Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was privileged to meet a Blackpool Mason and his wife when they popped in at Buckingham Palace for a spot of afternoon tea on the Palace’s lawns. Charity steward of North Shore Lodge No 7916 Gordon Thomson and his delightful wife June traveled to London after receiving an invitation to one of the Queen’s famous garden parties.
Following a conversation in which Her Majesty wished the couple an enjoyable day, Gordon and June settled down to savour the traditional refreshers of tea and cucumber sandwiches, feeling satisfied that they had entertained Her Majesty in an appropriate manner. No doubt the Queen thoroughly enjoyed the encounter too.
Gordon had been invited in recognition of his services to the textile trade, having spent his working life in the industry for over 70 years. He began his career in 1943, gleaning invaluable experience during the immediate post war years when the industry was declining. The experience gained during those difficult years enabled him to start his own business in 1976 and venture into what is now known as the technical textile industry.
He ran his company, Lyndon Non-wovens, successfully until his retirement. However, well before the technical textile industry became fashionable, Gordon had built a business on textile recycling and re-use with products aimed at ecologically sustainable markets including seeded fabrics for land remediation. He continued to seek new challenges and researched innovative products including building a machine to use waste cuttings and trimmings of polyvinyl alcohol and filled socks and pillows to absorb liquid for spills in industry, hospitals and the fire service. He experimented with British Waterways and made five-metre polyester booms to contain and absorb oil on the water in moorings and marinas. The range of his developments was wide and varied, from bio-degradable hanging baskets and capillary matting for the plant nursery trade to seeded matting that could create instant green meadows of wild flowers on derelict land.
Gordon’s substantial work in the textile industry earned him a Fellowship of the Textile Institute and the much-coveted Companionship of the Textile Institute, a title bestowed on a member of the Institute who has substantially advanced the general interests of the textile industry. The award is limited to only 50 living members of the Institute.
Although his invitation to Buckingham Palace was in recognition of his 70 years in the textile industry, it could have been issued to him for a handful of other reasons. Ever since a personal family tragedy in 1985, Gordon and June have devoted their spare time to charity work, particularly with regard to cancer research and patient care. They have held a garden party at their own home every year for the last 15 years, raising over £1,000 on each occasion for the Christie Hospital. They have run Macmillan coffee mornings each year, raising about £450 on each occasion. They have also raised money for Trinity Hospice, the Alzheimer Society and the Scout movement. In addition, Gordon has been a member of the Royal British Legion for nearly 30 years, being heavily involved in the organisation of ‘Poppy Day’ for the Warton and Freckleton and Lytham and Ansdell branches of the Legion.
Gordon’s Masonic career has also demonstrated his devotion to charity work, having been charity steward of seven lodges and chapters, in both the Provinces of West Lancashire and East Lancashire, representing an accumulative total of 70 years in office as a charity steward – a claim that cannot be matched by many Masons!
But Gordon is not one to sit idly by. If all this were not enough, he has also been social secretary at North Shore Lodge since 1998 and at Blakewater Lodge of Installed Masters No 9574 (Province of East Lancashire) since 2008, organising countless ladies evenings, Sunday lunches, Old English and Burns Nights and other social events.
Little wonder then that Gordon and June were invited by the Queen to afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace. What was amazing was that they found enough spare time to go!!
Gordon and June will be holding another of their annual garden parties in aid of Christie Hospital and the Alzheimer Society at their home on Saturday 22 July 2017. And what will be on the menu? – cucumber sandwiches of course – what else?