The Lodge was opened by the Worshipful Master, WBro Paul Yates, and following a report WBro Philip Collier, Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies entered the Lodge and announced that WBro Mark Davis, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Manchester Districts, was outside the Lodge and that he demanded admission.
Once the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, accompanied by a City Sykes District Delegation, was seated WBro Yates offered him the gavel, which on this occasion he was delighted to accept.
At this point in the ceremony, the Lodge was called off and the Lodge Members wives, partners, and families were welcomed into the Lodge Room.
WBro Davis asked the Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, to place Eric and his wife, Nancy, in the centre of the Lodge and once they were sat comfortably, he began by remembering the year in which Eric was initiated into Townley Parker Lodge, 1971.
Eric was initiated into Townley Parker Lodge on the 26 May 1971, installed as its Worshipful Master in January 1981, again in 1991, and then once again in 2001. Over the course of the past 50 years, Eric has held almost every office within the Lodge. In addition, he served Middleton Installed Masters Lodge as its Secretary for 12 years in the run-up to its closing in 2007. As a member of Provincial Grand Officers Lodge No 3747, he held the senior rank of Junior Warden in 1996.
Erics first Provincial appointment was to the rank of Past Provincial Deputy Grand Superintendent of Works in 1987, promoted to Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer in 1997, promoted to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2004, and further promoted to his current rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 2016
In the Holy Royal Arch, he was exalted into Townley Parker Chapter No 1083 on the 4th of April 1974. He became a Founder and acted as the Scribe Ezra when Good Companions with Commemoration Chapter No 6005 was Founded in 1993.
His first Provincial Chapter appointment was to Past Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies, promoted to Past Provincial Grand Sojourner in 1997, further promoted to Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer in 2006, and to his current rank of Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in 2009.
WBro Davis noted that it is a testimony to Erics commitment to Freemasonry, that he holds the most senior ranks possible, at Provincial Level, in both the Craft and Holy Royal Arch and demonstrates the high esteem in which he is held here within the Province of East Lancashire.
For over 15 years, Eric was a popular member of the Provincial Secretariat team, where he spent countless hours of volunteering. He affectionately became known as the Provincial Historian if ever there was an enquiry about the history of a Brother or a Lodge, Eric was tasked with delving into the past records and invariably came up with the answer.
A moving tribute to Erics life, both in and outside of Freemasonry, was delivered by WBro Alan Twigg.
WBro Davis presented WBro Cropper with his 50th Certificate and WBro Chris Armstrong, City Sykes District Chairman, presented a 50th Anniversary Lapel Pin to mark the occasion.
The Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies then conducted both Eric and Nancy around the Lodge, to receive the adulation of the Brethren assembled.
The Assistant Provincial Grand Master, accompanied by Eric & Nancy, his District Delegation and guests retired from the Lodge, which was then Called On and duly Closed.
Erics hard work and dedication to Townley Parker Lodge has been invaluable and the love and fondness that the members of Townley Parker Lodge, and their families, have for both Eric and Nancy was evident throughout the evening.
The Social Board was a joyous occasion, where the highlight was the toast given to Eric, by his dear friend WBro Peter Sellers.