The West of the Province witnessed an incredible achievement when the members of Albert Edward Lodge No.1557, which meets at Hexham Masonic Hall, played host to the presentation of a certificate of merit to recognise seventy years of uninterrupted service in the Craft by W.Bro Norman Pretswell.
Norman was initiated into Freedom Lodge No.5920, in February 1951 and remained a member until its sad demise when it was erased in 2009, subsequently joining Albert Edward Lodge. He took the Masters Chair in 1968 and was recognised for his service to the Craft in 1979, when he was appointed to the rank of Provincial Junior Grand Deacon, in Provincial Grand Lodge. He has subsequently been promoted on two occasions to Past provincial Grand Sword Bearer in 2007 and then Past Provincial Grand Chaplain in 2016.
He was born in December 1927 in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne, and is one of three children, being the second child and the first son, with an elder sister and a younger brother. During the Second World War Norman was evacuated to Whitehaven, being housed and cared for by a retired miner and his two spinster daughters, both in their twenties. Two girls had been requested however, they received four boys. His father, also named Norman, and uncle rented a property in Threlkeld, near Keswick, where he subsequently moved to be with his mother, siblings, aunt and cousins. Normans father, operating the family removal business, and uncle, being a fireman, remained in Newcastle whilst his mother and aunt took it in turns to occasionally visit home. The rented house was originally built as part of a temporary estate to house Belgian refugees from the First World War, however, the estate has long gone being replaced with modern housing.
Norman attended Heaton Park Road School where he passed his eleven plus, unfortunately, disruption of war prevented him from attending Grammar school, and instead he followed on to Heaton Secondary School, leaving at fourteen years old. He then studied for two years at the College of Commerce prior to joining the family removal business, N Pretswell and Sons, where he worked all his life and travelled all over the country. He initially worked for his father, subsequently became a partner, then a partner with his brother, before passing the company on to his son, another Norman! The only break he had in his service to the family business was two years and three months of National Service, where he was a member of Driver Instructor Regiment of the Royal Artillery as a Regimental Policeman.
He was very happily married, for 57 years to June, who sadly passed away in 2011, having suffered poor health for a number of years. He has three sons, David, Norman and Ian, and raised the family in Heaton, prior to retiring to a house in Haydon Bridge that had initially been bought as a holiday home.
Normans hobbies include walking, where he used to be a member of four local walking groups, however, he had to cut this back as he struggles to keep up nowadays!, and reading, where his particular interest is the American Civil War which has led him to visit the USA on two occasions to visit the battlefields.
His father was a member of Grainger Lodge No. 7261, whilst his son is a member of Derwent Water Lodge No. 6375, in the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland.
From the minutes of the lodge, it is recorded that in 2011, W.Bro Brian Rudd, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, presented him with a certificate to celebrate his sixty years of membership. At the time he declared himself speechless having only found out about it a couple of days prior and he was extremely delighted that his son had managed to surprise him by attending that evening, bringing a supporting party from Cumberland and Westmorland.· He received his fifty-year certificate from the then Provincial Grand Master, the late W. Bro George Usher, who was the Master of Albert Edward Lodge in 1974.
·During the evening Norman, stated that he hoped to have many more happy years in Freemasonry and is aiming for his centenary certificate.
Many thanks to W.Bro George Anderson for the submission of this article.
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