Celebrating 300 years
Tuesday, 20 February 2018 00:00

West Lancashire hosts a positive press visit

Oscar Lynch, a reporter with the North West Evening Mail, has been welcomed to Barrow-in-Furness Masonic Hall by West Lancashire Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger

Following the recent advert containing the letter ‘Enough is Enough’ issued by Dr David Staples in defence of the Craft, Oscar made contact and explained that he wanted to add a local perspective to the story.

The Province of West Lancashire was more than happy to oblige, and so David gave Oscar a guided tour of Barrow Lodge No. 3928. He gave an insight into the signification of some of the fixtures, fittings and symbols including the all-seeing eye.

The paper later published a full, four page feature article about Freemasonry and also took camcorder footage for inclusion. The article and video footage can be viewed here.

As Oscar commented: ‘Although the original aim of my coming here was to learn more about Freemasonry, I have now realised that the lodges and the artefacts they contain, are in fact a significant part of local history.’

No questions were out of bounds as David was interviewed by Oscar. It was also a source of pride to be able to dispel a number of myths including that only men of advanced years were Freemasons, with many younger men now joining the lodges in the Furness and South Lakeland group.

David later remarked: ‘The visit confirms that we are open about who we are and what we do. This will, in time, help dispel the discrimination and prejudice that exists in certain quarters.

'In the 19th and early part of the 20th century, the many local newspapers which were in circulation then carried full details of lodge installations and other important meetings. As we try to emulate those former days, let us hope that the day is not far off when all brethren can mention their membership of the Craft in any company safe from ill-informed criticism.’

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Sussex has been recognised in the Community Stars Awards after been nominated for Charity of the Year

It was a huge honour for the Province to have been nominated, with the nomination for the award itself coming from their local newspaper The Argus who hosts the awards, which recognise the outstanding achievements of men, women, children and organisations across Sussex.

Each year the public and the Argus nominate those who have made a considerable difference to the communities in which they live and how through their activities change people’s lives.

Maurice Adams, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for Sussex, commented: ‘Although we didn’t win, it was a real surprise to have been nominated and esteemed recognition for all the hard work that takes place across our province to raise money for such worthy causes.’

The awards citation read as follows: ‘The Freemasons have donated £38,000 in a big cash giveaway to six charities. The six were nominated by Freemasons and members of the public to receive a grant from the national charity, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF). Groups helping the sick were among those to benefit; Rockinghorse Children’s Charity, Sussex MS Centre, Sussex Heart Charity, The Clock Tower Sanctuary for the homeless and the domestic abuse charity Rise.

‘Freemasons across the country observe the 300th anniversary of the United Grand Lodge of England and to celebrate the occasion they donated money to 300 charities across the country from a £3 million fund. Although the £38,000 was donated from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Sussex Freemasons also support a lot of local charities from their own pockets.’

Traditionally, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Sussex, in conjunction with the Editor of the Argus newspaper, present the final and emotional award – The Child of Courage – and this year the presentation was made by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Martin Mitten.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017 00:00

OSM citation for W Bro Keith Gilbert, PSGD

Quarterly Communication

13 December 2017 
Order of Service to Masonry Citation for W Bro Keith Gilbert, PSGD

Bro Keith Gilbert was made a Mason in November, 1972, at the age of 27, in Radius Lodge, No. 5474, in London, and was installed as Master of Skelmersdale Lodge, No. 1380 in West Lancashire in 1984. He has at various times been a member of eight other Lodges and has served as Master of five of them. He was exalted into the Royal Arch in Bedeword Chapter, No. 7274 in Warwickshire in 1976, and served as First Principal of Harpenden Chapter, No. 4314 in Hertfordshire in 1995. He is, or has been, a member of three other Chapters. He remains active in Hertfordshire as Secretary of a Lodge, Scribe E of a Chapter and Immediate Past Master of the Province’s Lodge of Installed Masters.

Bro Gilbert was appointed a Provincial Grand Steward in Hertfordshire in 1995 and held various other offices in that Province before he became Provincial Grand Secretary in 2004. On relinquishing that office in 2011 he was appointed an Assistant Provincial Grand Master, holding that office for four years. Bro Gilbert holds the rank of Past Senior Grand Deacon in the Craft, and Past Grand Standard Bearer in the Royal Arch. He also served as a Grand Steward on the nomination of Globe Lodge, No. 23 in 2014.

In 2015 Bro Gilbert was appointed as the unpaid Team Leader for the Tercentenary Planning Committee, which reported direct to the Board of General Purposes. He was therefore directly responsible for coordinating all the Tercentenary events throughout the Provinces and Districts, as well as linking in and coordinating the requirements of our guests from the many Grand Lodges around the world, and masterminding and planning all administrative matters for the period 29th to 31st October 2017.

He selected and built up a team with great skill and they worked well with him. He planned everything well in advance and in great detail, endeavouring to ensure that nothing was missed. Initially he would spend about two days a week in the office, but that gradually increased until 2017 when he spent most working days at Freemasons’ Hall.

That all the Tercentenary events went so smoothly was down to the outstanding determination and dedication of Bro Gilbert over a three-year period of intense and detailed hard work. For ensuring the success of Grand Lodge’s Tercentenary celebrations, Bro Gilbert is awarded the Grand Master’s Order of Service to Masonry.

Published in Speeches

A golden and unique Masonic evening took place on 22nd November, at the always welcoming Derwent Lodge No. 4250 in the village of Chopwell, which saw over £10,000 donated to the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS)

This was achieved through the collective charitable efforts of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) and Durham Benevolence, as well the efforts of Derwent Lodge itself.

Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Watts was in attendance to firstly recognise the charitable efforts of Derwent Lodge and proudly presented Ken Cook, the Lodge Charity Steward, a well-deserved Gold Award on behalf of the Province for meeting their Durham 2021 festival five-year target in only 22 months.

Durham Freemasons and, in particular, Derwent Lodge have a strong charitable association with the GNAAS and upon closing the Lodge, Ben McWilliams of the GNAA then gave a short presentation in the Lodge room regarding their work. He played a specially recorded video where the Director of Operations at the GNAAS thanked Derwent Lodge and Durham Freemasons for their ongoing support towards this crucial service.

John Watts then had the privilege, on behalf of the MCF, to present Ben McWilliams with a £4,000 grant as well as an additional £1,000 on behalf of Provincial Grand Lodge Durham to contribute towards the next generation of motor vehicles, to assist them with their life-saving work on both land and in the air.

Keith Walker, Derwent Lodge Treasurer, also presented GNASS with an additional £5,300 which had been raised through the support of Lodge members and friends at the annual Derwent Lodge Barbeque. This special event has increased in attendance from 37 to 141 people in the five years that it has been in existence and is now widely supported by the Lodge members, other local Freemasons and the business community.

Sunday 3rd September may have been cold and wet in rural Wiltshire, but that didn't stop over 1,000 Freemasons and their families from braving the elements to attend Salisbury Cathedral for a very special evensong service

The Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Philip Bullock welcomed civic leaders including the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire Mrs Sarah Rose Troughton, who was accompanied by her husband Mr Peter Troughton CBE, as well as the High Sheriff Lady Marland who joined Masonic leaders RW Bro Anthony Wilson and RW Bro George Francis PAGM for lunch before the service. 

The service itself was the culmination of two years preparatory work by Assistant Provincial Grand Master W Bro Stephen Bridge who worked very closely with Canon Precentor Rev Tom Clammer in organising the event.

W Bro Stephen Bridge said: ‘It was a truly remarkable event - looking down the nave of the Cathedral it was quite incredible to see so many people present and proudly wearing Masonic regalia, which was a moment of intense and humbling delight and something that will stay fresh in the memory for many years to come. It’s at times like these that all of the planning, negotiation and apprehension became worthwhile.

‘We have celebrated the Tercentenary in Wiltshire’s most beautiful and impressive place of worship. In doing so we have not only honoured those Brethren who founded the first Grand Lodge, but also the generations of operative masons who built and maintain such an inspiring building. I can think of no more appropriate place for us to mark such an important Masonic event and I trust we have also contributed to the start of a mutually supportive relationship with the Cathedral, something that can only help promote Freemasonry in Wiltshire and beyond.’

RW Bro Philip Bullock was effusive in his praise of the event and the support it received. He commented: ‘It was a thrill to see the nave of the Cathedral so full. The support was quite amazing and we had Brethren from every part of the Province attending. It was also a particular pleasure to welcome members of the three branches of our Masonic Widows Association.’

By attending a service that was part of the Cathedral’s ordained pattern of worship, Wiltshire Freemasons provided an admirable public window, helping local communities understand the true values of Freemasonry. It is hoped that the service might be repeated in the not too distant future.

Please scroll through the gallery at the top to view photos from the service

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 00:00

Atholl lodges unite in celebration

The Association of Atholl Lodges celebrated the Tercentenary in a special event hosted by Athol Lodge, No. 74, at the Severn Street Masonic Hall, the oldest masonic meeting place in Birmingham, in the Province of Warwickshire

Present at the meeting were Grand Patron and Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton and Warwickshire Assistant Provincial Grand Master Trevor Sturt.

Addresses were given by Association Chairman Geoffrey Abraham on the history of Atholl Lodges, and by Clive Moore on ‘The Atholl Legacy’.

As the sun shone down on Sulgrave Manor, classic cars from as far away as Yorkshire and South Wales were flagged off by W Bro Charles Bennett, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire

This marked the start of the fourth and final Midlands route of the Classic 300.

The participants, on Sunday 27th August, followed a route taking them 78 miles from Sulgrave Manor – the ancestral home of Bro George Washington’s family - to the Blenheim Palace Festival of Transport - where Bro Sir Winston Churchill was born. 

On the way, the classic vehicles passed through the Cotswolds including Bourton on the Water and Burford. This route was organised by W Bro Dermot Bambridge and W Bro John Harmer – members of Silverstone Lodge No. 9877 and on the Classic 300 Midlands organising committee.

Before the first car departed from Sulgrave, W Bro Charles Bennett handed W Bro Peter Manning, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire, a specially made gavel to carry on the route.

The gavel was made from the con rod of a Jaguar D-type, which was the legendary model that won the 24 Hours at Le Mans for England no less than three times during the 1950s. This and four other identical gavels are being ceremonially carried by a car on each route.

The Classic 300 is a series of events for classic cars and was started by the Grand Master at Windsor Great Park in May. It is part of the Tercentenary celebrations of the United Grand Lodge of England and will finish at Brooklands on 1st October.

Published in More News

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.

Members of three Universities Scheme Lodges meeting in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland - Wyggeston Lodge No.3448, which is the Universities Scheme Lodge for the University of Leicester, Castle of Leicester No.7767 (De Montfort University) and Lodge of Science and Art No.8429 (Loughborough University) - met together for a joint meeting to celebrate the success of the Universities Scheme in the Province together with the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England.

The meeting, which was held at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, on Saturday 25th February 2017 was attended by over 90 brethren who witnessed 3 ceremonies (an Initiation, a Passing and a Raising) with multiple candidates and conducted in turn by each of the lodges.

The Lodges were extremely honoured to welcome the Assistant Grand Master, RW Bro Sir David Wootton, who is President of the Universities Scheme, along with the Scheme Chairman, W Bro Edward Lord. Also attending were the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro James Buckle, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Peter Kinder, brethren representing ten other Scheme Lodges, and with other visitors.

After the Master of Wyggeston Lodge Master, W Bro Yogesh Patel, opened the meeting at 2.30pm, the Master of Castle of Leicester Lodge, W Bro Daniel Hayward, along with members of the lodge conducted a triple Raising. Following a short tea break it was the turn of Lodge of Science and Art to conduct a Passing. Finally, after a further tea break, Wyggeston Lodge conducted an Initiation ceremony for three new members, two of whom are students at the University of Leicester.

The meeting was followed by a wonderful Festive Board, where the lodges enjoyed a hearty three course dinner and the company of the guests and visitors. A raffle held in aid the Alderman Newton’s Educational Foundation, which is a local charity offering financial support to individuals and schools to help people access education or training opportunities in Leicestershire, raised £420. A collection for the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2022 Festival also raised £422 including Gift Aid.

W Bro Andy Green, organiser of the event and Vice-Chairman of the Universities Scheme, said: “Getting the three lodges together provided a wonderful occasion to celebrate the Universities Scheme in the Province and to mark the Tercentenary of Grand Lodge. It was encouraging to see so many younger members enjoying their Freemasonry, which created a real buzz throughout the day.”

 

Published in Universities Scheme
The introduction of the Cheshire Master Masons Forum in August 2011 – the first forum of its kind under the banner of UGLE – encouraged a wave of new ideas from less experienced brethren around the Province. While there are several exciting projects in the pipeline, one particularly interesting initiative – The Rough Ashlar Club – has recently had its inauguration after many months of effort and planning.
 
The Rough Ashlar Club is a group of less experienced Freemasons from around the Province of Cheshire, who meet socially to share friendship and fellowship with other like-minded Freemasons from the Province. Offering Freemasons the opportunity to meet new friends and share their experiences, the Rough Ashlar Club aims to organise social events for Freemasons, and sometimes to organise events for their friends and families as well.
 
In the face of declining membership, for a host of reasons, the Cheshire Master Masons Forum hopes that the Rough Ashlar Club will encourage retention of less experienced members of our lodges, by being inclusive to all Freemasons and to their families, as well as generating some recruitment opportunities at events where non-masons are encouraged to attend.
 
Part of this process of appealing to younger and less experienced Freemasons, is the use of the internet and social media. The Rough Ashlar Club has its own website at www.roughashlarclub.org where information can be found about the club as well as future events, reviews of past events and an area for joining the club itself (which is of course, free). The Rough Ashlar Club also sports a Facebook page and a Twitter feed. The Twitter feed (@RoughAshlarClub) is very active and currently has over 200 followers. The Master Masons Forum is well aware of how important social networking is in modern day life and the Twitter feed keeps all of the Rough Ashlar Club’s followers up-to-date, with news, comments and even photographs.
 
On Wednesday 7th November 2012 the first event to be held by the Rough Ashlar Club was staged at Leicester-Warren Hall in Knutsford, Cheshire. This first event was well supported with around 40 brethren present for a Greek-themed evening, that was attended by the Provincial Grand Master, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master and two Assistant Provincial Grand Masters who gave the initiative their full support, and encouraged the club’s new members to make all they could of the opportunities that the Rough Ashlar Club would present to them over the coming years.
 
After a few drinks in the bar and some very badly posed photographs (just look at the website!), traditional Greek food was served, the members sat down to begin some serious networking, the topics of conversation naturally turned to what the first members of the Rough Ashlar Club wanted their club to do in the future. With a quick and simple questionnaire to fill in, it is maybe not surprising that amongst this group of Freemasons, anything involving food and drink seemed to rank very highly for them.
 
Taking note of the consensus, the Rough Ashlar Club is to host a number of informal meets in local pubs to wish everyone the best for the Christmas season, before the next large event which is a race night to be held on 2nd February 2013 at Sale Masonic Hall. Details of this and other events will be posted to the website and to Twitter as they become known. Other events that are currently in the planning phase include a beer festival, cheese and wine evenings and a Christmas Ball. The Rough Ashlar Club hopes to welcome many more new members over the coming months. The club may have be born out of the Cheshire Master Masons Forum, but it belongs to the Freemasons of Cheshire and Freemasonry in general, to help the Craft live, thrive and survive for many, many more years to come.
 
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