On Saturday 2 November, despite atrocious weather conditions, loyal fans and those with a nose for great entertainment converged upon the hottest spot of the evening, Pontefract Masonic Hall.
There W.Bro. John Whitworth entertained a capacity audience by singing favourite hits of the 50s, 60s 70s and 80s to his own, studio produced, professional backing. The show, ‘Music through the Decades, A Show of Two Halves!’ was arranged to raise money for the Cleeves and Whitehead Trust, the Charity of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons West Yorkshire.
In the first of the ‘Two Halves,’ versatile W. Bro. John sang from his new repertoire of hits by such artists as The Beatles, Elvis, Neil Diamond and many more, the arrangements were similar to those of the original artists but sung with his own unique style that did not imitate the songs. These were interspersed with amusing introductions and anecdotes.
In the ‘Second Half’, the audience were treated to a selection of their own favourites, W.Bro. John’s existing repertoire ranging across many styles including anthems, show tunes, ballads and those pop songs to which everyone likes to sing along. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time for every request but, in total, W.Bro. John sang for 2½ hours during the evening!
At the end of his performance, W. Bro. John presented V. W. Bro. Edward Patnick, Trustee of the Cleeves & Whitehead Trust, with an incredible cheque for £850 raised solely from this event. This took the total of his charitable efforts over the past twenty years or so to a sum in excess of £98,000, a phenomenal achievement.
Born in Germany when his Father was in the Army as a regular Soldier, he returned to England as a young boy and has lived in Yorkshire ever since. He is married to Carol and has two children, Sarah who followed in her Father’s footsteps and is a Police Inspector, and David who is a Manager at a Civil Engineering Company.
Singing was in his blood, his Mother, Mary, a Piano/singing teacher introduced John to the delights of Rogers and Hammerstein and Gilbert and Sullivan. This resulted in him joining Pontefract Operatic Society in 1973 where he began to hone his craft.
John had joined the Police Force when leaving school and it was at this point that the demands of his career intervened. It was not until the late 1980’s, on joining the Wakefield Gilbert and Sullivan Society and enjoying a number of solo parts, that his singing really took off. This also coincided with him taking on a new role in the Police Force as a School Liaison Officer which brought him into contact with many disadvantaged and disillusioned young men. Here he was determined to do whatever he could to assist, primarily by singing at events to raise money for several associated Charities.
This was followed by him becoming a member of the Darwent Players and meeting Mary Jordan in 1994, his accompanist to this day. They were then joined, in 1999, by Angela Court and the trio have been together ever since.
They have performed in many venues for Churches, Schools and associated Charities, Salvation Army, Hospices for adults and children and, many more. To this list were added Masonic Charities; W. Bro. John being initiated at St Oswald Craft Lodge No.910 in 1986. He is presently the Worshipful Master of Sincerity Lodge no. 1019, being a Past Master in a Craft Lodge 4 times, an acting Provincial officer in Chapter, and a Past Master at Dewsbury Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 641 and Past Commander of Pontefract Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners No.878. Accordingly he now devotes a lot of his efforts to the Cleeves and Whitehead Trust, the charitable arm of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons West Yorkshire, and the 2017 Festival for the Craft Province of Yorkshire West Riding.
W. Bro. John readily admits that he is a performer, having a massive, euphoric buzz after each performance, but also concedes that he does have nerves before every event. The main thrust, however is, as he puts it, ‘to raise money from your generous donations by attending the concerts I arrange for good causes.’ He went on to say ‘God gave me a gift, and I intend to use it for the benefit of those less fortunate than myself’.
As the total of his efforts nears £100, 000, I am mindful of our Masonic Precepts, ‘Do justice, love mercy, practice charity, maintain harmony and endeavour to live in brotherly love’, these he demonstrates with regularity.
W. Bro. John will be doing so again next year. Further Concerts will be held at Pontefract Masonic hall on the 5th of April and the 8th of November, where his CD will be on sale featuring music from his repertoire. In addition his vision is to have a Concert at a Theatre venue and raise sufficient to cover the total cost of the Llandudno Holiday.
Further evenings are also planned to support the 2017 Festival for the Masonic Province of Yorkshire, West Riding and the Provincial Grand Master’s Fund.
I know that you will all join me in applauding his commitment. Thank you W. Bro. John from us all.
W. Bro. Duncan Smith P.G.S.D