East Kent Provincial News 2014

Bill Burgess 50th

Bill Burgess with Roger Waltham and (l to R), Andrew Notley, Andy Bingo and Larry Andrews


A Long Service Certificate for Bro Bill Burgess

Bro Bill Burgess was presented with a 50-year long service certificate by Assistant Provincial Grand Master, WBro Roger Waltham, at the regular meeting of Rochester Lodge No 3494 in Chatham on 19th November.

William Fargie Burgess was born in Scotland in 1923 and completed a civil engineering apprenticeship at Rosyth Dockyard on the Firth of Forth. When war broke out in 1939, having learned Morse code with the Air Training Corps, Bill joined the Royal Navy where he served on Atlantic convoy escort ships, and is the proud recipient of four war medals.

Once the war was over, Bill returned to his work in the dockyards and, in due course, found himself working at Singapore Dockyard from 1956 to 1959. While there he was initiated into the Johore Royal Lodge No 3946, in the District of the Eastern Archipelago. He was impressed by the secular and inclusive world of Freemasonry, where he met Brethren with a wide variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds, including a Chinese Buddhist Brother in Singapore and Muslim Brethren while visiting a lodge in Malaya.

Bill receiving his certificate from Roger

Bill returned to Scotland in 1959 where he became a Life Member of Lodge Firth of Clyde Gourock No 626 (Scottish Constitution). Later, moving south with his work, in 1971 Bill became a Founder of the Lodge Johore Bahru No 8390 in Portsmouth, which was formed to reunite Brethren from their Singapore days and to keep alive the rituals and traditions of the old lodge in the Far East.

As time passed, and finding the journey from Medway to Portsmouth too tiring, Bill joined Rochester Lodge No 3494 in 2006; a decision, he said, he has never once regretted.

Presenting his certificate, Roger Waltham recalled some of the major events from 1958, the year in which Bill was initated, and went on to elaborate on some of Bill’s experiences over the years, much to the fascination of everyone present.  Everyone stood while the Escorting Director of Ceremonies, WBro Larry Andrews, read the certificate and Roger handed it to Bill. After the presentation, messages of congratulation were read from Bill’s Scottish and Portsmouth lodges, and the Worshipful Master, WBro Andy Bingo, on behalf of the members of Rochester Lodge, gave Bill a bottle of whisky (Scots of course).

The sense of occasion was heightened by a large number of guests and visitors, including four Active Provincial Officers who accompanied the Assistant Provincial Grand Master.

At the Festive Board, seated at the top table, Bill was presented with some more mementos from Rochester Lodge to further mark the occasion.