculture, Alan enrolled at the Winmarleigh Agricultural College, near Preston. However, in 1957 National Service called and Alan joined the Kings Own Regiment. After basic training Alan was sent to Kenya and was part of the operation helping to mop up after the Mau Mau uprising, with further postings to Aden and Yemen. For his service in these trouble spots Alan was awarded the General Service Medal.
On being discharged from the army Alan tried his hand in the construction industry working on the then new M6 motorway, which lasted all of 12 hours. Still leaning towards a career in agriculture, he applied to the Milk Marketing Board for training as an artificial inseminator and when qualified became known as ‘the flying bull’. Alan spent eight happy years in this role and still has many friends from that period. In time Alan took control of a retail dairy delivery round and it was during this period that he met his future wife Margaret. Alan and Margaret were married in 1971and have been blessed with a son Stephen and a daughter Helen, together with four lovely grandchildren. In 1978 Alan had another career change and bought a tobacconist in Morecambe and remained in that business until his retirement.
In 1967 Alan’s friends Bill Burrow and John Fox proposed him for membership of the Duke of Lancaster Lodge and so it was in that same year that he stood ‘poor and penniless’ outside the door of the lodge awaiting his initiation into Freemasonry. At this point in the proceedings, David asked the lodge secretary to read an extract from the minutes detailing Alan’s initiation into the Duke of Lancaster Lodge No 1353 in 1967.
Over the years, Alan has held various offices within the lodge, being made its master in 1983. In 1993 Alan received his first appointment in Provincial Grand Lodge, being awarded Past Provincial Assistant Grand Superintendent of Works, followed by a further promotion in 2000 and ultimately achieving the high rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2008.
Alan freely admits that his main hobby is Masonry.
After commenting that “it had been a privilege to have been part of the celebration for his 50th anniversary”, David called upon the Lancaster and District Group Chairman Jim Wilson to read aloud a congratulatory certificate from the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, before presenting the same to Alan, wishing him health and happiness and hoping that he would continue to enjoy his Freemasonry for many years to come.
At the festive board after the ceremony, David Grainger rose to thank the lodge secretary Malcolm Morrison, for his efforts in organising the celebration, the acting officers for the tremendous amount of work that they do in accompanying him and to the group publicity officer for all his work. Special mention was made of David Thomas, without whom the evening would not have flowed as smoothly as it did.
The toast to Alan’s health was proposed by the lodge’s director of ceremonies Nigel Parrish, who paid a well-earned tribute to the work undertaken by Alan for the lodge, as he always holds an office and is more than happy to do any job asked of him, in fact in Nigel’s words “Alan epitomises Masonry”. In response Alan thanked everyone for all their efforts in making it a wonderful evening and in his final summing up quipped that he had once been asked, “How do you get to my position in Masonry?” – answer – “Try keeping alive!”.
Following the toasts, Alan was presented with a specially made cake commemorating his golden anniversary and in line with the spirit of the evening it was duly shared amongst the brethren present. The raffle at the festive board raised a wonderful sum of £216 towards Masonic charities.
Article and photographs by Paul Thompson.