Bringing together New and Young Masons clubs from all over the UK, the New and Young Masons Clubs’ (NYMC) Conference is a popular and prestigious event. In 2019, it was hosted by Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blues Club. At the end of that conference, NYMC Secretary Mitchell Merrick-Thirlway announced that Fleet House Light Blues Club of Hertfordshire had won the privilege of hosting it in 2020 thanks to their excellent pitch
Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic put a stop to the 2020 conference. However, a new date was set for October 2021 and the Fleet House Light Blues Club were fully committed to producing an informative and engaging conference. The event went ahead in St Albans, Hertfordshire, where more than 80 delegates were joined by the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes, who was attending his first NYMC conference.
The theme of the conference was ‘Engaging your membership’ and provided all New and Young Masons Clubs with ideas on how best to engage Freemasons outside of the Lodge room. The Fleet House Light Blues Club is renowned for the variety of its social events and Masonic education, and this was a chance to pass on that knowledge.
After an update on Solomon, delegates welcomed Tom Rainsford, marketing director of Beavertown Brewery. Rainsford is not a Freemason but offered a valuable opinion on how to brand internal clubs.
Daniel O’Connell, a founder of the Fleet House Light Blues Club, also gave a presentation on how to engage members. As creative lead at the National Lottery, Daniel provided some vital tools and techniques on how to survey and implement a good communications strategy.
The conference programme also featured a variety of break-out sessions, including a wonderful presentation by Shaun Butler, Communications Manager at UGLE. Luke Crouch, Andrew Murray and Steven Gordon-Wilson all provided insightful sessions on how to attract New and Young Masons, giving the delegates plenty to think about and discuss. Topics ranged from social media guidance to a presentation on inclusivity and diversity in Freemasonry.
Gareth Jones, the UGLE liaison for NYMC, gave a short address on New and Young Masons Clubs before handing over to the Pro Grand Master for the keynote address – an interesting look at his Masonic experience including some advice on how new and young members can help older members with technology, especially during the pandemic.
The conference was a great chance to spread new and progressive ideas, allowing members from different Provinces to share experiences and build even better engagement with their members.
After the conference closed, there was a special meeting of Salisbury Union Lodge. The temple at Ashwell House, St Albans was full, and members were treated to a wonderful multi-initiation ceremony and a lively Festive Board.
The University Scheme Lodge has strong links with the Light Blues Club, creating a synergy in the Province of Hertfordshire.