The brethren and guests of Great Eccleston Lodge No 8895 were privileged by the company of Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger for the auspicious occasion of celebrating Kenneth Smith’s 50 years as a Freemason. David was joined by the Lancaster and District Group Chairman Jim Wilson, grand officers Philip Gardner and David Rhodes, as well as five acting Provincial grand officers, namely Steve Plevey, David Cole, John Eccles, Keith Halligan and Philip Burrow, all adeptly coordinated by Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Barry Fitzgerald.
Having accepted the gavel of the lodge from the WM Andrew Keith, David began his address by drawing the attention of the brethren to a certain aspect of Masonry that is always to the fore – friendship. And, as David noted: “It is that friendship and feeling of belonging which has brought Kenneth here this evening. To travel from Bristol in mid-winter only shows how much that friendship means to him and it is only right that we help Kenneth celebrate his 50 years as a Freemason.” David then asked the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies to place the celebrant before him.
After making sure Kenneth was sitting comfortably, David moved on to consider some of the events which occurred in the year of Kenneth’s birth – 1937. Although war clouds were looming in 1937, it was David’s intention to concentrate on a few of the happier events from that time. 1937 saw the coronation of King George VI; the most popular song of that year was ‘Lambeth Walk’ from the musical Me and My Girl which also opened in 1937; the Dandy comic was first published and consequently Desperate Dan was loosed on British children. That year also saw the birth of celebrities such as Shirly Bassey, Barbara Windsor, Brian Blessed, Bobby Charlton and last but not least Daffy Duck who appeared in Looney Tunes cartoons for the first time.
Kenneth was born in Anfield, Liverpool and was the youngest in the family having two older brothers and a sister. Kenneth’s early days were spent at Anfield Road School and left full time education at the age of 15 to work in Morrows, a gents outfitters in Dale Street, Liverpool. Kenneth stayed at Morrows for two years before joining the army in 1955. Upon joining the Royal Signals, he was ultimately stationed in Monchengladbach in Germany, becoming the commanding officer’s driver for part of the time and travelling all over Germany with him.
Kenneth was also a member of the Army football team and was particularly pleased to have shared a barrack block with Gordon Banks, one of the most famous England goalkeepers. In 1958, Kenneth left the army, returning again to employment at a gents’ outfitters firm, namely the more familiar Moss Bros in Church Street, Liverpool. It was here that Kenneth became good friends with Derek Le Brocq, who later proposed him in to Freemasonry.
In 1961 Kenneth was married to Kay and they were happily married for 53 years before Kay sadly passed away three years ago. They have been blessed with two daughters and have five grandchildren.
After working in Moss Bros for a number of years, Kenneth left to become stores manager at Newton Motor Engineering in Liverpool, where he remained for 15 years, before moving to the House of Fraser, again in Liverpool, as menswear manager. When this store closed he was offered employment as departmental sales manager at their store in Blackpool, where he met Malcolm Scott who first introduced him to Great Eccleston Lodge. Following further moves in employment, Kenneth and Kay ultimately moved in 2007 to Almondsbury in Bristol, to be nearer their family.
In 1967 Kenneth’s friend Derek Le Brocq, proposed him for membership of Borough Lodge No 5681 in the Province of Cheshire, which he joined on the 6 November 1967. At this juncture in the proceedings, the secretary would normally have read an extract from the minutes of that meeting; however, Borough Lodge had handed in its warrant and the minutes were unavailable. Kenneth was ultimately raised in April 1968 and went on to become master of the lodge in 1982. In 1983 after meeting Malcolm Scott, he joined Great Eccleston Lodge. Since joining the lodge, he has been charity steward for seven years and was appointed to Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon, with further promotion to Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works.
On moving to Almondsbury, Kenneth resigned from Great Eccleston Lodge and joined Lodge of Sympathy No 855 in Wotton-under-Edge in the Province of Gloucestershire and has recently joined Thornbury Lodge No 9901 in the same Province. However, during his travels, Kenneth never forgot the friendship he had encountered at Great Eccleston and so in November 2016 he re-joined and has travelled north on a number of occasions to attend lodge meetings.
After remarking that it had been a privilege to have been part of the celebration of Kenneth’s 50th anniversary, David called upon the Lancaster and District Group Chairman Jim Wilson to read aloud a congratulatory certificate from the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, before presenting the same to Kenneth, wishing him health and happiness and hoping that he would continue to enjoy his Freemasonry for many years to come.
At the festive board following the ceremony, David Grainger rose to thank the lodge secretary Graham Davies for his efforts in organising the celebration, the acting officers for the tremendous amount of work that they do in accompanying him and to the group publicity officer for all his work. Special mention was made of Barry Fitzgerald, without whom the evening would not have flowed as smoothly as it did.
The toast to Kenneth’s health was proposed by the master of the lodge Andrew Keith, commenting that he had enjoyed the evening immensely and hoped Kenneth had likewise enjoyed it. In response, Kenneth answered that it didn’t seem like 50 years ago since he had joined Freemasonry, before moving on to reminisce about his years as a Mason.
The raffle at the festive board raised a wonderful sum of £275 towards Masonic and non-Masonic charities, with a further £221.15 being collected in the charity plate.
Article and photographs by Paul Thompson