Louth’s new Masonic Hall has come a step closer with the laying of a commemorative foundation stone by Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master Dave Wheeler

The next stage in the building’s history will be the addition of roof trusses, which is expected during September 2019 – writing the next chapter of a story which began in 2010.

Fund Secretary Ian Castledine said: ‘We first looked into moving premises in 2010 when it looked as though we might lose our car parking facilities in Queen Street due to re-development in the town.

‘We looked at several buildings around the town, but could find nothing suitable. Then, due to the ongoing costs of keeping the building in a good state of repair and seeing what the Skegness brethren had achieved we decided to look again.’

Early in 2017 a questionnaire was sent to members of both of Louth’s Craft lodges asking the question: ‘should we stay or should we go?’ The majority was in favour of going, if new premises could be built.

‘We found the current building site in Bolingbroke Road on the Fairfield Industrial Estate, and the owner allowed us to buy it when we had sold existing site and received planning permission,’ added Ian. ‘Our old premises went on the market in 2017 and permission was granted last September.’

Contracts on the old building were exchanged at the end of November, and members moved out. Everything except the lodges’ warrants are in storage and meetings have been taking place principally at Alford and Skegness Centre, but also Grimsby and Cleethorpes.

‘After some unforeseen delays, contracts were exchanged on the new site on 20th February this year, with building due to start on 8th April. In the event, a start wasn’t made until the second week in May, but the building is really taking shape now.’

To help in fundraising a Founders Brick Wall will be created in the building’s bar, with members being invited to buy a space and add their names. Details of how to get involved are available from Ian Castledine at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Anthony Henderson, Bedfordshire’s Provincial Grand Master, announced the exciting news that work has now begun on a new Accommodation and Amenities Lodge for Bedfordshire Scouts – following a £500,000 donation from Bedfordshire Freemasons

The Lodge, which will accommodate 40 Scouts and eight Leaders – and even more during the day – has abled and disabled facilities, as well as a kitchen, drying room and a large activities area. It has a log cabin appearance and is designed to blend in with the 17-acre ancient woodland in which it will be built. 

Following the arrival of the first delivery of logs, Bedfordshire Freemasons held a BBQ and log laying ceremony at the Leslie Sells Activity Centre on 4th August 2019, where all those present were able to see the size and footprint of the building, which is due to be complete by Spring 2020.

Anthony Henderson said: ‘To mark our Tercentenary – celebrating 300 years of Freemasonry in 2017 – we in Bedfordshire wanted to create a lasting legacy that would benefit our Province for many years to come. We discussed ideas with a number of Bedfordshire-based charities and decided to support the Scouts, because we felt we shared common values and the inscription I wrote on the First Log laid, ‘Freemasonry and Scouting – Sharing One Ethos’, reflects our shared aims and values. 

‘The lodge we are providing for Bedfordshire Scouts should last for in excess of 100 years. We hope it will bring great joy to many hundreds of thousands of Scouts over the coming years. I would like to take this opportunity to place on record, my most sincere thanks to the members of Bedfordshire, for their truly amazing support and generosity. Without your support and enthusiasms, we could not have created this amazing building. 

‘I would also like to thank all those companies and individuals who have donated goods and services – valued at just under £100,000 – to help us deliver this project.  I look forward to next Spring, when the lodge should be echoing to the sound of Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts, Explorers Scouts and the Scout Network enjoying themselves.’

Scott Robert, County Chairman of Bedfordshire Scouts, said: ‘We were approached some four years ago by Bedfordshire Freemasons, to explore how we could work together for the benefit of Scouting in Bedfordshire. We had known for many years that our existing accommodation facilities were no longer fit for purpose, but just did not have the money to replace them. 

‘When the Freemasons first approached us, we hoped they might make a donation towards replacing our accommodation facilities. We never imagined that they would design, construct and most importantly pay for a 48 Bed State of the Art Accommodation Lodge. On behalf of Bedfordshire Scouting and all the tens of thousands of Scouts, not just from Bedfordshire, but from across the whole of the UK and the world, who will use this facility, I would like to place on record, our most grateful thanks to Bedfordshire Freemasons for their most generous donation.’

Bedfordshire Freemason Terry Thurley undertook a sponsored Wing Walk to raise £10,000 for the Bedfordshire Provincial Grand Lodge Appeal to build a new Accommodation Lodge for Bedfordshire Scouts

When Bedfordshire’s Provincial Grand Master Anthony Henderson heard what Terry was planning to do he pronounced: ‘He must be bonkers.’

Terry, Master of Bedfordshire Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards No. 9577, proceeded to take on the feat of standing on the wings of a 75 year old Boeing Stearman bi plane, as it flew over the Cotswold countryside at 130mph.

Terry said: ‘To be Master of any lodge is a great honour, but to be Installed as Master of a Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge is very special privilege, so I wanted to do something to say thank you to the lodge for electing me as their Master. 

‘In Bedfordshire we are building a new 48 bed state of the art Accommodation and Amenities Lodge for Bedfordshire Scouts. To help raise the £500,000 needed, I enlisted the assistance of members of the Bedfordshire Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards, to ask their Mother Lodges/Lodges they were associated with, whether they would consider sponsoring my wing walk.

‘We only asked them to consider sponsoring me for £1 plus Gift Aid, which would have raised around £2,000. We were surprised, but absolutely delighted, that many members and lodges and chapters dug deep into their pockets and raised over five times what we expected.

‘I was initially very apprehensive taking on the challenge, but once I was air born and travelling at 130mph over the beautiful Cotswold countryside, I started to relaxed and then I became exhilarated by the experience.’

When asked if he would do it again, Terry replied, ‘I may be bonkers, but I’m not totally mad!’

Devonshire Freemasons have given the Exeter based charity Balloons a grant of £10,500 over three years to help in the support of the very worthwhile work they undertake

Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Freemasons, and Dr. Reuben Ayres, Provincial Grand Charity Steward, visited the offices of Balloons to present them with a certificate denoting the grant which was funded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) where they met up with Sara Bennett Balloons CEO who kindly showed them round the offices while explaining the work they do with bereaved children and young people in Exeter, Mid and East Devon.

Balloons was first conceived by a small group of healthcare professionals who didn’t have anywhere to refer bereaved children for specialist support. They applied to the lottery who supplied start-up funding back in February 2007. Their services provide grief support to children and young people between the ages of 5 & 25 throughout Exeter, Mid and East Devon. They give one to one support sessions, activity days, family events together with a telephone helpline and training for professionals. They also provide support before an expected bereavement, helping the children to prepare for life without a loved one.    

When presenting the certificate denoting the £10,500 given by the Freemasons of Devonshire and the MCF Ian Kingsbury said that after listening to the stories of support and help that are given by the team at Balloons to so many young children he is more than gratified that this sum of money will in some small way enable the much needed work to continue long into the future.

Sara Bennett replied ‘We are absolutely delighted to have been granted funds from the Freemasons of Devonshire. We are a small and local charity and as such we rely heavily on the generosity of our donors to support our work, and are delighted that the freemasons have seen the value of what we do. In 2018 we provided one to one support to 161 children and young people, and with this injection of funds we know that we will be able to continue to support grieving children when they are at their most vulnerable going forwards. Thank you’

Some of the comments by the children who have received the help from the team at Balloons were:

‘Since Mummy died, talking to my Balloons lady is really good because she doesn’t mind if I get upset but Daddy really minds. He says he wants me to be happy’ – demonstrating the need for a neutral third person for the child to talk to
 
‘Since Dad died my feelings are all over the place. I feel like hurting people. I don’t hit anyone, but I say mean things…working with Balloons is helping me a lot. No one can bring Dad back but I can get my feelings out and look at them and understand them a bit better’

Sited in the 12th century Quire, the organ at Canterbury Cathedral had lost its once magnificent orchestral colour. Trusted organ builders, Harrison & Harrison, and the Cathedral’s expert team of craftspeople are sensitively restoring the organ to its full and beautiful voice in time for the Lambeth Conference in July 2020 and indeed for the hundreds of thousands of people who journey to this special place each year

In 2017, the Provinces of East Kent, West Kent, Surrey and Sussex generously donated the sum of £200,000 to go towards the Building Restoration Project of Canterbury Cathedral. The Province of East Kent also gifted £50,000 towards the Organ Restoration Project.

Samantha Royle, Trust and Research Manager said: ‘All at Canterbury are enormously grateful to the East Kent Freemasons for your outstanding support of this transformative project. Thank you so very much.’

With the organ off-site for restoration, there is a once in a lifetime opportunity to address urgent fabric repairs in the historic Quire. With claims to be the earliest Gothic structure in Britain, the Quire’s style was a direct import from France and changed the face of English medieval architecture.

The coherence and almost perfect homogeneity of its choir, east transept, unfinished eastern tower, and Romanesque side chapels are still evident and these were seen at the time of inscription as one of the most beautiful architectural spaces of Early Gothic art. 2,240 pipes forming the Pedal Open Wood, Choir, Solo and Transept Great organs have been installed and voiced in the North Triforium.

A further 3,367 pipes for the South Triforium organ, consisting of the Solo Tubas, Pedal, Great and Swell organs are scheduled to arrive in late July. The separate Nave organ, playable from the Quire console, has its own 498 pipes, bringing the total number of pipes controllable from the Quire organ console to 6,105. Working in a busy Cathedral such as Canterbury has many challenges. Loading and unloading wagons and voicing has mostly had to happen after hours.

Programming and dovetailing the organ work alongside not only the Opus Dei but also many other ongoing projects and events has to be carefully planned so that all can somehow co-exist. The console includes all the aids which an organist can expect in order to make the very best use of this large instrument. It has been designed by Harrisons’ craftsmen and is similar to the console in the Royal Festival Hall. It has been kept as low as possible so that it fits neatly into the aspect of the Quire and it looks very elegant.

2019 will see the organ complete but not entirely finished, since the voicing and fine adjustment of the south side in tandem with the north will take the project into 2020.

Neil Johnstone, Provincial Grand Master of East Kent, said: ‘Supporting the restoration of such a wonderful musical instrument has brought pleasure to so many over the years, and long may it continue to do so. We are always pleased to help the Cathedral when we can.’

Last year, Cheshire’s Provincial Grand Master Stephen Blank set a challenge to members to organise an event promoting awareness and building support for the Cheshire Freemasons Charity

John Miller was first to step forward and so developed the idea of organising a sponsored bike ride from Chester to London, utilising only the intricate canal network and towpaths that weave between Cheshire’s’ county town and capital city.

The route was agreed from the Masonic Hall in Queen Street, Chester, to Freemasons’ Hall at Great Queen Street following the Shropshire Union Canal to Wolverhampton, then the routes through Birmingham, picking up the Grand Union Canal near Solihull and following that into the heart of London, some 230 miles and crossing several masonic Provinces.

The team consisted of 16 riders with a support team of two and given the rough terrain and general riding conditions it was agreed to limit each day to between 40 and 50 miles allowing the challenge to be completed within five or six days. Riders were tasked with raising sponsorship and several Cheshire businesses sponsored the exclusive team shirts produced in order to support logistical costs such as travel, accommodation and food.

A black tie benefit event was also held within the Province which greatly contributed to the costs of the task ahead. To make the most of the fine English weather, the departure date was set for 6th June and the Deputy Provincial Grand Master David Dyson was present to see the team off safely from the Chester start point, and the Provincial Grand Master put a date in his diary to meet the exhausted riders outside the doors of Great Queen Street on the 11th June, what could possibly go wrong? The answer is Storm Miguel – which for three days of the journey tested each and every rider for their tenacity, and for how waterproof their kit truly was.

In the main the team discovered that waterproofs aren’t that effective in the face of a tropical storm, and indeed for two of the riders who managed to fall in to the canal, and are now affectionately referred to as the ‘Cheshire Splash Masters’. Cheshire’s Provincial Office reached out to Provinces that the riders would pass through en route.

Shropshire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire were all kind enough to offer a warm welcome and kind words of encouragement, as well as contributions, a true reflection of communication, commitment and teamwork by Freemasons. It is noteworthy that during the ride, many conversations with members of the public took place, lifting the profile of Freemasonry in general, and additional contributions were made by many of these non-Masons met along the way in support of the rider’s objectives.

A joint effort between the riders and HQ meant the Communications team were able to promote the event on social media platforms, using the dynamic mapping of GPS, daily blogs and great pictures sent by the riders each day.

Followers loved watching the daily progress made by the cyclists. The event organiser, John Miller, was keen to ensure the fundraising aims were kept clearly in the spotlight throughout the event via the online donation link and ‘interviewed’ members of the team at each overnight stay so this could be broadcast. The ride ended with the entire team completing the journey.

The total fundraising was then announced that over £22,000, which this was increased at Quarterly Communications the following day when the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes made a donation to the Cheshire Freemasons Charity of a further £1,000.

A well-planned cooperative effort, ably supported by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), has enabled a significant £60,000 donation to be made to Thames Hospice, on behalf of the Freemasons of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire

This great example of fraternal cooperation resulted in a significant grant to support the construction of its new hospice in Bray near Maidenhead. 

After several weeks of planning, the Provincial Grand Masters of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, Anthony Howlett-Bolton and John Clark respectively, together with representatives of their Provincial Charities, met up with Debbie Raven, CEO of Thames Hospice, to formally present their combined donation in front of the site of the new hospice, which was from the Berkshire Masonic Charity, the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund and the MCF.

Serving both Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, Thames Hospice opened in 1987 but is now no longer able to keep up with the increasing number of people who need their care and services. As well as the increase in numbers, the charity is dealing with more complex and challenging medical conditions and, as a result, the decision was taken to build a larger facility. In 2017, planning permission was given to construct a new state of the art facility on land donated to the charity near Bray Lake. Inpatient rooms will increase from 17 to 28 and there will be more dedicated space to treat outpatients as well as to provide therapeutic and other activities.

This new Thames Hospice will open in 2020, with the £60,000 donation helping towards the building of two dedicated rooms in the £22 million facility. These rooms will be quiet areas for reflection and remembering loved ones as well as offering help and advice to families.

After the presentation ceremony, Debbie Raven gave an outline of how Thames Hospice is developing and some of its future plans. Once the new building is complete, there will be a permanent reminder of the contributions that the Freemasons of the two Provinces have made.

Debbie commented: ‘I cannot thank the Freemasons enough for their generous support towards our new Hospice. The donation comes on top of several others from their charitable funds and the incredible support they have given over many years. It will make a significant difference to our patients and their families.'

Together with Debbie, both Provincial Grand Masters acknowledged the cooperation and support given to this collaborative donation by the MCF and the continuing work they do in supporting the Hospice movement in England and Wales.

Anthony Howlett-Bolton, Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire, said: ‘Working together with our fellow Freemasons in Buckinghamshire and the MCF has allowed us to make a significant contribution to Thames Hospice to help them in the wonderful work they are doing to help families across our counties.’

John Clark, Provincial Grand Master of Buckinghamshire, commented: ‘The Freemasons of Buckinghamshire are delighted to be part of this joint initiative supporting the essential work performed by Thames Hospice. We look forward to establishing a long and fruitful relationship with them.’

Devonshire Freemasons have donated £7,500 to Devon Community Foundation to help support people in need across the county

Sarah Yelland, Deputy CEO of the foundation, was delighted to be presented with the cheque by Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Freemasons. The generous gift brings the total donated over the last four years to over £42,000 and will be allocated to the Foundation’s Community Grants, supporting hundreds of voluntary and community groups offering local people in need a helping hand.

Ian Kingsbury, who was accompanied by Dr Reuben Ayres, Devonshire’s Provincial Grand Charity Steward, said ‘It is a delight for us as Freemasons to be able to assist such a worthwhile and important local organisation, helping them to reach out to those most in need in our local communities.’

Some examples of the groups that receive grants from the Community Grant pot include:

  • Torbay - supporting a series of workshops for older women, empowering them to become involved in a range of activities, helping to build confidence and friendships.
  • East Devon - addressing social isolation of older people through a range of activities that will engage with people of all ages, encouraging inter-generational opportunities and access to services and support networks, increasing health and wellbeing.
  • North Devon - purchasing of reading manuals to assist those who are unable to read to improve their reading skills, enhancing their life and social opportunities and helping to raise confidence and self esteem.
  • Mid Devon - supporting general running costs for work which addresses homelessness in mid Devon, ensuring that those most at risk have somewhere warm and safe to live.
  • South Hams - contributing to the setting up of a new men's shed, encouraging men to get together to make items for the good of the community, promoting social inclusion and a sense of self worth

Sarah Yelland commented: ‘Thank you once again to Devonshire Freemasons for their generous and continued support. The donation further enables Devon Community Foundation to help fund local groups that may not otherwise receive the vital income they need to survive. 

‘These local community groups play an essential role in the lives of residents who are most in need and the bringing together of communities as a whole.’

The sun was out and the sunblock was on, as 20 cyclists from the Provincial Grand Lodges of Leicestershire & Rutland, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire gathered in Leicester on Saturday 29th June 2019 for this year’s 83 mile Charity Cycle Ride – raising £7,000 in support of the Rainbows Children’s Hospice and the Masonic Charitable Foundation

To wish them good luck on their journey, Helen Lee-Smith, Head of Individual Giving from Rainbows, said: ‘Thank you so much to all of those taking part today, yet again the support from the Freemasons is essential to Rainbows Children’s Hospice.’

Also there to wave them off was the Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire & Rutland Freemasons, David Hagger, who said: ‘We are all extremely proud of the work we do to support Rainbows and the Masonic Charitable Foundation and thank all of those riders for raising such a fantastic amount today.’

On the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures well in excess of 33 degrees Celsius, 20 cyclists including Freemasons, friends and family set off from Freemasons’ Hall in Leicester early in the morning before the sun was at its strongest. The route took the four groups out from Leicester and on towards Loughborough before heading through Shepshed and onto Derby in the first leg of the journey of over 33 miles.

The first stop was at the Masonic Hall in Derby, where tea, coffee, bacon sandwiches and much needed water were in abundance. The break was very much appreciated as the day was beginning to warm up, however time was of the essence, and it was not long before the next leg out through Long Eaton and on to Nottingham.

By now the temperatures were soaring, but that did not stop the determined cyclists to battle the searing heat and traffic as they arrived at the Masonic Hall in Nottingham for a rest in the shade and to restock with supplies.

The afternoon sun meant that water stops were frequent, but with determination and hard work, the cyclists made their way from Nottingham back into Leicestershire; finally finishing at Freemasons’ Hall in Leicester at around 6pm.

Flyfishers’ Lodge No. 9347 in Derbyshire held its annual fishing event at the Yeaveley Estate for a party of pupils from Alfreton Special School with additional support needs

Freemasons from the lodge were only too pleased to give their time to help with the event, which proved to be a great success. It has been an annual event for more than a decade, as part of Derbyshire Province’s work in the community.

Alfreton Park Special School is a very popular community school for pupils with special needs where the pupils benefit from the specialist teaching knowledge and expertise of the staff. Classes are small and consist of between seven and 10 pupils, each with a teacher and at least two teaching assistants. Pupil ages range between three and 13.

The majority of pupils have severe or complex learning difficulties and many have been diagnosed with autism which means they need a high level of support to help with their learning.

On the day, the party of 12 children, their helpers and teachers enjoyed a wonderful day’s fly-fishing with each pupil landing several rainbow trout. Afterwards, the party was entertained to a barbecue lunch and the Provincial Grand Master for Derbyshire, Steven Varley, presented framed certificates to all pupil participants.

The smiles on the faces of the children were more than ample reward for the lodge members to go home happy and content that they had spent a worthwhile day in supporting the school and the great work it does.

You can watch a video of the annual fishing occasion below.

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