Director of Special Projects John Hamill discusses the appeal of formal dress for younger masons
A wide variety of questions and comments are received daily by email via Grand Lodge’s website. A recent one gave me pause for thought. The writer queried why we continued to insist on white shirt and black shoes with either morning dress or a dark suit as our standard dress for lodge meetings. He went on to say that because of the very relaxed attitudes to dress in the modern workplace, it could be embarrassing for an individual on lodge days to turn up to work formally dressed, and would certainly lead to questions as to why.
As with so many things in Freemasonry, there is an applied symbolism to the way we dress.
As has always been said, whatever an individual’s circumstances in life, within Freemasonry we are all equal. Certainly in the past one thing that showed an individual’s place in society was the cut and quality of his clothing. When, in early Victorian times, men’s clothing began to become less colourful and more standardised, Freemasonry began to adopt a particular style that gave little indication of the individual’s social standing.
Pictures of style
In masonic halls and collections around the country there is a wealth of photographic evidence from which we can trace the development of masonic dress. When evening dress (white tie and tails) became standard, it became the uniform of lodge meetings up to World War I. Similarly, when morning dress (frock or tail coats) became common, it was the dress normally adopted for daytime masonic events such as processions, church services and the laying of foundation stones.
‘As with so many things in Freemasonry, there is a symbolism to the way we dress. As has always been said, whatever an individual’s circumstances in life, within Freemasonry we are all equal.’
Because of the scarcity of material and rationing of clothing, both World Wars had their effect on masonic dress. During World War I, dress was relaxed to a dinner jacket and black tie, or uniform for those on active duty. After the war many lodges returned to evening dress but others preferred the more comfortable dinner jackets.
During World War II air raids became a nightly feature in many cities and ports, so Grand Lodge suggested that, where possible, meetings should be held during the day or late afternoon so that the brethren could get home safely before the air raids started. As normal day dress for those in the professions, clerical and service industries was a morning suit (short jacket), that soon became the unofficial dress for meetings and has continued to this day, particularly for those rewarded with Metropolitan, Provincial or Grand ranks.
The wearing of dinner jackets still continues in some lodges today, but from the 1970s when the wearing of morning suits dropped out of general usage, the wearing of a dark suit became acceptable in most lodges.
When Freemasonry began to look at ways of attracting younger men into the Craft 20 years ago, a regular comment was that formal dressing for lodge meetings would be seen as evidence of Freemasonry being somewhat ‘fuddy duddy’ and for older men. Surprisingly, the opposite has proved to be the case. Talking to many of those who have come into the organisation in the past few years, one of the attractions for them was the idea of formality both in meetings and dress, which is something they do not otherwise meet with in their daily lives.
Aiming to modernise the face of Freemasonry, UGLE’s new image also retains a strong sense of its history. We explore the thinking behind the changes to the branding
Look at the cover of this issue of Freemasonry Today and you might spot something out of the ordinary. In the bottom-right corner is UGLE’s new logo. It is the starting point for UGLE’s new branding, which aims to create a unified approach to Freemasonry’s image.
‘In this fast-changing world, Freemasonry needs to attract and retain the best candidates, the future leaders who will assure the long-term success of the Craft,’ says Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes, explaining the motivation behind the rebrand. ‘As we head towards 2017, UGLE has been examining how it can enhance and modernise the face of Freemasonry.’
With attraction and retention identified as key development areas, the Membership Focus Group has been looking at how to ensure that a new recruit’s expectations match his actual experiences. ‘But the modernisation of Freemasonry is not just about what happens at a lodge meeting,’ says Lowndes. ‘It is also about the image we project. We need a visual identity that is recognisable, that represents our values and heritage, and also reflects our relevance to society.’
With this in mind, in 2013 UGLE approached August, which produces Freemasonry Today, with the brief of evolving the brand. The exercise had to create visual guidelines that would help members, lodges, the Metropolitan area and Provinces communicate with each other – and the rest of the world – in a professional and consistent manner. The UGLE logo was the first challenge: something unique but also true to the spirit of Freemasonry.
‘Metropolitan and Provincial teams now have use of an online Brand Centre, where they can access all the assets – fonts, logos and templates – for their materials.’
The Provincial Grand Master for Somerset, Stuart Hadler, announced the design of the new UGLE logo at the Pro Grand Master’s Annual Briefing Meeting, which brought together Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters and Grand Superintendents in April. While the coat of arms has for generations been a mark of status and standing in society, Stuart said: ‘Society has changed and a coat of arms no longer communicates the messages that a modern membership organisation needs to convey.’
Initial research established that the square and compasses was the most recognisable masonic symbol. From this traditional icon, the design team began to abstract the shapes to create a look that suggests a forward-looking organisation. After further development based on feedback from the Communications Committee, the Board of General Purposes and the Rulers, an iteration was chosen that was both contemporary and instantly recognisable, while also linking to Freemasonry’s rich heritage.
As well as a new logo, the revised branding gives a standardised approach to font usage. Metropolitan and Provincial teams now have use of an online Brand Centre, where they can access all the assets, such as fonts, logos and templates for their materials.
With the branding currently in soft launch and user-testing stage, the UGLE websites and social media pages will all be rebranded at the start of 2016. The full launch and deployment of branding across the Provinces will happen on 24 June 2016, which is the start of Grand Lodge’s 300th year. It is just one element in the organisation’s ongoing strategy to build a positive reputation for Freemasonry as open and forward thinking to ensure its long-term future.
Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes explains how the new Masonic Charitable Foundation will offer support and services to those who need help
In December 2014, I announced that the Grand Master’s Council and the Provincial Grand Masters’ Forum had endorsed proposals from the charities to consolidate the activities of the four central masonic charities. Subsequently, the proposals were endorsed by the Grand Master, and over the past nine months all four charities have launched consultations with their members.
Should the members of each of the charities endorse the proposals, it is anticipated that a new charity will become operational on 1 April 2016. This new charity, subject to legal approvals, will be called the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF).
The MCF will continue to offer the same services to those Freemasons and family members who need help, as well as providing support for the non-masonic charitable causes that the Craft wishes to assist. Thus, continuity of our charitable giving will be achieved. The new charity will also continue to rely on the generosity of Freemasons for its funds, and the Festival system will transition in favour of the new charity over the next few years.
A shadow board comprising trustees from the existing charities has met and will, with the existing charities, oversee the creation of the new charity. The board has elected James Newman as interim chairman and Michael Heenan as interim treasurer. These changes will require amendments to the Book of Constitutions with formal notice of those amendments being brought to the December meeting of Grand Lodge.
‘The new masonic charity will be one of the largest charitable foundations in the country.’
Bringing the existing masonic charities together means that the trustees will be responsible for one of the largest charitable foundations in the country – a tremendous achievement and something of which we can all be proud.
When talking about our charities, I am inevitably reminded of Iain Bryce who so sadly died in July. Apart from his dedication to our masonic charities, he was also a long-serving treasurer of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. I first met him at his installation as Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire, North and East Ridings in 1984. When Iain became involved in something, he gave it his full attention.
I am sure that all the charity presidents who were in office during his time as Deputy Grand Master will have benefited enormously from his wise counsel. He was passionate about all of the charities and held strong views on their management. I shall miss him greatly and I know that I am far from alone in that.
Direction in life
After an accident left him unable to carry on with life in the military, Arthur Vaughan Williams leaned on masonic values to help him transition to a career in broadcasting
It’s clear Arthur Vaughan Williams is a man who isn’t afraid of a challenge as he reels off the many remote and wonderful places he’s visited in the past year alone. As a presenter for Channel 4, the Pershore-born Freemason has camped out in the depths of Canada’s sub-Arctic wilderness, used a helicopter to steer cattle around a ranch the size of Wales in the Australian outback and navigated the dangerous mountainside runways of Nepal.
Arthur’s adventures have rarely been relaxing. Halfway through describing the ‘loaded march’, a notorious 30-mile trek that Royal Marines must complete before receiving their green beret, he shudders visibly at the memory of the experience.
‘You’re trekking for eight hours across Dartmoor with nearly 10kg of kit slung over your shoulders. That’s really tough,’ he recalls. ‘At the time, it felt like this huge tidal wave rearing up in front of me, and I thought if I do this, I’ll never doubt myself again.’
It’s a mantra that’s seen Arthur through the ups and downs of a pretty extraordinary life so far. As a commando, he worked in Sierra Leone establishing frontline communications for the Royal Marines. But after a car crash in 2007 left him paralysed from the waist down, his military career came to an abrupt end. At just 21 years old, Arthur had to rethink his entire life. ‘It’s such a graphic and horrendous thing to deal with,’ he says. ‘To go from peak physical fitness to somebody who can’t control two-thirds of their body – it’s unimaginable.’
Bedridden for six weeks, Arthur was incapable of showering, dressing or even sitting up without help. It took two months of painful rehabilitation before he was allowed to return to his parents’ house. ‘Probably the hardest part was realising that there was nothing [doctors] could do for me. I remember being wheeled past the operating theatre and feeling jealous of the people inside, because at least they had a chance of being fixed.’
Ultimately, it was the tenacity instilled in him through the marines that saved Arthur’s life.
‘Suicide crosses your mind when something like this befalls you,’ he says. ‘But as far as I was concerned, I was still a marine and we never give up – we don’t know how to – so that helped a lot.’
‘I’m proud to have been a part of the Paralympics… How often can you say you helped change the way people think about disability?’ Arthur Vaughan Williams
Time for a new path
Gradually, Arthur began to rebuild his life piece by piece, starting with his initiation into White Ensign Lodge, No. 9169, in 2008. ‘My dad was a Freemason, and his father before him, so it’s always a path I’ve been interested in following,’ he says. ‘We’ve got a bit of a family tradition where the father initiates his son, so when my dad came to the chair as the Master of the lodge it seemed the right time for me to join.’
A military lodge based in Worcestershire, White Ensign’s membership all served in the Armed Forces, so Arthur was able to relive the esprit de corps of his military days. But most importantly, it helped him to gain some clarity in the aftermath of the accident.
‘In the marines they teach you to kill without a second thought, which requires a certain amount of aggression,’ explains Arthur. ‘That’s fine when you’re able to do the job because you can control and apply it when necessary. But when I was forced out of the marines, that instinct manifested itself in pure frustration and anger. I began to lash out at the people around me. It was never in a violent way, just shouting and screaming. But it wasn’t appropriate.’
Arthur learned to redefine his approach to life by using the morals of Freemasonry as a guide for his ambition and drive. ‘As a military lodge, it’s no coincidence that many of the Freemasons there are successful, but it’s not through greed or selfishness, or for material gain. It’s because we want to lead a good life, to raise a decent, good family and to play our role in society well.’
With this newfound positivity, Arthur returned to his early sporting passions to help propel himself into a new life. He immersed himself in the world of wheelchair racing, eventually progressing to the British cycling development squad for the 2012 Paralympic Games. ‘I was always the sporty type at school,’ he remembers. ‘I played rugby for Prince Henry’s High School in Evesham and competed in the Army Cadet National Athletics finals.’
However, it was television that would give Arthur his big break. After submitting a YouTube video to a national talent search, he was chosen as one of six new disabled presenters to front Channel 4’s coverage of the 2012 Paralympic Games. ‘It was one of those tidal wave moments again,’ says Arthur, who was put through a five-day boot camp at the National Film & Television School to test his presenting potential.
‘There were over 4,200 athletes from 164 different countries competing in 20 sports across 12 days, and I had to know everything about all of them.
I probably spent months sitting in my study poring over books and interviewing people on the phone. But it was worth it. Somebody believed in me at Channel 4, and I was going to prove them right.’
In the same year, Channel 4 won a BAFTA for its coverage of the Paralympic Games. ‘The Paralympics was probably the most rewarding thing I’ll ever do in my life,’ says Arthur. ‘How often can you say you helped change the way people think about disability? It was a real watershed moment for the country, and I’m proud to have been a part of it.’
Inspired by his passion
The Channel 4 work has been just the beginning of a career in television, one that has allowed Arthur to merge his passion for flying and presenting. ‘After the accident, I thought back to what I loved as a kid, and that was flying,’ he recalls. ‘All my life I’d heard stories of Douglas Bader, the disabled pilot who through grit and guile managed to earn his pilot license and fight in the Battle of Britain. Now he’s one of our most celebrated national heroes. I thought if he could do that back then, why can’t I do it now?’
After just nine hours of training, Arthur completed his first solo flight to become a licensed pilot. A few years later, he bought a 1943 Piper Cub light aircraft.
‘The previous owner had been flying it for 30 years, so I do wonder if I should start wearing a parachute soon,’ he laughs.
In 2015, Channel 4 commissioned Arthur for a three-part documentary, Flying to the Ends of the Earth, in which he flew to some of the most remote communities in the world to learn about their unique ways of life. Today, he spends his time travelling between London and his home in the Cotswolds, and is working on a book about the pioneers who established the Imperial Airways routes now used by the likes of British Airways.
‘Obviously my accident completely changed my life,’ says Arthur. ‘Back then, the young boy in me wanted to blow everything up and burn it all to the ground. But now, as an adult, I want to create, to have something to show for my work that I can always be proud of. It’s the only direction my life could’ve gone if I wanted to survive.’
Letters to the Editor - No. 33 Spring 2016
Down but not out
I read with interest, and a certain amount of admiration, the recent article on Arthur Vaughan Williams and how he has overcome the devastating life change, after his accident in 2007.
It made me draw a parallel with a brother in our lodge, Mark Ormrod, who lost both legs and an arm in Afghanistan. He has written a book about his experiences, Man Down, and has overcome his injuries in an amazing fashion.
Mark joined Royal Marines Plymouth Lodge, No. 9528, and his initiation took place while he was in a wheelchair. He has since mastered the use of prosthetic legs and is able to march into the lodge and keep in step with the rest of the officers.
Mark has progressed through all of the offices in the lodge (IG, JD, SD, JW) and is our present Senior Warden.
He will be installed, into The Chair of King Solomon, in June 2016 and is a stunning example to all.
Brian Saunders, Royal Marines Plymouth Lodge, No. 9528, Plymouth, Devon
Soap and sociology
Best remembered for bringing soap to the masses, William Lever was driven by Freemasonry’s strong philanthropic values, as Philippa Faulks explains
On 19 September 1867, 16-year-old William Lever received a birthday present that was to not only influence his future profession but also his entry into masonic life. Later labelled ‘the bible of mid-Victorian liberalism’, Self-Help by Samuel Smiles (published in 1859) was a moral treatise on the promotion of self-improvement and the denouncement of materialism.
Known throughout the world for his industrialism and philanthropy, William Lever had humble origins that were to provide a springboard for his success. Born in Bolton in 1851, Lever was the seventh child of grocer James Lever and Eliza Hesketh.
His education at Bolton Church Institute and membership of the Congregationalist Church was later reflected in his work and politics. Although an academic non-achiever at school, Lever threw himself into extracurricular activities and aspired to be an architect – but his father had other plans. In 1867, Lever was recruited into the family grocery business, where one of his chores was to cut the large blocks of soap into slices and wrap them for sale.
Even though he soon progressed through the ranks of the business, Lever was frustrated by his lack of responsibility and channelled much of his energy into his leisure time. He immersed himself in the application of the wisdom of Smiles’ Self-Help, which placed enormous emphasis on the husbanding of time in pursuit of daily self-improvement. When Lever was aged 21, his father made him a junior partner in the business. With this, his salary rose to £800 a year and his dream of marrying his childhood sweetheart, Elizabeth Hulme, became a reality.
‘Lever immersed himself in the application of the wisdom of Smiles’ Self-Help, which placed enormous emphasis on the husbanding of time in pursuit of daily self-improvement.’
Setting out a strategy
Echoing his rigid yet productive personal routines, Lever’s business model was one of meticulous planning, canny advertising and, in some ways, overbearing paternalism. He was a perfectionist who insisted on managing all aspects of business, much to the chagrin of his co-workers. Nevertheless, this drive would take him to the pinnacle of international success. Not content with the rapid expansion of his father’s business, Lever wanted to create his own.
Looking at his father’s humble empire, Lever’s gaze fell upon one thing – soap. In 1885, along with his brother James, he established Lever Brothers and brought soap to the masses. After much market research and international travel, they began to corner the market: Sunlight Soap, the world’s first packaged and branded laundry detergent, was born.
Lever wanted to create something that would be of benefit not only to his closest relations but also to his fellow man. When demand for soap began to outstrip production at the original factory in Warrington, Lancashire, it was time to expand. Thorough searching of land registry maps offered a solution in the Wirral, not far from Liverpool.
Lever designed and oversaw (along with more than 30 architects) the building of what was in effect a large-scale social experiment. Between 1899 and 1914, 800 houses were built for a permanent population of 3,500-4,000 workers, managers and administrators. Once completed, Port Sunlight housed not only the vast new factory and offices, but also a hospital, church, technical institute, museum and library, auditorium, gymnasium, heated outdoor pool and refectories for workers.
Such self-contained community living was not entirely embraced by those who felt that business owners used paternalism as a way of controlling their workforce. Nevertheless, those who might otherwise have been living in slums greatly appreciated it.
Beyond the businessman
Lever was a keen art collector, and often took family and friends on cultural excursions as he travelled the world. One of the most imposing buildings in Port Sunlight today is the Lady Lever Art Gallery, dedicated to his beloved wife Elizabeth. The gallery also houses his extensive collection of masonic regalia and memorabilia, including fine masonic chairs now exhibited in what was once a lodge room.
It was in Port Sunlight that Lever’s masonic career began when a group of local masons, many of whom were employees of Lever Brothers, decided to open a lodge in the village. To honour their chairman, they named it William Hesketh Lever Lodge, No. 2916. Lever was duly initiated at the first meeting of the lodge in 1902 and went on to become Master in 1907. He later formed Leverhulme Lodge, No. 4438; was a co-founder of no fewer than 17 lodges; became Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of England; and was appointed Provincial Senior Grand Warden of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cheshire.
Lever was also a prominent Liberal MP and instigator of the Old Age Pension Bill. He was made a baronet in 1911 and a peer in 1917, taking on the title Lord Leverhulme (the ‘hulme’ in honour of his wife), and in 1922 was elevated to a viscountcy. His philanthropic reach was large, endowing a school of Tropical Medicine at Liverpool University, while the Leverhulme Trust today provides funding for education and research publications. Lever also made much provision for his hometown of Bolton, responsible for the formation of Bolton School and donating large areas of land to the locals, most notably Lever Park in Rivington.
Lever died at his London residence in Hampstead on 7 May 1925. The writer and columnist AN Wilson once remarked, ‘The altruism of Leverhulme [is] in sad contrast to the antisocial attitude of modern business magnates, who think only of profit and the shareholder.’ Although his reputation has since been sullied slightly by accusations of exploitation in his business ventures, no one can deny that William Hesketh Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme, was a force for good in a time of great change.
Letters to the Editor - No. 33 Spring 2016
Soap and sociology
I write to congratulate you most warmly on the winter 2015 edition of Freemasonry Today, and most especially on the article by Philippa Faulks on Lord Leverhulme.
I am too young to have known William Lever in person, of course, but I had the privilege of working for the company he founded for 39 years, and chairing it from 1992 until my retirement in 1996. The values he inculcated, so well described in Philippa’s piece, and still practised to this day throughout the company’s global businesses, have served to make Unilever the most successful mass consumer goods company in the world.
My own initiation into Freemasonry, in May 1964 into Lodge Concord, No. 134, on the roll of the Grand East of the Netherlands, was inspired by the same values that had motivated William Lever, but without the knowledge that he had preceded me by 62 years. Thanks to your article I now know that, and a good deal more about the masonic life of our celebrated founder.
Sir Michael Perry, Malvern Hills Lodge, No. 6896, Malvern, Worcestershire
A history of giving
We trace the origins of the four masonic charities that have come together to form the new Masonic Charitable Foundation
The four masonic charities have been integral to the Craft, providing crucial support to Freemasons, their families and the wider community. However, the existence of four separate organisations – each with its own distinct processes for providing support – hindered the development of a truly joined-up and consistent approach. After much consideration it has therefore been decided to launch a major new charity, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF). From 1 April 2016, the Foundation will take over the work of the central masonic charities, providing a wide range of grants to Freemasons and their families who have a financial, health or care need. The Foundation will also award grants to other charities, medical research studies and disaster relief appeals.
The Foundation will ensure that the masonic charitable support network, which has provided assistance for centuries, remains fit for purpose and able to adapt to the needs of new generations. As we look to the future, it is worth remembering how the current four charities have evolved and how, under the banner of the MCF, cradle-to-grave support will remain in place for Freemasons and their dependants.
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity
Soon after the Grand Master’s installation in 1967, he commissioned a review of the masonic charities. It recommended that a new central charity be established to contribute to society as a whole, befitting the importance and scale of English Freemasonry. In 1980, the Grand Charity was established. It also assumed responsibility for UGLE’s Board of Benevolence, whose origins were found in the first Committee of Charity of Grand Lodge, formed in 1725.
With grants totalling more than £120 million, the Grand Charity has improved the lives of thousands of masons and their dependants, and has made extensive contributions to wider society, funding the causes that are important to members of the Craft. It has enabled Provinces to demonstrate their commitment to local communities through matched giving schemes, grants to The Scout Association and millions in hospice and Air Ambulance giving. Its multimillion-pound research funding has aided numerous medical breakthroughs.
The Grand Charity has brought far-reaching benefits to masonic fundraising by establishing the Relief Chest Scheme to promote efficient and tax-effective giving. The Craft has saved thousands of pounds in administration costs and donations have been significantly increased through Gift Aid. The scheme has also enabled members to come together following worldwide disasters, funding recovery projects in devastated areas on behalf of Freemasonry as a whole. Indeed, £1 million was raised following the 2004 Asian tsunami.
Through the Grand Charity’s giving, thousands have felt the positive impact of masonic charity and over the past 35 years in particular, Freemasonry has increasingly been seen publicly as a philanthropic leader, supporting many great causes.
Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
From its origins as a school for girls, the RMTGB has worked for over 227 years to relieve poverty and advance the education of thousands of children from masonic families across the UK, as well as tens of thousands of children from wider society. The Trust has spent over £130 million on charitable support over the past 15 years alone.
In 1788, Chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini established the Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School for Female Objects, supporting 15 daughters of distressed or deceased Freemasons. A provision for boys was introduced soon after, and over the next 200 years the institutions’ schools expanded and relocated. Eventually, the boys’ school closed, the girls’ school became independent, and the trustees focused on supporting children at schools near their own homes.
In 1982, the boys’ and girls’ institutions came together to form the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, later the RMTGB.
Over time, the Trust moved from fixed financial grants to packages of support tailored to each family’s circumstances. Innovative schemes were also introduced for youngsters with specific talents and needs.
The Trust’s support also extends beyond the masonic community. In 1988, £100,000 was awarded to Great Ormond Street Hospital, with major grants given ever since. Since the launch of the Stepping Stones non-masonic grant-making scheme in 2010, almost £1 million has been awarded to charities that aim to reduce the impact of poverty on education. The Trust also provides premises and support services for Lifelites, which equips children’s hospices across the British Isles with fun, assistive technology. Established as the Trust’s Millennium Project, Lifelites became an independent charity in 2006.
Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution
The RMBI cares for older Freemasons and their families, as well as people in the community. The history of the charity dates back to 1842 when UGLE inaugurated the Royal Masonic Benevolent Annuity Fund for men, followed by the Female Annuity Fund in 1849. The first home was opened the following year and the RMBI was officially established. In the early 1960s, provision was extended to non-annuitants and between 1960 and 1986, a further 13 homes were set up. The RMBI now provides a home for more than 1,000 people across England and Wales, while supporting many more.
At the heart of the RMBI is the commitment to deliver services that uphold an individual’s dignity. Its Experiential Learning training programme requires all new carers to complete a series of practical scenarios in order to better understand residents and has even received national news coverage for its unique approach. The RMBI is also recognised for its excellence in specialist dementia care services, which are increasingly in demand. Nine RMBI homes have been awarded Butterfly Service status, a national quality-of-life ‘kitemark’, by Dementia Care Matters.
None of this could be achieved without a dedicated team, and an RMBI staff member recently received the Care Trainer Award at the 2015 Great British Care Awards in recognition of such commitment. The support and time given by each home’s Association of Friends is also a unique part of the RMBI. The associations – volunteer groups of local masons that work to complement resident services – are independently registered charities and their efforts over the years have ranged from fundraising for home minibuses and resident day trips, to sensory gardens and home entertainment.
Masonic Samaritan Fund
The Royal Masonic Hospital and its predecessor, the Freemasons’ Hospital and Nursing Home, had a Samaritan Fund to support masons and their families who could not afford the cost of private medical treatment. In 1990 the MSF was established to take on the role of this fund, and in its early years benefited from many very generous donations, including a grant from the Grand Charity, and the highly successful Cornwallis and London Festival appeals.
Thanks to the support of Freemasons and their families, the MSF has been able to expand the assistance it provides to cater for the evolving health and care needs of its beneficiaries. In addition to funding medical treatment or surgery, grants are available to support respite breaks for carers, to restore dental function, to aid mobility and to provide access to trained counsellors.
Since 2010 the MSF has provided grants to major medical research projects. Notable successes have included enhancing the diagnosis of prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s as well as support for those suffering from macular degeneration.
Each year the MSF helps more masonic families fund the health and care support they need to live healthy and independent lives. Since 1990 more than 12,000 Freemasons and their family members have been helped at a total cost of over £67 million.
Funded entirely through the generous donations of the masonic community, the Masonic Charitable Foundation will seek to continue the excellent work of the central masonic charities and be able to respond more effectively to the changing needs of masonic families and other charitable organisations. For more information, go to www.mcf.org.uk
Charting the history of the four masonic charities
1725 The premier Grand Lodge sets up the Committee of Charity
1788 The Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School for Female Objects, named after the Duchess of Cumberland, is founded by Chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini
1789 The first anniversary of the Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School is celebrated with a church service and dinner. Collections are taken, making this the first fundraising ‘festival’ for a masonic charity
1798 Inspired by Ruspini’s achievements, William Burwood and the United Mariners Lodge establish a fund to support the sons of Freemasons
1814 Soon after the union of the Grand Lodges, the Committee of Charity joins with other committees relieving hardship among masons to become the Board of Benevolence
1850 The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) is established, and the first RMBI home opens in East Croydon
1904 ‘Out-relief’ is introduced so that those not admitted to the masonic schools can receive grants to support their education elsewhere
1914 It is decided that the daughters of serving Freemasons who die or are incapacitated during WWI should receive a grant of £25 per year
1920 The Freemasons’ Hospital and Nursing Home opens
1933 The Royal Masonic Hospital opens at Ravenscourt Park
1934 The girls’ school moves to Rickmansworth Park. The school is officially opened by HM Queen Mary with 5,000 ladies and brethren in attendance
1966 Devonshire Court opens in Oadby, Leicestershire
1967 Scarbrough Court opens in Cramlington, Northumberland
1968 Prince George Duke of Kent Court opens in Chislehurst, Kent
1971 Connaught Court opens in Fulford, York
1973 The Bagnall Report recommends that the boys’ school is closed and that the girls’ school becomes independent
1973 Lord Harris Court opens in Sindlesham, Berkshire, and Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court opens in Porthcawl, Mid Glamorgan
1977 Ecclesholme opens in Eccles, Manchester, and The Tithebarn opens in Great Crosby, Liverpool
1979 Queen Elizabeth Court opens in Llandudno, Conwy
1980 The Grand Charity is established
1980 James Terry Court opens in Croydon, Surrey
1981 Cornwallis Court opens in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
1982 The masonic institutions for girls and boys merge their activities to form the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
1983 Zetland Court opens in Bournemouth, Dorset
1984 Grand Charity hospice support begins
1986 The Grand Charity establishes the Relief Chest Scheme
1986 Cadogan Court opens in Exeter, South Devon
1990 The Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) is established, assisted by a £1.2 million grant from the Grand Charity
1992 275th anniversary of Grand Lodge
1992 The Grand Charity awards more than £2 million to charities that care for people with learning difficulties
1994 UGLE recommends that all masonic organisations adopt the Relief Chest Scheme
1994 Prince Michael of Kent Court opens in Watford, Hertfordshire
1994 The Cornwallis Appeal raises £3.2 million for the MSF
1995 Shannon Court opens in Hindhead, Surrey
1996 Barford Court opens in Hove, East Sussex
1997 Total annual expenditure for Masonic Relief Grants exceeds £2 million for the first time
1998 Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court opens in Braintree, Essex
1999 To commemorate the millennium, the Grand Charity donates more than £2 million to good causes
1999 Lifelites is established by the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys as a Millennium Project to provide assistive and educational technology packages for children’s hospices across the British Isles
1999 The London Festival Appeal for the MSF raises £10.6 million
2000 Following the abolition of Local Authority student grants, the Trust establishes an undergraduate aid scheme to support disadvantaged young people at university. Almost 500 students are assisted during the first year of the scheme, rising to almost 1,000 by 2003
2001 The TalentAid scheme is introduced by the Trust to support young people with an exceptional talent in music, sport or the arts, with 75 supported in the first year
2003 The Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys becomes the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB)
2004 The Grand Charity donates £1 million for research into testicular and prostate cancers
2005 More than £1 million is donated by Freemasons and the Grand Charity to help with recovery efforts following the Asian tsunami
2006 Lifelites becomes a registered charity
2007 Special funding for Air Ambulances begins
2008 All four central masonic charities move into shared office space in Freemasons’ Hall, London
2008 The Grand Charity donates £500,000 to The Scout Association, enabling more than 23,000 young people to join, and £1 million to Ovarian Cancer Action
2008 Scarbrough Court reopens in Cramlington, Northumberland (rebuilt on its original site)
2008 The MSF makes its first grant in support of medical research, and respite care grants are introduced
2010 Stepping Stones, the RMTGB’s non-masonic grant-making scheme, is introduced to support disadvantaged youngsters
2010 MSF dental care grants are introduced
2013 James Terry Court reopens in Croydon, Surrey (rebuilt on its original site)
2013 The MSF Counselling Careline service launches
2015 Following a 30-year partnership, the Grand Charity’s grants to the British Red Cross now exceed £2 million
2015 The MSF marks its 25th anniversary by awarding over £1 million for medical research
2016 The four masonic charities join together to form the Masonic Charitable Foundation
Letters to the Editor - No. Spring 2016
I was surprised and delighted to see a photo in the winter 2015 edition of Freemasonry Today of a group of nurses at the Royal Masonic Hospital taken in 1958. The group includes my wife on the right at the end of the patient’s bed. I can still name several of the other nurses.
At the time, I was an undergraduate at Cambridge and I frequently travelled to see her at the hospital nurses’ home at Ravenscourt Park. I am pleased to say that we are still happily married after 53 years.
Tony Kallend, Isaac Newton University Lodge, No. 859, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Dave Binch, 45, of Elliott Lodge, No. 8569, relived his youth at the annual TT motorbike event on the Isle of Man to raise funds for charity. The father of two from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, has raised more than £13,000 for Cancer Research UK and the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB).
The former semi-professional rider reached speeds of 150mph around the 37.73-mile circuit. Hours later, he ran the entire course in eight-and-a-quarter hours, which included tackling a 2,034-foot mountain at 2am. Isle of Man Provincial Grand Master Keith Dalrymple presented him with a cheque for more than £1,500 and further funds came from the Manx Hamond Chapter Rose Croix to go to the RMTGB.
Above and beyond
Sharing a core belief in the importance of mutual respect and helping others, Freemasons are supporting The Scout Association as it takes its message to more young people, as Peter Watts discovers
When Carlos Lopez-Plandolit took stock of his work-life balance and decided to volunteer for his local Scout group in East London, he initially planned to drop in for an hour each week. But, he explains, ‘I quickly got sucked in and within two weeks ended up leading the group. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.’
Lopez-Plandolit’s group is located in a struggling inner-city borough, and these are precisely the areas the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB) will target with its substantial new grant to The Scout Association. ‘We are giving a three-year grant of £211,200 to the Better Prepared initiative, which funds and sustains Scout groups in 200 of the most deprived parts of the UK,’ explains Les Hutchinson, CEO of the RMTGB.
The Scout Association plans to start 468 groups in these areas, and the RMTGB grant will get 66 of them started. Funds will pay for premises, uniforms, equipment, membership fees and training volunteers. Each new unit will receive £3,200, reflecting the greater level of support needed in areas identified as being deprived for reasons of poor health, education and crime by the Index of Multiple Deprivation.
With the first RMTGB-funded groups launching by the end of 2015, the grant follows a donation of £500,000 in 2008 to The Scout Association from the Grand Charity in a partnership that lasted six years. The money was used to encourage more young people to join the Scouting movement, providing start-up and activity grants. In total, more than one million young people received new materials and equipment paid for by the Grand Charity’s grant, with over 1,600 new Scout sections formed and 23,500 young people becoming involved across England and Wales.
For Hutchinson, the masonic funding is creating new opportunities: ‘The Scout Association has evidence that the skills Scouting provides can help with education and employment. Scouting really helps develop qualities that can make a difference later in life.’
Preparing for the future
Paul Wilkinson, the Better Prepared project manager, explains the strong educational thread that runs through The Scout Association. ‘Essentially, we’re trying to help young people grow and develop,’ he says. ‘We’re trying to help them take an active place in society, to learn to act with integrity, to be honest, trustworthy and loyal. We encourage them to have respect for other people and for themselves.’
Although Robert Baden-Powell was not a mason, the Scout movement he founded in 1907 has a strong overlap with the principles of Freemasonry. While some parallels are cosmetic, such as the use of signs, ranks, uniforms and regalia, others are intrinsic. Tony Harvey’s 2012 Prestonian Lecture focused on the connections between the two bodies. With both open to all – regardless of faith, race or background – Tony explained in the lecture how these two membership organisations share the same core values.
IN GOOD COMPANY
‘Our mission is to change young people’s lives for the better,’ says Wilkinson, ‘and we are pleased to be working in partnership with Freemasonry across the UK. The masonic community shares our vision to deliver life-changing experiences to all young people, no matter what their background.’
Hutchinson echoes Wilkinson’s sentiments: ‘The key aspects of Scouting are respect for your fellow man, having a strict moral code and doing the right thing. That’s a large part of Freemasonry too.’ Non-mason Lopez-Plandolit, meanwhile, attributes the appeal of Scouting to one key factor: ‘What I love about it is that it seems to focus on the common denominators across all religions; it is about being kind to the environment, to your friends and family. They are very pure, these principles.’
Despite the leisure opportunities available to children today, The Scout Association has found that once it establishes a local group, children flock to it. The next challenge is to establish groups in areas where poverty has been a barrier to joining or volunteering. ‘We appeal to young people,’ says Wilkinson. ‘We know that if we go in with the right messages, young people are relatively easy to recruit and some are desperate to join.’
Lopez-Plandolit sees first-hand how young people respond to joining. The Beaver Scouts, who are the youngest section of the Scouting family at six to eight years old, describe their meetings in East London as the highlight of their week, relishing activities such as kayaking and climbing. Lopez-Plandolit’s young group are multinational and this is something he celebrates through activities such as cooking: ‘The children cook something from their parents’ country and everybody has to taste it and say what they like.’
The masonic grant for the Better Prepared project marks a major commitment for the RMTGB. ‘It is a significant undertaking,’ Hutchinson admits. ‘While the shape of the Trust will change as the four masonic charities come together, this grant will leave a lasting legacy of support for children from deprived backgrounds – our remit is to support children in the wider sense, not just children of masons, and this will enable us to reach out to those who most need our help in a very effective way.’
‘The Scout Association’s mission is to change young people’s lives for the better, and the masonic community shares our vision.’ Paul Wilkinson
The RMTGB will keep a close eye on the project as it develops. ‘Part of the reason we are donating in three instalments is so we can maintain some control,’ says Hutchinson. ‘We will receive regular reports so we can see the impact of the funding, and discover publicity opportunities to raise the profile of the masonic charity and Freemasonry in general. We also want to ensure the grants are evenly spread across England and Wales.’
The final instalment from the RMTGB coincides with the 300th anniversary of the United Grand Lodge of England in 2017, and Hutchinson hopes that Freemasonry will take pride in the achievements of the initiative as it celebrates this important milestone. ‘We want to learn from each other,’ he says. ‘The Scout Association has a wealth of experience in working with children and will have practices we can use in our charitable work, now and in the future.’
While masonic contributions are being made at a national level, individuals can donate their time on a local level. An accountant, for example, could audit the books for their local group one night a year. The rewards are extolled by Lopez-Plandolit, who enthuses about his time as a volunteer with the Beaver Scouts. ‘They surprise you so much and are a constant reminder of how we should look at things as if it’s for the first time – to ask lots of questions,’ he says. ‘It’s a great outlook to have around me. I learn so much from them.’
From cooking on open log fires through to building shelters and geocaching, there’s rarely a dull moment at the 2nd East London Scout group (pictured). Based on the Isle of Dogs, the group meets at least three nights a week to play games, set challenges and prepare for their annual scavenger hunt, which this year saw Scouts from across the county raising money for Nepalese aid projects. With 130 members in the 2nd East London group, each night caters to a different age range. ‘We are Scouting every day of the week,’ says Vicky Thompson, Scout leader. ‘Our kids never need to hang out on the streets because, with the Scouts, there’s always something to do.’
Letters to the Editor - No. 32 Winter 2015
I picked up your magazine today and the picture on the front moved me. I have been involved with the Guide association ever since my daughter attended Rainbows, and both my boys attended the movement from Beaver through to Scout. Your picture has captured everything there is to say about Scouting. I am hoping that it has brought a cheer to many more faces while they flick through your magazine. Well done.
Marion Bell, wife of Stephen Bell, Legheart Lodge, No. 6897, Welling, West Kent
Can I thank you for the article on Scouting in the latest issue of Freemasonry Today magazine? I have been involved with Scouts since I joined as a Wolf Cub in 1957, now serving as an assistant commissioner for the Lincoln district, as well as being a Past Master of two Scouting lodges.
Scouting greatly helped me after becoming disabled in 1974 following a horse riding accident. The Scouts did not mind ‘Skip’ having a wonky leg and helped me overcome my disability. Today I think there is much I can give back; after all, I get as much fun as the kids do out of it.
You don’t have to be a uniformed leader to help the organisation. Uniformed leaders run the day-to-day programmes but need the support of executive committees to look after the management side of Scouting. As many Freemasons have good life skills, they could be useful at group, district or county level. My own district meets every other month for a couple of hours to deal with mixed issues, from starting new groups to controlling the budget and various district events.
Scouting is expanding and in Lincoln we have started two new groups within a year, with two more in the planning.
If you feel you might be interested in giving some time to Scouting, then you can look them up on their website.
Hugh Sargent, Rudyard Kipling Lodge, No. 9681, Horncastle, Lincolnshire
Keeping the doors open
Grand Superintendent of Works John Pagella looks at the challenge of maintaining masonic centres and halls in modern times
Freemasonry is by no means unique in finding that as times change, and the needs of its membership evolve, buildings once well suited to their function become too expensive to maintain. We need to ensure that if masonic use declines, our buildings adapt to attract outside interest, generating income and strengthening their connection with the local community.
While individual circumstances vary widely for each masonic hall and centre, the first step is to examine the potential for introducing outside uses. This is not achieved by simply advertising availability and hoping for the best. It requires analysis of the type of users for whom the building might be suitable, and consideration of whether what is needed can be managed while retaining masonic use.
London’s Surbiton Masonic Hall is a positive example of what can be achieved. Glenmore House was built as an imposing Italianate-style private villa in 1840 at a time when residential development was extending out from London into the surrounding countryside. By 1920, it had become one of the many houses that were too large and expensive to run as private homes, so was put up for auction.
It was purchased by four local masons, becoming known as Surbiton Masonic Hall, and was dedicated as a peace memorial.
For much of the 1900s the house flourished as a masonic centre, but as the century drew to a close it became clear that, once again, a change was required. Masonic membership was in decline, with fewer people attending meetings and a number of lodges handing in their warrants. A decrease in income meant that without a radical change in the way that the building was used, closure was inevitable.
Fortunately, the board of directors of Surbiton Masonic Hall included people with experience in building and development, as well as running commercial companies. They recognised that managing a masonic centre today is no different to running a hospitality company. Freemasonry is a craft but running masonic halls and centres is a business, requiring the same commitment, financial skills and disciplines.
Although the property’s design, finishes and furnishings were dated, the potential for creating a self-contained hospitality suite was recognised. The building included a large ballroom with its own independent bar, but while the existing kitchens had coped well for many years, they were not suitable to support the standard required for outside events. Complete modernisation was therefore needed.
Even if the refurbishment had been confined to these areas, much would have been achieved, but it was felt that the contrast between the facilities available to outside users and those offered to Freemasons would have been all too obvious. Furthermore, the loss of the ballroom for masonic dining would have reflected badly on the centre’s continuing commitment to its Freemasonry.
With this in mind, dining accommodation at first-floor level was also refurbished and moveable dividing partitions erected to permit two units to dine simultaneously. The adjacent bar was modernised to the same high standard as the bar in the hospitality suite.
A new lease of life
The revenue generated from opening Glenmore House up to outside use has been vital. It has not only secured its future as a financially viable masonic centre, but also enabled the centre to become more of a focal point for the local community. ‘Far from losing identity, the changes we made enabled the community to identify the values that Freemasonry actually represents today,’ said Robert Dobbie, Managing Director of Glenmore House. ‘For the past 10 years we have participated in the Heritage Open Days, we are used as a local polling station, we host a twice-weekly bridge club as well as monthly lunches for Barclays bank and the BBC.’
Masonic centres and meeting halls are all individual, and it would be wrong to suggest that what worked in this case would always be successful elsewhere. However, there are some general principles. First, masonic buildings exist to serve the needs of members, but that purpose can only be sustained if they are managed in a way that is financially viable. In many cases this will mean shared use, which must be approached with the needs of the outside user in mind. The competition can be fierce and that means adopting a more proactive strategy than just advertising accommodation for hire.
One final thought: those who take their own advice will in most cases have no recourse should things go wrong. If a masonic centre or hall has professional expertise within its members, by all means use it, but always consider the value of using outside consultants as well. Their more objective approach might be beneficial, and those giving outside advice may also have a legal liability.
‘Masonic buildings exist to serve the needs of members, but that purpose can only be sustained if they are managed in a way that is financially viable.’
Letters to the Editor - No. 32 Winter 2015
As Superintendent of Works for the past 40 years, I read with interest the article in the autumn issue by John Pagella, the Grand Superintendent of Works. I totally agree with him that because of rising costs it is a challenge to maintain masonic halls, especially old ones.
Ours was built in 1860. Fortunately, like Surbiton Lodge, we have members who are experienced in the building trade and have contributed to the maintenance of the lodge buildings, not taking any remuneration for their work. Also, we have a good social committee that provides us with funds to help pay for the work we cannot do and for materials.
I joined Freemasonry in 1966 when we had a lot of members who were textile business owners employing maintenance men to look after their buildings. I have always wondered why the lodge building was nearly in a state of dereliction when I became Superintendent of Works in 1975.
At that time we had retired members on fixed incomes and my thoughts were that if we can keep the costs of running the lodge low there would be no reason to increase subscriptions. This worked and still does. Our subscriptions are among the most reasonable in the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding.
I have read of many fine old masonic buildings being closed and sold, and most have accommodated multiple lodges. Big is not always good. We have only one Craft lodge and three side Orders meeting at our building, yet our subscriptions are among the lowest in the Province. I have noted some of the outside users John Pagella writes about who use their building and I will suggest to our lodge committee that we could do the same thing.
L R Hirst, St John’s Lodge, No. 827, Dewsbury, Yorkshire, West Riding
With the aim of recruiting more members into the Royal Arch, Deputy Metropolitan Grand Superintendent Chris Clark explains how a piece of theatre is successfully demonstrating its principles and history
Why is the Royal Arch a separate Order and what is the Master Mason of the 21st century missing by not being a member? Performed in masonic lodges throughout the country, Talking Heads – The Next Step: Into The Royal Arch is a short playlet that seeks to answer these questions. It depicts an encounter between an experienced Past Master, who is also a Royal Arch Companion, and a relatively new Master Mason eager to learn more.
The opening scene of Talking Heads begins with two masons chatting in the anteroom as they don their regalia, after which they start engaging with the brethren present. The playlet covers the history of the Order and explains a little about the regalia – especially the jewel that is also worn in lodges – as well as discussing some of the links with the Craft.
Talking Heads goes on to describe the way the journey of personal discovery continues beyond the Craft experience, as well as the likely time and financial commitments needed to reach completion of pure Antient Freemasonry. The performance is delivered with a great deal of good humour between the players, and occasional off-script asides make the event highly enjoyable as well as educational.
The idea of creating the playlet came after we published the Metropolitan Exaltee’s Guide in 2010. The booklet was given to each new exaltee in London as they began their journey into the Royal Arch. Our thoughts then turned to how we might aid recruitment into Chapter. After looking at several lectures in circulation in the Craft, we decided they were either too long or not very inspirational. So we set about drafting our own text for London. The remit was that it should be presented in a theatrical way, be about half an hour long and be interesting for those masons already part of the Royal Arch, as well as to Master Masons who might consider joining.
Early drafts were assessed by a panel of readers from the Royal Arch leaders in London and a few trial presentations were given before the final text was agreed, and a team of some 20 regular presenters assembled.
The first performances were given in February 2011, and now more than 120 have been delivered by the Metropolitan team, travelling to Provinces across the county, including Cumberland and Westmorland, West Lancashire, and Yorkshire, North and East Ridings in the north; Essex and East and West Kent in the south; and Shropshire and Wiltshire in the west. We always present the Province with a CD of the text of the playlet, too, and offer to assist when they assemble their own groups of players.
An excellent performance
Some of these Provinces have developed their own acting teams; Essex and Buckinghamshire are leading the way, with several performances given in the past year. By the end of 2016, the Metropolitan team will have visited well over half the Provinces in England and Wales, spreading the Royal Arch message. The text has also been exported to Hong Kong, our first overseas territory, although the team’s bold request for travel expenses was rejected, so there have been no performances abroad (yet).
Talking Heads provides great support to the Royal Arch representatives in lodges, because it makes the Order’s case for them and answers many of the questions they are likely to be asked. Sometimes Master Masons will sign an exaltation form after a performance, sometimes they will bring forward an application they were planning to delay, and sometimes it just goes on their agenda for when they feel they are ready to enter the Order.
We always make the point that there is no pressure to recruit and that everyone should consider the Royal Arch in their own time and at their own pace. We know that exaltation numbers in London have been rising by over two per cent per annum since the introduction of the Royal Arch representative scheme and the Talking Heads playlet. Added to this, overall membership figures in London suggest that retention levels have also been helped – and we have some dramatic examples of how Talking Heads has been effective in this respect.
For example, one London chapter had a member who’d been dormant for 14 years, who started attending again after seeing a performance at his lodge. ‘I hadn’t realised there was so much in the Royal Arch ceremony,’ he said, ‘and I now understand much of what I found confusing before.’ And after our first Provincial performance in Essex, one companion who had not attended a chapter since his exaltation 42 years ago immediately signed to rejoin. Encore, indeed.
‘Talking Heads provides great support to the Royal Arch representatives in lodges, because it makes the Order’s case for them and answers many of the questions they are likely to be asked.’
Letters to the Editor - No. 32 Winter 2015
I read with interest the article in the autumn 2015 edition of Freemasonry Today entitled ‘Dramatic Aside’. A similar initiative was introduced several years ago in Hampshire and Isle of Wight.
A presentation written by well-known local Royal Arch Freemasons called ‘Why the Royal Arch?’ was frequently delivered in both lodges and chapters throughout the Province. It consists usually of four Craft Freemasons sitting around a table chatting informally with each other, looking into the next step in their masonic journey.
It has proved to be very successful and is now included as part of a new Royal Arch recruiting initiative recently introduced, entitled ‘Dine a Master Mason’. We hold this at the end of our regular Royal Arch Convocation, when Craft Freemasons who are not yet Royal Arch members are invited to attend.
Both recruitment and retention are very important to the future success of Royal Arch, but without proper and workable recruitment initiatives in place, we may not be left with so many companions to retain.
Philip Berman, Grand Superintendent, Hampshire and Isle of Wight