Celebrating 300 years

In July 2015, 36 Scouts between the ages of 12 and 18 from the South Leicestershire Scouts visited Kandersteg in Switzerland for an International Expedition which was made possible by a generous donation of £1,500 by the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons

Kandersteg International Scout Centre is the world centre of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement. The centre began in 1923 with Lord Baden-Powell, who, after the first World Scout Jamboree, had a dream about a place where all Scouts from all over the world could meet: the Permanent Mini Jamboree.

The Centre allows Scouts to have an international experience in fantastic surroundings. The Scouts visiting from south Leicestershire participated in a week of International and Friendship Activities at the Campsite including river rafting as well as experiencing part of the Swiss Alps.

Jospeh, one of the Scouts who attended the Expedition said: 'This is best thing I've ever done in my life,' whilst Edmund asked after river rafting: 'We don't have to paddle back upstream do we?'

Robert Row, Contingent Leader for the South Leicestershire Scouts said; 'In Scouting, international activities play a huge part and scouts of all ages work towards badges to show their increased understanding of religion and cultures. They help our members to understand the part that they play in the worldwide organisation of Scouting. Their experiences will remain with them or the rest of their lives and we thank the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons for their help in giving them that opportunity.'

RW Bro David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland said: 'There are many similarities between Freemasonry and Scouting both providing a unique environment for people from all backgrounds to learn skills, make lasting friendships, and achieve their potential. We are therefore very pleased to have been able support our local Scouts on their expedition.'

scientists from the University of Leicester, funded by Kidney Research UK and with the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, are working towards understanding which exercise methods will best help those with kidney disease

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

A total of 4,000 patients in the Leicester region currently suffer from early stage kidney disease. It is common for these patients to die from heart disease, rather than kidney disease, partly due to inactivity and muscle wasting. The research team have already recorded the attitudes to exercise in 2,000 kidney patients from across the country to understand their exercise habits. Dr Smith said: 'Those with kidney disease don’t know if the general advice around exercise applies to them and whether they should exercise or not as a kidney patient.'

Amy Clarke, a Researcher in Health and Behavior Psychologist in the team, said: 'This large survey has given us a picture of how kidney patients behave. The main questions they asked included: Is exercise safe for me? Will it benefit me? Could it make my condition worse? There are also the emotions of having an illness, such as kidney disease, where patients want to know if they can get back to the activities they used to do before diagnosis.'

Dr Smith continued: 'Having collated the patient perceptions on their exercise, we are now taking the project forward to start to produce a programme to help kidney patients become more active in their daily lives. This is a new kind of concept and consists of talking to patients, members of staff, and an expert panel to get a consensus about the programme, and then testing it in practice. It also aims to understand which type of exercise, such as walking or swimming, can be embedded into patient's lifestyles rather than relying on supervised gym sessions which are not sustainable and often doesn’t fit into patients’ lives easily.'

The project has already developed a self-directed exercise programme to help patients with kidney disease to be more active on an individual basis. The SPARK, Self-management Programme to Increase Health through Physical Activity in Chronic Kidney Disease programme is currently undergoing further revision based on patient feedback already received. A further programme is also being developed which patients will attend in groups to discuss the role of exercise in their lives and help them to formulate a plan and put it into practice. The team are also recruiting patients from Nottingham to broaden and expand the study.

Suzanne Baines, Major Gifts Officer of Kidney Research UK said: 'With over three million people at risk of chronic kidney disease, we are very grateful for the generous donation that the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons have given to support this important and groundbreaking research project which has the potential to benefit patients across the country.'

RW Bro David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, said: 'The Freemasons are extremely pleased and proud to have been able to support this vital research which affects so many people in the local community.'

Wednesday, 09 December 2015 13:34

A tale of two Alan Hurdleys

W Bro Alan Hurdley of the Lodge of the Argonauts No. 8210, meeting in Leicester, had a very unusual guest at their recent meeting on the 1st December 2015, one that has united the two brethren from different Provinces.

W Bro Alan Hurdley met with his namesake W Bro Alan Hurdley from Prince of Wales Lodge No. 2520 which meets in the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding.

The meeting came about when W Bro Alan Hurdley from Yorkshire contacted W Bro Alan Hurdley after noticing the similarity in their names whilst using ADelphi 2, the United Grand Lodge of England's membership system. While not directly related, it seems that the two possibly share an ancestor originating from the village of Hurdley in Powys, Wales.

Both W Bro Hurdley’s enjoyed the evening in each other’s company and may well be the start of many visits between the two as members of the Craft.

Online safety education

Children’s educational centre Warning Zone has received a £10,000 donation from Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons towards an interactive experience highlighting the dangers of the internet. The new E-Safety Zone is based on a trip to the fairground and aims to educate Year 6 children (ages 10-11) about online safety, including learning about internet security, cyber bullying, grooming, digital identity and unsuitable material. It was opened by Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire Sir Clive Loader, with PGM David Hagger, Provincial Almoner Anthony Molyneux (both pictured) and other members of the fraternity in attendance.

During the summer, the Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works of Leicestershire and Rutland led the redecoration of the Provincial headquarters on London Road, Leicester.

W Bro Fred Harris and his son Bro Freddie Harris, both of Beacon Lodge No. 5208, along with a small team, began the four week process in mid-June 2015 and is focussed on a complete redecoration including repairs to joinery and preparation of external surfaces prior to the complete repainting of the façade.

No doubt these efforts by W Bro Fred Harris over the summer will not only prolong the life of the building but vastly increase the appearance of Freemasons' Hall doing justice to the magnificent Grade II listed Georgian building that many Leicestershire and Rutland masons call home.

Friday, 04 December 2015 05:48

Granite Lodge balloon race reaches Sweden!

During the summer barbecue held by Granite Lodge No. 2028 at the home of W Bro Mark Stewart-Halford, guests were encouraged to purchase a helium balloon which would be set free with a tag attached asking the finder to contact the lodge via its website.

Guests old and young were eager to try their luck and keen to see how far the balloons would go.

After the barbecue, results started to come in of balloon sightings, starting in Lincolnshire and then all the way out to Belgium in the North Sea.

Nothing however prepared the lodge to expect the farthest distance travelled, over 1,000 miles to Kullaberg in Sweden where a local diver, Mr Ian Fernheden spotted one of the balloons underwater on one of his dives. The moment the diver found the balloon underwater can be seen here: Granite Lodge balloon find.

The day raised over £1,000 for the Master's chosen charity, the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

On 30th November 2015, the Leicestershire and Rutland Lodge of Installed Masters No. 7896, which meets at Freemasons’s Hall, Leicester, received a lecture on the ‘Masonic Echoes in Gilbert and Sullivan’ by W Bro David Hughes.

W Bro David is someone rather well qualified to deliver it as not only is he a well known masonic researcher and current Master of the Lodge of Research No. 2429, but he has a long 'performing pedigree' in the Savoy Operas having commenced his on-stage life with them in 1961 at his school in Dudley. He subsequently went on to be a leading member of both the Liverpool and Cambridge University G and S Societies, and later becoming a regular stage director of the Operas in Leicester.

W Bro Hughes began by outlining the masonic careers of both Gilbert and Sullivan. Gilbert originally joined a masonic lodge in Scotland while he was a volunteer officer in Aberdeen, while Sullivan was initiated most appropriately into the Lodge of Harmony No. 255. Both were subsequently exalted into the Royal Arch and perfected in the Ancient and Accepted Rite.

Sadly, the masonic influence on the works of "G and S" have been neglected by their biographers, though most recently the tide seems to have turned in this respect, especially with regard to Sullivan where it is increasingly accepted that his membership of the Craft had an influence on all his output, and certainly assisted in moulding his character and conduct. It must also be remembered that Sullivan was a unique figure in English Freemasonry, being the only holder of Grand Rank as a Rosette appointment – but he did have friends in very high places in the person of the MW Grand Master His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

W Bro Hughes demonstrated that there are explicit masonic references in The Grand Duke of 1896, where one character states 'we are all tiled here'. Then in the Song of the Sausage Roll, reference is made to the giving and receiving of signs whereby one brother learns he may fully trust another.

However, it is rather through Gilbert's use of Topsy-Turvey arguments that the allusions become more plain. Gilbert used a dramatic method whereby everything is turned on its head so that it becomes its own opposite. Thus good is bad, bad is good, day is night and night is day, vice is virtue and virtue is vice and so on. By this means Gilbert constructs his satires. In The Grand Duke the Masonic satire hinges on a touring company of actors planning to overthrow a minor German prince. Thus Freemasonry which is most certainly not about the seizure of political power and the advancement of the private interests of its members is turned on its head to become exactly the opposite of itself.

Similarly in Ruddigore of 1887, masonic ritual is parodied both in words and music in telling the tale of a man who is condemned by an ancient curse to commit a crime each day or perish in agony which 'gets worse by degrees', inflicted on him by his ghostly ancestors who form a mock lodge for the purpose of making him make, not a daily advancement in masonic knowledge, but a daily descent into a life of crime and wrongdoing. Once again our beneficial and moral order is turned on its head to become its exact opposite for the purposes of satire.

At the close of the meeting, the Master of the lodge, W Bro Ian Johnson, thanked W Bro Hughes for an enlightening and entertaining talk.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire Jennifer, Lady Gretton, JP officially opened the new Community Room at Lutterworth Freemasons’ Hall on Saturday 21st November 2015 alongside the Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger.

Over the past year the Freemasons’ Hall at Lutterworth, known as the Wycliffe Rooms, has undergone extensive development to include a new large multifunctional room, bar and kitchen which is available for hire by the local community.

The Chairman of the Lutterworth Masonic Association, W Bro Malcolm Longley, said: 'We offer our thanks to Lady Gretton for finding time in her busy schedule to perform the official opening ceremony. Similarly, our thanks must also go to RW Bro David Hagger for also being with us on this special occasion. We are deeply indebted to many organisations and individuals who have contributed to the completion of this development with either financial or physical help, or both.'

Other parts of the former cinema have also been refurbished including the reception and toilet facilities and a lift installed to allow less able brethren access to the lodge room without having to climb the stairs. The main kitchen has also been extended.

More than 70 people, including the Lutterworth Town Mayor, Tony Hirons, together with many local Freemasons and their partners, attended the opening after which a luncheon was served. The Provincial Grand Master gave an address congratulating all those involved in the project and concluded that he was proud that the Freemasons have provided wonderful facilities for the community of Lutterworth to use.

Finally, W Bro Clive Weston, Honorary Secretary of the Lutterworth Masonic Association, and Project Manager finished the event by presenting flowers to Lady Gretton and to the wives of members who had assisted in the development and refurbishment.

The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger, visited the new Centre for Medicine at the University of Leicester on Thursday 26th November 2015, which is currently being completed.

The Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association (LRMCA) generously donated £50,000 towards the building which will provide a state of the art academic research and teaching environment for medical students.

A multifunctional room on the lower floor of the new centre will be proudly named the ‘Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons’ Room’. The Provincial Grand Master, along with the Chairman of the LRMCA, W Bro John Peberdy, the Provincial Grand Almoner, W Bro Anthony Molyneux, a Grand Charity Representative, W Bro Anthony Wood and their partners were given a guided tour of the centre by Estates Project Manager, Dave Vernon.

The tour started at the room to be named after the local Freemasons which is located to the left of the main reception of the building. Other parts of the new building were shown during the tour including the lecture theatres, communal spaces and offices particularly highlighting its Passivhaus (very little energy required for heating and cooling) features.

The Centre for Medicine has also recently had a green 'living' wall installed which is the largest green wall in the UK outside of London. This will provide year round colour from the flowering plants and a habitat for birds, bees and butterflies.

The centre is due to be opened during the next couple of months and will be in full use by Easter 2016.

Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons have donated £10,000 to the children’s educational charity Warning Zone towards the funding of a new interactive zone based on the dangers of the internet

The new E-Safety Zone is an interactive experience, based on a trip to the fairground, for Year 6 students which aims to educate children about online safety including learning about internet security, cyberbullying, grooming, digital identity and unsuitable material.

Warning Zone was first launched in October 2006 and is the adopted charity of the High Sheriff of Leicestershire and Rutland. It combines vital messages in a single stimulating and memorable experience which helps to prepare youngsters for increased independence and their transition into early adolescence. Located on Frog Island in Leicester it aims to foster an understanding of risk, consequence of actions, peer pressure and personal responsibility. It is not about wrapping children in cotton wool, rather presenting the plain and honest facts in a memorable and understandable way in order to encourage responsible behaviour and sound decision making while living full and active lives.

The new zone was officially opened by Sir Clive Loader, Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire and Rutland, on Monday 5th October 2015. The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, David Hagger, along with other members of the fraternity, also attended the opening ceremony and were given a most interesting and informative tour of the new learning zone.

David Hagger said: 'We are very proud to have contributed to this excellent learning facility for children. As Freemasons, we follow five principles which encompass the fundamental values of good citizenship. Educational facilities such as Warning Zone similarly help youngsters to develop the concept of their own personal and social responsibility. The E-safety zone is an excellent new facility that will ensure the risks of using the internet are highlighted to children.'

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