Celebrating 300 years

Hundreds of people attended the funeral of W Bro Ken Wilkinson, a Battle of Britain pilot and member of both Worcestershire and Warwickshire Provinces

The service was held in St Alphege Church in his home town of Solihull on 8th September 2017, with dozens lining the streets outside to pay their respects. W Bro Wilkinson’s coffin was carried into the church draped in the British flag, whilst a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire cascaded through the sky above.

W Bro Wilkinson was one of the last remaining Battle of Britain pilots and was described as “a true gentleman” by the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust.

Those present included Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon, representing The Prince of Wales, as well as senior military commanders of the Royal Air Force and members of the Royal British Legion.

W Bro Wilkinson died on 31st July 2017 at the age of 99.

Published in More News
Tuesday, 13 June 2017 06:00

Tenbury Wells’ big night out

Lodge of St Michael, No. 1097, based in Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, is 115 years old

To celebrate, at the Annual Giveaway it presented cheques totalling £10,000 to 18 local charities and good causes, plus two defibrillators for the Tenbury area.

PGM Robert Vaughan and Tenbury Wells Mayor Cllr Mark Willis attended, along with representatives from the recipients.

Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton attended a meeting of the Worcestershire Installed Masters’ Lodge, No. 6889, where a talk was given on delivering the 2020 strategy for Freemasonry

Sir David was present to support the launch of the Worcestershire 2022 Festival Appeal. Masonic Charitable Foundation President Richard Hone emphasised the significant contribution from local and lodge-organised events, along with regular charitable giving.

Jasmine Elcock, a finalist in 2016’s Britain’s Got Talent show, provided the evening’s entertainment, and the Provincial Grand Lodge of Worcestershire's PGM Robert Vaughan announced the Festival target was to raise £2,022,000.

Tuesday, 07 March 2017 00:00

Tribute to the Gurkhas

At a Ladies Night in Studley, on the Worcestershire/Warwickshire border, members of Lodge of Hospitality, No. 8325, presented a cheque for £1,000 to Major Rob Cross, who is a representative of the Gurkha Welfare Trust

In addition to a welfare pension, the trust provides a range of support services to Gurkha veterans, including an extensive medical programme in Nepal, offering free primary healthcare and funded treatment at national hospitals. Mobile teams also visit housebound pensioners in their isolated homes and provide medication that can be expensive in Nepal.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015 15:03

A new lodge is born

The brethren in the Isle of Man once again showed their hospitality when 26 visiting brethren from many Provinces in the UK, visited the island to attend the consecration meeting of Henry Callow Lodge No 9916.

The consecration of a new lodge is a fairly rare occurrence and it is considered an honour for a Provincial Grand Master to preside over. Keith Dalrymple, the Provincial Grand Master for the Isle of Man has previously acted as a consecrating officer when he presided over the consecration of the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Lodge No 9872, three years ago and he was delighted to again be honoured by taking the office of consecrating officer for the meeting.

The meeting started with the procession of the Provincial Grand Master and his Provincial team into the lodge room in the Masonic Hall in Douglas. After opening the lodge Keith explained the purpose of the meeting. The petitioners of the new lodge were arranged in order by Roger Southern, the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. The warrant was inspected by the consecrating officer and then read aloud to the brethren by Martin Blackburn the Provincial Grand Secretary. The consecrating officer then confirmed his intention to constitute the petitioners into a regular lodge and to consecrate it according to ancient usage.

An oration was delivered by William Ashton the Deputy Grand Superintendent for the Isle of Man, titled ‘The nature and purpose of our institution’ Bill said: “The very title of the oration, in itself, poses questions. What is this institution of ours. What is freemasonry? Is it a secret society? We answer that with the glib and hackneyed phrase, ‘not a secret society but a society with secrets‘”.

Bill continued: “Is it really? What secrets? Our ritual has been in the public domain for many years. Complete and very detailed descriptions of the degrees which we work, together with the signs and the words. So what secrets. Consider the answer to the question posed before passing to the second degree – what is Freemasonry? – a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. I would suggest that the true secrets of Masonry are to be found in the allegorical ritual and you have to find them. That is the way, and the only way, by which you will make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge. 

Masonry is a discipline of conduct and of the mind. It is also a challenge. It is a challenge we brought upon ourselves from the moment we took the obligation of an initiate. Over the years we move on to further degrees in Craft, in Royal Arch, and degrees beyond the Craft. Each one contained a particular commitment but all have similar aims ‘the love for our creator’, our love for our fellow-man, and a knowledge of ourselves. How to further that knowledge and love for the good of humanity.

In a world that is plunging into anarchy, lawlessness, man’s inhumanity to man, greed, selfishness and confusion we look to our Masonic principles and tenets for guidance. We look to our lodges where we can briefly escape the rigours of the outside and enjoy the company of our fellow Masons – like-minded men endeavouring to live by the same high principles. A virtual oasis.  A normality the like of which cannot be found elsewhere.

The name chosen for the lodge throws further responsibilities on the members of the new lodge: Deemster Henry William Callow, Past Provincial Grand Master of the Province of the Isle of Man, was greatly admired and well respected. He was an honest and friendly man who openly professed his Masonic standing and allegiance to all. He was undoubtedly held in high estimation by the brethren of this and other Provinces. He justly deserves the honour bestowed on him.”

Bill concluded his oration by saying: “We are expecting good things of you and we will be observing your progress with great interest. We wish you well in all your undertakings.  Remember the high standards that will be expected, obey the book of constitutions, obey your by-laws, and above all, obey the volume of the sacred law and its commandments.

Thou shalt love the lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul. And with all thy mind and with all thy strength. That is the first and greatest commandment. The second of these is - thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. If we do not live by these two great laws how can we reasonably expect to convey to the outside world the happy and beneficial effects of our ancient institution.

Martin Luther King famously had a dream, so did Robert Burns ‘For a’ that and a’ that it’s coming yet for a’ that that man to man the world o’er shall brithers be for a’ that.

A dream? Maybe, but we can and must strive towards it. We can hope and pray that come what may someday the human race will embrace these same principles and these same teachings, perhaps then the dream will become reality.”

The consecration then took place with the solemnity, and ceremonial, accompanied by music and psalms as the vessels containing corn wine and oil were carried around the lodge. The consecrating officer then sprinkled salt upon the lodge board and the founders as a symbol of fidelity, hospitality and everlasting friendship. 

The consecration was followed by the installation of the Worshipful Master designate Captain Eidwin Mullan conducted by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master for the Isle of Man, Alexander Downie OBE.

This was followed by the appointment of lodge officers, which saw Fred Wright (that well-known West Lancs Mason) appointed and invested as Junior Warden.

The address to the WM was given by Keith Dalrymple. The address to the wardens was given by the Provincial Junior Grand Warden, Michael Garrett and the address to the brethren was given by Provincial Senior Grand Warden, Nigel Bowrey.

The business of the lodge was conducted this included the election of six honorary members which included the PrGM, DepPrGM, PrGSec and PrGDC. 

Six joining members were balloted for, one of whom was Joeseph Williams who is a member of Croxteth United Services Lodge No 786 in the Province of West Lancashire.

At the conclusion of lodge business the lodge was closed in due form and the brethren then enjoyed a wonderful festive board, which started with the traditional starter of Manx Queenies with garlic and bacon, followed by roast beef and seasonal vegetables, followed by panna cotta with winter berries with a selection of Manx cheeses served with a glass of port.

Responding to the toast to the consecrating officer, Keith said: “I am happy and proud today as I was 45 years ago when Deemster Henry William Callow first called be a brother”      

Responding to the toast to his health Eidwin thanked all the brethren that had worked hard over the last year to ensure that the new lodge could be formed, he said he never thought that he would be asked to serve as the first WM, but having been asked to do so he was honoured to do so. Eidwin then spoke about the lodge motto ‘Shereish’ or ‘Service’ which he said meant that the members of Henry Callow Lodge would be there to help any lodge in the Province, to improve Freemasonry by giving demonstrations and being there to serve when-ever they are needed.  

Robert Vaughan, Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Worcestershire responded to the toast to the health of the visitors, he expressed his thanks to the brethren for their hospitality and the warmth of their welcome. He presented Eidwin with a bottle of Worcester Sauce and a Provincial Stewards Grand Lodge tie worn by the Provincial Stewards Lodge in Worcestershire and a crystal decanter for the WM and brethren of the Henry Callow Lodge to use to serve Port at their festive boards.

After midnight the brethren left to go home the visiting brethren returned to their hotels, some spending time over another glass of wine reflecting on the wonderful day they had in the Isle of Man.

The following morning offered time for the brethren to relax before flying back home. 

 

On song at Worcester Cathedral

Thanks to a donation of £200,000 from the Province of Worcestershire, a new link has been forged between local masons and the magnificent Worcester Cathedral following the rededication of the cathedral’s refurbished Song School building. 

The money was mostly part of a large legacy left by Derek Bullivant, who was active in the Province. 

The Song School houses the choirs’ rehearsal rooms, library and storage facilities and was in a sad state of repair. The rededication, which took place outside the door of the Song School, followed an Evensong Service attended by Provincial Grand Master Robert Vaughan and other Worcestershire Freemasons.

Sunday, 12 April 2015 12:25

Annual boost for Midlands Air Ambulance

A welcome annual award to Midlands Air Ambulance from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, was jointly presented by the Provincial Grand Masters for Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire

RW Bros Tim Henderson-Ross, the Rev David Bowen and Robert Vaughan presented Annie Newell, Fundraising Manager at Strensham air ambulance base, with a combined donation of £12,000 as part of Grand Charity's support to all 22 rescue services in England and Wales – financial support which since 2007 has totalled nearly £2m.

The country’s air ambulance service, without either government or National Lottery funding, relies on such voluntary donations to operate its critical role. Annie Newell, in her final year as Fundraising Manager, expressed her sincere gratitude for the continued commitment and generous support given to the charity by Freemasons over many years. Michelle McCracken will be taking over Annie’s responsibilities in September.

Triple boost for air ambulance

The Provincial Grand Masters for Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire collectively presented a combined donation of £12,000 to Midlands Air Ambulance from the Grand Charity.

Air ambulances, without either government or National Lottery funding, rely on voluntary donations to be able to operate. Annie Newell, fundraising manager for Midlands Air Ambulance, expressed her sincere gratitude for the continued masonic commitment. 

The logo of the masonic square and compass is displayed on the tail fins of the air ambulance based at Strensham, Worcestershire.

Published in The Grand Charity

Kidderminster masons have built their new lodge rooms attached to the Chester Road Sports and Social Club

The arrangement is proving a success, with goodwill and mutual support that sees the cricketers busy in summer and the masons fully occupied in winter. Strengthening this relationship, Robert Vaughan, Worcestershire Provincial Grand Master (shown above, left, with club chairman Norman Broadfield), presented a cheque for £3,000 towards a new electronic cricket scoreboard.

A career set in stone

Emily Draper, twenty-six, is Worcester Cathedral’s first female stonemason apprentice. Tabby Kinder finds out how Freemason support has helped Emily to carve out a dream career

Perched on a dusty block of stone, Emily is fresh-faced and buoyed from the morning’s assessment with her tutor from City of Bath College. It’s just a few degrees above freezing in the drafty workshop that leans against the south-east side of Worcester Cathedral, but Emily doesn’t seem to mind. Clasping a chisel in her gloved hand, she absent-mindedly smudges dust on her fleece with the other. ‘I didn’t know whether to dress up or not for the photos,’ she says, ‘so I just wore my normal work stuff.’

Chatting to a colleague, a man about twenty years her senior, Emily is charming and sincere. Her youthful presence and the jovial atmosphere of the workshop contrast with the dignified serenity of the cathedral. ‘It’s my dream job,’ she enthuses later, now in the warmth of the on-site office. Her face flushes with the pride she has in her newfound career; it’s her passion for the trade that won her the position as Worcester Cathedral’s first female stonemason apprentice.

‘I’ve got the chance to do something that is not only personally fulfilling but also makes my family proud. It’s a career close to my heart’

The right fit

Funded by local Freemasons and the Grand Charity, Emily currently splits her time between the cathedral, where she is learning the intricacies of sculpting stone under the tutorage of master mason Darren Steele, and City of Bath College, where she studies the theoretical methods of stonemasonry two days a week. When asked about her decision to pursue an apprenticeship in stonemasonry, Emily says: ‘I think it just arrived in my consciousness one day. I’ve always been interested in history, and Worcester Cathedral has always been in the back of my mind because I was brought up near here.’

Emily’s professional journey began after she completed a degree in Fine Art from The Arts University College at Bournemouth. She enrolled in the stonemasonry diploma at City of Bath College, balancing work and college while driving the seventy-five miles between the two. ‘It was a lot to deal with, especially when you don’t know whether you’ll end up with a job,’ she says. ‘It was a risk, but definitely a calculated risk. I hoped that if I worked really hard it would make me employable.’ 

The risk paid off when, in August last year, Emily beat forty-five other applicants to win the apprenticeship at Worcester Cathedral. ‘The head of my course recommended I went for it, but I didn’t think I’d hear back. It was nerve-wracking. When I found out I had been shortlisted, I was over the moon.’

For Darren, Emily stood out as a strong candidate: ‘We had a tremendous amount of interest in the apprenticeship, but Emily came out on top as she showed the passion and enthusiasm in stonemasonry as a career that I was looking for.’

Preserving history

Although Emily’s grandfather died when she was just twelve, she credits him as the main influence in her career path. ‘He was a mechanical engineer and an illustrator, so his trade was very hands-on and creative – but also industrious. It’s clear I get a lot of my passion for stonemasonry from him,’ she says. Coincidentally, Emily’s grandfather was also a Freemason at a chapter in Devon.

For Emily, the fact that Freemasons are providing the funding for her apprenticeship proves she is on the right track: ‘I’ve got the chance to do something that is not only personally fulfilling but also makes my family proud. I only have memories of my granddad from when I was a child, but my work brings me very close to him as I feel like it’s something that he would have liked me to do. It’s a career that’s very close to my heart.’

Restoring a cathedral as grand in size and splendour as Worcester is an endless task. ‘By the time you’ve gone half way round, the bit behind you has started falling apart again,’ says Darren. The work being carried out is particularly impressive because the conservation team at Worcester Cathedral does not use power tools at any stage of the restoration process. Even for the stonemason industry, Emily says, this is rare: ‘It’s sometimes frustrating, but very fulfilling creating something that matters using your hands.’

Using traditional techniques means that achieving something as straightforward as a flat surface becomes an art form in itself for Emily and her team. ‘In order to actually work something by hand and make something that is technically perfect, you have to have respect for the building,’ she says. ‘There’s an argument that you can get the same job done twice as fast by using power tools, but I think it’s important to keep traditional hand skills alive. In a building like this you benefit from having a hands-on approach as you respect the stone more. You want to make it perfect.’

Lofty ambitions

In 2010, Darren and his counterparts founded the Cathedral Workshop Fellowship, a partnership of eight Anglican cathedrals – Worcester, Gloucester, Lincoln, Canterbury, York Minster, Winchester, Salisbury and Durham – created to develop the professional training of new and experienced stonemasons. This unique community, of which Prince Charles is patron, has developed a qualification championing traditional hand crafts, as well as an exchange programme to allow apprentices to move between the country’s cathedrals to try working on different types of stone. Darren has arranged for Emily to spend a fortnight at Salisbury Cathedral in the spring to hone her carving, a skill in which she has shown promise.

For the past twenty years, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Worcestershire has aimed to ensure that Worcester Cathedral always has an apprentice stonemason in training. It’s a worthy ambition but also costly – £25,000 over five years.

Provincial Grand Master of Worcestershire Richard Goddard says: ‘I think it’s very important that we support our heritage and also our roots. We have had a close relationship with the cathedral for more than one hundred and fifty years and it’s something we should continue to support.’

Emily’s first major contribution to the restoration of the cathedral is a large restorative phase on the library parapet wall. She took a sixteenth-century weather-worn coping stone and reworked and replaced it. Emily’s still coming to terms with the sheer scale of work her job entails, but the rewards of contributing to a piece of history make it more than worthwhile. ‘I thrive on the pressure of working with the knowledge that whatever I add could be there for another thousand years.’

Securing the future of the cathedral

Over the past twenty-three years, the entire exterior of Worcester Cathedral, including the chapter house and cloisters, has been systematically restored. The huge project, which began in 1988, first focused on strengthening the tower, then the cathedral’s Works Department moved in a clockwise direction around the rest of the building. The last major restoration project finished in 1874, so the task had to ensure the building could face the next hundred years. A special thanksgiving service was held in September 2011 to commemorate the completion of the work, which cost £10m in total. More than £7m was raised by public appeal and around £3m was received in grants from English Heritage, the Wolfson Foundation, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Worcester and other grant-making bodies.

Published in Features
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