On the 22nd January, following much planning and armed with the necessary official clearances, 17 members of Holmesdale Lodge No. 874 in Royal Tunbridge Wells joined their Junior Warden Jean Baptiste Puyraud on a visit to a meeting of his French Lodge, Benjamin Franklin Lodge No. 52 – held at the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) in Paris
The visitors were treated to exceptional hospitality throughout their visit. French brethren organised a lunch, ahead of an initiation ceremony worked in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
An exchange of gifts took place with Neil Scott, Worshipful Master of Holmesdale Lodge, presenting an engraved firing glass commemorating the occasion to Fabrice Huet, Worshipful Master of Benjamin Franklin Lodge. The English brethren each received a bottle of champagne bearing Benjamin Franklin Lodge’s own label.
The evening concluded with a reception and dinner in a Parisian restaurant where representatives of both lodges spoke. Many distinguished brethren were present including the Provincial Grand Master of the Ile de France Province Denis Martial and, representing the GLNF, Gérard Icart.
Holmesdale Lodge in the Province of West Kent is the oldest Lodge in Royal Tunbridge Wells and celebrated its sesquicentenary in 2012.
Benjamin Franklin Lodge was consecrated in 2005, reviving the name of a lodge formed in 1956 by Americans based in central France.
Terminally ill and disabled children at the Demelza children’s hospice in south-east London have received a brand-new package of assistive technology worth £50,000, thanks to West Kent Freemasons’ support of specialist technology charity Lifelites
Lifelites has provided a range of specially adapted technology, including a Magic Carpet, which is a portable unit that projects interactive images onto a floor, bed or wheelchair tray, and equipment that enables children with limited mobility to make music or operate a computer using just their eyes.
Ann Fagg, care services lead at the hospice, said: ‘This very generous donation from Lifelites has made a world of difference to the children who use our facilities.’
Find out more: To learn more about the charity’s work, or to lend your support, visit www.lifelites.org
West Kent masons took a break from their usual weekend chores to queue up for a procedure that could save their lives: a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) screening test for prostate cancer
The Province funded the screening, which was open to Freemasons, their friends and relations, and saw 376 men take part – twice the number expected. It was held at Bromley, courtesy of PGM Mark Estaugh, and the tests were carried out by a team from The Graham Fulford Charitable Trust, based at Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.
The tests were free but donations came to £2,431, with Gift Aid taking the figure above £3,000.
Canterbury Cathedral hosted a Tercentenary Thanksgiving service in recognition of its long-standing relationship with Freemasonry
More than 1,500 masons and their families came from across the Provinces of East Kent, West Kent, Surrey and Sussex to attend a service in celebration of 300 years of the United Grand Lodge of England.
The event was held on 18 February in the presence of the Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Kent and the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, and was led by the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis.
During his sermon, Dr Willis thanked the Duke of Kent for his long-standing support of the cathedral. He recalled how the Royal Family helped when the cathedral was damaged by bombing during World War II. He also paid tribute to the generous support of the masonic community, whose relationship with the cathedral dates back more than 100 years.
Canterbury Cathedral is currently undergoing the largest restoration project in its history. The interior and exterior are covered in scaffolding to allow the ancient building to be restored to as close to its original condition as possible. A donation of £300,000 from the Freemasons of Kent, Surrey and Sussex has funded repairs to the North West Transept, including new tower pinnacles and a spiral stone staircase.
East Kent Provincial Grand Master Geoffrey Dearing said: ‘The existence of Freemasonry for over 300 years bears witness to the fact that the idea of men from all walks of life coming together to make society a better place is one that has stood the test of time and inspired successive generations.’
Mark at the helm in West Kent
Mark Estaugh has been installed as Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent for West Kent by Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes.
In his acceptance speech, Mark said, ‘Our strategy will revolve around a trident of three key initiatives – membership, communication and the development of our masonic premises.’
Mark also announced the launch of the Province’s appeal to mark UGLE’s 2017 Tercentenary celebrations. The funds raised will go towards a major building project at Canterbury Cathedral.
Howzat for a charity fundraiser?
The Province of West Kent organised the ideal opportunity to celebrate raising £3.25 million for the MSF at its Howzat! Festival day. The event featured a charity cricket match as well as arena entertainment and food and drink, and attracted Freemasons, their families and members of the local community to The Warren in Bromley.
Children were entertained by fairground stalls, bungee runs and a climbing wall. For others, there were beer and Pimm’s tents; performances by the Scout and Guide Marching Band; and a duck herder, who held particular interest.
The Province’s donation cheque was proudly displayed at its stand, which stood alongside stalls for the Masonic Fishing Charity and Hi Kent, a local charity for the deaf and hard of hearing. MSF Chief Executive Richard Douglas said, ‘It was a fantastic day and gave me the opportunity to meet the Freemasons of West Kent and thank them personally for their incredibly generous donations to the Masonic Samaritan Fund.’
The Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in May provided a fitting occasion to celebrate the finale of the West Kent 2015 Festival in aid of the Masonic Samaritan Fund
In front of a packed Grand Temple the PGM, RW Bro Jonathan Winpenny presented a cheque for the magnificent sum of £3,252,148.
RW Bro Willie Shackell, MSF President, offered his sincere thanks for such a generous contribution towards the work of the Fund. 'Your generosity will make a tremendous difference to so many people waiting to receive the treatment and care they need.'
At the Festive Board RW Bro Jonathan Spence, Deputy Grand Master, congratulated all present for their generous, energetic and innovative fundraising throughout the six years of the appeal.
A motorbike ride to Dar es Salaam, raft races on the Thames and a walk to the 1066 battlefield all helped to retain the fun in the Festival fundraising and achieve such a fantastic total. A further 'Howzat' event, for all the family, will be held on 28 June at the Warren in Bromley when even more members of the West Kent Provincial family can enjoy the extended celebrations.
West Kent gymnast club funding
Andrew Bull, the father of Joshua, aged nine, who regularly attends the Saturday club session, is also a member of Bostall Heath Lodge, No. 4492, in Welling, Kent.
Joshua was born with Down’s syndrome and has benefited greatly from the work of coaches at the club. The lodge approached the Provincial Charity Committee for a major grant from the Province of West Kent. As a result, Falcon Spartak received a generous donation of £1,000 to help fund some much-needed replacement gym equipment.
Lodge generosity launches lifeboat: An inshore lifeboat is now patrolling off Littlehampton in West Sussex, made possible by the fundraising activities of Mandalay Lodge, No. 9383, which meets in Bromley in West Kent
In just 18 months, the lodge raised £9,500 for the Arancia boat and trailer. Called Mandalay in honour of the lodge, the boat was officially named by Rene Jeffs in memory of her late husband, Eric, who was a member of the lodge.
The fundraising was led by Jeff Baylie, who commented: ‘This has been a wonderful effort. The outboard boat, which has a brass plaque proudly bearing our name, can have a two- or three-man crew.’ Lifeboat manager Rory Smith said: ‘The inshore rescue boat is the workhorse of the lifeguard fleet. Thanks to your generous donations, the boat will help the RNLI continue in its mission to save lives at sea.’
The nave of Canterbury Cathedral welcomed around 1,000 masons, their families and friends for a service to celebrate the bicentenary of Royal Arch Masonry
On Saturday 21 September, a unique event was held at Canterbury Cathedral that not only marked a special milestone in masonic history but also demonstrated a great affinity between Freemasonry and the cathedral’s stonemasons. Freemasonry has its roots in the lodges of medieval stonemasons and to this day supports the training of apprentice stonemasons at the cathedral.
The occasion was a combined celebration for the Provinces of East Kent, West Kent, Sussex and Surrey, each led by their respective Grand Superintendents, Geoffrey Dearing, Jonathan Winpenny, Kenneth Thomas and Eric Stuart-Bamford. The significance of the event was acknowledged by the presence of the Second and Third Grand Principals, George Francis and David Williamson, respectively. Russell Race, the Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, and David Boswell, the Grand Superintendent of Suffolk, were also in attendance, as was the Sheriff of Canterbury, Cllr Ann Taylor, who represented the city and people of Canterbury.
The Archdeacon of Canterbury, the Venerable Sheila Watson, conducted the service, with the grand setting and the superb King’s School Crypt Choir adding to the memorable ambience. The Archdeacon referred to the long connection between the cathedral and Freemasons, in particular the gifts of the Chapter House east window and the Coronation window. She paid tribute to the masonic principles of unity, fellowship and service to the community, and spoke of ‘service beyond ourselves’, a virtue embraced by the Church and Freemasonry alike.