‘A true cornerstone of the lodge’ – that was just one of the many tributes that were paid to Eric Proctor by the members of Silverdale Lodge No 6926 when they met at Silverdale Masonic Hall to celebrate his golden anniversary as a Freemason.
Leading the celebrations was David Grainger, who was joined by fellow Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Winder, together with Lancaster and District Group Chairman Jim Wilson and group secretary Chris Butterfield who brought the total number of grand officers in attendance to nine. An equally impressive number of seven acting Provincial grand officers attended led by Peter Pemberton Provincial Senior Grand Warden.
As befitted such an important event and prestigious assembly, the proceedings were under the impeccable direction of the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp, who entered the packed lodge room to announce the presence of the august entourage headed by David Grainger.
Very sincere greetings were immediately given by Alan Procter who was occupying the chair due to the unavoidable absence of the WM. Following the customary salutations, Alan invited David to take the gavel, an offer that he was most happy to accept on this occasion. Eric Proctor was then seated in front of David who proceeded to give an illuminating summary of Eric’s personal and Masonic history.
The gathering initially learned that Eric had been born at Heversham in the county of Westmorland in 1926. He shared his birth year with Danny Blanchflower, Eric Morecambe and Her Majesty the Queen. This was a year which saw the ‘General Strike’ called in May, which resulted in the country being placed under martial law for over six months, and this was also the year in which John Logie Baird demonstrated something that was thought unlikely to prove popular – television.
Having two brothers and two sisters, Eric describes his early family life as being ‘close knit and very happy’. He attended the local school and later travelled to Kendal College to expand his study as a general builder and multi-discipline tradesman, having joined his father in the family building business. In 1943, he entered service with the Merchant Navy, serving on a number of ships across the globe during the war. In 1944 he returned to the family business and a few years later married his wife, Harriet. They have been blessed with two daughters and a granddaughter.
On inheriting responsibility for the family business in 1960, Eric commenced on a long and distinguished career as a respected and talented businessman, which resulted in recognition of his talents being acknowledged by his appointment as Chairman of South Lakeland District Council. The brethren learned that in this role he had the good fortune to meet not only Princess Diana but also the Queen and Prince Phillip. This was a very busy period in Eric’s life that he recalls with much pride. David also described the service that Eric had given to his local community and made particular mention of his role in the development of Heversham Bowling Club.
Switching his focus to Eric’s Masonic journey, David asked the lodge secretary Chris Brown to read an extract of the minutes from the meeting of Silverdale Lodge held in March 1965, at which Eric was initiated. At the completion of this task, he continued to reveal an outstanding record of service to the lodge by Eric, who had filled a number of offices with distinction and an attendance record that very few could equal. His commitment and dedication were rewarded by him receiving the very high rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden. As a member of Carnforth Chapter No 4951, his services were rewarded with the equally high rank of Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah. It is probably not a surprise that he has also achieved an exalted rank in another Masonic order.
In his closing observations, David noted that the present infrastructure of Silverdale Masonic Hall was also a wonderful testimony to the work of Eric, as he and other lodge members had given generously of their time and skills in developing it into the fine facility that is enjoyed today. David then invited Jim Wilson to read the commemorative certificate that the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison had ordered to be issued to mark the occasion. David then presented the scroll to Eric and thanked him formally on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master for his service to the Craft, together with wishing him many more years of health and happiness as a Mason.
At the festive board which followed the meeting, a very full dining room was unanimous in paying tribute to Eric and joining in an extension of the celebration. Masons from near and far were in attendance with a large contingent present from the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland, where Eric also plays an active and valued role. In a brief response to the third toast, David Grainger offered his personal congratulations and best wishes before resuming his seat to allow, as he so warmly phrased it, ‘Eric, the opportunity to enjoy his very special night’.
In a personal and touching tribute, Tony Jackson proposed the toast to Eric’s health and expanded on details of the service that Eric had given to Silverdale Lodge during his 50 years of membership. The toast was then honoured with resounding conviction. In his reply Eric expressed his gratitude for the tributes paid to him and effusively thanked everyone for joining him on what had been such a wonderful evening.