Brethren of Saint Oswald Lodge No 5170, their guests and friends gathered to celebrate Alan Dixon’s 50 years in Freemasonry at Warrington Masonic Hall. Unfortunately, those friends of his who were in Newton Lodge No 6288 would not have been able to attend as they had the same meeting time. The extraordinary decision was made to close the Newton Lodge meeting early, and for the whole lodge to attend Saint Oswald Lodge’s meeting.
The 14 Newton members entered, en-mass, and would have been closely followed by principal guest, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton, but for the creditable exuberance of the inner guard, who followed his duty in closing the door after the lodge’s entrance, but left Kevin outside. Soon remedied, Kevin was accompanied into the lodge by grand officers Gordon Amos and Chris Eyres and by Andy Barton (Warrington Group Chairman). Also supported by acting Provincial grand officers Les Savage, Malcolm Bell and Howard Savage.
WM Bill Wainwright conducted lodge business in his usual, efficient style, and then offered the gavel to Kevin, who accepted and asked for the tyler to be admitted so that he could share in the occasion. Alan was seated comfortably in the centre of the lodge while Kevin delivered his story:
Born in Liverpool during 1939 (the first year of the Second World War), Alan barely had time to arrive at the family home at Norris Green before that family was split as his father was called up to serve in the army. During the ill-fated Dodecanese campaign, his father was captured and served the rest of the war in a prison camp.
Things were no better on the home front, as Alan’s home was bombed and the family had to move to his grandmother’s home in Everton. There was a purpose-built bomb shelter close by, but Alan’s mother decided he would be safer during air raids if wrapped in blankets and kept under the house’s stairs. This proved prophetic when a land mine landed on the nearby shelter and killed everyone inside.
At war’s end, in an austere Britain, Alan’s schooling started in Gwladys Street Primary School, in a corrugated steel classroom where lessons had to stop during hail-stoning due to the noise. This did not prove too much of a problem to his education, as he eventually gained six GCEs. This was enough for Alan to pursue a career with Barclay’s Bank until the Army, during National Service, claimed him.
Joining the prestigious Royal Corps of Signals, Alan signed up for longer than the minimum period so that he could take a short service commission, becoming second lieutenant in two years and full lieutenant in four. He was the last National Service Officer to be commissioned into the Royal Corps. Belonging to such an esteemed unit served him well during Field Marshal Sir Francis Wogan Festing’s commissioning parade, as Alan was the first person that the ranking officer approached during his inspection – probably due to links from early service and close assistance during the war.
Alan’s first posting was to Brigade HQ in Lisburn, where he became second in command of the Brigade’s signals squadron. As part of his duties there, he was in daily communication with the Adjutant of another unit, a person who we now know as The Grand Master, The Duke of Kent.
One of the most prestigious duties in the army during this time was the continual preparations for the possible funeral of Winston Churchill, ‘Operation Hope Not’ and Alan had a significant role in that top secret operation.
Alan married his first wife in 1964, having two daughters, Helen and Kate, who have since given him five grandchildren: Abigail and Lizzy, who live in Australia, and Maddie, Grace and Sonny, who live in Liverpool.
A missile malfunction cut short his military career, so he returned to banking, studying to becoming a member of the Institute of Bankers and ending up as Operations Manager.
His first marriage unfortunately ended, but Alan met Suzanne on a blind date, which took place in a Kebab House, the only problem with this being that she was a vegetarian. This didn’t stop them, as they have been very happily married now for 38 years.
Masonically, he joined Combermere Lodge No 605 (Cheshire) in December 1965, along with his then brother-in-law and initiated by his then father-in-law. The second and third degrees were conducted similarly. West Lancashire gained Alan when he joined Saint Oswald Lodge in 2002 and became master of this lodge in 2005. He is currently director of ceremonies.
The mathematicians amongst us will have spotted that Alan has actually been a Mason for 521/2 years, a fact which was lost during his move from Cheshire, and only recently spotted. Still, the celebration is better late than never. Alan has been honoured by the province and now Alan has achieved the Provincial rank of PPrSGD.
Having delivered Alan’s story, Kevin relinquished the gavel back to Bill, who closed the lodge.
At the festive board, after a lovely meal, Bill toasted Alan, celebrating the effort he has put into every position he has filled in the lodge and his dedication, which still applies to this day.
In a modest way, Alan elaborated on the history recounted in lodge: he told how, as a second Lieutenant, a visiting American general had mistakenly congratulated him for having organised the 21-gun salute at his state visit; his introduction to West Lancashire Masonry from Cheshire that found him singing a different song from the rest of his lodge and how he got locked in the Sistine Chapel. As his own personal gift to the lodge for their efforts on his 50th, Alan donated £50 to the Lodge Benevolent fund.
The charitable collection in lodge gained £88 for the MCF 2021 Festival, and the raffle at the festive board raised £152for the Lodge Benevolent Fund.
Story and pictures by Eric Miller.