It was a great shock to us all when Past Master Bro Captain Allan Ian MacFeate, or The Captain as he was affectionately known in No XII, passed to The Grand Lodge Above on 4th September in Ardgowan Hospice after a short illness. We were all devastated by the news, especially given that Allan was such a fit and healthy man, golfing a couple of times a week with his pal, Donnie Cunningham JD of Lodge Doric Kilwinning No 68, at Gourock GC up until very recently.
Bro Allan was born in Dunoon and brought up in Gourock. He was educated at Gourock High School and Greenock High, leaving the latter to commence training for a successful sea-going career that would take him all round the world. Allan was very proud of being a High School FP and took part in the High School Degree on 18th September 2018 illustrating the Working Tools and taking the Office of Inner Guard as part of the team.
The success of his career may be measured in his becoming a qualified ships’ master and spending many years deep sea with the huge responsibility of ensuring the safety of his crews, his ships and his cargoes. Most of us could not begin to imagine the enormity of all of that. He was, for a time, Captain of the Ben Ocean Lancer, a self-propelled drillship which was built in Scotts’ of Greenock and at the cutting edge of technology. We used to enjoy when Allan would regale us with stories of the dodgy places that oil prospecting took him to. In particular tales of Nigeria and Brazil were scary yet entertaining.
Allan joined No XII in 1988 when Bro Peter R Sinclair was RW Master and I was pleased to be his proposer. Over the years, he was an enthusiastic member and a regular attender when he was at home on leave. When he ‘swallowed the anchor’ some years ago, he took office and took the Chair in 2014, having served as Depute Master. I was really honoured when Allan asked me to be his Principal Installing Master; when a Brother you have proposed takes the Chair it is very satisfying. He served with real distinction as RW Master, demonstrating that leadership skills are indeed transferable, bringing skills of communication, motivation and empathy to the office. During his term, he travelled widely on behalf of the Lodge and was well known and popular in the Lodges that he visited. His continued in his years as a Past Master, serving as Director of Ceremonies and standing in often as IPM. He even went back into the Chair when the Master was indisposed after a road traffic accident!
Allan was very proud of No XII, its history and traditions and its place in the social fabric of the town and district, stretching back through the centuries. This was exemplified in the care that he took in setting up, and taking down, the display of our artefacts in the mobile case at each regular meeting. He was a man who knew what quality was and aspired to it in every aspect of his life, including No XII. Quality, dignity and decorum were his hallmarks
He was a man who enjoyed life and enjoyed it to the full. He was gregarious and outgoing and had a wide circle of friends. Indeed, he was a joiner, not in the trade sense but of organisations. A member of the Innerkip Society, the Greenock Burns Club (The Mother Club), the Cotters, Gourock Golf Club, Greenock Wanderers Rugby Club, Greenock Cricket Club and the Royal West of Scotland Amateur Boat Club, he cheerfully patronised them all!
He was great company and I always enjoyed the opportunity to have a few drinks and a yarn with him. While the conversations could be serious at times, he always made me laugh with his ready wit.
Through Allan, No XII became an annual sponsor of both Greenock Wanderers and Greenock Cricket Club and we must ensure that this continues, not just because it is an intrinsically good thing for us to do but in Allan’s memory. He was also an enthusiastic supporter of Children in Poverty Inverclyde.
Over the past few days, I have heard the following said of Allan by Masons and beyond: “A lovely, lovely man”; “A wonderful man”, “A shining example of what a Freemason should be both inside and outside the Lodge” “Allan helped me a lot when I first joined and I enjoyed his company in harmonies”; “He will enhance the Grand Lodge Above as he did for our Lodge”; “I had so much respect for The Captain”.
Despite all of the above, Allan was first and foremost a devoted family man and will be greatly missed by his wife Catherine, son Derek – who was his Depute Master when he served as RW Master – daughter in law Leigh and the apples of his eye, grandchildren Freddie and Lexi. He was proud of them all and, I know, they of him.
Turning to that most evocative of poems, Sea Fever, by John Masefield inspired by the poet’s years as a sailor, Past Master Bro. Alan Beck and I discussed its particular relevance for The Captain. We hope you’ll agree.
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the seagulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
I am sure that we all know where Allan’s star has steered him safely to. He will undoubtedly be enjoying that merry yarn with the laughing fellow rover in Fiddler’s Green. In the care of the Great Architect of the Universe, he will be having that quiet sleep and sweet dream with the long trick being over.
And finally, from the Volume of the Sacred Law, King James Version at Matthew Chapter 25, Verse 21: His Lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant
Bro Iain White PM
Allan’s funeral will take place on Thursday (17th September). The cortege will leave his home on The Greenock Esplanade at 1230 and go via the RWSABC, Greenock Wanderers RFC and Greenock Cricket Club to the Crematorium. Present circumstances dictate that the funeral will be private.
However, members of No XII will form a socially distanced Guard of Honour at the entrance to the South Street Cemetery. Members should assemble at 1230 for 1245. No XII dress should be worn, including Past Masters’ Jewels where appropriate but no aprons or Office Bearers’ regalia.