The many brethren and guests of Lever Park Lodge No 8144 were honoured by the presence of Assistant Provincial Grand Master Stewart Seddon at their lodge meeting. This however, was far from a normal meeting of the lodge as the lodge was celebrating the 50th year in Freemasonry of Arthur Hamer.
The lodge was opened and the general business dealt with in the usual manner by Clive Butterworth the WM before Stewart entered the lodge, He was offered the gavel, which on this occasion he accepted with pleasure and took the chair in order to preside over the celebrations and tributes which were to follow. Stewart then invited Arthur to take centre stage before going on to give a most sincere and heartfelt account of his life and Masonic career.
Stewart started by calling the brethren’s attention to why they were all there at such a special meeting. It was to honour, pay tribute to and celebrate with Arthur who has served the Craft, loyally and faithfully for 50 years, He commented that it was so nice to see so many brethren there to share in Arthur’s special occasion.
Arthur was born in Bolton in November 1930. A good year, for many well-known and respected personalities from the world of sport, politics, entertainment, and current affairs were born in the same year including the first two men (and Freemasons) to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
Living at home in Halliwell with his mother and father, two sisters and a brother, Arthur attended Castle Hill School from the age of five through to leaving at 15 when he began an apprenticeship in engineering with Edward Brothers, known locally as EDBRO, in Bolton. On finding that engineering wasn’t what he wanted to do, Arthur began another apprenticeship, this time as a painter and decorator for which he attended technical college and passed his City and Guilds examination.
In 1951 Arthur was called up to do his National Service and he joined the RAF After initial training he was posted to Tangier and then on to Singapore where he became a senior aircraftsman armourer, eventually being de-mobbed in 1953 when he returned to decorating.
Another change in career direction took place in 1956, Arthur joined the Bolton Town Hall Treasurers Department as a porter before being moved into the housing department as a rent collector and during a local authority re-organisation he was transferred to Ramsbottom and then to Bury as a senior housing officer before retiring in 1990.
Arthur joined the Territorial Army in 1954 and was a member for some 10 years rising to the rank of sergeant.
In 1949, as things were slowly returning to normal following the war, Arthur met and started courting Phyllis Davies and on 1 September 1951 they were married at St Michael’s Church, Bolton and they went to Rhyl for their honeymoon. Arthur and Phyllis now have two children, three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Arthur’s Masonic career is equally as long and distinguished. He was initiated into Lever Park Lodge on 7 October 1969 and after serving in all the offices of the lodge he was installed as WM on 1 May 1979. Having installed his successor a year later, he was appointed charity steward of the lodge, a position he held for six years.
In 1990 he was appointed secretary of the lodge, a position he held for some 16 years before becoming treasurer from 2007 to 2012. Arthur was also the lodge’s group representative for a number of years and secretary of the group social committee for 12 years raising substantial amounts of money over that period for the benefit of the lodge and the Masonic hall. Arthur also served on the Masonic hall management committee and board of directors for six years, five of them as company secretary.
He received his first Provincial appointment in 1986 as a Provincial Grand Steward, and promotion to Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon followed in 1990 and again in 1995 when Arthur was promoted to the very high rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden.
Winding his address up, Stewart said: “There is no doubt at all that your entire life has also been an example of what makes a good Freemason, as well as a good citizen, a good husband, a good parent, and, in every way, a contributor to society as a whole. There is no doubt, that, during the last 50 years, anyone who happened to learn that you are a Freemason, could not fail to see you as anything other than a good ambassador for our Order.”
Peter Lockett, chairman of the Chorley and District Masonic Group, read the certificate, which is an acknowledgement of the Province of West Lancashire’s great appreciation of half a century of membership of the Craft.
After the Lodge was closed, the brethren retired to the festive board which was a very relaxed and friendly affair in the wonderful surroundings of Ridgmont House. All present enjoyed fine food, wine and fellowship.
The toast to Arthur’s health was given by Mike Greenhalgh who said: “It is a great pleasure to propose the toast to such a fine man and Freemason.” Arthur suitably replied and, in his response, said how delighted he was to have received a phone call on that morning from the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison wishing him the very best on his special day.
In closing the evening’s proceedings, the WM presented Arthur with a beautiful gift of two engraved crystal glasses to mark the occasion and went onto present both Arthur and Stewart with flowers for them to take home for their wives.