Wednesday, the 17th May and a large number of happy Mark Master Masons converged upon the Masonic hall, Slaithwaite. The reason for this Special Meeting, by way of Dispensation, was to see Worshipful Brother Robert William (Bill) Place presented with a certificate to celebrate 50 years of Mark Master Masonry.
The lodge was opened by the Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother Trevor Kinvig and the Secretary, Worshipful Brother Alan Hines, read out the Dispensation convening the Meeting. W. Bro. Trevor then welcomed the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother Richard Boswell Puttrell who received appropriate salutations, followed by Right Worshipful Brother Brian Morris Batty, Very Worshipful Brother Mervyn Wilson; all in the hands of W. Bro. Ian Lewis, Prov. A.D.C., the remainder of the Worshipful Brethren were then similarly addressed according to Rank.
Attention then turned to the star of the show, W. Bro. Bill who had been advanced into Mark Masonry on the 27th April 1967 at Pontefract Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 878. He subsequently became a Founder member of the Beaumont Lodge No.1523 in 1979, and an Honorary member in 2001, finally becoming a joining member at Dartmouth No. 545 in 1973 where he again was Tyler, this time for 20 years. In the Craft, he was initiated, passed and raised in 1964 in the Huguenot Lodge No. 2140 in Piccadilly, London, his ancestors originally coming from France, to England in 1680.
The scene had been set by W. Bro. Richard with a retrospect of the 1960’s, the era of long hair, bright swirling colours and short skirts. This was also the decade that saw the arrival of Concorde, the 6 Day War where Israel prevailed and when President Charles De Gaulle vetoed Britain’s entry into the E.E.C., AGAIN. W. Bro. Bill was born in Keighley where he joined the West Riding Constabulary in 1956, shortly after which he received a letter from the Queen inviting him to do national service. This was in the course of being dispensed with and he was offered the choice of going back to the Police or remaining in the Army, he returned to the Beat where he remained for 32 years, the majority in the Colne Valley, then retiring in 1988 as a Sergeant
His Masonry then continued, he was the Secretary of the Huguenot Lodge for 20 years and received Grand Rank in the Craft. He also became the first Provincial Deputy Grand Secretary in the Craft which he held for 20 years, the message is loud and clear Brethren, W. Bro. Bill is a very diligent and committed Freemason. Having retained his membership of Pontefract Lodge of Mark Master Masons, he became Worshipful Master in 1976, his Mark career saw him rise to Past Provincial Grand Junior Warden having been appointed as Provincial Grand Tyler in 1984. During the 16 years, yes Brethren 16 years that he held the post, he served under 4 Provincial Grand Masters. All this culminated in him receiving Mark Grand Lodge Honours as Past Grand Senior Deacon in 1998.
He joined Pontefract Royal Ark Mariner Lodge No. 878 in 1976 but because of work commitments he resigned and joined Truth R.A.M. No. 137 where he remains a member.
When asked by W. Bro. Richard about the changes that he had witnessed in Freemasonry during his lifetime, he said that it had changed tremendously and mostly for the better. However he expressed some disappointment at what he perceived to be a lack of discipline in general. His advice to young Masons; attend regularly, learn the ritual and persevere, it will be worth it.
The Grand lodge certificate was then read by W. Bro. Alan Hines and presented by R. W. Bro. Brian Morris Batty, Past Provincial Grand Master.
The Provincial Grand Lodge Certificate was read by W. Bro. Ian Booth and presented by R. W. Bro. Richard Puttrell, Deputy Provincial Grand Master.
The menu for the Festive board had been chosen by W. Bro. Bill as follows;
Oxtail Soup because this was a Huguenot tradition,
Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding because of the Yorkshire connection and
Rhubarb Crumble in light of the Wakefield Triangle and its proximity to Pontefract.
Responding briefly to the Provincial Toast, W. Bro. Richard once again congratulated W. Bro. Bill upon his achievement and reminded the assembled company of some dates for their diaries being as follows:
20th September at Fearnley Lodge of M.M.M., Investiture of new Rulers, by invitation only.
29th October, Festival Sunday Lunch at Greenhead Masonic Hall.
26th November, Xmas Fayre at Greenhead Masonic hall.
10th December, Xmas Carol Concert, Brighouse.
The Toast to W. Bro. Bill was in the capable hands of Worshipful Brother Alan Hines who had been pleased that whilst we had acknowledged W. Bro. Bill’s commitment to the Mark Degree, it had been interesting to hear of his interest in Holy Royal Arch and other side Degrees. Additionally he had long record of service to the Police and, subsequently to Rotary and the Church. In reply, W. Bro. Bill expressed his delight at the Presentations and to the attendance of all present, particularly the Dep.P.G.M. W. Bro. Richard and Past. Prov.G.M., R.W.Bro. Brian Batty together with Brethren from Pontefract, notably Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother John Clayton and Worshipful Brother Craig Kidd. He also gave a fulsome tribute to his wife Anne for all her support and to David, Anne’s son, who was ostensibly his step son. David, however, insisted the he did not want the prefix “step” so it was a full father and son relationship; thus a devastating blow when he died young. Finally he thanked the Brethren of Dartmouth Lodge for an excellent evening and for the many happy hours he had enjoyed in their Mark Masonic company.
A wonderful evening and a pleasure for all present to share it with W. Bro. Bill.
Worshipful Brother Duncan Smith P.G.S.D.