Double Celebration At Ashington Lodge

07th July 2022

Congratulations from all at Northumberland Freemasons to John Birkmyre and John Warham of Ashington Lodge No.2868, which meets at Ashington Masonic Hall, on both completing fifty years of uninterrupted service in the Craft.

John Alan Birkmyre was initiated into Freemasonry into the, sadly erased, Lodge of Prudence No.3424, in April 1972, joining Fenham Lodge No.4019, on its closure in 1991. Very sadly, Fenham Lodge closed and Alan subsequently joined the Lodge of Sportsmen No.9823, which meets at Maple Terrace Masonic Hall, in March 2011, remaining a member for 10 years when he then resigned and joined Ashington Lodge in January 2022.

He occupied the Masters Chair of Fenham Lodge in 1995 and was acknowledged for his service to the Craft when he was appointed, in Provincial Grand Lodge, to the rank of Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1987.

Alan was exalted into the Holy Royal Arch Chapter in November 1980, when he joined St Margaret’s Royal Arch Chapter No.5816, subsequently resigning in 1984, and joining Chapter De Sussex No.406 in 2000 and again resigning in 2005.

Away from Freemasonry Alan spent his working life as a teacher of music and physics, predominantly in Newcastle Comprehensive schools. His hobbies include playing golf and he also finished building a harpsichord, which had been started by the woodwork teacher, and he then went on to make an electronic keyboard, which arrived in several plastic bags. He spent lots of time fell walking, mainly in the Lake District.  On one occasion he led a party on the ‘Lyke Wake Walk’, which consisted of 42 miles across the North Yorkshire Moors and had to be completed within 24 hours.  It was the first time that he was helped INTO a pub at the end of the walk!

John Warham was initiated into Freemasonry in April 1972, when he joined Ashington Lodge. He joined Northumbrian Masters No.3477, which meets at Fern Avenue Masonic Building, and was a Founder of John Stephenson Lecture Lodge No.9571, which was sadly erased in 2010. He then went on to join Viking Lodge No.7934, which meets at Morpeth Masonic Building, in 2001 and Napier Clavering Lodge No.3428, which met at Byker Masonic Building, in 2003, which subsequently closed in 2012. He was a Founder of Beamish Temple Lodge No.9815, of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham, in 2006, and Wansbeck Lodge No.5171, in 2010 before its sad demise in 2015. He finally joined Portland Lodge No.6170 in 2016. He has occupied the Chair of Master in John Stephenson Lecture Lodge, Viking Lodge, Portland Lodge, Northumbrian Masters Lodge and Ashington Lodge.

He was acknowledged in Provincial Grand Lodge when he was appointed to the active rank of Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 1993 and received appointment to Grand Lodge as Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2000, being promoted to Past Junior Grand Deacon in 2013.

In the Holy Royal Arch Chapter John was exalted into Ashington Royal Arch Chapter No.2868 in November 1972, joining Northumbrian First Principals Royal Arch Chapter in April 1991. John went on to be a Founder of Farne Royal Arch Chapter No.5228, which meets at Alnwick Masonic Hall, in 2001, and Per Diem Royal Arch Chapter No.9638 in 2004.

He was acknowledged in Provincial Grand Chapter in 1992 when he was appointed to the rank of Provincial Grand Registrar, receiving subsequent promotions to Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehmiah in 1999, Third Provincial Grand Principal in 2006 and Second Provincial Grand Principal in 2007. He was honoured in Supreme Grand Chapter in 2001 when he was appointed to the rank of Past Grand Standard Bearer, receiving subsequent promotion in 2009 to the rank of Past Assistant Grand Sojourner.

John has lived most of his life in Ashington though he has lived elsewhere for work purposes. His first job was as a cobbler’s assistant, subsequently taking an apprenticeship as an Electrician and electrical fitter with Blyth Dry Docks and Ship building Company where he trained in ship maintenance, fitting out new ships, maintaining plant and wiring newly prefabricated housing. He completed his indentures as an apprentice with the National Coal Board and trained in motor repairs, coal cutting machines and electrical switchgear.  He went on to work on switchgear and domestic electrical wiring and equipment before finishing as an Electrical Inspector. 

John then became a Civil Servant and had a very varied career during which he has been a statistician, an Instructor/Trainer, an Instruction Writer, a Finance Officer, an Estates Officer, maintaining existing estates, new builds and conversions, and a Computer Support Officer, where his qualifications gave him professional membership of the British Computer Society and he was listed on the Cabinet Office register of I.T. Professionals. John is also a Freeman of the City of London, which he received in 2010,

For hobbies he joined the Royal Naval Reserve and was based at HMS Calliope in Gateshead.  He shot small bore competitions with the RNR and the Civil Service and was a member of the St. John Ambulance Brigade undertaking public duties at Newcastle Racecourse, St. James’ Park, and various other events.  He competed in First Aid competitions for St. John Ambulance and the N.C.B. and was even a national finalist. He is still a member of the Order of St. John. 

Many thanks to W.Bros Alan Birkmyre and John Warham for the submission of this article.

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