Short but truly momentous, was a very apposite description of the Christmas meeting of St Michael’s on Wyre Lodge No 8348 held at Wyrebank, Garstang.
With wives and partners starting to gather in the bar for the Christmas festive board, the lodge meeting was always going to be a comparatively short one, but after WM David Christopherson opened the lodge the two events which followed ensured that the evening will live long in the memory of the brethren.
The first event was to receive from group charity steward Simon Hanson, a certificate confirming the accession of the lodge to the illustrious ranks of Vice Patrons of the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival. However, important though this presentation was, it was very much overshadowed by the welcome given to lodge member John ‘Jackson’ Orr to celebrate his life’s innings of 100 not out.
David delighted Jackson and the brethren by giving a precis of the life of this revered Freemason. It was, he said, astonishing to realise that at the time of his birth, World War I was still raging, women did not have the vote and television had still to be developed. However, from the first cries of a baby born in Yorkshire there developed a resounding singing voice used with gusto in many a Lancashire lodge.
Jackson had two sisters and a brother and after the family moved to St Michael’s on Wyre, he worked at the age of 14, with Tom Tyson at Catterall Farm before moving to Parkers Builders. His career then took him to the Fylde Water Board and the NW Water Authority, which became United Utilities, as a supervisor – a position from which he retired some 35 years ago. During World War II he was in the Tank Regiment and took part in the second day of the D-Day landings.
An amusing anecdote provided by the lodge almoner John Holmes involved Jackson returning from swimming in the sea at Blackpool with a group of young men when they stopped off on Pilling Sands where there was a silhouette of an aircraft used for target practice. One of the group had found a piece of equipment and had taken it in the car with them. On the way home Jackson had said, it’s a bomb, and it’s ticking. The car was stopped and the bomb quickly despatched in the river. One of Jackson’s main hobbies was crown green bowling and he has bowled all over Lancashire.
His Masonic career commenced comparatively late in life at the age of 65, when he was initiated into St Michael’s on Wyre Lodge on the 28 May 1976, becoming its master at the lodge’s installation ceremony of 25 April 1986.
A question which everyone finds particularly intriguing is how John Orr came to be known as ‘Jackson’. Well, apparently, he used to call everyone Jackson – so the compliment was returned and has stuck ever since. He is now a resident in Northlands Rest home in Great Eccleston, where he says he is spoilt rotten and ruined with kindness.
The lodge had crafted a special commemorative certificate to mark the occasion and WM David called upon John Holmes to read aloud the citation: “An inspiration to all who know, and have known him, in so many ways. One of the finest Freemasons in spirit, word and deed any of us will ever meet.”
David then concluded his address by presenting the certificate to Jackson saying: “On behalf of the lodge it is my pleasure and privilege to present you with this certificate from the brethren of St Michael’s on Wyre Lodge and to congratulate you on your 100 not out.”
The lodge was then closed and the brethren joined their ladies for a magnificent Christmas banquet, fun and fabulous entertainment from Pilling Jubilee Silver Band. A wonderful birthday cake made by Mrs Margaret Thompson was ceremoniously cut by Jackson to the great approval of everyone.