A large number of brethren gathered at Wellington Park, Leyland Masonic Hall, and the reason for their attendance was to celebrate 50 years in Freemasonry for, and along with, Malcolm Stuart Cowburn, Stuart as he likes to be known.
Stuart is a member of Carnarvon Lodge No 2376 and was honoured on the evening by the presence of Ray Martland, Assistant Provincial Grand Master. Ray brought along with him seven acting officers which swelled the number of members and visitors to 60.
WM Derek Sherliker opened the lodge and executed the business prior to Ray being admitted into the lodge room. Derek welcomed Ray on behalf of the lodge members and offered him the gavel. Ray was delighted to be there and after taking the gavel from Derek, stated that he wished to retain it for the purposes of celebration.
Stuart was seated in the centre of the lodge room ready for the celebration to begin and as always Ray, having made himself ready, asked if every brother was sitting comfortably; and so the précis of Stuart’s life began.
Ray had been over to see Stuart and Dorothy earlier in the year and they had chatted about past times over coffee and biscuits. It was 1943 when Nellie Sadie Cowburn, known as Blossom, gave birth to Stuart. It was also a popular year as George VI was on the throne; Winston Churchill was Prime Minister, the Dam Buster’s raid on the Ruhr dams in Germany by the RAF 617 squadron with bouncing bombs took place and The Battle of Bamber Bridge was fought.
At age five, Stuart attended Fox Lane Infants School before graduating and attending the juniors over the road. When he was aged nine he took part in the Moss Side Carnival, walking alongside the May Queen, bearing the crown and wearing a kilt. Aged 11 he passed a scholarship and travelled to Wigan to the Thomas Linacre Technical College where he achieved eight O’ levels in maths, English, German, physics, chemistry, engineering drawing, woodwork and metalwork. Swimming was Stuart’s sport and he regularly frequented Wigan Baths.
Ray continued that at the age of 16, Stuart joined his dad in his new company, Speedwell Tools, at Meadow Street, Preston, working behind the counter. He became sales representative for a while before becoming Sales Director. The company employed 30 staff and the aerospace and nuclear and electrical traction (GEC) industry was the key to its success. During the Gulf War, Stuart became involved in aircraft spares and contracts, building up a knowledge and experience of NATO numbering systems, using advice from the RAF.
Also at the aged of 16, Stuart enjoyed going to the youth club at Leyland Methodist Church each Friday evening and one time whilst sporting a broken arm and a blazer, he met a young lady called Dorothy. They eventually married at St Andrew’s Church on 16 March 1967. They held their reception at Town Gate Masonic Hall, Leyland and honeymooned at Torcross in Torbay. They moved to Pope Lane and have lived there happily for 47 years. Dorothy and Stuart have two sons: Ian Stuart and Peter Neil and one grandson, Connor.
Ray informed the brethren that Stuart was initiated into Carnarvan Lodge in 1965 and went through the chair in 1981. In 1998 he returned to the chair for another go – he was the first member of the lodge to serve twice as master. Stuart became Provincial Grand Steward in 1986 and joined Quingenti Lodge No 8516, Setantia Lodge of Installed Masters No 7755 and Phoenix Lodge of Installed Masters No 9206. He was promoted in 1990 to Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon and again in 1999 to Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works. Stuart was exalted into Carnarvon Chapter No 2376 in 1976, becoming a founder of Great Eccleston Chapter No 8895 in 1982, being first principal in 1986. He was appointed to Provincial Grand Chapter in 1993 as PPrAGSoj. Stuart has enjoyed, and still enjoys other degrees in Freemasonry.
To complete the ceremony, group chairman Stewart Seddon had the pleasure of reading the certificate of acknowledgment to Stuart in commemoration of the 50 years’ service that he had given to Freemasonry, before it was officially presented by Ray.
At the conclusion of the ceremony the brethren retired to the dining room for a festive board which was excellently prepared and served by Wellington Park staff. A number of toasts were made during the evening and Ray took the opportunity of congratulating Stuart on his own behalf. He wished him a very healthy future and hoped that he would continue to serve Freemasonry in the only way he knows.