On Friday 6thApril 2018, WBro Chris Welton, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, and a Manchester Districts Delegation were honoured to attend Constellation Lodge No 5395, for the 50thAnniversary in Freemasonry of WBro Brian Wetherell at Manchester Hall.
Once the lodge had been opened, WBro Andrew Taylor, Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, entered the lodge to announce that WBro Welton and his District Delegation were outside the lodge, and they were duly admitted.
Once the Delegation were all seated, the Worshipful Master of Constellation Lodge, WBro Stuart Villard, offered his gavel to WBro Welton. On this momentous occasion, WBro Welton accepted and replaced WBro Villard in the Chair of King Solomon.
WBro Welton proceeded to introduce his District Delegation of WBro David Basger, Assistant to Provincial Grand Principals; WBro Chris Wildman, Deputy Chairman of City Sykes District; WBro David Hudson, Chairman of City Derby District; WBro Elliot Moss, District Almoner; and WBro Chris Armstrong, Assistant District Communications Officer. The members of the lodge then welcomed them all.
WBro Welton reminded the brethren of first the year in which WBro Wetherell was born, 1940, then the year in which he was initiated into Freemasonry, 1968.
When WBro Wetherell was born the country was at war with Germany, the Dunkirk evacuations had taken place and the Battle of Britain was raging overhead. It was the year that rationing was introduced and the dreaded Purchase Tax was introduced. Ringo Starr, Raquel Welsh, John Lennon, Pele, and Tom Jones all share this birth year.
The year he entered Freemasonry saw many notable events. Across the Atlantic, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were major historical events. At home, Manchester City won the Football League and Manchester United won the European Cup Final against Benfica.
The minute from the meeting of WBro Wetherell’s initiation were read by the Lodge Secretary, WBro Roger Hulme. At the meeting, held on 5thApril 1968, he was Proposed by his father, WBro Frank Wetherell Senior and Seconded by his brother, Frank Wetherell Junior.
The tribute to WBro Wetherell was delivered by his long-time friend, WBro Gerry Young. Born in Denton, just weeks before the beginning of the Blitz, he spent many of his early years sleeping in a metal box that doubled up as an air raid shelter. His father, Frank Snr, was away at war and he only really got to know him properly when the war was ended and he returned home.
After a very happy childhood, he left Secondary Modern School with no qualifications but that did not deter him. He spent several years studying at night school, then three years in full-time education at, what became, University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology – receiving a BSc Degree. He went on to manage his family building business.
WBro Young described WBro Wetherell as a modest man, who had proudly served his lodge for fifty years. After several years on the Stewards bench and working his way through the progressive offices of the lodge, he was installed as Master in 1982. His year included officiated over the lodge’s Golden Jubilee in 1983 and conducting several ceremonies immaculately. It was a difficult year for him personally though, as his son Karl had gone to the Falklands as part of the expeditionary force.
As a Past Master, WBro Wetherell has undertaken almost every role within the lodge, including Lodge Secretary, Lodge Mentor, District Representative and is now Father of the Lodge. Outside of the Lodge, he was District Secretary and District Chairman, and in 2006 was appointed Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies for the United Grand Lodge of England.
Once WBro Young had completed his tribute, WBro Welton read to him and presented a letter from Sir David Trippier, Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, along with his Fifty Year Certificate.
The Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies proceeded to lead WBro Wetherell around the lodge room, at the rapturous applause of the brethren and then WBro Wildman presented him with a commemorative lapel pin.
At this point in the ceremony, WBro Welton and his delegation retired from the lodge, with WBro Villard re-occupying his chair. The lodge was then closed.
At the Social Board, the both moving and hilarious toast to WBro Wetherell was given by WBro Stuart Villard. Amongst many other anecdotes, WBro Villard said WBro Wetherell was never one to spot a good investment and many of us could barely believe a story he told. It seems that, many years ago, a short German business man arrived in Poynton, asking WBro Wetherell to build a warehouse for him. He said he was going to sell T-shirts with his name on, charging 50% more than other manufacturers. WBro Wetherell was unconvinced with the German’s business plan, but proceeded to build his warehouse and continued to do other construction work for them for many years. The German man was called Adolf Dassler, but he shortened his brand name to Adidas.
WBro Brian Wetherell, WBro Chris Welton and WBro Stuart Villard.
Article by Chris Armstrong