The 50th anniversary of Reg Walker’s initiation as a Freemason was celebrated in what is surely one of the most charming locations in which any lodge can meet. The setting was the beautiful Lakeland village of Hawkshead with the ancient Market Hall being, as always, the meeting place for Hawkshead Lodge No 4354.
The present hall dates back to 1790 and was extended to mark the Queen’s golden jubilee – that Queen being Victoria. The rear of the hall leads into the grounds of the parish church of St Michaels and All Angels. There has been a place of worship at the site since the 12th century with the church in its present form being constructed principally in the 16th and 17th centuries.
In 1788 the great poet William Wordsworth wrote of the church in his work ‘The Prelude’;
‘I saw the snow-white church upon her hill
Sit like a throned Lady sending out
A gracious look over all her domain’
The church at that time was painted white. The white paint has long since gone but the magnificent view remains the same. On a glorious sunny spring day it proved a fitting backdrop for photographs to commemorate Reg’s special day.
Leading the celebrations was Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger who was welcomed to the meeting by master of the loge Geoff Biddulph. David was accompanied by fellow grand officers Alan Jones and David Kellet along with Furness and South Lakeland Group Chairman Peter Schofield.
Keeping a watchful eye on proceedings was Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Barry Fitzgerald who was joined by other acting Provincial grand officers in the persons of Stuart Wilson, Steve Plevey, Fred Dickinson, David Cole and Keith Halligan. Provincial Grand Steward Phil Burrow was also present but was otherwise engaged as the senior warden of the lodge.
After Reg had been placed before him, David gave a brief outline of the celebrant’s Masonic and non-Masonic life. On leaving school in his home town of Oldham, Reg trained as a marine radio operator at Wray Castle which coincidentally is situated not far from Hawkshead on the shore of Lake Windermere. His first role after completing his training was with the Danish Merchant Navy, serving for five years with the Maersk Line.
In 1968 he joined the Royal Fleet Auxiliary which supports the Royal Navy around the world. His service saw him travel all over the world and included involvement in the Cod Wars, the Falklands War and the Bosnia conflict. A serious motorcycle accident however resulted in his discharge as being unfit for sea service in 1998.
An active sportsman, Reg enjoyed fell running and has taken part in the London Marathon on three occasions with a personal best of three hours. In 1987 he was second in the prestigious ‘Top of the Rock’ race in Gibraltar.
Reg is married to Tina and they have two adult sons and three grandchildren. An even more important golden jubilee will be celebrated by Reg and Tina next year as they mark 50 years of marriage.
In the Craft, Reg was initiated into Townley Parker Lodge No 1083 in the Province of East Lancashire in March 1968 but his commitments with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary precluded any advancement to the chair of that lodge. He became a joining member of Hawkshead Lodge in 1974 serving as master in 1986 and 1989. He has given further service to Hawkshead Lodge having held the position of treasurer for five years.
His service to the lodge was acknowledged when he was appointed to the rank of Past Provincial Assistant Grand Superintendent of Works in 1997 and subsequently promoted to the rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon.
Group chairman Peter was called upon to read the certificate from the Provincial Grand Master marking the 50 year milestone before it was presented to Reg by David.
At the festive board following the meeting, a touching toast to the health of Reg was proposed by his long-time friend George Blenkarn. In return Reg, who was obviously moved by the occasion, gave a heartfelt response. Peter presented Reg with a 50 years lapel badge on behalf of the group. To mark the occasion on behalf of Hawkshead Lodge, Geoff presented Reg with a cheque for £200 which at the request of the celebrant had been made out in favour of the North West Air Ambulance.
David made special mention of the work of lodge secretary Andrew Thompson in ensuring that the evening had been so successful. As is a tradition of the lodge, the post-meeting festivities featured a much enjoyed musical interlude with a virtuoso performance from master of keyboard, the lodge organist Paul Gregson.
The entire evening, from the drive to the meeting with the occasional glimpse through the trees of Lake Windermere and Esthwaite Water, the sight of the new born lambs frolicking in the fields, the abundant pheasants and the beauty of Hawkshead itself, followed by a joyful celebration and good company at the festive board, had indeed proved an evening to savour; one which will live long in the memory of those privileged to be present.