Those present will most probably never see the like again, 50 year Certificates to two Brethren. The stars of the show, Worshipful Brother Alec Oldham and Worshipful Brother Geoff Haigh, both Past Masters of the Lodge and very committed and conscientious Mark Master Masons. This also coincided with an Escorted Visit to the Lodge by the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother Dr. Rod Taylor accompanied by 16 Provincial Grand Lodge Officers of the year.
In total 75 Brethren attended this special event and this follows 52 attending Gothic Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 1018, for the Installation of W.Bro, John Pease and 52 at Integrity Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 110 for a visit by the South Yorkshire Association of Installed Masters which included an advancement. Mark Master Masonry is flourishing in West Yorkshire, and long may it continue, but do not forget to support our colleagues and Lodges in the Craft.
The Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother Alan Knott began by advising that Worshipful Brother Brian Garside, a Past Master of the Lodge and 55 years a Mark Master Mason had died, after a long illness, aged 89 years. He was presented with his 50th Certificate by the then Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother James Bennett Truswell some 5 years ago when many present today were also there. W.Bro. Brian was a long serving Colne Valley Mason, remembered for his cheery smile and helpful manner, a true Mason who will be greatly missed in the Masonic Hall, Slaithwaite.
The Lodge was opened in due form by the Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother Alan Knott, the perfect man to have behind the wickets you could say. The usual agenda items fulfilled, a Ballot was then taken for a new member which proved successful, another night to remember coming up for the Brethren of Dartmouth Lodge of Mark Master Masons no. 545. Upon a report the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother Dr. Rod Taylor was then admitted accompanied by an Escort of Provincial Grand Lodge Officers of the year. In accordance with custom W.Bro. Knott offered the gavel to the Assistant Provincial Grand Master who then surprised the Brethren with some amazing news. Apparently, many moons ago, a Freemason returned from Australia with a gavel which, at a ceremony he duly offered to a Visitor. To his surprise he found that it had inherited the qualities of a boomerang and immediately returned to the donor, that is exactly what happened to the Gavel at Dartmouth, straight back to W. Bro. Knott.
The Assistant Provincial Grand Master then took the floor with W.Bro. Geoff Haigh and confirmed that he had joined Colne Valley Craft Lodge No.1645 in 1963 then Dartmouth Mark Lodge No. 545, 2 years later and went through the Chair in 1977. He received his 50th Certificate in craft from the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother John Gledhill, well known in the area and a Huddersfield Town Football Club fan. In his working life W.Bro. Geoff owned a Garage business in Linthwaite from 1957 to 1982, the business is still going, testament to the foundation he laid. This was sold, but to keep himself busy he became a postman, finally retiring in 1992. In 2006, he was promoted to Past Provincial Grand Senior Warden on the floor of the Dartmouth Mark Lodge No. 545 by the then Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Very Worshipful Brother Brian Addy, sadly no longer with us. He has fond memories of that night, and V.W.Bro. Brian. As I write, he has just received confirmation of promotion in the Province of Yorkshire West Riding to Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer. His advice to young Masons…, persevere and make sure you enjoy your Year in the Chair. He was presented with his Grand Lodge Certificate by the Assistant Provincial Grand Master and his Provincial Grand lodge Certificate by W.Bro. Alan Morson.
W.Bro. Alec then joined W.Bro. Dr. Rod Taylor on the floor and we learned that he had very interesting, in early life, starting work from school at the age of 14. This was at Shaws Music shop in Huddersfield as, in his youth his talent had been noticed by Melody Maker Magazine, this drew him to the attention of Charles Shaw, the proprietor and a local Freemason, and his first job was sealed. This was followed by working for Collinsons in Halifax as a Salesman, the proprietor of which was an Edgar Bates, also a local Freemason. His experience with these Freemasons taught him the virtue of honesty and care for his fellow man which has stood him in good stead throughout his life. Possessing an entrepreneurial instinct, he saw a gap in the market, bought a cash and carry business in Bradford which he expanded, ultimately establishing another Branch in Harrogate. This success allowed him to retire in 1987with sufficient capital to see him to 100, following the stock market crash in 2008, he revised this to 90 and he looks well enough to comfortably pass that marker.
In Freemasonry, he joined Constancy Craft Lodge No. 6359 in 1964 and Dartmouth Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 545 a year later, achieving the Chair in 2004. When asked why it had taken so long, he responded that he did not do backhanders! He received the Provincial Grand Masters Award in 2012 from the then Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother James Bennett Truswell, which he remembers with pride. However we did not stop there as the Assistant Provincial Grand Master promoted him on the floor to Past Provincial Grand Senior Warden and to great acclaim from the Brethren. He now has to buy another apron.
W.Bro. Dr. Rod Taylor then presented W.Bro. Alec with his Grand Lodge Certificate, the Provincial Grand lodge Certificate in the hands of a very proud Inner Guard, Brother Jonathan Fox, the newest member of the Dartmouth Mark Lodge.
The remaining formalities completed, we adjourned to the Festive Board, Prawn cocktail, Roast beef, Apple pie, cheese and biscuits, perfect. It did not stop there, whilst there were many visitors present, it is more appropriate to talk of Guests having been invited to a party, our Hosts W.Bro. Geoff and W. Bro. Alec, providing all the refreshment. Very many thanks to you both from us all and we sincerely hope that we will have many more years to enjoy your company.
Freemasonry, Mark Master Masonry at it’s very best. Even Slawit looked perfect that night!
Smile, be happy, and remember you are all Mark Master Masons.
W.Bro Duncan Smith P.S.G.D.