Friday, 07 December 2018 00:00

The football lodge playing for keeps

The perfect match

Whether it’s a World Cup final or Sunday morning kickabout, football permeates our culture. Matthew Bowen finds out how the founders of Football Lodge want to harness this power to breathe new life into Freemasonry

Looking out over the pitch from the hospitality box in a football stadium, you can feel the theatre of what happens on the pitch and in the stands. There won’t be another match until next weekend, but echoes of last Saturday’s chants still linger in the air. The empty ground exudes a sense of limitless potential, much like Football Lodge, No. 9921, which is engaging at a grass-roots level to bring Freemasonry into their community.

Surveying the ground, Lodge founder and Primus Master, David Lallana (Liverpool and England player Adam Lallana’s father), explains the thinking behind forming the lodge. ‘The ‘F’ word was very important to us when we launched the lodge,’ he says. He’s not talking about Freemasonry, or football, but ‘fun’. 

Football Lodge’s quirky take on masonic ritual made headlines after featuring in Sky’s Inside the Freemasons documentary. Members enter the lodge to the sound of the Match of the Day theme tune and can receive a card (yellow or red, depending on severity) for social faux pas. But there’s method to the madness. 

‘We stick to the tenets, but see no point in suffering through meetings,’ says Lodge Secretary Bill Starkey, who’s joined David in the hospitality box. ‘Visitors to the lodge enjoy themselves, and the word is spreading.’ More than 280 guests attended the lodge’s consecration, and meetings regularly attract 100-plus members, who travel to Botley in Hampshire from as far away as Devon.

FOSTERING A TEAM SPIRIT

The popularity of the lodge is no doubt helped by its high-profile members, among whom is former England player and current Birmingham City coach James Beattie. Stars such as this may make the headlines, but the lodge uses its popularity to support the Province’s football community from the ground up. In its first year, Football Lodge granted £100-£150 to each club in the Mid-Solent Youth League to assist with forming under-nine’s teams. They also provided a new kit for Hamble United FC – with a square and compass logo on the breast – after a fire devastated their ground. 

‘We’re proud of our community work and it’s a two-way street,’ says Worshipful Master Leon Whitfield. ‘Some people still see Freemasonry as elitist, but at Football Lodge, we’re just another team.’

To strengthen its presence within the community, the members understand that they now have a responsibility to convert the initial excitement into a lifelong commitment to Freemasonry as they guide the light blues through the ranks. David Lallana is on a mission to take Freemasonry into the 21st century – but he knows he can’t do this without bringing on the next generation.

‘We stick to the tenets, but see no point in suffering through meetings. Visitors to the lodge enjoy themselves, and the word is spreading’

MORE MEMBERS WITH EVERY MEETING

Ahead of each Installation meeting, the Loos Football, which was kicked across no man’s land by British soldiers towards German trenches in 1915 during the Battle of Loos, is transported down to the masonic hall by the Royal Irish Regiment. It sits on a pedestal on one side of the Worshipful Master. On the other side sits an identical football to the one used in the current Premier League season. 

‘As experienced masons, we have a responsibility to create a pathway for junior brethren to take the Chair of King Solomon,’ says David. ‘We hope people aspire to our position, but it’s not about looking up to us, it’s about the future of Freemasonry.’ The lodge has initiated new members at every meeting so far as it looks to build the perfect team who can take it to the next level.

Newly initiated members include referees, semi-professional managers and ex-players, including Richard Appleton, who is an Academy scout for Portsmouth FC. For Richard, Freemasonry has echoes of the team environment he enjoyed when playing high-level football, but it goes beyond that. ‘Football Lodge has changed my perspective on Freemasonry,’ he says. ‘I thought it was a bit stuffy to begin with, but I enjoy the history. I like to get involved in all the parts in the Temple, and think it’s making me a better person’. 

In order to achieve their goals, the founding members know they have to be sympathetic to the time limitations of younger men. ‘We’re very careful to not impinge on anyone’s lives,’ says Leon. ‘If you’ve got time, let us know. If you don’t, sit back, enjoy the meetings and relax. Not every member can make the same commitment, and we fully respect that.’

In addition to being professionally involved with football, Richard also works 14-hour days in construction, commuting to London most days from his home in Portsmouth. ‘I don’t find it easy to commit, but I believe that if you love something you make it work. I’m excited by the challenge of taking on what these guys have started and, along with the other light blues, carrying on our traditions and maintaining the buzz that surrounds the lodge.’ 

NEW SET OF GOALS

It’s clear something special is going on at Football Lodge. Their formula works, but they’re not resting on their laurels. ‘We see the lodge like a football club,’ says Leon. ‘When a club finds success, the hardest thing to do is maintain it.’ He’s keen to form affinities with other lodges to sustain this momentum. Farming out passing and raising ceremonies to other lodges in the Province that are struggling with attendance creates a buzz and, more importantly, an ‘interaction between a wider circle of brethren’. 

If the growth continues, Football Lodge may become just the first in a line of football lodges around the country. ‘People are looking at what we’re doing here,’ says David, who is keen to share the lessons he’s learned, not only with others looking to set up similar lodges, but with Freemasonry as a whole. ‘We’ve adopted a young way of thinking to attract younger members. First and foremost, we want to create something that people enjoy.’

‘We’ve adopted a young way of thinking to attract younger members. First and foremost, we want to create something that people enjoy’

An impromptu meeting was held underwater between three lodges at the bottom of The National Diving & Activity Centre on 14th October 2018

Michael Wilson, Senior Warden and Master Elect of Ashley Lodge No. 6525 in Dorset, donned his diving gear to meet with Luke Sibley, Master of Arthurian Lodge No. 5658 in the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight, and John DeLara, Past Master of the Loyal Berkshire Lodge of Hope No. 574 in Berkshire, to help Michael celebrate his 70th Birthday at a depth of 70 metres for 70 minutes, whilst raising funds for the charity DDRC Healthcare, the Diving Diseases Research Centre in Plymouth.

In the event, the depth and duration were slightly exceeded with 71.2 metres for 78 minutes. The temperature at the bottom of the quarry was 6C and on the wind and rain swept surface it was a balmy 15C. Following the dive, refreshments comprised numerous mugs of hot chocolate and lashings of Old Jamaica ginger cake soaked in rum and cream. 

To date, over £400 has been donated to DDRC Healthcare by the British Sub-Aqua Lodge No. 8997, Ashley Lodge, Arthurian Lodge, Loyal Berkshire Lodge of Hope and Fins and Flippers Swim School in Poole, Dorset.

Four Hampshire Freemasons dressed as superheroes and battled 90 degree heat as they cycled around the Isle of Wight in a race against two colleagues in boats – all in the name of charity

Together they raised more than £1,300 for Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington and drew the 11 hour race with their opponents at sea.

Plucky pedalers Andy Wort, Robin, Joe Traykov, Batman, Lee Marsh, Superman, and Mark Jones, Wonder Woman, are from the New Forest Lodge No. 319 in Hampshire.

The race was 64 miles long and the superheroes consumed 40 litres of water as they roared ahead of fellow lodge members Paul Adams and Adam Fuller, who were taking part in the Round the Island Race – a one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight.

Later in the day the wind picked up and the yachts began to catch up and they all crossed the finishing line together.

Andy said: 'Our lodge meets in Lymington and Oakhaven Hospice does amazing work in the community.

'We’ve done various fundraisers in the past and when we decided to do this one we had no idea it would be so hot. It was exhausting and took several hours longer than we anticipated. At one point my chain broke, but luckily Wonder Woman came to my rescue.

'Incredibly, we all finished at the same time and we’re on the way to raising our target of £2,000.'

Oakhaven Hospice Trust provides specialist palliative care and support to those facing life-limiting illness and their loved ones in both a home and hospice setting.

Freemasons in Hampshire have formed a new lodge for those involved or interested in air travel as it attempts to attract members

It is the latest specialist lodge in the province following the creation of a Scouting lodge, football lodge, rugby lodge, sailing lodge and two motorsports lodges, which are proving highly popular.

The Samuel Cody Aviation Lodge No. 9953 – named after the early 19th century flying pioneer - meets in Bordon. Among its number are members and former members of the RAF, members and former members of civil aviation and ground crew, those from air traffic control as well as aeroplane enthusiasts.

It is run in the same way as any other lodge and its first master is Roger Bricknell who spent 25 years as a Concorde flight engineer – clocking up 14,000 flying hours.

Roger said: 'After the success of the other specialist lodges it became clear that there was enough interest to form a ‘flying’ lodge. There were many Freemasons from Hampshire and further afield who were keen to help.

'We do the same things as in other lodges, but just have a shared interest which makes meetings even more enjoyable.'

Mike Wilks, the Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight, consecrated the lodge. He said: 'We are using various methods to increase membership in the province and specialist lodges have proved a great way of doing it.

'Samuel Cody was a Wild West showman who became a flying pioneer and made the first ever flight in the UK in Farnborough in 1908. His name was a great choice and the lodge has got off to a flying start with interest from around the province and beyond.'

One of the new lodge’s members is Bernard Brown, well into his 90s, a world renowned air traffic controller who, amongst his achievements, is credited with the requirement that all pilots must be able to converse in English.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons have donated over £20,000 to 31 charities at a celebration evening at Farnborough Masonic Centre on 4th May

All the donations distributed to the charities had been raised from individual members of the area’s lodges. Of the many and varied methods of raising funds are raffles, special events and personal donations, all with the specific aim of distributing to local charities.

The evening was hosted by William Withers, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight. Dignitaries present included the local Aldershot Member of Parliament, Leo Docherty, together with the Mayor of Rushmoor, Sophia Choudhary, as well as Cllr Ken Muschamp, Cllr Charles Choudhary and Diane Bedford.

Representatives of the charities and other agencies gave interesting and inspirational talks about their own work and how donations are put to good use.

Amongst the 31 charities which received donations, were Phyllis Tuckwell, Lifelites, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Hampshire Air Ambulance, Stepping Stones, Limbcare, Henry Tyndale Community Special School and Veterans in Action.

William Withers said. 'This was a memorable and rewarding experience, with local and national charities coming together displaying such enthusiasm and in the process, making new friends. As Freemasons we believe in supporting our local communities in their functional activities and this event provided even more motivation for us to keep raising funds for such worthy causes.'

After the formal presentations had concluded, the attendees were invited to a buffet reception in the centre’s dining hall, where everyone had the opportunity to socialise and discuss many of the evening’s topics and recipients of the donations.

Lodge No Lodge Name Charity
515 Zetland Farnham Assist, Stepping Stones
723 Panmure Phyllis Tuckwell, Limb Care, Step by Step
1331 Aldershot Camp The Salvation Army, Hampshire Air Ambulance, Fleet Army Cadet Force
2475 Border Stepping Stones, Messy Arts
2755 Waller Rodwell Wright Asthma  UK
4187 Palma Virtuti Veterans Charity, Hampshire Air Ambulance
4919 Earl of Malmesbury Stepping Stones
8385 Anniversary Beavers Church Crookham
1971 Aldershot Army & Navy SAAFA, Parity
2203 Farnborough North camp Alzheimer's Café
4178 Aldershot Royal Engineers Veterans in Action
4581 Mercury Phyllis Tuckwell, Lifelites, Dogs for Good
5073 Fugelmere Cancer Relief UK, Diabetes UK
6314 Ferneberga Boots on the Ground, Alzheimer's Café
6664 Semper Fidelis Phyllis Tuckwell
7154 Loyalty Step by Step
7786 More Majorum Ehlers-Danlos Support UK
7927 Lodge of Hospitality Phyllis Tuckwell
8463 Rose of Hampshire Prostate Cancer
8859 Mid Wessex Installed Masters TBC
9107 Yateley Lodge Tommy's Charity
9289 Alder Tree Brain Tumour Charity
9336 United Progress Henry Tyndale School
9393 Pegasus Airborne Security Forces
9395 Ashburn St John Wessex Cancer Trust
9732 Chevalier de Fer TBC
9399 HIOWMCL Lifelites

A Freemasons-funded project at a children’s hospice in Hampshire has been featured as part of a BBC show about disability and video games

Over the past year, the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight has provided significant funding to the charity Lifelites so it can provide life-changing assistive technology to children at a local hospice.

The ability to play video games can be beneficial for young people with disabilities. As many have very limited movement and are often unable to control anything for themselves, the technology Lifelites donates can help them to regain this ability. It can also help them to communicate with friends, encouraging social development and relieving isolation, as well as create the opportunity to play and have fun.

Published in Lifelites

The Ladies Night of Elvetham Lodge No. 4013 in Hampshire helped to raise £5,750 for Diabetes UK and the Ark Centre Cancer Charity

The lodge's Worshipful Master Warren Snook, together with his wife Lisa, hosted a black tie event at the Apollo Hotel which traditionally marks the end of his year of office.

Supported by their sons Oscar and Reuben, 160 people enjoyed the occasion with a splendid three course dinner followed by several toasts including one to all the ladies present.

The raffle and the auction which followed had some impressive offerings, most of which were not possible to buy on the open market. These included a rare 1960s Dimple Haig whisky, the use of a house near to Disney World, Florida, tickets to CarFest South, dinner bed and breakfast at Oakley Hall, a day sailing in the Solent and three day paddock entry to any European Grand Prix for two people which included the grid walk prior to the race.

Beaconsfield Lodge No. 2849 in Buckinghamshire was proud to celebrate 60 years of dedicated service to the lodge and Freemasonry as a whole, by Stan Brooker PPSGW

Stan was presented with a 60 year certificate by Buckinghamshire's Assistant Provincial Grand Master Tony Robinson at Slough Masonic Temple during the Installation of David Harfield as the lodge's new Worshipful Master.

Stan was born and raised in Shepherds Bush, West London, on the 5th May 1925. He joined the army at the age of 18 on the 6th May 1943. Whilst on active service in Normandy he was seriously wounded in the left arm. Stan was repatriated to the UK and subsequently discharged from the army, as medically unfit for active service, in January 1945.

Stan received a medal from the French Government in recognition of his service in the liberation of France in January 2018. He was made a 'Chevalier' in the Order National de la Legion d’ Honour.

After the war, Stan married Joan and they lived happily for 71 years; although sadly Joan recently passed away after a long illness. Stan and Joan had a son and daughter who in turn gave them grandchildren and great-grandchildren all of whom he is justly proud. In the 1960s, Stan and Joan moved from Shepherds Bush to live in Hayes, Middlesex, and again moved in 1989 to Andover where he still resides. Stan was a toolmaker by trade and in particular, worked for Johnson Matthey making specialist tools for their famous jewellery business in Hatton Garden.

Stan joined Freemasonry by becoming a member of Beaconsfield Lodge on 23rd April 1958, and 12 years later he attained the Mastership of the Lodge in 1970. He also served as the lodge Secretary for 13 years through the late 80s and early 90s where he proved to be a superb administrator, very knowledgeable on the rules and regulations of the order, and the ceremonies and etiquette required within the lodge. He was a regular attendee of the Quarterly Communications of Grand Lodge, as remarked by the former Provincial Grand Master Ray Reed when presenting Stan with his 50th certificate.

For the lodge centenary in 2001, Stan put together the history of the lodge. He then organised the centenary meeting held which was presided over by the then Provincial Grand Master, Lord Burnham.

Stan has been a member of three craft lodges in Buckinghamshire, Middlesex and Hampshire. Along with achieving senior rank in Royal Arch Chapter, Mark, Rose Croix, Great Cross of Constantine, Knights Templar and Knights Templar Priests.

For 60 years Stan, supported by Joan, has devoted a great deal of his time and efforts in supporting the many and varied aspects of Freemasonry. And at 93 years of age, his support continues.

Lifelites Chief Executive Simone Enefer-Doy has left Freemasons' Hall to kick-start her 2,500 mile journey to 47 famous landmarks to raise awareness of Lifelites and £50,000 for the charity

Dubbed 'A Lift for Lifelites', Simone will see Freemasons in nearly every Province in England and Wales and will be stopping at landmarks such as Hadrian’s Wall, Angel of the North and Bletchley Park in vehicles including a classic Rolls Royce, a camper van, a four seater plane, an E Type Jaguar and even a zip wire.

Simone said: 'With the help of Freemasons and their vehicles around the country, I’m on a mission to raise the profile of our work and raise more funds to reach more children whose lives could be transformed by the technology we can provide.'

We'll be updating this page regularly, including images, as Simone continues on her epic quest.

Day 14 – Thursday 7 June

That's a wrap! Simone completed her 14 day challenge and finished in style on ThamesJet speedboat with guests including United Grand Lodge of England Chief Executive Dr David Staples. Her fundraising currently stands at over £103,000.

Day 13 – Wednesday 6 June

It's the penultimate day, starting with a trip to Bedfordshire at the Shuttleworth Collection. The next stop was Silverstone racetrack in Northamptonshire, which included completing a lap in a Jaguar, before driving this to Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire. The last trip was to the home, studios and gardens of former artist Henry Moore in Hertfordshire.

Day 12 – Tuesday 5 June

Day 12 took in journeys across Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. The first stop was Gordon Boswell Romany Museum in Lincolnshire before using two vehicles, a Hudson Straight Six Touring Sedan and a Range Rover, to Bressington Steam and Gardens in Norfolk. There was still time to grab lunch at Bury St Edmunds Abbey in Suffolk before a BMW took Simone to her final stop in Cambridgeshire, which included a punt on the River Cam.

Day 11 – Monday 4 June

Simone crammed in four locations to start the week, with a wide variety of vehicles used. The day started in Yorkshire Sculpture Park before driving a 1977 Bentley to the National Tramway Museum in Derbyshire. It was from here that Simone then picked up a DeLorean to take her to Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire before completing the day by driving a gold Rolls-Royce to Victoria Park in Leicestershire.

Day 10 – Sunday 3 June

The week concludes with trips to Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire and East Riding, as well as the news that Simone had already hit her £50,000 target. Trips included the Millennium Bridge in Northumberland, the Angel of the North and a scenic drive across the Yorkshire Moors to Bolton Castle.

Day 9 – Saturday 2 June

Day nine saw visits to the Provinces of West Lancashire and Cumberland and Westmorland, with landmarks including Hadrian’s Wall in Cumbria and transport provided by a horse and cart.

Day 8 – Friday 1 June

Two Rolls-Royces helped provide the transport on day nine, with Simone starting at the Avoncroft Museum in Worcestershire, driving down to New Place in Warwickshire and then to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. There was still time to conclude the day by visiting Manchester Cathedral in East Lancashire.

Day 7 – Thursday 31 May

At the halfway point, Simone made trips to Cheshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire – starting out at the Georgian Hall Dunham Massey, then heading to the RAF Museum Cosford in a custom built Rewaco Bike and finally, to Arthur’s Stone.

Day 6 – Wednesday 30 May

Day six was solely focused in North Wales where Simone took on the challenge of the fastest zip wire in the world. This was then followed by making the journey to Chester in a six month old blue McLaren Spider and flanked by the Widows’ Sons motorcyclists and Blood Bike volunteers.

Day 5 – Tuesday 29 May

Day five was a journey across the borders for Simone as she ventured to Oxfordshire before heading west to Monmouthshire and continued to South Wales and West Wales. Landmarks included Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, Caerleon Amphitheatre in Newport, the Donald Gordon theatre in Cardiff and ending the day in the county town of Carmarthen to meet the Provincial Grand Lodge of West Wales.

Day 4 – Monday 28 May

Simone began day four by driving an Aston Martin DB9 to the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare with help from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Somerset. A 1928 MG Riley saloon then took Simone to her next port of call, Clifton Suspension Bridge where the Provincial Grand Lodge of Bristol had a 1966 Austin Mini Cooper waiting to take her to Caen Hill Locks. It was here that Simone met representatives from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Wiltshire, before the final stop of the day saw her clock up the miles to Shaw House in Berkshire to be greeted by members of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Berkshire.

Day 3 – Sunday 27 May

Day three involved journeys to Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. It started with a visit to Lulworth Cove in Dorset to be met by members from the Provincial Grand Lodge in a yellow camper van and to receive a donation of £2,000. Simone then ventured to Buckfast Abbey to receive a donation of £5,000 from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire before departing in a classic Rover to head to Lanhydrock House and Garden in Cornwall, where she received another donation of £1,750.

Day 2 – Saturday 26 May

Simone took to the sky for day two, meeting a representative from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Hampshire and Isle of Wight who drove her to Southampton to board a flight to Jersey, to meet members of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Guernsey and Alderney.

Day 1 – Friday 25 May

Simone has begun her challenge, leaving in a taxi escorted by a fleet of Widows Sons motorcyclists. This is the start of her 14 day road trip with a difference, using a variety of unusual and extraordinary forms of transport.

The next destination for Friday was Richmond Park where Simone was met by representatives from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Middlesex after arriving in a Porsche 550 Spyder. Further destinations included Guildford Cathedral, where Simone was met by a Noddy car, and Brighton Royal Pavilion, where the Provincial Grand Lodge of Sussex made a donation of £5,000.

Lifelites has a package of their magical technology at every children’s hospice across the British Isles and their work is entirely funded by donations. Through the journey they are seeking to raise £50,000 – that’s the cost of one of their projects for four years.

You can sponsor Simone by clicking here

Published in Lifelites

The memorial paving stones outside Freemasons’ Hall commemorate Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross during the Great War, and Royal Marine Portsmouth Lodge No. 6423  in Hampshire is fortunate to have one of those members amongst their founders

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the action that saw Sergeant Norman Augustus Finch, Royal Marine Artillery, awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the lodge dedicated their Installation Ceremony in April 2018 to his memory.

United Grand Lodge of England had commissioned wooden cut-out figures to display the details of each holder at their memorial unveiling, which were subsequently sent to those Provinces in which the individuals had been members. Norman’s one had been presented to his mother lodge, Lodge of Hope No. 2153, who kindly allowed its use at the meeting so that Norman’s presence could be felt by all. 

Additionally, so that present and future members would have a lasting memorial to Norman before them during meetings and festivities, a statuette of a Royal Marine was dedicated to his memory. This statuette had previously been presented to the lodge by Jane Suter, the wife of one of their regular visitors, for use as the lodge saw fit, and it was mounted on a plinth on which Norman’s citation had been engraved by Mark Bizley of Hermes Lodge No. 5532.

Prior to the Installation of their new Worshipful Master Graham Jickells, the statuette was presented to the outgoing Master Gary Spencer-Humphrey, with an explanation of the significance delivered by David Barron. The lodge then fell silent as Ian ‘Taff’ Davies MBE gave an eloquent and moving rendition of the ‘Zeebrugge Citation’. On completion of the ceremony the new Master took ‘Norman’ to their Festive Board where he symbolically represented ‘All Absent Brethren’.

To put these events into context, it was no coincidence that Royal Marine Portsmouth Lodge was consecrated on 23rd April 1947 as this was the date in 1918 that the Zeebrugge Raid took place – a date that ranks with special significance amongst all Royal Marines. A raid that displayed the commitment, bravery, ‘daring-do’ and valour of those members of the Corps (in its then form, Royal Marine Light Infantry) that all those following in their footsteps could aspire to. 

Norman was awarded the Victoria Cross under Clause 13 of the Royal Warrant, which provides for the recipient to be elected by his peers, who were present at the action.

Norman was initiated into Lodge of Hope in September 1918 and was subsequently a founding member of Royal Marine Portsmouth Lodge, when it was consecrated in 1947. He was their first Senior Warden, and the following year was installed as their second Worshipful Master – 30 years after being awarded his Victoria Cross.

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