One of the most experienced Freemasons in Essex is about to begin an exciting new chapter. Taking over as the club historian for West Ham United when his late father Jack, also a prominent Essex Freemason, passed away in 1992, John Helliar was delighted when West Ham beat Southampton 3-0 in their final game of the 2020-2021 Premier League season. This placed the Hammers in sixth place, three points ahead of Spurs, enough to secure a Europa League place taking them straight into the group stages with 31 other teams.
John’s great grandfather, Samuel, lived in Silvertown. He was a brass founder at the Thames Iron Works and in 1895 became a member of the committee which led to the formation of West Ham United in 1900 and worked on the turnstiles, as did his two sons Frederick, John’s grandfather, and Henry. After starting up his own printing business at home, Samuel also did print work for West Ham including the matchday programmes from the end of WW1. The family printing business, Helliar & Sons, flourished and moved to Canning Town.
In 1939 Jack, Fredericks’s son, joined the Essex Regiment Territorials along with many of the West Ham players. Jack married Ellen in 1942 and John was born in 1945 in East Ham. The family moved to Upminster when John was six and, after passing the 11-plus, he attended St Bonaventure’s Grammar School in Forest Gate before joining the family business. Although the contract was given to another firm in 1983, Jack continued to write in the programme and became the club historian.
West Ham begin their 2021 European tour with a minimum of six games, three in Europe and three at the London Stadium. The kick-off is scheduled to start on 16th September with the final group game on 9th December 2021. One lifelong Spurs supporter, who is disappointed his team came seventh and did not qualify, is nevertheless pleased for John Helliar. The new Provincial Grand Master and Most Excellent Grand Superintendent Designate for Essex, Paul Tarrant, said “I have always viewed John as a good friend and looked up to him. I wish him, and all Essex Freemasons who support the Hammers, success in the Europa League.
Even as a Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master, John still has many commitments in various Masonic Orders including being the Provincial Prior for Essex for the Masonic Orders of the Knights Templar and Knights of Malta. Like his father before him, with a love of Freemasonry in his heart and claret and blue in his veins, John Helliar is about to begin a new chapter for an Essex Mason.