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1954 W.R. Heatley

W.Bro. William Robert Heatley (1909 -1995)  

W.Bro. ‘Bob’, as he was affectionately known, was initiated into Trinity Lodge on 6th December 1934; and much of the detail set out below is taken from the superb address given by W.Bro Birkinhead to the Lodge on the occasion of W.Bro Heatley’s 50th Anniversary in 1984.  

Born in Foleshill in 1909, he was the son of Bro.(William) Stanley Heatley, a respected member of the Lodge, who became the managing executive of what has now become the Coventry Building Society. 

Bob Heatley completed his education first at the local Bablake School and then at Rydal School in Colwyn Bay.  

He came from a religious family and was brought up as an active member of the Lockhurst Lane Methodist Church, where he developed a great interest in music and in theatricals, writing and taking part in a number of plays. His musical interest never left him. For a 21st birthday present he was sent on a visit to Bayreuth to stimulate his great interest in Wagner; and at the other end of the scale he grew to love the work of Gilbert and Sullivan to such an extent that he claimed to know all the words and music of every one of their operas. He also began a serious study of hymnology in the early 1940’s, both words and music, and built up a collection (which he left to Durham University) of nearly all, if not all, of the hymnals of every denomination ever published in our language. He delighted to talk about hymns, and in particular the output of John Charles Wesley and Samuel Sebastian Wesley. Another early surprising interest was in the subject of Roman Law, especially as his vocational studies were in the profession of accountancy.  

Having qualified as a chartered accountant, he rose over the years to become senior partner in the reputable local firm of Daffern & Co. and was highly respected in the professional and business life of the City. He became Secretary of several well-known small Coventry companies and was a Director for many years (and twice Chairman) of the then Coventry Economic Building Society.  

He was over decades generous in helping and advising many local church and other charities with their accounts as auditor, including the Holy Trinity Coventry Church Estate Charity, and was involved with the Trinity Lodge Benevolent Fund (being a trustee for over 40 years) and the Sellars Memorial Trust.  He became chairman of the Trustees of Coventry General Charities and of Eventide Homes and was a Governor of the Coventry School Foundation (Bablake and King Henry VIII).  

He never married.  

W.Bro ‘Bob’ always kept very high professional standards and he expected the same in others; yet he was also ever willing to give useful friendly and practical advice and assistance whenever asked. And he was always respected for his wisdom, knowledge and sound common sense.  

A man of faith, loyalty, courtesy and steadfastness, he brought all these and many other virtues to bear in his freemasonry which became a great pillar of his life, particularly his beloved Holy Royal Arch. But he always considered that freemasonry consisted of the Craft and the Royal Arch and had no time for what he regarded as the ‘upstart’ other Orders. This did not always endear him to some of his fellow senior Provincial colleagues.

 W. Bro ‘Bob’ made a tremendous contribution to Freemasonry with his 58 years distinguished and dedicated service, making his special mark in the Province of  Warwickshire in the Royal Arch in which as a member of Trinity Chapter No 254 he became P.G.St.B in 1956, Third Provincial Grand Principal in 1959, Second Provincial Grand Principal in 1962, P.A.G.Soj. in 1963  and Deputy Grand Superintendent in 1973 and over which he was eventually appointed M.E.Grand Superintendent, an office which he held from 1974 till his retirement in 1984.

 In Trinity Lodge he became Organist in 1940 (serving in that office for six years), Chaplain from 1947 to 1952, A.D.C. in 1953 and Worshipful Master in 1954. In 1957 he took on the role of  Director of Ceremonies.

He was a most able ritualist and developed a deep interest in masonic history, especially that relating to Trinity 254. He assisted in the preparation of the first Trinity Ritual Book 1948-50 and also played a prominent part in the Bi-Centenary Celebration arrangements in 1955. It was in that year that he presented to the Lodge the gavels currently used  by the Principal Officers.

His advice and experience were also invaluable to those delegated to organise the later Moderns Bi- Centenary Festival in 1985.

His most lasting achievement however will be the definitive History of the Lodge from 1755 to 1985 which he assiduously and lovingly compiled, incorporating many of his own recollections of men and events over 50 years, and which was eventually published in 1986.

As a trustee of the Lodge and Charity funds for very many years he kept a watchful eye on the finances to the great assistance to our Worshipful Masters and Charity Stewards.

His whole masonic record was outstanding. In brief , in the Craft he became a founder of  Stivichall Lodge No 5799 in 1939 and served as Organist for several years. He had joined Charterhouse Lodge No 5690 in 1937 and became its Worshipful Master in 1944 and occupied many offices in that Lodge. He later became a member of the prestigious Warwickshire Installed Masters Lodge No 4538 in 1956 and went into the Chair of that Lodge in 1966.

After several Provincial Lodge appointments and promotions he was ultimately granted the rank of P.Prov.S.G.W.in 1984. He was appointed to Grand Lodge in 1956 as P.A.G.D.C. and was finally promoted to the very high rank of  P.S.G.D. in 1976.    

W.Bro Bob Heatley died on 4th March 1995.   

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