‘I was hoping for three golds on the first day,’ deadpans Sean Gaffney, when asked if he was happy with the two golds, one silver and a bronze that he won in the 2016 Invictus Games, the international Paralympic-style event
During a practice run for a tournament while he was serving in the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm in 1999, there was ‘a bit of an accident’ when a 1,500lb field gun ended up on top of Sean’s foot, crushing it. Since suffering that life-changing injury, in which he lost the lower part of his left leg, Sean Gaffney has pushed his body to the limits of physical endurance.
He spent three months in hospital undergoing about 26 surgeries before contracting life-threatening septicaemia and having his leg amputated below the knee. Back at the gym within a month of being released from hospital, Sean started entering triathlons and began raising money for charities such as Help for Heroes, which led to him being asked to take part in the Invictus Games.
It’s his charity work that made Sean interested in Freemasonry. ‘Since 2006 I’ve done one or two physically challenging charity events a year,’ he says. ‘So when that side of Freemasonry was explained to me, I thought that was the best thing about it.’
Sean was initiated into the Royal Naval Lodge, No. 2761, in Yeovil in 2013, and feels that Freemasonry fits well into his life. ‘I can go off to a lodge meeting or a charity meal, or say that I’ll help out a fellow brother at the weekend lifting and shifting,’ he says. ‘It’s opened up a network of friends. Being a mason is not just about being a good man today, but having the desire to be a better man tomorrow.’
What does the Tercentenary mean to you?
‘How proud I am to be part of an organisation that for 300 years has sought to bring out the best in people. To be a member of a fraternity that does so much good in the world and asks for so little in return.’
Despite inclement weather, the Province of Somerset safely delivered the special south west Tercentenary banner to the Province of Devonshire in the magnificent Exeter Cathedral
The banner recognises the special fraternal bond that exists between the South West Provinces and has toured to the Provincial Grand Lodges of Jersey, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset. Devonshire will pass it on to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cornwall later in the year.
The Provincial Teams from Somerset and Devon paraded in regalia and met in the nave of Exeter Cathedral where the banner was formally passed over.
Stuart Hadler, Provincial Grand Master of Somerset, and Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devon, greeted one another and expressed their delight to be able to publicly show and acknowledge the 300th anniversary of the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge.
On a hot summers night, the meeting of the Lodge of Amity No. 137 held on 19th July was anything but regular when Wiltshire Freemasons travelled to the Masonic Hall in Poole – the occasion being the Tercentenary banner handover between Dorset and near neighbours Wiltshire
Two Provincial Grand Masters, two Past Deputy Provincial Grand Masters and two Assistant Provincial Grand Masters added lustre to the occasion, which saw over 100 brethren witness the moment when Wiltshire's RW Bro Philip Bullock invited Dorset PrGM RW Bro Richard Merritt to receive the banner and pass it on to the Provincial Grand Master for Somerset.
In a ceremony planned and executed to perfection, the banner took its place in the Lodge room following an insightful explanation of its origins and journey around the South West Provinces thus far.
RW Bro Richard Merritt explained how the banner has travelled from Jersey, through Guernsey and Alderney to Hampshire and Isle of Wight before being entrusted to Wiltshire.
Having now been passed to Dorset, the next destination will be Somerset when RW Bro Richard Merritt will transfer the banner to his Somerset counterpart RW Bro Stuart Hadler during a special presentation ceremony to the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance at Henstridge on 9th August.
RW Bro Philip Bullock thanked the Province of Somerset and in particular, the Master and brethren of Lodge of Amity No. 137 for the generous and warm fraternal hospitality extended to the Wiltshire team.
Somerset lodge backs YMCA recruitment
Kaz Marsh, deputy chief executive of Mendip YMCA at Wells, was presented with a cheque for £2,695 by Somerset Freemason Mike Perrée of Kenneth Kinnersley Lodge, No. 9218, which meets at Midsomer Norton.
With £1,695 raised by lodge members and friends during Mike’s year as master, an additional £1,000 was added by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Somerset. The money will go towards funding training and support for volunteers, with the charity particularly in need of volunteers for youth clubs in Street and Glastonbury.
Sharing in Somerset
A grants presentation evening held in Taunton Masonic Hall saw Somerset Freemasons presenting grants of £40,671 in the presence of local charities and civic leaders. Among others, a donation of £8,400 was given by Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge, No. 9189, for the purchase of special wound pumps, and £14,135 by the Masonic Bowling Association for vein viewers for the Haematology, Oncology and Palliative Care department of Musgrove Park Hospital.
Mentions were made of planned future donations of nearly £40,000 from the Somerset Masonic Flood Recovery Fund, following the appalling devastation caused by the flooding on the Somerset Levels during the winter of 2013-14.
Backing for Somerset hospice
Weston Hospicecare has received a £2,464 donation from the Grand Charity. The cheque was presented to John Bailey, the hospice’s director of patient services, by Somerset Freemasons Ian, Terry and Derek Porter.
John Bailey said, ‘I would like to thank The Freemasons’ Grand Charity once again for their generous support, which makes a real difference to the lives of local people with life-limiting illnesses.’
The caring community
David Maddern and Geoff Tuck discuss the importance of the Grand Charity in bringing Freemasonry to a wider audience
Charitable giving has been a masonic tradition from the earliest days of Freemasonry, three hundred years ago. Since 1981, The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has supported members and their dependants in financial distress, as well as the wider community, with grants totalling more than £120 million.
This tremendous achievement has only been possible because of the generosity of Freemasons and their families. Wherever possible, the Grand Charity involves members in its activities, with Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Almoners and Grand Charity Stewards playing a crucial role in service delivery and fundraising.
David Maddern (Provincial Grand Charity Steward of Somerset) and Geoff Tuck (Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight) have been central figures in masonic charity in their Provinces for many years. They both understand the importance of involving the masonic community in Grand Charity activities and the positive effects this can have.
With the Province of Somerset currently in Festival for the Grand Charity, David has encountered a perception that the Grand Charity does not support local communities, something that he believes could not be further from the truth.
‘By involving Freemasons in the donations to non-masonic charities and projects, a true understanding of the Grand Charity is gained,’ he explains. ‘The annual cheque presentations to hospices and air ambulances are a great way to involve members from across the Province, especially as these fantastic services are close to the hearts of many.’
It is a priority for the Grand Charity that it supports the causes that matter to masons. Geoff remarks, ‘Details of the non-masonic grants have a positive ripple effect on members; they are recalled with pride and often lead to further financial and volunteering support for the charities.’
David echoes this point: ‘The charities that have received the largest donations from Somerset lodges are also charities that the Grand Charity has supported – Help for Heroes, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, and St Margaret’s Hospice. I would not be surprised if other Provinces were to report the same thing, as I sense that the Grand Charity’s actions inspire local masons to follow its lead.’
Provincial involvement with the supported charities can also help Freemasonry. ‘Being part of non-masonic grant-giving creates rare public opportunities to overcome prejudices, myths and unfair publicity,’ says Geoff. ‘As a result, I know of at least two gentlemen who have become masons, and innumerable others who now have a totally different and positive view of Freemasonry.’
Geoff sees the work of the Grand Charity in respect of non-masonic grants as an essential element in the future of the Craft and its reputation. ‘It is a clear demonstration that Freemasonry is an influence for good and something of which future members wish to be a part.’
It is important to The Freemasons’ Grand Charity that all masons feel involved with its work. To find out more, visit www.grandcharity.org or contact your Provincial Grand Charity Steward and discover how you can get involved
Praise for local masons over Somerset floods help
The dramatic floods on the Somerset Levels early last year continue to affect the local community, with some residents still living in temporary accommodation – many in caravans or some distance from their home.
The Somerset Community Foundation (SCF) has distributed more than £1 million to help alleviate financial hardship, with local masons raising over £200,000 to establish the Somerset Masonic Flood Recovery Fund for the Foundation.
SCF chief executive Justin Sargent praised local masons for their work: ‘It was with the support of the Freemasons that we were able to swiftly provide the necessary funding to increase the number of Somerset Village Agents to work in flood-affected areas.
At a time when many communities were ripped apart, they have been providing an essential signposting and support service, providing reliable and independent eyes and ears on the ground for us.’
Letters to the Editor - No. 30 Summer 2015
I was pleased to see the article in the spring issue of Freemasonry Today referring to the fantastic support from Freemasons for those affected by the floods in Somerset. Your article stated that some £200,000 was raised by local masons, but I should point out that more than £89,000 of that total came from Essex Freemasons in response to an appeal by our Provincial Grand Master, John Webb.
This in no way detracts from the massive support given by Somerset for such an unparalleled disaster and I should emphasise that Essex masons were delighted to be part of such an incredible initiative, which has clearly made such a difference.
Colin Felton, Leigh-on-Sea Lodge, No. 4708, Southend-on-Sea, Essex
Bowled venture in Taunton
Ninety-six bowlers and supporters from 17 Provinces travelled to Taunton in Somerset to take part in the annual masonic charity bowls event, hosted by the Somerset Masonic Bowling Association, which was raising funds for the Beacon cancer centre at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton.
The Taunton Deane Bowling Club provided a superb setting in which Hertfordshire beat Cornwall in the final with Somerset third. The event raised £13,500 and the centre intends to buy its first VeinViewer – a mobile vascular imaging system that allows healthcare providers to see clearly accessible vasculature in real time directly on the surface of the skin.
Lift for Somerset air ambulances
Somerset Freemasons have presented Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance with a £2,000 grant from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, part of more than £1.5 million donated by the charity since 2007, providing funding to every air ambulance service in England and Wales. The cheque was presented by Sam Mayer of Gerard Lodge, No. 8999, on behalf of Somerset Freemasons, supported by Dave Gleeson.