On Thursday, 31st May and a goodly number of Royal Ark Mariner Masons gathered at Cleckheaton to witness a special evening which was to Elevate a new Brother, Brother Alistair Macintyre, a Mark Master Mason of Old York Mark Lodge T.I. and also to present a Cerficate of 50 years of membership of the Fraternity to Worshipful Brother Frederick Arthur Smith, Past Deputy Provisional Grand Master of the Province of North and East Yorkshire, well known and loved in West Yorkshire and a member of the Carl Whitehead Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners. He was accompanied his close friend, equally well known and loved in our Province, Worshipful Brother Frank Woolgrove, also Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master of the Province of North and East and the present Deputy Provincial Grand Master of North and East, Worshipful Brother Clive Copley.
The Worshipful Commander, Worshipful Brother Michael Holgate welcomed all and then asked Worshipful Brother Andrew Jagger to lead the assembled company in the opening hymn, which he did, Acapella style, in fine form. W.Bro. Michael then welcomed the Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother James Steggles, G.M.R.A.C. together with the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother Alan Oldfield and the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother Trevor Bolton. W.Bro Andrew then read the minutes of their last meeting when it became clear that the Treasurer, Worshipful Brother Ian Wilkinson, had been prevented from presenting a notice of motion the Director of Ceremonies, Worshipful Brother Edward Wilkinson interrupting and ordering him to be seated. Eventually, however, he prevailed and the message was that the subscriptions were going up!
A ballot, which proved positive was then taken for Bro Alistair and Brother John Lawrence, who, sadly could not be present, and the ceremony of Elevation began. The candidate entered the Lodge under the guidance of the Senior and Junior Deacons, respectively Brother Jason Cunningham and Brother Mark Simmons, who took very good care of him throughout. The Obligation was in the hands of W. Bro Michael as were the Signs and Secrets and Tools. Worshipful Brother John Brooke delivered the ancient history with Brother Derek Smart explaining the meaning of the Steps, at no time was a ritual book seen, only the occasional prompt. Being a Time Immemorial Lodge the ritual and floor work differs from the standard version, occasionally their delivery also varied from their own text, but it is well worth seeing. A ceremony superbly discharged all involved.
R.W.Bro. Jim then took the floor and began congratulating Bro. Alistair upon becoming a member of this, almost, Flag Ship Royal Ark Mariner Lodge of the Province. I am not too sure of Naval protocol but as the Admiral of the Fleet was on board, his Flag at the masthead, for that moment it was a temporary Flag Ship! He then gave a short retrospect of life in 1968 when W.Bro. Fred joined the Lodge. He was born in 1921 when his family had a farm near Cleckheaton, yes he is ninety six years young but does not look it, this was part of the wonder of the evening for, in the same period, we welcomed a twenty four year old, Bro. Alistair into Ark Mariner Masonry and celebrated with W.Bro. Fred crowning 50 years. He recalled that the Farm, which was sold in 1936, had cattle, pigs and poultry but his favourite was a plough pulling horse called Charlie A period in the R.A.F. followed and when he returned home in 1946, he returned to his previous employer, Alfred Hall Ltd. Moving to York in 1953, he used his skills to establish in partnership, Smith Brothers, fitting Kitchens and Bathrooms This brought him into contact with a Barnsley Mason, W.Bro. John Rushton, at the time PPGJW in both West and North and East Yorkshire Provinces, who commended the Mark Degree to him and here we are now, W.Bro. Fred already having received his 50th certificate in the Mark Degree two years ago. This prompted W.Bro. Fred to comment that he has been very lucky in his Mark and Royal Ark Mariner Masonry meeting many wonderful Masons, we agree Fred and you are one of them.
His Masonic career began in York, the family having moved there from Cleckheaton and was initiated in 1962, joined the Mark in 1966 followed Provincial Grand Secretary’s Lodge, Grand Stewards Lodge, Grand Masters Lodge and our own Carl Whitehead Lodge of Royal Ark Mariner; the last named being the only Lodge of which he is a member that he has never been in the Chair. What a delight it would be to crown his 100th Birthday in 2021 completing the set. R.W.Bro. Jim then presented him with his Provincial Grand Lodge Certificate and his pal, W. Bro. Frank, his Grand Lodge Certificate
At the Festive Board a cheque for £421 was presented to the Festival in respect of the Barge Pull which, together with gift aid, must now be near £7000. The P.G.M. then presented W.Bro. Fred with a D.V.D. of Pathe News reviewing 1968, Fred acknowledged the gift but would now be seated as he did not want to be called a Blatherskyte, an expression he had come to hear in the North east, to describe a babbler, not you Fred. Brother Mark Simmons proposed the toast to the candidate who had, in 2013 whilst at Bradford University, joined Freemasonry via the Graduate scheme, then being advanced into Mark in 2018 and now Royal Ark Mariner. He is a Primary School teacher in Lancashire, and precisely what Freemasonry needs if it is to prosper. Bro Alistair thanked all who had contributed to a very special evening which he had thoroughly enjoyed that being due, in no small part, to sharing this happy event with W.Bro. Fred. One of the features of Old York T.I. is that it contains the infamous ‘Ant and Dec’ duo, W.Bro. Edward Wilkinson and W.Bro. Andrew Johnson, also ‘Hinge and Bracket’, known to us all as W.Bro Andrew Jagger and
W.Bro. Michael Holgate. Together with their Brethren, they create a welcoming atmosphere fellowship and brotherly love to be applauded, long may it continue but we have to remember that they are getting a bit long in the tooth. Yes, this meeting was Simply the best and on this one occasion perhaps, Better than all the rest!