The Masonic Temple, Kingsway Widnes was the venue for the celebration of 50 years in the Craft for Bob Winch at Equity and Appleton Lodge No 1384. The WM Geoffrey Enright opened lodge in due form and completed the domestic business including the election of officers for the installation in February.
David Boyes, Assistant to the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, announced Assistant Provincial Grand Master Andrew Whittle who demanded admission. The brethren were upstanding to receive him with David Atkinson Mersey Valley Chairman and other distinguished brethren.
The WM welcomed Andrew into the lodge and offered him the gavel which he accepted and asked the DC to place Bob on a convenient seat before him. Andrew then gave some history of bob’s life. Some very famous people were born in 1943, the year of Bob’s birth; actors Chevy Chase, Christopher Walken and Ben Kingsley, Eide Sedgwick the model, Arthur Ashe the tennis player, Blythe Danner the actress, Billie Jean King the tennis player, Robert Fischer the chess grand master. But the most famous of them all was, Robert (Bob) James Winch born in December 1943, to his parents Frank Winch, a butcher and Margaret Winch nee Coslett a housewife, residing at 22 Abbeystead Road, Childwall, Liverpool. Bob was the second child to Frank and Margaret, who had been blessed with a daughter Diane some two years earlier in 1941, and a younger sister Patricia would follow in 1945 to complete the happy family unit.
Bob would attend Mosspits Lane Primary School in Wavertree, Liverpool, and after passing the 11 plus would go to the Holt High School also located in Wavertree, where he would graduate having attained five General Certificates in Education in the subjects of English, Mathematics, Chemistry, Geography, and Woodwork. Whilst at school, Bob was also an active member of the 4th Wavertree Troop of the Boy Scouts, and thoroughly enjoyed his time undertaking all the outdoor activities membership afforded him.
After leaving school, Bob took up the opportunity of becoming a butcher, an occupation that both his father Frank and his father before him had worked in. It was whilst working as a butcher that Bob met his future wife Beverley Evans, and they would be subsequently married on 19 March 1966, at Holy Trinity Church in Wavertree. Many of you will of course remember 1966 as that famous year when England won the World Cup and Everton won the FA Cup. Bob and Beverley would go on to have four children,
Bob continued to work as a butcher for Dewhurst’s, a famous butcher’s chain in the north of England until 1975, when he decided it was time to work for himself and he opened his own butcher’s shop on the Trees Estate in Huyton. Eventually Bob would branch out into also running a very successful outside catering business and a mobile bar business.
He recalls that it was during this period that as well as catering for the usual birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings., he also catered for many Masonic ladies’ evenings, Masonic half nights and catered for the lady Freemasons in Liverpool, when they met at the Devonshire House in Toxteth and had a full meal following their installation meeting.
In about 1989 Bob decided that he had butchered his last meat carcass and catered for his last outside function and having sold the shop and business he decided to have a career change. This decision would lead to working for Link 51, designing and selling industrial metal shelving and other metal products such as mezzanine floors. Bob knew he could sell from his previous occupation but had to attend college to learn the basics of CAD drawing and then in his own words learn the rest from the mistakes he made in his early designs. Bob recalls that to meet the yearly sales targets he needed to have at least one good repeat customer and for him that was the Wylfa Nuclear Power Station on Anglesey who as well as shelving, took three full mezzanine floors from Bob over the year, which he designed from scratch to fit the various locations in the plant.
In 1994 sadly Bob’s marriage to Beverley ended in divorce, he again took the opportunity to change careers again and decided to become a coach driver, working for several companies in the local area such as Anthony’s Travel run by at that time Tony Bamber who Bob recalls was a true gentleman and great boss. The company still exists today and is run by Tony’s son Richard. The final company that he worked for was Selwyn’s of Runcorn, and he was very happy working as a coach driver until eventually retiring in 2015 and he said that this was the most rewarding of his three career choices.
In 1995 Bob was living in Halewood, Liverpool when he met Linda Whitehead on a blind date arranged by his then next-door neighbour. Well brethren, what a blind date it must have been, as Bob was clearly knocked off his feet and smitten by love as he and Linda have been together ever since. In fact, after 27 years together they got married on 30 August 2022.
Bob had several interests and hobbies over the years including playing five-a-side football when he was young, which caused him to need a cartilage operation. He then took up riding motorcycles, but he kept falling off in the early days and this led to him having a pair of dodgy knees. The next hobby for Bob started off initially just as the chauffer for his two sons to the Skin Deeps Scuba Club as they had taken up the sport, but they soon persuaded Dad to get in the water and have a go. Bob of course thoroughly enjoyed the sport and continued with it for many years, long after his sons had given it up. Bob went on to become a first-class scuba diver.
After meeting Linda in 1995 Bob again took up motorcycling and had several large bikes selling his last in around 2000, Linda rode pillion and they used to go out and about in the summer. Bob said that he only stopped riding when he needed a new hip and could no longer get his leg over the seat! Following retirement from paid work Bob found that he could not just sit around at home, especially as Linda works as a part-time nurse in Halton Haven Hospice. Bob has now volunteered for eight years at the Hospice undertaking clerical duties and assisting the ward clerk with her duties. Bob finds his volunteering very rewarding and fulfilling and currently works about 15 hours a week.
Bob is to be congratulated for his volunteering at such a worthwhile cause, and brethren as some may be aware, one of our four guiding principles has now been renamed as service instead of charity. This is felt by the Provincial Grand Master to better reflect what so many Freemasons do for their local community. It is not always about providing money in the form of charitable giving, but it is also the hours we as Freemasons can volunteer our services and this is just as appreciated as our charitable giving by many organisations in our local communities. When not volunteering, and if Linda is not on duty working, Bob enjoys spending time with Linda at their caravan in North Wales, or when the weather is so brilliant during the autumn and early spring months and holidaying abroad somewhere hot. In fact, Bob said that in early March they are both off to Cape Verde and in late September to Dubai.
Turning to Bob’s family connections to Freemasonry, as far as can be ascertain, it started with Bob’s grandfather Jim Coslett who was initiated into Knowsley Lodge No 3581 on 15 December 1924. Bob’s father Frank was proposed into Knowsley Lodge by his father-in-law Jim Coslett and was initiated on 17 September 1942, although Bob said that his Grand Lodge certificate shows it as August. Jim then proposed his son-in-law and Bob’s uncle, Henry Moore into Kingsway Lodge No.7870, he was seconded by Frank and was initiated on the 16 April 1951. The next family members to join Kingsway Lodge were Bob’s cousins David Moore and Peter Moore, they were proposed by their father Henry and seconded by Jim Coslett their grandfather and they were initiated in a double ceremony on 20 February 1967. In fact, they also passed together on the 16 October 1967 and raised together on the 16 September 1968. Peter served the lodge as WM in 1978 and David was WM a year later in 1979, being installed by his brother.
Continuing with Bob’s personal journey in Freemasonry, he was proposed into Kingsway Lodge by his father’s brother Frank and seconded by his uncle’s brother David, being initiated on 18 February 1974, the ceremony being conducted by his father. Unfortunately, there is no copy of the minutes as they were returned to United Grand Lodge of England for safe storage. Bob was passed on 18 November 1974 and raised on the 21 April 1975, both ceremonies also conducted by his father.
Bob worked his way up the progressive offices of the lodge becoming its WM on 17 March 1986, the ceremony again conducted by his father. Unfortunately, the following year the senior warden of the lodge had to move away so Bob continued as WM for a second year. After his year as immediate past master, Bob took on various roles and offices in the lodge including preceptor, assistant director of ceremonies and director of ceremonies. He also took on the role of Lodge Festival Representative for the Masonic Boys and Girls Festival in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, in fact the festival would run for 10 years, the longest festival in the history of the Province of West Lancashire.
Bob was recognised by the Province of West Lancashire on 24 May 1993 when he was appointed to the acting rank of Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies. Bob took the office of WM again on two further occasions, the 18 March 1996 when it was again his father Frank who conducted the ceremony, and again on 15 September 2008. He was again recognised by the Province of West Lancashire on 4 October 2001 with a promotion in Provincial rank to the high rank of Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works. He was further appointed to the acting rank of Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies.
Sadly, due to falling membership Knowsley Lodge decided that it needed to amalgamate with another lodge and so on the 14 June 2006 it amalgamated with Widnes Lodge No.2819 to become Widnes and Knowsley Lodge No.3581. Bob said that the lodge retained the Knowsley Lodge number so that they could celebrate that lodge’s centenary in 2011, for which Bob was given the honour of being WM again for a fifth time, being installed on 19 September 2011 and serving during the centenary year and its celebration in March 2012.
Unfortunately, the newly amalgamated lodge only survived for a couple of years and was erased on 11 September 2013. On 2 May 2013, Bob became a joining member of Lodge of Equity and Appleton, and not being someone who can just sit on the back benches and do nothing, Bob has served as the lodge chaplain from February 2016 to February 2020, junior deacon from February 2020 until February 2021, junior warden from February 2022 until February 2023 and senior warden since the February 2023. This means that Bob will be the WM again in February 2024.
On 7 December 2001, Bob was exalted into Knowsley Chapter No.3581 and following its closure he became a joining member of Chapter of Equity No.1384 and became its first principal in 2014. Bob was recognised by the Province of West Lancashire on 12 October 2021 when he was appointed to the rank of Past Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies. To read Andrew’s full script, click here: Mersey Valley Bob celebrates 50th at Equity and Appleton Lodge history.
Andrew completed Bob’s history by turning to Bob and saying: “I’m sure I speak on behalf of everybody present that we are absolutely delighted to see you celebrating your 50th anniversary as a Freemason and even more so that you have allowed us to celebrate your special evening with you. Bob, such is the importance of your own golden jubilee that our Provincial Grand Master Mark Matthews has caused a certificate to be struck to mark this wonderful achievement which I shall now ask the group chairman David Atkinson to read the contents. After this, Andrew presented Bob with his certificate.