South Eastern Group Chairman David Durling hosted a celebratory dinner to thank retired group chairman Mike Adams and similarly retired group secretary Peter Beswick for their many years of highly efficient and well-defined attention towards the running of the South Eastern Group.
The dinner, held at Urmston Masonic Hall, was well supported by the attendance of group officers and many members representing various lodges and chapters of the group, which as David said: “Was a sure sign of the upmost respect being shown towards both Mike and Peter.”
The evening dinner having been enjoyed, there were two initial toasts of the evening that to the Queen and that to the Grand Master the Duke of Kent. Addressing the brethren, David commenced his addresses to both Mike and Peter saying: “Brethren, we are here this evening to say thank you to Mike Adams and Peter Beswick for their great contribution to the South Eastern Group over many years.”
David then continued by giving a summary of both their Masonic experiences, skills and clear proven abilities. David said: “The evening was an opportunity to share in the celebration and to show our conjoined respect to two very fine Freemasons.” David said that if Peter would bear with him for a short while: “I would like to say a few words about Mike.” David continued by saying, Michael Adams became a Freemason on the 20 April 1978. He joined Doric Lodge No 2359 in the days when a Freemasons’ progress was somewhat slower than it is today, nevertheless, by the 18 November 1989, Mike had become WM of his lodge. In 2004, Doric Lodge was amalgamated into Prince Leopold, Doric and Parkfield Lodge No 1588 of which Mike became a member of the newly amalgamated lodge.
Mike’s first Provincial rank was as acting Provincial Grand Steward and then in 1998 he was promoted to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden. Grand rank came along in 2003 as PAGDC, and in 2015 promotion to PJGD.
As far as the Royal Arch is concerned, Mike was exalted into the Chapter of Industry No 361 in the Province of Cheshire, on 25 March 1980. In September 1996, Mike joined Chorlton Chapter No 1387 in West Lancashire where he progressed through the chairs and became first principal in November 1999. Chorlton Chapter sadly closed and handed back its charter in 2008 and so Mike joined Royal Protector Chapter No 3471. David said that Mike currently remains a companion of both the Chapter of Industry and Royal Protector Chapter to this day.
David said that just two years after Mike become the first principal, he was given the Provincial rank of Past Provincial Grand Sojourner and a promotion to Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah followed in 2005. Royal Arch grand rank came in 2012 as Past Grand Standard Bearer.
The start of Mike’s 21 years service to the South Eastern Group started in 1996 when he became group secretary followed by vice chairman in 2003 and in 2009, when Brian Hayes retired as group chairman, Mike became the new group chairman.
On a personal note, apart from Mike’s work as managing director of his floorcovering company, Mike has also had his health issues to deal with, and his subsequent work to improve the treatment of those affected by the same condition, speaks volumes for the type of man that he is. However you look at it, Michael Adams is an excellent Freemason. David then asked all the brethren to rise and to join with him in drinking a toast to Michael Adams.
David then turned his attention to Peter Beswick, he commenced by saying that Peter became a Freemason on the 25 March 1986. He joined Peel Moat Lodge No 7633 and progressed to the warden’s chair in 1993, before becoming WM in February 1995. 10 years later in 2005, Peter was master again.
Peter’s first Provincial rank was as acting Provincial Junior Grand Deacon in 2002 and promotion to acting Provincial Deputy Grand Superintendent of Works followed in 2007 and then to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2010.
In Royal Arch, it was in November 1988 that Peter joined the Chapter of Charity No 323 in the Province of Cheshire, but just like Mike, he finally saw the light and joined Prince Edward Chapter No 2109 in West Lancashire in 2001.
Peter became first principal of the Chapter of Charity in 1999 and then 10 years later first principal of Prince Edward Chapter in 2009. Provincial Rank in Cheshire came in 2005 as Past Provincial Grand Standard Bearer and then in West Lancashire in 2011 as acting Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. In 2015 Peter received a promotion to Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in West Lancashire.
At Group level, Peter’s service to the South Eastern Group started in 2008 when he became group charity steward during the 2010 Festival. He then took over as group secretary from Mike in 2009, a post he held for 8 years before he retired.
On a personal note, no explanation of Peter’s wonderful Masonic career would be complete without mentioning his heroic efforts on behalf of the brethren who formerly met at the Heaton Moor Masonic suite. When the brethren decided they wanted to move away from Bernard’s ‘cordon-bleu cooking’, Peter single-handedly agreed a move to the Kingsway Hotel, only to be thwarted at the 11th hour.
A forced move came when the brethren were evicted from Heaton Moor and Peter once again arranged a move to the Davenport Hotel in 2015, only for the management to decide to cease operations. This summer Peter has arranged the move to The Grange Club and David said: “Let us all hope that his skills are not called upon again for many years to come.”
David continued by saying that the journey through Peter’s career would not be complete however without mentioning the very successful group weekends away in York, a task he has undertaken for the last 16 years and this year being the final 17th gathering. David said that everyone who attends always say just how much they greatly enjoy themselves, and significant monies from which have been raised for charity.
David concluded that we are indeed lucky that two such fine Masons have coincided in coming along at the same time to serve our group. Again, David asked the brethren to join with him in drinking a toast to Peter Beswick.
In response to David, Mike rose and responded to his toast, Mike gave his grateful thanks to David for his toast and indeed the research he had achieved, Mike said during his earlier years of working within the group he had much pleasure in working alongside many fine Masonic gentlemen including Ken Moxley, Colin Penty-Wright and the previous chairmen Bill Roney and Brian Hayes.
Mike did point out his admiration for the assistance he was given from Phil Gibbs who was for a number of years his vice chairman. Mike said when he took over the position as group chairman he was responsible for 32 lodges and eight chapters, clearly that has now reduced, but never the less, David’s new responsibility to the group is well supported by the new group executive in the guise of Gareth Jones as group vice chairman, Nigel Paton as group secretary and the rest of the group officers.
During his term as chairman Mike said he had enjoyed every single one of the in excess of 600 installation meetings that he had been in attendance, he thanked the brethren for their support not only for the evening, but for the past 21 years of his office. Mike also said that if it had not been for the support of his wife Linda and their family, none of his involvement would have been possible.
Peter responded in similar fashion by thanking David for his most kind toast and similarly to Mike, echoed his thoughts for having felt deeply privileged by having the opportunity of working within the group and again working alongside some very fine gentlemen in the group and also the Province. Peter reiterated that this year would be the 17th and his last involvement of arranging the York Christmas group weekend away, but of course, hastened say this charity fundraiser should of course continue at the helm of another organiser in due course.
On behalf of the group, David then made a presentation to both Mike and Peter of some personalised crystal cut glasses and very fine digestive libations along with some bouquets of flowers for the their ladies.
Shortly after the event, David had in fact received communications of grateful thanks to the group from Linda and Helen both Mike and Peter’s wives respectively for the beautiful flower bouquets which had both taken pride of place in their homes.
Pictures and story by Eddie Wilkinson.