A unique celebration was arranged to honour Peter Muriel, a special, highly respected gentleman who was celebrating 60 years of being a Freemason. Members and distinguished visitors alike of Phoenix Lodge No 1730 which meets at Urmston Masonic Hall, were delighted to receive David Walmsley, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, accompanied by South Eastern Group Chairman David Durling, along with fellow grand officer Bryan Hayes.
The lodge business having been dealt with, the special part of the evening arrived as David entered the lodge room in ceremonial form and was introduced to the WM Mike Moran, who having welcomed David and his attending officers, immediately offered him the gavel of the lodge, which on this occasion he accepted. David then took the master’s position and addressed the brethren, thanking the lodge brethren for their very kind welcome and explaining what a great pleasure it was for him to be with the members and visitors to share this very unique and auspicious occasion.
David began his presentation by indicating that the office of Assistant Provincial Grand Master carried with it a number of onerous responsibilities and duties, but also a number of great privileges and the prospect of being able to officiate at such jubilee celebrations was, without doubt the amongst best. David, after ensuring that the celebrant was suitably seated in comfort, began the telling of Peter’s life both in and out of Masonry.
The evening, David said, marked the very special diamond anniversary of a very special brother, Frederick Charles Peter Muriel PPrSGW or Peter as he is affectionately known to all. He was born on 1 December 1934, a time when King George V was monarch and Ramsey MacDonald was Prime Minister. In addition to Peter’s birth, 1934 was memorable for a number of other reasons; vehicle driving tests were introduced, Alcatraz became a Federal prison, Meccano began to manufacture the famous Dinky Toys and Stanley Mathews gained his first cap for England. Other well know people born that year were, Henry Cooper, fashion designer Mary Quant, the actors Tom Baker, Timothy West, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, to name but a few. It also saw the birth of the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin.
Peter was born in Stretford and after attending a local preparatory school won a scholarship to attend Stretford Grammar School which was no mean achievement. Following his education, he joined the well-established family business, ‘Fred Muriel Carpet Fitters’ later of course to become ‘Fred Muriel and Son’. Peter’s work in the family business was interrupted in 1955 when, at the age of 21 he entered National Service, ultimately serving as an NCO Medic in the RAF. In 1957, on completion of his two-year service, he returned to the family business for a good number of years remaining there until health issues forced him into retirement. Following his retirement, Peter served the community by becoming a volunteer patient transport driver for some 11 years, transporting patients across the whole of the North West and beyond.
During his youth, Peter was a multi skilled athlete, playing goalkeeper for his school and Manchester United juniors, he is a former Club Captain and Vice President of Streford Cricket Club, he was also a keen badminton player and golfer. Peter also was a member of the local cubs and scouts. To this day he is Vice President of the Market Deeping Cricket Club in Peterborough.
Amidst his work, National Service and sporting activities, Peter clearly found time for a social life because in August 1958 he married Sylvia June Musgrave at St Matthew’s Church Stretford and in June 2018 they will be celebrating a magnificent 60 years of marriage. They have two daughters, Pamela Ellen and Julie Elizabeth and three grandchildren, Abigail, Lewis and Jordon, all of whom they are extremely proud of.
David also noted that in 1948 Peter’s father Fred, was a founder of Great Stone Lodge No 6737, so there was little surprise that, following a proposition by his father and seconded by F Lathom, a friend of his father and senior founder of the lodge, a 23-year-old Peter was proudly initiated on 26 November 1957. The secretary of the lodge then read the minutes relating to that meeting.
Following Peter’s passing and raising he progressed through many lodge offices ultimately becoming WM in 1969. His flair for ritual was soon identified as within two years he was appointed and invested as the lodge ADC. A long apprenticeship followed until 1981 when Peter finally became Director of Ceremonies, an office he served with pride and distinction for some 15 years. He continued to serve the lodge as chaplain for a further seven years.
Peter’s contribution to Masonry did not just remain within his lodge, he was the group representative for the Royal Masonic Hospital from 1963 to 1984 and RMBI representative for the 1981 Festival. In 2006 Peter was honoured to be the final WM of Great Stone Lodge before its amalgamation in 2007.
Peter’s outstanding contributions to Masonry did not go unnoticed. As early as 1982 he was appointed to acting Provincial grand rank with the office of PrAGSuptWks by the then Provincial Grand Master Alan Fletcher Ferris. Again in 1987 he was further promoted to the very high rank of PPrJGW. The final, crowning glory came when 10 years ago, on the occasion of his 50th celebration, he was promoted to the very special rank PPrSGW.
David continued by observing that this was only part of the story and whilst the evening was to recognise 60 years of service to the Craft, Peter’s other contributions and achievements were worthy of mention. He was exalted into Royal Arch joining Foundation Chapter No 5394 in March 1971, becoming first principal in 1980 and later serving a combination of no less than 20 years as ADC and DC. Again, his contributions to the Royal Arch were readily acknowledged when in 1988 he received his first Provincial grand rank of PPrPGSoj. Some seven years later he received promotion to PPrGSN. In April 2000, he was greatly honoured to receive the grand rank of PGStdB.
Clearly, David noted, his contributions to Freemasonry both in Craft and Royal Arch have been remarkable, particularly in the South Eastern Group. However, his influence has spread wider as in 2005 Peter and Sylvia relocated to Peterborough to live nearer to his daughter, Pamela. Within a year or two he joined a local Lodge, St Pega Lodge No 8317 in which he has served as chaplain for some time. In due course, he was delighted to receive the Provincial grand rank of PPrSGW from the Province of Lincolnshire. He is also an active member of Hereward Chapter No 1232 in the same Province.
During all this time, Peter has continued to visit and support the lodges and chapters of which he is a member here in West Lancashire with regular visits to Urmston which is a 300 miles round trip.
David concluded by saying that the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison also recognised Peter’s outstanding contributions and had caused the issue of a celebratory certificate to commemorate the occasion. This was read and then presented to Peter by David Durling, South Eastern Group Chairman and followed by very worthily deserved applause from all present.
Peter responded to the applause by saying he felt very privileged and thanked David for his very kind comments. He thanked all who had attended, particularly those brethren who had travelled, without his prior knowledge, from Peterborough and all from Phoenix Lodge.
On completion of the ceremony, David requested Peter to join him on leaving the lodge room with the grand and acting Provincial grand officers. An excellent festive board ensued, encompassed with food and cups of cheer along with a heartfelt response in return from Peter, and the brethren undoubtedly left the celebration with a sense of pride at being in the presence of such a respected Freemason.