The meeting of Robert Burns Lodge No 999, on Monday 19th of December 2022, marked the 50th Anniversary in Freemasonry for WBro James A Strudwick PProvGSuptWks.
WBro Strudwick took the chair for the evening and opened the lodge in due form. Following a report, WBro Lee Grindley, Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, entered the lodge and announced that WBro Peter Hegarty, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the City West Area, was outside the lodge and that he demanded admission.
Once the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, accompanied by a City West Area Delegation, was seated, WBro Strudwick congratulated WBro Hegarty on his recent promotion to Assistant Provincial Grand Master and offered him the gavel, which on this occasion, he was delighted to accept.
WBro Hegarty introduced the members of the Area delegation, which included WBro Mo Afsa, Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals, WBro Chris Armstrong Area Chairman for the newly created City West Area, WBro Peter Rees, Area Secretary, WBro Andrew Foster, Area Mentor; WBro Peter Tonge, Area Treasurer, WBro Ben Davies, Area Communications Officer, WBro Ian MacNeill, Area Charity Steward, WBro John Roberts, Royal Arch Area Officer, WBro Mick Dugdill, Deputy Area Mentor and Bro Eric Baker Area Deputy Charity Steward.
WBro Hegarty asked the Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies to place Jim in the centre of the lodge. Once he was seated comfortably, he asked WBro William Anderson PProvSGW to give a personal tribute to the celebrant.
After WBro William Andersons moving tribute, WBro Hegarty paid his own tribute to Jim, looking back to the year Jim was born.
Jim was born on Friday, the 5th of May 1944, the top baby name that year was James! It was the same day Mahatma Gandhi was released and just over a year before the D-Day landings took place.
There were a number of significant events that year. Kidney dialysis was invented, as was Sunscreen, primarily to protect American forces overseas.
You grew up in North Berwick, and you married Susan in 1970. You were initiated into St Baldred lodge 313 in 1972 by your own father. At that time, you were working in Hertfordshire, which meant driving north for all of your three degrees.
Your company moved you back to Edinburgh around 1976 but whilst going through the lodge offices, and they moved you back to Manchester, where you worked in their Leigh offices and joined Robert Burns lodge number 999. Despite moving into Nottinghamshire with your work, you travelled back to Salford for almost every meeting.
Your Masonic career since settling in England. You joined Robert Burns, lodge number 999 on the 23rd of June 1986 and were Worshipful Master on the 28th of April 1990. You held the office of treasurer for over 20 years, and you’ve also taken on the responsibility of Almoner.
You were exalted in the Holy Royal Arch on the 18th of November 1991, and have been in through the principles chairs twice since 1998.
You have been recognised by the craft province three times now, holding the rank of Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works, which is quite fitting for an architect. You have been recognised twice in the Holy Royal Arch and now hold the rank of Past 1st Assistant Grand Sojourner.
During all this, you and Susan were blessed with a daughter and, 18 months later, a son. You and Susan are justifiably proud of them both, your daughter becoming a talented artist and your son a pilot with British Airways. You and Susan have a good reason to travel to Gloucestershire, where they both live, as between them you have three grandchildren who I’m sure are bright lights in your life.
Your Masonic career has been a source of great fun and longstanding friendships. This fun communicated with several members of Robert Burns lodge travelling to Copenhagen, where you were invited to demonstrate a second degree ceremony in front of 500 Danish Freemasons. The connection with Denmark is, of course, Morton Korch, a longstanding and highly respected member of Robert Burns lodge no 999.
Your teams efforts after many visits to Denmark were rewarded when the Grand Lodge of Denmark was recognised by the United grand launch in London.
While still enjoying freemasonry, you also find time to be a skipper and a trustee for the East Manchester community boat charity, which takes disadvantaged and disabled people on canal trips. I am pleased to say that our East Lancashire Masonic Charities have helped help you towards the 100,000 you have raised so far.
All in all, Jim, a life of working to a high standard serving others with your charitable works and enjoying your freemasonry, it is an honour for all of us to share this 50th celebration with you.
WBro Hegarty then presented the letter and certificate celebrating 50 years in freemasonry. Afterwards, WBro Chris Armstrong, City West Area Chairman, presented James with his 50th Pin and conducted WBro Strudwick around the lodge to receive the acclaim of the brethren he justly deserves.
The Social board that followed was expertly coordinated by the 2 Provincial Deputy Grand Directors of Ceremonies, WBro Lee Grindley ProvDepGDC and Philip Collier ProvSGW.
There was a touching tribute paid to the celebrant by WBro Ian White PProvJGD detailing their friendship and joint love of sailing.
The social board was a lively event finished with all the brethren upstanding singing Auld Lang Syne.