It is a rare occasion that we are able to celebrate such a triumphant achievement that is a jubilee in Masonry. 2015 was kicked off by Goodwill Lodge No 3896 and our dear friend and brother Peter Browne. We all know that 50 years is a long time to spend investing yourself in and perfecting yourself at something, but the members of Widnes Group are honoured that Peter has done so in Freemasonry.
The celebrations started once the worshipful master of Goodwill Lodge Lewis Redhead had opened the lodge. In accordance with tradition the gavel of the lodge was offered to the attending Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton and on this special occasion he gladly accepted and took the chair of the WM. Kevin then proceeded to prepare for his address to the brethren, Peter was invited to the centre of the lodge room and took his seat ready for the presentation.
Kevin opened his address by thanking the brethren for inviting him to the lodge and to take part in the celebrations. He then introduced a topic, ‘change’ and its many problems, not least of all that it is hard to bring about and to know if the changes are for the good or not. To truly make a difference and as Kevin mentioned, to ‘effect a change’ you need to have a strong mind and a strong heart, in the Widnes Group, Peter is well known for both of these traits.
Peter was born in 1938 in Liverpool and very quickly learnt that using his no nonsense attitude he could get things done. At the age of 15, leaving school and taking a job in agriculture was a brave move, but it gave Peter his drive and determination. Then after about a year, he left his agriculture job to return to college and attain the qualifications that would enable him to further his blossoming career in general agriculture.
Peter met his future wife Joyce at his sister’s wedding and they married in the summer of 1962, later that year they both moved to Hampshire. Once the honeymoon finished Peter and Joyce moved into the farm that Peter worked at. It was one especially cold winter that saw record levels of snow fall in the southern counties that had both Peter and Joyce imprisoned in their own house. With food and supplies having to be airlifted in and not much on the television or local pub, it was, as Kevin described to the brethren: “No surprise that their wonderful daughter Kim was born some 9 months later.”
Peter and Joyce sometime after realised that they should move back up north and settled in Lymm, this is where their second daughter Nicola was born. After several jobs and several changes in careers including family farms, local animal feed suppliers, Peter eventually settled on the financial services industry as an independent financial advisor where he had many happy years. It was only after the many years assisting and helping others, giving advice and imparting knowledge that Peter decide on another change. This time the change was to follow in both his father’s and mother’s footsteps and to take up public office. Peter was elected as a councillor for the Hough Green ward of Halton Council and began his ongoing quest to change things for the better and make a difference. Kevin recounted that Peter always had a way with words and maintained his own views of the world even through the difficulties of his early life and the intricacies of public office.
Like many of the brethren present, Peter was brought into Freemasonry by his father and shown how beneficial it can be. Peter no doubt saw this as another way to further his hunger for knowledge and commitment to helping others. Peter was initiated into Masonry on the 9 December 1964 into Lancastrian Rose Lodge No 7811 in the Adelphi Hotel; his father was also a founder of this lodge. Peter was installed as the WM some nine years later in 1974 and had many happy years amongst friends. Kevin described that this was a special lodge, as it only met four times in a year and that it unfortunately closed and surrendered its warrant in 1995.
It was in 1977 that Peter joined the Widnes Group and that of Lodge of Equity No 1384 where he was a member until 1999 when he joined Bold Lodge No 7583. Peter again took the chair of the lodge in 2005 and was a member until it was also forced to close in 2014. After the closure of Bold Lodge, Peter chose Goodwill Lodge and will no doubt be a member for many years to come.
Kevin listed the Provincial honours that Peter had been appointed, including Past Assistant Provincial Grand Sword Bearer in 1999, Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon in 2004 and most recently Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2012. Kevin reminded the brethren just what Peter had done for Freemasonry and the Widnes Group over the years and that the honours Peter had received were very justly bestowed.
Peter is also a member of the Royal Arch and was exalted into Prince Arthur Chapter No 2631 and also joined Equity Chapter No 1384 in Widnes where he became its first principal in 2000. Amongst the Craft and Royal Arch Masonry, Peter’s list of other degrees is almost endless, in most of which Peter holds very high rank and honours. As aside to the lodges and chapters that Peter is a member of, he was also elected to the Widnes Masonic Hall Board and was chairman for many years, where he showed the resolve and unwavering attitude we have all come to know. Peter’s endless and complete commitment to everything he does was marked by the Widnes Group and the Widnes Masonic Hall in a very special way. The room that the lodge meeting was held in has been named the Peter W Browne Suite, to which all the brethren duly applauded.
In finishing his address Kevin, brought with him the thanks for the Provincial Grand Master and again thanked the brethren for his invitation. In accordance with tradition, Kevin then asked Group Vice Chairman Neil Pedder to read aloud the commemorative certificate from the Provincial Grand Master, after which Kevin presented the commemorative certificate to Peter. A standing ovation marked the end of the address and presentations.
To further the celebrations, family and friends were invited to the festive board, this way everyone could join in. After a lovely meal picked by Peter, his friend Bill Isherwood proposed the toast to Peter’s health and his achievements. Bill talked about the visiting they had done in the many years they have known each other, some of the stories sounded like new to his family as they looked as shocked as some of the brethren. Towards the end of the evening a beautiful bouquet of flowers was present to Joyce by Lewis Redhead, who gratefully received them and will no doubt cherish. Peter was also presented a lapel pin and lead crystal whisky tumbler and decanter set, cut with Peter’s name, the Widnes Group name and Peter’s 50th anniversary date.
As the first 50th the Widnes Group have seen for a while it is a huge accomplishment by Peter and he has been justly rewarded for all he has done for Masonry, the Widnes Group and all who he has known or will know. We hope that Peter continues his advances in Freemasonry with us and has many happy years to come.