Despite sounding like a Brit these days, I grew up in the Outback in New South Wales, Australia, where my father was a member of Lodge Oxley 225. I have very fond childhood memories of my father’s social life, which revolved almost entirely around his monthly masonic meetings (there are not too many people to socialise with in the outback), and their regular exchange weekends (which were possibly slightly more social than was absolutely necessary) with their Brother Lodge, Captain Cook, in Southerland, Sydney.
They all seemed like a very affable bunch, and I was intrigued to find out how my dad managed to get the children of 5 local, non-masonic, less well to do families to boarding school when none of the families had two pennies to rub together.
What was then known as the Masonic Welfare Fund, now called “A Start in Life”, and a father, determined that the local kids “toughing it out” in the bush should have the same “start in life” as anyone else was the answer, and along with all his masonic mates ultimately the reason I decided to join Freemasonry.
Fast forward to March 2008 when I joined Petts Wood Lodge after stumbling on the fact that my friend and colleague, PC, was a member. When I told him of my father’s fondness for Freemasonry and my inevitable interest, he suggested I might think about joining his “like-minded brothers” at Petts Wood, and the rest as they say is history.
I was very proud to have my father join us at Petts Wood for the meetings which we had when they were in the UK on holidays, and his recital of the Aussie version of the second-degree tracing board is still talked about today.
He moved heaven and earth in order to be present at my installation as Worshipful Master of the Lodge in 2019. In the outback, because of the distances between lodges, it was not unusual for them to have to drive all day to visit another lodge in the province, usually staying overnight after the festive board and returning home the next day, but to fly to the other side of the world just to see his son and brother (you can work that one out) installed will give you some idea of how important it was to him and to me.