Assistant Provincial Grand Master Tony Bent was delighted to attend Borsdane Lodge No 6460 at Hindley Masonic Hall to celebrate with Les Aldridge his achievement of 50 years service in Masonry. Tony was accompanied at this very special event by fellow grand officer and Wigan Group Chairman Malcolm Taylor and supported by acting Provincial officers Malcolm Bell, Tony Simms, Eric Bailey and Ken Wilson, together with group officers Geoffrey Porter (vice chair), John Parrot (charity steward) and John Lomax (local care officer).
WM George Seddon received the Assistant Provincial Grand Master into the lodge and was delighted to hand over the gavel to Tony for him to conduct the celebration, which he did in his own inimitable fashion.
Tony explained that 50 years service in any walk of life is a memorable achievement and such length of service to Freemasonry is rightly celebrated. Les has witnessed many changes in the last 50 years, in the world in general and in Freemasonry in particular, but his love of and commitment to Freemasonry has endured. Tony stated that Les was an example of Masonry at its best and this celebration was to do justice to a man and a brother who inculcated the principles of service and consideration for others so dear to the institution that Les had so well served for half a century.
Continuing, Tony related a list of historical and memorable events that had occurred over the years when Les was born and when he was initiated into Masonry. He then requested that Les be placed before him and related details from Les’s life and times, after inviting the secretary to read the minutes from the meeting 50 years ago.
Les was born in June 1926 and lived just up the road from the Masonic Hall in Ladies Lane, Hindley. In fact, apart from a brief spell at the start of his marriage, he has lived in Hindley all his life. After attending local schools he left at the age of 14 to work in the local Co-op store where he had worked as an errand boy whilst still a student. Les only stayed at the Co-op for six months and left to take up an apprenticeship with his uncle’s firm as a bricklayer, working hard and studying at night school before qualifying as a master builder. On finishing his apprenticeship, Les went to work for a firm in Leigh, but returned to work for his uncle Jack Whiteside where he spent the majority of his working life.
He remained there and took over the company when his uncle Jack retired. Les eventually retired from the company and worked as a builder for The Metal Box Company for seven years before he finally put away his trowel. One of the early projects that Les worked on was one just off Hall Lane near to Hindley station when, as part of it, Les built the house that he would move into with his wife Joan where they still live today after 65 years of marriage. Les married his wife Joan in September 1949 at Ince Parish Church and have celebrated their 65th anniversary.
They have one daughter, Susan, twin granddaughters and three great grandchildren. Les has belonged to All Saints Church since he was a boy, being in the choir and in his adult life, Les was a sidesman and churchwarden for many years. Les is a founder member of Hindley’s first scout troop, the 1st Hindley All Saints. A number of fellow founder scouts were also members of Borsdane Lodge. A passionate crown green bowler, he was a member of the Borsdane Lodge team for many a year.
In the Craft, Les was initiated into Borsdane Lodge on the 14 January 1965, passed on the 8 April 1965 and raised on the 10 March 1966. His proposer was the late Canon John Sharples. Les served as WM 10 years later in 1975 and was appointed charity steward in 1978, in which office he served for 12 years. Les was awarded the Provincial rank of PPrJGD in 1987 and promoted to his current rank of PPrGSuptWks in 1995.
Les was exalted into Royal Arch joining Corinthian Chapter No 2350 in 1985, but chose not to progress through the offices; nevertheless he has been a regular attendee at both chapter and lodge over the years. Since his retirement, Les has spent the winter months after Christmas in the warmer climate of the Spanish sunshine.
Following his address, Tony invited Malcolm Taylor to read out the certificate from the Provincial Grand Master and Tony presented the same to Les. Tony invited Les to retire with him after the first rising and they joined together in saluting the WM as they retired.
The meeting was then closed and everyone retired and enjoyed a fine festive board and fitting tributes to a very worthy Mason.