David Keith (Keith) Dowell had a sparkle in his eyes as he celebrated his diamond jubilee in the presence of Assistant Provincial Grand Master Derek Parkinson. The celebration took place in Keith’s mother lodge, Harmonic Lodge No 216 in the famous Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool.
The lodge was opened at 6pm prompt by the WM Ian Elsby, assisted by senior warden Ron Cain and acting junior warden Harry Kinney. Phil Marshall acted as DC in the absence of the lodge DC Jimmy Murphy, who was detained in foreign parts. Following confirmation of the previous month’s minutes, the inner guard Malcolm Porter, reported an alarm which proved to be the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Ian Halsall, who reported that the APrGM was without and demanded admission. Ian responded that the lodge would be delighted and honoured to admit him.
The brethren then stood to receive Derek, who was accompanied by both the Gladstone Group Chairman and Vice Chairman Bill Culshaw and John James respectively, together with acting Provincial grand officers, Paul Dooley and Daniel Senneck and a plethora of grand lodge officers. The WM Ian, stood to formerly welcome Derek, with a wish that he should enjoy both his time in the lodge and later at the festive board. Ian then offered the gavel to Derek, which on this occasion he was glad to accept. Once seated, Ian Halsall called the brethren to order and directed them to salute Derek five times as entered apprentices. Derek thanked the brethren and greeted them well.
Derek then proceeded by stating that one of his most enjoyable duties that he had to perform in his position, was to officiate at golden and diamond celebrations and even sometimes a 70th. He particularly enjoyed the research and home visits which always preceded such occasions. Derek then requested Ian to seat Keith in a comfortable chair in front of the pedestal. Keith quipped that he felt like a contestant on the TV quiz, Mastermind. Before he commenced with the presentation, Derek asked Malcolm to admit the tyler Brian Jones. As Derek had been in the company of Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, a few days previously, he passed on to Keith, Tony’s best wishes for a most enjoyable evening, as Keith is well known to Tony from his many activities in Masonic circles. Derek then proceeded to delight Keith and all others present with a number of interesting items of news that occurred in the 1930’s, the decade that Keith was born.
Derek then informed the brethren about Keith’s parents, his marriage to Veronica, his children and his grandchildren, before moving on to Keith’s Masonic career and his initiation into Harmonic Lodge in February 1958. Following his temporary re-location to Northern Ireland with his employer Alfred McAlpine, where he was employed as a chartered structural engineer, he joined St Peter’s Lodge No 798 in Northern Ireland. On his return to Merseyside, Keith resumed full membership of Harmonic Lodge, becoming its WM in 1975. Keith’s progressed through the ranks to become PAGDC in 2004. He is a member of Sacred Delta Chapter No 216 and a founder member of Dona Conferentes Lodge No 9392. When Keith retired from work in 1986, he volunteered at the ALPASS office until the charities were re-organised in 2008. More recently, Keith again became first principal in his chapter for two consecutive years 2012 – 2013 and currently holds the rank of PPrGSN.
Derek then called upon group chairman Bill Culshaw, to read the jubilee certificate, which had been signed and dated by the PrGM, after which, Derek rose from the chair to present the certificate to Keith. When asked if he wished to respond or save it for the festive board, Keith opted to save his response until later. However, Keith did present a cheque to Derek, made payable to WLFC for the magnificent sum of £600, to mark his 60 years as a Mason. Derek thanked Keith and the brethren of the lodge for its generosity, saying that he would be attending a meeting of the charity in a few days and would hand over the envelope containing the cheque. Ian then escorted Keith to his place in the lodge, amidst loud and prolonged applause from everyone present. Derek then asked the WM if it was his wish to occupy his rightful place. Once seated, Ian thanked Derek for his excellent and spellbinding presentation. More applause followed.
Following communications from Grand Lodge, Ian called upon the Provincial deacons Geoff Holly and Gerry Carson, to lead the procession from the lodge room. The brethren stood as Derek, grand and Provincial grand officers retired, to enjoy a pre-dinner drink in the Pearce Suite. Second and third risings were completed and under ‘any other business’, a candidate was proposed for initiation, a Mr Joseph Hickey who will be balloted for at the next regular meeting. The lodge was then called from labour to refreshment.
Harmonic Lodge can trace its origins back to the 18th century, as its warrant was issued in April 1796. History tells us that at that time, Liverpool was the second richest and most important city in the British Empire and the port of Liverpool was the gateway to the world. As such, Harmonic Lodge became known as a mariner’s lodge and it was not unusual to work numerous degrees during one meeting, as members were often at sea for months at a time. So developed the practice of ‘calling off’, in order to take refreshments and dining in Masonic regalia. This tradition continues up to today and is one of only a handful of lodges in the Province to do so.
It was a spectacular sight, as Ian Halsall led the WM, Derek and other grand and Provincial grand officers into the dining room, to the great applause of the brethren. Following grace, 45 members and guests sat down to enjoy a delicious five course meal with much wine taking. The toast to Derek was proposed by Bill Culshaw, the group chairman. Bill reminded the brethren, that Derek was responsible for three groups and in total will deliver 17 similar duties in the current season.
Derek responded in his usual pleasant manner, including a number of salient points. He spoke of the need to continue to support the WLFC during the current MCF 2021 Festival, the success of PSA testing funded by the Masonic charities and the grant of £36,000, donated to purchase two motorcycles for ‘Blood Bikes’. At this point, the WM presented Derek with a ‘Peace Lily’ to take home to his wife Joan.
The toast to the celebrant, was proposed by Peter Connolly and delivered in an eloquent manner, which he is famed for. Keith’s brother-in-law Tony Foulds, then presented him with a gift from the lodge to commemorate the occasion, an engraved whisky decanter and a bottle of ‘Liverpool Gin’, Keith’s favourite tipple. Keith responded with a great deal of emotion, thanking everyone involved with the evening and all his personal guests who had attended.
During the evening, a raffle took place and together with donations to the charity plate, a further £380 was passed to the charity steward Gerry Carson, for Masonic charities. The last toast of the evening was in the hands of the tyler Brian Jones. The lodge was then called from refreshment to labour and was closed in due form and perfect harmony. The end of a very memorable evening.
Article and photographs by Phil Marshall.