RW Bro Derek Thomas Provincial Grand Master

Born in Risca Monmouthshire in March 1946, educated at Pontywaun Grammar School and the Newport and Monmouthshire College of Technology.

During his teenage years a keen member of the Air Training Corps gaining a Gliding Pilots Licence and an RAF Marksman's badge.

Married in 1969 to Enid, has two daughters Lisa and Kathy and one grand daughter Grace who plays a very special part in his life.

His main leisure interests are quite broad ranging from following rugby union to collecting mint Elizabethan postage stamps, antique maps, driving and maintaining a 1993 Jaguar XJ6 which is regarded as his Sunday afternoon if it's not raining car, to spending time at his residential caravan located on a headland near Saundersfoot and with beautiful views over Carmarthen Bay in Pembrokeshire and also enjoying the freedom that his 30ft. Cabin Cruiser provides on the open sea when he can indulge in trips to Ireland, North Wales, the Scilly Isles, all around the Bristol Channel Coast of Devon, Cornwall and South Wales and on one occasion rounding Lands End and the Lizard and venturing as far afield as Falmouth which he visited in 'Grand Cru' for the 2006 Mark Benevolent Festival held in Pendennis Castle.

Derek is a Bachelor of Science and a Fellow of the Institute of Plant Engineers and has served the steel industry mainly in South Wales for 50 years from September 1962.

His career began in Engineering Maintenance, progressed into Production Management before he moved into Project Management. During the last 20 years he was to undertake all the major developments within the South Wales steel plants including the ZODIAC Hot Dipped Galvanising Line, Cold Mill Continuous Rolling Scheme, the No. 2 Blast Furnace Reline and the No. 2 Continuous Casting Development at Llanwern, whilst at Port Talbot the major schemes included the construction of a new Continuous Annealing Line, the No. 5 Blast Furnace Recovery Programme, the No. 3 Continuous Casting Machine and a host of other developments within the Iron and Steel Making section of the works in support of the Continuous Casting scheme. Collectively the capital investment for these projects across both plants totalled some 650m.

Following his retirement from Corus in 2006 he formed an engineering consultancy service working in support of projects mainly within South Wales, but in June 2011 was invited to undertake the role of Director of the Restart Project at the Teeside Steelworks located at Redcar, a huge facility covering some 8 sq. miles which had been closed and mothballed for almost 3 years, with a budget of $300m and responsibility for the performance of 5 project teams totalling 320 engineers and managers. At the peak of the activity there were over 200 engineering companies on site and 5000+ craftsmen, with the same number being utilised in support off site. A vast undertaking and the first time any steelworks in the world had been brought back into operation following closure. An additional challenge on this occasion was to return the plant to standard operation in the shortest possible time and this was achieved in less than 10 months with the first iron being produced in April 2012.

Despite the heavy demands of his career, it is freemasonry that has taken up the majority of his leisure time and this is not surprising considering that he was born and brought up next door to the Masonic Hall in Risca. His earliest childhood memories are of using the hall as his playground, particularly on rainy days. His grandmother undertook the catering, his mother her helper from the age of 8 until she took charge in 1960, retiring in 2003. His father was initiated into the Homfray Lodge in 1962 and immediately took the office of Tyler/Caretaker a role he was to fill for 38 years during which time he did not miss one meeting of the 6 lodges or chapters using the building. So, he had after he was initiated into the Homfray Lodge No. 1562 in June 1972 becoming Worshipful Master in 1982 holding the office of Director of Ceremonies on 4 separate occasions and serving as Charity Steward from 1993 to 2003. He have also served the Craft Province as a member of the Organising Committee for the 1991, 1997, 2003 and 2013 Charity Festivals.

A member of the Holy Royal Arch since 1983, becoming 1st Principal of the Homfray Chapter in 1997 and again in 2000 and which he now serves as Charity Steward. Derek was appointed Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies from 2008 to 2010 and 3rd Provincial Grand Principal in 2011.

He was advanced into the Maius Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 1031 in 1977 becoming Worshipful Master in 1987 and served as Director of Ceremonies from 1991 to 1996 and again from 2005 to 2009, appointed Provincial Grand Junior Warden in 2000 and served as Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies from 2002 to 2007 becoming Deputy Provincial Grand Master in 2010. Derek was honoured with an appointment as Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2004, promoted to Past Grand Junior Deacon in 2010 and Past Grand Junior Overseer in 2012 and in September 2013 was appointed and installed as Provincial Grand Master.

Derek joined Torfaen Royal Ark Mariners Lodge No. 796 in April 1994 in order to become a founder of the Maius RAM Lodge in October 1994 in which he served as Secretary until 2001 and was installed as Worshipful Commander in 2002. Appointed to Provincial Royal Ark Mariner Grand Rank in 2004 and honoured with Royal Ark Mariner Grand Rank in 2006. In March 2013 he had the honour of being installed as the primus Worshipful Master of the Loyal Monmouth Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 1940.

Derek is also a member of the Royal and Select Masters and the Rose Croix degrees.


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