“A man of many parts”. That was just one of the many tributes that were paid to Dennis Butterfield at Torrisholme Lodge No 5245 when it met at Morecambe Masonic Hall to celebrate his 60 years as a Freemason. Leading the celebrations was Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger who was joined by fellow grand officers Tom Holroyd, Lancaster group chairman Jim Wilson, Christopher Butterfield, John Robson and Keith Kemp. The group vice chairman Neil McGill and the group secretary Scott Devine were also in attendance, together with an impressive array of acting Provincial officers including Richard Wilcock, Bernard Snape, Paul Fuery, Ian Thompson and Christopher Larder. As befitting such an important event, the proceedings were under the impeccable direction of the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Barry Fitzgerald who entered the lodge room to announce that the Assistant Provincial Grand Master stood without and demanded admission. On entering the lodge room sincere greetings were immediately given by the master of the lodge Paul Dent, who proceeded to invite David to accept the gavel, an offer that he was most happy to oblige with on the occasion.
After inviting the brethren to participate in the celebration of Dennis’s 60 years as a Freemason, David asked Barry Fitzgerald for Dennis to be placed before him and, having first made sure he was sitting comfortably, opened his address by recalling the noteworthy events of 1926, the year of Dennis’s birth. Those in attendance learnt that King George V was on the throne and Stanley Baldwin was prime minister. In that year, John Logie Baird first demonstrated his new television, the first two-way transatlantic telephone conversation took place, red telephone boxes first appeared in London and Winnie the Pooh was first published. Dennis shares his birth year with two very famous people, namely Her Majesty the Queen and Eric Morecambe, whose statue is situated a short distance from Morecambe Masonic Hall.
Dennis’s early schooling was at West End Primary School followed by Balmoral Road School and finally Morecambe Grammar School. On leaving school Dennis started his working life as an apprentice engineer at Trimpell Oil Refinery. It was whilst at Morecambe Grammar School that Dennis joined the Air Training Corps, rising to Cadet Flight Sergeant and ultimately via National Service, joined the Royal Corps of Signals with a posting in Plön, the district seat of the Plön district in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It was whist serving in Germany that Dennis learned to sail, ultimately winning many trophies. He is a member of Morecambe Yacht Club and has built his own yacht, which he launched very proudly in 1981.
After military service, Dennis came back to Morecambe and later joined his father’s business as a service engineer for washing machines, staying with the company until his retirement. In his business life Dennis won numerous awards from Hoover in their annual sales competitions, winning trips to Rome, Paris and the Isle of Man. In his personal life, Dennis married Phyllis in 1949 and in 2017 will have celebrated 68 years of marriage. They have been blessed with a son Andrew and a daughter Susan and have three grandchildren.
His Masonic achievements have been equally impressive. Dennis was initiated into Torrisholme Lodge in October 1957 and at this juncture, David Grainger asked the lodge secretary to read an extract from the minutes of the meeting. On completion of this, David continued observing that Dennis had served in all the principal offices of the lodge throughout his membership, including lodge director of ceremonies for most of the 1980’s. Such stalwart service was recognised by his initial appointment to acting Provincial Senior Grand Deacon in 1983 and later promotion to the high rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 1991. In 1996 Dennis was promoted to United Grand Lodge with the rank of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies.
In Royal Arch Masonry, Dennis has achieved the rank of Past Provincial Assistant Grand Sojourner. David completed his address by formally conveying the congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison before asking Lancaster group chairman Jim Wilson to read the commemorative certificate that the Provincial Grand Master had caused to be issued.
Presenting Dennis with the certificate, David thanked him for everything he had done over the last 60 years and wished him “good health and continued happiness for the future”. On taking back the master’s chair, Paul presented Dennis, on behalf of Torrisholme Lodge, with a lapel badge depicting a Masonic square and compasses engraved with 60 years. Rising to bring greetings from United Grand Lodge Jim Wilson added humorously that he could tell many tales of Dennis Butterfield, but unfortunately Dennis could also tell as many tales about him.
At a well-attended festive board held in the Morecambe Masonic Hall dining room, David once again added his own congratulations and best wishes to Dennis, adding that “it had been an absolute privilege to be in his company tonight”. David concluded by thanking all the grand and acting grand officers in attendance for their support as well as the assistance provided by the Lancaster group publicity officer in recording the occasion.
Before continuing with the toasts, the master of the lodge rose to announce that the pleasing sum of £310 had been raised from the raffle.
The toast to Denis’s health was proposed with equal measure of both sincerity and humour by the lodge chaplain Bryan Townson. Bryan observed that Dennis was a ‘a man of many parts’, a good Mason, a man who enjoys music, even having formed his own band many years ago in which he played the drums, has enjoyed go-carting, as well as playing bowls. Moving on, Bryan quipped that it was a delight to see that after 60 years Dennis had been ‘officially certified’. To conclude, Bryan presented Dennis, on behalf of the lodge, with a very nice painting of a Morecambe Bay coastal scene. In response Dennis thanked the lodge for the flowers which Phyllis had received, as well as the lovely painting and lapel badge he had been given on the night, humorously adding that he had thoroughly enjoyed his evening and sincerely hoped to see everyone in another 10 years.
Article and photographs by Paul Thompson.