WWII Veteran Freemason Don Robins Pays His Respects

Don Robins at Chipping Barnet Wreath Laying

The Remembrance Sunday wreath-laying on 14th November 2021 was marked by the appearance of WWII veteran W Bro Don Robins PPrSGW, who at 102 years of age must be one of oldest living Freemasons in the United Grand Lodge of England, as far as its records can ascertain.

Don laid a wreath on behalf of Hadley Highstone Lodge, No. 4203 at St John’s Parish Church, Chipping Barnet.

He is one of the fast-dwindling number of veterans of WWII, having served in the Royal Engineers during that conflict.

To mark his service, he took the salute at the military parade following the wreath-laying and church service, when about 300 members of different units, including the TA, Cadet forces, Scouts and St John Ambulance marched past him.

Taking the salute

He attended in a wheelchair, accompanied by his daughter Jean, Lodge Almoner W Bro Ian Bowers PPrGReg, and DC, W Bro Mike Thorneycroft PPrJGW.

The brethren had arranged a specialist taxi to bring Don to Barnet Church on Sunday morning and to take him home afterwards.

The taxi driver, knowing the circumstances, had refused to accept a fee and so the Lodge has made a contribution of £200 to the taxi drivers chosen charity (cystic fibrosis) in lieu of the hire charge.

Arrangements had been made with the Parade Marshal to allocate an area next to the local MP, the Rt Hon Theresa Villiers, and the Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Martin Russell, to approach the memorial and lay the wreath from the wheelchair.

After laying the wreath Don duly saluted wearing his Royal Engineers beret.

After being Initiated on 10th April 1941 as a Lewis into Hadley Highstone Lodge, where his father, George Coleridge Robins was a member, he served as WM of the Lodge twice, in 1960 and 2003.

Don Robins Laying Wreath at Chipping Barnet War Memorial

He conducted much fine ritual into his 90s.

In appreciation of all his services to the Lodge over many years, he was made an Honorary Member in 2008 and was a regular attendee up until the last couple of years.

He received several honorifics from the Province, first as ProvAGSwdB in 1967, culminating with PPrSGW in 2006.

In April 2021 W Bro Robert Rough PSGD APGM presented Don at his home with his 80 years continuous membership certificate and specially commissioned lapel pin; a very rare achievement.

Before this Don was hospitalised in mid-2020, due to mobility problems, but despite contracting Covid-19 there, survived to celebrate his 101st birthday in Barnet General Hospital, and to be discharged home again.

Although suffering severe deafness, his mind is ever alert and cheerful.

Don is truly an inspiration to us all.

A grateful thanks to W. Bro Paul Huggins PSGD PAPGM for the write up and also to W. Bro Ian Mitchell, Media Team Member, for the edit.

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