Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals John Robbie Porter welcomed the companions to a very special meeting of Blackpool Chapter No 1476 at Blackpool Masonic Hall. The main business of the convocation was to celebrate the magnificent achievement of 50 years membership of the Royal Arch, just one year after celebrating 50 years of membership in the Craft. John Robbie went on to say what an honour and a privilege it was in leading the celebrations of a companion’s golden jubilee. The most enjoyable occasion an Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals could wish for.
Ken Jones was born at Wallasey in 1945, the son of Edward and Cathleen. The world in 1945 was a very different place to what it is today. On 16 June 1945 the Battle for Berlin was fought and the day before the British Army liberated the German concentration camp at Belson. A quarter of British homes had no electricity and most families only listened to the radio for entertainment. Very few homes had a telephone or an indoor toilet and the average house price was £620, which is equivalent to £32,999 today. The average weekly wage was £3 18s 0d (£3.90p) which equates to £207 today. Buying an average car would cost you £310, and the price of a litre of petrol was 2d. Shopping was done at individual shops such as the butcher, greengrocer, baker and others.
When Ken was five years old, the family moved to Cronton, a little village just outside Widnes, attending Fairfield High School and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. He played hockey in the position of goalkeeper and without the modern kit, not one for the faint hearted. Ken was a keen member of the local church youth club which he relied upon for entertainment. Being the beginning of the 60s, there was plenty going on and the club often had regular up-and-coming bands performing.
Ken left school in 1963 with three A levels, in maths, physics and chemistry and he decided to go into teaching and gained a place at Alsager Teacher Training College in Stoke-on-Trent, leaving with a Batchelor of Education Degree. Ken’s first teaching job was at Bankfield High School in Widnes, where he worked from 1966-1970, returning to Fairfield High School, where after three years he joined the staff at Gonzaga High School. After seven years at Gonzaga, Ken moved to Greenlands Girls High School at Blackpool, latterly Bispham High School, where he remained for the rest of his career. Ken took early retirement at the age of 50 due to rheumatoid arthritis. Bispham High School is sadly no more and closed a few years ago.
Ken met his first wife Beatrice, at Scargill House in Yorkshire on a church youth weekend retreat. Eventually getting married in June 1969 and for the first nine years the couple lived in Great Sankey near Warrington. Beatrice was employed as a restaurant manageress in Widnes. Ken and Beatrice bought their first house in Great Sankey in 1978 for £4,000 and nine years later, much to their surprise and delight they sold it for £16,000. The money was used as a deposit on a 10-bedroom guest house on Hornby Road in Blackpool, which Beatrice ran along with Ken’s help when he wasn’t teaching.
At this time Ken was still working in Liverpool commuting 29,000 miles a year. He applied for a job at Greenlands High School but was unsuccessful, but a few weeks later, Ken received a phone call from the school saying that a maths position would be coming up but the salary would not be as good. Ken was delighted to take the lower salary just to get rid of that commute, being able to get back from work in time to help Beatrice with the evening meal at the guest house. After 11 years the guest house was sold and Beatrice became a team leader working for Blackpool Borough Council.
Ken and Beatrice have a son, Andrew and a daughter Lesley. Both are happily married with their own families. Ken has had many memorable occasions over his long life, including the marriage to his first wife Beatrice and the birth of Andrew and Lesley. The celebration of their 40th wedding anniversary was held at Blackpool Masonic Hall where a tremendous sum was raised for Trinity Hospice on the Fylde. Ken celebrated his 50th birthday with a hot air balloon ride over the Lake District and at a restaurant on the same day, Beatrice and friends arranged a kissogram which just happened to be one of his former pupils! It was quite a surprise, as was the moment when he popped all the balloons!
Eventually, Ken expressed an interest in Freemasonry and Beatrice’s uncle, Bill Jackson proposed and Les Collier seconded his application and he was initiated into Kingsway Lodge No 7870 in 1973, but unfortunately resigning in 1980 due to their move to Blackpool. Sadly, the Kingsway Lodge surrendered its warrant in June 2023. Through a neighbour, Ken was introduced to Harry Hogan, who was the Blackpool Temperance Lodge No 5303 organist and Tom O’Hara, a tailor in Blackpool town centre who was also one of Ken’s neighbours.
The two of them proposed and seconded his joining application and Ken joined Blackpool Temperance Lodge in 1991, which in those days was meeting at the Imperial Hotel. Ken continued his progression to the chair of King Solomon and was installed as WM by Harry Hogan in 1995. Ken held many offices and has been an exemplary secretary for over 20 years. His first Provincial appointment was to the rank of Provincial Grand Steward and in 2003 he was promoted to the rank of Past Provincial Deputy Grand Superintendent of Works, then six years later to the very high rank Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden.
Ken was exalted into Kingsway Chapter No 7870 in Widnes in 1974, which at that time was the second youngest chapter in the Province. After his move to Blackpool, Ken joined Blackpool Chapter in 1992 and became its first principal in 2002 and also being the scribe Ezra for 26 years from 1997. Ken was appointed Provincial Grand Steward in 2008, with promotion to Past Provincial Deputy Grand Sword Bearer in 2012, then promotion again to the rank of Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in 2018. A well-deserved appointment. Ken was also a member of Provincial Grand Stewards Chapter of West Lancashire No 8516 and Senatores Chapter of Installed First Principals No 8966, in which he was third principal for two consecutive years during the pandemic and the senior steward for seven years, a busy job which he did very successfully with the minimum amount of fuss taking bookings and collecting the dining fees.
Outside of Freemasonry, back in Widnes, Ken enjoyed campanology, ringing bell number five at his local church, which was a heavy one and the wooden stays, which prevented the bell from going all the way round, would occasionally break, at which point Ken would have to let go of the rope as quick as possible, quite a frightening experience. He then had to go up into the tower to repair them. It was good company and he got paid half-a-crown (12.5p) for his troubles.
Sadly, Ken lost his first wife Beatrice to breast cancer but he met his second wife, Nadiia, on a dating website, writing to each other for 12 months. After which they arranged to meet up with her and an interpreter in Kiev. Spending time in Kiev and then some time in Kharkiv where Nadiia comes from. Ken made multiple return journeys to the Ukraine and eventually got married in 2013. It took years to get the visa sorted, but things are all good now.
John Robbie said: “Over the years Ken has had a full and busy life and this evening he celebrates his second golden jubilee in Freemasonry, a rare occasion and I am sure that we all wish him an abundance of the very best of health and happiness for many years to come, and many congratulations on a wonderful achievement.”
Blackpool Group Chairman Stephen Jelly read the 50th scroll from the Grand Superintendent Mark Matthews, after which John Robbie presented it to Ken. On behalf of the Blackpool Group, Stephen proceeded to present to Ken with a Royal Arch 50th lapel badge on behalf of the Group.
John Robbie Porter concluded the proceedings by offering Ken his warmest personal congratulations on achieving this wonderful milestone in his Masonic career. Considering it both a privilege and a pleasure to be at this meeting and to have been able to take part in such a happy and enjoyable occasion