An excellent turn out at Cleeves Mark Lodge No. 618 to witness a very special event, there are only 16 other Mark Master Masons in the Province of West Yorkshire who can boast that they hold a Certificate of 50 years Membership. They have now been joined by the ‘Town Crier’ of Tapton Hall, much admired and respected, a good friend to many Mark Masons, Worshipful Brother Graham Tom Crossland. P.Prov.G.S.W.
The Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother Anthony Oates dealt with the opening formalities when, upon a report, the Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother James Steggles G.M.R.A.C. was admitted. He was accompanied by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother Richard Boswell Puttrell; Past Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother James Bennett Truswell; Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Very Worshipful Brother John Fred Clough together with an escort of Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge Officers. A veritable cornucopia of the great and good in the West Yorkshire Province of Mark Master Masons but more of that later.
W.Bro. Oates then quite properly offered the Gavel to R.W.Bro Steggles who did hesitate slightly before pointing out that should he accept it, he would immediately afterwards have to vacate the Chair as the next item on the Agenda was his from the floor. That was to present W.Bro. Graham with his Certificates, one from the West Yorkshire Province of Mark Master Masons, the other from the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons. R.W.Bro Steggles began by reminding us that W.Bro. Graham had become a Freemason in Sheffield in 1961 joining the Lodge of Industry No. 6579 where his father was the Worshipful Master. W.Bro. Graham is a ‘Lewis’ and reached the Craft Chair in the year 2000, surely the longest gestation period on record. His Masonic career continued joining, Cleeves Mark Lodge No.618 in 1965, becoming Worshipful Master in 1977 and where he has held the Office of Charity Steward since 2001. It was also in 2001 that he got around to joining White Rose Chapter No. 2491 and, finally he became a Royal Ark Mariner at Wentworth Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners No. 53 in 2005. Much has happened since he took his first steps on the Masonic path, that year Harold Wilson was P.M., the Vietnam War started and, to the delight of millions, the ‘Sound of Music’ film was released.
The reason that he took so long to reach his Craft chair was that he dedicated himself to working in the family business of Plumbers, driving this forward into a Mechanical Services business known and respected nationwide. He recalled joining Junior Chamber, this was for two reasons, one that he would learn much in the presence of old heads and two, some business may accrue. At one meeting he saw a new member standing on his own and bought him a beer, to find that he was a Senior Manager for a company with whom they could do business. This half pint brought forward many opportunities, money well spent. Another trail led him to the Plumbing Federation which culminated in him being made a Freeman of the City of London through his work with the Worshipful Company of Plumbers. He spoke, quite rightly, with great feeling, and pride, about Dinners at the Mansion House, a singular honour.
Above all W. Bro. Graham, behind the larger than life booming exterior, has a heart of gold. Never shy of showing warmth and affection to all his family and friends, someone who believes passionately in the precepts of Mark Masonry and endeavours to demonstrate them to all. Sadly his Daughter Kay died some 8 years ago but he remains justifiably proud of the business she had in Australia, ‘New Beginnings’, an organisation whose object was to assist Migrants settling in a new country, helping others less fortunate than herself, sounds like a chip of the old block. Lastly, and he will kill me if I do not mention that, as a Golfer he has had three holes in one, yes 3, as the Provincial Grand Master said there are many like him, and me , who have had none. W.Bro. Graham then had a throwaway line, ‘well it’s just a simple 9 iron’!
The Festive Board was superb, in line with evening, Worshipful Brother Michael Holmes proposed the Toast to the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master highlighting the very hard work that he delivers for the Province, setting an example to all, and encouraging happiness, how true. In response, Right Worshipful Brother Steggles thanked W.Bro. Michael for his Toast but reminded us that he was holding the Office in trust for his successor. He also reflected, as a Sheffield man, that he had fond memories of the city and that, even after 43 years, it still felt a little like coming home.
Lastly, I have to record that; amongst the visitors were the ‘Three Blings’. They have been mentioned before being Worshipful Brother John Vause Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, Worshipful Brother Michael Minns Grand Senior Deacon and Worshipful Brother Philip Drury Grand Steward. Yes, if you have slept through the past 4 months you may not know that, amazingly the Province of West Yorkshire has three Acting Grand Lodge Officers of which we are rightly proud. You cannot miss them for, adorned with their chains, viz the ‘Bling’, the smiles normally bisect the room, photo attached but I think that is enough for now.
A wonderful evening for all, especially W.Bro. Graham, and for those of us who were privileged to join him. Congratulations to Worshipful Brother Ian Schofield of Portal Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 127, the only Master in the Chair present yet there are 5 other Mark Lodges in Tapton Hall alone.
Lots of smiles when we left, lots of happy Mark Master Masons, long may it continue.
W.Bro. Duncan Smith P.G.S.D.