Tom Norris was joined by 45 companions to celebrate his 50th anniversary as a Royal Arch Freemason at St Michael’s Chapter No 5756 held at the Park Hall Hotel, Charnock Richard. The ceremony was attended by Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals Tony Hall, who officiated and was supported by four grand officers. There were seven acting Provincial grand officers in attendance led by Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Malcolm Bell.
Tony began his address by thanking Tom for the hospitality shown to him when he visited him and his wife Jean at their home. He continued by recounting the historic events in 1929 the year Tom was born. Tony provided a glimpse of Tom’s early life through to the present day. Tom has been a resident of Heskin since the day he was born and his present home overlooks his first school.
Having gained his school certificate, Tom went on to study at Wigan Grammar School before becoming an apprentice core maker at Leyland Motors at the age of 16. In 1950 following the death of his father, Tom left Leyland Motors to help his mother in the family business, a smallholding which was the base for 2,000 chickens from which the family supplied the National Egg Market. In 1957, Tom bought a coal business which he ran and owned until 1992 when he retired.
Tom met his wife Jean just after the war and they have been together for 64 years having married in 1953. Tom and Jean are the proud parents of three sons and have five grandchildren. Tom and Jean enjoyed a number of pastimes including pigeon racing in which they were very successful. Tom served on the local church council for 10 years whilst serving as a school governor at the same time and with Jean, helped raise much needed funds for the local church. Tom is a lifelong supporter of Everton Football Club and his interest in football was extended to include Heskin Football Club which he helped to recover from hard times and became its chairman.
In 1966, Tom was initiated into Rufford Lodge No 7217, becoming its master in 1978 and has been very active in Masonic fund raising including serving as a member of the organising committee for the annual West Lancashire Charity Dinner and Ball. Tom remains a member of Rufford Lodge and received his grand rank in 1996 for his extensive services to the Craft.
On 13 December 1967, Tom was exalted into Chapter of Unity and Perseverance No 580 before joining Hesketh Chapter No 986 in 1981 being a member for 11 years. Tom was a founding member of St Michael’s Chapter in 1987 becoming first principal in 1991. Tom has held a number of offices in the chapter and continues to be an active member of the chapter and currently holds the rank of PPrGSN.
Tom’s certificate was read out by the Ormskirk and Bootle Group Chairman Frank Umbers, before it was presented to Tom by Tony who brought congratulations on behalf of the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison.
The companions enjoyed a fine festive board being served with black pudding, a main course of braised steak followed by profiteroles. During his response to the toast to his health Tony presented Tom with a Royal Arch 50th anniversary lapel badge.
David Rawcliffe proposed the toast to the celebrant during which he described Tom as being a legend, a stalwart, loyal, reliable and hard working in everything he was involved in as a family man, business man, Freemason and all other pastimes he enjoyed. Tom continues to be active in the chapter and encouraged all the members in everything they do. David recalled some of the tales which provided great amusement to those present. David read a letter from the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning, in which he sent his apologies but recalled the good times he had enjoyed in Tom’s company and congratulating him on his anniversary. David continued with a little more detail of Tom’s early years leading up to and becoming a Freemason before presenting Tom with a bottle of malt whiskey and a Provincial Royal Arch tie.
Tom responded by thanking David for his toast to his health and thanked Tony Hall for his kindness in preparing for and officiating on his special anniversary. Tom also thanked the Past Deputy Grand Superintendent Danny Jones for attending and recalled the numerous occasions they had enjoyed together over many years. Tom thanked his personal guests and all present for their attendance and the good wishes he had received.
Stuart Cunningham presented a bouquet of flowers to Tom and asked him to pass them to Jean with the best wishes of the companions of the chapter. Further bouquets were presented to Tony Hall and Frank Umbers to be given to their respective wives, Jean and Cathy. The three companions thanked the members of the chapter for their generosity and thoughtfulness.