Freemasons of Warwickshire paraded in full regalia in the streets of Stratford-upon-Avon in August for the first time since 1929, joined by Mayor of Stratford, Councillor Victoria Alcock
The procession commenced at Shakespeare’s Birthplace and proceeded through the town to Shakespeare’s New Place museum, where they were greeted by the head of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Dr Diana Owen.
A dedication was then given of Shakespeare’s desk and chair, both of which were donated by UGLE and the Province of Warwickshire to mark their commitment to the Stratford-upon-Avon community.
Warwickshire Provincial Grand Master David Macey formally handed over the desk and chair after the conclusion of the ceremony in the museum’s gardens.
Eight Devonshire charities benefited from a series of special MCF Community Awards from Devonshire Freemasons after an unprecedented public vote, with 178,801 people in England and Wales participating
The MCF Community Awards are a major part of UGLE’s 300th anniversary celebrations. The Masonic Charitable Foundation is distributing £3 million to 300 charities across the country, with the public vote deciding on the level of awards, which range from £4,000 to £25,000.
Presentations to the charities were made in September at a special ceremony in Plymouth by Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury on behalf of the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
Find out more about the thinking behind the MCF Community Awards here.
Cheshire masons donated £55,000 to The Children’s Adventure Farm Trust in September for a 14-seat minibus, and PGM Stephen Blank presented the keys of the vehicle to charity president and football legend Sir Bobby Charlton
The minibus has been adapted to transport disabled, ill and disadvantaged children from north-west England to participate in activities such as sports, animal care, arts, crafts and music therapy.
The Province of West Lancashire was anxious to ensure that it celebrated the Tercentenary in style and with that in mind, two gala dinners took place within a few weeks of each other
At the main event, held at the Hilton Hotel, Blackpool, over 400 brethren and their partners gathered to attend the Provincial Tercentenary Gala Dinner. The evening began with the entrance of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and his wife Maureen, who were accompanied by the principal guest, Assistant Grand Master Sir David Hugh Wootton. Also joining them was the chairman of the West Lancashire Tercentenary committee, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Tony Bent and his wife Lynda.
Following the dinner, the entertainment began in dramatic style when a waiter dropped a large tray of cutlery, apparently accidentally on to the dance floor. This got everyone’s attention but rather than a mishap, this was the start of a performance in which several theatrical ‘waiters’ performed a set of popular operatic arias to the delight of the audience.
As the customary toasts were made, Tony Harrison proposed the toast to the ‘Premier Grand Lodge’ on the occasion of its Tercentenary and then, following a brief synopsis of Sir David’s professional and Masonic career, offered a toast to the Assistant Grand Master. To further mark Sir David’s visit, Tony presented him with a cheque for £5,000 from the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity to pass on to the Lifelites charity, of which he is a patron.
He was also presented with a ‘Rail Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland’ and a special bottle of Martell Cognac which commemorated the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Martell Distillery. Sir David thanked Tony for his kind words and very generous gifts.
The evening’s raffle, which raised £1,920 in favour of the West Lancashire 2021 Masonic Charitable Foundation Festival, saw the lucky winners claiming a variety of prizes, including a coach holiday in the UK, flying lessons and a widescreen television.
At another event, held earlier in the north of the Province, over 200 Masons and their partners gathered at the Cumbria Grand Hotel to celebrate what was billed as ‘A Spectacular Banquet and Ball’, organised jointly by the Furness and Lancaster Masonic Groups. Once again, the revellers were joined by Tony and Maureen Harrison at a wonderful event that combined great food, marvellous entertainment and a spectacular firework finale.
Speeches were kept to a minimum with the emphasis firmly on having a relaxed and fun filled evening. The speech and double toast given by Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger was so uncharacteristically short that it earned him rapturous applause!
Everyone pronounced both evenings to be a great success and a fitting way to celebrate such a memorable Masonic milestone in true West Lancashire style.
Thanks to a donation from Durham Benevolence, and the support of brethren from all around the Province, the Durham Branch of the Masonic Fishing Charity hosted its very ﬁrst event at the Aldin Grange ﬁshing lakes, near Bearpark, in Durham, on Saturday 23rd September
On this bright autumnal morning, the Branch Chairman David Grey, along with Graham Snell, Deputy CEO of the Masonic Fishing Charity, greeted 11 pupils, together with three staff from The Oaks, a large, local authority secondary school, based in Spennymoor, which caters for young people with special educational needs from across South West Durham.
The weather conditions were ideal, apart from a slight breeze; however, they all needed some luck to start catching. This came, surprisingly, in the form of the Provincial Grand Master Eric Heaviside who had come along to support the event. Shortly after Eric’s arrival, the students were into their ﬁrst catch which continued at an erratic rate, depending on where Eric was standing. The enthusiastic shouts of ‘got a ﬁsh!’ continued right up until it was time to break for lunch, by which time 10 of the students had caught ﬁsh.
After the ﬁnal cast of the day, all the participants retired to a barn to attend an awards ceremony where David Grey and Eric Heaviside presented special trophies, medals and certiﬁcates of achievement to each youngster. In response, Harry Wilkinson, the teacher in charge from The Oaks School, thanked everyone concerned for the time given voluntarily by all those who organised the event to bring an interactive ﬁshing and countryside experience to all of his students who had attended this very memorable day.
The Durham Branch held another event more recently at Aldin Grange ﬁshing lakes, which was a recruitment and training day for participants identiﬁed from within the Province. Once again, the venue was kindly provided by Brian Hodgson from Agricola Lodge No. 7741.
To find out more about the Masonic Fishing Charity click here.
News that her organisation was going to be given £15,000 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation reduced Pat Ebbs to tears
“Words can’t explain what this means to us. No-one has even done anything like this for us before, and saying thank you just doesn’t seem to be enough,” she told Lincolnshire's Provincial Grand Master Graham Ives, when he went to Scunthorpe to make a formal presentation of the funds given to Magic Moments for Autisic Kids.
Pat is the driving force behind the charity, and knows better than most about life in families with autistic children – she has seven grandchildren suffering from it.
The money is the largest single donation ever made to the group, which has the objective of preventing sufferers of autism from feeling isolated, of training them and giving them life experiences.
Pat said the donation was a colossal sum of money and would make a significant difference to the families helped by the charity, which itself has been awarded an MBE. All of the money will be spent on providing experiences for the children, which will include a sledging trip and possibly a holiday in Wales at a venue specialising in holidays for disabled children.
Six Lincolnshire charities have benefited from Lincolnshire’s Community Awards after unprecedented public involvement. The Awards are a major part of Freemasonry’s 300th anniversary celebrations, with the Masonic Charitable Foundation distributing £3 million to 300 charities across the country.
All of the Lincolnshire charities were presented with their Awards by Graham Ives who commented: 'It was uplifting to hear the stories of the people who have been helped by these donations. Volunteers work so hard and to be able to provide the wherewithal for them to make an even more effective contribution is the perfect way to celebrate 300 years of Freemasonry.
'We’ve been active in charity work for all of Freemasonry’s 300 years, but this is the first occasion we’ve asked the public to help us decide how to spend our money. We are very pleased that so many people from Lincolnshire took part in the vote.'
Brethren from all four craft lodges in Boston have attended the very first meeting to form a Light Blue Club committee for the Province of Lincolnshire, which has been setup for new and young Freemasons
Although the speeches had to compete with the local football club’s firework display during the meeting led by W Bro Gary Cadle, a committee was formed. All committee members are below Provincial rank and include a brother who had taken his Second Degree just two days previously, as well as many Master Masons who have not yet been through the chair of their Lodge.
The meeting followed the formation of Lincolnshire’s Light Blue Focus group by the Provincial Grand Master Graham Ives and overseen by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master. The group will help to set up similar clubs in the Province wherever there is a need – and there has already been interest from brethren across the Province. It is envisaged that although each club will be run separately, they will work under the Lincolnshire Light Blue Club Banner so that a member of one club will be able to attend events organised by any other club.
Many events will involve casual social activities open to anyone (masons, non-masons, partners and families) when invited by a member. The network of clubs will work under the DARE initiative, to Develop, Attract, Retain and Encourage, and it is predicted that through the social and Masonic activities organised, brethren and non-masons from across Lincolnshire will meet and enjoy companionship in a variety of ways.
W Bro Gary Cadle said: ‘It really has been encouraging to see Brethren from across Boston coming together so enthusiastically with the aim of increasing their Masonic knowledge and social circle. We have some great ideas for events and activities which we will be publicising across the Province soon.’
He added: ‘It would be great if we can work with other similar groups in Lincolnshire. We have already met with members of Light Blue Clubs from Warwickshire, London, Essex and Wales.”
Following the meeting, and as an indication of the social spirit of the new club, many members went for a meal at a local Indian restaurant.
Port Talbot Masonic Lodges marked the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England by ‘adopting’ an ornamental garden in Margam Country Park and installing a commemorative monolith which was engraved with references to the 300th anniversary and Port Talbot Lodges
Future plans to further establish the Garden with the help and co-operation of Margam Country Park staff will include bilingual information boards and seating, along with the planting of flowers in the box hedge beds, to provide both the local community the facility to sit, quietly relax and reflect in a peaceful area, with the aim to be a lasting legacy for all.
The impressive monolith was donated by Michael Walton, an Officer of the Afan Lodge No. 833 in Port Talbot.
The Provincial Grand Master of South Wales Gareth Jones OBE unveiled the stone in the company of many masonic members and partners, including the Rev Edward Dowland-Owen, the Vicar of Margam Abbey, who blessed the Monument and Garden, as well as Leaders of the Neath Port Talbot Council Rob Jones and Neil Evans, the Estate Manager of Margam Country Park Michael Wynne and Head Gardener Jeannette Dunk.
It was also particularly fitting that the stone be laid within the Park and Margam Castle, which was formerly the home of the Talbot family, who assisted with the cost of the impressive Port Talbot Masonic Hall and generously enabled Masonic progress in the town.
More than 30 carers will be able to take a break next year, thanks to a £2,000 grant from Lincolnshire Freemasons via the Masonic Charitable Foundation
The grant to Respite Association will pay for the annual rent of a caravan at Richmond Holiday Centre in Skegness.
The caravan will be used by families of mentally and physically disabled children and spouses of people with various forms of dementia. While alternative short-term care is arranged, the carer can have a well-earned and much-needed rest beside the sea.
Lincolnshire's Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Graham Ives said: ‘We’re really pleased to be able to help the Respite Association with its wonderful work in the community.
‘Carers are often forgotten by the rest of us and Respite gives them the opportunity to take a well-earned rest.’
Freemasons from Leicestershire and Rutland, who cycled 300 miles during the summer, made their last short trip from Leicester to Loughborough to present a cheque for £11,704 to Rainbows Children’s Hospice in Loughborough
In June 2017, 23 Freemasons cycled around the Masonic centres in Leicestershire and Rutland and down to Freemasons’ Hall in London and back – completing a total of 300 miles as part of their 300th anniversary celebrations.
A total of £23,408 was raised from Freemasons, family and friends which was split equally between Rainbows and the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
A number of the cyclists took the short ride to Rainbows Hospice at Lark Rise in Loughborough to present the cheque to David Strudley, Rainbows CEO. The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland David Hagger was also on hand to formally present the cheque.
After light refreshments, the cyclists were delighted to have a guided tour of the Hospice and hear first-hand about the amazing care and support provided by Rainbows for life-limited children and their families.
Simon Oldfield, who organised the ride, said: ‘Riding 300 miles in four days was a first for many of us. After seeing the excellent work that Rainbows do, it makes me very proud to be a Freemason and to have been part of the team to help raise funds for such an amazing charity.
‘We all felt very humbled and everyone who took part in the ride, the cyclists and support team, felt immensely proud of our fundraising achievement and the opportunity to support such a deserving local charity. It made all the hard work of training through the depths of winter so very worthwhile.’
David Strudley, Rainbows CEO, commented: ‘We are especially grateful to Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons in making Rainbows Hospice part of their 300th anniversary fundraising event. The magnificent total raised from their cycling marathon will go a long way to supporting youngsters with life-limiting conditions and their families when they need it most.’
Provincial Grand Master David Hagger added: ‘I most sincerely thank the cyclists and assisting crew on behalf of all the Freemasons and their families in Leicestershire and Rutland for the generous contribution they have made – it is truly a magnificent achievement.’