It was a very special occasion for the brethren and the many visiting guests, who gathered at Litherland Masonic Hall for the meeting of Fermor Hesketh Lodge No 1350, to celebrate the special and important milestone in Derek Finney’s Masonic career, that being his 60 years in Freemasonry. For the celebration, the brethren were honoured by the presence of Assistant Provincial Grand Master Robert Wright, who was accompanied by Ormskirk and Bootle Group Chairman Frank Umbers, group vice chairman Graham Chambers, with grand and acting Provincial grand officers.
The evening’s meeting commenced with the WM David Sullivan warmly welcoming everyone to the celebration before opening the lodge. Once the lodges business had been completed, the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Ian Halsall was admitted into the room.
John announced Robert Wright was without and demanded admission and he was duly admitted into the lodge room in a possession of grand officers, Frank Umbers, Tom Lovatt and the acting Provincial grand officers, David Scott, Fred Dickenson, Michael Dutton, Thomas Bradfield-Kay, Russell Skidmore and John Walters. David warmly welcomed Robert to the lodge and offered him the gavel, which Robert graciously accepted.
Derek was then seated before the pedestal, where Robert proceeded to deliver his presentation on Derek’s life and Masonic career by saying: “It is always a pleasure to have a celebration in any part of our lives, it is a time to share our joy, our achievements and our memories with others, it is therefore very pleasing to see so many distinguished brethren here this evening. You are all very welcome and I thank you all most sincerely for your support of our celebrant, it is my honour to lead that celebration tonight of 60 years in Freemasonry, a truly marvellous achievement, for me it is always a revealing journey through time and I never fail to learn not only about the life of a celebrant but the social trends and historical events throughout the years which I hope to bring to life for you tonight.”
Robert then proceeded to give a detailed account of Derek’s life. Derek was born in 1932 to Bob and Ivy and attended Bootle Grammar School based in Balliol Road, Bootle. At aged 12 Derek passed the audition to join the Liverpool Cathedral Choir and attended Liverpool Institute High School, a grammar school for boys aged 11-18. During Derek’s time as a chorister, The Liverpool Cathedral Choir provided choral services during the 38 term weeks, for six days a week but when his voice broke Derek joined The Cross Guild, which provided all the ceremonial aspects of the Sunday Eucharist Service and for special events such as when the then Princess Elizabeth visited in 1947, which Derek attended.
When Derek left school he started work at R Singlehurst Company Ltd as a clerk and subsequently moved to Hall and Rogers Builders and Plumbers Merchants. Derek’s career was interrupted by National Service in 1950 where he did initial training in The Kings Regiment at Chester and transferred to the Lancashire Fusiliers on a war office posting to Egypt. Derek was deployed in the orderly room as a non-combatant but was called to active service as the regiment came into conflict with Egyptian Police terrorists. A role Derek served with distinction until he was demobbed in December 1952 and returned to his former career.
Derek’s obvious skills and talents were noticed as he was poached by the owner of M Greenberg and Son Ltd, by Mr Greenhill, with promises of a car and money. It was obviously a successful move as he eventually became General Manager and stayed until his retirement.
As a youngster, Derek was a talented athlete and when Derek was aged 15, he joined the prestigious Liverpool Harriers and Athletic Club. A club founded in 1882, the club had a strong reputation for excellence, during the war years all activities were suspended and it was only after the war that it was revived.
Derek joined in that post war period when the influential Charles Rice and Charles Booth built a strong representation for the club in middle and long distance running. The club has had many national and international athletes and indeed Derek’s own strength was in long distance running. Derek was county standard and over the years had won over 40 medals and trophies. Derek actually held the youth mile record at four minutes 41.2 seconds in 1949. Derek’s athletic career was interrupted by National Service but he returns every year to meet up with and support the club. Derek’s long support was rewarded by his appointment as Vice President in 2006.
Robert then went onto inform the brethren about Derek’s family life and hobbies. Derek met Maimie at St Andrews Church Hall Youth Club and they married in 1957. Maimie worked as a Common Services Assistant at British Rail and for HM Revenue and Customs in the personnel department. Derek and Maimie have two children, Helen and Howard and three grandchildren.
Choral singing has always been a mainstay in Derek’s life and he has for 40 years and more continued to contribute at Lydiate Church Choir. Derek has also served as one of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace from 1989 to 2002 and again he enjoys meeting up with friends from that time. One of Derek’s greatest joys is his involvement as a governor of Haskayne Church of England School.
Robert then gave a detailed account of Derek’s Masonic career. Derek was initiated into Fermor Hesketh Lodge as a Lewis Mason on the 13 January 1958 by his father Bob. In the lodge’s centenary year in 1971, Derek was the WM, and on that occasion the Provincial Grand Master Sir Knowles Edge, officiated and it was Derek’s great honour to be with him both in lodge and at festive board.
Provincial Grand Lodge recognised and rewarded Derek’s support for Freemasonry by his appointment in 1980 to the rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon and he was further rewarded in 1991 with promotion to the very high rank he now holds of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden. Derek has held the position of chaplain of the lodge since 2015 and for many years had assisted in the organisation and running of the Bootle Group carol service.
Derek was exalted into Fermor Hesketh Chapter No 1350 in 1973 and was first principal in 1990. Derek subsequently joined Silver Jubilee Chapter of Installed First Principals No 8818 in 1994 and served as first principal in year 2000.
Derek’s support for the Royal Arch Province of West Lancashire was recognised with appointment to Past Provincial Grand Standard Bearer in 1998 and subsequent promotions followed in 2007 to Past Provincial Grand Sojourner and in 2015 to the very high rank of Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer which he now holds.
Derek is also a well-respected Mason in a number of other Masonic Orders and he has achieved similar high ranks in them.
Robert went on to say: “You celebrated your 50th year in Freemasonry in 2008 and we are all here to recognise your tremendous achievement now of 60 years in Freemasonry, we have much to be both thankful and grateful to you for, for all your support for us, and in return are delighted to be here today to show our appreciation to you.”
After the detailed account of Derek’s life and Masonic career so far, Robert asked the Ormskirk and Bootle Group Vice Chairman Graham Chambers to read out the jubilee certificate, before Robert presented the certificate to Derek saying: “Derek Finney, Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden of the Province of West Lancashire, you have had a life full of hard work and dedication, commitment to family, success in your career and service to Freemasonry. It gives me great pleasure to present to you this certificate recording your achievement of 60 years in Freemasonry and to wish you on behalf of all the brethren here the best of health to enjoy many more years in Freemasonry and in our company. Brethren once again please join with me in your warmest congratulations.”
With the presentation being over Robert handed the gavel back to David, who closed the lodge and the brethren made their way to the dining hall for an excellent festive board. Here the celebrations continued.