The members and guests of Prospect Lodge No 7880 were honoured by the presence of Assistant Provincial Grand Master Stewart Seddon. Stewart was accompanied by Chorley group chairman Peter Lockett, Ken Shaw, Don Hesketh, Gary Fisher, Bryn Hart, Peter Horgan and Barry Fitzgerald.
On attaining the chair of the lodge Stewart said “brethren our next business is to celebrate 50 years in Freemasonry by W Bro Lindsey Hugh Sharples, Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden of the Province of West Lancashire.”
Stewart said that the evening had summoned everyone to a very special meeting to honour and pay tribute to one who has served the craft loyally and faithfully for 50 years and that it was nice to see so many brethren sharing in Lindsey’s special occasion; a wonderful milestone on his Masonic journey to which he can now add ‘Golden Jubilee’ into his portfolio.
Stewart took the brethren back in time to the year 1926, a very important year in history for a number of reasons. Firstly, King George V was on the throne; Stanley Baldwin was Prime Minister of a Conservative Government; John Logie Baird demonstrated his mechanical television system in London; on 1 May the coalminers went on strike over proposed pay reductions to be followed two days later by a general strike and the imposition of martial law
The first greyhound racing track in Britain was opened in Manchester; the first British Grand Prix was held at Brooklands (Nr. Weymouth); Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel, Winnie the Pooh was published and Hirohito was crowned Emperor of Japan. Across the pond, the Ford Motor Company created the 40 hour week; Pontiac cars were first produced and Route 66 was created (Chicago to Los Angeles).
Meanwhile in Windsor (not the one in Berkshire, but Windsor in the Province of Ontario, Canada) Mrs. Rena Sharples gave birth to a son to be called Lindsey Hugh. Lindsey’s contemporaries include Her Majesty The Queen; Fidel Castro; Marilyn Monroe; Jerry Lewis and Chuck Berry, along with politicians Ian Paisley; Patrick Jenkin and Geoffrey Howe and with Hugh Hefner; Leslie Nielsen (Naked Gun); David Attenborough; Warren Mitchell; Eric Morecambe; David Coleman and, from Ireland, Danny Blanchflower; and lastly a man who shares his actual birthday with Lindsey, Fred Gwynne (Car 54 where are you? and the Munsters).
Lindsey’s father Harry was a jig borer (toolmaker) at the Ford factory in Detroit and his journey to work included a lengthy ferry ride across the lake. His mother was a teacher. The family returned to England when Lindsey was seven years old but he had a vague recollection of one Al Capone giving the authorities the run-around during the period of prohibition.
Lindsey continued his education at St John’s School in Pemberton and then on to Wigan Grammar School. On leaving school he began work at Winstanley and Fairhurts pharmacy as a trainee pharmacist but in 1944 he received his call up papers. Mother was determined that no son of hers was going to let the side down so she gave him a crash course on how to press trousers. This proved to be a valuable lesson as he made a few bob pressing his mates’ trousers.
Lindsey reported for duty and was posted into the West Lancashire Regiment and after initial training (learning to step off with your left foot) he was transferred to the Lancashire Fusiliers where the regimental sergeant major constantly remind him that the regiment had won six Victoria Cross’s before breakfast one day during the First World War.
Following a second training session, Lindsey left for Germany and in April 1945 the regiment was the first to enter the infamous Bergen Belsen concentration camp, a harrowing and emotional experience.
As the war in Europe ended his unit was regrouped and sent on its way to the Pacific where the war with Japan was still ongoing. Whilst en route, however, the Americans dropped the two atomic bombs on Japan bringing about the surrender. Lindsey ended up on Cyprus for a short time and then found himself in Egypt before being returned to England and York Barracks where he was demobbed in 1948.
Being in York and having an interest in steam engines Lindsey decided to try and obtain work on the railway. He joined LMS (London/Midland/Scottish) as a fireman on the Glasgow to London line but after a short time decided it wasn’t for him and he crossed the Pennines in the right direction, returning to Wigan.
In 1949 his father got him a job at Eccleton Mill as a weaver (everyone started as a weaver in those days). Lindsey wasn’t satisfied with being on the factory floor and wanted to better himself and so he enrolled at Wigan Technical College on a management training course with a view to improving his prospects. Lindsey studied long and hard and successfully passed the course obtaining a Diploma in Management Studies and proceeded to work his way up the ladder.
Of course it wasn’t all work and no play because whilst at the mill Lindsey met and started courting a young lady called Margaret Winstanley. Their relationship blossomed and they were married at St Wilfred’s Standish on 29 March 1952. On the 29 March 2017 Lindsey and Margaret celebrate their 65 wedding anniversary.
Their son Paul was born in 1958 and is blessed with a beautiful daughter Amelia who is 15 and wants to be a vet.
But this chronicle hasn’t finished with his working life yet. Lindsey successfully negotiated a few rungs up the management ladder and in 1963 he was asked to go over to Lurgan in Ireland to ‘sort ’em out’. Of course at that time Northern Ireland was in the middle of ‘The Troubles’ and there was no middle ground. He was approached by a couple of the management team inviting him to join their Masonic lodge – indeed it wasn’t so much an invitation but friendly advice.
Lindsey also joined the Round Table where he and Margaret had a great time going to carnivals, socials and ladies evenings. Stewart confided with his audience, “Brethren it sounds normal doesn’t it but about half an hour before they were due to set off for a function they would receive a telephone call telling them which route to take to get there safely.”
Lindsey returned to Wigan in 1967 and the UK factories as personnel manager until he retired – only he didn’t actually retire because he continued in a consultancy role, eventually hanging up his work clothes when he was well into his 80s.
Lindsey and Margaret enjoyed ballroom dancing; in fact they were very good indeed, entering competitions and winning medals. They enjoy taking their caravan all over the UK on annual holidays and weekends away but now he lets someone else do the driving as he has discovered the pastime of cruising; the Canaries, Baltic, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Eastern USA and of course Canada.
Visiting Lindsey’s Masonic history, Stewart informed the gathering that Lindsey Sharples was initiated into Coronation Lodge No 305, Rosetta Masonic Hall, Park Road, Belfast on 6th April 1967. He was passed on 4 May 1967 and raised on 7 September 1967. His demit was issued on 7th January 1971.
The present master of the lodge Tim Clarke and the officers and brethren of Coronation Lodge 305 forwarded their best wishes to Lindsey on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee, saying, “What a fantastic milestone and we hope you have a wonderful evening.”
Lindsey was proposed as a joining member of Prospect Lodge No 7880 by his uncle George Gray and admitted on 25 November 1969. Having progressed through all the floor offices he was installed as master on 24 October 1977. Lindsey also joined Phoenix Lodge of Installed Masters No 9206 on 16 March 1990.
Lindsey was honoured by the Province in 1988 when he was appointed Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon and was then promoted to the very high rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 1996.
In the Royal Arch he was exalted into Standish Chapter No 4955 on 21 November 1972 becoming first principal on 17th January 1984. Lindsey was again honoured by the Province in 1991 when he was appointed Past Provincial Assistant Grand Sojourner.
In bringing the presentation to a close, Stewart said, “There is no doubt at all that his entire life has also been an example of what makes a good Freemason, as well as a good citizen, a good husband, a good parent and in every way, a contributor to society as a whole. There is also no doubt that during the last 50 years, anyone who happened to learn that he is a Freemason, could not fail to see him as anything other than a good ambassador for our order.”
Chairman of the Chorley and District Masonic Group Peter Lockett then read a certificate which is an acknowledgement of the Province of West Lancashire’s great appreciation of half a century of membership of the Craft. It was followed by prolonged acclamation.
The festive board was a very happy and convivial occasion with much reminiscing, good friends, good food and good wine.