Amandeep Bansel - This London Freemason came up through the Universities Scheme

Thursday, 28 November 2019

A love of history and strong family connections to Freemasonry inspired Amandeep Bansel’s interest in the Craft at just 15 years old. Now, through the Universities Scheme, he’s a fully initiated Freemason himself

Where were you born, and what was growing up like?

I grew up in London. My parents were really caring, and I had a special relationship with my late dear grandmother. School was certainly a life-changing experience, being a minority and standing apart because I wear a turban. It has made me who I am today.

What were your childhood ambitions?

I always wanted to study history, to become an expert in a field... reading about the remarkable achievements of fascinating men and women.

Were there Freemasons in your family?

Yes, my grandfather’s cousin, my father’s uncle and my two uncles were all Freemasons, I also have an aunt who is a Freemason. After reading about the Craft, knowing that such great people who I loved were a part of it made me want to join. It’s very special for me to have my uncle attend meetings.

Tell us your early memories of Freemasonry?

My first encounter with Freemasonry was through learning about medieval history and the forming of architectural structures. As medieval Europe became more prosperous and gave rise to skilled artisans, guilds started as a precursor to Freemasonry. Being an eccentric lad, I was fascinated by these groups, with their intriguing traditions and customs.

When did you think, ‘I’d like to know more, to get involved’?

I knew I wanted to join the Craft at 15. It was also evident in learning about Freemasonry that all Orders are heavily involved in philanthropy and local projects. When I started university, I happened to make friends with Simon Moore, a great gent who spoke to me about the Universities Scheme. The prospect of meeting new people was something I truly relished.

Could you tell us about your studies?

I’m going into my third year at Royal Holloway, a part of the University of London, where I’m reading for a bachelor’s degree in history. I think one life just isn’t enough for me, which is why I enjoy history with such passion – humans are a fascinating species. I stayed true to my dream as a young lad, and university has been the most exciting, exhilarating and life-changing experience.

How did you get involved in the Universities Scheme?

After speaking to Simon, he gave the people at the scheme my email, and they emailed me about an open day, where we would get to ask questions and view a temple room at Freemasons’ Hall. The rest is history! The scheme invites young university students to enquire about Freemasonry. Questions are formally answered by a member from a Universities Scheme lodge, and those interested are shown a temple room – often for the first time. If they wish to proceed, their application is sent to a lodge on the scheme that might wish to admit them, and an interview and relationship with that lodge begins.

How does Freemasonry fit in with your personal values?

Freemasonry allows for fellowship of individuals with the same ideals, notably brotherly love, truth and relief. This speaks to me personally, as I felt the time in my life had come when I wanted to choose what path I would aspire to in life and how I could give back.

How does it logistically fit in with your studies?

Engaging in Freemasonry works incredibly well with the balance of studies and exams. I often find my meetings occur after a busy period, and coming home from university allows me to not just spend time with my family, but to attend those meetings, too. It’s a wonderful experience. The meetings allow me to step away from the busy realities of work and other commitments. And from the mundane. For me the ritual creates a space for reflection, insight and contemplation, along with getting to catch up and have some drinks with the guys I love.

How do you benefit from the scheme and from Freemasonry more generally?

I’ve benefited from Freemasonry through interactions with the members of my lodge. Their care and fellowship has been an incredibly enriching experience, as well as an avenue for learning and development.

How do you think it benefits others?

Freemasonry has something to offer all ages, from philanthropic work to learning and perfecting ritual. Older members may find the company particularly special, while a newer Freemason is able to engage in a new society with unique customs and fellowship different to everyday society.

Have you met other young Freemasons on the scheme?

Yes. I’ve had some fantastic times on my journey with other young Freemasons. Special mention here to the Connaught Club, the club for London Freemasons under 35. We have drinks on the first Friday of the month. I really believe that bringing young Freemasons together is important for the future and preservation of Freemasonry and its traditions. Our club recently completed a sponsored hike up Mount Snowdon, showing our drive and determination.

Are there other Freemasons at your college?

Yes, by chance I met a former alumnus of Royal Holloway – Shaun Butler – and my first-year history tutor turned out to be a Freemason from Surrey. I hope I can run into more. I also hope Royal Holloway has its own lodge and chapter one day; our campus was recently voted the most beautiful!

How has Freemasonry affected your life?

It’s been an exciting journey. I’ve made close friendships that I will take with me for the rest of my life, and I’m grateful to belong to an institution with such a proud and distinguished history. Freemasonry has showed how many things I have in common with people I otherwise wouldn’t be around – from ex-soldiers to people who work in construction, to people of different ages. Freemasonry is a great leveller. I would certainly encourage anyone to engage in Freemasonry as a way to meet different people, find new hobbies and grow as a person.

How do you hope your life as a Freemason will evolve?

I hope to travel more and meet people from all walks of life. I haven’t travelled much. I think it would allow me to learn more about myself and open up some new and unique experience.

Amandeep Bansel was born in 1999 and raised in Woodford Green in London by two hard-working parents - a gas engineer and a teacher. The eldest of two children, he studied history, philosophy and ethics, and English literature at West Hatch secondary school before reading for a bachelor’s degree in history at Royal Holloway, the University of London. Initiated into Freemasonry in late April 2018, he is a Fellowcraft of Caribbean Lodge, No. 4826.





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