A new team took the reins in Shropshire on 28th July 2018, with Roger Pemberton installed as the new Provincial Grand Master following the retirement of Peter Taylor
Two impressive ceremonies at Harper Adams University were separated by an equally impressive lunch. A full house of Shropshire Freemasons and most welcome guests saw Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes install Roger Pemberton as Shropshire's newest Grand Superintendent and Provincial Grand Master.
The work of the London team was expertly guided by Grand Director of Ceremonies Oliver Lodge, while any small questions on etiquette or protocol were instantly and authoritatively answered by Deputy Grand Secretary Graham Redman. Guests also included the Provincial Grand Masters of Cumberland & Westmorland Norman Thompson and Isle of Man Keith Dalrymple.
The Deputy Grand Superintendent will continue to be Dave Kettle, Past Provincial Scribe E/Grand Secretary of the Province, while the new Deputy Provincial Grand Master is Jeremy Lund.
The Charity launched a £3.1 million appeal in 2016 to replace their ageing 1950s hall with a building large enough for children and young people with complex disabilities to participate in a mixture of arts and physical activities. Wheelchair football, power chair driving, trampolining, drama and dance will all be on offer alongside a sensory four dimensional experience, which will allow children to be ‘transported’ to different countries and experience sights and sounds from around the world.
The D.R.E.A.M (dynamic, real, experiential, amazing, magical) Centre is the latest chapter in the story of the Chailey Heritage Foundation, which has been changing the lives of young people with disabilities since 1903.
The grant from Sussex Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Maurice Adams, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Sussex, said: 'We are delighted to support Chailey Heritage Foundation with their appeal and look forward to seeing the D.R.E.A.M Centre in action when it opens in 2019.'
Ellie, a pupil at Chailey Heritage School, is a competitive child and typical of the young people who will benefit from the new facilities. This new indoor space will also house the powered wheelchair driving school which will benefit many of the young people who are learning to drive.
Carol, a teacher at Chailey Heritage School, who has been helping Ellie to reach her full potential, said: 'Thanks to Sussex Freemasons and all the other generous donors, the D.R.E.A.M. Centre will make it possible for Ellie and her friends to have a space large enough to play competitive sports and perform to friends and family on the purpose-built stage along with lots of other opportunities.'
Sally-Anne Murray, Development Director of Chailey Heritage Foundation said: 'We are enormously grateful for this grant. We rely on organisations like Sussex Freemasons to help us provide the ground-breaking facilities that really enrich the lives of those we care for.'
Pathfinder Lodge No. 8596 in Worcestershire hosted the 2018 Birmingham County Scout Awards at Northfield Masonic Hall on 15th April 2018
This is the fourth year that the Scout county and Masonic lodge have collaborated to stage the event.
Young people and adult volunteers attended to receive the highest awards available in the scout association. Four Queen’s Scout Awards were presented, together with 28 adult awards. Two Ambassadors for Scouting in Birmingham were also announced – Councillors Randal Brew and Mike Leddy, both former Lord Mayors of Birmingham.
Presenting the awards were County Commissioner for Scouting Andrew Lloyd and Deputy Provincial Grand Master Stephen Wyer, who commented: 'The Provincial Grand Lodge of Worcestershire, through Pathfinder lodge, is proud to support these awards, reflecting the huge contribution which scouting makes to the community in Birmingham.'
County Commissioner Andrew Lloyd thanked the lodge members for their support: ‘A huge thank you for everything you did to help make the awards evening such a success,' he said.
When Augustus John Smith signed a lease to run the Isles of Scilly, he created an infrastructure that would transform living conditions for the poor
While the Victorian era produced countless well-educated young men from wealthy British families, Augustus John Smith stood out. Provincial Grand Master and Chapter member of both Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Smith saved the people of the off-islands of Scilly from starvation.
While Smith was in his 20s, his father gave him a very large sum of money. With such serious funds in a bank account, many young men would have embarked on the grand tour, seen Europe end to end and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. But Smith, a studious and serious young man, toured Britain, studying the working class – their living conditions, employment, finances and education.
Raised in Berkhamsted, Smith established two schools in his home town at his own expense, where ‘the three Rs’ were taught alongside instruction in industry. He suffered abuse from his peers for his support of the poor, with wealthy industrialists fearing that education would make workers unwilling to slave for the pittance they were paid. It was this opposition to progress that caused him to search for somewhere he could turn his dream of reformation into reality. Smith toured England and Ireland looking for such a place before setting his heart on Scilly.
A SCENE OF POVERTY
The needs of the islands, owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and deemed ‘unprofitable’ by their previous tenant, were summed up in a Duchy Report that stated, ‘No corner of Great Britain stood in greater need of help than Scilly.’ A similar comment was voiced by the Rev George ‘Bosun’ Smith, who stated in 1818, ‘Oh, that some of our wealthy and benevolent countrymen, whose hearts are as generous as their means are ample, could but witness these things.’
After signing a lease for 99 years at an annual rent of £40, Augustus Smith was asked by the owners to pay a fine of £20,000 – a refundable surety, he was told. The off-islands were in a deplorable state; the Duchy wasn’t prepared to invest in its own property, yet it demanded this sum.
Smith also spent £5,000 building a new quay, and £3,400 on the parish church. A lesser man would have walked away, but not Smith. He arrived on Scilly in 1835 as Lord Proprietor and began a huge construction plan, offering employment and paying wages out of his own pocket.
EDUCATION FOR ALL
Smith set out a policy that cut to the quick of the old Scillonian ways. In future, every child would attend school until the age of 13. New dwellings went up, quays and roads were repaired, and new ones created, all at his own expense. He banned smuggling, introduced a magistrates’ court and upset a lot of people who were reluctant to change.
With no property on Scilly sufficiently large enough for his own personal needs, Smith built Tresco Abbey as his private residence, overlooking two lakes in the grounds of the old St Nicholas Priory.
One of Smith’s great passions was Freemasonry. He was initiated into the brotherhood in Watford Lodge, No. 404, in London in 1832 at the age of 27, and later became a member of numerous other lodges. In 1855, when he was aged 51, the Phoenix Lodge of Honour and Prudence, No. 331, in Truro sponsored his election as Deputy Provincial Grand Master; by 1863 he was chosen as the sixth Provincial Grand Master of Cornwall.
In 1872, Smith died aged 67 from gangrene of the lungs in Plymouth. Buried in St Buryan, Cornwall, he had in his lifetime worked tirelessly for the benefit of Scilly’s inhabitants. A hero to many, he got the post office to connect the islands to the mainland by telegraph cable, established a regular packet service, mail collection and delivery, and encouraged new enterprise including the island’s burgeoning flower industry.
Did you know?
Smith’s support of the poor was scorned by his wealthy peers, as they felt education would lead to demands for fair wages
Words: Richard Larn OBE
Over 500 Buckinghamshire Freemasons were present at Freemasons' Hall on 9th February 2018, where John Clark was installed as the Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Buckinghamshire
The Installation was conducted by the United Grand Lodge of England's Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence and the visiting Officers of Grand Lodge.
John Clark then Invested Hugh Douglas Smith as Deputy Provincial Grand Master and reappointed Graham Dearing and Phil Blacklaw as Assistant Provincial Grand Masters. Tony Robinson recited the Obligation and was also invested as Assistant Provincial Grand Master.
Alongside over 500 Buckinghamshire Freemasons, brethren from many other Provinces were also in attendance and following the ceremony enjoyed a banquet in the Grand Connaught Rooms.
Both the Deputy Grand Master and the new Provincial Grand Master thanked all those present for their attendance and delighted everyone with amusing speeches.
John Clark then presented Jonathan Spence with a pair of magnificent gold cuff links, replicating the Hall Stone Jewel.
During the ceremony, John Clark was also wearing the Hall Stone Jewel around his neck, with Buckinghamshire the only Province in possession of the gold and coloured enamel jewel on a dark blue collarette. This distinctive jewel was given to Buckinghamshire and the Districts of Japan (now defunct) and Burma (in abeyance) in recognition that every one of their lodges contributed an average in excess of five hundred guineas (£525.00) to the Masonic Million Memorial Fund.
This fund went towards establishing a memorial to the brethren who made the ultimate sacrifice during the First World War, which resulted in the erection of UGLE's current headquarters at Freemasons' Hall.
It is why Buckinghamshire is known as the only Hall Stone Province in English Freemasonry, and can boast the unique distinction of being the sole and proud wearer of such a jewel. Read more about the Hall Stone Jewels here.
The Provincial Grand Lodge of Sussex has been recognised in the Community Stars Awards after been nominated for Charity of the Year
It was a huge honour for the Province to have been nominated, with the nomination for the award itself coming from their local newspaper The Argus who hosts the awards, which recognise the outstanding achievements of men, women, children and organisations across Sussex.
Each year the public and the Argus nominate those who have made a considerable difference to the communities in which they live and how through their activities change people’s lives.
Maurice Adams, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for Sussex, commented: ‘Although we didn’t win, it was a real surprise to have been nominated and esteemed recognition for all the hard work that takes place across our province to raise money for such worthy causes.’
The awards citation read as follows: ‘The Freemasons have donated £38,000 in a big cash giveaway to six charities. The six were nominated by Freemasons and members of the public to receive a grant from the national charity, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF). Groups helping the sick were among those to benefit; Rockinghorse Children’s Charity, Sussex MS Centre, Sussex Heart Charity, The Clock Tower Sanctuary for the homeless and the domestic abuse charity Rise.
‘Freemasons across the country observe the 300th anniversary of the United Grand Lodge of England and to celebrate the occasion they donated money to 300 charities across the country from a £3 million fund. Although the £38,000 was donated from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Sussex Freemasons also support a lot of local charities from their own pockets.’
Traditionally, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Sussex, in conjunction with the Editor of the Argus newspaper, present the final and emotional award – The Child of Courage – and this year the presentation was made by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Martin Mitten.
Pause for thought
Having helped oversee the establishment of the Metropolitan Grand Lodge, Second Grand Principal Russell Race now wants to give Craft members enough time to understand the Royal Arch
What have you taken from your professional career?
I did an economics degree at Liverpool and worked initially for British Steel, then for an administrative body looking after the fishing industry. When I was 24, I went into the City as an investment analyst. I was there for the rest of my working life, for the last 20 years in corporate finance, and retired in my early 50s.
I found my enjoyment was in building good working relationships, and ultimately friendships, with colleagues and clients – which, on the corporate side, is crucial. I had around 30 clients and if you did a good job for them, they would not seek to move somewhere else for a quarter per cent on a deal. And relationships take us into Freemasonry. It’s all about working with people, interacting with them and enjoying their company.
When did you find out about Freemasonry?
I was born in Gloucester, and the first 12 years of my life were spent there. My father joined a lodge just after the war and he went into the Chair in 1956, two years before we moved to Kent, where he became a founder of what became my mother lodge in Rochester.
Lodges had a big social calendar and as a teenager I went to many lodge events with my parents. When I came back from university at 21, and was still living in Kent, my father said to me, ‘Well, you know something about masonry and you’ve met many members of the lodge, so if you’re interested in joining, let me know.’ It was a very smart psychological move. Many fathers might have said, ‘Well, I’ve got you down to join at the next meeting, now you’re back in the area,’ but mine didn’t. I took about two years, got settled in a job, and then said, ‘I’d like to join.’ It was very much my decision, rather than feeling any obligation to join.
Did joining the Royal Arch feel like a natural progression?
I was 29 when I joined the Royal Arch, again in the local chapter in East Kent. I didn’t go into it with any preconceptions and I loved the ceremony from day one – despite being on the receiving end of all three lectures on the evening of my exaltation! In those days, the Royal Arch was considered the completion of the Third Degree, which is now an area of debate. But you could also just say it was seen as the natural progression from the Craft, which is something we rightly still emphasise.
The pressure on chapters was rather less in the 1960s and 1970s, because our numbers were higher than they are today, albeit beginning to level out. Chapters were thriving with 30 or 40 members, but it’s when you get below critical mass of 20 to 15 that you suddenly start thinking, ‘What do we do?’ It’s only at this late stage that many chapters try to re-establish links with the mother Craft lodge, which may be too late.
Why did you become involved in Metropolitan?
As a member of London lodges and chapters, I was aware that Metropolitan was being set up as a separate entity, but my move to London was a complete shot out of the blue. As East Kent Deputy Provincial Grand Master, I had met the Pro Grand Master Lord Northampton for the first time at a dinner. A little later, Rex Thorne asked me out to lunch in Long Acre, and when I arrived Lord Northampton was with him. To my surprise, he asked me to move up to London to become the first Deputy Metropolitan Grand Master.
I took some time to think about it because it was a new job and I knew the time commitment would be substantial. I asked the opinion of a few close friends who were unconnected with London, and they all said the same: ‘You can’t say no. It’s a great opportunity.’ Which indeed it was, but the workload proved to be quite heavy as well.
How did you feel leaving Metropolitan to become Second Grand Principal?
I think I made it known to people over time that Royal Arch is one of my great loves. Having completed six years as Metropolitan Deputy Grand Master and six years as Metropolitan Grand Master and Grand Superintendent, I knew it wasn’t a job I was going to do forever. I had a meeting with Peter Lowndes, who asked how I would feel about taking the position of Second Grand Principal, as George Francis was retiring. I paused slightly but, on this occasion, I didn’t ask for time to think about it, I said, ‘Yes, I’d love to do it.’ The best things in life come unexpectedly, don’t they?
For my successor as Metropolitan Grand Master, Sir Michael Snyder, the intention is to perform the role in a slightly different way, which I am sure is right. It was important in the early days of Metropolitan Grand Lodge for the rulers to be seen to be out visiting lodges and chapters on a regular basis and to be visible to all London masons. I was able to do that, but it wasn’t something that necessarily needed to be carried on at the same pitch, because London now has a firmly established base and identity.
‘We should continue to celebrate the great diversity of ritual practice within the Royal Arch’
What have you inherited from your predecessor in the Royal Arch?
I think one of the important things that George Francis brought to the job was being visible to companions all around the country, visiting widely in the Provinces and London. There is no substitute for hearing people’s views first-hand. Additionally, he was a keen promoter of making the ritual more dramatic and understandable for all participants.
What I would say is that we now need a slight pause for breath to allow the changes to sink in. We have a number of initiatives going on, following on from the ritual change a few years ago, and we have to get these embedded within each Province. Although there may be minor adjustments, I don’t envisage radical changes in the near term. We should continue to celebrate the great diversity of ritual practice within the Royal Arch.
In lodges where there is no active Royal Arch representative, or the Secretary’s not particularly keen on our order, the young mason coming through may have no awareness of the Royal Arch at all. Why should he be deprived of that experience? We need to ensure that all masons have the opportunity to join. I’m not saying you’re an incomplete mason if you’ve not come into the Royal Arch, but rather that your breadth of understanding is not as full as it might be.
Imagine when somebody’s interviewed for initiation and saying to them, ‘You are beginning an exciting four-stage journey.’ If you can get that message across on day one, it’s far easier than going to them after they’ve done their Third Degree and saying, ‘Oh, by the way, there’s another step and here’s a leaflet about it.’
Even if, on a flat Craft membership, we can increase the conversion rate to 45% or 50% across the board, rather than current rate in the high thirties, that in itself will take up our membership to more acceptable levels.
Do you see your role as ambassador or enforcer?
Gareth Jones, the Third Grand Principal, and I are certainly ambassadors. I think it’s about communicating to Superintendents and their Deputies, as well as to all companions, that we’re here to help and guide them in the right direction. I sense a strong desire for consistency across the piece, and that has to come from Supreme Grand Chapter. A Province or a private chapter can’t take effective decisions about the direction in which they are going unless they have the proper information to start with. I think it’s quite compelling if you say to a Grand Superintendent that these initiatives are available, they’ve worked in other Provinces – look at the results, maybe there are lessons for you.
I mentioned before about taking a slight pause, giving yourself the time to think. I saw a very good demonstration in Freemasons’ Hall some years ago. At various stages in the ceremony they stopped and said, ‘Right, we’re about to do this. Somebody tell me why we do it this way.’ And the members hadn’t thought about it. They were just hearing the words. That was in a Craft lodge, but the moral applies equally to the Royal Arch.
Every now and again it behoves us all to stop and think, ‘What do the words mean? Why do we do what we do, for example, in terms of choreography of the ritual?’ I would like to reverse the trend in numbers, which we are beginning to do in some areas, but I believe that will only come through companions having a better understanding, and with it greater enjoyment of our unique order.
It was a very special evening in Norfolk at Thorpe St Andrew Lodge No. 8010, where Laurence Corbett Whitbread, aged 95 years, received a certificate to mark his 75 years in Freemasonry
It's 75 years since his initiation into Freemasonry back in November 1942 when Laurence was initiated at the age of 20 by his Father, Edward Corbett Whitbread, who was the Master of the United Lodge of Prudent Brethren No. 145 in Colchester, Essex.
Laurence was appointed to London Grand Rank in 1972 and then promoted to Senior London Grand Rank in 1990. He joined Thorpe St Andrew in 1992 and was appointed to Past Provincial Grand Registrar in Norfolk in 2012.
His son Jonathon is also a member of Thorpe St Andrew and was proudly present to see the ceremony.
The Lodge then held a Past Master's night, with ceremonial of the highest quality as they performed a Raising. The highlight of the evening though was when Laurence Whitbread returned to the floor and delivered the Exhortation faultlessly.
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.
One of the most memorable events of the year for Wiltshire Freemasons was the visit to London by over 200 members and their partners
Having either attended the Royal Albert Hall Tercentenary celebrations or experienced a Thames River cruise on 31st October, guests made their way to the Houses of Parliament.
Provincial Grand Master Phillip Bullock and his wife Sally joined Black Rod Lt. Gen. David Leakey and Mrs Shelagh Leakey for dinner in the splendour of the Cholmondeley Room in the House of Lords, as they enjoyed views overlooking the magnificent River Thames on the terrace.
Not to be outdone, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master David Davies and Mrs Marian Davies were joined by Swindon North MP Justin Tomlinson in the Churchill Room of the House of Commons, where they entertained a hundred members of the Wiltshire masonic family.