It was a very special evening for The Lodge of Harmony 298 on Wednesday 2nd March as they celebrated the personal 50th Anniversary in Freemasonry of WBro Thomas Rawnsley PProvGSuptWks.
After opening in due form, the Lodge was pleased to receive WBro Peter G Hewitt PAGDC, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Province of East Lancashire, accompanied by deputation of Rochdale District Officers and Acting Officers of the year.
After accepting the Gavel from the Worshipful Master, WBro Stephen Newman, WBro Hewitt was given honours by all present, after which WBro Rawnsley was placed on the centre.
WBro Hewitt offered the best wishes of the RWPGM, DepPGM and District Chairman and then delivered a most interesting account of WBro Rawnsley’s Masonic career, which began on 27th January 1966 when he was initiated into Unison Lodge 4051. The Secretary then read extracts from the minutes of that evening along with further extracts WBro Rawnsley’s ‘Passing’ in February 1966 and ‘Raising’ in August 1966. WBro Rawnsley remained a member of Unison Lodge 4051 until 1999 when he became a joining member of The Lodge of Harmony 298, becoming WM in 2004. WBro Hewitt recalled the work WBro Rawnsley put into the sensory garden at Springhill Hospice in 2006/7 and the fact that this garden is still enjoyed by many to this day. WBro Hewitt then asked WBro Eric Kirkbride, PAGDC, to deliver a personal tribute to WBro Rawnsley.

WBro Kirkbride explained how WBro Rawnsley had been a Sea Cadet as a boy when war broke out, and that he had been in the same class as his late wife, Lillian, who was just 8 days younger than him. They were engaged at 18, just before he was conscripted into the Navy, where he recalled being stationed at Chippenham, where a young Philip Mountbatten (Prince Philip) was stationed, and WBro Rawnsley recalls a young girl called Elizabeth giving her bodyguard the slip and spending time in the local pub with Philip.
When WBro Rawnsley and Lillian celebrated their golden wedding in 2007, he dedicated a banner to the Lodge, which is still used to this day.
WBro Rawnsley was then presented with his richly deserved Illuminated Certificate by WBro Hewitt who also read a letter of congratulation from the RWPGM, Sir David Tripper, after which he was paraded around the Lodge to great acclaim by all present.
The celebrations continued downstairs at the Festive Board, where an excellent meal was enjoyed by all present. WBro Ken Davis then presented WBro Rawnsley with a beautiful gold plated Fob Watch on behalf of all the Brethren of the Lodge after which WBro Rawnsley offered his heartfelt thanks for making it such a special and memorable night for him.