Celebrating 300 years
Tuesday, 13 March 2018 00:00

Modern masons: Graham Hill


Over the last five decades, Graham Hill's interest in animals has, he admits, somewhat taken over his life

‘I started exhibiting dogs in 1965 – Russian wolfhounds known as borzoi – and I’ve won breeding and showing achievements at championships for years: top dog, top breed,’ he beams proudly as his well-trained borzoi calmly gaze into the camera lens.

Graham is Secretary of Connaught Lodge, No. 3270. Set up for Freemasons with an interest in dog fancying, the lodge now has members from across Britain involved in all facets of the dog world, from showing at Crufts and other dog shows, through to field trials, agility, breeding, owning and judging.

The lodge has a history inextricably linked with The Kennel Club that goes back more than a hundred years. Connaught was founded by a group of six like-minded men in 1907 and named in honour of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught (son of Queen Victoria), who was, in the early 20th century, Most Worshipful Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England and also president of The Kennel Club.

The philosophy behind Connaught Lodge is simple. ‘It’s for Freemasons with a common interest in the canine world,’ he says. ‘All of us are associated with dogs, and Connaught members are involved in organising and taking part in all disciplines of canine activities.’

Though the lodge meets just four times a year, its members routinely meet informally. ‘We’re a whole cross-section of canine enthusiasts,’ Graham says of this niche interest lodge. ‘It’s a philosophy that truly espouses two key aspects of masonry: socialising and brotherhood. Many members are glad of the social aspect, counting Connaught as their mother lodge.’

What does the Tercentenary mean to you?

‘The celebrations have been an exciting, important milestone in the Connaught calendar, with each member bringing their ideas and enthusiasm to the table.’

The bad weather may have put Southwark Lodge’s recent meeting on ice, but a cunning plan resulted in a £1,000 donation to homeless charity The House of St Barnabas

Southwark Lodge No. 879 in London was initially due to meet at Freemasons’ Hall on 2nd March, but with sufficient numbers unable to attend, it had to be abandoned – for the first time since the Second World War.

The meeting was due to be followed by a Festive Board at Browns, but rather than waste the hot dinners, members Simon Brown, James Innes and Anton Wheatley made the suggestion of taking with them a group of homeless people, in cooperation with an appropriate charity. 

Despite a number of hasty emails and phone calls, time was very much against them and unfortunately, it ultimately proved impossible to make this plan work in the time available. However, Mitchells & Butlers, owners of Browns, were firmly on board with the plan and proposed, as a welcome alternative, a full refund of the £500 deposit paid, with those funds to be paid to a charity for the homeless instead.

The Lodge’s Worshipful Master Andy Butler acted rapidly to generously propose they match this donation to present the round sum of £1,000 to The House of St Barnabas. The charity, based in Soho Square, London, performs a vital service in helping London's homeless back into work.

James said: ‘Although our original goal was to make good use of our hot dinners and not have them go to waste, the ultimate solution is doubtless for the best in terms of providing longer-term support to those attempting to make the difficult transition from homelessness to paid employment – a cause which is close to my heart.’

Ceri Sheppard, Employment Academy Director of The House of St Barnabas, commented: 'I am delighted that Southwark Lodge is supporting our Employment Academy at The House of St Barnabas.  Employment is the best route out of homelessness, and donations like this enable us not only to support people to get work, but crucially to help them keep that work.'

An unusual turn of events has resulted in the Stroke Association becoming the recipients of a £1,000 donation from London Freemason Ted Jennings

Ted became an honorary member of his lodge 10 years ago, but forgot to cancel the standing order for his subscription – and now his oversight has benefited the Stroke Association in London to the tune of £1,000.

Trevor Sherman, Treasurer of Zetland Lodge No. 511, explained: ‘Ted had a balance of nearly £900 on his account so I asked him what he wanted to do with the money. Ted suffered a stroke himself a few years ago and is now unable to attend lodge meetings.

‘He was very grateful at the time for the support he got with his recovery from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Woolwich. Without hesitation Ted said he wanted to donate the money to charity and specifically, to the Stroke Association.’

The lodge topped Ted’s donation up to £1,000 and presented it to Heather Clifford, Community and Events Fundraiser for the London region of the Stroke Association.

In accepting the cheque, Heather commented: ‘Thank you for the generous donation to the Stroke Association. Please pass on my thanks to Ted Jennings for selecting to support our charity.

‘Thanks to supporters like yourselves we are able to continue our work providing vital services, campaigning for better care and investing in research to find better treatments for stroke.’

Heather gave a presentation to members of Zetland Lodge and their guests about the work of the Stroke Association. She explained that stroke continues to be one of the greatest health challenges of our time, and can happen to anyone at any time.

There are over 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK with 100,000 strokes happening in the UK each year. Most strokes are preventable and having a heart test is really important because it helps people to know if they have high blood pressure or atrial fibrillation (AF), conditions which mean you're are at much greater risk of having a stroke.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017 00:00

New livery lodge in ship-shape

The first lodge meeting to be held on board a ship, in this case the HQS Wellington, was held by the newly formed Wellington Livery Masters Lodge, No. 6991 – the only ‘floating lodge’ in the UK

The HQS Wellington is a well-known London landmark, permanently moored on the north bank of the River Thames on Victoria Embankment, near the Temple.

Previously known as HMS Wellington, she served in the Pacific before the Second World War, where she was mainly on station in New Zealand and China. During the Second World War, she was fitted with two 4.7 inch and one three inch guns and served primarily in the North Atlantic on convoy escort duties, as well as being involved in the evacuation of soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk.

She arrived at Victoria Embankment in 1948 to continue service as the home of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners, one of the Livery Companies of the City of London and is now known as 'Headquarters Ship' HQS Wellington.

For this inaugural meeting, a talk about the links between Freemasonry and the Livery was given by Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton. The guest of honour was Metropolitan Grand Master Sir Michael Snyder.

Funds will buy two extended high-res lifts for London Fire Brigade

Metropolitan Grand Master Sir Michael Snyder surprised a packed Freemasons Hall on 2nd November 2017 when he announced the launch of a £2.5 million appeal to purchase two extended high rise aerial vehicles for London Fire Brigade

This took place at the annual London Grand Rank Investiture meeting of Metropolitan Grand Lodge, where a party from London’s Fire Brigade were welcomed into the Grand Temple, led by Steve Apter, London Fire Brigade Director of Safety and Assurance, and Dr Fiona Twycross, Chair of London Fire EPA. They were presented with the first instalment of a cheque for £375,000.

These appliances will be in addition to the extra resources for extended height aerial vehicles already requested by the Commissioner as part of a Mayoral review into the Brigade’s resources in July.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton thanked Sir Michael Snyder for their generosity: ‘We are very grateful to Sir Michael Snyder and London Freemasons for this first donation and their commitment to raise the significant sum of money to buy such important equipment. It’s important that we have the most effective resources for the city environment in which we serve, so we not only have to consider the reach of our aerial appliances but whether they are agile enough to move around the capital’s narrow streets.

‘This has been an incredibly busy and emotional year for everyone connected with London Fire Brigade and we welcome this recognition.’

At the meeting Steve Apter, in his address to the members of Metropolitan Grand Lodge, commented: ‘They will be mobilised across London and used for both fighting fires and effecting rescues. They can reach 22-24 floors far higher than anything we currently have in service. This generous donation by London Freemasons provides a very large support to our tight public funds and financial capability.

'On behalf of The London Fire Brigade and the people of London, we thank you for your very kind offer and look forward to working with you in the future.’

Sir Michael Snyder then replied: ‘On behalf of every London Freemason, I am delighted to announce the launch of our latest charity appeal in support of the London Community. These extended height aerial vehicles will help better equip the busiest fire and rescue service in the country.  The appeal is the latest step in the London Freemasons objective to support the London community and help make London a safer place to live and work.’

'It follows successive appeals to support London’s Emergency Services by the purchase a two-million-pound state of the art Cyberknife for Bart’s Hospital, five rapid responder cars for the London Ambulance Service, and the recent two million pounds donation to help fund London’s badly needed second Air Ambulance.’

Giles Cooper by arrangement with Metropolitan Grand Lodge presents Sunday Night at the London Palladium

A night of variety to celebrate 300 years since the formation, in London, of the world’s first Grand Lodge and in aid of the Royal Variety Charity

Hosted by BRADLEY WALSH, this night of variety will feature a host of stars from the worlds of music, comedy, theatre and dance. Artists confirmed include, MARY WILSON from THE SUPREMES (the USA’s biggest selling vocal group of all-time) Motown legends MARTHA REEVES & THE VANDELLAS, ground-breaking electric string quartet ESCALA, a Britain’s Got Talent tribute featuring COLLABRO (Winners of BGT 2014), LANCE CORPORAL RICHARD JONES (Winner of BGT 2016), GEORGE SAMPSON, (Winner of BGT 2008) and BGT Finalists STAVROS FLATLEY and RICHARD & ADAM. There will also be exclusive performances by keyboard virtuoso and rock music legend RICK WAKEMAN, 80’s pop icon NICK HEYWARD, West-End musical star SOPHIE EVANS, comedy from JOE PASQUALE and a special appearance by ventriloquist ROGER DE COURCEY. Classical music is represented by the Number 1 Album selling soprano-mezzo LAURA WRIGHT, as well as a performance by Slovakia’s renowned violin ‘dueling’ virtuosos, VLADMIR & ANTON. ‘Old School’ variety comes in the shape of critically acclaimed specialty act SLIGHTLY FAT FEAURES and there will be an exclusive performance by the world famous SYLIVIA YOUNG DANCERS.

All proceeds to the Royal Variety Charity (Charity Reg No. 206451) and the Metropolitan Masonic Charity's Tercentenary Appeal. Promoter has the right to change line-up.

Sunday 25th June 2017 at 7pm (doors open 6pm)

London Palladium Theatre
Argyll Street

Tickets, which include booking fees, are priced at £18 - £159.50 and available in advance from the London Palladium’s Box Office (the show is under “S” for “Sunday night at the Palladium”)

Buy tickets here 

Published in More News

Blue  sky thinking

London’s Air Ambulance is able to reach any location in the city within 10 minutes. Aileen Scoular discovers how Metropolitan Freemasons came together to help put a second helicopter in the air

London is a city like no other. Covering some 600 square miles, and with a burgeoning population of 8.6 million – nearly 10 million if you include those entering the city within peak times – the average traffic speed is just nine miles per hour. Not a problem if you are driving to the supermarket; more worrying if you have just been involved in a traffic accident.

The city generates about 4,500 health-related calls to 999 every day and, typically, London’s emergency vehicles will reach an average speed of 20 miles per hour – better than the average, but potentially not fast enough if you have life-threatening injuries. And that’s where London’s Air Ambulance comes in: a remarkable charity established in 1989 when the Royal College of Surgeons criticised the care that seriously injured patients received in the UK.

Game changer

Due to the importance of ‘the golden hour’ – the hour immediately following a serious injury – London’s Air Ambulance initially struggled to convince the medical profession that pre-hospital diagnosis and treatment could be implemented on the street or in the air. Since then, the charity has proved to the capital’s medical community – and the rest of the world – that life-saving surgery, anaesthesia and pain relief can all be delivered effectively out in the field.

Yet there have been challenges, not least the physical barriers: these helicopters can only be landed safely in daylight hours, which means that, after sunset or during adverse weather, London’s Air Ambulance service is delivered by high-performance cars. The other big challenge is, of course, funding.

It costs about £6 million a year to deliver what Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has described as a ‘world-class’ service. And while the charity receives some funding from the NHS, it relies heavily on donations from the public – which is why corporate partnerships and individual donations are invaluable.

When London’s Air Ambulance launched its ‘Your London, Your Helicopter’ funding appeal in 2014, its mission was simple: the charity needed to raise in excess of £4 million to acquire, adapt and fly a second helicopter for five years. The second helicopter has been the dream of the outgoing chief executive, Graham Hodgkin, from the first day he joined London’s Air Ambulance in 2012. What he and his team did not necessarily expect was that the London Freemasons would step forward and pledge £2 million – an unbelievably generous donation that would make the dream a reality far sooner than he had hoped.

‘I remember the call coming in,’ he says. ‘I was at a conference where one of our patients was talking about having survived open chest surgery at the side of the road, and I got a message to call the office urgently. I assumed something was wrong, but when I called I could hear the whooping in the background! I knew even then that it would be the biggest step change in our organisation’s history. The generosity was an absolute game changer.’

‘I knew even then that it would be the biggest step change in our organisation’s history.’ Graham Hodgkin

Unifying cause

For London Freemasons, it was a chance to donate to a charity that could, and would, genuinely make a difference to the lives of Londoners of every age and in every borough. Tony Shields, the Metropolitan Grand Charity Steward, recalls the moment the decision was made.

‘Quite simply, it was an absolute no-brainer,’ he says.

‘We were looking for a fundraising campaign to take us up to our Tercentenary in 2017, and they wanted to get a second air ambulance into the air as soon as they could. Everything about their vision appealed to us.’

The new helicopter, with its eye-catching ‘London Freemasons’ branding, has been up and running since January this year and, according to Hodgkin, ‘has completely changed the scale and resilience of our service’.

The partnership between London’s Air Ambulance and the London Freemasons is equally exciting. ‘It’s a magnificent organisation and the team has been brilliant at promoting our involvement,’ explains Tony. ‘This donation will probably end up being our largest to date. It has also been the cause that has met with most enthusiasm from our members, and we are delighted to have been able to establish such a positive fundraising partnership.’

Hodgkin is also very happy. ‘It’s about two organisations with the same values coming together, based on a unifying cause,’ he says. ‘We have worked very hard to show the lodges how their donation has been used and we’re thrilled that so many more people now know about what we do. It creates a groundswell of support and momentum, and helps to drive us towards a more sustainable future. We cannot thank the London Freemasons enough.’

The pilot’s story

Chief pilot at London’s Air Ambulance, Captain Neil Jeffers knows London’s skyline better than most

‘London has some of the busiest air space in the world because we have two airports, City and Heathrow, in relatively close proximity. We always have two pilots on board our twin-engined helicopters, and we are afforded a great luxury, which is “alpha priority” – you could describe it as blue-light driving in the sky!

‘Working for London’s Air Ambulance is a wonderful job for a helicopter pilot and having the luxury of two pilots means that one of us can help the medical team, if need be. From the helipad at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, we can reach almost any location in London within 10 minutes by air and we decide where we’re going to land once we get there.

‘We never plan the landing site in advance because things can change in weeks, days or even minutes. We need an area of about 80 feet squared – about the size of a tennis court – but trees and new buildings are making safe landing spaces increasingly challenging.

‘With experience, we’ve learned how to identify the potential risks – loose tree branches, baby buggies and clothing can all be dislodged by the helicopter’s downdraft. Many people don’t realise that our helicopter throws down about 2.85 tonnes of air a second when it hovers, and that makes it incredibly windy.

‘Every day is totally different, although we always start with an aircraft check, an equipment check, a team briefing and a practice drill. Then, when the bell rings, you’re immediately up in the air, liaising with Heathrow and the fire crew, the medics, and the police on the ground. There’s this whole amazing teamwork process going on, which is brilliant. And, of course, we get to see how beautiful London looks from above.

‘There have been cases over the years where we can genuinely say, if London’s Air Ambulance hadn’t arrived at that time, the patient would not have survived. We get to save lives and that’s a huge privilege.’

London flies the flag at motorcycle show

London Freemasonry was in full view with the Metropolitan exhibitions stand at the three-day MCN London Motorcycle Show flying the flag for the organisation. This was only made possible by volunteers coming forward to man the stand and to talk to visitors. 

Anyone interested in being a volunteer at these events should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., sending brief details of availability

Air Ambulance flying high

London Freemasons have donated £2 million towards London’s Air Ambulance ‘Your London, Your Helicopter’ campaign, which has now succeeded in raising enough to acquire a second emergency medical helicopter for use by London’s Air Ambulance advanced trauma team. 

The Freemasons presented a cheque for £250,000 in March 2015, with a further instalment of £750,000 presented by Metropolitan Grand Master Sir Michael Snyder in November 2015. Graham Hodgkin, CEO of London’s Air Ambulance, said: ‘We thank all those Freemasons across the Metropolitan area who worked tirelessly to raise the £2 million.’

Monday, 29 February 2016 14:43

London’s 2nd Air Ambulance now named….

London Air Ambulance ran a competition for children in London to come up with a name for the new second helicopter. The judges have deliberated and six year old Megan from Fulham has been declared the winner with the name "Walter", after her late grandfather.

The ‘Your London, Your Helicopter’ campaign had a target of £4.4 million to acquire and sustain the new second helicopter and extend daylight flying hours for five years. Of this £4.4 million, £2 million came from Metropolitan Freemasons through fundraising activities in the Province’s 1,350 or so Lodges.

Congratulations to Megan! More information can be found on London's Air Ambulance website.


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