Fred Celebrates His 100th Birthday In Spitfire Style

R.W.Bro. Fredrick Arthur Smith (Fred) celebrated his 100th Birthday in great style at the Yorkshire Air Museum, when family and friends gathered there to be with him on Saturday 7th August. The Museum boasts a full size model of a Spitfire, which proudly overlooked the proceedings and provided a very fitting background for the celebration as Fred volunteered to join the RAF immediately after war was declared in 1939, at the very tender age of 18.

The Spitfire

Fred in his RAF days

Fred has also had a very distinguished Masonic career, having joined the Craft in York in 1962 and the Mark Degree in 1966. He progressed rather well in the Mark, becoming Provincial Grand Secretary, North and East Yorkshire, in 1985 and Deputy P.G.M. in 1992. He holds the Mark Grand Rank of Past Grand Junior Warden and is therefore a Right Worshipful Brother. 


He joined Old York Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners TI in West Yorkshire in 1968, which was probably a little bit like coming home as he was brought up in Cleckheaton. He must have enjoyed it as he has remained a member and regular attender ever since, receiving his 50 year Certificate from the Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro. Jim Steggles, in 2018. Fred introduced Frank Woolgrove, also a Past Deputy P.G.M. of North & East Yorkshire, into Old York Lodge in 1971 and both are members of the Carl Whitehead Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners in West Yorkshire.

Fred as Past Grand Junior Warden

With North & East  colleagues at Old York R.A.M. when he received his 50 Year Certificate in 2018 (Frank Woolgrove is on the left)

His 100th Birthday celebration opened with Wing Commander Howard Newbould and ex Squadron Leader Martin Withers, who served in the Falklands, offering their congratulations to Fred, and Wing Commander Newbould then presenting Fred with the Defence and War Medals for Loyal Service to Country during the Second World War. Fred had not previously bothered to apply for these medals, but his family had and the presentation of them came as a huge surprise to him.

Fred with his Medals on his 100th Birthday

This was followed excellent entertainment the York Philharmonic Choir and a superb 3 course Luncheon.

Fred’s 3 children, Martin, Roger and Rose then spoke fondly of Fred and we learned a great deal about his life, his family and his friends. Rose was last to speak, saying that it was miraculous what had happened in Fred’s lifetime, a full, happy and very fulfilling life and a life well lived. We all then rose to drink a toast to Fred, to which he responded with his usual stylish quality and humour and thanked everyone for attending to help him celebrate his first 100 years.

Fred then cut his birthday cake, which carried designs from many parts of his life, including a Spitfire, RAF pilot wings, a square and compass, and a bicycle and bomb (but that’s another story). Needless to say, the cake was delicious !

Fred with his Birthday Cake

With the two Yorkshire Provincial Grand Masters

The Mark Provincial Grand Master for North and East Yorkshire, R.W.Bro. Bob Clancey, then proposed a vote of thanks to Fred and all who had contributed to such a wonderful day. He then surprised Fred yet again presenting him with the very prestigious Royal Ark Mariner Distinguished Service Award. 

A very fitting end, to very fitting birthday, for a very fitting man and Mason.

R.W.Bro. Frederick Arthur Smith.