W.Bro. John Whitehead, R.A.M.G.R., celebrated 50 years as a Royal Ark Mariner at the Installation meeting of Hipperholme R.A.M. Lodge No 715 on 25 April. The meeting was attended by the Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro. James Steggles, and R.W.Bro. Brian Morris Batty, Past Provincial Grand Master, who was present as a member of the Lodge.
The meeting saw W.Bro. Stephen J. Turner Installed as Worshipful Commander in an excellent ceremony, conducted by the outgoing Commander W.Bro. Ashley Barker, before the presentation to W.Bro. John Whitehead took place, so it was a full and very enjoyable evening. The Provincial Grand Master said that it was a particularly special occasion, as only one other set of 50 year Certificates were currently held in the Province, that being by R.W.Bro. James Bramley Morley, our most senior Past Provincial Grand Master.
The Provincial Grand Master then gave a retrospect of W.Bro. John’s progress through the Order since his Elevation into Hipperholme R.A.M. Lodge on 3rd April 1964. He was Worshipful Commander of the Lodge in 1973 and received Provincial Royal Ark Mariner Grand Rank in 1985. Royal Ark Mariner Grand Rank followed in 1992. He was also awarded Grand Rank in the Mark in 2000 and currently holds the Mark rank of Past Grand Senior Deacon.
The Provincial Grand Master pointed out that in 1964, when W.Bro. John joined the Order we still had gas lamps, steam trains, Mods and Rockers and the Beatles. The Post Office Tower was completed and the Forth Road Bridge was opened by her Majesty the Queen. It was also the year the Sun newspaper was first published and BBC2 became the third UK television channel. The average house price was £3360 and a new Ford Cortina cost less than £700
In his earlier life W.Bro. John worked for H&C Whitehead, for his uncle, Harold and his Father Carl. R.W.Bro. Carl Whitehead was a Provincial Grand Master of this Province for over 30 years and his Cousin, Norman, was also Assistant Provincial Grand Master for 12 years. So W.Bro John comes from very distinguished stock and the name ‘Whitehead’ has become synonymous with Mark Masonry in West Yorkshire. Indeed, when our Past Commander’s Lodge was formed in 1996, it was called ‘The Carl Whitehead Lodge’ and W.Bro. John and V.W.Bro. Norman were made Honorary Members and were presented with Founder’s Jewels at its Consecration Meeting.
At that meeting, W.Bro. John also presented the Lodge with a decanter, which had previously been presented to his father Carl to celebrate 25 years as our Provincial Grand Master. R.W.Bro. Carl had asked John to look after it and find it a good home. The Provincial Grand Master said that it had been found a good home indeed, because we now see it on many occasions, as it accompanies the Commander of the Carl Whitehead Lodge filled with port. So with its legacy, the name ‘Whitehead’ will live on in this Province, until time with us shall be no more.
R.W.Bro. Batty then read and presented W.Bro. John Whitehead with his 50 year Certificate from Grand Lodge, and the Provincial Grand Master presented a similar Certificate from the Province, thanking him on behalf of the Province and the Order for his distinguished service to Royal Ark Mariner Freemasonry over the last 50 years. An excellent occasion indeed.