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Essex Freemason Honoured for 60 Years of Service

Essex Freemason MIchael Withams receiving his 60-year certificate


As the Provincial Grand Almoner from 1996 to 2001, Michael Withams had the privilege of caring for and assisting many throughout the Province. He did so in the spirit of his mother Lodge, Tutela Lodge, named after the Roman goddess for caring, guardianship and protection. At Harlow Masonic Hall on 2nd December 2023, the Provincial Grand Master, Paul Tarrant, had the honour on behalf of the Province to thank Michael and presented him a Certificate for 60 Years Meritorious Service.  

Tutela members are proud of their Lodge legend that it was first considered by wardens based at the Air Raid Precautions post in Thorold Road, Ilford, whose duty was to protect and safeguard civilians in WW2 air raids. Michael became Master of Tutela in 1977, and the Lodge was transferred to Essex in 1978 to Harlow. Meetings had been previously held at the Northumberland Rooms; the Criterion Restaurant, Piccadilly Circus; The Corner House in Oxford Street, where Michael was initiated in 1963; and the Abercorn Rooms at the Great Eastern Hotel.

Born in 1935 and educated at East Ham Grammar School for Boys, Michael joined Lloyds insurance brokers C. E. Heath & Company. Except for two years of National Service, during which he served as an NCO in the RAF Police, responsible for troop trains between Liverpool Street and Parkestone Quay, Michael stayed with the firm until 1960 when he joined the National Provincial Bank, which later became part of NatWest. Michael worked for 31 years in a specialised area of finance until retiring in 1991.

His proudest career achievements were as the Bank’s Senior Project Manager for the Euro-Tunnel and Disney World Paris Offers for Sale.
Michael’s Provincial Craft career began in 1989 as a Provincial Senior Grand Deacon. He steadily progressed and, as a Grand Officer, was promoted to Past Junior Grand Deacon in 2007 and appointed as the Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2009. Michael also had a distinguished career in Royal Arch Masonry, in which he simultaneously served as the Provincial Grand Almoner until being appointed as Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals in 2001 and as the Third and Second Provincial Grand Principal in 2003 and 2006. As a Grand Officer, Michael was promoted to Past Assistant Grand Sojourner in 2010. He was awarded the Distinguished Service to Essex Masonry (Royal Arch) in 2019 and was presented with a Certificate for 50 Years Meritorious Service on 10th October 2023 at Le-Soken Chapter, which meets at Frinton and Walton Masonic Hall in Kirby Cross.

Michael’s son, Paul, also a member of both Tutela Lodge and Le-Soken Chapter, said: 

“We are all very proud of my father’s service to Essex Freemasonry, and it means a lot to us as a family. Dad was proposed by his father, and in turn, he proposed me. He conducted the ceremony for my Initiation and Installed me when I became Master of the Lodge.”  

Whether participating in events, fundraising for charitable causes or volunteering for public or community organisations, ‘Service’ is at the very heart of Freemasonry, and its members make a valuable contribution by donating time, resources and skills. There are around 8,000 Essex Freemasons who meet in over 280 Lodges and 120 Chapters at 26 Centres across the county. They consistently raise over £1 million each year for local good causes and charities. 

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