At Southport Masonic Hall, a celebration was held in January for an extremely distinguished member of Rose of Lancaster Lodge No 2325, David Edwards having already achieved the heady rank of PPJGW, was delighted to celebrate his 50 years in Freemasonry.
The respect and affection held for David was evident even before proceedings began with the brethren of his lodge warmly greeting each other with smiles outside the lodge room and an exceptionally large number of visitors having made a special effort to attend. These included a large Provincial contingent including Assistant Provincial Grand Master Frank Umbers and his team, who had made the journey to Southport to make the presentation to David and take part in the celebrations.
The lodge was first opened by the WM, Maros Oriesek who conducted the business of the lodge prior to the presentation. The Provincial contingent then proceeded in to great fanfare, with Frank being accompanied by the group chairman Phil Stock and Albert Cross. They were marshalled in good order by Mark Barton who directed the ceremony. The procession was mighty and included; Les Gilston, Richard Jenkinson, Ian Moss, Richard Winfield, David Paton, Robert Midgley together with two members of the lodge, David Scott and Roger Binks acting as Provincial deacons.
Frank was warmly welcomed by the WM, who offered him the gavel which he accepted with grace and a chair was brought forwards for David who with a smile as welcoming as it was genuine took his seat for the presentation. Frank quickly showed his uniquely human touch in the volume of research he had done, having not just spoken to lodge members but visited David at home to congratulate him and provide extra depth to his presentation.
His job had no doubt been made easier by the fact David had led an adventurous and fulfilling life, both inside and outside Freemasonry. He was born in Walton into a culture of hard work, his father being the driver of the (at the time) largest wagon in the country and his mother running a fish and chip shop. He attended school, not in a building, but on a school ship, a concept not found often today. Studying not just subjects we would recognise today like maths and English, but also navigation and engineering, it was an environment in which David thrived.
He achieved the distinction of being promoted to Cadet Sea Captain and won the prestigious Conway Extra Certificate for which you needed to both achieve 65% or more in all subjects and win the Science and Engineering prize. This was capped with him being invited to take part in the Royal Navy celebrations at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, a day of great pride for him and his family.
After leaving school, David pursued a career on the open seas, serving his apprenticeship with the Guinea Gulf Line, trading to West Africa. Across a series of companies, David then travelled to North America, the Mediterranean and Spain, achieving a number of promotions over the time. This was capped only six years after leaving school when he passed his First Mates Certificate and decided to return home, taking a career as a pilot on the Manchester Ship Canal. The appointment was a happy one and a further number of promotions followed. David then stayed with the company until his retirement in 2002, having served as the pilot’s representative to management and the Harbour Master. It was during this period that David married his wife Joyce and they have three children and five grandchildren. David remains very much a family man and still being the adventurer he always has been, has travelled extensively with his wife and sons.
It was also during the period working as a pilot that David was first initiated into Freemasonry, initially joining Lodge of Emulation No 1505 in Liverpool in November 1973. This continued his family tradition, as his father and elder brother were also Masons. He quickly became a regular visitor to Southport and in 1976 joined Rose of Lancaster Lodge where he has happily remained ever since. In his Freemasonry, David quickly showed the same aptitude and ‘can do attitude’ he showed in other areas of his life. He was assistant secretary before he was WM and over the years has many distinguished years serving as ADC, director of ceremonies (twice) and secretary. Even after 50 years he continues to contribute to the lodge as almoner and lodge mentor.
This has naturally come with a succession of promotions resulting in him holding the rank of PPJGW, which he has held since 2012. Possibly the greatest hallmarks of David’s Freemasonry however are the friendships he has built. Indeed, he is part of a class of Freemasons approaching their 50th, one of whom is Gordon Hughes, who sadly passed following his own 50th. It must be noted as an example to all younger brethren, that on an evening about him, the first thing David did after the ceremony was have his photo taken with Gordon’s son Phil Hughes.
Following David being handed his certificate, the gavel was returned to the WM, who closed the lodge. The evening then proceeded to the festive board. As upstairs the volume of people in the room was a testament to how many lives David has touched over the years, and the congratulations continued into the evening. Many speeches were given, jokes were told and it must be said it was a very merry occasion indeed.
Throughout that welcoming smile which lit up the room during the presentation and that easy manner which is the hallmark of so many kind and successful men, was an ever present throughout the evening as all took their turns to shake David’s hand.