Brian Fairhurst was joined by 53 companions to celebrate his 50th anniversary as a Royal Arch Freemason at Chapter of Unity and Perseverance Chapter No 580 held at the Ormskirk Masonic Hall. The ceremony was attended by Tony Hall, Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals, who officiated.
Tony began his address by thanking Brian for the hospitality shown to him when he visited him and his wife Patricia at their home, saying: “We spent a couple of happy hours touring through Brian’s personal and Masonic life whilst being amply supplied with tea and biscuits by Patricia. Brian said at the time how much he was looking forward to this evening and I must admit companions, I have been looking forward to it very much as well. I also know Brian, that the members of your chapter and your many friends have been looking forward to this evening for quite some time and we are all here to help you have a wonderful evening.”
Tony provided a glimpse of Brian’s early life through to the present day. Brian was born in 1930 in Croston and started school at Croston Church Primary where his father was the headmaster. Having passed his scholarship, Brian then went to Ormskirk Grammar School for eight years where he gained nine O-Levels and Higher Certificates.
Brian enjoyed sports and in particular, rugby, cricket and athletics; and had a good singing voice becoming a choirboy at St Michael’s Church in Croston from the age of seven. Brian’s first church organ recital came in 1942 at the age of 12, the regular church organist was called up for military service and Brian stepped into the breech. Ever since that time Brian has enjoyed playing the organ most Sundays, also for weddings or funerals in over 75 different churches, three cathedrals and two military garrisons with the regimental band.
In 1949 Brian was called up for National Service and following initial training with the Kings Regiment, in which his father had served as an officer in the First World War at Ypres and three battles on the Somme, Brian transferred to the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers at Suez. Brian is proud to have retained association with the regiment for over 65 years and has recently been made an honorary member. Upon arrival in Suez, Brian joined the Arab Legion Camel Corps Frontier Patrol on military intelligence duties, where he was awarded the Arab Legion Medal for services to the Hashamite Kingdom of Jordan by King Abdullah, a medal which he wears proudly on military parades.
Upon completion of his military service, Brian attended King Alfred’s College in Winchester for two years, during which time he became college organist, Sacristan and secretary of the Student Christian Movement.
Brian received his first teaching appointment at Broadfield County Primary School in Leyland in 1953; it was there that he met his future wife, Patricia. Brian became headmaster at Heskin in 1958, which is no mean feat after just five and a half years of teaching! Prior to his retirement in 1990, Brian was also headmaster at Manor Road County Primary and St Laurence Primary. His teaching career also took him to Minneapolis in the USA and Quebec in Canada.
Brian married Patricia in 1960 and they have been together for 57 years and are the proud parents of two daughters and two granddaughters.
Brian has had a busy, varied and active life, having been a First Grade Football Referee in the 1950s and 1960s as well as a First Class Cricket Umpire; and subsequently an Honorary Member of the MCC Association of Cricket Officials.
Brian was initiated into Rufford Lodge No 7217 in 1953, becoming its master in 1964 and again in 2014, almost 50 years to the day after the first time. Brian became a founder member of Harrock Lodge No 8233 in January 1969 and remained so until its erasure in December 2011.
Brian’s service and commitment to the Craft was recognised in 1973 when he was appointed to the Provincial Rank of PPrJGD. In 1983 Brian was promoted to the rank of PPrJGW and in 1994 Brian received appointment to the grand rank of PAGDC. Brian’s celebration of 50 years in the Craft took place in 2003 and his 60th in 2013.
Brian was exalted into Chapter of Unity and Perseverance in 1967, holding the office of Scribe Ezra for seven years before his installation as first principal in 1977. After Brian’s year as first principal he became director of ceremonies, an office that he held for seven years.
Brian was a founder member of St Michael’s Chapter No 5756 in 1987 and joined Setantia Chapter of Installed Principals No 7755 in November 1999. In Setantia Chapter Brian served the office of second principal in 2004 and was appointed as first principal in 2015. Brian’s service in the Royal Arch was recognised in 1986 by his appointment to the rank of PPrGSoj and in 1991, promoted to the very high rank of PPrGSN. Brian’s commitment to the Royal Arch was recognised still further in 1995 by his appointment to the grand rank of PGStdB.
Derek is also a well-respected Mason in a number of other Masonic Orders and he has achieved similar high ranks in them.
Tony said: “Brian, the Grand Superintendent Tony Harrison is aware that you are celebrating 50 years as a Royal Arch Mason this evening and has asked me to convey his very warmest congratulations and good wishes. I feel sure that every companion here tonight would agree with me that as a husband, a father, a grandfather, a man and a Mason, you are an example to all. Your life’s work both inside and outside of Freemasonry are a testament to a Freemason in the truest sense, a gentleman in the truest sense. I should also like to pass on our grateful thanks to Patricia for all her continued support for you over the past 50 Royal Arch years, without which you would not have been able to reach this magnificent milestone. The Province is delighted to recognise your 50 years of dedicated service in the form of a commemorative certificate, which I now ask the group chairman to read aloud. On a personal note, can I say what a pleasure it has been to be able to share your very special evening with you. I offer you my warmest congratulations and I feel sure that everyone present will wish to join me in congratulating you in true West Lancashire style.”
The Ormskirk and Bootle Group Chairman, Frank Umbers then read out the jubilee certificate, before Tony presented Brian with the certificate.
The ceremony now being over Brian made a donation of £100 to The Guerka Welfare Trust, before the chapter was closed.
The companions retired to a fine festive board being served with egg O’Brien, followed with slow roast beef, and a trio of ice cream for dessert, with coffee or tea and mints. During the festive board Brian made a further pledge to match the money raised in the raffle all of which was again donated to The Guerka Welfare Trust; with the raffle raising £200 and therefore a total of £500 was given to the charity.
Brian Ball had the privilege of proposing the toast to Brian at the festive board, reminiscing over the 45 years he had known him and his distinguished Masonic career, before Tony Hall had the privilege to present Brian with a 50th lapel badge.