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Neil Christopher Josey 1964-2014

Albert Victor Chapter No.117

Neil Christopher Josey was on Born 6th October 1964, the eldest son of John and Brenda Josey. During his first marriage, Neil had two children, Emma and Carl, but then subsequently remarried to Jenny and went on to father three further children Stephen, Vicky, and Abby. Despite marital changes, Neil spent much time with all his children. Neil was, without any doubt, a very loving father and committed to his family.

Neil lived in North Baddesley, 8 miles north of Southampton, from where Neil ran a very successful ice-cream business from his home. As well as his own ice-cream van, he manufactured and sold wholesale. In good hot summers it was a very good business to have, but in poor summer weather it can be a depressing business to rely on. In winter, of course, business was essentially non-existent.

Neil countered this quite successfully by supplementing his ice-cream business with his licensed taxi in and around the City of Southampton. Neil was very conscious of his responsibilities to provide as a father and a husband, and often worked long and late hours in both rȏles. However this last winter he had decided to reduce his taxi driving to working only days. At his funeral, Bill heard several stories about how Neil would sit in his cab in the wee small hours of the morning, waiting for a fare, with his little red book in hand. Most of his cabbie mates knew about his love for freemasonry and so he was never short of a lift to meetings.

Neil was proposed into Bounds Green Lodge no. 4406 by his father, John, and Initiated on 25th March 1995. But because Neil's father had himself been Raised only a year before he proposed his son, John did not perform any of the ceremonies. But he made up for this on 16th October 2004 when he Installed his son into the chair of King Solomon in Bounds Green Lodge.

Neil was very committed to his freemasonry, and loved the ritual, the companionship, and of course, the good fun associated with the festive board and ladies' nights. He occupied all of the regular offices in his progression to Master, and eventually went on to be appointed ADC on 17th October 2009. In 2012, and virtually without notice, he stepped in as Treasurer, a difficult task in which although he did a magnificent job, he always felt uncomfortable as he really loved the ritual work. In February this year, another member put his name forward as Treasurer, and it was arranged that Neil would revert to ADC with a view to advancing to DC in a couple of years. Sadly, of course, this was never to be the case.

This year, Bounds Green Lodge submitted a recommendation that Neil be honoured with London Grand Rank, a recommendation which in London is not made automatically, but is dependent on the nominee demonstrating that he has continued, and will continue to take, a very active rȏle within the unit which is making the recommendation. The outcome of this recommendation would not have been known until July, but the indications are that it would have been successful.

Following his love of freemasonry, Neil was exalted by Bill Mesley into Peace & Hope Royal Arch Chapter no. 5925 on 6th May 1998, where he immediately became a close friend of Bill's.

Neil went on to be Installed as Most Excellent Zerubbabel in Peace & Hope Chapter on 17th October 2007. During the following year, 2008, due to the ill health of his successor, Neil stepped up to the mark and was Installed as First principal for the second year running. The following year he was appointed ADC, which office he held until his untimely departure.

As with the Craft, whenever there was an absence of an Officer for any reason, Neil was at the head of the queue to offer his services, to step in and take on the vacant office, whether it be a Principal, Scribe, Director of Ceremonies or Janitor. At the Metropolitan Grand Chapter in April this year E. Comp. Neil's continued commitment to the Royal Arch was honoured when he was invested as a holder of London Grand Chapter Rank, an honour which was richly deserved.

The one sad part of this being that Neil only got to wear his new regalia at his Investiture.

As Bill's guest, Neil attended many Royal Arch chapter meetings here in Sindlesham, and got to be known by several members of Sandhurst Chapter. He became a very popular visitor, so much so that on 18th June 2001 Bill Mesley proposed Neil into this Chapter Rose Croix wherein he was Perfected on 28th February 2002. It was my pleasure to be his seconder.

You may well recall that Neil went on to be enthroned on 18th June 2010, promoted to 30° on 14 February 2012, and then appointed Prelate on 17th June 2013, which office he held at the time of his death. I think there is little doubt that he was on his way to 31°. Neil was a highly respected, loyal and valuable member of this Chapter, and his contribution to the well-being of the chapter and its members will be sadly missed.

Neil passed to the Grand Lodge above on Wednesday 23rd April 2014 following a heart attack early that morning whilst he was sorting out ice cream stocks in his garage.

About 5 years ago Neil was received into the Roman Catholic Church. This was quite unusual in that neither his parents, wife, or children are of that persuasion, but he developed a close friendship with the priest. So Neil's funeral was held at St. Andrews Catholic Church, North Baddesley, on 7th May. At the service, the priest was clearly moved as he expressed his sorrow of losing a friend only 3 years younger than himself.

The funeral filled the church and the ante-room, with over 200 people, representing family, friends, freemasonry, his ice cream business, and especially his taxi driving friends who ringed the entire church. This chapter was represented by our Most Wise, Jimmy, and by Bill Mesley who travelled up from Devon. Our Inspector General, Roy Stone, ensured that Berkshire Province was well represented.

Princes, it goes without saying that brother Neil will be sadly missed.


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