On 2 February 2024, Brother Cochrane Gourlay was honoured with a prestigious 50-year diploma. The presentation was made by the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master Brother James Bell at Brother Gourlay's Mother Lodge, Lodge Tarbolton (Kilwinning) St. James No. 135. This significant milestone marks Brother Gourlay's unwavering dedication and commitment to the Craft over half a century. RWPGM was accompanied on the occasion by Bro. Edward Vallance and Bro. William Cuthbert, both Office-bearers in the Provincial Grand Lodge of Ayrshire.
Brother Gourlay was initiated on 1 February 1974, 50 years and 1 day before. While he has not held any official offices, his regular attendance and participation over these 50 years are a testament to his dedication. Brother Bell, in his address, highlighted Brother Gourlay's remarkable journey and contributions to the lodge during this time.
The Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master spoke eloquently about Brother Gourlay's life, making reference to the symbolic importance of Freemasonry in all aspects of his journey. He highlighted the fact that Brother Gourlay had dedicated 41 years to the stamp works until its closure and then served as a part-time janitor and handyman at Auchincruive, continuing his hardworking ethos until his retirement at the age of 63.
A man of varied interests, Brother Gourlay is known for his passion for bowling and is a member of the Annbank Bowling Club. His avid reading, particularly about the life and works of the Late Depute Master Bro. Robert Burns, has made him a sought-after speaker at Burns Suppers. His ability to deliver the Immortal Memory, ride Tam O’Shanter’s auld grey mare, and keep the twa’ dugs in order, demonstrates his eloquence and deep understanding of Burns' work.
Brother Gourlay's family life is equally rich and fulfilling. Married to Helen, they have two sons, Colin and Andrew, both of whom are also proud members of the Lodge. A particularly proud moment for Brother Gourlay was when his grandson Jake joined the Lodge just before the lockdown. His family life extends to enjoying holidays with Helen, with a fondness for visiting Northern Ireland and going on as many cruises as they can manage each year.
An interesting anecdote shared by Brother Bell from Brother Gourlay's past in the winter of discontent when he received a £20 gift from his father-in-law. In those days, this was a generous gift, and Brother Gourlay used it wisely: £15 for life membership in the Lodge and the remaining £5 to celebrate all weekend (with Helen!).
Brother Bell concluded his presentation by thanking Brother Gourlay for his unwavering support and dedication to his Mother Lodge over these first 50 years. In a poignant gesture, the Provincial Grand Master then invited Brother Gourlay's grandson Jake to hand him his certificate, much to the appreciation of the assembled brethren.
Brother Gourlay then spoke of his Masonic career and entertained the brethren in his unique style with stories and reflections over the years.
The Brethren showed their appreciation and admiration for Brother Gourlay with a loud round of applause.