Fifty Brethren, including WBro Alan H Kirwilliam, PSGD, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Northern Area of the Province of East Lancashire, accompanied by Grand Officers, Provincial Officers of the year and a District Delegation, signed the Tylers attendance register of Royal Lancashire Lodge No. 116 on Thursday 6th February 2020, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary in Freemasonry of WBro Frank Riley, BEM , PProvGSwdB. 

The Worshipful Master of Royal Lancashire Lodge, Bro Rodney L Rostron, having opened the Lodge and swiftly concluding the preliminary business, a report was received. The Acting ProvDepGDC, WBro Andrew Taylor, was admitted and announced that WBro Alan H Kirwilliam, PSGD, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Northern area of the Province of East Lancashire accompanied by a delegation of Grand Officers, Acting Officers of the year and Officers of Burnley and Pendle District was without and that he demanded admission.

WBro Kirwilliam was admitted and the Worshipful Master welcomed WBro Kirwilliam to the Lodge and offered him the Gavel. WBro Kirwilliam said that it was wonderful to see the Lodge so well attended and hoped to have a wonderful evening. He informed the Worshipful Master that he would usually return the gavel but, as he had been “practicing”, it would be a shame not to use it. 

Having taken the chair, WBro Kirwilliam was then saluted in due form. Responding, WBro Kirwilliam said he was delighted to back in Colne especially on this occasion and he looked forward to the company of all present. 

WBro Kirwilliam then announced that the next item of business was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the initiation into Freemasonry of WBro Frank Riley, BEM , PProvGSwdB. Addressing WBro Riley, WBro Kirwilliam said that 50 years in Freemasonry is a great achievement that is testified by the numbers present this evening and be assured they are all here to support you. 

WBro Kirwilliam then introduced the members of the delegation.

The Acting Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies was then directed to place WBro Riley in the centre of the Lodge. When WBro Riley was asked how he felt being the centre of attention WBro Riley replied, “It’s like sitting in the Electric Chair, but don’t switch it on”, much to the amusement of all present. 

WBro Kirwilliam first extended his personal congratulations and those of the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master of the Province of East Lancashire, Sir David Trippier TD JP. The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VWBro John R Farrington, the District Chairman and his team and, of course, all present this evening. 

The Lodge Secretary, WBro Raymond Pickles, read out the minutes of the initiation meeting of WBro Riley, held on 22nd January 1970.

WBro Kirwilliam invited WBro Alan Rothwell, a very close personal friend of WBro Riley, to deliver a tribute to his friend of many years.

WBro Rothwell’s tribute began with him saying to WBro Riley, “This is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into Stanley” and then went on to explain how “Frank” had been born in 1936, the year of three Kings, in Colne on the 18thOctober. He attended Park Infant School and “by some miracle of the education system” passed his eleven plus and went to Colne Grammar School. Frank left with a few O Levels and having declined an pupil-ship at the Water Works, he joined the family business of Joiners and Funeral Directors. His apprenticeship lasted until he was twenty-one years of age but he joined the Fire Brigade as a retained Fireman at age eighteen. He was called up for National Service in the Royal Air Force when his apprenticeship was completed. As the armed forces were want to do, they ignored his obvious skills as a Joiner or Fireman and trained him as a Medic! Frank rose to become a Senior Aircraftsman. Frank Married his wife, Hazel in 1960. 

Due to an unfortunate accident to his Father, Frank took over the running of the business when he was Thirty.

Frank stayed with the Fire Brigade and rose to the rank of Station Officer at Colne, being awarded the Fire Brigade long service and good conduct medal in 1979 and in 1990, he was awarded the British Empire Medal (now the MBE) for services to the Fire Brigade, a distinction also awarded to Frank’s Father.

Frank had been a member of the British Legion for most of his adult life and he gave such service that he was appointed to the Legion committee, eventually becoming President and the President of the separate Charity committee, Royal British Legion.

Frank was approached about Freemasonry following a chance meeting whilst on a cruise in 1969. He was initiated in January 1970  and took the chair of Royal Lancashire lodge in 1979, becoming ADC after his year as IPM. Frank served fourteen year as ADC before becoming DC, an office he held for ten years. 

In concluding. WBro Rothwell said the Frank had always wanted to “be in charge!” successfully self-employed, President of the British legion and President of its Charity committee, Station Commander at Colne fire station… The Man is power mad!!!!! But most of all he has been a good friend to all that know him. 

Following the tribute, WBro Kirwilliam thanked WBro Rothwell for his excellent tribute and then described life, culture and music in 1970, bringing back many memories.

WBro Riley then gave a brief explanation of his initiation saying that he was a bit nervous but the Junior Deacon was very kind and helpful saying that all I had to do was do as I was told and speak when asked to. That was WBro Leslie Greenwood, and he is still telling me what to do and say some fifty years later!

WBro Kirwilliam congratulated WBro Riley on his initiation into this historic Lodge and congratulated him on his service to the community and the public in general. He then read the personal letter and presented the illuminated certificate and personal letter from the RW Provincial Grand Master, Sir David Trippier to WBro Riley, who was then escorted around the Lodge by the Acting Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies to the acclaim of the Brethren. 

To conclude the formal proceedings a 50 years lapel badge, to be worn with pride, was presented by the District Chairman, WBro Bob Allan.

WBro Kirwilliam, WBro Riley, and the Worshipful Master, Bro Rodney L Rostron

Following the Alms collection, the Acting Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies announced that the Worshipful Master had a very pleasant duty to perform. The Worshipful Master presented a cheque for the ELMC. WBro Kirwilliam thanked the Lodge for their very kind donation.

After the cheque presentation, the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies asked WBro Kirwilliam if he wished to retire, accompanied by the District Delegation and on the special occasion, WBro Frank Riley. WBro Kirwilliam having given his assent, a retiral precession was formed and these esteemed Brethren retired from the Lodge to the acclaim of all present.

WBro Riley with WBro Kirwilliam. Bro Rostron, the Worshipful Master and the Brethren of Royal Lancashire Lodge

WBro Riley with WBro Kirwilliam, the Worshipful Master, and the District Delegation

The Social Board was a happy and convivial gathering with all the Brethren in attendance clearly enjoying the occasion. 

In proposing the toast to his health, WBro Leslie Greenwood, touched on WBro Riley’s Masonic and Professional life and the contribution that he has made to the community. It was clear from the account provided that WBro Riley well deserved all the accolades that had been afforded to him.

John Wilkinson