When Alife, the 17-year-old son of a Suffolk Freemason, won a place on a course at the British School of Watch Making in Sale, Cheshire, there was a huge logistical problem

The course was full-time, 3,000 hours duration – the new student needed to put the weekly hours in – but living near Felixstowe some 225 miles away and needing accommodation his options were limited – and being a ‘minor’ of 17 compounded the problem.

That was when Mum, Bernadette and Dad, Nick Doncaster, of Gyppeswick Lodge No. 4254 in the Province of Suffolk, had the idea of contacting Cheshire Freemasons. A phone call was made in early 2018 to Provincial Office at Altrincham and answered by Graham Monaghan who was on duty at that time in the Almoners Office.

The predicament was explained to Graham who promised to see what he could do and enquire whether there were any members who might have a spare room to offer Alfie, the student watchmaker. Graham started to make enquiries using his local knowledge as a Sale Freemason himself.

Mike O’Brien, who lives in Sale and is a member of De Sala Lodge No. 5657, who lives in Sale, heard of the plight and went home to discuss it with his wife Liz and son Lewis, also 17. They got in touch and the two families met up in Sale. To quote Nick Doncaster ‘all the boxes were ticked’ and Alfie moved in with them on 2nd September 2018 and has thrived there ever since.

Alfie’s course is unique within the UK and there are students from Portugal and France also taking part, although Alfie is the youngest student that the school has ever had. He hopes to gain a work experience place with a leading Swiss watchmaker in early 2020.

An interest in watches and clocks and how they worked took him to visit the Birmingham Watch Fair a couple of years ago where he learnt about the British School of Watch Making. At Mike and Liz’s home in Sale, he has his own bedroom and the company of Lewis who is his own age, as elder daughters Danielle (26) and Lauren (28) no longer live at home.

Liz said: ‘Alfie has settled in very well. He uses his bike to get to and from the school and has recently joined a gym. He has been out with Mike and Lewis to some of the social functions of the Lodge and has met quite a few of the members.’

Alfie will be living with the O’Brien family until the end of his course in July 2020. In the meantime, the Sale family will be travelling to the Doncaster family home in July this year to visit Nick and Bernadette for a family social occasion.

A delegation of Cheshire Freemasons attended local charity Charles Thompson’s Mission to present them with cheque for £14,000 towards their work helping men and women who are homeless, poor and needy out of poverty

Mission Manager Bernie Frost was delighted to meet the volunteers who ‘chose’ to sleep out on a very cold night last year in an effort to raise awareness of homelessness and poverty, as well as help raise much-needed funds for the Mission.

Those sleeping out included 14 members of Bohemian Chapter No. 3294 and Combermere Lodge No. 605 plus two of their wives. Their collective efforts raised £12,600 through sponsorship, which was topped up by a donation of £1,400 from the Cheshire Freemasons Charity.

Cheshire’s Deputy Provincial Grand Master David Dyson said: 'What the members have done is incredible, not just in raising funds, but also to highlight the issue of homelessness and the human story that sits behind it. The men and women who slept out will be the first to say they ‘chose’ to do so, yet sadly many don’t have the ‘choice’, they sleep out all the time. 

'The Charles Thompson’s Mission is a great charity doing an incredible job and one we have supported for some time. It is clear to see the positive effect the work they do has on those in need.’

On a snowbound and extremely foggy morning of January 30th 2019, members of three provinces came together to present a grant of £12,000 to North West Air Ambulance

David Walmsley, Assistant Provincial Grand Master in West Lancashire, Simon Palfreyman, Assistant Provincial Grand Master in Cheshire, and John Farrington, Deputy Provincial Grand Master in East Lancashire, ably assisted by provincial charity stewards from Cheshire and East Lancashire, all braved the snow to meet with staff from North West Air Ambulance to take a short tour of the facilities and learn a little more about what they do.

On this particular morning, the two impressive Eurocopter EC135 helicopters were grounded due to poor visibility. One of the pilots, Lee, took the opportunity of telling them that from the City Heliport (Barton Aerodrome) there is an easily referred to visual point which denotes the flying limit of 1500m; Barton Bridge.

North West Air Ambulance now have two rapid response cars which can take the place of the helicopters on days such as this should they be required, and are also able to carry blood supplies.

For the helicopters to operate it costs £9 per minute in fuel, while an average call out costs £2,500. The recent grant of £12,000 will go a fair way to providing fuel for one air ambulance for a month.

North West Air Ambulance operate three helicopters. two at City Heliport (Barton) and one over at Blackpool. A chart on the wall showed they can cover a fair proportion of the North West in 20-30 minutes travelling at up to 160mph, and 20 minutes to Lancaster and North Wales.

More than 210 men visited Wallasey Masonic Hall in Cheshire in January 2019 to undergo a simple blood test, which only takes a few minutes, and can help detect prostate cancer

The session, open to any man, is free, although most who attended are keen to leave a donation for the Prostate Screening Team who travel over from Leighton Hospital in Crewe to carry out the tests.

The donations raised almost £1,600 which will be put to good use by the screening team who are always in need of replacement items for the testing kits.

Cheshire Freemason Jeff Cunningham said: ‘It was wonderful to see so many men taking advantage of this life-saving service. This is another great example of Freemasonry supporting local communities and it was great to see so many non-masons as well as masons taking the test.

‘As always we extend our thanks to the volunteers from the Leighton Hospital Prostate Screening Team who give their spare time to run these sessions. At last year’s session three men were identified by the test as being in need of immediate treatment and this just goes to show how invaluable it is. The donations go some way to show our thanks and gratitude.’

Further testing sessions will be held across Cheshire throughout the year, with the next taking place at Cheshire View, the Masonic Hall in Christleton, Chester, on Saturday 30th March 2019.

Cheshire Freemasons Keith Howbrigg and Harry Wright had great pleasure in visiting Men in Sheds in the village of Hartford to present a donation for £580

This donation will enable the project, which is run by Age UK Cheshire, to add to their Air Filtration system, with the purchase of two new high volume units. 

The sheds are places where men over the age of 50 can come together to learn and share their skills and make new friends. 

They always guarantee a warm welcome within the shed community, with activities including wood working and turning, pen making, bespoke commissions and community projects.

Wednesday, 09 January 2019 13:43

New Year Honours 2019

A number of Freemasons have been honoured in HM The Queen’s New Year Honours list 2019, which recognises the outstanding achievements of people across the United Kingdom

Charles Pearson

Charles Pearson was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to West Mercia Police.

Charles has been a special constable for 45 years, holding the rank of a Sergeant, serving his community in Shropshire with postings to Bridgnorth, Much Wenlock and presently, Church Stretton. In May 2014, he was awarded the Freedom of Much Wenlock for services to the local community, with 40 years police service in the town of Much Wenlock.

He was initiated into Caer Caradoc Lodge No. 6346 in Shropshire in 1997 and joined West Mercia Lodge No. 9719 three years later, where he is the current Master.

In 2012, Charles was named Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon for Shropshire and in 2017 was promoted to Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works.

Thomas Clive Johnson

Clive Johnson was awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal (QFSM)  for Distinguished service to Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service.

Clive joined the Westmorland Fire Service as a Retained Firefighter in 1968 and was based at Staveley where he lives. In 1974, the Fire Services of the region amalgamated and then became the Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service.

Clive continued his service at Staveley until he retired on 31st May 2018, having achieved the high rank of Station Watch Manager. To mark his retirement having completed 50 years of exemplary service, he and his wife Julie were invited to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, hosted by Her Majesty.

He was initiated into Eversley Lodge No. 4228 in 2001 in the Province of Cumberland & Westmorland. In 2016, he received Provincial Honours when he was appointed Provincial Senior Grand Deacon.

Bill Edward Bowen

Bill Bowen was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community of Oswestry in Shropshire.

This included actively serving in The Lions Club of Oswestry for 44 years and being honoured in the Lions Clubs International organisation as District Governor which necessitated training in Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii.

Bill also served as Churchwarden at the Parish Church of St. Oswald for 25 years, followed by 14 years as a licensed local minister in the Church of England. He also organised a Christian Men's Fellowship Breakfast for 22 years and served as Chaplain to the RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital for 15 years. In fact, he is still serving in all these different organisations.

Bill was initiated in 1986 into the Lodge of St Oswald No. 1124 in Oswestry in the Province of Shropshire and was made Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 2014.

Michael Goldthorpe

Michael Goldthorpe was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to Naval Personnel.

Michael served in the Royal Navy from 1978 until 2010, reaching the rank of Commander. His most recent activity has been as CEO of the Association of Royal Navy Officers and the Royal Navy Officers Charity.

He was initiated into Pinner Hill Lodge No. 6578 in Middlesex in 1989, although the lodge has since been erased. Michael is also a member of Fortitude Lodge No. 6503 in the Province, where he is their current Master, and was appointed Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 2018.

He is also a member of United Services Lodge No. 3183 in Gibraltar, Goffs Oak Lodge No. 7169 in Hertfordshire and Navy Lodge No. 2612 in London, alongside a number of side orders.

Francis Wakem QPM

Francis Wakem was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to victims of crime.

This involved working with the charity Victim Support, which provides emotional and practical support to victims of crime, since it was founded 30 years ago, originally as a serving police officer and later as a volunteer. 

Francis remains an active volunteer in Wiltshire and in London where he serves on committees dealing with governance of the charity.

Francis was initiated into Corsham Lodge No. 6616 in Wiltshire in 1976 and went on to serve as Provincial Grand Master in the county for over 10 years (March 2004 - October 2014).

Frank Handscombe

Frank Handscombe was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to Judo in the community in South Molton, North Devon.

Frank is a 4th black belt and has been involved with South Molton Judo Club for 38 years, where he has served as chief instructor and principal.

Frank was initiated into Temple Bar Lodge No. 5962 in Hertfordshire in 1961 and later joined Loyal Lodge of Industry No. 421 in Devonshire, where he gained Provincial honours including Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2005 and Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 2006.

In 2009, he was given Grand Lodge honours when he was named Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies.

Trevor (Tex) Calton

Army Cadet Force Major Tex Calton has been awarded an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen in the annual New Year Honours list.

Tex enjoyed a successful military career of 26 years with the last eight serving as the Bandmaster of the famous Black Watch Regiment. He retired from teaching music in schools at the end of 2013 and now serves in the Army Cadet Force in the rank of Major, as National Music Advisor. 

Tex became a Freemason in 1988 when he joined Phoenix Lodge in Berlin. On being posted to Tern Hill, near Market Drayton, he joined St Mary’s Lodge No. 8373 in 1992. Tex was given Provincial honours in Shropshire when he was named Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon in 2014.

Steven Leigh

Cheshire Freemason Steven Leigh was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to local businesses and the economy in Yorkshire.

Steven has had an impressive business career, including the flotation of his company to a full listing on the London Stock Exchange in 1993, and running it as Chief Executive.

Steven will celebrate 50 years as a member of the Lodge of Harmony No. 4390 in November 2019, a month after taking the Chair of the Lodge as Master for the second time (previously in 1976). He was also Director of Ceremonies from 1978 – 1983, following in the footsteps of his father, George Leigh, who was Director of Ceremonies of the lodge for many years.

Reg Dunning

Reg Dunning was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to education and the community in Sandbach, Cheshire.

Reg has been a Governor of two local schools for over 40 years concurrently and has been the parade marshal for the Royal British Legion in Sandbach for over 60 years. 

92-year-old Reg is an honorary member of Penda Lodge No. 7360 and Sanbec Lodge No. 8787 in Sandbach. He joined Freemasonry in April 1955 when he was initiated into Kinderton Lodge No. 5759 in Middlewich.

Tony Brian Arthur Rowland

Tony Rowland has been awarded an MBE for services to undertaking and the community in Surrey.

Tony is a Funeral Director who has supported bereaved families through their grief for 65 years and has done voluntary work for many local charities and community projects. He became an apprentice at the age of 15 in 1953 and is now, at the age of 80, still working full-time.

Tony is a member of Croydon Sincerity Lodge No. 7575 in Surrey, where he was made a Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer in 2016.

Do you know other Freemasons who were honoured in the New Year Honours list? Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in More News

At the turn of the 20th Century, the compact City of Chester was blessed with two masonic halls, situated about one mile apart at the north east and south west of the city centre

The first at Queen Street was a large converted Town House in the ‘Rows’ of Chester where, interestingly, some of the lodges can trace their roots back to before the formation of United Grand Lodge in 1813. The second was a new Freemason’s Hall in Hunter Street, built specifically in 1909 to accommodate the growing numbers of members.

It seems fitting to record the decision made 100 years ago, in December 1918, by four Chester Lodges, meeting at Hunter Street, to fund and erect a Memorial window to the valour of the members who died in during the Great War of 1914 to 1918, and in honour of those Chester masons who had served their country.

The four lodges in the Province of Cheshire, the Lodge of Independence No. 721, Clarence Lodge No. 2386, Travellers Lodge No. 2609 and Deva Lodge No. 3447, formed a small committee and plans were put in place. Four years later, on the 13th April 1922 the Lodge of Independence gave notice of a special Emergency Meeting to be held on the 24th April 1922 to witness the Unveiling and Consecration of the Memorial Window: - “in gratitude for peace, in memory of the fallen, and to honour the Chester Brethren who served in the War.”

The window, some 11 feet in height and 8 feet in width, has for its central light the figures of Aaron and Hur holding the hands of Moses, with masonic symbols and the Arms of Chester appearing in other portions of the window. It was unveiled by Hon. Lord Leverhulme and consecrated by the Very Revd. The Dean of Chester, Rev. F.S.M. Bennett, Provincial Grand Chaplain. There were, according to the Attendance Register, 66 members the Lodge of Independence, and 105 visitors, including many members from the other three lodges – Clarence, Travellers and Deva.

Freemasons’ Hall, Hunter Street, Chester, was sold in 1994 to enable the re-development of Chester City Centre, and all lodges vacated the building by the 1st August 1995. The sale included an agreement for the Memorial Window to remain in situ until arrangements were in place for its safe removal. When the time came for the window to be removed, the metal framework was found to be badly corroded and with lead missing was in danger of imminent collapse. Restoration, cleaning and re-leading took and a new metal framework was provided by Paul Richards of Bridgegate Lodge.

The new Freemasons’ Hall ‘Cheshire View’ was identified for the move, with the main temple constructed in the roof-space of the existing building and a new wing added to provide a second temple, and dining room.

Originally, it was planned to install the Memorial Window in the East of the new Second Temple, behind the Master’s Chair, where it would be illuminated by an appropriate external window. All was to be prepared and ready for the Official Opening and Consecration of the Second Temple, on the 22nd April 1997. Unfortunately, calculations failed to appreciate the height of the mounting framework and the elevation of the Master’s Chair from the floor. The Memorial Window therefore had to be installed behind the Senior Warden’s Chair where sufficient height existed.

Electric lights now illuminate the Window, instead of daylight, and they fully reveal its magnificent details. Standing in the West, it now affords great enjoyment for the Master and Brethren seated in the East. It also forms a fitting centre-piece for the Temple and a talking point for the many visitors, both masonic and non-masonic, reminding them of the sacrifice of those who never returned to their loved ones and firesides after the Great War.

Cheshire Freemasons have thrown their support behind a new initiative to tackle mental health among young people

The organisation is one of the key contributors to the Young Minds Matter programme being run by Cheshire Community Foundation (CFF).

In total, four projects have received funding of £200,000. They include The G8way, a partnership between three charities – Just Drop In, Cre8 and Wilmslow Youth – Pure Insight, Cheshire Without Abuse and Family Matters, a partnership between Visyon and St Joseph’s Family Centre.

Cheshire Community Foundation connects people who want to give back with the most effective grass-roots charities and not-for-profit organisations across Cheshire and Warrington. Funding totalling £500,000 will be made available over the next three years, made up of contributions from several of CCF’s donors including Cheshire Freemasons.

Harry Wright, Provincial Charity Steward of Cheshire Freemasons, said: 'We are delighted to be supporting the Young Minds Matter programme and the fantastic charities that have been funded through the initiative.

'This is a very much needed programme focusing on helping young people develop coping strategies to manage the early signs of mental health issues and we are glad to be a part of that.'

Zoe Sheppard, CEO of Cheshire Community Foundation, said: 'We are delighted to announce the four charitable projects that have been successful in receiving funding as part of our Young Minds Matter programme.

'Thanks to the support of our generous donors such as the Cheshire Freemasons, we now have just £136,000 to raise in order to extend support to three of these charities for a further two years.'

The four projects will be assessed at the end of the first year with further funding potentially available via the Young Minds Matter programme.

‘Suicide is the major cause of death in all people under 35 years of age’. That alarming statistic is one that will probably come as a major shock to many people. It certainly was to the group of West Lancashire Freemasons who were visiting the Warrington headquarters of the charity Papyrus, who have received a grant from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) of £65,342

The MCF has made the grant on behalf of the Province of West Lancashire, but on this occasion the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison was accompanied by his colleague from the neighbouring Province of Cheshire, Stephen Blank.

Papyrus, which was formed in 1997 in Lancashire, has three simple aims: provide confidential help and advice to young people and anyone worried about a young person; help others to prevent young suicide by working with and training professionals; and campaign and influence national policy. They summarise this as: Support, Equip and Influence.

The visitors were welcomed by CEO Ged Flynn, who explained the work that the charity does and also outlined the problems that are being faced nationally, as they try to de-stigmatise suicide and raise awareness of this tragic loss of young people. Ged stressed that the charity has values that it strongly promotes.

He said: 'We believe that many young suicides are preventable, and that no young person should suffer alone with thoughts or feelings of hopelessness. We believe that everyone can play a role in preventing young suicide.'

Stephen Habgood, who is the Chairman of Papyrus, then very movingly related his own story of the loss of his only child, Christopher 26, to suicide in 2009. Sarah Fitchett, a trustee of the charity, also shared her own tragic experience in speaking of the death of her 14-year-old son, Ben by suicide in 2013.

Their openness in speaking so frankly about their emotional experiences was a very moving revelation to the visitors but also cause for admiration, as they explained how they are working to try and prevent others having to experience the same trauma.

The £65,000 grant will enable the charity to engage another advisor to work on their HOPELineUK helpline (0800 068 4141), which is there to provide confidential support and advice to young people struggling with thoughts of suicide, and anyone worried about a young person.

Cheshire Masters’ and Masons’ Forum (MMF) recently ‘took over’ Freemasons Hall in an initiative bringing Freemasons, their families and non-Masonic friends together for a unique gathering in the iconic home of the United Grand Lodge of England

It was June 2017 when Paul Massie, Assistant Provincial Grand Master with responsibility for overseeing the MMF, first approached the Provincial Grand Master Stephen Blank with the idea of inviting Masonic and non-Masonic guests from around the country to take part in a day that would be remembered by all involved. The event would consist of a Masonic Lecture and a Masonic ceremony performed by a team of MMF members from lodges across the Province of Cheshire plus a tour of Freemasons Hall for friends and family during the day – a real family occasion. With the Provincial Grand Master's enthusiastic approval, the date was set for Saturday 18 August 2018.

Invitations were sent to all 1,600 members of the MMF, inviting them to be part of a 22 strong team of light blue masons. From applications received the team was selected, its memberships ranging from one to 10 years, each keen to play their part in this unique opportunity.

The ceremony work was divided up so that all team members could play an active part, the initial challenge being the differences in ritual the members were used to performing. Director of Ceremonies Mike Christian (Preceptor of the 100 of Wirral Emulation Lodge of Instruction, No. 39) was tasked to use his experience to train the members in Emulation Ritual and create a well-rehearsed team fitting of the big occasion.

Whilst the team worked hard to perfect the ceremony, the organising committee were busy building a special website, arranging finances and the logistics necessary to put on such an event so far from Cheshire. Tony Harvey was delighted to be invited to present his 2012 Prestonian Lecture ‘Scouting and Freemasonry: two parallel organisations?’ as part of the day’s events. Harvey, a renowned Scouter and Freemason, had recently attended a meeting of West Cheshire Lodge No. 2977, the newly appointed Scouting Lodge in Cheshire, where he and Massie gave presentations on Scouting and Freemasonry and updated those present regarding the MMF event. Tony adapted his lecture to make it suitable for his Masonic and non-Masonic audience.

By midday on Saturday, guests had arrived from 17 Provinces including the District of South Africa (Western Division) and were escorted through the North doors leading up to the beautiful marbled mezzanine area in front of the main temple. Here they were able to view the temple itself as the doors were open to allow full access. The guests then moved to Lodge Room 10 and Tony Harvey delivered his Lecture and answered questions.

It was then time for the non-masonic guests to enjoy the pre-arranged tour of the Hall, the members remained to watch the delivery of the second degree ceremony – this would be a one off display by the 22 members who had come together and worked so hard for this moment. The ceremony started with the entrance of the Provincial Grand Master to music played by David Roberts-Jones. What followed was an exemplary example of teamwork with the brethren performing a faultless ceremony and tracing board. 

The changes of personnel was seamless and a fine example of how ceremonies can be shared. Towards the end, the Provincial Grand Master addressed the meeting, highlighting the aims of the event and his pride at witnessing the excellent ceremony which had been performed by relatively inexperienced Freemasons from his Province. He thanked the organising committee for the work which had been done and Manor Lodge No. 4202 for allowing the ceremony to be conducted under their banner.

This event, sponsored by the Cheshire Masters’ and Masons’ Forum, is the first by any Province where a Provincial Light Blue Masons Club has invited and encouraged members from other Provinces and their New Young Masons Club (NYMC), together with their non-masonic guests, to attend and enjoy a day of social and Masonic activity together. 

It is hoped this flagship Freemasons Hall event will encourage similar ones to be held in the future, where both Freemasons and non-masons can meet to enjoy a day of suitably arranged activities, possibly sponsored by different clubs around the country.

In the future, the Cheshire MMF will be hosting a range of events including team competitions amongst its members with questions on Masonic and General Knowledge, various local and provincial social events, Masonic lectures, visits to Lodges both within and outside of the Province of Cheshire and more ceremonies performed by MMF volunteers. The efforts and success of the Masters’ and Masons’ Forum will play an important part in the growth of Freemasonry within Cheshire over the years to come.

Page 1 of 4

ugle logo          SGC logo