Stanley celebrates 40 years of Masonry

The brethren and guests of Westhoughton Lodge of Amity No 7782 were honoured by the presence of grand lodge officer Steve Gregory as they gathered to celebrate Stanley Morgans’ marvellous achievement of 40 years of craft Masonry.

Stanley Morgans.

Stanley Morgans.

The lodge was opened in due form by the master Arthur Price and once the initial business had been carried out Arthur asked lodge secretary Les Kirk to occupy the chair of King Solomon. Les just happens to be Stanley’s son-in-law and had taken on the task of researching Stanley’s life and Masonic career which turned out to be a fascinating and enjoyable adventure.

Les informed those present: “Brethren, you will see from our summons that our main business is to celebrate the Masonic life of Stan Morgans who is this month celebrating 40 years in Masonry.” Les said he was going to explain a bit about Stan and his journey, both through life, as well as charting his Masonic progress through not only Craft but also a number of Masonic Orders to which he belongs or has belonged.

The journey started back in 1925 when Stan was born, revealing to those with a flair for mathematics, that Stan is now almost 93 years of age. That was not that long after World War 1, when Stanley Baldwin was Prime Minister, King George V was on the throne, the Royal Navy had over 20 Battleships and nobody had even heard of Adolf Hitler!

Stan was born in West Ham in East London. By 1939, he was 14 and coming up to leaving school. He had a younger brother Dennis who also became a Mason but who is sadly no longer with us. Stan was living with his parents in Barking and when WW II broke out, Stan’s younger brother Dennis was to be evacuated. Rather than the family being split up, Stan’s parents decided to move the whole family to Weston-super-Mare where they thought they would be safe! They rented a flat and Stan’s father took a job with the Pearl Insurance. He could not go to war, having been seriously wounded during WW I on the western front when he had been a Lewis gunner in the Black Watch. Stan was at this point too young to be called up and was apprenticed to be an electrician at the Bristol Aircraft company.

Les Kirk (left) and Stanley Morgans.

Les Kirk (left) and Stanley Morgans.

Moving on to 1942, and 28 June precisely, a Geschwader of 53 Junker Ju 88’s set off to raid Weston-super-Mare. This was one of the famous Baedeker Raids (bombing raids on old historic English cities, named after the Baedeker travel guidebooks that the German Luftwaffe used to identify their taegets). Sirens sounded and people all made for the beach so as not to get caught up in the raid on the town. Oh dear, what a pity! The Germans bombed and machine-gunned the beaches as well as the town. Stan’s father was hit and killed, his mother wounded and Stan took a bullet through the leg. Interestingly that wound still troubles him to this day. A long saga followed; he was called up but they decided he was more use to the war effort making planes. He went back to the Bristol Aircraft Company where he had a very interesting job. They were making the Bristol Beaufighter, which had to be tested before being handed over. Well of course Stan wasn’t a pilot, he was on the back seat – sat on the cannon shell cases as they flew across the Bristol Channel, pulling out fuses to make sure the right things were connected up. Interesting job!

1948 arrived and Stan had married and moved to South Wales. A fully qualified, though journeyman electrician, his experience in the tinplate works got him headhunted to work at the ‘Tick Tock’. Readers familiar with ‘the valleys’ will be aware that the ‘Tick Tock’ was a colloquial name for the Smiths watch factory at Ystradgynlais, which was the home town of Stan’s wife and where they lived. He worked there for nearly 40 years. Incidentally, Stan joined the Royal Observer Corps there which he served in for over 30 years until the Corps was disbanded, just as he was about to receive a commission!

Forwarding to 1971, Les Kirk had married Christine, Stan’s daughter, in 1971 and they were in Sutton-in-Ashfield. Stan was diagnosed with throat cancer and it was while recovering from one of the many operations that he found himself in a bed next to Bram Taylor (the master of the Duffryn Tawe Lodge No 6053). Stan was impressed by what he had to say about Freemasonry and he resolved to join. He was initiated into the Duffryn Tawe Lodge in Swansea in October 1977. In those days it was common to expect a long wait from making an application to being initiated! When he joined there were 136 members. It took a couple of years just to get onto the stewards list and there were 12 stewards. They initiated six new members every year. Masonry was strong then and a bit different! A year on and he joined chapter as a founding member.

Steve Gregory (left) and Stan Morgans.

Steve Gregory (left) and Stan Morgans.

Progressing the years to 1997, Stan had finally got to go into the chair of the lodge. In 2004 he received Provincial honours, in both Craft and Royal Arch. Stan was also in other Masonic Orders, in one of which he was honoured in 2016 with grand rank. Over the years he did pretty much every job in Craft and chapter including five years as scribe Ezra in his chapter.

The years moved forward to 2011; Stan’s wife had passed away and Stan accepted Les’ offer to move up to live in Bolton at Les’ house. Naturally he then joined Amity Lodge, as well as each of the other Masonic Orders he had belonged to in South Wales. Though not now appearing to be an active participant in Amity Lodge, it is Stan who does the summons each month and as Les correctly noted, they get it pretty right on!

Arriving at 2017 and as Les noted in his narrative: “Age catches up and Stan is taking things easier as you would expect if you were nearly 93 and he has dropped out of some of the Masonic Orders he had been in.”

The friends and members of the lodge congratulated Stan, who is the oldest member of the lodge, on the celebration of 40 fine and active years in Freemasonry with prolonged applause. Master of the lodge Arthur Price had the pleasant task of presenting Stan with a 40 year service lapel pin.

The lodge business was then concluded and the brethren retired to enjoy the festive board which was a most happy and convivial affair to mark a wonderful life and fascinating saga!

Pictured from left to right, are: Arthur Price, Stan Morgans and Les Kirk.

Pictured from left to right, are: Arthur Price, Stan Morgans and Les Kirk.