The members of Lodge of Unanimity No 113 celebrated 50 years in the Craft of Alan McGlen, a very special occasion for the members and for Alan.
The proceedings were led by the APrGM David Winder, accompanied by Barry Fitzgerald PrDGDC, supported by grand officers Bill Seddon, Stan Rigby, Preston Group Vice Chairman Geoff Saul and acting Provincial grand officers, David Kenworthy, Terry McGill, Clive Gitsham, David Pallister and Creag Williams.
After the administrative business of the lodge was completed, Barry Fitzgerald entered the lodge to announce the presence of David Winder, who duly entered to be warmly welcomed by the master of the lodge Malcolm Berry. David responded by thanking Malcolm and the lodge members for their generous welcome and concluded by accepting the gavel of the lodge.
On taking the master’s chair, David began by informing the brethren that it was a ‘joy’ to be able to officiate at Alan’s 50th celebration; a brother who shared David’s support for the ‘Red Devils’ or Manchester United as they are more usually known. He continued in a light-hearted manner with numerous puns relating to Alan’s former career as a computer engineer before turning to the evening’s celebration of Alan’s wonderful 50 years as a Craft Mason. David then asked Barry to place the celebrant in a comfortable chair before him, inviting Alan to relax and enjoy the evening to the full.
He started by setting the scene of how long 50 years was, by reminding the brethren of some of the events that occurred all those years ago. A year in which the musical ‘Oliver’ was released, Apollo 7 was launched, the United States of America was at war in Vietnam and dare he mention it, the ‘Red Devils’ won the European Cup for the first time.
Having set the scene, David began by recounting Alan’s early life in Northumberland where he attended North Hill Primary School. His father Sydney, was a bus driver and his mother Margaret, a civilian clerk in the Royal Army Service Corps. Being a ‘North Easterner’, his father insisted that Alan support a football team. Alan duly closed his eyes and placed his finger on a list of teams, resulting in Manchester United gaining another supporter, a support that has continued to the present day.
David continued by informing the brethren that in 1947 Alan’s parents made the move to London and at the age of seven turned his life upside down as he exchanged a life in the countryside with fresh air, sea and sand for buildings, sky and an eternity of buses trundling by. However, it provided an opportunity for Alan to attend a quality grammar school by the name of William Ellis Grammar School, a school named after William Ellis Web the inventor of the Plimsoll line that is used on shipping today.
Moving on to education, David mentioned Alan’s favourite academic subjects were geography and history, but his real interest was in the school Cadet Corps that he joined during his third school year. Learning drill and being allowed to shoot on the 25-yard range, he found particularly exciting. On attaining the fourth year, Alan was eligible to join the RAF section that opened up visits to RAF stations and the opportunity to engage in activities such as shooting and hiking. In Alan’s case, a particular low-level flight in an Auster single engine propeller aircraft, had him twitching as he looked up to see the telegraph wires passing overhead. Sadly, Alan’s potential future career in aviation came to an end when he was diagnosed with a burst eardrum.
Turning to Alan’s working life, David referred to Alan leaving school and applying for six different jobs at the same time and how he was extremely pleased to have the opportunity to take his pick, as he was successful in all six applications. He continued by saying that, after careful consideration, Alan decided to join Mobil Oil, starting in the mail room. This gave him the opportunity to travel the building and gain an insight into the workings of the various departments within the company. Making his choice of department, he applied for a position in the computing department located on the top floor, and again he was successful in filling the vacancy. His subsequent training in what at that time, was a growing technology served him well, as in due course he moved to 3M as a supervisor of their computer room. The primary responsibility of the room was the important task of allocating wages to all 3M staff across Europe.
Alan’s skills were duly recognised as he was headhunted by Gallows Tobacco to run a large computer section dealing with ‘Gift Scheme’ merchandise related to tobacco products. Alan revealed to David that having a two-year-old son, he well recalled ‘fighting’ to work Sundays on £15 per day.
David returned to Alan’s itchy feet as once more he changed employment, this time managing a large furniture company’s data processing department. The change of job eventually necessitated a move out of London and purchase of a new house in Watford. Unfortunately, things turned for the worse and Alan was made redundant. Not to be put off, on his wife’s advice, Alan replied to an advert for a ‘dynamic salesman’. As per usual he was successful and became a florist working for a Swedish company. His training involved a trip to Sweden, unfortunately in January.
Six years later his feet started itching again and he joined a DAF truck dealership becoming the manager responsible for the British Airways coach fleet. On this occasion his feet seemed happy, as he remained there for 20 years before moving on to work for a friend as office manager until retirement beckoned.
Moving on to romance, David wound the clock back to 1964, mentioning a holiday journey to Spain during which Alan was to meet the ‘Yorkshire lass’ who was to become his future wife, Eileen. David was told that Alan initially thought her to be a bit of a moaner if things were not to her liking. In return Eileen countered by saying she thought he was a loud mouth! However, they became engaged in January 1965 and married the following October at St Mary’s, Hendon. David mentioned that the honeymoon in Looe was nearly aborted as the clutch in Alan’s car failed three days before the journey.
The marriage was blessed with two sons; Simon and Phillip, unfortunately, Phillip only survived six hours after his birth. Simon, born in September 1966, was to keep Alan so busy that it was 1990 before he managed to see a full recording of England’s 1966 World Cup win. Sadly, Eileen passed away in 2017 after 52 happy years together.
David informed the brethren that in fact Simon was present in lodge, as a Mason, to see his dad honoured. Simon became a member of the Craft through his dad’s links to scouting and friendship with Dick Griffiths and Ray Fitzsimons. Both of them members of the Lancashire Scouting Lodge of Allegiance No 6384 that meets in Darwin, East Lancashire. David continued with a little history saying that it all started with Alan taking Simon to join the cubs. His success with being offered employment came to the fore and Alan became Cub Scout Leader, moving through the ranks to become Explorer Scout Commissioner for Watford. His 50 years’ service in Scouting resulted in him earning the Award of Merit for Scouting. Alan admitted that to this day, he still receives over 100 birthday wishes from his former charges.
Continuing with Alan’s many activities, David turned to model railways in which Alan was secretary of the Hemel Hempstead club for many years. His interest continues as a member of the Preston and District Model Railway Club that meets three evenings and one afternoon each week. Raising an eyebrow, David commented, “We think Masonry is demanding, brethren!”
David mentioned Alan’s holidays in many exotic places, such as Hong Kong, the Far East, Canada and many great and happy times with Eileen on numerous cruises. Turning the page, David’s eyes came upon the words, ‘Alan’s Freemasonry’. To set the scene, he invited the lodge secretary Gordon Pilkington, to read the minutes of the meeting at which Alan was initiated.
Continuing the Masonic theme, David mentioned Alan’s father, Sydney, with his mother lodge being Alnwick Lodge No 1167 in Northumberland. Retaining his membership throughout his travels enabled him to visit lodges in London without having to formally join. When Alan reached the young age of 28, Sydney told him it was about time he became a Freemason and passed him to Sam King and John McMullen who introduced him as a prospective candidate into Royal Arthur Lodge No 1360. Satisfying the scrutiny committee, Alan was initiated in April 1968, passed in November 1968 and raised in April 1969, completing all the offices with the exception of inner guard before taking the master’s chair in 1976. The lodge always had 30 or more members attending and were very supportive. As David recounted, in those days as a steward, Alan was expected to retire early to help set up the festive board. This was something he accomplished with aplomb, as recognised by the pint, always in his hand, when the members arrived.
Two years after joining the lodge, he was pleased to see his father being proposed for joining membership and he quickly followed Alan up the progressive ladder. During his year as master he appointed Sydney as his senior warden and cousin Brian as his junior warden. David went on to describe some of Alan’s Masonic adventures where he was heard to refer to his senior warden as ‘brother senior warden’, ‘brother McGlen’ and ‘dad,’ in an apparently random manner; being involved in the raising of an over 22 stone in weight brother and managing to break two gavels in a single night. On a more serious note, Alan recalled having to deliver both a second and third-degree ceremony on the same night.
After mentioning Alan’s membership of Abbots Langley Lodge No 4645 in Watford and Royal Arthur Lodge in London, David was pleased to note Alan’s progress within the Craft had resulted in him being appointed to London Grand Rank in 2006.
Referring to Alan’s move to Preston in 2015 and his contact with Preston Group Publicity Officer Mike Walkden, David intimated that the subsequent introduction to Unanimity Lodge members Gordon Pilkington and Douglas Atkinson and the information that this was a daytime lodge came to a successful conclusion. Alan became a joining member of the lodge to be made very welcome and quickly made many new friends within the lodge. David mentioned proof of this in the fact that lodge member, John Watson refers to Alan as the ‘old man’, whilst Alan returns the compliment by referring to John as the ‘young pup’, this despite John being a mere five days younger.
David concluded his remarks by informing Alan that the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison was aware of his celebration and though he could not be present in person he had sent a personal greeting in the form of a certificate. He then invited the group vice chairman Geoff Saul, to read the certificate.
He closed by reminding Alan that, on the day his father started him on his Masonic journey as 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. With his final words, he returned to a further series of puns, again based on Alan’s career in computing that were met with a number of groans from the brethren. Translating the puns, David was saying: “You have indeed met every test and task as you have travelled along your Masonic path. Here is wishing you, health, happiness and fulfilment in your Masonry and in all that you do. On a personal note, I thank you for telling me most of the truth for most of the time!” This was followed by well-deserved applause from all the brethren present.
Having now achieved 50 years’ service to Freemasonry, Alan joins seven other members of the lodge who can already claim that distinction.
Later in the evening, in his response to the toast to the grand officers, David congratulated the lodge on now having eight members whose service to Freemasonry totals over 400 years. He congratulated Alan on his achievement wishing him well for the future. He closed by presenting Alan with a copy of what he had said in the lodge, as a memento of the occasion.
Knowing David was an avid supporter of Manchester United, and much to his surprise, Alan responded by presenting him with a picture of the famous Ryan Giggs ‘wonder goal’ in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay against Arsenal.
To mark the occasion, Unanimity Lodge WM Malcolm Berry, presented Alan with an engraved memento as a tribute to his 50 years in Freemasonry.