The brethren of Festival Lodge No 8123 celebrated 50 years in the Craft of Richard Maddocks; a very special occasion for Richard and the members.
The proceedings were led by Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Winder, accompanied by DPrGDC Mark Barton, acting officer Bill Hembrow and the group chairman Steve Bolton. They were supported by grand officers Bill Seddon and Don Richardson along with group vice chairman Geoff Saul and group secretary Peter Littlehales.
After transacting the normal business of the lodge, David Winder was formally welcomed into the lodge by the WM Gordon Pilkington, who then invited David to occupy the master’s chair.
To set the scene, David began by recounting some of the events of 50 years ago, when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister and Edward Heath was the newly elected leader of the opposition. It was the year that the 70 miles per hour maximum speed limit was introduced and ‘I’ve got you babe’ was a number one hit. It was also the year Richard Maddocks was initiated into Freemasonry.
David then invited Mark Barton, to escort the celebrant to a seat on the floor of the lodge asking Richard to relax and enjoy the evening to the full. The brethren were then treated to a splendid résumé of the happenings in Richard’s life, both in and out of Freemasonry.
David began by mentioning that although Richard was born in the north east of England and thus a ‘Geordie’, in the first five years of life he moved residences on no less than eight occasions, moving as wide afield as Yorkshire, Manchester and North Wales. He attended primary school in Manchester for all of six months before moving to Preston and continuing his education at Greenlands Primary School in Ribbleton. Although dutifully qualifying to attend Preston Grammar School, Richard’s interests were more hands on rather than academic. As a child Richard suffered from bronchial asthma and was encouraged to take up swimming coupled with breathing exercises to expand lung capacity. In later life Richard swore that this was further assisted by taking up smoking as there was nothing like a good cough to clear the lungs.
Moving on to Richard’s working life and his interest in the country, David recalled that his early employment was working on a dairy farm that involved 12 hour working days starting at 6am. A further move to Black Leach farm saw Richard involved not only with dairy farming but also the raising of pigs and poultry. After five years of early mornings, the knowledge gained turned Richard’s interests to the breeding and showing of animals; that happened to coincide with the evolving scientific methods of stock management. However, his country interests came to an end as a result of the turmoil and destruction caused by fowl pest and the resulting ruthless culling of non-affected stock and its attendant knock on effect for owners and breeders. Richard decided a change of working direction was required, a decision in which fate played a hand.
David continued by relating to Richard progressing along the road in a minivan, not realising there was a mandatory speed limit of 30mph for such vehicles. After overtaking a police car at 50mph, the resulting blue lights in the rear view mirror and the following discussion with a chief inspector, who happened to be driving the police car, brought the realisation that if you can’t beat them, join them.
Richard was initially posted to Stretford where he admitted to just scraping through his two year probationary period as a result of only making a single arrest during that time. In 1969 he was moved to the Information Room at Hutton and then to the Criminal Records office in the same building. David commented that Richard had revealed that he had never been a ‘morning’ person and held an intense dislike for the early shifts. At the time, at certain known traffic bottlenecks, the traffic lights were manually operated with the purpose of ensuring the chief constable’s route into work was ‘green lights’ all the way. Richard, not agreeing with this principle, soon gained the wrath of his inspector and his time in the traffic section ended after only 12 months.
Continuing with Richard’s police service, David moved to Richard’s two year stint at the police training centre as a swimming and lifesaving instructor; his skills as a competent and competitive swimmer and a qualified amateur swimming coach being put to good use. Unfortunately a back injury put paid to Richard’s swimming career and his time at the training centre. His next move was to the motorway unit with the emphasis on safety and awareness, especially when having to deal with the accidents, other incidents and the trauma associated with attending such events. Richard’s 15 years in the motorway unit provided a unique environment where banter and great camaraderie existed that helped to provide a release and coping mechanism with the realities of the task in hand.
Moving on to family life, David mentioned Richard’s first marriage that gave him the joy of two children, Valerie, a teacher and John an IT manager with the Three Valleys Water Authority. He went on to mention Richard’s later meeting with Gill who accompanied him to a ladies evening and spent most of the time sat on the top table whilst Richard carried out his many duties as DC. However, all was not lost, a long chat over a bottle of wine sealed the deal and six weeks later they were engaged and married within six months. Ever the romantic, Richard had popped the question on Christmas Eve after giving Gill a Christmas card as a girlfriend. Having received a ‘yes’ response, he immediately produced another card entitled, ‘Fiancée.’
Turning to Richard’s Masonic career, David invited the secretary of Festival Lodge, George Thornhill, to read the minutes of the meeting at which Richard was initiated. This revealed that he was initiated into the Lodge of Probity No 6184 in November 1965 at which he was escorted round the lodge by his father as junior deacon. Richard went on to attain all the progressive offices becoming master of the lodge in 1975, a position that caused disquiet amongst some of the members who felt that, at the age of 32, Richard was too young for such high office. Since achieving the master’s chair Richard has only been out of office for one year having served as chaplain, ADC, DC and tyler. Such were the vagaries of the offices that Richard could only recollect two occasions when he sat next to his father in the lodge.
Richards’s service to the lodge was recognised in 1987 when he was appointed to the Provincial rank of Junior Grand Deacon. This was followed by a return to the master’s chair in 1988. In 1991, Richard was further recognised with promotion to the rank of PPrGSuptWks. Richard went on to serve as master for a third time in 1997. Sadly this proved to be the year when the lodge would hand in its warrant. As a result, Richard became a joining member of Festival Lodge where he served as both junior and senior warden before taking the chair as master in 2007. During this period, Richards’s service to the Craft was further recognised with promotion to his current very high rank of PPrJGW. Not resting on his laurels, he served as almoner and tyler before returning again as WM in 2014, making a total of five masterships during his Masonic career.
David continued with Richard’s membership of the Setantia Lodge of Installed Master No 7755 and his progress to the Royal Arch, being exalted into Royal Preston Chapter No 333 whilst his father was first principal. He himself attained the first principal’s chair in 1984 and went on to join Preston Guild Chapter No 4408 in November 1999, attaining the first principal’s chair of that chapter in 2004. Richard’s contribution to the Royal Arch was recognised in 1991 with his appointment to the Provincial rank of PPrAGSoj and later promoted to his current rank of PPrGSwdB.
David then invited Steve Bolton to read the 50th celebration certificate before formally presenting it to Richard, bringing the congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison as well as his own. He also had the pleasure of presenting Richard with a 50 year service lapel badge for him to wear with pride.
David concluded his remarks by reminding Richard that on the day he was made a Mason, he was shown around the lodge room by his own father who undoubtedly had high expectations of him as a son. His final words were: “He effectively charged you to be respectable in life, useful to mankind and an ornament to the society of which you were that day made a member. I have no doubt that he will be looking down this evening upon you with great pride and happiness knowing that you have made this delightful milestone, your golden jubilee as a Freemason. Richard, there is no doubt that you have undoubtedly reflected honour upon his choice!” This was followed by well-deserved applause from all the brethren present.
The occasion was further enhanced by the presence of six other brethren, all of whom had, in turn, previously celebrated 50 years’ service to the Craft.
Later in the evening, Don Richardson had the pleasure of proposing the toast to the celebrant concluding with the presentation of two engraved glasses to mark the occasion. On cue, George Thornhill rose to provide Richard with a suitable libation with which to test the glasses. Much to the amusement of the brethren present and to Richard’s chagrin, siting times of economic prudence, George produced a miniature out of his pocket. Fortunately, all was not lost and, once the laughter had subsided, George did manage to locate a full sized bottle of Richards’s favourite Bowmore tipple.
The excellent evening closed with Gordon presenting David with a bouquet of flowers as a gift for his wife, Sue, by way of a big thank you from the lodge members for her agreeing to let him out on his own once again.