Charles Oliver Receives a Long Service Certificate to Celebrate His 50 Years in the Chapter

Charles Oliver flanked by the Principals, the Deputy Grand Superintendent and other members of the Chapter

Excellent Companion Charles Oliver, of the High Cross Chapter No 4149 in Gravesend, received a long service certificate, signed by the Grand Superintendent, to celebrate 50 years of service in the Holy Royal Arch. The certificate was presented at a regular meeting of the chapter on Thursday 9th April by the Deputy Grand Superintendent, Excellent Companion David Kershaw.

Charles was born in Normandy in 1922 (not in France but a small village between Guildford and Aldershot) and, after attending Guildford Grammar School, he served in the Army for three years with the Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey) – the Second of Foot. During his army service Charles was posted to North Africa, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. He was also posted to Wrotham in Kent for a short time and, while attending a social function in Gravesend, he met his wife-to-be Margaret who was helping out at the function. They married in 1945 and enjoyed 42 years together until she sadly passed away in 1987. Charles and Margaret had a son David, who became a very successful accountant and a partner in a major firm before he sadly passed away after routine surgery, aged 57 years.

During his army service Charles was promoted to the rank of Captain and, on leaving the army, he joined Beck & Pollitzer, a company that provided heavy lifting equipment and HGV transport to all kinds of industries. He spent the remaining 38 years of his working life there, eventually becoming Director in Charge of Transport. His work involved organising the lifting, moving and transportation of very large, awkward and heavy pieces of equipment.

Charles was initiated into the Lodge of United Friendship No 6284 in February 1951, reaching the Master’s Chair in 1962. As a very good ritualist he served as Director of Ceremonies with distinction for 16 years. In 2009 he presented the lodge with a new banner in memory of his late son David. Charles was exalted into High Cross Chapter No 4149 in 1065 and became its First Principal in 1984. Since then he served as Scribe E for eight years and Almoner for five.

His services to Freemasonry were recognised in the Province of East Kent where he reached the rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden (Craft) and Past Provincial Grand Registrar (Chapter). His proudest Masonic achievement was to be awarded the Provincial Grand Master’s Award of Merit in 2002.

Charles suffered a serious stroke some years ago, which affected both his mobility and his speech, but not his excellent mind, and through sheer determination he made a remarkable recovery and continued his very active life, even to this day. Outside of Freemasonry Charles has been actively involved with Probus, the Gravesend Historical Society, the Early Retirement Club and the Conservative Club. He was also a founder member of GRAVARA (Gravesend Active Retirement Club) 26 years ago, and later served as its Chairman for 10 Years.

Charles receiving his certificate from David

Recounting Charles’ background as he presented the certificate, David Kershaw spoke warmly of his previous encounter with Charles in December 2010, when the chapter celebrated its 150th anniversary. On that occasion Charles presented a history of the chapter only to find that David, who spoke first, stole some of Charles’ thunder by explaining the origins of the High Cross. Charles simply looked across at him – smiled - and said: “we have been treading the same path”. David used this occasion to give a light-hearted apology, not that it was needed.

All in all, an excellent evening was enjoyed by everyone present.

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