Almost 100 brethren gathered at the Lodge of Good Hope No 6937 at Cleveleys Masonic Hall for a celebration of the 50th year in Freemasonry of past group chairman Jack Coates.
The initial business of the lodge was transacted by the master Ken Peaks before it was time to receive the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Barry Fitzgerald, who announced the presence of the Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Harry Cox and Stewart Seddon. They in turn processed into the lodge room accompanied by grand officers Terry Hudson, Eric Picton, Chris Band, North Fylde Group Chairman Duncan Smith, group vice chairman Peter Greathead, Keith Jackson, Brian Parkin, Ron Sands, Peter Mason, Ray Neal, Geoffrey Pritchard, Tony Hough, and Neil MacSymons, ably supported by acting Provincial officers Gordon Ivett, Alex Tomlinson, Gary Fisher, Bryn Hart, Stuart Gay, Peter Horgan and Alan Howie.
The master of the lodge welcomed Harry Cox and offered him the gavel of office which was accepted and Harry took the master’s chair. After salutations from the brethren he introduced the main business of the meeting which was to honour Jack’s 50 years in Freemasonry. For this purpose Jack was seated directly in front of the master’s chair. As he does so well, Harry set the scene for the year of Jack’s birth, 1936. It was clear that ample use had been made of Google and Wikipedia!
Jack was born in Bradford, Yorkshire and it was noted that this may account for him having short arms and deep pockets. At a young age he moved with his family to Blackpool where his mother ran a boarding house and he attended Revoe School and then Palatine School. After a brief sojourn into accountancy, Jack worked for Burton’s outfitters as a trainee manager. In 1954 he was called up to join the RAF, moving out to Suez and eventually Cyprus. After his service in the RAF, Jack worked for UK Atomic Energy at Springfield, Windscale and Risley. He held positions in accounts, personnel and the payroll department.
After his single days in such haunts as the Tower Ballroom and the Lemon Tree, Jack eventually married Sylvia in 1961, and they are soon to celebrate 56 years of marriage.
Jack was initiated into the Lodge of Good Hope in March 1967 at the age of 30. At this point, the secretary was asked to read a précis of the minutes of that meeting. Jack progressed to master of the lodge in 1981 and held the positions of assistant director of ceremonies and director of ceremonies. He took a keen interest in the workings of Cleveleys Masonic Hall and became group vice chairman in 1999 and group chairman in 2004. Provincial honours were bestowed in 1989, with Jack receiving grand rank in 2000, and he is now a Past Junior Grand Deacon.
He was exalted into Thornton and Cleveleys Chapter No 3854 in 1985, becoming first principal in 1990. Promotions followed and he now holds the high rank of Past Grand Standard Bearer.
The certificate in recognition of 50 years in Freemasonry was then read by the group chairman Duncan Smith and presented by Harry Cox. In conclusion, Harry wished Jack health, happiness and fulfilment in his Masonry. The brethren showed their appreciation in the traditional West Lancashire way. The master of the lodge resumed his rightful place and thanked Harry Cox for a splendid presentation. On the first rising, Harry presented Jack with his lapel badge to mark 50 years in the craft.
The lodge meeting was followed by a wonderful five course meal. Duncan Smith thanked Harry for all his hard work on behalf of the group and beyond. Harry responded by specifically thanking the grand officers and acting Provincial officers. Further praise was bestowed upon Jack by John Chesters with a humorous address, which was responded to by Jack with warmth and sincerity. This special evening was concluded with the tyler’s toast from Bob Major.