Never too young

What is the best age at which to become a Mason? A simple question which has, understandably, no easy answer! In youth, one has the energy and drive to pursue dreams. In maturity, one has the experience to question the feasibility of a dream. Anyhow, age is unimportant – unless of course you’re a cheese or fine wine.

Pictured from left to right, are: Robert Marsden, young Robert Johnston and John-Paul Lovie

Pictured from left to right, are: Robert Marsden, young Robert Johnston and John-Paul Lovie

Regarding the best age at which to enter the fraternity of Freemasonry, a simple answer is ‘whenever it is right for the individual’. It is a commitment and each individual will consider his own personal circumstances after having learnt about Freemasonry and carefully pondered over the commitment. To some, ‘the sooner the better’ may be the axiom. To others, ‘when the time is right’ may be more applicable.

To young Robert Dickson Johnston, the age of 84 years was just the right time to join Rectitude Lodge of Blackpool No 4122. Robert had spent over 30 years as a merchant seaman and his position as Chief Engineer for a number of American and British shipping lines took him all over the world. His life experiences had included countless happy memories and some disturbing ones. Thankfully, the happy memories far outnumbered the distressing ones.

He had contemplated joining Masonry many years ago but, because of his constant travels, the time hadn’t seemed right. He had, on one occasion, applied to join a lodge in Glasgow but, at the 11th hour had to sail to Penang and as a result was sadly unable to attend his initiation. Hailing from Ayrshire in Scotland in the historic Masonic locality of Kilwinning (Kilwinning Lodge is numbered ‘0’ and is referred to as ‘the Mother Lodge of Scotland’) it was probably inevitable that Robert would at some time join Freemasonry.

Young Robert Johnston

Young Robert Johnston

A genial, kindly-faced young man, Robert was enthusiastic about finally joining Freemasonry and the brethren of Rectitude Lodge extended him a very warm welcome at his initiation at Blackpool Masonic Hall. Having sailed the seven seas, Robert was more than happy to drop anchor at Rectitude Lodge. With a strong core of young and keen Masons in the Lodge, Robert is sure that mooring amongst them will be a long and happy port of call.

Robert also brings with him a strong pedigree. His cousin is ace soccer star and manager Gordon Strachan, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by the young Rectitude Lodge team. His proposer, none other than the current master of the lodge Robert Marsden, adds further weight to his credentials.

84 years of age is unusual for a new candidate but, to Robert, the time is just right – and there is little doubt that the team at Rectitude Lodge will bring out the youthfulness of this cheery and charming young man.

Demonstrating their enthusiasm and the warmth of their welcome, the team at Rectitude Lodge performed a peach of an initiation ceremony. Principal protagonist in the role of acting master of the lodge was past master John-Paul Lovie who provided a sincere and delightful display of ritual while Neil Callaghan guided Robert through the ceremony with confidence and finesse.

Robert Johnston (left) thanking John Sadden for his splendid recital of the charge after initiation.

Robert Johnston (left) thanking John Sadden for his splendid recital of the charge after initiation.

Everyone involved in the ceremony pulled out all the stops to ensure perfection. Justin Burgoyne recited the working tools of an entered apprentice with panache and sensitivity whilst John Sadden produced a masterpiece in his presentation of the charge after initiation. It was magnificent.

Overseeing the whole day was the lodge’s director of ceremonies Terry Barlow, one in whom meticulous generalship is engrained in his DNA.

Little surprise then when group mentor Bill Hembrow commented on the excellence of the proceedings when he presented Robert with a Provincial welcoming pack, offering a little light reading with explanations of elements of the initiation ceremony.

To Robert, it had been a wonderful experience and one could not find another young candidate who was so pleased to have finally become a Mason. It had been a youthful dream for a long time.