A Lodge Temple bursting at the seams and the Provincial Grand Master still without, together with his Deputy and Assistant and other distinguished Brethren.
Why were so many brethren gathered at Knaresborough Castle Lodge of Mark Master Masons on Friday, 9 May 2014? Simple, the presentation of Certificates to Very Worshipful Brother George Robert Fraser-Platt to celebrate his 50 years of Mark Masonry.
The Lodge was opened in due form the Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother Francis Richard Stone and, along with the normal formalities, W.Bro. Philip Drury was balloted for, and confirmed, as a joining member (he’s getting everywhere because I keep seeing him).
Upon a report the Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother James Steggles, together with the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Very Worshipful Brother Robert Corfield and the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother John Fred Clough, together with Past Rulers and other Distinguished Brethren were admitted. W.Bro. Stone offered the Gavel to the Provincial Grand Master commenting, that after the performance at Provincial Grand Lodge he felt that R.W.Bro. Steggles could do a better job than him. R.W.Bro. Steggles responded that the Worshipful Master might have noticed that ‘I have more to do than you tonight’.
R.W.Bro. Steggles then provided a retrospect of 1964, the year that V.W.Bro. Bob joined Legiolium Lodge of Mark Master Masons No.457. The Fugitive was on black and white TV starring Richard Kimble, to whom V.W.Bro. Bob bears a remarkable resemblance. Petrol cost 5/6d or 28p per gallon and a new Ford Cortina £695, the average house price was £3,360.
When Mrs. Fraser-Platt, Trudy, was asked W.Bro. Roy Moreton if she could provide anecdotes, she responded: ‘That is rich Roy, you have seen more of Bob than I have. I was off working during the day and in the evening Bob had his stage career, then his Magic Circle, and then his Masons!’.
Mark Masonically, V.W.Bro. Bob was advanced into Legiolium Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 457 in April 1964, was installed as Worshipful Master in 1974. He was appointed to be acting Provincial Grand Junior Warden in 1983, R.W.Bro. Carl Whitehead was our Provincial Grand Master at the time, and in 2006 he was given the rank of Past Grand Junior Overseer. He is also a keen Royal Ark Mariner, a Past Commander of Abbey RAM Lodge No.768, Past and Founding Commander of Morley RAM Lodge No.1905, Almoner of Claro RAM No.525 and a Member of the Carl Whitehead Lodge of RAM No.110.
His introduction to the entertainment profession came from his Mother who was an Opera singer and she provided the impetus for him to perform. He subsequently met a Chemist, John Pennington, who proposed him as a member of the Leeds Magic Circle and he performed at meetings of the Leeds branch, winning a number of competitions. Eventually he added the ‘Patter’ and his stage career began at the City Varieties in Leeds where he acted as Compere whilst also performing. This brought him into contact, careful use of words here, with some other acts, Strippers being a feature of the Bill at the City Varieties! He was working in both the Club and Theatre scene at the time, very demanding, but worked with some headliners including Donald Pears, Al Read and Shirley Bassey at the Batley Variety Club. He admitted that he had always been a sucker for magic, at which point R.W.Bro. James Steggles asked him if he would perform. He did not need asking a second time and did a trick with an invisible match box, no more to be said, it worked. It was easy to see why he had been successful, despite having finished his stage career some years ago, the professionalism, skill and concentration were there for all to see.
The Provincial Grand Master then presented V.W.Bro. Bob with his 50th Certificate from the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons. A delightful moment then followed when R.W.Bro James Steggles asked W.Bro. Ron Moreton, a long standing friend to present the 50th certificate from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons West Yorkshire. A surprise for our star of the evening, a third certificate when, at the hands of the Provincial Grand Master he received promotion to Past Provincial Grand Senior Warden. Not often that V.W.Bro. Bob is short of words.
An excellent Festive Board followed with V.W.Bro. Bob telling jokes which I will not reveal here otherwise he won’t be able to keep telling them around the Province! I have said much about what he has done in his life inside and outside Masonry and he has been a friend of R.W.Bro. James Steggles for some 27 years, myself for the past 15 years or so, but who is he? The Provincial Grand Master introduced the concept of making ‘better men out of men’ in his address to Provincial Grand Lodge. V.W.Bro. Bob is such a man who does not just preach, but actively practices in his life the precepts that we all hold dear. A most caring, considerate, generous man who can always raise a laugh in the most difficult situations, you may not be treading the Boards now Bob but you are still a Star. Now put your handkerchiefs away.
Smile, be happy and enjoy your Mark Masonry.
W. Bro. Duncan Smith P.G.S.D