Companion Peter John Laker PPAGSoj



Thirty family, friends and members of Invicta Chapter 709 came together at the Charing Nursing home on the 23rd  February to celebrate the presentation to Peter Laker PPAGSoj of a 60 years long service certificate.

An introduction to both Peter and the ME Grand Superintendent was given by the Provincial 2nd Grand Principal, Clive Manuel. Clive spoke not only as second Principal but also as Scribe E of Peter’s Chapter and handed Peter some gifts from Invicta Chapter to celebrate the presentation.

The ME Grand Superintendent, Neil Hamilton Johnstone, then talked about Peter’s life, highlighting both his careers at sea and in the Civil Service before moving on to his Masonic career in general but his Holy Royal Arch career in particular. The ME Grand Superintendent then presented the long service certificate to Peter, who gave an eloquent reply.  Peter, who is 94, took the opportunity to firstly thank the Grand Superintendent and the Province for his certificate and then went on to discuss his Masonic career, thanking friends and family and giving bouquets to several ladies as thanks for their help. He entertained us for 20 minutes before continuing to chat to all present over tea and sandwiches. A very interesting and inspiring man, who has achieved a lot in his life.


Neil Hamilton Johnstone and Peter

Guests and Visitors enjoy the occasion.

Peter was born in Horsham on the 2nd of September 1922. He is a retired Civil Servant who spent his career in the administration of National Insurance Benefits. He was amongst the first of those employees who administered the reforms initiated following the Beveridge Report.  He is also an ex-serviceman, having signed up for service in the Royal Navy on his 18th birthday and continued in it until being demobbed in July 1946.

Peter is justifiably proud of his Naval career and has pictures of ships on which he served in his room at his home. His first posting was to HMS Viceroy, a Thorneycroft W Class Destroyer. Subsequently he served upon HMS Bentinck, pictured here below, an Evarts  Captains Class Frigate. That ship was built in America and was originally intended for the US Navy but was diverted to the Royal Navy before launch.

HMS Bentinck

When he served upon HMS Viceroy it was generally involved in Convoy Escort duties in the North Sea. As regards HMS Bentinck she was part of the 4th Escort Group and Peter saw service in this regard in the North Atlantic and on the Artic Convoys.  Peter holds the Artic Star and the Russian equivalent of this; the Ushakov medal.

Peter told a graphic tale about HMS Bentinck. Most of the ships company were ashore in Belfast and the ship received the order to sail as a U-boat had been attacking shipping off Anglesey. The problem of notifying the crew was solved by vans with speakers driving round Belfast repeating the order for the crew to “return to ship”. Peter says, “Fortunately most of us made it through, some did not!”

Peter met his wife Katherine, during the war and they married on the 30th January 1944. They were subsequently blessed with the birth of 3 children Tony, Keith and Pat. Sadly Katherine died some time ago. Peter currently has 6 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.

In his younger days Peter was a talented runner and a member of the well-known Blaydon Harriers and Athletics Club.

It was this involvement in athletics which led to an awareness of Freemasonry and an initial interest in the same. He was initiated into the Lodge of Security No 7299 Province of Northumberland on the 14th March 1958. He was exalted into the Clavering Chapter No 3290 Blaydon on Tyne, Provincial Grand Chapter of Durham on the 3rd February 1959

Peter received promotion in his work causing him and his family to move to Ashford in November 1963. He subsequently became a joining member of the Lodge of St. George Bahrain No 7389 and on the 8th October 1987 shortly after his retirement, became a joining member of Invicta Chapter No 709, He was appointed its Treasurer in April 1992 and served the lodge superbly as such for a period of eight years. Peter never attained the Principals chair but in 1999 he was deservedly honoured by appointment to the rank of PPAGSoj.

At Invicta Chapters Convocation of the 12th February 2009 Peter was presented with a certificate marking his then fifty years membership of the Holy Royal Arch by another member of the Chapter the late H.B. Cordell, PAGDC,PPGSoj .

Until ill health prevented it, Peter was a very regular attendee of the Invicta Chapter, and one who was and remains very popular amongst his Companions.

The ME Grand Superintendent was delighted to present the long service award to Peter and mentioned how much be had enjoyed the whole occasion. He also wished to thank both Peter and the staff at Charing House on behalf of himself and all the guests for their hospitality and accommodating everyone for the presentation.