The members of the Lodge of Unanimity No 113 celebrated 50 years in the craft of Roy Crowder, a very special occasion for the members and for Roy. The proceedings were led by Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Winder, accompanied by Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp, supported by a galaxy of grand officers; group chairman Steve Bolton and group vice chairman Geoff Saul.
After transacting the initial business of the lodge, the WM Mark Brown welcomed David into the lodge thanking him for his attendance on this special occasion. On accepting the gavel of the lodge, David began by informing the brethren what a joy it was to be able to officiate at Roy’s 50th celebration, especially as Roy was a mere 101/2 years away from receiving the Queen’s telegram.
To set the scene David recounted some of the events that occurred some 50 years ago when, among other things, Harold Wilson was Prime Minister and Edward Heath became leader of the opposition Conservative party. The year saw the passing of Winston Churchill. In technology terms, it was a time when there were no home computers, laptops, tablets or mobile phones and e-mail had not been thought of. At the time, if you had mentioned shops selling bottled water, people would have thought you crazy and ‘fast food’ would be assumed to be a referral to eating quickly.
David invited Keith Kemp, to escort the celebrant to a seat on the floor of the lodge asking Roy to relax and enjoy the evening to the full. The brethren were then treated to a splendid résumé of the happenings in Roy’s life, both in and out of Freemasonry.
He began by telling the brethren of the size of the Crowder family. His father Joseph was one of 13, including a sister who also had 13 children. Roy shared the family home with three brothers, Alan, Dennis and John and a sister Joyce, also living with them was their cousin, Margaret. Roy admitted that to this day he has cousins of whom he is not aware. It was also noted that, to this day, all of the family sport thick wavy hair with Roy being the only member to wave goodbye to his hair in exchange for pink ‘solar panels.
Roy’s father owned four chip shops in the Matlock area, which meant that Roy was soon introduced to the family business when he and his younger brother were tasked with delivering fish and chips, tripe, cow heel and wet fish to eager customers.
Turning to education, David remarked that Roy began with basic schooling and having an interest in football, playing for the school team as goalkeeper. However, at the beginning of the Second World War, things were to drastically change as Roy’s father contracted polio and whilst he survived the illness, it unfortunately left him in a condition that meant he had to sell his businesses. Roy was 13 at the time and his youngest brother was just four years old. In those days there was no welfare state or assistance and as Roy confided to David, this was when his own personal war and drive began to help support the family. Simply put it meant there was no possibility of Roy continuing his education and at the age of 14 he started work in an open cast lead mine using nothing more than a pick and shovel. Roy worked shifts receiving £6 a week for what was physically very hard work.
David progressed onto Roy’s military service that began in 1944 when, although he had volunteered for the Air Force, he was called up for the Army. He completed his basic training in Carlisle that included drill and weapons usage with Lee Enfield rifles and ‘Tommy’ guns before being posted as part of the Lancastrian Brigade. Perhaps the enemy had got wind of what was coming as fortuitously, hostilities had ceased by the time Roy had completed his training. It proved ironic that, having been trained to fight the Germans; he would ultimately be involved in guarding German POW’s. Roy’s military career ended in late 1948 when he returned to working at a quarry before yearning for something different, he moved to Manchester, taking employment as a shoe salesman for Saxone shoes.
Moving on to romance, David was astounded by the boldness of Roy in pursuing a young lady that had by chance caught his attention. He commented that whilst Roy was visiting a shoe shop in Manchester his eyes fell upon a ‘gorgeous’ red head that had entered the shop and was ascending the stairs to the ladies department. Realising this was a one and only opportunity, Roy summoned his unused army stalking skills and followed her upstairs. Initiating a conversation and learning her name, he boldly invited Rose for a drink in a local pub and to his delight and surprise, she accepted. Not wasting time, he quickly escorted Rose across the road to the nearest hostelry and at great cost, duly presented her with a glass of Guinness. It was at that point that Roy discovered Rose did not drink alcohol and not wishing to waste money, Roy gallantly drank it himself.
David continued by remarking to the brethren that the rest as they say is history as one year later, when at the registry office, Roy again demonstrated his impetuous nature as he literally plucked two innocent people from the street to act as witnesses to the marriage. It transpired that the man and also the woman were separately going to the bank when they were accosted and temporarily diverted by Roy. The marriage was ultimately blessed with two children, Michael and Carol followed by four grandchildren, Nicola, Debra, Samantha and Wayne and so far, four great grandchildren. During their time together, Roy and Rose would holiday all over Europe with Roy driving his latest acquisition that invariably had Ford embossed on the bonnet. At that time, Rose’s brother-in-law being a chief steward on the ferries at Dover, invariably meant Roy succeeded in being first on the ferry and remarkably, first off at the other side. Sadly, after 58 years of happy marriage, Rose passed to higher service just four days short of her 95th birthday. Being afflicted with dementia and unable to walk, Roy had looked after Rose day and night for the final four years of her life. It was a time, Roy recalled, when he received so much support from his Masonic friends and colleagues with him particularly mentioning the help and companionship he had received from lodge member, Bill Woods.
Briefly returning to Roy’s time in Manchester, David explained that after a few years in the shoe business, Roy was again off to pastures new. This time it was working for Charles Pugh Limited looking after lawnmowers, tractors and their component parts. Progressing through the company to being manager he finally retired at the age of 65. During that working period, the company was to be taken over by Qualcast which itself subsequently became part of Bosch. It was thus that further irony intervened as, having been trained to hate the Germans and having guarded them as prisoners of war, Roy now found that his pension was being paid by a German company.
David invited the lodge secretary, Gordon Pilkington, to read a précis of the minutes of the meeting at which Roy was initiated. He then turned to Roy’s introduction to Freemasonry that started as a result of a neighbour inviting Roy and Rose to a ladies evening at the Masonic Hall in Manchester. This led to further attendances at numerous social events that culminated with Roy’s initiation into Welfare Lodge No 4780 in April 1965.
At that time the lodge had an active membership of over 50 members of which 15 were on the stewards list. This gave Roy plenty of time to settle in and become acquainted with Masonry. As far as Rose was concerned, the lodge had a vibrant and active ladies section that kept her busy. The demands of work and the long list of officers meant that Roy’s progress up the ladder was in the early days somewhat limited. He became interested and highly active in the Emulation Lodge that met in Southport that enhanced Roy’s Masonic knowledge and further stimulated his enthusiasm for Masonry. His time was well spent in developing the taste for learning, understanding and delivering ritual with a skill that is still with him today.
David expanded on Roy’s Masonic career by mention of his joining, in 1980, Hillside Lodge No 8622 in the Southport group. Roy went on to progress through all the offices of the lodge, becoming its master in 1987. He later served as assistant secretary and assistant treasurer that, at that time were ‘full on’ posts. This led to Roy’s talents and enthusiasm being spotted and him becoming the secretary of the Southport Ball, a position he held for some 10 years. He also immersed himself in the Southport Lodge of Instruction that gave Masons a good grounding in all aspects of the Craft including presenting lectures at lodges that did not have planned ceremonies. These lectures took Roy far and wide and as a result, he was awarded the prestigious preceptors prize in 1985 and in 1994 had the honour of being the WM during the Lodge of Instruction Festival in 1994.
David also gave details of the other Masonic orders that Roy is a proud member, holding extremely high rank in many. David then invited Steve Bolton to read the 50th celebration certificate before formally presenting it to Roy, bringing the congratulations of the PrGM as well as his own.
David concluded his remarks by reminding Roy that on the day he was made a Mason he was charged to be respectable in life, useful to mankind and an ornament to the society of which he was on that day made a member. His final words were: “Every brother present today is in no doubt that you, Roy, have fulfilled those obligations on every count and we join in congratulating you on a wonderful achievement, your jubilee celebration in Freemasonry.” This was followed by prolonged and well deserved applause from all the brethren present.
Later in the evening, Bill Woods had the pleasure of proposing the toast to Roy’s health saying that, in lodge it had been a case of ‘Roy Crowder, this is your life’. He went on to say: “We became such firm friends that, on an occasion when Roy was not feeling too well, he asked me if I would mind escorting Rose on a shopping trip. This I was pleased to do and armed with Roy’s credit card and pin number, I duly escorted Rose on her shopping expedition. We continue to remain firm friends but, for some reason, Bill was never asked me to repeat the exercise!” He concluded by saying Roy epitomised the qualities of a Mason by way of friendship, family, honesty and integrity, a real gentleman that it has been his honour to know.
In response, Roy thanked Bill for the generous toast to his health and for all the help and assistance he had given him in the past. He went on to mention lodge members Peter Rogers, Gordon Pilkington and Gordon Kay, thanking them for their support. He continued by thanking all the members of the Lodge of Unanimity for accepting him as a joining member that has resulted in him making more friends and concluded by thanking all the brethren present for their support on this wonderful occasion.
Peter Watson then had the pleasure of presenting Roy with a popular libation as a gift from the members of the lodge in token of appreciation for all he had done for Freemasonry. Peter concluded the evening with a presentation of flowers to David Winder, thanking him for all his hard work in producing and delivering such an excellent résumé of Roy’s life both in and out of Masonry. He hoped that David’s wife, Sue, would enjoy the flowers and look on it as a big thank you for letting him out to play.