Surrey Mark Background
Mark Master Masons of Surrey Mark Master Masons of Surrey
What draws you and me to the Mark?

I am surrounded by amazing people who are friendly and have a wealth of different experiences. Look at our Lodge, St Andrews Lodge no 806 in Farnham. On the surface, a small group of twenty likeminded guys who meet up four times a year. Our Advancement ceremonies are brilliant with due solemnity and a bundle of laughs with appropriate reverence. The meals are of a great standard and the setting is very pleasant.

Farnham Masonic HallSo what makes the group so appealing? The answer quite simply is the membership. You don’t know what the picture is behind the affable chap you are dining next to.

I joined St Andrews after becoming a Craft member in Hampshire. I live in Farnham and it seemed logical that I should be a Surrey Mason. I am quite advanced in life and wanted to learn as much as possible about this organisation where my dearly departed father-in-law had been a well-known Freemason in the Northwest. Richard Clifton took me to the Mark Lodge in Farnham. What a great centre, vibrant and full of quite vital people. Eventually I became secretary to St Andrews Lodge of Mark Master Masons. This role gives me an insight into the lives of our members and I have gradually got to know them. Here are but three chaps you might find interesting...

W.Bro. Frank Wilkes, the father of the lodge, is full of vigour and at ninety-one years young has that booming voice that automatically commands respect. He is, and has been, our Chaplain for years and years and has served as Master of St Andrew’s Mark Lodge three times. He has a great singing voice and puts his heart and soul into everything which appertains to St Andrews. Is that it? No, Frank is a former matelot serving in the Royal Navy for fourteen years on all sorts of craft on the high seas. I go down to Gosport quite a lot and have taken my grandchildren on the A class submarine open to visitors, the Alliance.

HMS Alliance
HMS Alliance
Frank served on A class submarines as Chief Engine Room Artificer and has some amazing stories to tell. Ask him how old he was when joined the National Fire Service in 1944….fourteen years old! There are stories there too! This local lad served in the Aldershot area and would often go as far afield as Petersfield and Portsmouth (yes, he is a Pompey man) to find other Fire Engines to assist at disaster scenes. There was no radio then. After the Second World War he played for Havant Town as an inside forward. While in the Royal Navy, he served in Palestine, Cyprus and Aden on the Haifa patrol and then on to Motor Torpedo Boats.

Motor Torpedo Boat
A Motor Torpedo Boat
He can’t tell what he did as he signed the Official Secrets Act but he was involved in the Cold War visiting the USSR and East Germany. Were they armed? Certainly not! They had to get in and get out asap, ferrying the S.B.S. He spent his last three years in the Navy on A class submarines. On leaving the Royal Navy, he was privileged to meet Dr. Barnes Wallis and worked in his Department of Aeronautical Research and Development on variable geometry, swing wing aircraft. A fine man and it is a privilege to know this gentle giant.

Bro Sydney Goolding is a completely different chap. I have had the pleasure of teaching at the school his three children attended but now know a different side of him. He says he is something of a rebel so he must have “encouraged” quite a few people in his different roles.

Sid was at Sandhurst Military Academy as a building maintenance organiser till the 1970’s when he went to work at Windsor Castle for some sixteen years where he looked after all the maintenance, alterations, additions and new works in the nine hundred room castle and later the Home Park Private and Royal Lodge.

Sandhurst Military Academy
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
buffer Sid received the honour of Member of the Victorian Order for services rendered in 1984.

He was a regular at Royal Ascot and was pleased to attend the Staff Ball at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. Yes, he did have tea on the lawn! So that was it? No, Sid moved on to English Heritage with an Office in London, and after 12 months transferred to offices in Tunbridge Wells, which was not his favourite cup of tea. His responsibilities were from Wiltshire to Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. He oversaw some 80 units including grants and advice to owners making some 100 hundred properties of this very large company. He will tell you some interesting stories about Osborne House too. He never seeks the limelight. A quiet, unassuming man full of interesting facts and nuggets of behind the scenes history.

The Pink PantherBro. Robert Goldfinch is our new man on the block, a convert from Hampshire Freemasonry who was advanced by us in January this year. Like a lot of kids, he claims he was good at football and loved playing cricket. He says "Maybe I have been lucky? Something happened that changed things for me". He remembered going to his friend’s house when he was probably 12 years old. He had a piano there and he could play a tune on it! Well, he could play 'The Pink Panther' with one finger.

The Pink Panther Mozart's OrganLater Rob said to his mum "I want to learn the piano". They didn't have room for a piano so one of his mother’s friends gave him a really basic little keyboard, and by Christmas he could play all festive tunes in the book. It was announced that for Christmas he and his two brothers would be getting an organ. "It’s for all of us his mum said,” but as Robert has shown interest we've booked six lessons for him".

That changed Rob’s life forever and he took to it like a duck to water. "Suddenly I knew what I wanted - music!" Rob left school straight away and worked in Bells Music store for a couple of years. He started doing concerts and teaching piano and organ for Kingston Borough. He gained a Licentiate at seventeen years old and has played on the organ that Mozart used. "Over the years I have been up and down so many paths that otherwise wouldn't have been there if it had not been for music".

Mozart's Organ Amongst other things, he played in a 'Pink Floyd' tribute band in Portugal to thousands of people. He plays the squeeze box in a local band 'Da Beez Neez' (four old boys, all pro's, playing great cover versions of hits songs from the last 60 years) This player of amazing organ music and teacher of piano and keyboards never fails to amaze! Wow, where will he go from now? And he plays snooker!

Below is a video of Rob playing Bach in C Major:

Article by Michael Fenech, St Andrews Mark Lodge