L to R – Dermot Bambridge, Tom Coulter and Mal Ross
Back in 2012, at a meeting of the Emerald Isle Lodge No. XIX in Dublin, I got talking to fellow member Mal Ross. He told me that he was a member of the Belfast Volunteers Lodge No. 439. I mentioned that a member of my mother lodge, The Lodge of Fidelity No. 455 in Northamptonshire, who was over 90 years old, had been in that lodge. That was W. Bro. Thomas Herbert Coulter MBE, who had been in the Territorial Army in Northern Ireland before the war and subsequently served with the 8th Belfast HAA regiment in Burma among other places during the war. Tom, as he likes to be called, subsequently moved to Worcestershire, to be nearer his daughter, and joined the Hagley and Holy Wells Lodge No. 7932 close to his new home.
A few months back an invitation was received from the Hagley and Holy Wells Lodge to attend a birthday lunch to celebrate Tom’s 100th birthday. I contacted Mal and suggested that the Belfast Volunteers Lodge might like to know that one of their former Brethren had reached his century.
As a result, on a sunny Saturday morning in August, I picked up Mal, who is Secretary of the Belfast Volunteers Lodge, along with W. Bro. Brian Whitten, who is their ‘Father of the Lodge’, from Birmingham airport to go to Herbert’s party at the Hagley Golf and Country Club. Tom was delighted to meet Mal and Brian, who presented him with mementos from the Lodge including an old copy of their by-laws with Tom’s name in it as a Past Master.
Masonic links are amazing. Wherever you are, you are never far from Brethren you know – Freemasonry really is a true fraternity in all senses of the word.