- In Memoriam -
Bro. Chagger – The Good Samaritan
Michael Andrew Chagger had a gift: It was natural born, and he would acknowledge that he was lucky to possess it (if he even realised) but, when one first met him, it was impossible not to be charmed by him. His intelligence was obvious, and always attended by his dry quick wit.
Michael Chagger was known to all as ‘Mick’ and ‘Mick’ Chagger was a sobriquet in which he revelled – for obvious reasons. Mick could (and would) engage anyone in conversation, and make them feel, not merely at ease, but as though one had known him for 10 years – as opposed to 10 minutes. He appeared to have a workable knowledge of virtually any topic that arose - especially curry - that being a subject in which, if there was any decency in the world (or indeed a university that taught ‘curry’), Mick could have cruised to a PhD.
Humour aside, there was great depth to this man, as each new conversation revealed yet another facet; a little like unwrapping a rose petal-by-petal – though it would have been one mighty large rose to unwrap as there was so much more humanity, belief, and philosophy still to be uncovered. We will never now be able to answer the question: “Who was Michael Chagger?” With his passing Freemasonry, his family and the world has lost not merely a great character, but a very good man.
Mick Chagger had been a member of The Craft for quite some time, having been initiated into Olde Isleworth Lodge No. 7909 English Constitution in London on 4 April 1991. He was Passed in that Lodge on 9 January 1992, becoming a Master Mason on April 4th, 1992. That he became a very keen and active Freemason can be recognised from the fact that, in October 1997, Mick became a founder member of Hercies Lodge No. 9651 EC, in Uxbridge, Middlesex, England.
1993 had seen the birth of his son, Joe, and not long afterward, Mick and his partner Mo decided that their son might do better from an upbringing and education in New Zealand. Thus, the threesome first settled in Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty before later moving to Dunedin, where Joe was schooled at the prominent John McGlashan College. Eventually Mick returned to the Masonic fold, joining The Hiram Lodge No. 46 in 2013, and it was with much delight that a year later, his son was initiated into his father’s new Lodge. In a statement (read by W.Bro. Graham Reid), V.W.Bro. Brian Hastie described how, that evening, Mick Chagger had taken the Master’s Chair and delivered the Obligation to Joe Chagger, his son. Bro. Hastie went on to say, “It was a very moving ceremony that definitely gave Mick and all the Brethren present a great deal of pleasure.”
Mick spoke with a noticeable East-End London accent, which was a little odd as he was actually from West London, having been born in Surrey on 16 February 1960. He was raised by his Grand Parents and, when he was 16, joined the army, the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars. The army taught him much, not least of which was the skill of carpentry in which he excelled; studying this craft further he finally qualified as a cabinet maker. Eventually he owned his own workshop situated under Kew Bridge over the Thames in West London.
His carpentry work was of a superlative standard, and one story he told one evening at the Masonic Club bar was of his indignation at an event that occurred early in his career when, having “sweated blood” during months of building work at London’s Iranian Embassy, six terrorists broke in and took 26 people hostage. A section of Britain’s elite SAS soldiers stormed the building and rescued the hostages, but blew up rooms and set it on fire in the process. Mick said, “I don’t mind so much that my work was blown up, but that it was blown up by my own side!”
His London-based business over the years provided work, and occasionally a career path, for several persons, some perhaps, who may not have gained employment with a less understanding ‘boss’. Like his sense of humour, his work ethic though could be occasionally a touch off-the-wall. In a letter from Germany ex-employee Toby Sadler explained that with Mick around “there was never a dull moment”. Toby described how, one Friday afternoon, he was working on an urgent job when Mick came up to him in the workshop and told him it was time to go to the pub. Toby detailed how he was trying to say to Mick that he simply had to get this particular project completed, when Mick announced, “You are working for me now, and your job today is … to drink with me!”
In a letter from England, another of Mick’s ex-employees, Richard ‘Dicky’ Davies described how “…it was always ‘a laugh’ when Mick was around”, a sentiment with which friend Billy Brewer concurred. Only family constraints and the huge distance of travel to New Zealand prevented any of them being in attendance. Charlie McKenzie told the mourners that he had specifically set up a meeting in Germany with Toby Sadler, on the day of Mick’s funeral, so that they could drink to the memory of their crazy friend and partner in crime.
During the service the District Grand Master of the Scottish Constitution, Rt.W.Bro. Merv Gilkinson, a firm friend of Mick’s, told very amusing stories of their antics in life, and movingly read from Ecclesiastes 12, verses 1 to 7, “Remember now thy Creator…”, as one, the Masons there present rose, formed a column and laid with due reverence sprigs of acacia at the head of the casket.
Mick’s long-term partner Mo, described how one day Mick didn’t come home from work as he should have done. She eventually tracked him down and he told her that he was at the hospital. With great concern she exclaimed, “What’s happened to you?!” And Mick explained that he had happened upon a homeless man in a doorway. (Not, sadly, an uncommon sight in London.) He had walked on a few steps and then decided to go back and attend to this man. He took him to a McDonalds and fed him, but it was obvious that the man was still suffering, so Mick decided to take him to hospital; whereupon the doctors gave the man an examination and admitted him on the spot.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25-And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
26-Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
27-So he answered and said, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.”
28-And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”
29-But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”
30-Then Jesus answered saying, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead."
31-Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32-Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33-But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34-So the Samaritan went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35-On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36-“So,” said Jesus, “which of these three do you think was neighbour to him who fell among the thieves?”
37-And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go, and do likewise.”
COPYRIGHT © 1982 THOMAS NELSON
In these words we find the essence of ‘Mick’ Chagger’s character, whose Service Programme rightly concluded with the words, “Treat people how you would wish yourself to be treated, and pay it forward.”
For the time being Brother Chagger … au revoir.
Michael Andrew Chagger
16 February 1960 – 30 August 2015