For Alan Jackson Westall, it was a case of travelling over 330 miles back to his original roots to mark his 50 years as a Freemason.
Members of Morecambe Lodge No 1561, together with guests and visitors from the local area and beyond, provided a warm ‘welcome home’ and ensured a memorable occasion for Alan.
Leading the celebration, held in Morecambe Masonic Hall, was David Grainger Assistant Provincial Grand Master who was accompanied by Jim Wilson Lancaster Group chairman and grand officer Barrie Crossley PrDGDC.
Following his entry into the lodge and having received both greetings and salutations from all present, David gratefully accepted the gavel that was offered by Stewart Aimson WM and proceeded to the main item of the evening. He requested that Alan Westall be placed before him and having ascertained that he was ‘sitting comfortably’ began a detailed and illuminating discourse on a varied and distinguished career.
Born in Twickenham, Middlesex in 1935, David said that Alan shared his birth year with several notable and worthy celebrities including Julie Andrews and Michael Parkinson but more importantly from a Masonic viewpoint, the same year as HRH the Duke of Kent. This was also a year that presaged more ominous world events with Hitler repudiating the Treaty of Versailles and Mussolini invading Abyssinia. On a lighter note, a compulsory driving test was introduced, Rowntree’s created the ‘Kit Kat’ biscuit and ‘nylon’ was invented.
Alan’s father relocated the family to Morecambe in 1939 in pursuance of his career as a Chartered Accountant, and Alan continued his education, initially in Morecambe and then later at the Lancaster Royal Grammar School. On leaving full time education, he became ‘articled’ to his father’s accountancy company and gained his full qualifications in 1957. On undertaking his ‘national service’ in 1958, the military planners decided that the ideal placement for a Chartered Accountant was in the Royal Artillery! Fortunately, good sense eventually prevailed and a position in the Pay Corps became his final destination.
In 1958, Alan married his wife Joan whom he had met in Morecambe. They have a son and two daughters who between them have bestowed upon them the labour and delight of five grandchildren. During Alan’s professional career, he was persuaded by the then President of Morecambe Rotary Club to take up the office of vice president. The name of this ‘persuasive Rotarian’ will perhaps be familiar to many of our readers … it was the PrGM Tony Harrison, David took a pause at this juncture to inform Alan that Tony had asked him to make a point of saying a “special hello” on his behalf. In 1979, Alan succeeded Tony as president and went on to hold additional prestigious offices within his profession.
However, 1983 saw Alan move to the Plymouth office of his company in order to take charge as the senior partner and he remained in that location following his retirement in 1995. As is often the case, a busy man finds a variety of work to keep him occupied and in addition to his hobbies of mountain walking and yachting, Alan has taken on other duties with charitable organisations in the South West.
Fortunately, despite the many other calls on his time, he decided to join Morecambe Lodge in 1965, and doubtless, his father’s membership of the lodge had some influence on his decision. The secretary then read an extract of the minutes of the meeting at which Alan was initiated into Freemasonry. Continuing his summation, David Grainger recounted how on relocating to Plymouth, Alan had joined Mayflower Lodge No 7241 (Province of Devonshire ) and expressed his delight that Ken Wheeler and Vernon Pike, the WM and SW respectively of that lodge had travelled ‘up north’ to join in the celebrations. He also observed that the office of lodge treasurer obviously was as difficult to escape from in the south as it reputedly was in north as Alan had held the post in Mayflower Lodge for 14 years. His service to the lodge had been honoured by the Province of Devonshire in 2004 by his appointment to the rank of PPrAGStdB.
David then asked Jim Wilson, the group chairman, to read aloud the commemorative certificate that had been issued by the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison in recognition of the occasion. At the conclusion of this task David tendered the personal congratulations of the PrGM together with those of all present and added that he hoped Alan would have many further happy and healthy years to enjoy his Freemasonry.
At the festive banquet that followed, Fred Schofield a lifetime friend of Alan’s, recalled memories of a number of shared acquaintances and events in his toast to Alan’s health. In addition, he presented him with copies of the precepts for each meeting that marked his progression through the Masonic degrees together with a copy of the extract of the lodge minutes from his initiation ceremony. Fred also presented him with a 50 year lapel pin on behalf of the members of Morecambe Lodge.
In his response Alan recalled how special his memories were of the Masonic hall at Morecambe as it not only reminded him of his Masonic origins but also was the location of his first meeting with Joan, his wife. He explained that prior to the construction of the new building adjacent to the Arndale shopping centre, the Morecambe public library had been housed on the ground floor of the Masonic hall building and Joan had been employed there as a librarian.
An additional local recollection he shared was his friendship with another articled clerk who worked for a company on the other side of Northumberland Street, across from his father’s office. That young man was Colin Penty Wright. In his closing remarks, he gave grateful thanks to everyone who had assisted in making this a very special occasion for him and thanked in particular his colleagues from Plymouth for accompanying him back to his Masonic roots.