Life is good
After an attack left Clive Jones blind at the age of 26, he put the pieces of his life back together with the support of the community. Now, Freemasonry is helping him to give back
Eleven years ago, Clive Jones found himself freewheeling down a steep hill in High Wycombe on a tandem bike with an ex-Navy friend, praying the brakes would work. The four-day charity ride to mark the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War would last 252 miles, stretching from Buckingham Palace to Cardiff Castle.
It was Clive’s most challenging fundraising event, and not just because the tandem was laborious to ride. The journey was all the more remarkable because Clive was blinded in 2000 in an unprovoked assault while serving with the Welsh Guards. After losing his sight, he has spent the last 18 years rebuilding his life.
Today, Wales-born Clive is a busy father of three, optimistic and active within his local community in Shropshire, and keen to raise money for deserving charities or individuals in need. But the memories from December 2000 are never far away. ‘I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,’ he says now.
Clive was only 26 at the time of the incident, married with two young daughters. Joining the army had been his childhood dream, and he had planned to serve for many more years. The assault brought those dreams to an end.
‘After the assault, I was in a coma for a week. When I woke up, I soon realised there was something very drastically wrong with my eyes,’ he remembers. ‘I had been a highly capable soldier, and when I woke up, I was a scared child. I don’t feel embarrassed saying that now. I couldn’t even do the simplest things, like tying my own shoelaces.’
Clive’s initial fears related to his job and his family’s financial security, but he was also anxious about the future of his marriage. He need not have worried: Clive and Stephanie have now been married for 22 years. They have a 13-year-old son in addition to their two daughters, now aged 19 and 22. ‘The charity Blind Veterans UK (BVUK, formerly St Dunstan’s) taught me how to live again,’ he explains. ‘I’m now highly independent at home and within my local community, so life is good.’
KEEPING IT LIGHT
One of the most important skills Clive gained with BVUK’s help was learning how to use a computer: ‘That gave me a lifeline to the outside world again, and it has done a hell of a lot for my confidence.’ He also took up archery in 2001, becoming a British Blind Sport indoor and outdoor national champion. ‘To be fair, a blind man in charge of bows and arrows does sound a bit scary,’ Clive says, laughing.
In the past he has organised competitions on the grounds of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, and he has recently re-embraced the sport. But whatever the activity, a sense of humour is an essential part of Clive’s armoury – especially when fundraising. So far, he has raised in excess of £76,000; his efforts include sponsored walks, raffles, auctions and his legendary curry nights. One particular event took place on St David’s Day in 2016, when Clive decided that everyone attending should wear something Welsh.
‘I wore a full-length red dragon onesie and it was so blooming hot!’ he recalls. ‘Some people think I have a dry sense of humour; others reckon I have a rather sick sense of humour – maybe it’s a bit of both. But life is short, I say, so enjoy it.’
Jeremy Lund, Shropshire Deputy Provincial Grand Master, is a staunch admirer of Clive’s optimism. ‘The sacrifices Clive has made for charity are remarkable. There was even the wearing of the despised England shirt for every match during the Six Nations tournament in 2016,’ he says, with tongue firmly in cheek. ‘The effort nearly broke him.’
Keith Stokes, a long-time friend and a member of St Mary’s Lodge, No. 8373, describes Clive as ‘open and lovable’. He adds: ‘That’s why his charitable work is so well supported, because everyone wants to be there. He even organises charity darts nights and, let me tell you, trying to play darts with a blind man is a bit dangerous!’
‘If you can listen and guide, allowing yourself to be guided to a degree – and do all of that with a smile on your face – you’ll be a good Master’
A SENSE OF BELONGING
While Clive may laugh in the face of adversity, the one thing he’s very serious about is his commitment to Freemasonry. He was 30 when he became a Freemason, following a BVUK summer camp at HMS Sultan in Gosport.
‘Nineteen out of the 25 people attending were masons, and I’d always liked what the organisation represented,’ recalls Clive, who, after enquiring further, was proposed by another blind veteran and initiated on 25 April 2005.
‘The sense of belonging was immediate,’ he says. ‘It’s a very inclusive organisation, and being blind has never been an issue. In St Mary’s, my Mother Lodge in Market Drayton, I’m now in the Master’s chair for the third time [his previous tenures were 2011 and 2012]. I’m Worshipful Master of the Armed Forces Lodge, No. 9875, in Monmouthshire – which I was very proud to help found. I also run two masonic groups for blind veterans. One involves a phenomenal weekend every year in Brighton, and the other is a week in Llandudno. If anything, being blind has spurred me on.’
Acting as Worshipful Master three times has given Clive a very clear idea of what the role requires. ‘The ability to listen is really important. The Master is the head of the lodge, but he’s only as good as his officers and members. If you can listen and guide, allowing yourself to be guided to a degree – and do all of that with a smile on your face – you’ll be a good Master.’
Certainly, Clive has loved the opportunities to lead his lodge: ‘I actually quite like the strains and stresses of it, which is just as well. When I was assaulted, I also suffered some short-term memory loss, so it’s more difficult for me to learn the rituals and retain all the information.’
With Shropshire aiming to raise a total of £1 million during its five-year Festival Appeal, St Mary’s Lodge has already reached 150 per cent of its target – a phenomenal achievement a year ahead of schedule. Being part of an organisation with such strong values also makes Clive very proud.
‘It’s so rewarding to make a financial difference to people’s lives, or to be able to relieve everyday hardships. The “helping” aspect of our work is just wonderful.’
The desire to help others is part of Clive’s own personal mantra, but it’s something he plays down. ‘He’s very thoughtful, but he’s definitely not comfortable with being appreciated,’ Alex Knight, the manageress of Clive’s local pub, the Kings Arms, says. ‘He came to my wedding and gave us the most unique gift. I’m a big Petula Clark fan, and Clive arranged for her to send us a message of congratulations. It was mentioned in one of the speeches at the wedding, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone turn a brighter shade of red than Clive did that day!’
‘I have never wanted to be recognised for my charity work, but the past few years do seem to have involved a lot of awards,’ Clive acknowledges. ‘Being awarded Honorary Townsman of Market Drayton is really special. We moved here after my assault to get a fresh start, and it’s wonderful to be accepted by my adopted home town.
‘The community has been so supportive of my fundraising work. If I ask, they give. It’s not a wealthy town, but what we don’t have in money, we’ve got in heart.’
Looking ahead, Clive admits that the only downside of being so busy is that he doesn’t spend enough time with family and friends. ‘I would love an eighth day in the week. However, the sense of achievement within my life is fantastic. My happiness comes through helping others to be happy.’
‘The community has been so supportive of my fundraising work. If I ask, they give’
‘Clive’s blindness has not defined him – far from it. Instead, he has achieved his own victory over blindness and developed into a truly inspirational Freemason. His fundraising and caring for others is remarkable, and the Province of Shropshire is blessed and proud to be able to share and learn from his infectious enthusiasm for life. He is an ambassador for all that is good and true about Freemasonry.’ Peter Allan Taylor, Past Provincial Grand Master for Shropshire
‘Clive lost his sight in the service of his country but has not allowed this to hinder him in his masonry or in his other fundraising activities. If anything, he is energised by it. To his many masonic friends and acquaintances, he embodies the spirit of “Darkness Visible” – communicating light to those around him. He is truly an inspirational man and mason.’ Jeremy Lund, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Shropshire
‘I’ve known Clive as a friend for some 27 years. We served in the Welsh Guards together and now we’re both members of St Mary’s lodge. I admire Clive’s tenaciousness and his positivity, and the fact that he is so widely respected within the lodge and the community of Market Drayton. He is a brilliant Master because he likes everyone to be involved and to feel comfortable, and he brings such a sense of fun to every meeting he holds. He’s phenomenal, really.’ Keith Stokes, friend and fellow Freemason
Recent recognition for Clive
Honoured by Blind Veterans UK for his charitable work
Finalist in the Courage category in the Pride of Shropshire Awards
Finalist in the Inspiration category in the Soldiering On Awards
Finalist in the ITV Fundraiser of the Year, Midlands, category at the Pride of Britain Awards
Named Honorary Townsman of Market Drayton for his contributions to charity and community life
Freemasonry on file
With new data protection laws putting personal data, privacy and consent in the crosshairs, Donald Taylor, Head of Legal Services at UGLE, explains the impact on the day-to-day running of lodge business
What do Freemasons need to know about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?
There’s been a lot of foolishness from other organisations about data protection, but actually not a lot has changed. Members entrust us with their data, and we always strive to be worthy of that trust. That was the case before the new law and it’s the case now. So, we are determined to comply with the law in a way that minimises red tape, as we really don’t want to impose new burdens on our members except where absolutely necessary.
How does Grand Lodge currently use data?
We use data in the way Freemasons would expect, which is to facilitate the administration of the organisation. At the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), we have a data protection policy that explains how we use the data – that is set out on the website. The important things to remember are that we never sell data and we never share it outside Freemasonry without the individual’s consent.
What about lodges? Do they need a policy?
All lodges should adopt a data protection notice. We have circulated to Metropolitan Grand Lodge, Provinces and Districts a template data protection notice for lodges together with draft guidance in the form of a Q&A for lodge Secretaries. The template will need to be adapted by each lodge if it holds or uses data for any purpose not covered by the template. The notice must contain contact details so that lodge members can ask queries or request a copy of their personal data.
What else do lodge Secretaries need to know?
Essentially, members’ details should only be used for normal masonic activities relating to the lodge, such as issuing summonses, arranging Almoner visits, chasing subscription payments or lodge committee business. There are also the activities relating to the Metropolitan Grand Lodge, Provinces, Districts or UGLE, such as submitting annual returns or contributing to disciplinary processes.
Any other use of details held by the lodge requires the consent of the individual. For example, the lodge mailing list should not be used to circulate requests for charity donations except for those on the list who have provided their consent to receive such requests. If a lodge circulates its summonses by email, care should be taken not to reveal email addresses to other members.
Should a Freemason be concerned if they haven’t heard from their local lodge?
Most lodges will not need to contact their members in relation to data protection. Normally a lodge will not require explicit new consents to use your data for ordinary masonic activities.
What about Almoners?
Almoners sometimes hold data about people’s health or finances. This is sensitive information that requires a slightly different approach. We are preparing specific guidance for Almoners that we are aiming to circulate to Metropolitan Grand Lodge, Provinces and Districts soon.
Does a lodge Secretary need to obtain individual consent from lodge members or new joiners?
The standard application forms collect the necessary consents. There’s no need to obtain consents from existing members for normal lodge business.
The crucial point to remember is that what was once a matter of courtesy and common sense is now a matter of law. People need to act sensibly, and masons can take responsibility themselves regarding masonic data. For instance, if they print out information or get a printed copy of their lodge summons, they should shred it or dispose of it in another responsible way.
Similarly, if masons have taken photographs at a private event such as a lodge meal or other masonic gathering and wish to publish them online, they need to check that everybody captured in the photograph is happy with this.
So, it’s business as usual?
The key message is that while there has been some running around behind the scenes to make sure we are compliant – and everyone needs to continue to think carefully about how they store or use other masons’ data – nothing should change for most members’ experiences.
To find out more, go to the UGLE data protection notice, or contact your Metropolitan Grand Lodge, Province or District.
It’s the journey that matters
Via Rolls-Royce, camper van, horse and cart, speedboat and tandem bicycle, Lifelites chief executive Simone Enefer-Doy travelled 2,500 miles in two weeks to raise the profile of this hard-working charity
Providing life-changing assistive technology, Lifelites helps the 10,000 children and young people in hospices across the British Isles live their short lives to the full. On 25 May 2018, the charity’s chief executive, Simone Enefer-Doy, set off on an epic road, air and river trip to spread the word and raise funds.
The 2,500-mile challenge, called Lift for Lifelites, was to take in 47 famous landmarks in England and Wales in just 14 days. For each leg of the journey, Simone received a lift from Provincial supporters in an eclectic mix of transportation. After setting an initial target of raising £50,000 for Lifelites, the total now stands at over £104,000. Simone says she has been astounded at the support and generosity she encountered as she travelled around the country.
‘Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that so many people would come out to meet me on my journey and support my challenge. We have received a terrific welcome wherever we have gone, and it really spurred me on to continue whenever I felt myself flagging. I would like to thank everyone – drivers, donors and venues – for helping to make Lift for Lifelites happen. We couldn’t have done it without you.’
Those who dwell in the silent cities
With Rudyard Kipling as one of its founding members, how did a masonic lodge created for those serving in the Imperial War Graves Commission in northern France find its way to London?
From Gallipoli, the Middle East and Salonika to the European nations along the Western Front, the sites of many First World War graves were unknown, and in areas where fighting had been heaviest, bodies lay unburied.
The commander of a mobile unit of the British Red Cross, Sir Fabian Ware, decided that the final resting places of the dead would not be lost. His unit therefore began recording and caring for all the graves they could find. By 1915, this work was given official recognition by the War Office and incorporated into the British Army as the Graves Registration Commission.
With the support of Edward, Prince of Wales, Ware submitted a memorandum on the subject to the Imperial War Conference, and in May 1917 the Imperial War Graves Commission, today called the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, was established by a Royal Charter.
Undertaking the reburial of the fallen soldiers of Britain and its empire, the commission was empowered to buy land in order to build cemeteries and memorials wherever required. Its work began in earnest after the 1918 armistice that ended the fighting. That year, some 587,000 graves were identified, with a further 559,000 casualties registered as having no known grave.
For commission members who were masons, creating a lodge was the logical progression – the commission was free from political control and was tasked with caring for the graves of men and women from many religions.
With the commission making its headquarters just outside St Omer in March 1919, Lodge No. 12 was consecrated nearby on 7 January 1922 in both the French and English rites.
Lodge No. 12’s founders included Sir Fabian himself, Sir Herbert Ellissen and Conservative politician Sir Henry Maddocks. But perhaps the most famous founder was Rudyard Kipling, who had joined the commission as literary adviser.
Kipling inspired the eventual name of the lodge: The Builders of the Silent Cities. In the words of the by-laws of No. 12, the name ‘beautifully expresses the vocation of its members, whose sympathetic labour is to construct and maintain permanent resting places and memorials to the glorious and valiant dead of the British Empire who fell in the Great War’.
During the 1920s, No. 12 was an active lodge, holding eight meetings a year and giving an opportunity for the study of Freemasonry without encroaching on Degree ceremonies. According to ‘35 Masters, The Story of the Builders of the Silent Cities Lodge, No. 4948’, the lodge built up ‘an enviable reputation for excellent working’, including a modified version of the Sussex working in the Third Degree. It was the only lodge in France to do so and was carried out as a mark of respect for Kipling, who was a Sussex man.
In 1925, the commission moved to London, and many of the senior members of No. 12 were transferred to England. This naturally led to the need for a London lodge, and on 5 December 1927, the Builders of the Silent Cities Lodge, No. 4948, was consecrated under the English Constitution.
‘O valiant hearts who to your glory came, Through dust of conflict and through battle flame; Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved, Your memory hallowed in the land you loved’ A line from the hymn ‘Oh Valiant Hearts’, which is sung at the end of Lodge No. 4948 meetings
A HALL STONE LODGE
While Ware had been a founder member of No. 12, he was not a member of a lodge in the English Constitution at the time so could not play a similar role in the formation of No. 4948. Ellissen therefore became the first Master and shouldered the burden of most of the work during the lodge’s formative years.
With Freemasons’ Hall a memorial to the brethren who fell in the First World War, it will come as no surprise that Ellissen’s first resolution was that No. 4948 should become a Hall Stone Lodge. Grand Lodge had launched a campaign to raise funds to help in the Hall’s construction, with a target of £1 million. Lodges that contributed an average of 10 guineas per member were to be recorded in the new building as Hall Stone Lodges and the Master of each entitled to wear a special medal on a collarette. Ellissen was determined that the medal should be attained during his Mastership, so that future brethren should know that every Master from the first onwards had worn it during their year of office.
Since its inception, Lodge No. 4948 has had a number of different London homes, meeting at Andertons’ Hotel in Fleet Street, The Rembrandt Hotel on Thurloe Street, The Mostyn Hotel on Portman Square, the Royal Commonwealth Society on Northumberland Avenue and The Park Court Hotel in Bayswater. In 2001, however, it returned home to Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen Street, where it was originally consecrated and still meets today on the third Friday of January, February, March and November.
At the end of every meeting of Lodge No. 4948, ‘Oh Valiant Hearts’ is sung, a hymn specially written for a War Anniversary Intercession Service held in Westminster Abbey in August 1917. Originally titled ‘The Supreme Sacrifice’, the hymn is a fitting tribute to those who dwell in the silent cities.
Thanks to ‘35 Masters, The Story of the Builders of the Silent Cities Lodge’ and ‘The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Builders of the Silent Cities Lodge’. For more information about the Imperial War Graves Commission, now known as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, go to www.cwgc.org.
With their own terminology and structures, masonic Orders offer new opportunities for growth, development and friendship in Freemasonry. We look at the origins, requirements and beliefs of the Knights Templar
When did it begin?
The earliest records of the masonic Knights Templar can be found in the minutes of the Chapter of Friendship in Portsmouth dated 1778. At that time, the degree was worked under lodges and chapters warranted by the Antient Grand Lodge using a variety of rituals. Lancashire had 10 of the first 40 encampments (now called Preceptories).
When did the Knights Templar become popular?
In 1791, Templar Masonry entered a new era with the formation of its first Grand Conclave (now Great Priory). Thomas Dunckerley was Grand Master. At that time, there were just seven encampments in existence; it wasn’t until after 1851 that the Order began to expand in response to the standardisation of the ritual.
Did the masonic Knights Templar fight in the Crusades?
There is no historical connection between the medieval Christian military order and the masonic body known as the United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta of England and Wales and its Provinces overseas – more commonly referred to as the Knights Templar.
What does the Order believe in?
Thomas Dunckerley wanted to promote a concept of chivalry and Christianity within a masonic framework.
So is it open to all faiths now?
The Order is one of several in masonry in which membership is open only to Freemasons who profess a belief in Christianity.
How many members are there?
The Order numbers just under 12,500.
How do I join?
Membership can be achieved through the recommendation of an existing member.
Is it difficult to progress?
Having joined the Knights Templar, the next step is to take the Malta Degree, which is a two-stage process: first becoming a Knight of St Paul by taking the Mediterranean Pass, and then becoming a Knight of Malta.
Can anyone from the Craft become a member?
To become part of the Order, a brother must be a Master Mason and a member of the Royal Arch.
Who heads up the Knights Templar?
The Most Eminent and Supreme Grand Master is Paul Raymond Clement, who joined the Order in 1984 and was installed as its Most Eminent and Supreme Grand Master in May 2017.
Where is the nerve centre?
The headquarters of the Order is Mark Masons’ Hall, St James’s, London, from where all administration activities are conducted.
What causes does it support?
The Order has a favoured charity that members have supported since 1915 – the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital, which is the main provider of charitable eye care in the West Bank, Gaza and the East Jerusalem area.
As the London Symphony Orchestra helps to boost the provision of musical opportunities for young people with special needs across east London, we look at the MCF’s role and why former Lord Mayor Sir Andrew Parmley is lending his support
At LSO St Luke’s, an 18th-century Grade I listed church in London designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, it’s Make Music Day. The restored building is home to the expansive community and music education programme run by the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). Young people with learning difficulties or disabilities have come with their families to the centre in east London to explore different types of music-making. They play the drums, the violin and other instruments alongside musicians from the LSO, clearly enjoying the accessibility of the day and being able to share an activity specifically designed for them to take part in as a family – free of anxiety.
Make Music Day is part of the LSO’s On Track Special Schools project, which encourages creative music-making, devising models for working and nurturing the talent of the teachers and young people.
‘It’s great to have something that all of them as a family can come to – it’s not just about the young person who happens to have a learning disability,’ says David Nunn, project manager for LSO On Track. ‘For the family to have activities that they really feel are for them, that they can feel comfortable in, has been really significant.’
Through the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), London Freemasons have awarded £100,000 to LSO On Track to help produce inclusive ensembles, which will enable young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) to develop their musical skills alongside young people without SEND, using a combination of assistive music technology and traditional and electronic instruments. Ensembles will come together in autumn 2019 for a major performance.
‘This particular project will involve LSO musicians and specialist workshop leaders visiting schools within the boroughs, delivering exploratory music-making workshops to the pupils,’ says MCF chief executive David Innes. ‘Pupils who show an interest or an aptitude will be able to have further sessions to develop new skills and explore new instruments, sounds and composition techniques. There will be the chance for them to develop and grow, culminating in a performance for friends and family.’
APPEAL FROM THE LORD MAYOR
The proposal to contribute to the LSO On Track Special Schools project was submitted to the MCF’s grant-making programme via the Lord Mayor’s Appeal charity on behalf of the outgoing Lord Mayor of London Sir Andrew Parmley, who was recognised with a knighthood in this year’s New Year Honours for his lifelong services to music, education and civic engagement.
‘The LSO is the best orchestra in the world, and its outreach programme sees musicians working with young people, particularly those with learning difficulties. These young people, who wouldn’t ordinarily encounter professional musicians and real instruments, are able to have a go – composing and playing together and experiencing the joy that making music together can bring to a person,’ says Parmley, whose background is in music education.
‘The MCF has seen the benefit of this work and dug deep to find £100,000. We’re so grateful to them. As I owe most of my life to music, it’s very important to me that a large part of last year’s Lord Mayor’s Appeal was about making music and giving young people that advantage.’
The idea for LSO On Track came about in 2005, when London won the bid to stage the 2012 Olympics. ‘The LSO started thinking about the position of culture and what it could do in that area of east London, which was considered to be on our doorstep,’ explains the LSO’s Nunn.
‘From the beginning, there was an ambition to ensure that there was provision for young people with disabilities, particularly learning disabilities,’ Nunn says. ‘There are various barriers that young people with learning disabilities might have to learning an instrument in a traditional way or being able to do things in a group setting. So, there was a desire to find ways to make sure they were included and to engage with them.’
The top-level musicians who work with LSO On Track have experienced first-hand the effects of Make Music Days. Violinist Naoko Keatley has been playing with the LSO for four years, taking an active role in its outreach work, playing to and with adults and children with learning difficulties and disabilities. She’s found that music provides an alternative means of communication for some individuals.
‘You really feel the impact it has. Sometimes someone may not be able to speak, but they find a way of showing their appreciation through the music or start singing or dancing. And sometimes someone will pick up a random instrument and show a real talent for it. It also lets participants interact with each other, meet new kids and develop the social side of things.’
The project is not exclusively focused on classical instruments and makes use of digital technology. ‘It means that kids who don’t have the capacity to hold instruments are able to participate,’ says Keatley. ‘It really brings out this talent that would otherwise be hidden.’
Nunn adds: ‘The musicians benefit massively. We’ve got a huge pool of players who do this kind of work. Expanding the programme has allowed us to do more training for them, which has been great. They do something very specialist and they spend a lot of time on the concert platform. For them to have that individual connection with someone is hugely rewarding.’
The project’s aim to create new opportunities for young people with SEND dovetails with the MCF’s wider commitment to combatting social exclusion and isolation.‘
The masonic community is passionate about giving individuals who are facing a challenge in life a helping hand to get over that challenge and make the most of their lives,’ says Innes. ‘At the end of the two years I hope that more than 1,000 children will have been supported by this project and been able to participate in one way or another. That was an important point for us – to reach as many people as we can.’
‘The musicians benefit massively. For them to have that individual connection with someone is hugely rewarding’
Why musical inclusion is important
A growing body of research suggests that taking part in musical activities can provide a range of emotional, social and educational benefits to people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND). Listening to and making music stimulates different areas of the brain, supporting verbal and non-verbal communication, as well as encouraging creativity, self-expression and social interaction.
However, a lack of funding, combined with a lack of local expertise, means that access to musical opportunities can be limited. There are few SEND music resources available outside of the school system, posing barriers for those wishing to take their participation in musical activities further. And young people with SEND attending mainstream schools are at risk of complete musical exclusion due to lack of knowledge and experience among staff.
‘It’s really important that organisations like the LSO make the resources they have available to people who may not otherwise be able to access them,’ says David Nunn from the LSO. ‘It can open doors for them and give them the opportunity to see what they are capable of. We work with a lot of schools and we want to offer students somewhere to go out of school time where they can pursue their own musical interests, working with the orchestra’s professional musicians.’
Continuing a long-established tradition of Freemasons funding disaster relief efforts, the MCF has awarded a total of £280,000 over Continuing a long-established tradition of Freemasons funding disaster relief efforts, the MCF has awarded a total of £280,000 over the last two years to support people affected by the Sri Lankan floods, the famine in East Africa and hurricanes in Haiti and the Caribbean
Following the eruption of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala in June, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) provided a further £25,000 to help some of the thousands of families evacuated from their homes. The grant is helping to fund three evacuation centres in Guatemala that provide vital services, such as water-purifying filters, hygiene kits and highly nutritious meals for pregnant women and children affected by the eruption.
With many English and Welsh Freemasons living around the world in the Districts, members of the masonic community have also been affected by these disasters. David, a Cheshire Freemason, and his wife, Christine, lived on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin for 12 years and ran a successful business. Then Hurricane Irma hit, destroying their home and livelihood.
Having survived the hurricane and its aftermath, David and Christine were evacuated to the UK. But with no home and no access to any of their savings, they were forced to join the homeless register and battle to access state support. Emergency accommodation was provided, but they were moved every few days. With no provision for food or transport, they began to run up debts on their credit card.
‘It was a very stressful time,’ David says. ‘We were constantly on the move and not getting much sleep. The whole experience felt degrading and demeaning.’
David’s friend – also a member of his lodge in Cheshire – suggested that the couple contact the MCF. After an initial enquiry, an emergency grant of £500 was quickly approved to cover their immediate expenses.
The MCF then approved another grant to cover the costs of a deposit and six months’ rent. Now, with the help of family and neighbours, David and Christine are slowly rebuilding their lives.
‘I didn’t expect to have to start again at my age, but it’s an adventure! We are so grateful for the help we have received; there are good people behind us, and we hope to be in a position very soon where we can help ourselves.’
With the MCF receiving 10,000 enquiries in the last year from Freemasons and their families, Chief Executive David Innes wants to reach out to still more people as the new masonic season begins
In July, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) held another very successful meeting for its members at the Royal Masonic School for Girls in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. The meeting coincided with a family fun day being held by the Province of Hertfordshire. I’m pleased to report that our MCF members are playing a greater role in helping us assess and monitor the grants we make on your behalf to local charities in your Provinces.
We are keen to maintain an accurate picture of how our funding is helping vulnerable people in the wider community, and our members are integral in helping us to continue to make and measure the impact of your donations.
This year is proving to be a year of progress. In the first six months of 2018, around 2,700 grants were awarded to Freemasons and their family members facing a financial, health, family or care need, totalling over £5 million. When these figures are compared with 2017’s, we can see that this is a 4 per cent increase in the number of grants awarded and a 23 per cent increase in the value of those grants. In other words, the masonic community is giving more money to more people facing a difficult time in their lives.
It seems that the message is steadily reaching more Freemasons; their married, life or widowed partners; and their children and grandchildren. Every year that passes, we see an average 3 per cent increase in enquiries for our support. In the last year alone, around 10,000 enquiries have been received – that’s 10,000 Freemasons and their families who are struggling to cope and got in touch to see if the MCF could help.
As well as reaching more people, we are constantly striving to show evidence of the impact Freemasons make on people’s lives rather than simply reporting the number of grants awarded and the amount spent. As part of this, a survey was undertaken of all Freemasons and their family members who recently received MCF support. It sought to learn more about the difference the grants and support services have made to their lives and to gather suggestions for improving the experience of accessing support.
I am very pleased to say that a key finding of our research is that, over the last 15 months, the number of days between processing an enquiry and paying for a grant has decreased significantly, which means the masonic community is getting even better at delivering support to people when they need it.
‘We are your charity, and we are here when you need us, for as long as you need us’
From the Grand Secretary
Brother Rudyard Kipling was initiated in 1886 into the Lodge of Hope and Perseverance, No. 782, in Anarkali, Lahore, when he was only 20 years old. Eight years later, while hosting brother Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame in Vermont, he wrote a poem for the Pall Mall Gazette titled ‘The Mother Lodge’. It is one of my favourites, celebrating that great masonic principle: equality. Equality without distinction of rank, race, creed, profession or class.
‘The Mother Lodge’ speaks of the various characters in that lodge, their backgrounds and their beliefs. During the height of the British Raj and all that colonial India meant, Hindus met with Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Anglicans in Lodge No. 782; officers sat with enlisted men, and accountants with railway workers. The poem contrasts the behaviours shown in public, where differences were observed by the conventions of the time, with those in lodge, where they were swept away.
In 19th-century India, just as today, brethren held strong views about a wide range of subjects. There is no doubt that Kipling’s Catholic brethren would have believed that most of the rest of their lodge would quite literally be going to hell – a very real and unpleasant place for a 19th-century Catholic! Yet their one strength seems to be their acceptance of one another, and their celebration of their shared humanity. A desire to put aside their own feelings and beliefs and to try to understand the unintelligible.
I have followed with interest the debates on social media since the United Grand Lodge of England released its gender diversity policy. At the one end, there are those who think that ‘wanting to be a tomato doesn’t make you a tomato’ through to those who would feel that changing gender should be as easy as changing your underwear.
In our great organisation, there is room for that breadth of opinion, just as there was back in a small, dimly lit and dusty masonic hall in Anarkali over 130 years ago. Freemasonry is so much bigger than what each of us believes, and we do not all have to think the same.
Dr David Staples
Outside – “Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!”
Inside – “Brother,” an’ it doesn’t do no ’arm.
We met upon the Level an’ we parted on the Square,
An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!
Extract from ‘The Mother Lodge’ by Rudyard Kipling
Letters to the Editor - NO. 44 WINTER 2018
we are the same
The Grand Secretary’s article in the autumn edition of Freemasonry Today took me straight back to 4 May 1999, and a ‘Discourse on Brother Rudyard Kipling’ at Blackpool Masonic Hall. This was presented by one of the nicest and kindest brothers I ever had the pleasure to have encountered in my masonic career, Past Senior Grand Deacon Jack Humphrey.The Grand Secretary’s article in the autumn edition of Freemasonry Today took me straight back to 4 May 1999, and a ‘Discourse on Brother Rudyard Kipling’ at Blackpool Masonic Hall. This was presented by one of the nicest and kindest brothers I ever had the pleasure to have encountered in my masonic career, Past Senior Grand Deacon Jack Humphrey.
Although some years have passed since this presentation and any vivid memories of the full evening have been dulled by age, one song has stuck in my mind through the years since then; ‘The Mother Lodge’. The idea was that one brother (my programme states a Royston Hartley) sang the verses, and the remainder of the members sang the choruses (in a most rousing manner if I recall correctly). To this day, I often find myself singing the first three verses (the only ones I can recall) and the chorus in my head.
Although it’s an old poem, I feel it really does emphasise just how Freemasonry brings individuals of all faiths, creeds and colours together. We, as Freemasons, were promoting equality long before it was the desire of the general populace.
Stephen Gaulter, St Aldhelm Lodge, No. 2888, Malmesbury, Wiltshire
In the autumn issue of Freemasonry Today, I must praise the Grand Secretary for his well-written welcome. As a 35-year Lewis mason, you have wisely expressed what I believe is the root essence of our brotherhood: that on the level we are all the same and stripped of colour, realised economics and religious tenants, we become true individuals, whose starting points of view are common.
And, if we can start with those common viewpoints, we can build an edifice worthy of everyone’s trust and respect.
Gerald Campbell, Past Master, Grand Lodge of Quebec and Grand Lodge of Canada
A £10,000 grant from the Provincial Grand Chapter of Devonshire has benefited 53 Memory Cafes in the county
Memory Cafes offer practical and emotional support, information, guidance and friendship to people living with dementia and their carers.
Rachel Johnstone, trustee of Devon Memory Cafe Consortium, said: ‘This grant has given hundreds of people moments to remember.’
Grand Superintendent Simon Rowe added: ‘Memory Cafes, which are largely run by volunteers, make a personal difference to the lives of people affected by dementia – and this is a cause very close to the hearts of Freemasons.’