The members of Fleetwood Lodge No 3711 gathered for a celebration of 50 years in Freemasonry for Charles Mitton. The initial business of the lodge was transacted by the master George Brooks who in turn welcomed Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox, offering him the gavel of the lodge. This was duly accepted and Harry took the master’s chair. He introduced the main business of the meeting which was to honour Charles Mitton’s 50 years in Freemasonry. As is the custom, Charles was seated directly in front of the master’s chair.
Harry began by setting the scene with historical events of 1936, the year that Charles was born in Bury. He started school in Bury at St Thomas’ and then East Ward, moving to Fleetwood at the age of 12. At Bailey School he was particularly talented at woodwork and metalwork but he always wanted to cook and bake.
Upon leaving school at 15 he went to the North Euston Hotel and then the Norbreck Hydro Hotel as a trainee chef. At 18 he was called up for the army to carry out National Service, working in the catering corps, travelling as far as Egypt and Cyprus.
After he was demobbed he returned to the Norbreck Hydro, then onto Burtons Bakery, finishing up at Turner’s bakery in Thornton, staying there for seven years. He bought the Scotch Bakery in Fleetwood in 1967, the same year that he joined Freemasonry. Amongst his hobbies were being a member of Blackpool Scooter Club and also being a very keen beer and wine maker.
He met his future wife Lilliane, who is from Belgium, through mutual friends at Wyre Lodge Ladies Evening where they had their first dance together. After a courtship of 12 years Charles finally proposed to Lilliane and they married on 1 September 1978 at Fleetwood Registry Office. Lilliane eventually worked with Charles at the bakery.
He first became really interested in joining Freemasonry through knowing Bert Witherington and was initiated on 12 April 1967. At this juncture, the secretary read a précis of the minutes of that meeting. He was passed on 11 October and raised on 10 January 1968. He was exalted into Fleetwood Royal Arch Chapter No 3711 in 1971.
He progressed to the chair relatively quickly, being installed as master on 12 March 1975. During his year as master he carried out the first, second and third degree ceremonies for Peter Tebbs and later carried out the initiation ceremony when Neil MacSymons was initiated.
In 1978 he became charity representative, carrying out the position for 22 years. He returned to the chair in 1986. Both Ladies Evenings were held at the Marine Hall and on the first occasion his mum was the first lady, and on the second occasion his wife Lilliane was the first lady, with over 200 in attendance on both occasions.
He has proposed a number of candidates into Freemasonry, including a young Neil MacSymons who was employed at the bakery and who eventually bought the business from him on his retirement in 1990.
He was honoured in Provincial Grand Lodge in 1985 with the rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon and promoted to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 1991.
In conclusion Harry Cox congratulated Charles and wished him good health and happiness for many years to come. North Fylde group chairman Duncan Smith read the certificate from the Provincial Grand Master, which was presented by Harry. The brethren showed their appreciation in the traditional way.
At the festive board that followed, lodge stalwart Peter Tebbs proposed the toast to the health of the celebrant, who was afterwards presented with a commemorative gift from the lodge by the master George Brooks.