Lodge of the Round Table 50th Anniversary - Paddy Firminger is a founding member of the lodge of the round table and a passionate advocate of Freemasonry. We put a few questions to him to gain a personal insight into the first 50 years of the lodge, what it means to him and what his hopes are for the future of the lodge.
What are your memories of Round Table?
I joined Table 249 in 1962 by invitation when the membership consisted of about 30 ambitious young local business men. We met for dinner every two weeks in the evening at The Perry Hall Hotel in Bromsgrove. This is now a Bromsgrove School boarding house.
For those who were not in Round Table I should explain that the organisation was founded in 1927 by Louis Marchesi (died 1968) who was a member of Rotary and thought there should be a similar organisation for young men. The rule was that at the age of 40 one had to leave. At the evening meetings we had speakers, discussions and business meetings to decide what we were going to do including social and charitable events. We had a “Boars Night” (say no more); we entered a tableau at the Annual Area Conference which was held at various locations through the country. We had a sleigh at Christmas that went around the town collecting for charity, a jokes competition, tug of war, an annual Ladies Night and social meetings at each other’s homes. The members would be invited to a Gentlemen’s Evening run by Ladies Circle. This organisation being for the wives of members of Round Table. Round table was an excellent organisation that gave its members confidence, taught them to speak in public, gave them a chance to assist in charitable organisations and above all there was great fellowship and lifetime friendships were formed.
Having reached the age limit, past members of Table were often invited to join the local Rotary Club which was a more reserved continuation of service to the community. This I did in 1972 and have been a member since then.
Why was the lodge founded?
Members of various tables in the area who were masons thought it would be good to form a Lodge that incorporated both the principles, fellowship and brotherhood that the two organisations could bring.
What are your memories of the consecration?
This was held a Kings Heath and is described in the History of the Lodge.
What were the early days of the Lodge like?
As a new Lodge there were occasions when there were not sufficient members to fill the various offices, this never caused a problem as there were always permanent visitor who would fill the gaps. The founders were insistent that the work in the Lodge and at the Festive Board was carried out with decorum. Unfortunately things did not always go to plan. On one occasion the Senior Warden who was a very active mason throughout the Province and had been advised that he should not progress to the chair because of his other commitments. Unfortunately he did not take this advice and when it came to the ballot for the master for the ensuing year he was not elected and the Junior Warden was elected in his stead. This was a sad occasion and the member resigned.
Who were the other founding brethren and what were they like?
It is difficult to pick out individuals but of course our Founding Master Wor. Bro Jack Lewis must have particular mention for all he did for the Lodge and its widows.
Mention should also be made of Wor. Bro Bill Gibbons and Wor. Bro John James. These are two brethren who helped to make the Lodge what it is today. Wor. Bro Bill was a Grand Lodge Officer but was always approachable. He would sit anywhere in the Lodge and quietly explain to the younger members what was going on and offer advice on their way up. Wor. Bro John not only gave good advice in the Lodge Room but also helped with social events and every summer hosted a get together at his home in the countryside, when he would provide tea for the members, wives and young children. At Christmas time he would bring holly and mistletoe for all the members.
Another great supporter was W.Bro Ray Brant who even when seriously ill still attended our meetings.
What are the lodge highlights of the past 50 years?
The greatest highlight is that in spite of problems with membership the Lodge is still in existence and would now seem to have a bright future due to its new members and, also, there is now a Chapter of The Lodge of the Round Table.
In a different age, having formal Ladies Nights with all the trappings!
My personal highlights must be having been given the privilege of being Master and initiating P.Prov.SGW Jack Cameron and seeing my son Christopher go through the chair on two occasions. Also, Christopher being appointed Acting Provincial Junior Grand Warden together with his brother as Acting Provincial Senior Grand warden over the past year.
The lodge is no longer a closed lodge, how do you feel it has changed?
It has changed for the better and to its advantage. Without the change there would probably no longer be a Lodge of the Round Table. The fact that our new members are not Round Tabler’s is irrelevant. It is who they are and what they can contribute. As far as I am concerned they are an asset and all worthy of membership. Let’s get more like them.
What would you like to see happening in the next 50 years?
It would be nice to think that the Lodge is still here and thriving. Let’s hope that the decline in such organisations does not continue and that the community is made aware of the good they do. Many people are not aware of the charity contributions we make and how much we help those in need.
Your son's installation must have been a fantastic night for you?
I think it’s every parent’s ambition to see their children achieve success in life. If they achieve more than their parents then better still. On that particular evening I sat there and was very proud to see him proceed with confidence and self-assurance. I could not wish for more. I don’t envy those following him!
Any particular fond memories of the brethren?
I suppose the brethren I was closest to were the founders as we had attended committee meetings together prior to the consecration and all had a goal to achieve. The two I remember with great fondness were W.Bro Bill Gibbons who was in Table with me and W.Bro John Lames who was in my Mother Lodge. These two brethren who were responsible for my joining the Lodge a “Joining Founder” As I had not been a master mason, for years I was unable to become a founder but the founders decided that for all purposes the three joining members would be treated as founders.
I'd like to thank Paddy for taking the time to talk to us and look forward to celebrating this, our 50th year, with the brethren and guests of The Lodge of the Round Table. - Bro. M Jarvis