Brian Thomas receives 60 years certificateWorshipful Brother Brian Robinson Thomas PPrJGW, the Worshipful Master and brethren of The Ashburton Lodge No 2189 have given me the very great honour, privilege and indeed pleasure in presenting to you our Provincial Grand Masters certificate marking your having served 60 years as a Freemason in this wonderful Province of Devonshire and also in the Province of Dorset. For you were initiated into this The Ashburton Lodge No 2189 on 26th April 1962 having been proposed by your Grandfather, Worshipful Brother William Robinson Thomas.

On the evening of your initiation, the Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother Amery, gave up the Master’s chair to Worshipful Brother Bernard Robinson Thomas, your uncle, who obligated you and gave the signs and secrets, your Grandfather, Worshipful Brother William Robinson Thomas, having given the opening prayer. The badge of an entered apprentice was presented and explained by Brother Philip Robinson Thomas, your blood brother, who was a visitor to the Lodge. The Working tools were given by Worshipful Brother J L Pike, who was your father-in-law, another visitor. The charge after initiation was given by Worshipful Brother Archibald Eugene Collins, who had initiated your father Leslie Robinson Thomas in 1933. The chair was then returned to the Worshipful Master with thanks to him and the Lodge. The master then continued on with the rest of the evening. At the time of your initiation the Lodge had over 100 members. You were passed to the Second Degree, or that of a fellow craft, on 25th October 1962 in a double ceremony with Brother Heath Dadd. You were raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason on 29th November 1962.

You were born on 3rd March 1936 at Torbay hospital to parents Leslie and Margaret Thomas but your mother, Margaret, was always known as Daisy. You had two brothers, Philip and Michael, and one sister, Pat. You grew up in Bovey Tracey, attending the local school before moving on to Newton Abbot Grammar school. You married your wife Shirley on 4th March 1957, one day after your 21st birthday. You were married at St Johns Church Bovey Tracey. You and Shirley had two children, Helen who is a Priest in Somerset, and your son, Glyn. You have four Grandchildren, Martin, Tegan, Victoria and Catherine. Sadly, Shirley died in 2006.

You now live with your partner, Brenda. On Leaving school, your first job was at the National Provincial bank in Newton Abbot. You were then moved to Portsmouth and then on again to Head Office in early 1964, living in Guildford and commuting into the city for five years, leaving you no time for social activities. You were then promoted to admin Manager, moving to Roath in Cardiff before a further promotion to another, albeit larger, admin Manager’s job saw a move to Cheltenham in 1970. Between 1972 and 1976 you travelled around the country as a bank inspector before being made manager of the bank in Wareham Dorset in 1976. In 1980 you became manager of the bank in Penzance, Cornwall. In 1985 you became Manager at the Strand branch bank in Torquay. Later still at the Strand, you were made Senior Manager having six branches under your control with a staff of five Managers, eight Assistant Managers and 100 Clerks. Your ‘Empire’. In 1991 you had a very frightening experience when your bank in Torquay was robbed. The culprits were caught, tried and sentenced at the Old Bailey. You retired from the bank 1996.

You were a member of the Lions club, being secretary of the Penzance Lions and then moving to Torquay Lions where you were Treasurer, becoming President of the Lions clubs on Three Separate occasions. Returning to your masonic life, attendance at meetings was rare during your business life. You did, however, visit Royal Marines Lodge in Portsmouth, where you met a holder of the Victoria Cross. You visited a lodge in Cheltenham once with your father, Leslie Robinson Thomas, the only time you were in a Lodge together as he emigrated to New Zealand.

While living in Dorset you became a member of St Martin’s Lodge number 7986 at Wareham. You were also advanced into Angelbury Mark Lodge number 763. You recommenced at Ashburton Lodge number 2189 in 1985, progressing through the offices of the Lodge, being installed as Worshipful Master in 1991 by Worshipful Brother Chris Pugh. After your year as immediate past Master, you became Treasurer of the Lodge, an office you held for 17 years. You received your first provincial appointment of PPrJGD and were later promoted to PPrJGW, the very high rank you hold today.

You became a joining member of the Ashburton Mark Lodge No 1038 where you progressed through the offices, becoming Worshipful Master in 1995. After your year as the immediate past Master, you held the office of Treasurer for 16 years. You are a member of Devonshire Lodge of installed Mark Masters No1750 becoming Master in 2010. You were elevated into Royal Ark Mariners Lodge Ashburton No 1038 becoming Master in 2006 and then holding the office of Treasurer for eight years. You still retain your membership of Anglebury Mark Lodge, your Mother Mark Lodge No 763. You hold Mark Provincial Rank’s and also Provincial Royal Ark Mariner Grand Rank.

Brother Brian, 60 years is a long time and you will have seen many changes in the world, this country and indeed here in the West Country over that long period. You have lived through a world war and are now living under the threat of another. You have lived under three Monarchs, although one was never Crowned, 19 Prime Ministers and eight Provincial Grand Masters in this Province. Freemasonry has changed over the last 60 years as society has changed, and I suppose it must continue to change in order to attract and retain new members, but the basic principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth remain principles you have upheld throughout your life. Sixty years and two days ago on 26th April 1962, you laid your foundation here in the North-East part of the Ashburton Lodge No 2189 and you have raised a superstructure perfect in its parts and honourable to you, the builder.

Brother Brian, many congratulations. You are an example to us all and I hope you continue to enjoy your Freemasonry but of course, more importantly, that we may continue to enjoy your company. Now, on behalf of our Provincial Grand Master, Rt Worshipful Brother Ian Kingsbury, who sends to you his best wishes and warmest congratulations, I have much pleasure in presenting his certificate to you, but I would first like to read the citation. And I offer you my own personal congratulations. Well done.

Brian thanked me most sincerely for the presentation and for the amount of work and research I had undertaken, likening it to ‘This is your life’, just without the red book and Irish accent. He said he has thoroughly enjoyed his 60 years as a member of Ashburton Lodge and the presentation had only enhanced the enjoyment.

All then retired for an excellent festive board, ending yet again another happy Masonic evening.

Derek G Webber PSGD, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master