It was a special evening for the Ormskirk and Bootle Group, when many of the members, accompanied by their wives, gathered at Litherland Masonic Hall, where a retirement dinner was held for the former Bootle Group Chairman Ian Gee, who retired from the role last year, just before the two groups amalgamated.
Ian and his wife Gloria were also honoured at the dinner by the presence of two Assistant Provincial Grand Masters; Derek Parkinson, who was accompanied by his wife Joan and Robert Wright, accompanied by his wife Tina. Also present was the Ormskirk and Bootle Group Chairman Frank Umbers and his wife Cathy and former Bootle Group Chairman Peter Levick and his wife Jennifer.
The evening started with Ian and his wife Gloria greeting everyone as they arrived at the hall. The master of ceremonies for the evening, group secretary Malcolm Alexander, politely asked everyone to make their way to the dining room and take their places. Once everyone was settled Malcolm formally announced Ian and Gloria who entered the room to a round of applause.
With Ian and Gloria taking their seats, Malcolm called upon the Ormskirk and Bootle Group Vice Chairman John Marsden to say grace. The meal was then served; mushroom and thyme soup for the starter and this was then followed by roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, accompanied with roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables, with fruits of the forest cheesecake in a glass being served for dessert, followed by tea and coffee.
Once the meal was completed Malcolm called upon John to give the return of thanks, which was followed by Derek Parkinson proposing a toast to Ian.
Derek started his toast by saying: “We are here tonight to celebrate our principal guest this evening Ian, to say thank you for all the work Ian has done, not only as chairman of this group, but all he has done for the Bootle lodges and chapters.” Derek then gave a brief account of Ian’s life and work before informing everyone on Ian’s Masonic career, from when Ian was initiated into St Luke’s Lodge No 6006 in January 1982 and serving as a group official for 12 years and for his last four years as Chairman of Bootle Group. Derek explained Ian was very instrumental in the group’s move from Balliol Road to the current hall, where he worked with the then chairman Peter Levick on a committee to oversee the move; with Ian looking at all the legal aspects for the purchase of the current hall and for the move, with Ian giving his time freely.
Derek explained that Ian has always been a great supporter for the social side of Masonry and highlighted that Ian’s band ‘Rock of ages’ has played at the hall on social nights. Derek said: “Ian you have served this group well for 12 years, first as vice chairman and then as chairman, you also have given a lot more in the Province during that time. In the last 15 years, you have been Provincial Grand Registrar for three years, acting grand scribe Nehemiah for a year, as well as being master of Lathom Lodge No 2229 and also St Luke’s Lodge.”
At the end of the toast, Derek presented Ian with a card which everyone had signed after it had been passed around the tables. Ian was also presented with a bottle of malt whiskey and £400 in John Lewis vouchers on behalf of all the lodges and chapters of the group. Derek then presented a magnificent bouquet of flowers to Gloria.
In Ian’s response to the toast to his health, he thanked everyone for giving up their time and being there. He also thanked Derek for the very kind words saying: “Derek always spends a tremendous amount of time researching things; I have attended many a time when Derek has represented at 50ths or 60ths and he really does give his all in making sure everything is right and I am so appreciative of your words and your work tonight.” Ian then gave special thanks to his friend John Marsden who brought him into Freemasonry and Peter Levick for giving him the opportunity of becoming vice chairman, saying: “Peter you have taught me an awful lot, I would like to say thank you for that. We did have some very challenging times there’s no doubt about that, it was down to the hard work of the steering committee, keeping a steady hand that we got this place and as they say the rest is history.” Ian finished his response by saying: “I would like to say thank you all for being here tonight, it’s been an absolute privilege and pleasure to have served this group in various ways.”
Malcolm then announced that the formal part of the evening was now completed, with socialising and fun continuing long afterwards.