Celebrating 300 years

West Lancashire Freemasons have donated two new BMW 'blood bikes' to charity North West Blood Bikes

The donation was in response to an appeal by North West Blood Bikes for help in replacing their ageing fleet of motorbikes, which led to two new bikes being purchased and equipped by the Freemasons at a cost of £40,000.

The Provincial Grand Master of West Lancashire Tony Harrison, along with two of his Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Kevin Poynton and David Winder, and Steve Kayne, the CEO of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, formally handed over two new liveried BMW R1200RT-P motorbikes to the North West Blood Bikes team.

North West Blood Bikes Fleet Manager Simon Hanson said: 'Since my appointment I have been working with Honda, BMW and multiple charities and local businesses to replace the fleet of 12 liveried motorbikes, as they had mostly done over 80,000 miles and in some cases were over eight years old.

'This very generous donation by the Freemasons in West Lancashire completes my renewal plan and they, along with the other new motorbikes, will greatly reduce the number of breakdowns we have been having with our old fleet. It will also increase our ability to support the NHS out of normal hours (7pm to 2am) in the week and 24/7 at weekends.'

The motorbikes have been built to a specification that is, effectively, the same as that for police vehicles. The only difference is the blood bikes are fitted with a special carrying rack to transport medical items and the police blue paintwork is replaced with orange.

In officially handing over the two vehicles, Tony Harrison said: 'I am delighted to be able to present these motorbikes on behalf of the Freemasons in West Lancashire to North West Blood Bikes, as they will help them in the vital role they play in supporting the NHS in their work.'

On average, North West Blood Bikes respond to over 1,000 calls a month, which their 350 volunteers action using their own motorbikes and cars, and the liveried motorbikes. The 12 liveried motorbikes are used for calls that involve motorway journeys and long distances, as well as during rush hour and moving urgent blood samples and other lifesaving items.

The East Lancashire Masonic Charity has donated £50,000 to fund the Patient Information Zone in the new Diabetes Centre at the Manchester Hospitals Complex

The £50,000 donation will help make a difference to diabetes patients from across the North West of England. The donation, in support of Manchester Royal Infirmary Charity’s Diabetes Appeal, will help the hospital to relocate its Diabetes Centre into a more vibrant and spacious patient-friendly building and continue to be a leading centre for Diabetes care.

The Manchester Diabetes Centre is recognised around the world for its high-quality clinical care and cutting-edge, world leading research. It is one of the first dedicated diabetes centres in the UK, providing care to 4,000 patients across the North West each year.

The current Diabetes Centre is cramped and outdated, meaning the hospital’s medical professionals are unable to offer the breadth of treatment, research and care that they want to their patients.

The substantial donation will contribute towards the Charity’s Appeal to vastly improve the patients experience when being treated at the new Diabetes and Endocrinology Centre. Relocating to a larger facility will mean an increase of clinical capacity, reduction of waiting times and the ability to adapt the care to the diverse needs and lives of the hospital’s diabetic patients. This friendlier, less clinical environment, will also improve the quality of transition of care for young patients from child through to adult services, which is a major concern.

Maurice Watkins CBE, Chairman of Manchester Royal Infirmary Hospital Charity’s fundraising board, said: 'We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of the East Lancashire Freemasons. Our aim is to ensure that the Manchester Diabetes Centre continues to be a world-class facility, pioneering treatment and care for chronically ill patients in the North West and beyond. The Freemason’s support is invaluable in helping us to provide a brighter future for these patients and their families.'

The Appeal also plans to relocate the hospital’s Endocrinology Services to the new and purposely designed Diabetes facility. Currently, despite the close clinical connection of the two specialities, the hospital’s Endocrinology and Diabetes services are located in different areas of the hospital site. Housing the two linked services in one central location will ensure optimal patient care, clinical outcomes and patient experience.

Sir David Trippier, the Provincial Grand Master for East Lancashire, said: 'Freemasons are delighted to have provided vital financial support for the most worthy cause of Diabetes Care in the North West. Diabetes is an illness that has serious implications so we are keen to support this project which will ultimately benefit an immense number of people, from children to the elderly, for now and well into the future.'

lodges meeting at Eliot Hall in Winslow have teamed up with the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF) to provide a small fleet of 4X4 vehicles to serve all areas of rural Buckinghamshire

Provincial Grand Master John Clark, assisted by Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Graham Dearing and Phil Blacklaw, presented the latest addition of three vehicles, which have been placed to serve the Buckinghamshire communities of Winslow, Marlow and Thame/Haddenham. 

Community First Responders (CFR) are all highly trained volunteers who do not get paid for the many hours they give in support of their communities. Neither do they receive support from the NHS or local government. 

The First Responders live and work in the community they serve and are able to start life-saving treatments prior to the arrival of an ambulance in a wide variety of medical emergencies such as stroke, choking and serious injuries. They can also reach emergencies and transport medical staff from the air ambulance landing point. In rural areas it is often difficult to reach incidents in the Responder’s own cars and an off-road capability is invaluable.

Steve Acton, the CFR for the Winslow area and a member of Saxon Lodge No. 9735 at Eliot Hall, first highlighted the need over two years ago. Since then the BMCF and Winslow lodges have worked together to build the fleet and extend the area of Buckinghamshire covered.

The fundraising has been boosted by the generous bequest of the late Rodney Meerza, who was also a Winslow Mason.

The vehicles provided all have the 4X4 capability, essential at some incidents on local farms and bridleways, and are fitted with scene lighting bars for night use, as well as alley lights to enable the user to see street numbers easily at night. 

Over the past few months, all three vehicles have been regularly called on to assist in areas of heavy snowfall or muddy conditions and have helped to save lives in times of medical emergency.

As many people are now living beyond what was once considered a normal life span, there is an increasing awareness of age-related mental health problems, dementia being uppermost

The problem has recently been brought to the attention of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Derbyshire and the Derby-based Spencer Lodge No. 8773 to seek their practical help in assisting hospital clinical staff. The notice was brought by Mrs Val Haylett, recently appointed to the position of Hospital Governor for the City of Derby, and who retired from the NHS in 2014 after 26 years working at the Royal Derby Hospital.

Whilst attending last year, at a meeting during which radiology staff explained the frequent difficulties of encouraging anxious dementia patients to enter the tunnel of a MRI scanner, Val spoke of her practical experience and how she had witnessed distressed children in A&E departments and on wards, effectively comforted by being given a teddy bear. She suggested that they might well prove useful for distressed adult dementia patients.

Hitherto essentially for children, the teddy bears are regularly given to hospitals throughout Derbyshire by the Derbyshire Provincial Grand Charity and recently it gave the county’s hospitals the 50,000th teddy through the Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) scheme.

Responding readily to the dementia-related request, the Derbyshire Provincial Grand Charity set aside a sum of £1,000 to provide for supplies of TLC bears over a trial period of 12 months. These will be used for dementia patients at the London Road Community Hospital, the Royal Derby Hospital and outpatient departments.

A larger sum of £1,500 has also been presented directly from Spencer Lodge to the hospital for the purchase of more expensive and proven comforting aids, specifically for dementia patients.

Proof that the use of dolls and bears can bring great benefits to some dementia-diagnosed patients, particularly those in the latter stages, is supported by the charity Dementia UK through its Admiral Nursing section. It has been shown that simply giving a patient a doll to hold can be comforting and enjoyable, and possibly improve their verbal communication ability.

Freemasons' Hall in Manchester held its official open evening on 15th January 2018 to celebrate its multi million-pound refurbishment

The grand evening included a drinks reception, tour of the centre, speeches from key personnel and the unveiling of the new Masonic plaque to commemorate the opening evening.

Guests in attendance included the Provincial Grand Master for East Lancashire Sir David Trippier, accompanied by his wife Lady Trippier, and the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes, who officially opened the new Masonic Centre.

The majority of the building now hosts spectacular weddings, events and business meetings. However, the Freemasons have retained dedicated accommodation located on the 3rd floor.

A memorial dedicated to the Freemasons that made the supreme sacrifice and lost their lives in World War II has also been re-homed within the centre. The memorial was moved from the ground floor hall of the building and features an eternal light above as a standing tribute and focal area within the establishment.

The United Grand Lodge of England celebrated its Tercentenary in October 2017 and the official opening is a reflection on how Freemasons have adapted throughout the years, taking on a much more contemporary direction.

Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons have donated £22,595 to 19 local charities at a special awards ceremony at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, on 13th January 2018

The charities receiving the awards included those helping and assisting others in the local communities with disabilities, children who are deprived or have limited life expectancy and the elderly suffering from dementia.

Rainbows Children’s Hospice, based in Loughborough, received a total of £2,145 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the Lodge of the Argonauts No. 8210 which meets in Leicester. Gary Farnfield, Leicestershire Community Fundraiser for Rainbows, said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for the wonderful donation. This money will help us to create special memories for families whilst they are with us.'

A £1,000 donation from the Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association was also given to Shepshed-based Steps, a conductive education centre, which provides an innovative learning process for children with motor disabilities to develop in the same way as their able-bodied peers.

Camp Charnwood, based at Beaumanor Hall in Woodhouse Eaves, which provides five day holidays for Leicestershire youngsters aged between 7 and 16 with T1 Diabetes, also received a donation of £1,000.

The NHS charity Raising Health for the Advanced Dementia Care Wards at the Evington Centre received a donation of £1,500. 

Lindsay Woodward, the Charitable Funds Manager for Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, said: 'Thank you so much to the Freemasons. We have two lovely courtyard areas which we wish to turn into dementia-friendly gardens including activity sheds which will engage a person and make them feel more calm and cope with their dementia.'

Step Out Youth Club, which operates in South Wigston, offers children different activities in a safe area, received a donation of £500 to provide new classes for cooking and growing vegetables to emphasise healthy eating. Carl Walters from Step Out said: 'Step Out has 60-80 kids at present from 8 to 16 years old and they are now learning how to cook healthily.'

Harborough Community Bus is a small charity local to Market Harborough which runs minibuses for community groups and certain individuals who would otherwise have some difficulty getting out. The charity received a donation of £1,000.

John Feavyour, Chairman and Trustee of the Harborough Community Bus, said: 'It costs about £12,000 per year to run the Community Bus including fuel and safety checks and all the rest of it. This donation will pay for a whole month.' 

Voluntary Action South Leicestershire, which is dedicated to improving  lives in the Harborough District and the wider community of Leicestershire, also received a £1,000 donation. Hannah Currington, Carers Delivery Officer, said: 'The group meets in Market Harborough, but because we are open to all of the Harborough District one of our main costs is transport. Lots of the kids live up to 12 miles out and if the voluntary drivers didn’t physically go and get them, they just wouldn’t be unable to come. This £1,000 will go largely to supporting the reimbursement of the voluntary drivers.'

Stathern-based Dove Cottage Day Hospice received an award of £500. Dove Cottage offers quality palliative day care to people living in north east Leicestershire, Rutland and south east Nottinghamshire to fund improved services. 

Chris Rowley, Charity Director of Dove Cottage Day Hospice, said: 'During the last 12 months, we have been running dementia workshops for both dementia sufferers and their carers. This donation is very gratefully received from the Freemasons which will go towards working with people with dementia.'

The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland David Hagger said: 'Freemasons have always been deeply involved in charity; from its earliest days the organisation has been connected with caring for orphans, the sick and the elderly. We are thrilled to continue to support our local communities by making donations to these worthy charities.'

Sam Carter, the 26 year old son of Russell Carter, the Norfolk Provincial Charity Steward, was Installed as Worshipful Master of the Lodge of Marksmen No. 9755 on 23rd March 2018

The lodge was honoured by a full Norfolk Provincial team visit giving a total number attending of 90 squeezed into the small temple in Harleston. The Installing Master David Meekings started the evening at 6pm prompt, and within 10 minutes the doors opened to allow the Provincial Grand Master Stephen Allen, alongside his deputy Charles Hall and assistants Michael Goffin and Michael Gooderson, entry to the lodge together with 22 Active Provincial Grand Officers.

Stephen Allen was amazed at the speed and precision of the ceremony, as the Lodge of Marksmen hit the target with an impeccable ceremony.

At 26 years old, Sam is the youngest Worshipful Master of a Norfolk Lodge in recent times. In fact, it has been suggested that he could possibly be the youngest Master in the Province for 100 years.

Sam was initiated into the lodge by his father Russell Carter on 29th October 2010. He joined the Stewards bench and began working his way towards the chair passing through each office en route. Sam also took part in the Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge lectures for four seasons, with a very high standard each time.

In 2013, Sam was awarded the Lord Lieutenants Certificate for good service, recognising his commitment to the Army Cadet force. Outside of Freemasonry, Sam is a teacher at a local junior school, Secretary of the local branch of the Royal British Legion, a Duke of Edinburgh Assessor and a local councillor.

Monday, 02 April 2018 12:12

700th meeting of Beacon Lodge

Beacon Lodge No. 5208, which meets at the Masonic Hall in Loughborough, held their 700th meeting on 11th January 2018

To mark this special occasion, the Provincial Grand Master for Leicestershire and Rutland David Hagger, along with the Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Kinder and the rest of the Provincial Grand Officers, attended the landmark meeting.

The Lodge Room was packed full to witness a Passing Ceremony which was superbly conducted by the brethren of Beacon Lodge including Joshua Symonds, who at 20 years old gave his first piece of ritual. To celebrate the 700th meeting, Graham Thorpe gave a short and interesting Oration on the history of the lodge.

During the meeting, the Provincial Grand Master presented the lodge with a gold Founders Jewel which was found hidden in the Masonic Hall during recent maintenance. Over 120 sat down at the Festive Board for a Burns Supper where Geoff Searson, Provincial Junior Grand Warden, who was suitably attired in a kilt, recited the 'Address to a Haggis’.

It was a unique evening at Saint Nicholas Lodge No. 6377 in Ilfracombe on Wednesday 21st March 2018 where Ron Thompson, aged 97, was installed as Worshipful Master in a fine ceremony carried out by his predecessor Terry Bridges

Ron was also taken by surprise on the night when he was presented with a 70 Year Certificate of Service to Freemasonry on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Ian Kingsbury. Ron was also given the rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden and presented with the badge and jewel of that office.

Ron was initiated back in February 1948 in a double initiation with his elder brother. They were initiated by their father in Pro Minimis Lodge No. 5180 which met at Freemasons' Hall in London. Ron became Master in 1960 and again in 1972.

When he moved to Devonshire in 1997, the lodge elected him to Honorary Membership. Ron also received London Grand Rank in 1975 and was Exalted in Pro Minimis HRA Chapter on 26th January 1956.

Ron joined Saint Nicholas Lodge and Davie HRA Chapter 3721 in 1997, but resigned as he moved to Essex where he joined Gunfleet Lodge No. 6884 and Le-Soken Chapter No. 2949. Having returned to Devon two years later, he rejoined both St Nicholas Lodge and Davie Chapter.

Ron was installed as MEZ of Davie Chapter in 2005 and appointed as Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in 2009.

Last year, he served as Senior Warden in Saint Nicholas Lodge and the brethren were delighted when he agreed to become their Master.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018 10:19

Pro Grand Master's address - March 2018

Quarterly Communication

14 March 2018 
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren, it is always a pleasure to see this magnificent temple as full as it is today, although it is hardly surprising bearing in mind the special nature of today’s meeting. Our Provinces and Districts, as well as those involved here at the centre, have taken a great deal of trouble in identifying those brethren most deserving of the honour that they have received today. I hope it has been a very special day for them and I really do congratulate and thank them. As always brethren, whilst congratulations are very much in order for all that you have done, particularly during the Tercentenary year, it also raises great expectations for your endeavours in the future.

We also have the Soane Ark back with us today. As those of you who were at the Tercentenary celebration at the Royal Albert Hall, (or those of you who read Freemasonry Today) will know, the original of this beautiful mahogany piece, the “Ark of the Masonic Covenant”, was made by Bro Sir John Soane in 1813. It was dedicated at the great celebration marking the Union of the Ancient and Modern Grand Lodges in 1813 and the Articles of Union were deposited inside.

It was tragically destroyed by fire in 1883, but UGLE commissioned an exact replica for our Tercentenary, which was dedicated at the Royal Albert Hall in October. Then, as in 1813, we placed a facsimile of the Articles of Union inside it, as well as the “Three Great Lights”.

It was on public display at the Soane Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields for the months after the Royal Albert Hall celebration, but now it has returned to its intended place in Grand Lodge. Triangular in form, it has at each corner a column of the Ionic, Doric and Corinthian order representing Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, the three great pillars on which our lodges, including this Grand Lodge, are said to stand.

I am sure that it will grace our Grand Lodge meetings for centuries to come.

We have become only too well aware of the term 'fake news' in recent times and we began this year with our own encounter with 'fake news'. Many of you will have seen the coverage generated by the outgoing Chairman of the Police Federation and the Guardian newspaper and I trust you will have also seen our responses. Let me assure you that UGLE will always stand up for its members, their integrity and their care for the communities from which they are drawn. It is my firm belief that policemen are better policemen for their membership of our proud organisation. However, it is not just policemen who can benefit from membership – lawyers, public servants and indeed all men benefit from the teaching our ceremonies have to offer, and the time has come for the organisation to stand up and make these points loudly and clearly. Enough, brethren is enough.

I have said it before and I say again I strongly believe that the future is bright for Freemasonry. We created a bow wave of optimism last year which produced a surge of interest in the Craft. We must now ensure that we maintain the momentum created and build on that legacy, and we will.

This year is very much a year of change, particular of key personalities both here and in the Provinces and Districts. On your behalf I welcome Geoffrey Dearing to his first Quarterly Communication as President of the Board of General Purposes and, in April, David Staples, our CEO will become our new youthful and dynamic Grand Secretary, bringing together all the activities here in Freemasons’ Hall. Already this year we have installed two new PGMs as well as new DGMs in New Zealand South Island and SA Western Division. Both John Clark from Buckinghamshire and Anthony Howlett-Bolton from Berkshire are able to be present and I welcome them to their first Quarterly Communication as Provincial Grand Masters. We now start a steady stream of installations: nine Provincial Grand Masters and ten District Grand Masters, plus many Grand Superintendents in the Royal Arch. This will keep the Rulers in both the Craft and Royal Arch busy this year as we catch up on the backlog.

Although we have plenty of ceremonial work to do, I am also keen that we continue to visit Provinces and Districts in a less formal way. We are here to provide help and support and we must show it.

This year, as you know, is the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War – 'The Great War'. I have no doubt that many of you will be commemorating this, as appropriate in your area. This building was built to commemorate those masons who lost their lives in that war. It was called the Masonic Peace Memorial Building, but changed its name at the outbreak of the Second World War to Freemasons’ Hall. We shall commemorate the end of the First World War on 10th November 2018 under the auspices of Victoria Rifles Lodge and I am sure it will be an impressive occasion.

Brethren, I hope that today has been a memorable event for those I have invested. Many congratulations, once again, and remember there is no resting on your laurels.

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