Presentation of 50 Year Long Service Certificate to Worshipful Brother Tom Waller
Worshipful Brother Thomas Henry Waller completed 50 years in Freemasonry on 9th November 2014 and, to mark this significant event, he was presented with a Long Service Certificate by Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother Roger Waltham. The presentation was made at a regular meeting of the Hundred of Hoo Lodge No 8986 on 24th February 2015.
At the appropriate time during the meeting, Roger invited Tom to take a seat in the centre of the lodge then proceeded to set the scene, in an entertaining way, by recounting some of the historic events that occurred in the year Tom was initiated. He then went on to outline Tom’s personal and Masonic history.
Tom was born in 1932 in Canada but the story behind this was that, in the early part of the Great Depression, Tom’s father stole a bicycle, rode to London and talked himself onto a ship bound for America. He moved to Montreal where he met and married Tom’s mother, a Russian woman who had fled to Canada to escape the anti-Semitic Pogroms, which were rife in Russia for many years following the First World War. When Tom was just two years old, his mother sadly died. Soon afterwards, his father sent Tom and his sister back to the UK. He did not go with them – he just approached a lady at the docks boarding the same ship, handed her a £10 note and asked her to look after the children during the crossing. They duly arrived back in the UK in 1935 on Jubilee Day and Tom went to live with his Uncle in Hoo.
Soon after leaving Sir Joseph Williamson’s School at sixteen, Tom joined the RAF as an apprentice Instrument Maker, where he stayed until 1954. After short spells with various employers in Kent, Tom joined Blawknox in 1963 and stayed there in various management roles until 1997 when the factory closed.
That was just six months before he was due to retire and Tom had to sign on weekly for Job Seekers Allowance. A strange period, being so close to his retirement, during which he recalls a benefits clerk trying to send him on a re-training course!
Tom met and married his dear wife Pam in 1955 and, in just a few weeks, they will celebrate their sixtieth wedding anniversary – another cause for celebration. They lived with their children in Hoo until 1988 when they moved to their present seaside house in Lydd-on-sea. Tom and Pam have a granddaughter, Anna, who was born in 1989. Tom enjoys working in his garden and walking the dog and is still a keen metal worker. He is pretty competitive and to this day wins the odd bowls trophy.
Tom was Master of Hoo St Werburgh Lodge in 1974/75 and was a Founder of The Hundred of Hoo Lodge in 1981. The Hoo Masonic Centre has much to thank Tom for, as he was an influential part of the drive to improve and expand the hall, and was Chairman of the Building Committee for many years. In that role, he was particularly influential in the setting up of the Trust and subsequent mortgage, which enabled the work on the building to be started. It must have been an immensely proud moment for Tom and everyone else involved, when the extended building was officially opened in November 1997: thirty-three years, almost to the day, after Tom was initiated.
On declaring Tom to be an inspiring Brother who has contributed so much, Roger invited everyone to stand while the Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Worshipful Brother Alan Kilburn, read the citation. Roger then congratulated Tom and presented him with his Long Service Certificate and, in so doing, extended the personal thanks and fraternal good wishes of the Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother Geoffrey Dearing.