Provincial profile - Focus on Bedfordshire Freemasonry

Thursday, 18 February 2021

In the first of our series of Provincial guides, we reveal the causes, clubs and characters of Bedfordshire Freemasonry

Who’s who in the province

Provincial Grand Master

Anthony Henderson

Deputy Provincial Grand Master

Nicholas Edwards

Assistant Provincial Grand Master

Hugh Love

Provincial Grand Secretary

Clive Walsh

Famous brothers past

Arthur Oliver Villiers Russell, 2nd Baron Ampthill (19 Feb 1869-7 Jul 1935) served as Governor of Madras from October 1900 to February 1906, and as acting Viceroy of India from April to December 1904. He was appointed Provincial Grand Master of Bedfordshire in 1900 and as District Grand Master of Madras from 1901 to 1906. He served as Pro Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England from 1908 until his death in 1935.

Clubs and societies

The Bedfordshire Light Blues Club was established in 2016 as a forum for new and younger members to meet and socialise. There are no membership or subscription fees as the club wants no barriers to participation.

The Beda Chapter Widows Sons has a membership of 43, of which 25 are Freemasons and the remainder are associate members. Despite the lack of opportunity to meet this year, they have raised more than £5,000 for charity.

The Bedfordshire Masonic Sports Association has sections for shooting, fishing, golf, bowls and walking football. Everyone is welcome, of all abilities, Freemasons and non-Freemasons alike.

Above and beyond award

Despite being officially retired, Tony Green, Provincial Grand Almoner, has been at the forefront of COVID-19 planning for Bedfordshire. ‘In March 2020 I was asked if I would assist in the combined emergency response for the COVID-19 crisis,’ says Tony. ‘I was asked to set up and manage a temporary mortuary facility for the county. Between the end of March and the beginning of July 2020, we looked after 257 deceased on behalf of their families. Among that number were Freemasons and family members of Freemasons from the Province. In November 2020, I also set up three rapid testing centres for COVID-19.'

A warm welcome to...

Bailey Boulding was initiated into Sir William Harpur Lodge on 12 March 2020. He had always been curious about Freemasonry, its symbolism and the idea of being a better version of yourself. Due to COVID-19 he had only attended one meeting but it made quite an impact. ‘My initiation was fuelled by nerves and the fear of the unknown. What followed was an experience unmatched by anything I had encountered before.’

Specialist lodges in the Province

Cumberland Lodge applied to join the university scheme and became a university lodge in 2018 – the same year that it celebrated its centenary. Since joining the scheme, membership has increased by 20 and many members are under 30 years of age.

The Bedfordshire Centenary Fishing Lodge

The Masonic Fishing Charity (MTSFC) was formed in 1998, and now has more than 37 Provinces operating branches throughout the UK. The Bedfordshire Branch was formed in late 2015 and caters for organisations and schools in Bedfordshire that are working with children and young adults with special needs. Children are taken for a day’s fishing and countryside experience. The charity required a themed masonic lodge dedicated to fishing and the work it does. Bedfordshire Centenary Lodge, No. 9151, was actively considering handing in its warrant, but members agreed to change the name to The Bedfordshire Centenary Fishing Lodge, No. 9151, serving both needs.

Roger De Somery – Rugby

Roger De Somery Lodge, No. 6488, was consecrated in 1947, but numbers declined to the point where the lodge was struggling to survive. Luckily, four rugby-mad Bedfordshire Freemasons hatched a plan to form a themed lodge, and gathered support from around 30 prospective members. They voted to save the lodge and adopt both the rugby union theme and the new members. The plan was for them to join at the next meeting in 2020, but the pandemic put a halt to that. When the meeting eventually happens, they intend to apply to UGLE to become the Roger de Somery Rugby Union Lodge, No. 6488 (or similar).

Caring for the community

The Scouts Activity Centre, used by the Bedfordshire Scouts in Bromham, had accommodation facilities that were no longer fit for purpose, but they didn’t have the funds to replace them. Bedfordshire Freemasons raised £500,000 to design, construct and pay for a 48-bed state-of-the-art lodge. This new building will ensure that the facility can be used and enjoyed by young people for many years to come.

Following a grant from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF, the Freemasons’ charity), 10 organisations have been supported in Bedfordshire:

Leighton Linslade Homeless Shelter £1,000

SERV Herts & Beds Blood Bikes £1,000

Dine With Us on the Streets £1, 500

Go Dharmic £1, 500

Music 24 £500

Preen Biggleswade £1,000

Luton Foodbank £1,000

Leighton Linslade Helpers £1,000

Hospice at Home Volunteers £500

Signposts – Luton £1,000

Food banks that have benefitted from the MCF grant:

Leighton Linslade Food bank £500

Dunstable Food bank £1,000

Bedford Food bank £1,000

Need Food bank £1,000

Lodges donated £1,250 to the Need Project.

Women’s Refuges

In addition to the £5,000 they donated to Bedfordshire Women’s Refuges in May 2020, a grant of £5,000 from the MCF in September was used to purchase 25 ‘love2shop’ gift cards for each of the five women’s refuges, together with a supply of TLC bears for the children. 

Martin Foss Award

The annual award named after the late Martin Foss, Past Provincial Grand Master for Bedfordshire and a former surgeon, was made to a final-year student in nursing and midwifery who has made the greatest contribution to the Faculty of Health and Social Science.

Community Wanderbus

Bedfordshire Freemasons donated £5,000 to help purchase a community bus to serve residents of 12 villages situated in central Bedfordshire.

Hospitals

Hospitals at Luton and Bedford have long been the focus of fundraising efforts by Bedfordshire lodges. TLC bears are delivered regularly (more than 29,000 so far) along with special deliveries at Christmas and Easter.

Luton Town FC Community Trust

An initial grant of £5,000 was made following the success of the walking football scheme, and Bedfordshire agreed to make an annual donation of £500 to the Community Trust.

PSA testing

In 2019, two days were organised where blood tests were carried out to find indications of prostate cancer. From 139 tests, 10 people were identified as needing further investigation and, of those, two have had operations while two others have undergone alternative treatments.

Schools

Balliol Primary School needed more space, so Bedfordshire Mark Master Masons funded an outdoor classroom and play area. Round Green Pre-School in Luton required a new fence and the Bedfordshire team was pleased to help.

Air Ambulance

Bedfordshire is covered by East Anglian Air Ambulance and Magpas. In March 2020, the Trustees of the Provincial Charity Fund awarded £3,935 to provide a one-year supply of ventilator hoses and filters for cardiac arrest patients. A further £2,500 was presented to both EAAA and Magpas. This is being matched by the MCF for a total of £10,000.

Fundraising Freemasons

With a target of £1 million, 2021 marks the launch of Bedfordshire’s 2026 Festival in support of the MCF.

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