Celebrating 300 years

Members of the oldest Masonic Lodge in Dorset have given £2,000 to help fund local charity Diverse Abilities

The donation was the result of money raised by members of the Lodge of Amity No. 137 in Poole at social events during Martin Barker’s year as Master of the Lodge in 2017. Martin was delighted to nominate Diverse Abilities as his chosen charity for the year.

Diverse Abilities work to enable children and adults with disabilities to achieve their full potential by providing a lifetime of sustainable support and educational services since 1955. Diverse Abilities supports 700 children and adults in the local community, at a cost of £18,000 per day to run the charity.

Mark Powell, Chief Executive of Diverse Abilities, commented: 'We had a lovely surprise when Martin came into the office with a £2,000 donation from the Lodge of Amity.'

Richard Merritt, Provincial Grand Master of Dorset, said: 'As Masons, we believe in playing a key role in our communities and give time and money to charitable ventures regularly; it’s wonderful that the Lodge of Amity have been able to help this local charity.'

There were smiles all round when 400 children were treated to a visit to Derby theatre

Prior to the show, the day was made extra special when the children were entertained by the cast of the Derby Theatre's production of Peter Pan on 4th January 2017.

Provincial Grand Master for Derbyshire Steven Varley, accompanied by members of Derbyshire Freemasons, were also on hand to help, even distributing 400 ice creams to the children, all of whom have special needs and might not otherwise have had a chance to visit the theatre.

The event was organised and funded by Derbyshire Freemasons as part of their commitment to contribute to the community and to offer care and support for those in need.

If smiling happy faces were anything to go by, this day was certainly one to be remembered for the children.

Dorset Freemasons have given over £4,300 to save a historic photo collection at the Dorset History Centre

The Dorset Archive Trust have been trying to save the “Herbert Collection” – thousands of images which show 20th century life in Dorset. When Richard Merritt, Provincial Grand Master of Dorset, heard about the project to save the pictures, he stepped in to help.

The collection is suffering from “Vinegar Syndrome”, an irreversible breakdown of the acetate, which has been destroying the negatives. To save this fascinating insight into the county’s history, the Dorset Archive Trust needed to act quickly.

Dorset Freemasons visited the archives on 20th December 2017 and presented a cheque for £4,370 to allow the charitable foundation to complete the digitisation of all the images. Richard Merritt said: 'We are privileged to provide some extra funding for this project. As Freemasons, we believe in playing a key role in our communities and give time and money to charitable ventures regularly.

'Allowing the photographs to become digitalised will allow them to live on forever for future generations – the benefit is so valuable.'

Sam Johnson, the County Archivist, commented: 'I wanted to thank the Freemasons for the very generous support offered to the Herbert photographic project. The donation has made all the difference and means that we can now finish the job.'

The Herbert Collection is the work of Graham Herbert, a professional Weymouth photographer. He captured many aspects of local life from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Wiltshire Freemasons have donated £5,000 to Swindon Foodbank to help the charity cover their operational expenses

Provincial Grand Master Philip Bullock presented the cheque from the Masonic Charitable Foundation to manager Cher Smith MBE, one of only two paid employees at the central warehouse located in Westlea. 

Every day, seven days a week, the Swindon Foodbank central warehouse is receiving, sorting and despatching food parcels to the seven town-wide outlets for collection by people in real need.

Philip Bullock said: 'It’s such a deserving cause. It helps people who are in need, which is what Freemasons are all about.'

Wiltshire Freemasons have been real supporters of Foodbanks throughout the Province, particularly at Christmas when demand often exceeds available supplies.

This year Philip Bullock and Charity Steward Ian Priest visited the Swindon warehouse where they were shown around the facility which had just received a huge delivery of grocery product.

Cher Smith commented: 'We are very grateful to Wiltshire Freemasons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation for all their help; it wouldn't be wrong to say that £5,000 really will make a huge difference to what we are able to do.'

Salisbury Hospice has a very special place in the hearts of Wiltshire Freemasons which explains why the Hospice receives such tremendous support from many of the Lodges in the county

The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) also provides regular funding to Salisbury Hospice and this year Provincial Grand Master Philip Bullock visited the Hospice to meet Corporate Fundraiser Celia Scott and present a certificate acknowledging an MCF donation of £1,900. 

After presenting the donation, Philip Bullock commented: 'I am delighted to once again be here at Salisbury to not only give the Hospice this donation, but to also thank every member of staff for the incredible work they undertake in making this facility one of the very best in the region.'

Having received the cheque, Celia Scott thanked Philip and the MCF for their continued support and also provided a detailed update on the work of the Hospice and how the donation would help to make a difference.

During recent work on the heating system at the Masonic Hall in Loughborough, the removal of a panel has revealed a plethora of masonic artefacts and memorabilia

The items were found in two locked chests belonging to Howe and Charnwood Lodge No. 1007, in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, and a small metal box, which had belonged to Henry Deane, one of the early members of Howe and Charnwood. How long they had been behind the panel is not known, nor why they were there, but other documents recovered included the Minute Books of Howe and Charnwood Lodge from 1864 to 1979, Attendance Registers to 1965 and early Declaration Books.

Within the items is an early photograph album containing a picture of Earl Howe. There is also a photograph of the Master and officers of the lodge for 1895-96.

RW Bro Richard William Penn, 1st Earl Howe was Provincial Grand Master of the then Leicestershire Province from 1856 and became the first Provincial Grand Master of the combined Province of Leicestershire and Rutland until 1869. He was also the Deputy Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England from 1844 to 1866.

Among the other items discovered are the Grand Lodge certificates of many early brethren, including Charles F. Oliver, who became Provincial Grand Master in 1928. In addition, there is Grand Chapter certificate issued to William Grimes Palmer, who joined the Chapter of Fortitude, No. 348 (now 279), on 27th November 1843.

All the certificates have been professionally scanned and have been housed in the Museum at Freemasons Hall in Leicester. Prints have been made and are being held at Loughborough along with digital copies.

David Sharpe, a member of Howe and Charnwood Lodge No. 1007, commented: 'It seems that a number of these items were sent to Loughborough when it was proposed to set up a museum in the early 1970s. It was felt that as they were Loughborough Masons, they should be kept locally.'

Quarterly Communication

13 December 2017 
RW Bro Geoffrey Dearing to be appointed President of the Board of General Purposes

At today's Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge, the Pro Grand Master, MW Bro Peter Lowndes, announced that the Grand Master has appointed RW Bro Geoffrey Dearing as President of the Board of General Purposes in succession to RW Bro Anthony Wilson.

RW Bro Geoffrey Dearing is the Provincial Grand Master of East Kent.

Published in Speeches

Quarterly Communication

13 December 2017 
Announcement regarding the President of the Board of General Purposes

Brethren,

I now have to announce that, at his request, the President of the Board of General Purposes will retire at the end of December this year.

It is with great regret that I have accepted this, and the Grand Master is pleased to appoint Geoffrey Dearing, PGM of East Kent, as President in his place.

Anthony has been President of the Board for the last 13 years and as President of the Committee of General Purposes for three years before that.

He was instrumental in reducing the Board to a more manageable size and making it more effective, efficient and fit for the purpose. At our Quarterly Communication meetings, he always manages to ensure that the Board’s Report is succinct, yet comprehensive, and his presentations cover all the salient points.

Anthony, we will miss your charm, easy manner of address and your wise counsel. On behalf of the Craft we owe you our most sincere and grateful thanks. Enjoy your retirement.

Pro Grand Master
Peter Lowndes

Published in Speeches

A club for everyone

With the New and Young Masons Clubs Conference 2017 seeking to build on Freemasonry’s foundations, Matthew Bowen meets the organiser, Dan Thomas, to see why the future is in safe hands

On 14 October 2017, the walls of the Severn Street Masonic Hall in Birmingham echoed with the sounds of progress. Within the ancient building, 100 new and young Freemasons from across the country gathered to discuss ways of ensuring the Craft’s relevance in the 21st century. They were there for the annual New and Young Masons Clubs Conference (NYMCC).With more than 30 new and young masons clubs operating in Metropolitan and the Provinces, the annual conference – now in its third year – plays a vital role in inspiring change. This change can occur within clubs themselves by offering ideas and advice on best practice. It can also happen across Freemasonry as a whole by bringing new brethren face-to-face with some of the most senior masons in the country.

FRESH PERSPECTIVES

The responsibility of hosting the event this year fell to The Five of Nine Club and its chairman, Dan Thomas. Dan joined St Peter’s Lodge, No. 7334, in Warwickshire eight years ago, aged 27. As a young policeman, Dan finds that Freemasonry complements his life and he enjoys every challenge it brings. Attending the NYMCC in 2015 inspired him to share his enjoyment among his peers and launch The Five of Nine Club for new and young masons. 

‘I went to that conference just wanting to have a look at what was going on, and came away with so much information that, when we launched the club, it was like we had been given a two-year head start,’ says Dan. ‘These clubs are all about bringing young masons together. There may only be one young brother in a lodge within the Province, but by getting them involved in the club, they feel a wider sense of community.’

Aside from pulling together to organise the NYMCC, The Five of Nine Club also arranges regular social activities that have so far included go-karting, paintballing and a brewery tour. ‘The focus is on enjoyment,’ explains Dan, with the hope being, he adds, that ‘enjoyment translates into higher retention rates among junior masons.’

Recruitment and retention are equally important goals for masonic clubs, as reflected by the theme of this year’s conference – ‘Building and Maintaining the Foundations’. According to Five of Nine Club patron and Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire David Macey, Dan and the club have excelled at both. ‘We set Dan some fairly optimistic targets to hit within 18 months, and he smashed them in six,’ he says. 

Though new and young masons clubs champion the views of a specific group of masons, the benefits they bring are being felt across the board. As David says, ‘The club’s energy and vitality is brilliantly infectious, not just within the youngsters they’re influencing, but on us senior masons as well.’

One of the senior masons present, Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence, delivered a keynote speech on how new and young masons clubs and the UGLE can work together. Dan was honoured when the Deputy Grand Master announced he’d like to attend. ‘The fact that he wanted to give a talk shows how important new and young masons clubs are to Freemasonry, and recognises the phenomenal work being carried out by every club,’ he says.

EVERYDAY FREEMASONRY

Provincial Grand Master for South Wales and Deputy Chairman of the Improvement Delivery Group Gareth Jones also took the stage. He joined Freemasonry as a 26-year-old in the 1980s, and believes it is as relevant today as it has ever been. For Gareth, Freemasonry is ‘a place away from the pressures of everyday life to sit quietly, reflect, learn and make daily advancements’. He spoke on the need for masonry to become more intertwined in communities, about the Improvement Delivery Group and on how Freemasonry must improve its reputation. ‘Let’s be frank – our image has traditionally been stuffy, middle-class and only for older people who can afford to join. It’s these ways of thinking that we need to get away from,’ he said, praising efforts being made by the clubs to revitalise the Craft.

QUALITY CONTROL

‘We talk about [the] reduction [of] membership over last two years,’ Gareth adds, ‘but this is a symptom rather than a problem in itself. The problem has been, to a growing extent, one of quality in how we have engaged with communities and the media, and the way we’ve brought people in and looked after them once they’ve joined. We’ve put in a lot of effort in the last few years to address those problems, and these clubs are proving to be an effective way of arresting the decline we’ve seen since the mid-nineties.’

With the buzz around the new and young masons clubs, it would be easy to get carried away in the excitement. A key theme of the conference, however, was the importance of installing proper governance and setting clear objectives. David stressed at the conference that ‘structure is imperative to channel enthusiasm and pass it on to others’.

David led the conference into a breakout session on how to launch, manage and grow successful new and young masons clubs. Reflecting on the event and on his role as patron of The Five of Nine Club, David says, ‘It sounds as if I’m being condescending when I say, from the bottom up, that we’re learning so much from an age group we were in danger of neglecting.’

With buy-in at such senior levels, Dan is confident this is just the start for new and young masons clubs, and expects to be attending conferences for years to come. ‘Since last year’s conference, there’s been an unbelievable increase in numbers of clubs across the country,’ he says. ‘We’ve seen more recognition in Quarterly Communications and more senior support coming forward in support of the clubs.’

Find out more about clubs in your area - click here.

Published in Initiatives & Clubs

Hampshire and Isle of Wight PGM Michael Wilks visited the Tall Ships Youth Trust at Gunwharf Marina, Portsmouth, in July, and presented £22,000 donated to the charity by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF)

The donation will support young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). Wilks talked to the young people who had recently arrived to start their adventure and were looking forward to playing their part in assisting the crew, whatever the weather and sea conditions.

CEO Richard Leaman explained, ‘This bursary will allow us to get 50 NEET young people on board our vessels for sail training.

'We are immensely grateful to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for their generosity and support.’

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