The members and guests of Victoria Lodge No 4629 assembled at Widnes Masonic Hall to celebrate 60 years of Masonic service of Anthony (Tony) John Tallon PJGD.
The WM opened the meeting and warmly welcomed the brethren to the special evening. He then worked through the business of the lodge. With the initial business completed and the lodge opened to the second and third degrees, where Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, Barry Fitzgerald, was admitted into the room. Barry announced that Assistant Provincial Grand Master Kevin Poynton stood without and demanded admission. The WM said that he and the brethren would be pleased to receive him.
Kevin was admitted into the lodge and was accompanied by grand lodge officers Tony Tallon (celebrant), Alan Locke, David Redhead and Derek Williams, along with Widnes Group Chairman Neil Pedder. Also attending was group vice chairman Norman Speed. The procession was led in by provincial deacons Dave Lewis and John Baldwin.
The WM officially welcomed Kevin on this auspicious occasion and offered him the gavel which in this instance he was pleased to accept. Kevin thanked the WM for the opportunity, in this worthy lodge, to thank him and the brethren for affording him the honour and the privilege of being allowed to lead the celebrations. He requested that the tyler join the brethren within the lodge.
Starting, Kevin said: “Very often as we progress through life we discover that some decisions we made were better than others. Some make us happy and some unfortunately make us think that perhaps we should have been a little wiser. However, each and every one of us in this room tonight have one common bond. We each made the decision at various times to join this ancient and honourable society.
To some of us it has it’s been enjoyable just to turn in at rehearsals, to attend social events and lady’s nights, to some of us Freemasonry is a hobby to others it has become a little more integrated into our lives, in fact it’s become a way of life.
But it’s worthwhile thinking that the Freemasonry that we have today hasn’t just happened. It’s been formed and perfected by people who have used 1,000s of hours of their experience to bring our ceremonies, our socials, and our learning to a level whereby the newer members can take part to enhance their enjoyment of the society and by doing so they have helped keep our lodges in good order and some have handed over the light so that can they relax a little take further enjoyment from seeing the benefits of their good work still being done.”
Kevin stated that he was here to join in the celebrations of one of our brethren who for the past 60 years have been part of the formation of this wonderful society that we should all be proud to be a member of.
He asked the Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, to be kind enough to place Anthony John Tallon, Past Junior Grand Deacon of the United Grand Lodge of England on the floor of the Lodge and ensure that he is seated extremely comfortably.
Tony’s journey started in 1934 when William Henry Tallon and his wife Millie, who were at the time living in Sale, Cheshire, brought their newest child into the world, they named him Anthony John and he was born on the 8 July 1934. At that time his father was working as a Clerk of Works for a new housing estate in that area. Tony was the youngest of the three children, they were his brother Frank and his sister Audrey. In 1936 his family moved back to Widnes were his father opened a building contract business in 1938, rightly named W H Tallon and one of his creations was the chemist shop and the surrounding buildings in Farnworth Street.
Schooling started for Tony when he attended Warrington Road School in Widnes. But the dark clouds of anger were forming over Europe and very soon we were to be at war with Germany. At the outbreak of war in 1939 his father became a Special Constable in the Widnes area and his mother played her part in the war effort by joining the British Red Cross.
In 1940 his father was recruited by the Air Ministry and spent most of the war in the North East of England in Whitley Bay where he was entrusted as clerk of works for the building of the safe havens, that many relied upon during the war, namely the brick built air raid shelters.
In 1945 another sister, to be named Susan Margaret was born, but later that year fate was to make another change in the life of the Tallon family, as his father was sent to Singapore to take part of the rebuilding of the country after the Japanese occupation. The following year, because the rules allowed it, Tony, with his mother and two sisters all boarded a troop ship bound for Singapore to join his father, Tony was about 11 years old at this time. His elder brother Frank, didn’t travel with them because he had already secured an apprenticeship in England. On arriving, Tony attended the RAF School at Changi from 1946 to 1948, the schooling and education was rather basic. At the end of 1948 Tony and his family returned to their home in Widnes where Tony returned to school and left at the age of 15.
Tony’s first job was working for a time at a gentleman’s outfitters in Widnes. After about 12 months (actually in 1950) he studied hard, passed the tests and applied for a position, and was accepted by British Railways as a junior clerk. He remained in that position until he received the very kind invitation to National Service in 1952 in the RAF until 1954. In those days if you were a National Serviceman your job had to be held open for you.
After finishing his stint for Queen and country he returned to British Railways and studied further for more railway examinations, which he passed and then applied for, and obtained a promotion to cashier. In 1963 a Dr Beeching, who was employed by the government to look into the way the railways operated. The Beeching report recommended taking an axe to about a third of the network, 5,000 miles of track, including 100s of branch lines, 2,363 stations and 10,000s of jobs. Tony then sort of understood what was going to happen and he decided that he could not see any future for himself with British Railways.
He then went on to apply for a post in the National Health Service, starting work as Assistant Cashier at Whiston Hospital at the end of 1959 and after several years he was advised to switch from the cashier’s department and go into to the administrative section and so started to study for the examinations of the Institute of Health Service Managers.
In 1962 at St Paul’s Church, he married Brenda and they have two sons John, born in 1965 and Peter, born in 1972. In 1969 he completed his examinations for the Diploma of the Institute of Health Service for which he became a member of the Institute of Service Managers. Just as now, there always seemed to be some sort of re-organisation of the health service, at that time Tony was working for St Helens and Knowsley Health Authority at the headquarters in Cowley Hill, but had previously spent time at Broadgreen Hospital, but again due to re-organisation he then went back to complete his service at Whiston Hospital as Personnel manager. Following yet another re-organisation in the Health service Tony was getting a bit fed up with it so he decided to apply for early retirement, as by now he had completed over 31 years of service.
Sometime after retirement he was offered a position at St Bartholomew’s Court, a Nursing Home at Huyton, which was then run by the National Health Service and he went on to spend another 9 years as manager, finally retiring in 1999, but he retained the post of company secretary until 2010 and even now he still sits on the Board of Directors. In 1990 he was appointed as a Magistrate for the County of Merseyside at Knowsley Magistrates Courts until his retirement which was mandatory on reaching 70 years of age.
Moving on to Tony’s Masonic career, he was initiated in November 1956 together with his brother Frank, also present at the ceremony where your father William Henry and your uncle P Tallon who were his proposer and seconder. With Tony’s permission, the secretary Peter Kenny read a short excerpt from that evenings meeting.
According to lodge records Tony served in most of the offices and was installed as WM in October 1972 and he is now the senior lodge member in both rank and years of service. In 1975 he was appointed as director of ceremonies, a position which he held for 10 years. During this period, he also became a member of Mersey Valley Lodge of Installed Masters No 9057.
His talents were obviously recognised by the Province, because in 1982 he was appointed to the enviable acting rank of Provincial Grand Steward. The famous red badge has long been one of the most sought after badges as its wearer retains the apron for a period of four years and then the recipient was usually promoted to a more senior rank. But Tony’s rise was to be meteoric, as his next promotion was to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 1985, but it did not end there!
Just three years later he was honoured with a letter from the Grand Secretary informing him that our Grand Master His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent was intending to offer him grand rank and he was appointed PAGDC in 1989 and because of his continued services he was promoted to Past Junior Grand Deacon in 1998. In his Masonic career Tony served as Widnes Group Secretary from 1985, then as vice chairman from 1990 and chairman from 1995 until 2000. He celebrated 50 years in Craft Masonry in November 2006.
In the Royal Arch Tony was exalted into the Widnes Chapter No 2819 in 1959 and became its first principal in 1978.Tony served the chapter as charity representative for over 20 years. He was also group representative from 1987 to 1995 and was the representative for the 1997 Festival.
Again for his efforts, he was appointed Past Provincial Principal Grand Sojourner, and in 1989 promoted to Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah. Then in 1993 was appointed to grand rank of Past Grand Standard Bearer. He also became a joining member of St Pauls Chapter No 5459 which later amalgamated with Bold Chapter. In March 2009 Tony celebrated 50 years’ service in the Royal Arch. He also holds very high rank in a number of other Masonic Orders, all of which have given you great pleasure through the years.
A little while back, Tony was asked by one of our Provincial Grand Masters to serve on the Charity Review Committee which made various recommendations, most of which have been implemented, and no doubt some of which gave birth to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity.
Kevin went on to say that Tony had not been able to spend as much time as he would have liked with the brethren of his lodges and the other Orders he belongs to, as for almost the past 5 years he has been the full-time carer for his wife Brenda who is permanently disabled. Kevin said: “Tony, we all know how much support Brenda has given you over the years and our thoughts are with you both, but I am sure that I speak for everyone in this room tonight when I please ask you to give Brenda our very best wishes, we really do miss the both of you and we pray for your comfort in the future.
We would all like to thank you for the service that you have given to the Craft in general and the Widnes Group in particular, which makes us gather here this evening to honour your 60th anniversary in Freemasonry and to celebrate the occasion the Provincial Grand Master has caused a commemorative certificate to be produce which I shall now ask our Group Chairman Neil Pedder to read out.”
Once Neil had read out the certificate, Kevin presented it to Tony saying: “Tony, on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master and the brethren of West Lancashire in general, the Widnes Group and Victoria Lodge in particular, please accept this certificate confirming your diamond jubilee in Freemasonry, we all hope you will have good health to enjoy your lodge for many years to come.”
Kevin invited the WM, to whom he returned the gavel, take his rightful place in the lodge. The lodge was closed. The brethren retired to the Alan Locke Suite for the festive board where they enjoyed a delightful four course dinner.
In his toast to the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Neil Pedder thanked Kevin for ensuring that the celebration of Tony’s special evening was an interesting and illuminating reflection of Tony’s domestic, professional and Masonic life. In reply to the toast Kevin thanked all those present for making what was a very special evening. He also made special mention of the lodge secretary Peter Kenny for his information, Barry Fitzgerald for looking after proceedings and the publicity officer Peter Carter for ensuring the members of the Province know what we are celebrating.
John Baldwin proposed the toast to Tony by congratulating him on attaining 60 years in the Craft. He presented Tony with an engraved crystal decanter and two glasses from the members of Victoria Lodge to commemorate the occasion. Neil Pedder also presented Tony with 60-year lapel badge and an engraved tumbler from the Widnes Group. At the conclusion of the celebration Tony received a standing ovation.