The members of Vigilance and Douglas Lodge No 6236 were proud to host the celebration to commemorate the outstanding contribution to Masonry of one of its elder statesman Roy Connah, who was initiated 50 years ago. Assistant Provincial Grand Master Tony Bent was delighted to attend the meeting at Bryn Masonic Hall to celebrate with Roy his achievement of 50 years service in Masonry. Tony was accompanied at this very special event by Wigan Group Chairman Malcolm Taylor and supported by fellow grand officer Paul Hesketh with acting Provincial officers Tony Simms, Eric Bailey and Ken Wilson, along with group officers Geoffrey Porter (vice chairman) and John Lomax (local care officer).
At this special occasion, the WM Roy Hart had no hesitation in offering the gavel to Tony, who likewise had no hesitation in receiving it and conducting the proceedings. Tony stated that he was delighted to be in Vigilance and Douglas Lodge to celebrate a very special occasion, the 50th jubilee of a very well respected Mason. 50 years of service in any capacity and in any walk of life is a living testament to a man’s commitment and is deserving of recognition. He added that Roy’s is a story and record of commitment, constancy and unwavering loyalty in every aspect of his life and upon completing this narration he believed that each and everyone present would share that view.
Tony then recounted a concise digest of what was happening in the world in 1931 when Roy was born and in 1965 when he joined the Craft. Moving then on to the celebrant, Tony recounted to the brethren that Roy was born in February 1931, the eldest child of Joseph and Jessie Connah at Scholes in Wigan. He had two sisters, Dorothy and Nellie. He attended St Stephen’s Junior School and Whelley Secondary School. On leaving school in 1945, he started work at William Park and Company, forge masters of Clarington Brook. Many years later he found out that Cyril Park from the company was a member of Douglas Lodge No 5348, as was Edward Higham, who was the pattern maker at the forge, who incidentally, made the two columns that now stand at the entrance of the temple at Bryn.
Roy met a young lady named Elsie Fairbrother when they were both 16 and they were married at St James Church, Poolstock in May 1954 and as it was 61 years ago, is evidence to the fact that his was a story of commitment and loyalty. From this union, two daughters and a son were born and Elsie and Roy have six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Roy worked for over 40 years in the same machine shop and retired at the age of 60. Yet another example in this brother’s life of loyalty and commitment.
In Freemasonry, as previously mentioned, Roy found that his employer was in the Craft and in due time, he made an approach. Of course, in those days, the prospective Mason had the responsibility of asking an existing member to sponsor him into the Craft and to join a lodge. This was eventually done and Roy waited over three years to join Douglas Lodge and was eventually initiated in April 1965. He was passed in 1966 and raised in 1967. He recalled that the first Ladies’ Evening which he and Elsie attended was at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool. The price of the tickets was two guineas, (£2.10 for those not old enough to know the real cost.), which also included breakfast at midnight. He was installed as WM in 1979 having waited 15 years to go through the chair of his lodge. Roy served as chaplain of the lodge for 28 years and as almoner for 15 years. He was appointed to the Provincial rank of PPrJGD in 1990 and promoted to the high rank of PPrJGW in 2000. Roy has confessed that he believes he had missed four lodge meetings in the last 50 years, to which Tony joked that it demonstrated what may be considered a remarkable lack of commitment!
Tony then congratulated Roy and addressed him as follows: “As I said at the outset, this is a story of commitment and loyalty – as a man, a husband and father, as a trusted employee and as a Freemason. Roy, your membership of the Craft has seen the greatest changes in the way our order presents itself to the world and in the way in which we, as Masons, conduct ourselves in making the world at large much more aware of what we stand for and believe in. Throughout your life, you have been a shining example of all that is best in a man and it is right and proper that you may look back on your life and on your Masonic career with pride and with the full satisfaction that the foundation stone placed in the north east part of Douglas Lodge those 50 years ago, was well and truly laid.”
Following his address, Tony invited Malcolm Taylor to read out the certificate from the Provincial Grand Master, following which Tony presented the same to Roy. Tony invited Roy to retire with him after the first rising and they joined together in saluting the WM as they retired.