Celebrating 300 years

Children’s ward gets new nebulisers

Six nebulisers were presented by local Freemasons to the Children’s Ward at the Leicester Royal Infirmary via the Asthma Relief Charity by Leicestershire and Rutland PGM David Hagger.

Nebulisers convert liquid medication into aerosol droplets suitable for inhalation, using compressed air to enable patients to breathe more easily.

Each nebuliser will help 150 children over its six-year life. Members of Grey Friars Lodge, No. 6803, which meets in Leicester, also donated £1,400 to the Leicestershire Royal Infirmary Children and Young People’s Cancer Unit to provide play equipment and materials together with updating medical equipment.

Freemasons in Leicestershire and Rutland are celebrating a magnificent milestone in their charitable donations to the local community during the last five years

As they approach their 300th anniversary, figures released today show that Freemasons based in Leicestershire and Rutland, despite the recent economic downturn, have donated to over 400 different charities to the sum of £800,000.

Just under a third of the money donated went to healthcare charities, whilst those charities supporting children and youth received a quarter of the funding. Other charities were also supported who focus on social welfare, education, disability, elderly, culture, sport, religion, homeless and animals.

Freemasonry is one of the biggest contributors to UK charities, including both masonic and non-masonic causes. It encourages members to take a moral and ethical approach to life, helping them become the best that they can be. It seeks to reinforce the principles of kindness, honesty, fairness, tolerance and integrity.

The donations include those given by the Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association, the Royal Arch Masons and Mark Master Masons.

Some of their recent donations include £10,000 to Warning Zone, the Leicester based interactive life skills centre, for an e-Safety zone, £15,000 to Leicester Cathedral for the reinterment of Richard III, £25,000 to the Leicester Children’s Holiday Centre Mablethorpe for play equipment and £50,000 to the new Centre for Medicine at the University of Leicester.

Other major beneficiaries include the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, LOROS Hospice, Rainbows Children's Hospice, and PROSTaid.

David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland said: 'All of our members are encouraged to give to charity but should always be within their means and it is entirely up to each member how much they wish to contribute. The money donated is raised by the members themselves from such events as ladies' nights and other social occasions where family and friends get together.'

He continued: 'I'm incredibly proud and thank all our members for their philanthropy and generosity by contributing this amazing amount of money to local communities reinforcing the role that Freemasonry has always and continues to play in society.'

Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons are currently in full training getting ready to do a 300-mile cycle ride marking their 300th anniversary and aiming to raise £20,000 for the Rainbows Children's Hospice in Loughborough and the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF)

On 24th June 1717, four masonic lodges, which had existed for some time in London, formed the Grand Lodge of England which has since continued to administer the 7,000 lodges and it's 200,000 members across England and Wales.

Leicestershire and Rutland have 3,000 members which meet in the 76 lodges across the two counties. Masonic lodges are based in Leicester, Loughborough, Hinckley, Syston, Uppingham, Melton Mowbray, Lutterworth, Market Harborough, Oakham, Coalville and Ashby de la Zouch.

At least 35 Freemasons, aged between 22 and 70 years old, from over 20 different lodges will be cycling in June 2017 to each of the 11 masonic meeting places within Leicestershire and Rutland. They will then head to the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England at Freemasons' Hall, Covent Garden in London. When clocking up the 300 miles they will take a short detour to the site of the former Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St Paul's Churchyard, London where the first Grand Lodge was formed before they head back to Leicester.

Simon Oldfield, keen cyclist and organiser said: 'Cycling 300 miles will be a test of all those taking part, everyone is motivated to do the training knowing that we are raising money for two very worthwhile causes as part of our Tercentenary celebrations. It has brought together cyclists of varying age, experience and fitness, building a real team spirit for the challenge ahead.'

The Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People, based in Lougborough, provides care to those that are affected by life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. Helen Lee-Smith, Head of Individual Giving at Rainbows, said: 'I would like to thank Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons for organising their 300 mile cycle ride to celebrate 300 years of Freemasonry and for supporting Rainbows. Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons are doing a wonderful thing raising funds to help us run the hospice – fundraising efforts make such a huge difference to both the children and young people at Rainbows and their families.'

The MCF supports Freemasons, their families and the wider community. David Innes, Chief Executive of the MCF said: 'Our work depends entirely on donations from Freemasons and their families across England and Wales, and we are continually surprised and inspired by the unique and challenging ways that they raise funds for us. We wish all participants in the Leicestershire and Rutland 300 mile bike ride the best of luck and thank them in advance for their hard work and generosity.'

The Provincial Grand Master of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, David Hagger, added: 'We'll be holding several celebratory events in 2017 and this charity bike ride is a perfect opportunity for our members to raise money for good causes by undertaking this physical challenge. We're keen to shake off our bygone image and this bike ride is a great example of this. Recently we have found that more younger people are attracted to Freemasonry as they seek a social environment with strong values and traditions that also supports the local community.'

He continued: 'During 2017, we'll also be opening the doors to our masonic halls for everyone to see inside and an exhibition on Freemasonry at Newarke House Museum in Leicester highlighting the contribution of Freemasons to our local communities. We hope this will lead to further interest and a better understanding of our historic fraternity.'

W Bro Martin Oliver and Mike Rowe from St Mary's Lodge No. 7164 presented three local charities with £250 each which has been generously donated by its members

Representatives from Motor Neurone Disease in Leicestershire and Rutland, Parkinson's Disease Melton Mowbray Support Group, and the Melton and Rutland Branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society each received the award at a presentation ceremony at Freemasons' Hall, Wicklow Lodge, Melton Mowbray on Saturday 30th July 2016.

Martin Oliver said: 'Some of our members have been affected by the illnesses supported by these wonderful charities and we're delighted to be able to offer these donations to help the local community.'

On the 3rd June 2016, the Uppingham in Rutland Lodge No. 9119 presented a cheque for £925 to the Leicester Hospitals Charity to be spent on treating children with rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic progressive disease causing inflammation in the joints resulting in painful deformity and immobility, especially in the fingers, wrists, feet, and ankles.

The master, W Bro Chris Cockerill said: 'Those who have had contact with someone who has this painful disease understand the impact it has on them. However, to have this as a child brings further challenges and one that I wished to contribute towards in order to help them. We think this disease is something we may get when older and forget that people can get rheumatoid arthritis at any age.'

The cheque was received in a presentation by the Master to Kamlesh Mistry of the Leicester Hospitals Charity who thanked the members of the lodge for their fantastic support in raising the money which will go towards helping children with the disease.

Wally's proud moment

W Bro Walter Greenwood, a Past Master of Commercial Lodge No. 1391 which meets in Leicester, has recently received the Legion d’Honneur Medal presented by the French Government for his contribution to the liberation of France during the Second World War

The Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur is the highest French order for military merit, established 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte.

Bro Wally joined the RAF in 1943 at 18 years old and chose to train as an Air Gunner in preference to either a Flight Engineer or Wireless Operator. His initial training was based on Wellington and Sterling Bombers before converting to Lancaster Bombers and was duly assigned to 106 (Bomber) Squadron based at Metheringham, Lincolnshire.

Wally recalls: 'On arrival at the Squadron we were all put in an aircraft hangar and instructed to sort ourselves into crews over a three day period. It was naturally essential that the individuals in a crew got on with each other and I agreed to join a crew after meeting some fellow recruits in a pub.'

He began operations soon after and was very actively involved in supporting the D-Day landings. The instructions were to drop the bombs and then fly into France before turning for home, thus avoiding aircraft on following missions. Wally said: 'I clearly remember spotting and being attacked by Fokker Wolfs at which point I, in no uncertain terms, told my pilot to fly into the clouds and make a quick turn to escape.'

In total, Wally completed a total of 34 operations with several entries in his log book detailing when they were hit by flak (anti-aircraft shell fire). The 106 Squadron lost a total of 59 Lancaster bombers by the end of the war with the loss of over 1,000 airmen.

Wally subsequently transferred to training and it was during one of the training sessions when the Wellington bomber he was flying failed to take off correctly. Wally’s quick reactions enabled him to jump out and roll off the wing to safety albeit suffering with two fractured hips. Sadly, the rest of the crew did not survive.

He was invalided from the RAF as a Flight Sergeant in 1944 and completed his civilian life as a plumber. Bro Wally was initiated into Freemasonry in 1962 and was Master of Commercial Lodge in 1978. He was promoted to PPJGW in 2004. He was Exalted into Royal Arch in the Granite Chapter No. 2028 and was MEZ in 1986.

Wally’s survival during the war was, as he puts it, 'down to having a good pilot' but he thoroughly deserves his appointment to Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur having risked his life to secure France’s liberation during the Second World War.

Treasure trove returned

On May 17th 2016, the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger received, on behalf of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, a magnificent collection of masonic jewels, regalia and documentary material from the surviving children, Dr Anthony Howe and Mrs Elieen Mann, of W Bro Harry Billson Howe who was part of the vibrant textiles business in Leicester.

Dr Howe discovered the hoard in a case at his home in Poole, Dorset and contacted the Lodge of Gratitude No. 5614 via its website. W Bro Richard Brocklehurst of the lodge subsequently arranged a meeting, with representatives from several lodges and chapters, at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester so that the collection could be returned.

W Bro Harry Howe was initiated into the Commercial Lodge No. 1391 in 1919 and became the first Junior Warden of the newly consecrated Holmes Lodge No. 4654 in 1924, becoming its third Master in succession to his friends and business colleagues from Leicester's industrial core industries, W Bro George Hunt and W Bro Sir John Corah. 

W Bro Howe was a Lewis and his father also had a distinguished masonic and business career, and has a memorial window in the St Katherine's Chapel at Leicester Cathedral. At a Provincial level, W Bro Howe served for many years as Provincial Director of Ceremonies and was honoured by receiving Grand Rank as PAGDC. W Bro Howe was also heavily involved with the Holy Royal Arch degree and the Ancient and Accepted Rite in both of which he also received Grand Rank.

W Bro Howe was a keen supporter of the Leicester Union Lodge of Instruction and it was through that body that the Lodge of Gratitude came to be formed as a token of thanks from the Union Lodge's preceptors for the fellowship they had enjoyed. W Bro Howe was the 'Primus' Master of the lodge and he was given a particularly fine jewel in token of this. Despite leaving Leicester, he retained his subscribing membership to the Lodge of Gratitude while accepting honorary membership of Holmes Lodge and St Margaret's Rose Croix Chapter No. 92.

W Bro Howe’s regalia, which was generously and thoughtfully returned by the Howe family, include collars and jewels for various Grand Rank appointments, and also a number of highly valuable and precious jewels in connection with his appointment in Holmes Lodge and the Lodge of Gratitude. In addition to the regalia and jewels, W Bro Howe's papers include a considerable number of fascinating items giving insights into the life of freemasonry between 1919 and 1960. 

However, it was not just masonic material which was received. There was a wealth of matter relating to the Howe family business which was situated in Curzon Street and Birstall Street and which ultimately became part of the Curzonia Group. This will be invaluable in the staging of exhibitions to demonstrate the links between Freemasonry and Leicester's industrial heritage. In addition, material relating to his service in the Great War was also received when he was involved in espionage behind the German lines as an agent for what is now known as MI6.

Kidney disease exercise in Leicester

A group of scientists from the University of Leicester, funded by Kidney Research UK together with the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, are working towards understanding which exercise methods will best help people with kidney disease to stabilise their conditions.

Dr Alice Smith and a team of doctors, psychologists and physiotherapists, all based at Leicester General Hospital, aim to determine how exercise can help kidney patients maximise their health, quality of life and independence.

Royal Arch club formed by Leicestershire and Rutland

Following the success of Craft Freemasonry social groups such as the Light Blue clubs, the Royal Arch Executive in Leicestershire and Rutland has sanctioned the creation of a similar scheme for the Royal Arch. Named after the white breast jewel worn by newly exalted companions, the White Ribbon Club will work alongside the Province’s Light Blue Club for master masons. 

The aim is to attract and inspire members and to encourage retention through chapter visits and social events. Grand Superintendent Peter Kinder said, ‘It is hoped the encouragement and recruitment of many new Craft members will equally apply to the Royal Arch membership.’ 

Published in SGC

Breathing easier

Six nebulisers were presented by local Freemasons to the children’s ward at the Leicester Royal Infirmary via the Asthma Relief charity

The presentation was made at a special event held at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester on the 28th April 2016 hosted by the Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland RW Bro David Hagger.

Nebulisers are devices that converts liquid medication into aerosol droplets suitable for inhalation, using compressed air, thus enabling patients to breathe more easily. Each nebuliser will help 150 children over a six-year life.

Dhiraj Vara, Clinical Investigations Manager, said: 'On behalf of the Trust and the children's ward thank you to the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons. There is always a shortage of nebulisers on the wards so this will certainly help provide those therapies and therefore they are going to make a big difference.'

Members of the Grey Friars Lodge No. 6803, which meets in Leicester, also donated a total of £1,400 to the Leicestershire Royal Infirmary Children and Young People’s Cancer Unit to provide play equipment and materials together with updating medical equipment.

Kamlesh Mistry, Community and Events Fundraising Manager at Leicester Hospitals Charity, said: 'Thank you to the Grey Friars Lodge for raising a fantastic amount. The Children’s Cancer Unit at the Leicester Royal Infirmary really appreciate the money, so thank you from the kids, young adults, staff, and everyone on the wards.'

David Hagger said: 'I’m proud and delighted that the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons have been able to make a contribution to society by supporting the Leicester Royal Infirmary particularly helping many sick children and young people in the local community.'

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