R. W. Bro Robin Keith Wilson has been a Freemason the whole of his adult life; which, when translated into horological terms, is in excess 50 years. A half century which has been spent in service both to his community and Freemasonry - at local, County and National levels. It must be said at the outset that this commitment could not, and would not, have been possible without the full support, cooperation and involvement of his wife Margaret. Never has the saying “Behind every great man is a great woman” rang truer.
To mark this significant milestone, at a special meeting of the Saint Peter’s Lodge No 8493 in Mansfield on Monday 9th January 2017, Robin was presented with his ‘50 Years’ Certificate by the Provincial Grand Master R. W. Bro Philip Marshall.
Robin was born on 19th May 1945 at Adlington Hall in Cheshire and shares his birthday with (amongst others): Pete Townshend (same year!); Dusty Hill; Edward de Bono; John Hopkins; Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Musicians, visionary, philanthropist and politician, a worthy cohort!
The Wilson family moved to Mansfield in 1952, where young Robin became a pupil at The Brunts School. In 1964 he won a Choral Exhibition to Jesus College Cambridge and, as a result, joined the Chapel Choir (which enjoyed an outstanding reputation) as a tenor. It is fair to say that the College only selected those with the talent to help build upon that reputation.
On coming down from Cambridge (where, after reading Law, Robin gained both a BA and an MA) the then Bro Wilson completed his articles with a local firm of solicitors under the watchful eye of W. Bro Edward Hooton, a highly respected Freemason who himself attained the Grand Rank of Past Junior Grand Deacon. Not surprisingly, Robin became Managing Partner of the firm in 1992 and finally retired fully during the early part of his time as Provincial Grand Master.
A strong Christian faith is part of Robin’s make-up and his Parish Church, St Peter’s, has benefitted in many ways over the years from his commitment to his Anglican beliefs. No coincidence, therefore, that when a new Lodge came into being at Mansfield on 3rd April 1973 with Robin as a founder member, it was named the Saint Peter’s Lodge.
R. W. Bro Robin was Initiated, on Tuesday 29th November 1966 at the age of 21, into the Isaac Newton University Lodge No 859 in the Province of Cambridgeshire. He became a Master Mason in May 1967 and was installed into the Chair of his mother Lodge on 1st October 1974. R. W. Bro Robin was also installed into the Chair of Saint Peter’s Lodge No 8493 (of which, as previously mentioned, he was a founding member) which meant that he was, for a while, the concurrent Master of two Lodges – not an enviable task.
R. W. Bro Robin further expanded his involvement with, and commitment to, the Craft with memberships of both the Notts Installed Masters’ Lodge No 3595 (joined January 1983 – WM September 2001) and the North Notts Installed Masters’ Lodge No 9525 (January 2007). In addition to this, R. W. Bro Robin is, or has been, an active Honorary Member of no less than 17 additional Lodges within the Province!
R. W. Bro Robin, or Margaret, must be a genius a diary management; for on top of the above commitment to the Craft, Robin also served as Chairman of Directors at Mansfield for 13 years (from 1982) and 15 years as a Director of the Masonic Hall Company at Goldsmith Street (from 1990).
R. W. Bro Robin was first appointed to Provincial Rank on 1st April 1982 when R. W. Bro Canon Warburton invested him with the rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon. Further promotion came in April 1990, when he was appointed the Provincial Junior Grand Warden. In April 1994, R. W. Bro Robin received his first Grand Rank, that of Past Assistant Grand Registrar - which is the usual entry rank for a lawyer.
A Provincial leadership role soon followed when, on 4th May 1995, R. W. Bro Robin was appointed as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master, a role he held for 10 years! This was closely followed, on 24th April 1996, with the honour of Acting Grand Rank – that of Senior Grand Deacon.
In May of 2005, the Chain of the Deputy Provincial Grand Master was entrusted to R. W. Bro Robin’s care; but his period in office was to be cut short – for he had to give up the chain after only 4 months, the record for the shortest serving Deputy Provincial Grand Master in the Province.
Of course, the only reason for the return of the Deputy Provincial Grand Master’s chain was to make room on Robin’s shoulders for the chain of the Provincial Grand Master; shoulders which bore that chain for the next 10 years.
Outside of the Craft, R. W. Bro Robin is also committed to, and supportive of, other Orders.
He was Exalted into Broxtowe Chapter No 3648 on 11th October 1974 and became the Chapter’s First Principal in 1983. A First Appointment to the acting rank of Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies followed in 1988 and E. Companion Robin has held the rank of Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah since 1995. In 1990, E. Companion Robin joined Notts First Principals Chapter No 3595.
E. Companion Robin also holds Supreme Grand Chapter rank, being appointed to Past Grand Standard Bearer in 2000 followed by promotion to Acting Deputy Grand Sword Bearer in 2006.
The Galway Mark Lodge No 940 Advanced R. W. Bro Robin on 19th November 2002 and he was Installed as Worshipful Master in 2010. Grand Rank followed in 2012, with the rank of Past Senior Grand Deacon in the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons.
It is no surprise, given the strength of R. W. Bro Robin’s faith, that he became a member of one of the Christian Orders - through Perfection into the St. Edwin Chapter Rose Croix No 812 on 5th May 1972. 13 years later (1985) R. W. Bro Robin was Enthroned as the Chapter’s Most Wise Sovereign, and remains, to this day, an active member. R. W. Bro Robin was also a Founder Member of the Persapientium Chapter Rose Croix No 1170 which was Consecrated on 22nd June 2005.
In 2002, the Supreme Council 33 Degree was pleased to confer on R. W. Bro the high rank of the 32nd Degree.
R. W. Bro Robin has always been supportive of modernising elements of Freemasonry to ensure its valuable heritage can be maintained. United Grand Lodge of England, therefore, selected Robin to serve on a number of Committees and Panels. This began with a position on the General Council for 4 years from 2001, supporting the Provincial Grand Masters’ Forum as both Assistant Secretary and Secretary; and latterly playing an active part in developing the framework for the recently issued UGLE strategy for the Future of Freemasonry.
R. W. Bro Robin has continued to demonstrate that Freemasonry has the capacity to evolve and modernise for the benefit of all. As Provincial Grand Master he championed change within Nottinghamshire Lodges, encouraging family friendly Lodge events and ensuring that charities aiming to improve the lives of those less fortunate have been supported. Charity has always been the forefront of R. W. Bro Robin’s thoughts – from organising and selling raffle tickets for Jesus College Rag as a student to leading the Canal Towpath team walking from Freemasons’ Hall in London to Goldsmith Street in Nottingham. This outstanding team achievement in 2014 raised over £60,000 for the 2018 Festival in aid of the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys.
Recognition within the local community has mirrored that within Freemasonry. In 2015 R. W. Robin was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire and continues to serve in that role.
In accepting his 50 Year Certificate from R. W. Bro Philip Marshall, Provincial Grand Master for Nottinghamshire, and in front of his fellow Masons, friends and their wives and partners, Robin paid rightful tribute to his wife Margaret and their family. He also extended his own personal tribute to his love of music, explaining that music allowed him to attend University, to meet Margaret and join Freemasonry, and has been a constant and enjoyable companion.
Perhaps, therefore, and on behalf of Freemasonry and in celebration of R. W. Bro Robin Wilson’s first 50 years in Freemasonry, we should all say “Thank you for the music”.