Members and visitors of Prince Leopold, Doric and Parkfield Lodge No 1588 gathered together at Urmston Masonic Hall to acknowledge and show appreciation for the very fine achievement and celebration of Roy Eaton, in marking his 50 years in Freemasonry.
Leading the celebratory meeting was Assistant Provincial Grand Master, John Hutton accompanied by group chairman, Mike Adams and fellow grand officers Brian Hayes, Brian Mayoh and group vice chairman David Durling. Also in attendance were acting Provincial Senior Grand Deacon Collin Ellis, other group officers and Provincial grand officers, all very ably directed by Barry Fitzgerald Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies.
The lodge was opened very efficiently and the business was swiftly convened by the master, Roy Eaton who himself was the celebrant and shining gold star of the evening. There then came an expected knock on the door whereupon, the PrDGDC requested admission. On entering the lodge room Barry announced that the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, John Christopher Hutton stood without and demanded admission. With much delight to the members and visitors alike, John entered the lodge accompanied by his fellow grand and the acting Provincial officer.
Barry introduced John to Roy and in return he then welcomed John to the lodge and said it was an absolute pleasure and honour to receive him. Roy wasted no time in promptly offering the gavel to John, and much to his delight, John said on this very special occasion he be most pleased to retain it. John said it was quite some while since he had presented a fifty year story in the South Eastern Group and was looking forward to it.
On taking the chair, John resumed labour in the first degree requesting that all Masons be admitted and it was at that point that John asked Barry to arrange for Roy to be seated in a convenient, comfortable place before the master’s pedestal in readiness for John, as he put it, ‘to spill a few beans’.
John then gave a short introduction indicating that the office of Assistant Provincial Grand Master carried with it a number of responsibilities and duties, and said that it also has a number of privileges and that the prospect of being able to officiate at jubilee celebrations is, in his view without doubt, one of the best.
He commenced Roy’s historical story by reminding the brethren that this anniversary was about a dedicated and much esteemed brother who was initiated into Freemasonry 50 years ago. Roy joined Freemasonry in Hardy Lodge No 4628 in February 1967, a lodge which used to meet at South Manchester Freemason’s Hall in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester. But after the closure of the lodge, due to a fall in the numbers of members, Roy became a member of Prince Leopold Lodge No 1588. After an amalgamation and subsequent closure of South Manchester Freemason’s Hall, the newly amalgamated lodge consisting of Prince Leopold, Doric and Parkfield Lodge’s, now meets at the new Masonic hall in Urmston.
John had researched and found that the name Hardy has French origins but it is particularly strong in the north-west part of England and probably connected with Chorlton-cum-Hardy. John also said that according to the records, Hardy Lodge moved around a fair amount by meeting at such places as the Southern Hotel in West Didsbury, South Manchester Freemason’s Hall, Heaton Moor Masonic Club, near Stockport and finally in Urmston Masonic Hall.
John said to Roy, that he had heard that he had settled well into his newly amalgamated lodge and from his Masonic record noted his abilities for ritual are, and have been exemplary. These skills have in fact seen Roy climb the ladder from junior warden to WM three times in the lodge.
With Roy’s permission, John said he wanted to share with the brethren, the background he had discovered of this very fine Mason, John said that Roy was born on 29 June 1935 in Davyhulme, Manchester to proud parents Ethyl and William Eaton. Roy’s father was an electrical engineer and his mother was a tailor or seamstress and in fact Roy grew up in the Davyhulme area.
There were plenty of newsworthy events around the time of Roy’s birth, those most notable being; the French ocean liner SS Normandie setting out on her maiden voyage having attained the Atlantic crossing record of four days, three hours and 14 minutes; Dr Robert Smith and Dr William Wilson of Akron, Ohio formed Alcoholics Anonymous and Franklin D Roosevelt ordered a Federal gold vault to be built at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
He was schooled at the local Davyhulme Junior School followed by Flixton Secondary School then latterly Stretford Technical College. Roy had precious memories of the experience of attending the school in those second world war years, carrying a gas mask in a small box and when at home with mum, both sheltering under the dinner table during the air raids. That was before the family had the luxury of an indoor air raid shelter. Roy recalled the times after the air raids when he would go out looking for shrapnel. He recalled that his father was a fire fighter in the industrial Trafford Park area of Manchester, which was not that far from the family home. Since the ‘Park’ was a prime war time target, Roy’s father was kept busy damping down the after effects of the raids in that area.
Looking back, he had also recalled those times of going into the school air raid shelter and practicing putting on his gas mask. He remembered getting a reward of a few ‘dolly mixture’ sweets if the mask was kept on for the required time, as in those days of rationing even small sweets were a real treat.
As was the ‘norm’ in those days, Roy joined what he referred to as ‘small people’s Freemasonry’, the Scouts, so his holidays were spent on camping weeks and weekends away, in those days. It seemed to be not a question of ‘are you in the Scouts’, but, ‘which troop are you in?’ Being a member of the Scout movement led to Roy taking an interest in caving, and for a short while he was a member of the Cave Rescue Organisation.
Leaving school at the age of 15 years, Roy entered a five year apprenticeship in the timber trade. After a couple of years in the timber yard learning how to check and calculate loads of timber in and out of the yard, Roy ascended up to the office preparing invoices and dealing with customs import documentation.
Then came National Service. Roy was called up for service and since he had been associated with employment of a clerical nature, the recruiting ‘powers that be’ decided that Roy should be assigned to the Royal Army Dental Corp. Roy was posted as a dental clerk or surgery assistant and he completed his basic training at Aldershot, Surrey. After a short posting to Catterick, North Yorkshire, Roy was sent out to Cyprus where he spent eighteen months at the British Military Hospital, (Dental Department) in Nicosia. Roy said he found working in the surgery very interesting but in particular, the main fascinating experience was working in the operating theatres on special cases and attending on the surgical procedures.
During this period, Cyprus was an active service zone due to the trouble being caused by the EOKA terrorists which was a Greek Cypriot paramilitary organisation formed in 1971 by General Georgios Grivas, so Roy could not take full advantage of visiting all the other beautiful parts of the island or surrounding islands.
After national service, it was back to the timber trade as a sales executive with companies such as Parkers of Ancoats, Mallinson-Denny, Hunter Timber and Austin Timber which later became Howarth Timber. Whilst in the timber trade Roy had the opportunity to visit other countries, including Belgium, Italy and Canada where a small group of visitors spent two weeks all expenses paid visit to Vancouver visiting timber and plywood mills owned by the company suppliers. Roy finally retired at the age of sixty five in the year 2000.
In his family life, Roy met Janet and they were married on 7 July 1971 at St. Marys Parish Church in Davyhulme. As a couple, they have spent over thirty years visiting Cornwall for summer holidays, always to the Portscatho area, but more recently Roy has ventured further afield to the Greek island of Skiathos, as well as visiting other interesting places back in England.
Roy joined Freemasonry at the age of 32 and was proposed into Hardy lodge by William Eaton, his father and seconded by F. Jones, as far as Roy could recall that was on 1 February 1967. Just over a year later Roy was passed on 7 February 1968 and he was raised on 6 November 1968.
John said that his records show that Roy was master of Hardy Lodge in 1979 and again in 1988 and then junior warden in 1999 until 2000. The lodge handed in its warrant on 15 December 2000.
Roy shared his happy memories of Masonic frivolity recalling; sitting down after being initiated into the lodge and looking across the room at a row of at least seven stewards; doing the explanation of the first degree tracing board whilst still a steward, something he was quite rightly very proud of; the ‘Old English’ nights, when just a glance at the fines master, cost you another sixpence (two and half new pence for the unconverted); being fined for not smoking a clay pipe full of tobacco and fined again for smoking it and causing a smoky whiff!
He remembered the annual lodge Ladies Evenings held at Longford Hall in Stretford and later at Bowden Assembly Hall, Altrincham when whist, afternoon tea, a four or five course meal was then followed by dancing, a late supper and to finish a little more dancing. All this was normal for these occasions. Then there were rehearsal nights followed, after a short break, by a lodge of instruction at which point everybody moved up one position. Sometimes a game of snooker was had before going home.
Roy had years of happy times as a regular visitor to Rectitude Lodge No 5271, alas no longer in existence but is now a regular visitor Townfield de Tatton Lodge No 2144 also in the Province of Cheshire.
He recalled his many happy years in Freemasonry in becoming a joining member of Prince Leopold Lodge, which after amalgamation became Prince Leopold, Doric and Parkfield Lodge on 8 September 2004. Since joining he has been through the senior offices including the chair, a total of four times. WM for the years 2004 to 2006, 2009 to 2010 and this year 2016 to 2017, other lodge offices that Roy has held have included ADC, DC, charity steward and almoner.
In the Craft, Roy was honoured with his first Provincial rank of PPrJGD in October 1991 by Kenneth Edward Moxley PPrGM and then promoted to the rank of PPrGSuptWks in October 2004 by Colin Penty Wright PPrGM. In 1976 Roy was exalted into the Royal Arch in Trafford Chapter No 1496. Roy attained the first principal’s chair to complete the summit and perfection of ancient Freemasonry in 2005.
At the end of his address, John concluded by congratulating Roy on such extensive Masonic service and noted that he had contributed enormously to Hardy Lodge and Prince Leopold, Doric & Parkfield Lodge, the South Eastern Group, Urmston Masonic Hall and to Freemasonry in general. John said he felt sure that Roy’s friends who were present and others who were unable to be there would also wish to thank him most sincerely.
John said that he has spoken to the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and he was instructed to pass on Tony’s personal best wishes and congratulations to Roy on his celebratory evening. John said that for his part he would like to add to those congratulations and good wishes and said he wanted to thank Roy personally for helping to support the fine Urmston Masonic Hall which we all call our new home for the benefit of the whole of the South Eastern Group. John then addressed the brethren saying: “During this evening we have come together in a spirit of true Masonic friendship to celebrate the golden jubilee of Worshipful Brother Roy Eaton who was initiated into Hardy Lodge No 4628 on 1 February 1967.” John then called upon South Eastern Group Chairman Mike Adams to assist him by reading out the certificate of celebration, which the PrGM had caused to be issued.
He said he would like to thank the lodge secretary Stan Poole and many others who contributed to this very special celebration meeting. On his own behalf, John then congratulated Roy and wished him continued good health and happiness for the future. John reiterated his pleasure to be in attendance and in the company of such a well-respected and esteemed brother who had been initiated fifty years ago, and to the very day!
The celebrations seen within the lodge then extended to the festive board where much joviality and concord carried on into the evening with good food, good wine, toasts and excellent responses.
Article and photographs by Eddie Wilkinson.