A Masonic Express adventure in Yorkshire
As part of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary celebrations, the Province of Yorkshire, North and East Ridings hired a steam train for 300 Freemasons, including their friends and family
The Province kept the number at 300, to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the formation of the world’s first Grand Lodge for Freemasons.
The steam train was operated by the North York Moors Railway and ran between Pickering and Whitby, North Yorkshire. A metal plate was fabricated with the words Masonic Express in blue and white, which was affixed to and adorned the front of the engine.
In glorious sunshine, the event was presented as a family day out and the journey was set at a sedate pace through stunning countryside.
On arrival at Whitby Railway Station, in the centre of the town, the fun-filled 300 walked into the heart of this historic port to either take in some shopping, eat in the seafood restaurants or, for the more adventurous, climb up to the derelict Whitby Abbey, which is perched high on a cliff.
On arrival back in Pickering, the smiles on the faces of the 300 people was testament to the satisfaction of having enjoyed a fabulous family fun day together.
And as a result of the success of the Masonic Express adventure, the Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Jeffrey Gillyon expressed an interest in running another steam train in the future.
With the Headquarters of Sussex Freemasonry, a Grade II listed building in Brighton, in need of restoration and repair, Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Chris Moore put the wheels in motion for a fundraising initiative
The end result was making plans to undertake a sponsored parachute jump on the day of his birthday, 25th July 2017!
RW Bro Chris Moore completed the feat by leaping 12,000 feet above the ground from an aircraft at Skydive Headcorn in Kent – an achievement that has helped him to raise £20,000 to go towards the renovation project for the Sussex Freemasonry Headquarters.
RW Bro Chris Moore commented: ‘With our Headquarters in urgent need of some TLC, I knew I had to stir myself from my natural indolence and be sponsored to do something. Thankfully, the jump was successful, not only from the survival standpoint but also from the money raised for our Provincial Headquarters.
‘The generosity of Sussex Freemasons never ceases to amaze me. Having just completed our 2017 Festival with over £3.6 million for the erstwhile Grand Charity, one could be forgiven for thinking that they had nothing left to give and yet they have somehow found another £20,000 to sponsor their Provincial Grand Master. I am very grateful to them for that tremendous support and making my leap into the unknown such a resounding success.’
You can see RW Bro Chris Moore leap from the skies by watching a video of the parachute jump here.
You can also contribute to the fundraising initiative here.
Over 800 Freemasons from throughout Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire joined together with civic dignitaries, family and friends on 11th June 2017, to help celebrate the Tercentenary and founding of the Premier Grand Lodge with a dedicated Evensong service at Peterborough Cathedral
The service was conducted by The Reverend Canon Jonathan Baker, who welcomed everyone and commented on the common theme of `giving` in all aspects of life.
The service was preceded by a parade of Freemasons in their Masonic regalia from the Peterborough Town Hall to the Cathedral in glorious sunshine, with members of the public lining the route. Each of the 93 member Lodges from the Province of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire were represented and paraded their historic and colourful Lodge banners.
The parade aimed to replicate the last Masonic parade to be held in Peterborough over 95 years ago. Prior to this, parades were quite a regular feature in many towns and cities, but since the Second World War they had become rare.
The last parade in 1922 was held to help raise funds to assist with major restoration works needed in the north east wing of Peterborough Cathedral. The event raised a significant sum and coupled with other fundraising, the target was reached and the work completed.
The Provincial Grand Master Max Bayes commented: 'It's a wonderful day for Freemasonry and the Province of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire. I am sure that all present thoroughly enjoyed the day and were rightly proud of their membership.'
In Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, Freemasons raise over £100,000 each year for charitable purposes and regularly support the local community with donations to many worthy causes.
Wiltshire Freemasons found themselves in the wonderful surroundings of The Grange at Winterbourne Daunstey where they held a Teddy Bears Picnic
Entry to the event was free on the condition you brought a teddy bear and there was lots of entertainment on display for all the family including three bouncy castles games with a teddy bear hunt, a duck race and a thrilling birds of prey flying display.
There was also the opportunity to enjoy music on the lawn before adjounring to the magnificent recently converted Tithe Barn for afternoon tea.
The superb grounds of The Grange were bathed in glorious sunshine and the sound of happy children filled the air as they explored the woodland searching for hidden teddy bears and watched as rubber yellow ducks washed down the stream, cheered on by anxious owners desperate to win a bag of sweets.
The Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire Philip Bullock was thrilled with the day, commenting: 'I know that members of the Salisbury Lodges put a great deal of effort into making this day a success - they can be very proud of their achievement.'
The real winners though were Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) and the assisted living bungalow at nearby Alderbury, who between them shared almost £2,000 from the fundraising.
Rosie Greer, a senior sister at Salisbury Hospital enjoyed her day helping man the Teddies for Loving Care stand and display. She said: 'I have been especially pleased to be able to tell lots of people how a little TLC bear makes such a big difference to a child's time in our Accident and Emergency department.'
W Bro Barrie Hewitt, PAGDC, has been presented with the Badge of the Order of Mercy by Lord Lingfield, President of The League of Mercy at Mansion House, London
The presentation ceremony on Tuesday 11th July 2017 was followed by an informal tea with the Sheriff of the City of London Lord Lingfield and the Trustees of the League of Mercy. Also in attendance were Barrie’s wife Christine, Provincial Grand Master Mike Wilks and his wife Kay and W Bro Les Hutchinson, Chief Operating Officer of the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
Barrie Hewitt received the award in recognition of his outstanding contribution over the course of six years as Provincial Grand Charity Steward of Hampshire & Isle of Wight, towards their 2016 Festival which raised over £7.7 million for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. Barrie drove hundreds of miles around the Province to attend numerous Lodge meetings and deliver his presentation about the Festival in order to encourage Brethren to support it by making contributions and organising fundraising events.
At a national level, Barrie attended annual Festival Forums, giving advice and sharing his expertise with Provincial Grand Charity Stewards across the country. As well as working tirelessly for the Festival, Barrie also managed the Province’s ‘Teddies for Loving Care’ and carried out his other duties as Provincial Charity Steward.
Barrie has been a Freemason for over 30 years and was appointed to the Grand Rank of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2013.
Provincial Grand Master Mike Wilks commented: ‘I am so pleased that Barrie has been honoured in this way by a non-Masonic organisation which recognises distinguished voluntary work across the country. Barrie was one of just 25 to receive an award this year – a great accolade to a dedicated and committed Freemason.’
The League of Mercy was founded in 1899 by Royal Charter of Queen Victoria at the instigation of the then Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII. The object of the League was to establish a body of volunteers who would assist with the maintenance of voluntary hospitals and otherwise relieve sickness and suffering. Central to the activities of the League was an annual ceremony at which about 50 people were awarded a medal known as the Order of Mercy. When the 1948 National Health Act abolished these hospitals, the League was quietly wound up.
The League of Mercy was re-founded in 1999 as a registered charity, exactly 100 years to the day after it was first established. Central to its aims are “the encouragement and recognition of distinguished voluntary work within the areas of care, which include the sick, injured or disabled, young people at risk, the homeless, the elderly, the dying and those who are impaired in mind”.
Each year the League receives many nominations from charities and other recognised organisations from which the Trustees select about 25 outstanding volunteers, who are then invited to receive the Badge of the Order of Mercy. This is a hallmarked silver gilt representation of the original 1899 design.
At a celebration dinner to mark the 300th anniversary of the United Grand Lodge of England, Northumberland Freemasons gave away £300,000 to local charities
Provincial Grand Master of Northumberland Ian Craigs hosted the event at St James’ Park where almost 800 Freemasons, their families and special guests from North East charities celebrated the Tercentenary. Special guest of the evening was Pro Grand Master Peter Geoffrey Lowndes.
Although the evening was filled with entertainment, good food and distinguished guests, it was the charitable side of Freemasonry that stole the show.
Ian Craigs explained that the Provincial Grand Lodge of Northumberland has given away £300,000 to local charities this year to boost worthwhile and deserving projects throughout the region. There are 27 lodge meeting places across North Tyneside, Newcastle and Northumberland and the donations all went to local good causes.
Ian Craigs commented: ‘We’ve tried to donate money to charities close to each lodge building so that we can really make a positive impact on local projects and causes near to where Masonry takes place.
‘Our donations, which were all chosen by our members, will go a long way towards helping the charities concerned carry on their sterling work. This is one of the main things that Freemasons do and often we give without telling anyone. This year, we celebrate our 300th year and we’d like everyone to know how we help their local community.’
Leading Link’s manager Julie Greener said: ‘This is a very generous donation that will help us to give valuable skills to the young people of Northumberland. At the moment, we are working on a mentoring scheme that is helping vulnerable young people in the more rural parts of the county. We are very grateful to Northumberland Freemasons for the opportunity to carry on with our work.’
In addition to the 33 charities who attended the celebration event, a further 45 will receive cheques for the good work they do to help the people of Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.
On a hot summers night, the meeting of the Lodge of Amity No. 137 held on 19th July was anything but regular when Wiltshire Freemasons travelled to the Masonic Hall in Poole – the occasion being the Tercentenary banner handover between Dorset and near neighbours Wiltshire
Two Provincial Grand Masters, two Past Deputy Provincial Grand Masters and two Assistant Provincial Grand Masters added lustre to the occasion, which saw over 100 brethren witness the moment when Wiltshire's RW Bro Philip Bullock invited Dorset PrGM RW Bro Richard Merritt to receive the banner and pass it on to the Provincial Grand Master for Somerset.
In a ceremony planned and executed to perfection, the banner took its place in the Lodge room following an insightful explanation of its origins and journey around the South West Provinces thus far.
RW Bro Richard Merritt explained how the banner has travelled from Jersey, through Guernsey and Alderney to Hampshire and Isle of Wight before being entrusted to Wiltshire.
Having now been passed to Dorset, the next destination will be Somerset when RW Bro Richard Merritt will transfer the banner to his Somerset counterpart RW Bro Stuart Hadler during a special presentation ceremony to the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance at Henstridge on 9th August.
RW Bro Philip Bullock thanked the Province of Somerset and in particular, the Master and brethren of Lodge of Amity No. 137 for the generous and warm fraternal hospitality extended to the Wiltshire team.
Freemasons from the Bordon, Alton and Petersfield Masonic Centres held a charity presentation evening to celebrate the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary
Held at the Bordon Masonic Centre, the evening was well attended by local charity and community representatives and Freemasons including Chairman of East Hampshire District Council Lynn Evans, Mayor of Alton Dean-Paul Phillips and Mayor of Whitehill & Bordon Colin Leach.
Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight RW Bro Mike Wilks opened with a talk about Freemasonry and the values it represents and teaches its members. A total of 26 local charities and community organisations were supported and then given the opportunity to talk about the amazing support and services that they provide to the local communities.
Over £17,500 was presented to the below charities:
- Alton Cardiac Rehab - Provides exercise and health education for post-op rehabilitation
- Lifelites - Provides specialist technology for children in every children's hospices
- The Rosemary Foundation - Charity providing a 'Hospice at Home' service
- The Petersfield Society of Special Needs - Improving the quality of life of those who develop a disability in childhood
- Petersfield Counselling Service - Offers short and long term counselling to people 18 years and over
- Petersfield ShopMobility - Motorised scooters and wheelchairs for hire
- Petersfield Girl Guides - Run exciting activities for girls
- The Oaks Playscheme for Disabled Children - Run playschemes during the Easter and Summer holidays for 3-11 years
- Bisters Big Build - Raising funds to build a downstairs bedroom and wet room for Joseph, who has a range of serious medical conditions
- Alton MS Society - Offer help to people who are living with or affected by MS
- Holybourne Theatre Company - A not for profit amateur dramatics group run by volunteers which stages an energetic and diverse entertainment programme
- Kings Arms Young Carers - Charity set up to meet the needs of the young people of Petersfield and the surrounding villages
- The Murray Parish Trust - Charity dedicated to raising £2 million to build a new Children's A&E department at Southampton
- Friends Forever - A service set up to meet the leisure expectations of a group of disabled people who wanted to have the opportunity to rekindle old friendships and make new friends
- Homestart Weywater - Independent charity supporting families in need
- The Downs Syndrome Association - Charity focusing solely on all aspects of living successfully with Down’s syndrome
- Hounds for Heroes - Provides specially trained assistance dogs to injured and disabled men and women of both the UK Armed Forces and Emergency Services
- The Royal Marsden Hospital - A specialist cancer treatment hospital
- The Kevin Ackling Fund - Raising funds for The Brain Tumour Charity in memory of Kevin
- Headley Youth Football Club - Provides inclusive football for all ages from under 6 to under 18
- Headley Holme Primary School - A school for boys and girls aged from 4 to 11
- St Johns Ambulance - First aid charity
- Riding for the Disabled - Charity dedicated to improving the lives of thousands of people through education, therapy and fun
- Masonic Trout & Salmon Fishing Charity - Provides exhilarating fishing day experience for people with special needs
- Headley Sports Association - To provide facilities for recreation for the benefit of the Parish of Headley
- Kings Arms Young Carers - Raises awareness and money for children with cystic fibrosis
This money is achieved by Freemasons holding charity evenings or by regularly contributing to a Lodge charity fund, which is then used for the benefit of local causes.
Mike Wilks commented: ‘Listening to the charity representatives explain the work they do was very humbling. It provided even more motivation for us to keep raising funds for such worthy causes.
‘For 300 years we have been supporting charities and I hope we’ll still be doing it in another 300 years.’
The evening concluded with a social gathering in the dining hall of the centre. This provided a great opportunity for the charities to further explain what they do and to learn about Freemasonry from its members.
Nearly 300 Freemasons, family and friends from 33 different lodges across the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland gathered in Leicester to celebrate 300 years since the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge on Saturday 24th June 2017
The Grand Summer Ball was held on the exact date that 300 years ago in 1717 four masonic lodges gathered together at the Goose and Gridiron ale house in London and formed the first Grand Lodge in the world which continues to govern Freemasonry in England and Wales today.
Held at the Athena, guests were welcomed by the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger who wished everyone a wonderful evening celebrating the Tercentenary.
After dinner, the Provincial Grand Master took to the stage to draw the winners of the Tercentenary prize draw. Prizes included villa accommodation in Antigua, Florida and Devon, a hot air balloon ride and light aircraft flights – all very generously donated by Brethren from the Province.
The Provincial Grand Master also paid tribute to the 23 cyclists who had recently completed an epic 300 mile cycle ride raising over £21,000 for the Masonic Charitable Foundation and Rainbows Children’s Hospice in Loughborough. The seven riders who attended the ball were asked to stand up and were applauded by everyone on their great achievement.
During the evening, a silent auction offered a multitude of exclusive items, including a signed montage from Leicester City Football Club's Premier League winning season, a private hospitality suite to see Micky Flanagan and VIP trips to Las Vegas to see The Who and to Paris to see the Rolling Stones.
Further entertainment was filled by Black Jack and Roulette tables and guests filling the dance floor for well over an hour and a half, as they were taken back to the 1960’s by a Beatles tribute band.
Not only was the evening a celebration of Freemasonry, it was additionally successful in raising over £10,000 for the 2022 Masonic Charitable Foundation Festival which will go towards the target of £1.8 million to be raised by the Province over the next five years.
RW Bro David Hagger commented: ‘What a wonderful way to commemorate the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England by bringing many Brethren and their families together to celebrate this special night.’
On what was one of the warmest days of the year so far, Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes joined Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Michael Wilks at Hampshire and Isle of Wight's Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in Southampton
One of the highlights of the day was the official handover of the Tercentenary banner from the Province to RW Bro Philip Bullock - Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire.
The specially commissioned banner has now been carried through the Provinces of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney and Hampshire and Isle of Wight and on 19th July it will be formally handed to RW Bro Richard Merritt, Provincial Grand Master for Dorset.
This year not only marks the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England but also the conclusion of the Masonic Samaritan Fund 2017 Wiltshire Festival, which provides the ideal excuse to hold a celebration lunch in Trowbridge’s Civic Centre on Saturday 23rd September 2017.