The members of Runic Lodge No 6019 together with their guests were delighted to mark the golden jubilee of John Thompson Wild who has been a steadfast contributor of both his time and skill to the lodge in the execution of his many offices over the last half century. The principal guest for the evening Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger was, on this celebratory occasion, accompanied by Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Stewart Seddon, together with grand officers Phil Gardner, Tom Holroyd, Jim Wilson Lancaster Group Chairman and Peter Mason. Adding further lustre to the occasion was Provincial Senior Grand Warden John Lee and other, acting Provincial officers Richard Wilcock, Bernard Snape, Paul Fuery, Ian Thompson, Christopher Larder and Christopher Gray. Also in attendance were the Lancaster group vice chairman Neil McGill and group secretary Scott Devine. Ensuring the smooth running of the festivities and leading this grand array of officers into the lodge room was Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp.
The master of the lodge Kenneth (Ken) Needham welcomed David Grainger to the lodge, remarking that the lodge was “very honoured to receive him this evening for such a special occasion”. On accepting the gavel David retorted that “normally this gavel is on a piece of elastic, but this evening I will retain it for a while”. Before beginning the main body of his address, David began by stating that: “the brethren here today belong to a unique organisation in which men of any race or religion can come together in a belief in brotherly love, relief and truth. To live by these standards for 50 years speaks volumes of the Mason that we are here to recognise this evening and it is therefore right to congratulate him on the very auspicious occasion of his golden jubilee.”
David continued by asking Keith Kemp to place the celebrant before him and, having first made sure he was sitting comfortably, David then asked for a chair for himself to be placed directly in front of John so that he could be the more easily heard. David opened his address by recalling the memorable events of 1924, the year of John’s birth. The year saw the real ‘Chariots of Fire’ events taking place at the Paris Olympics with Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell both winning gold medals. George Mallory and Henry Irving were seen alive for the last time as they went for the summit of Mount Everest. On the international stage, Lenin died and Stalin won his power struggle to become the unchallenged leader of the Soviet Union. Adolph Hitler was sentenced to five years in prison during which he wrote Mein Kampf. On a lighter note, Walt Disney created his first cartoon and George Gershwin performed his Rhapsody in Blue for the first time. Also born in this year were Benny Hill, Tony Hancock and Clement Freud.
John was born in Rochdale and attended Littleborough Central School before moving on to complete his education at Rochdale Technical College. On leaving school at the tender age of 15 years, John started work at J Holroyd, an engineering company in Milnrow. In due course John became a fully qualified draughtsman. It was, however, whilst working at Holroyd’s that he first met his future wife Joan, who was working there as a typist. In 1951, John married Joan and have been blessed with a son Christopher (who was present in the lodge), as well as a grandson and two great grandchildren. On moving to Morecambe, John found work as a draughtsman at James Williamsons and Sons (later to become Forbo), finally becoming chief engineer before taking early retirement in 1982.
It was in 1967 that John was proposed into Freemasonry by long-standing friend Reg Haley and was initiated into Runic Lodge No 6019 on the 14th April of that year. At that juncture, David asked the lodge secretary for an extract of the minutes of that meeting to be read out, at the completion of which David moved on to detail John’s Masonic career. Those present learned that John was installed as the master of Runic Lodge in 1982, at which two of the grand officers attending the celebration had been present, namely Jim Wilson and Peter Mason. John’s year as master saw him initiate his son Christopher into the lodge. Having had a busy year as master, John was succeeded by John Heaton, the current lodge director of ceremonies.
Having maintained many active roles within the lodge John was recognised for his service in 1992 and received the high rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon and later promotion to the very high rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden. In Royal Arch Masonry John earned the high rank of Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah, in addition to holding Provincial ranks in the Mark and Royal Ark Mariners. David completed his address by formally conveying the congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison before asking Jim Wilson to read the commemorative certificate that the Provincial Grand Master had caused to be issued.
On receiving the scroll from David, John expressed his gratitude and remarked that he appreciated David being present to celebrate his 50 years in Freemasonry, adding that he had “enjoyed all his years in Masonry” and will remember the day for a very long time.
At a well-attended festive board held in the Morecambe Masonic Hall dining room David once again added his own congratulations and best wished to John, whilst also thanking both the group and acting officers for their support. The toast to John’s heath was proposed in an eloquent manner by his son Christopher John Wild, a member of St Andrews Lodge No 7291 in Leyland. After acknowledging the great part Masonry had played in his father’s life and the enjoyment he had got from it, Christopher went on to thank his father for introducing him into Freemasonry also. On completion of the toast to John, the master of Runic Lodge Ken Needham rose to present John with an engraved pocket watch on behalf of the lodge. In response, John thanked not only the members of Runic Lodge for the gift but also all present for their attendance on what had been a “wonderful night”.
A fitting end to such a wonderful night was the presentation of £220 (the proceeds of the raffle) to Richard Dennison, on behalf of the West Lancashire division of the Masonic Trout and Salmon Fishing Charity; the West Lancashire division of the charity being newly formed, works with disadvantaged children and is in much need of assistance.
Article and photographs by Paul Thompson.