On Wednesday the 7th of November, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master VWBro Derek Nelson Thornhill, though that he was attending the East Ribble District Mess  at The Fielden Arms, Mellor in his capacity as the Mess President. The District had however, used this opportunity to turn the evening into a celebratory retirement dinner for VWBro Thornhill, who will step down after 7 years as The Deputy, at the next meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge on Thursday the 15th of November.
WBro Thornhill was announced in to the room by one of his illustrious predecessors, VWBro Dr Nigel Bramley Haworth, Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master,  who welcomed all to the Dinner, explaining to a very surprised Principal Guest, that we were all here to celebrate his service and achievements in the District, area and Province, given well over two decades. Cards had been produced with the listing the evenings proceedings and inside, Derek’s Craft and Royal Arch career.
Following the meal and Loyal Toast,  WBro David Bristol invited the District Chairman WBro Dave McGurty to begin the toast to VWBro Thornhill, which he did, referencing the table card and outlining that this gave only a snapshot of Derek’s career, adding that it wasn’t quite possible to include all of his service on to just two pages, particularly his work in the formation and development of the ELMC from the former ELMBI and the Development and future security of Freemasonry at Bridge Street. WBro McGurty also mentioned that in in attendance this evening, and many who weren’t, had at some point had benefited from his involvement in their Masonic careers and that we were truly grateful for that support. He then presented Derek with 23 year old bottle of ‘Blair Athol’ Single Malt Whisky on behalf of all present and past District and Grand Lodge Officers in attendance, which had been bottled in 1995, the year that he first became a District Officer as the Deputy Chairman.
He then invited WBro David Lightbown, to present a gift on behalf of the East Ribble District which was a personally inscribed handmade desk clock. Both WBro’s David Lightbown and Paul Aspinall gave their thanks and recollections, particularity with regard to their long connections with VWBro Thornhill as Members of his Team and particularity their personal friendships with him. The District and Mess Secretary WBro Brian Derbyshire then presented Derek with some flowers fro Mrs Joan Thornhill, thanking her for supporting and allowing Derek to support us during the last 23 and a half years after which, all stood to toast the Deputy Grand Grand Master. Before responding, WBro Brian Carter presented Derek with his own gift, a box of extra strong tea, relating to his preference for builder strength tea during their many meetings at Hewlett Court!
VWBro Thornhill responded to the Toast, expressing his gratitude for this unexpected honour and thanking everyone for their support, not just this evening but across his career. The evening carried on with recollections and memories from across Derek’s career, capping off what was an enjoyable and memorable evening for all in attendance.

Article and Images: East Ribble District Team