W.Bro. Gerry Rooke: I am very honoured to have been asked to introduce this special Presentation. I wish to restrict myself to your connection with Benevolent Lodge No 303. We are here today to celebrate your 60 years in Freemasonry. 60 years is a long period of time. If you don’t mind me saying so – more water has flowed under the bridge already, for you and for me, than is likely to flow in the future. You have your friends and helpers here with you who have come to join the members of your mother Lodge, and we all look up to you in your exalted position. After being educated at Teignmouth Grammar School and spending 2 years National Service in the Royal Air Force, you trained as a teacher and eventually came back to teach at your old school. At the age of 25, you were proposed into Freemasonry by your step-father, W Bro George Mitchell, and you were initiated into Benevolent Lodge No 303 in 1957, exactly 60 years ago. You were passed and raised in the following 2 months. Also in that year you married your dear wife, Hazel. Celebrating your Diamond Wedding?
You were installed as Worshipful Master in March 1970, followed soon after by approximately 16 years as Director of Ceremonies (1974-1990 when you became APGM). You are remembered for your diligence and insistence on ‘getting it right’. Even today officers are heard to say, “You wouldn’t have done that in Robin’s day”. Being Director of Ceremonies meant you had to make twice monthly visits during all that time from Plymouth to Teignmouth to fulfil the office. What a commitment! I was privileged to be your ADC for several years. It was always a case of Master and pupil. I learned more about Masonry in those years than ever before. I sincerely thank you, Sir, for all that tuition. I followed you as DC of 303 for 4 years till I became APGM in 1994. In 1979 you were appointed in Provincial Grand Lodge with the active rank of Provincial Grand Sword Bearer, and in April 1985 you were promoted to active Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. 3 years later in 1988, owing to the poor health of W Bro Sir Gordon Shattock, you were promoted to Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. This was a very deserved honour for you which also reflected on the Lodge, and you carried out your many duties with great distinction. There was more to come as in May 1987 you were appointed a Grand Officer with the rank of Past AsstGDC, you being only the second Grand Officer in the history of this Lodge, the first being W Bro OMG Davies, PastGStdB, 36 years before in 1951. You became Assistant Provincial Grand Master in April 1990 under RWBro John Huxtable, and you were promoted to Past Senior Grand Deacon and served in Grand Lodge as an elected member on the Board of General Purposes for the next 8 years. You were appointed Deputy Provincial Grand Master in September 1994 under RWBro Edward Holman, and a year later promoted to Past Grand Sword Bearer. You became Provincial Grand Master in 1999 and served 8 years in that office till 2nd June 2007 (your birthday). I was honoured to continue to serve under you as 2nd and 1st APGM till April 2001. Member of the Panel for Appeals. I would like to end with 4 highlights from Benevolent 303:- 1. You attended the Re-Dedication of the Masonic Hall, Hollands Road, Teignmouth on 11th March 2000 after the Hall had been extended upstairs and downstairs, mainly by the dedicated work of W Bro Colin Summers, overseen by the foresight and drive of the Secretary, W Bro Brian Kelly, You gave an Address summing up the significance of the historic occasion, and a fitting Oration was delivered by the Provincial Grand Chaplain, W Bro Rev Louis Baycock. It is noteworthy that the original Lodge building here was constructed exactly 150 years ago, back in 1867. 2. You presided at a Celebratory Dinner to mark the 225th Anniversary of the Founding of the Province of Devonshire at The Langstone Cliff Hotel, Dawlish Warren on 31st March 2000. Three months later you held a follow-up Service at the Cathedral Church of St Peter in Exeter. 3. Exactly 10 years ago at the 13th April 2007 at your 50th Anniversary meeting you presented the Lodge with a new Bible to mark your term of office as Provincial Grand Master. The old Bible, which was thought by a specialist in Bristol to be older than the Lodge, would only be used for Installations. The new Bible was dedicated by the Deputy Provincial Grand Chaplain, W Bro Raymond Bray. Immediately following the presentation I invited you to join me on the floor of the Lodge in order to present you with your 50 years Certificate. 4. Each year before or after Christmas the WM of our Lodge allows the Past Masters to conduct a ceremony. On 3rd December 2010 you acted as WM and I acted as SW for a Past Masters’ Night at Benevolent Lodge No 303 when Bro Norrie Millen (our present SW) was Raised to 3°. This was unique to Devonshire as all Offices were taken by the 10 Grand Officers of the Lodge Lodge (we actually had 9 Grand Officers available, so we had to scrape the barrel a bit and use one of our Honorary Members, R W Bro Michael Penny, the then PGM!). A photo together with an account was published in ‘Freemasonry Today’.
W.Bro. Richard Ebrey: Your journey in Freemasonry continued when you were Exalted into the Holy Royal Arch in the Chapter of Fidelity No.230 on 27 November 1969 by Excellent Companions Smith, Curle and Richards. Installed as First Principal in 1989 after having served the Chapter as its Scribe E for several years. Also joined Britannia Chapter No.4099 on 23 March 1974, which is where you made the most rapid progress, serving as First Principal in 1977, and again in 1996, when you appointed one Companion David Purnell as your Principal Sojourner. The calling of the DC’s wand could not be ignored and you were appointed as Chapter DC for several years before your talents were again called upon to the serve as Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1983 and 1984 with Sir Gordon Shattock. You then became Provincial Grand DC and worked with EComp David Bartlett in 1989 who held and continues to maintain standards that are as unerringly high as your own. He sends his best wishes. EComp Roy Webber became MEGS in 1995 and appointed you as his Deputy Grand Superintendent in 1995, in which office you served for four years until your appointment as PGM in the Craft, in 1999. You received preferment to Grand Rank in Supreme Grand Chapter: Past Grand Standard Bearer 1986, Past Asst Grand Sojourner 1994, Past Grand Sword Bearer 1996, and the very high rank of acting Grand Scribe Nehemiah 2006. Mark You were advanced into Caput Anguli Lodge of Mark Master Masons No 798 on 21 January 1971, when the WM was WBro Hocking, SW Bro Zessimides, JW Bro King, SD Bro Raymond Bray and conducted around by the Junior Deacon Bro Goddard. Became WM in 1978 when you appointed Bro Rose as SW, Bro NJS Rogers as JW, and your DC/Charity Steward was one WBro JH Wickstead. Just three years later you received an active appointment to Provincial Grand Senior Warden in 1981 by the then Provincial Grand Master, RWBro Henry Holladay. You again brought your talents to the lodge by acting as its Director of Ceremonies for several years and your dedication resulted in promotion to the Grand Ranks of PAGDC in 1987, PGSD in 1995, PGSO in 2000 before becoming PGJW in 2007 with the honorific of RWBro. Your progression into the Royal Ark Mariner degree began when you were Elevated into St Aubyn Lodge RAM No.64 in June 1981, and became Commander of Strode Lodge of RAM No.696 in 1994. You received promotion to RAMGR in 2000. Knights Templar Robin became a Knight Templar in 1984. He was Installed into the Chair of his Preceptory, Royal Veterans No. 10 in 1992 and gained a Provincial Rank in 1994 of ProvStB, before becoming Prov 1st Con in 1996. In 1997 he was promoted to the active rank of Great Aide de Camp in Great Priory, and promoted to Past Great Registrar in 2007. He held the Office of Provincial Chancellor for 11 years. Antient & Accepted Rite of Sovereign Princes Rose Croix You were Perfected into Pilgrim Chapter No.988, serving as its Organist in 1989, before becoming Most Wise Sovereign in 1994, upon which occasion you chose to appoint one Peter Keaty as a Steward. You were honoured to receive the 30th Degree in 1996, followed by the 31st Degree in 2000; you are currently privileged to hold the 32nd Degree. It perhaps comes as no surprise to learn that your organisational talents have also been brought to bear in the office of Director of Ceremonies in this degree as well. Royal Order of Scotland Your achievements in this degree have been equally high, serving the very high office of Provincial Junior Grand Warden in the Provincial Grand Chapter and Provincial Grand Lodge of the South-Western Counties of England. To just make this a ‘full-house,’ I must mention that you have also been the Provincial Grand Marischal, which those of us with no experience of the degree can only deduce will inevitably be the title of the Director of Ceremonies office. Freemasonry in general Your further achievements for Freemasonry in Devonshire as a whole came whilst you held the office of Provincial Grand Master of the Craft, during which time you directed the purchase of the current Provincial Office in Exeter, with the professional assistance of VWBros Peter Galt and John Annear. The other on-going achievement was the foundation of 12 branches of the Masonic Widows’ association, within the immediate responsibility of VWBro Peter Galt, which will be a perpetual legacy. Gerry Rooke I’d like to end finally with a quotation from a Chinaman called Lin Yu-tang which likens long periods of time in our life to the 4 seasons:- I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its tone is mellower, its colours are richer, and it is tinged with a little sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and also, particularly, its rewarding contents.
Brethren of Benevolent Lodge No 303, RWBro Robin, WE SALUTE YOU.