Celebrating 300 years

The Royal Arch Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight has taken an innovative approach to its fundraising for the Bicentenary Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons Research Fellowship

The Province invited chapters to nominate an individual who has undergone major surgery, showing exceptional fortitude and bravery, to qualify for a Badge of Courage Award (BOCA). 

Chapters were invited to sponsor individuals by pledging a donation of £1,000, of which £500 would be donated to the appeal with the £500 balance going to a non-masonic charity nominated by the award recipient. A gala BOCA ball was held at HMS Collingwood in Gosport, at which Grand Superintendent Alan Berman presented Second Grand Principal George Francis (pictured above) with a cheque for £80,000 for the appeal.

Eight donations of £500 each were also made to the charities nominated by the BOCA winners.

It was horses for courses when Cambridgeshire masons attended a banquet to mark the bicentenary of the Holy Royal Arch in the Millennium Suite overlooking the Rowley Mile at Newmarket racecourse

The climax of the evening was when Grand Superintendent Rodney Wolverson presented a £40,000 cheque to Helen Fernandes, consultant neurosurgeon at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, representing the Royal College of Surgeons.

Fernandes talked of the work of the Royal College of Surgeons, specifically the support for the young surgeons with ideas for research that had the potential to lead to major advances in medicine. She expressed her delight and thanks for the magnificent sum raised by Cambridgeshire Royal Arch Masons.

ME Comp HRH The Duke of Kent, First Grand Principal, presided over the Celebratory Bicentenary Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter and the dinner later that evening at the Savoy.

Published in SGC

Bicentenary Celebration Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter 
16 October 2013 
An address by the ME The First Grand Principal HRH The Duke of Kent, KG 

Companions, today marks a major milestone in the distinguished history of the Holy Royal Arch.

Whilst celebrating this landmark I particularly wished to mention the success of the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons. I am impressed to hear about the tremendous support that the companions have given to the Appeal.

In my speech at the Supreme Grand Chapter meeting in April this year I mentioned that the Appeal would remain open until the end of the year. However, I am pleased to announce that the amount donated and pledged so far is £2m. This exceeds expectations and I congratulate you.

I also know that the College President, Professor Norman Williams, is extremely grateful to companions for helping to fund the College's successful research fellowship scheme at the same time as maintaining their clinical leadership.

To mark this special celebration I intend to make additional first appointments to past Grand Rank on the scale of one for every Province or District. It is my hope that Grand Superintendents, upon whom I shall rely for advice in the selection of suitable companions, will ensure that so far as is possible the Companions so honoured will be those who have carried out significant work for the Royal Arch Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons or who have made a significant contribution in some other way to this year's celebrations.

Companions, I am aware of the effort that has been put into organising the events of today's memorable celebration. I thank the Committee of General Purposes, the Grand Scribe Ezra and his staff for their detailed planning and preparation for today. I also thank the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for the excellence of this special ceremony. I know we all wish the Order continued success for the next two hundred years!

Published in Speeches

Royal College support from Northumberland

At the annual meeting of the Northumberland Provincial Grand Chapter, Grand Superintendent Peter Magnay welcomed representatives from the Royal College of Surgeons and presented them with a cheque for £50,000 towards financing their research in Newcastle. Professor Robert Pickard and two of his research fellows, Peter Kullar and Raveen Sander, all based at Newcastle hospitals, outlined the nature of their various research projects.

The Chairman of the Leyland and District Group of Freemasons, Stewart Seddon, welcomed the newly installed Mayor of South Ribble, Councillor Dorothy Gardner and her consort Cllr Melvyn Gardner together with representatives from 19 local charities to the group’s fourth annual Giving Day

After welcoming the guests to Leyland Masonic Hall, Stewart said he was amazed, although not altogether surprised, that the Giving Day has snowballed. He said at the first event in May 2010, presentations were made to just seven charities, with a further four having been assisted during the course of that year. The sum donated at that time amounted to £30,052 which included grants from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and funding was matched by the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity.

Stewart continued by saying: 'Even though we are in the midst of a recession, we are announcing donations amounting to over £154,000 to 31 non-masonic charities'.

Stewart then introduced some of his colleagues who were taking part in the event: 'Ray Martland (Assistant Provincial Grand Master), Paul Renton (Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals), Chris Blackwell (Leyland Group Vice Chairman), Mike Pinckard (group secretary), John Lucas (group treasurer), Eric Hart (Leyland Group Local Care Officer), Andy Sumner (group publicity officer) and Glynn Wrennall (Group Charity Steward) who, along with his wife Eunice and brother John, organised the day’s event and produced the brochures.'

He then introduced Derek Rooney (Publicity Officer - West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity) who explained the structure and the workings of the WLFC.

Ray next announced the names of the charities and the details of the donations they were to receive - and in some cases already had received.

Manchester Royal Eye Hospital £125, Alder Hey Family House Trust £450, Babybeat £200, St Catherine’s Hospice £4,146, Gurkha Welfare Trust £225, Galloway’s Society for the Blind £250 Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust Charitable Fund £250, Bowel Cancer UK at Rosemere £257, Bowland-Pennine Mountain Rescue Team £400, McMillan Nurses £650, Derian House Children’s Hospice £4,776, Rosemere Cancer Foundation, £2,294, Southport Offshore Rescue Trust £787.10, Leonard Cheshire Disability £1,000 plus Gift Aid, Lancashire and South Cumbria Kidney Patients Association £1093.50, The Legacy – Rainbow House £2,430, Diabetes UK £1,200, Teddies for Loving Care £2,060, North West Air Ambulance £15,187.10, Masonic Hall Appeal £300, West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity £12,864.84.

Each recipient gave a brief summary of the work they do in the community - some of which were quite heartbreaking to hear.

The Leonard Cheshire Disability homes in Garstang and Windermere cheques for £500 each plus Gift Aid was money raised from a sponsored walk along the 46 miles of the Preston to Kendal Canal by John Wrennall.

Other charities who have received donations prior to the Giving Day this year are: The Masonic Samaritan Fund £15, Medicine and Chernobyl £50, Eccleston Scouts £125, Eccleston Brownies £125, East Lancashire Hospice £200, St Saviours Church £250, Donna’s Dream House £250, Urology Dept RPH £250, East Lancashire Masonic Benevolent Fund £450, Space Centre £500, Hutton Grammar School £750, Royal College of Surgeons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal £2,790, Cancer Research UK £50,100.

Ray Martland then gave a cheque for £250 from the Leyland and District Group to the Mayor, Cllr Dorothy Gardner for her nominated charities which are Babybeat, St Catherine’s Hospice and Hope-4-Justice.

Dorothy then addressed the Leyland Freemasons present and thanking them for their generosity she made a specific mention of the many recipients of donations, how grateful they were for them and how contributions such as those made would have life changing results for many people. She then spoke about her chosen charities, giving the particular example of Hope-4-Justice which is a charity that helps to provide rescue, rehabilitation, education and public awareness with regard to child prostitution in Penwortham.

The Giving Day event was formerly closed with Chris Blackwell, vice chairman of the group thanking the representatives of the charities for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend. Many of the guests were given a tour of the Masonic hall.

The total donations to non-masonic charities during the past 12 months from the Leyland and District Group including The Grand Charity was £154,043.50

The total donations to masonic charities were £16,319.84 making a grand total of £170,363.34

Thursday, 06 June 2013 01:00

Grand Secretary's column - Summer 2013

 I am pleased to let you know that your magazine, as part of our wider communications campaign, has been shortlisted for another award – this time within the Best Corporate and Business Communications category at the ‘Oscars’ of the PR industry, the CIPR Excellence Awards 2013. This is encouraging and supports the excellent feedback we receive from members and their families.

This year is proving to be very interesting, especially with the bicentenary of the Royal Arch. It is particularly gratifying that, at the time of writing, the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons stands at more than £1 million. And from first-hand experience and the comments we have received, the presentations by Fellows of the College have been a great success.

Writing in the official journal of the United Grand Lodge of England, I want to remind you that we value the opinions of our members. To that end, we spend a lot of effort surveying members’ views, as well as visiting and talking to members of all ages and all backgrounds throughout the English Constitution, at home and abroad. This gives us a good grasp of the issues for discussion.

Sometimes those holding minority views will be disappointed. A classic example is a tiny minority who think that by removing the need for a belief in a Supreme Being we would increase our potential for recruitment. This is an example where we think change would not be for the best. There are many other areas where we have been proactive and made changes to ensure the long-term survival of the organisation. A typical example being in the area of talking openly about Freemasonry and showing that the organisation is relevant today – and is one that members should be proud to belong to.

We all enjoy reading about masonic history, how our members have achieved great things and what they are doing to help those less fortunate in the community. In this issue of Freemasonry Today, we look at an RMBI cookbook that has helped older citizens connect with the recipes from their past and the people in their present. A profile of the Rough Ashlar Club shows how the use of social media is bringing younger Freemasons together for a friendly pint. Meanwhile, we trace the origins of the Crimestoppers initiative back to a couple of masons in Great Yarmouth. I hope you find something that makes you proud to be a Freemason.

Nigel Brown
Grand Secretary

‘We have been proactive to ensure the long-term survival of the organisation’

Published in UGLE

Realising your potential

First Grand Principal HRH The Duke of Kent welcomes new investees and reminds them of their duties as he looks forward to celebrating the Royal Arch bicentenary in 2013

Companions, I congratulate all of you who were invested with Grand Rank on Thursday, 25 April 2013. This accolade is not awarded solely for what you have achieved in Royal Arch masonry, but it also looks ahead to the potential of your future contribution. That contribution should include helping to look after the smooth running of your chapters and the happiness of your fellow members.

Recruitment into the Order is a further important task for you. However, it takes sound judgement to know when a member of the Craft is ready to complete his pure ancient masonry. As you will appreciate, this judgement applies most particularly to the Royal Arch representative in Craft lodges.

Successful appeal

As we look forward to celebrating the bicentenary in October this year, I am pleased that the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons has already passed the £1.3 million mark. This is a commendable effort and I thank those who have contributed so generously to this worthwhile appeal. For members who are intending to donate, I am informed that the appeal will continue until the end of 2013.

‘it takes sound judgement to know when a member of the Craft is ready to complete his pure ancient masonry’

Published in SGC

Out of the shadows

As the Royal Arch marks two hundred years of recognition, Second Grand Principal George Francis explains its evolution and sometimes complex relationship with the Craft

What is the Royal Arch?

It’s a difficult concept to explain, even to a mason. Part of the problem is that the Royal Arch developed in a way that has been forgotten. The main idea goes back to the sixteenth century, if not before. Around the Tudor period there was Freemasonry which had come from the stonemasons, and the Royal Arch was the first attempt to branch off and do something extra. We have to be careful not to call the Royal Arch the ‘Fourth Degree’; that’s just one way to explain it to an outsider, but it is a completion of the Three Degrees. It gives you new insights and is the culmination of the first lessons and meanings – it completes the journey.

The Royal Arch dates back to the 1700s. Why is the bicentenary in 2013?

The people who started Grand Lodge in 1717 decided they were not going to include the Royal Arch and were going to stick to the main idea, or trunk. That’s really the start of the story, before then it’s all speculative. By 1750, another group who were also part of the main trunk said this isn’t quite how Freemasonry ought to be, that the Royal Arch was absolutely essential, so they were going to split off and do things differently. Suddenly two Grand Lodges were operating side by side and they gave one another inappropriate nicknames. The newer Grand Lodge members called themselves ‘the Antients’ (as they felt they were the real keepers of the flame) and called the other Grand Lodge ‘the Moderns’ – even though the Moderns had actually been established earlier. So you had this slight friction between them and they trundled along rather uneasily side by side.

How did the happen?

Eventually both lodges decided the situation was counter-productive and that they should join up. The Duke of Sussex was the main mover in this, heading up the Moderns, and the leader of the Antients was his brother, the Duke of Kent, who insisted that the combined organisation must have the Royal Arch as part of the journey. It wasn’t until 1813 that the Royal Arch became a formal part of the structure.

What else did the Duke of Sussex do?

One point the Duke of Sussex stipulated at the was that we should all wear the same regalia, and also that we were to use the same rituals and words. The second part never quite happened, so there are still differences in the rituals and wording used by different lodges. However, we’re greatly indebted to the Duke of Sussex; he was an interesting person and very left wing for a royal prince – he was anti-slavery, pro-Catholic (although not one himself) and pro-Jewish. These things were rather unfashionable at the time. He was very much a figurehead for the Whigs and people who wanted change. The Duke of Sussex was the one who said we are not going to be just Christian in the Freemasons, we’ll allow everybody in as long as they believe in God.

What’s the difference between the Craft and the Royal Arch?

We call the three main degrees, which have adopted the colour blue, the ‘Craft’ and we call members ‘brothers’ and ‘brethren’. Even the female masons call one another brother. In the Royal Arch, you become ‘companions’. You’ve made that additional step, you’re taking it a bit more seriously, so there’s a different atmosphere – it’s more intimate, you’re more closely linked. We meet up in chapters and have adopted the colour red as well as blue. It’s very much an eighteenth-century idea of a harmonious society.

Is the Royal Arch more complicated?

I try to get people to realise that you don’t have to understand everything that’s going on, you just have to enjoy it. There are interesting ideas and stories – some of it’s quite deep – but you don’t have to comprehend every single part. It’s quite fun exploring and finding out these things slowly. You’ve got to enjoy time with people, enjoy doing a bit of acting, listening to stories and maybe understanding something you didn’t understand before. That’s what it’s about really, doing things together.

Are more Freemasons coming to the Royal Arch?

Around forty per cent of Craft masons are in the Royal Arch and it’s a shame that it isn’t more.

Clearly there are some who really don’t want to go into the deeper meanings, which is fine because Freemasonry should appeal on different levels. But what I’m trying to express to the Craft is that you should really complete the journey, it’s not that much more time or expense and you’ll really enjoy it.

It completes the circle of understanding and the basic journey. This way of thinking is having some effect and our proportion of Craft masons is gradually rising.

How can you improve recruitment?

The problem is that when you come to Freemasonry, the Royal Arch is not explained because it’s difficult to describe. It sometimes doesn’t get mentioned until quite late on – someone might have been in masonry a couple of years before they come across it. We’re trying to change the perception that it’s just an optional extra and make sure that it’s explained at the outset. We thought at one stage we might go back to a Fourth Degree idea so everyone would be involved. It would be free of charge and there wouldn’t be any reason for not doing it. But the Royal Arch is slightly different so it shouldn’t really be an automatic stage; people ought to think about it, and we’re hoping the bicentenary will help to explain that.

What are you trying to achieve with the bicentenary appeal?

The Bicentenary Appeal is about three things: formal recognition, an appeal and an excuse for a party.

We added the appeal idea so we would have a legacy of our celebration, one that adds to the Fund we created in 1967 for the benefit of the Royal College of Surgeons. We’ve ninety thousand members in England and Wales and ten thousand abroad, and it is important when you’ve got such a big organisation to continue to show members what can be done, to not just sit back and do more of the same.

What do you do as the Second Grand Principal?

My role was traditionally carried out by the Deputy Grand Master but for various reasons the roles got split a number of years ago. It means that I can concentrate on the Royal Arch. I try to visit all forty-six Provinces as well as the Metropolitan Area of London and explain what’s happening at the centre, what the challenges are for the future and encourage our members generally. It’s an opportunity to speak to the Provinces on a different level and not just go through the motions.

Is the Royal Arch changing?

We try to alter the ritual as little as possible because it’s something that people have to learn by heart – you can’t keep changing it all the time. But part of my job is to find the things that we can improve to make it more enjoyable and exciting. My job is to also get the message out there that this is for younger chaps, too, and that we can add a bit more colour and a little less formality.

Find out about the discovery of an old manuscript that could reveal crucial elements about Royal Arch ritual here.

Published in SGC

ANNUAL INVESTITURE
25 APRIL 2013
AN ADDRESS BY THE ME First Grand Principal HRH The Duke of Kent, KG

Companions,

I congratulate all of you who have been invested today with Grand Rank. This accolade is not awarded solely for what you have achieved in Royal Arch Masonry, but it also looks ahead to the potential of your future contribution. That contribution should include helping to look after the smooth running of your Chapters and the happiness of your fellow members.

Recruitment into the Order is a further important task for you. However, it takes sound judgement to know when a member of the Craft is ready to complete his pure ancient Masonry. As you will appreciate, this judgement applies most particularly to the Royal Arch Representative in Craft Lodges.

As we look forward to celebrating the Bicentenary in October this year, I am pleased that the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons has already passed the £1.3 million mark. This is a commendable effort and I thank those who have contributed so generously to this worthwhile appeal. For members who are intending to donate, I am informed that the Appeal will continue until the end of 2013.

Finally Companions, I am sure you will want me to thank the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for the skill with which the ceremony has been conducted and the Grand Scribe E and his staff for all their work in ensuring today’s success for all of us.

Published in Speeches
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