Diamond Celebrations For James Thompson

23rd September 2022

Today Northumberland Freemasons congratulates Bro. James Alan Thompson on completing sixty years of uninterrupted service to the Craft.

Alan was initiated into Freemasonry in August 1962, when he joined Homelyn Lodge No.6075, which meets at Ashington Masonic Hall. He never took office, or occupied the Masters Chair due to a very busy and fulfilling private and work life, one of a few regrets that he has. It took Alan 3 years to become a Master Mason due to his naval service and leave did not always coincide with the ‘next step’.

On leaving the navy, Alan joined the Marconi Company in Essex and began working with design engineers, at the R&D establishment, on MoD projects, mainly related to the Cold War. He was selected to work on the satellite dish that is now on a mountain top on Ascension Island and also worked on the air to ground missile that was planned to be delivered by the TSR2 aircraft.

1967 saw Alan selected, by British Olivetti, to work on their decimalisation programme and, after intense training, was made Technical Manager in Coventry. In 1970 he became Manager for Technical Support Scotland, covering the area of Glasgow and Inverness, and developed Olivetti’s first Technical Support facility for the emerging word processing and accountancy technologies. Whilst in Glasgow he was approached by the Liberal Party and subsequently became Chair of the East Dunbartonshire Liberal Party. After the trauma of decimalisation Olivetti wanted Alan to relocate to London to fill a senior position, however, having moved house twice since the birth of his 3 children, he set up in business on Tyneside.

After 4 years the business was prospering, so was sold and Alan went on to set up business in Ashington which became his base for several interests and more politics. Throughout the 1980’s he was the County Councillor for Newbiggin by the Sea and a District Councillor. He became the Parliamentary Candidate for the Liberal Party and was also approached by both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party to stand for parliament, which he declined. In 1999 Alan became a County Councillor again and led the Liberal Democrats in Wansbeck, increasing the seats from none to 21.

In 2008 he was again elected to the Northumberland County Council. and given the portfolio for Highways. This involved promoting the need for the dualing of the A1 in Northumberland, discovering that the road was not classified as a strategic route, meaning that funding from the UK Government and the EU was unavailable. In 2012 the road was reclassified by the UK Government and today the dualing of the A1 is underway.

In addition to his work and political life Alan wrote a book; a thriller based on the events of the Cold War and the Miners dispute in 1984/85, which he dedicated to his two sons, daughter and seven grandchildren. He also invented a unique method for building sea defences to protect the coastline and continues with this, to this day.

In 1994 the Millennium Commission asked for submissions for Landmark Projects and on behalf of Newbiggin by the Sea 2000, Alan wrote up a costed project to develop the bay with an anchor shaped Marina. The project was one of five shortlisted for the North East however was declined and the Government Office for the North East paid for an investigation into improvements for the area and the result was the breakwater and replacement beach in 2006.

In 1998 Newbiggin by the Sea 2000 became Newbiggin by the Sea Partnership, which is still delivering on behalf of the community and for the last 10 years has raised an average of £12,000 each year which pays for four music tutors, a steel pans group, known as “Steel by the Sea”, and a training arrangement with Newcastle Falcons.

Many thanks to W.Bro Paul Hudspeth and Bro Alan Cunningham for the submission of this article.

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