On Friday 5th April, at the regular meeting of Invicta Lodge No.709 in Ashford, three very special occasions were celebrated.

The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, W.Bro. Phillip South attended the meeting along with an escort of active officers to present a 60th year certificate to W.Bro John Medcalf, a 50th certificate to Bro Martin Phippen and as if that wasnt enough the Deputy ProvGM unveiled a plaque to commemorate 100 years since the dedication of the Ashford Masonic Temple.

Born in London, W.Bro John Medcalf spent his early years in Gloucestershire where he worked for ICI. After a brief period in Cornwall, he settled in Kent and lived in Ashford and was initiated into Invicta Lodge in 1964. John’s career progressed quickly and very soon it took him  to Cheshire but this did not stop him from advancing in his mother Lodge and in 1972 he became Master of Invicta Lodge. W.Bro John then moved to Yorkshire with his work until he ‘retired’. Retirement took the form of a hotel in Eskdalemuir in the Scottish Borders but in 1994 he really did retire to Somerset, where he joined Nyanza Lodge in Ilminster and later became Master.

During John’s year as Master in Somerset, Invicta Lodge needed a Master and John volunteered to take the chair in December 2001 by dispensation as he was still in the chair of Nyanza! The situation was further compounded by the premature death of the Master Elect so John had to do a second year as Invicta’s WM

Left to Right: W.Bro Dale Abercrombie Prov.AGDC (Designate), Bro. Martin Phippen, Dep ProvGM W.Bro Phillip South PGSwdB,W.Bro John Medcalf.

The Somerset theme continued, Bro. Martin Phippen, born in Chard Somerset, was initiated in Gillingham Lodge of Friendship 8453 in 1974. Martin’s freemasonry took a back seat while he established his career as a Solicitor. But in 1990 his practice relocated to Ashford and after visiting Invicta Lodge as a guest, he shortly afterwards became a joining member.

Martin has been a very active member of the community serving on the Kent Chamber of Commerce Board, the Council of St John Ambulance Kent and a non-executive director of Kent Messenger Ltd and other local charities and organisations. But in recent years Martin has been instrumental in the management and day to day running of the Ashford Masonic Centre assisted by W.Bro Malcolm Smith and W.Bro Derek Warner, a fact that was recognised by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master. Martin has worked tirelessly to ensure that the centenary of the dedication of the Ashford Temple was commemorated and no doubt he was very happy that this was marked on the same day that he received his 50 year certificate.

Martin gave a short history of the centre from the early days, the previous owners, the struggles through the war years and how it is now the home to eight Lodges, three Chapters and and 7 other orders. A detailed history written by Martin has been produced and everyone present received a copy.

Photos: Nick Price, Provincial Communications Team