It seems most appropriate that 50 members and guests should attend a 50th anniversary meeting. This recently occurred at St Anne’s Lodge No 2457 where these 50 brethren assembled to honour the golden jubilee of Isaac George Goodwin PPrSGD, affectionately known as Zeke.
St Anne’s lodge attended to the usual business which included the reading of the lodge minutes from 100 years ago, a quiet meeting due to the exigencies of WWI. The current lodge continued by dealing with accounts and correspondence before receiving David Thomas, Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies. David is usually very staid in demeanour but even he was seen to smile over the splendour of his reception by the eloquence of master of the lodge Michael Hornby. David announced the presence of the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, David Winder, who processed into the lodge accompanied by grand officers Bill Eardley, David Randerson and John Parkinson. They were supported by Ian Ward Chairman of the South Fylde Group, four acting Provincial grand officers, and other distinguished brethren.
The master offered the gavel of the lodge to David Winder, which was accepted and David assumed control of the lodge. After salutations from the brethren he introduced the main business of the meeting, which was to honour Zeke’s 50 years in Freemasonry. He assured all present that he felt it was always a privilege to preside over an anniversary celebration and in this case for a brother who had enjoyed such a unique profession. Zeke had been a tanker driver, but not just any tanker driver. Zeke had driven a tanker carrying 5,000 gallons of William Grant’s whisky! David added that he should state this from the outset, so as to get everyone into the ‘spirit’ of the occasion!
David then gave a feel for what was happening in 1965, the year of Zeke’s initiation into Freemasonry. Harold Wilson was prime minister, with Edward Heath in opposition. The year saw the passing of Sir Winston Churchill as well as the last top-flight football match played by Sir Stanley Matthews at the tender age of 50 years and five days. Both were, of course, Freemasons. It was the year when Cassius Clay knocked out Sonny Liston to become world heavyweight boxing champion. Racing driver Jim Clark won the Indianapolis 500. Space probe Ranger 8 sent back valuable data before crashing into the moon’s surface, data that would prove invaluable in aiding the successful landing of Apollo during the same decade. And finally, it was the year when ‘Mary Poppins’ chim-chimneyed its way to ‘best film’ at the Oscars. Without the aid of a magic umbrella Zeke was placed in the centre of the lodge and David urged him to relax and enjoy the occasion.
It was on 12 May 1937 that King George VI was crowned at Westminster Abbey. It was also the day that an equally joyous event occurred in the lives of William and Elizabeth Goodwin with the birth of their first son Isaac George. His first name followed a family tradition of naming children after biblical characters but also found him named after his grandfather, Isaac. There was no doubting that Zeke was definitely a ‘coronation baby.’
William Goodwin worked as a moulder in a large engineering company exclusively making railway train wheels. Elizabeth remained a housewife, eventually having three children to care for, as Zeke had a brother named James and a sister Ruth. Zeke attended Abercorn combined primary and secondary school between the ages of five and 16 years. During this time he joined the Boys Brigade, emerged as a keen runner and became a member of Paisley Harriers, all of which maintained his fitness and enlarged his circle of friends.
On leaving school he was apprenticed for five years as a boilermaker to Babcock and Wilcox, a major engineering firm. On completion of his apprenticeship and having qualified as a journeyman, Zeke’s life was about to take a different direction as he was called up for national service in the army. His fitness from all that running became a useful attribute in this respect. He was posted to the Royal Artillery, 118 Radar Battery. This entailed doing his square-bashing in another country. So off to Oswestry he went! Zeke was eventually posted to Cyprus (the land of hot sun and cold beer) but after 18 months he had to return on compassionate leave as his father was seriously ill. He spent the final six months of service on Salisbury Plains, which he describes as a total waste of time.
On being demobbed Zeke declined a return to his former profession, electing instead to become a driver for Galbraith’s, delivering vegetables to local shops in the Paisley area. This led to him being promoted to the post of distribution manager, a post in which he continued until 1966. He was then spirited into a new job as a tanker driver with William Grant at Paisley. This involved travelling 200 miles to Dufftown in the Highlands, to collect 5,000 gallons of the raw product, which was called ‘clearic’ and was about 90% proof. He would then take this to Girvan where it would be stored in sherry butts from Portugal, or bourbon butts from America. As in his previous job, Zeke was promoted to distribution manager as which he was in charge of transport and security. It also involved organising staff and contractors in the export arm of the business, ensuring that identification codes were applied so that foreign workers would easily recognise batches. Although he retired from this post in 1994, Zeke stayed on for a further 18 months to oversee the closure of the Paisley plant.
Zeke married his first wife Mary at Houston Parish Church, Scotland in 1963 after they met at a young farmer’s ball. They enjoyed 13 happy years during which their son James and daughter Helen were born. It was with great sadness that he lost Mary to bowel cancer in 1976. He met his second wife Sheila at work where she was a stenciller responsible for ensuring cases of whiskey met the demands of Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise inspectors. The newlyweds honeymooned first in York where a supplier of whisky glasses offered him a busman’s holiday so that they could close a deal. They then took a proper holiday in Portugal. Sheila’s son worked for British Aerospace at Warton and frequent visits had made Zeke very fond of Lytham, so when he finally finished at Grants in 1996 they moved to the South Fylde where he quickly became involved in the local United Reformed Church and Age Concern.
Through Sheila’s Women’s Institute work, Zeke was to meet John Rawnsley who proposed him as a joining member into Friendship Lodge on 26 November 1999 where he made many friends, several of whom were in attendance at this meeting. Zeke was initiated into Lodge Captain Speirs No 791 at Houston, which operates under the Scottish Constitution, on 16 March 1965. He was passed on 21 September and raised on 19 October in the same year. As is normal in Scotland he became a Mark Master Mason shortly after. He was installed into the chair of Captain Speirs lodge in November 1992. He has a treasured bible presented to him that day, signed by 27 masters and past masters in attendance. In recognition of his 11 years as charity steward of Friendship lodge, Zeke was honoured with his current Provincial rank. With the encouragement of his close friend Joe Wheatley, following the closure of Friendship lodge, he joined St Anne’s lodge along with several others.
Zeke’s 50 years as a Mason was marked with a certificate from Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison which was read to the meeting by Ian Ward and presented to Zeke by David Winder. He also received his 50 year badge from Ian Ward and a fine engraved glass ornament presented by the master on behalf of the lodge. Following this, the principal guests retired in the normal manner with Zeke taking pride of place beside the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, joining him in the departing salute.
The banquet which followed was a predictably happy way to close a fine event. In his toast to the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Ian Ward likened David’s leadership style to that of those late and great Masons, Winston Churchill, Ernest Shackleton, and Alf Ramsey. In his reply David said that it was an honour and delight to have joined brethren from so many lodges, particularly St Anne’s lodge and members of the former Friendship lodge, to celebrate Zeke’s special night.