It was an extra special regular meeting for Aughton Lodge No 7996 when 56 members and guests came together to celebrate the lodge’s golden anniversary at Ormskirk Masonic Hall.
On this auspicious occasion the honoured guest was Assistant Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning. Philip was accompanied by grand officers Frank Umbers (Ormskirk Group Chairman), Brian Fairhurst, Trevor Rimmer, Paul Hesketh and Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies John Chute. Also in attendance were acting officers Doug Lace PrSGD, Barry Hewitt PrAGDC, Steve Iddon PrAGPurs, Stewart Cranage PrGStwd and Brian Griffiths PrGStwd.
Philip, having accepted the gavel from acting WM Derek Westby, took his rightful place in the chair of King Solomon and gave a brief resume of interesting events that took place during 1965 when the lodge was founded.
He went on to recall that this was the era of the ‘swinging sixties’ when groups like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were high in the charts. Winston Churchill passed away in that year, the average house price was £3,500, long hair and mini-skirts were the rage and petrol was five shillings a gallon, (equivalent to 25p in new money).
Philip continued, that at the start of that year on Friday 15 January, Southport Masonic Hall saw the consecration of Aughton Lodge by the then Provincial Grand Master Lawrence Rutherford. The ceremony of consecration was followed by the installation of the first master Eric Waugh, with the installing officer being Thomas Ward the then Deputy Provincial Grand Master and the presenting officers the then APrGM Cyril Park and the Ormskirk Group Chairman Thomas Caunce.
It was interesting to note that Philip said: “Others who attended in an official capacity were the Provincial Senior Grand Warden Colonel Eric St Johnston who was at the time Chief Constable of Lancashire. The Provincial Junior Grand Warden was Desmond Ryan who in 1974 became Assistant Provincial Grand Master and the father of Colin and John, both of whom are active Masons in the Southport Group.”
The three PrDGDC’s were Lyndon Walmsley, Alan Ferris and Ken Moxley. Alan Ferris subsequently became Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and then Grand DC. Philip went on to say: “So highly regarded was Alan in London that he managed to persuade the Grand Ranks committee that when anyone from West Lancashire was appointed to Grand Rank, the minimum they should receive is PAGDC. On retirement as GDC in 1981 Alan became PrGM of West Lancashire.”
Looking at the list of founders of Aughton Lodge some familiar names appear, John Rothwell, who later became group chairman, the redoubtable John Tyrer (who in 1993 celebrated his 100th birthday in the lodge), Bill Worthington who ran the catering at Park Hall for many years and of course Norman Roberts.
In the years that followed, Aughton Lodge became known for having some of the best ritual in the group, largely on account of the formidable Norman Roberts who was preceptor of Aughton Lodge class of instruction for some 34 years, an extraordinary level of commitment, but the results speak for themselves and Norman’s efforts were justly rewarded in 1995 when he was appointed to grand rank as a PAGDC. Philip commented that no doubt this had been a very proud moment for the lodge and said that Norman had only ever missed two meetings in 38 years.
Philip said, ”On reflecting on Aughton Lodge these past years, it would be remiss of me if I did not refer to the contribution made to this lodge by Derek Westby, who has been both DC and secretary for longer than he himself would care to remember. I am sure the members would echo my sentiments when I say that the memory of Norman Roberts in terms of service, effort and commitment is alive and well in Derek Westby and long may that continue.”
In reflecting on its 50 year history Philip went on to say: “Aughton Lodge had become an intrinsic part of the Ormskirk Group and some of the members have gone on to serve not only the group but the wider Province. Brethren of Aughton Lodge, 50 years ago, the founders of this lodge began a legacy, some would say a legend and I think it is only right that you should take this opportunity to celebrate this golden jubilee. Unfortunately but inevitably, few if any of us here this evening will be around when this lodge celebrates it’s centenary, so today is your centenary, your chance to celebrate what Aughton Lodge is, what it was and what it will be in the future. Many in this room have known the founders of this lodge at a personal level and thereby provide a physical link to the past and are able to evidence the tenets and principles on which this lodge was founded. It is therefore quite right that you are continuing with those traditions and standards and that you remember your founders with the respect and esteem they quite rightly deserve.”
Philip concluded by wishing the members of Aughton Lodge all the very best on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master saying, “You have a wonderful lodge, with a tremendous heritage and may you all, in the words of Spock, live long and prosper.”
Derek then had the great pleasure of presenting Philip with four cheques; £3,000 to West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £1,000 to Friends of Tithebarn, £500 to Ormskirk Masonic Hall Building Fund and £300 to Dominic Nee. He also announced that further donations will be presented to further charities at a special event in February which will bring the total amount given to £7,996, (this being the number of the lodge).
At a very lively festive board the brethren received an individual illuminated history of the lodge, an engraved pocket watch and chain and an embroidered pocket handkerchief. Later in the evening a 50th anniversary cake was presented with everyone receiving a slice, much to the enjoyment of all present concluding a very memorable evening.