Pro Grand Master Presents Alan Armstrong with 70 year Certificate.
The 15th October 2018 began as any other for the Provincial Grand Master, his Deputy, his Assistant, the Provincial Secretary, WBro Frank Rankin, and V W Brother Tony Craven. But it was not to stay that way. Leaving at lunchtime, we arrived in Nottingham in good time for a 5-30pm start to what was to prove to be a most magnificent evening.
Born in July 1924, Joseph Alan Armstrong was destined to become a Freemason, as his father was a member of the Craft in the Annfield Plain area. After leaving school at an early age, and refusing to go to University, Alan joined Lloyds Bank, and worked his way up through the ranks until he became a Branch Manager – a role he fulfilled in several areas in and around Durham. In 1946 at the age of 22, after his War Service, his father asked him to join the Craft, which he duly did. Two years later, his father told him that a new Mark Lodge was to be formed in Annfield Plain, and asked him to be the first candidate. So began a 70 year career in Mark Masonry, when on the 14th October 1948 Joseph Alan Armstrong was Advanced in Elevation Lodge 1112.
In short, Alan was installed as Master of Elevation Lodge 1112 on the 14th October 1959; received Provincial Honours as PPGJO in 1963; was promoted to PPGJW in 1973; and was Honoured with promotion to PAGDC in Grand Lodge in 1974. Sadly for Durham, Lloyds Bank then relocated Alan to the Nottingham area. But Durham’s loss was Nottingham’s gain. Before even moving his family to Nottingham, Alan attended a Masonic social gathering at which he was introduced to the Provincial Grand Master. A few days later he received a phone call from the PGM saying that it was intended to form a new Mark Lodge in Nottingham, and would he be interested, as a Grand Officer, in becoming a Founder Member. Thus it was that Alan became the first Master of the Nottingham Excelsior Lodge 1464 in June 1976.Since then, Alan has been promoted to PGSD in 1987; and PGSO in 2001.
So we all gathered in Nottingham’s superb Masonic Hall to celebrate Alan’s 70 years in Mark Masonry. In attendance were the Pro Grand Master, the Assistant Grand Master, the DeputyProvincial Grand Master for Nottingham (sadly the PGM was in hospital and unable to attend), and many other distinguished Brethren from the Nottinghamshire area. We began with an excellent Installation ceremony of the Nottingham Excelsior Lodge, and then moved on to the main event of the evening. The Pro Grand Master ‘interviewed’ Alan about his long and distinguished career in Mark Masonry. In truth, there was little interviewing being done, as Alan was only too happy to reminisce about his 70 glorious years in this degree. To say his enthusiasm was infectious would be an understatement – it was infectious. Eventually, the Pro Grand Master was allowed back in to the conversation, and pointed out that V W Bro Alan was incorrectly dressed. He then asked the Assistant Grand Secretary to read the Letter of Appointment, and then, to audible gasps around the room, V W Bro Alan was promoted to the rank of PGJW, in the process becoming R W Bro Joseph Alan Armstrong.
After adjourning for drinks, an excellent meal was served at the Festive Board, during which 4 presentations were made to R W Bro Alan – which included one from the PGM R W Bro Prof. Denovan Keith Wilson on behalf of the Province of Durham, and one from V W Bro Tony Craven on behalf of Elevation Lodge. Not to be outdone, R W Bro Alan stood and replied to each of them individually. Eventually, it was time for us to leave, and we departed delighted to have witnessed such a rare event, but enthused by the passion shown for our degree by a remarkable 94 year old man.
Author Allan Gurney Provincial Secretary.