On 15th March over 30 Brethren assembled at Darwen Masonic Hall to celebrate 50 years in Freemasonry of WBro Raymond Fairwood, a member of The Lodge of Perseverance No. 345.

Once the opening business had been conducted and the District Deputation had been welcomed, our Assistant Provincial Grand Master, WBro Alan Kirwilliam kindly took the gavel from the Worshipful Master, WBro Harry Gibbs and began the celebration proper.

The minutes from the meeting of The Lodge of Unity and Friendship No. 8178 into which Ray was initiated on the 11th January 1972 were read by the Lodge Secretary WBro Jim Fallow. Ray was then asked to reminisce on his Initiation Ceremony and spoke fondly about his journey into Freemasonry and how it had developed along with his extensive Scouting activities. A tribute by WBro David Green was then delivered to the Brethren where he spoke about their time together in the ROF factory in Blackburn. He spoke fondly of Ray’s character and how he had influenced him over the years. He also talked about Ray’s hobbies, including vintage cars, rugby and his involvement with the Scouting fraternity in which he had played a large part locally.

Alan Kirwilliam then went on to highlight some of the things that had happened in 1972 in terms of politics, art and culture and the cost of items at the time, including a colour TV costing £2500! And the average house price being £4500. It was a turbulent time in politics with the miner’s strike and Bloody Sunday being two of the key events of the year.

After presenting Ray with his illuminated certificate and personal letter from The Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge VWBro John Farrington, Ray was perambulated around the Lodge to the acclaim of the Brethren.

His Celebration concluded with the District Chairman WBro Dave McGurty presenting Ray with his lapel badge and a bottle of champagne as a token of the contribution he had made over the last 50 years.

The Festive Board was a wonderful occasion, great food and company with lots of laughter. The toast to Ray was given by WBro Chris Creelman who spoke about his Scouting and how he has had a very distinguished career in the movement, and still does with his running of the local Beaver pack, which as he said in his response gives him a weekly injection of youth in his life, which also includes demonstrating forward rolls to a group of six year olds, seventy years younger than him!

It was a super evening, enjoyed by everyone, and we look forward to Ray’s 60th and to hearing how he will have developed to cartwheels by then!