Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Winder has already presided over in excess of 80 ceremonies for local Freemasons celebrating either 50th, 60th and even 70th anniversaries of their initiations into our order.
The routine is always very well choreographed on the night by David, along with his Provincial Deputy Director of Ceremonies, who in this instance proved to be Ian Halsall. David had already ‘invaded’ Franks home, as he normally describes it, to glean the essential information of the celebrant’s life. What follows are the salient facts about the life of 84-year-old Frank Beck, who was celebrating 50 years as a Freemason in Fairhaven Lodge No 5076.
Frank Beck was born in Barrow-in-Furness on Valentine’s Day, 14 February 1935. Due to a difficult birth, the local vicar was called to christen the new baby, as Frank wasn’t expected to survive. Strangely enough, the vicar was called Frank! Imagine the vicar’s surprise when having named the child Francis, he discovered that the baby’s father was also called Frank.
Frank senior worked at Holker Hall and was described as a workaholic who would be spinning many plates at the same time to make ends meet. He knew everything about animals and could and would break horses. He would be working all the hours that God sent, leaving his wife, Mary, to run the house and look after the family. This lifestyle rubbed off onto Frank junior and even today his wife was quoted to say to him: “You have never stopped.”
Times were hard and Frank senior was always running side-lines such as breeding budgerigars, poultry and pigs. He also used a large garden to grow food; mainly for the family but often for neighbours as well. All these while keeping down a full-time job. Frank junior was given important responsibilities by his father. These included cycling in many directions on a rickety machine, collecting necessary provisions and paying for them from the ration books. He even paid bills and rates while mum was left at home caring for the other children Doreen, Bernard and Roy. With hens and pigs for the family to keep, Frank junior was adept at all aspects of feeding and caring for these too.
Suffering from what we now know as dyslexia, Frank junior struggled at school, whereas his sister Doreen went to grammar school. However, this didn’t prove to be such a drawback, as his uncle John got him a plum job at a local steelwork’s, from which Frank earned £2 10s (£2.50) per week, which was at least a pound more than any of his contemporaries. Two pounds of this went to his mother, leaving him with 10 shillings, a lot of money in those days. He would be seen at the local cinema about three times a week. This led to him obtaining a spare-time job as the ‘rewind boy at the ABC.
Several jobs were to follow including cotton-reeler, shipwright and fitter. During this time Frank had met Margaret, his wife to be. This relationship blossomed and they were married on 22 March 1957 at St Aiden’s Church, Barrow-in-Furness. Margaret had found their new home, which would have cost £250 to buy at that time. The rent proved to be seven shillings and six (old) pence, now equivalent to 37 new pence. Finances were always tight in those days. Frank was still working at Vickers and to obtain further funds he obtained a job selling cars but received his wages in old cars, which he repaired and sold on, often to family members.
Frank’s varied working life took a further shift, he having obtained a railway fitters job and learned how to deal with the various repairs needed with advice from Margaret’s brother Bill Joughin, who was a time served plumber. Bill also managed to secure spare time work laying railway tracks.
After replying to an ad that Margaret had found in a local paper, Frank was eventually trained as a maintenance manager of punch hole machinery. This led to employment as a manager of tabulator machines, first with Vickers, then IBM and eventually with ICT at Guardian Royal Exchange in St Annes.
Frank and Margaret went on to buy a hotel, which they worked for several years before selling it for a tidy profit. They also purchased a timeshare in Florida, which has provided them with many enjoyable holidays. They have two children, Craig and Jill, and four grandchildren. They also fostered a baby called Kay but were not allowed to adopt as they already had two children of their own.
Frank Beck was initiated into Fairhaven Lodge on 21 February 1969. His proposers were Ken Hughes and Neville Tate. He worked his way through the offices and was installed as master of Fairhaven Lodge on 18 November 1978. Following on from this, Frank served as treasurer for eight years and was instrumental in many lodge social events. He also spent several years as charity steward. His first Provincial appointment was as Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon, he was later promoted to Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of works. Frank joined Fylde Chapter No 2758 in 1972. His son Craig is also a Mason.
At the festive board the toast to Frank Beck was given jointly by Alan Brotherton and Bill Joughin. Bill proved to be a fine and entertaining speaker, who delivered both a sincere and entertaining speech. Alan sang a traditional verse to the master, which he adapted for the occasion. Both speakers were fulsome in their praise of the celebrant and received a suitable ovation for their efforts.
In response, Frank Beck stated that joining Freemasonry had made him a better man. He spoke of his history in Masonry and how he had learned so much about life as a result. He too proved to be an entertaining speaker, particularly when he told the story of buying the hotel without a penny in the bank. He delivered a moving finale when thanking all of the people he had met through being a Mason but reserved his final thanks to his wife Margaret.
After presenting a gift to David Winder for his wife Sue, the tyler’s toast was delivered by Barry Hage.