Gloucester's Les Potter presented a 70 year Masonic Membership Jewel

Les Potter has been a Free Mason for 70 years. Photo Greg Sansom
Les Potter has been a Free Mason for 70 years. Photo Greg Sansom

Gloucester Freemason, Les Potter has been presented with a 70 year Masonic Membership Jewel and certificate. The very prestigious achievement in masonry was presented aster of Lodge Gloucester, Gavin Boland on Wednesday, August 23.

The day before, Les and Thel celebrated 63 years of marriage, another milestone.

Prior to moving to Gloucester in 1973, Les taught at Leeton and Griffith Primary Schools and was deputy principal at North Griffith Primary School. After attaining his Bachelor of Arts in 1968, Les transferred to Griffith High School as a social science teacher.

Les was social science master at Gloucester High School where he taught geography, history and economics for 18 years. Many former students and staff would have pleasant memories of his endeavours at the school.

His initiation of the School National Driver Training Scheme was one example. This was sponsored by General Motors Holden - the car was supplied by Grahame's Garage (now Gloucester Hardware) and fuel supplied by local outlets. Teachers were instructors at no cost to the students. The scheme went for about three or four years.

Les has been prominent in numerous local organisations serving as secretary of the Junior Rugby League, president of the Lions Club, president of the Gloucester Aero Club and Pilot of the Year in 1985-86. Les has also been active in the Anglican Church, serving as treasurer for many years.

In his younger years, he was an accomplished gymnast. His uncle, Thorpe McCornel had a rodeo show which travelled around NSW and Queensland. It has special mention at the Longreach Hall of Fame. During his holidays while at teachers college, Les would put on displays on the triple bar for the entertainment of customers, doing the full range of activities often seen on TV at gymnastic championships.

Les recalls talking to the late Sandy Grant about his uncle. Sandy claimed that he rode one of Thorpe's renowned buck jumpers in Gloucester in the late 1940s.

Les and Thel have three sons Gary, Ian and Mark, all serving in the Australian Defence Forces. Gary as an Army Colonel, Ian is a Navy Chief Petty Officer, and Mark is a Royal Navy Captain. Mark is in Canada serving as vice president of Babcock Marines.

I taught at Gloucester High School with Les, and my wife worked as an assistant secretary. We became very close friends and they spent a lot of time on our farm, with Les assisting in numerous farming activities, and the boys riding their motorbikes.

Les claims he has always been accident prone and I will never forget him assisting me doing some flood fence repairs. Les picked up a limb and threw it over the bank not realising he was standing in the middle of a fork. When he climbed back up the bank he said 'What did you "b" do that for?" Thank goodness a friends' daughter was also with us and witnessed the incident otherwise our long friendship may have come to an abrupt end.

In 1978, the Potters went to the Sydney Easter Show and were blocked returning home by flood waters near Stroud Road. They turned back to Booral, then to Bulahdelah and Nabiac but were blocked by a tree across the road at Brushy Mountain. So they turned up at our home at 2am.

At daylight, I came to town. The Avon had dropped down off the road, the Gloucester River was rising but not threatening the banks, so I checked on the Barrington River. It was rising rapidly with massive amounts of debris coming down. I reported to the Potters and they immediately woke the kids, and put them in the car.

The Potters have contributed much to Gloucester and the principles of Freemasonry.