Air Ambulance flying high

London Freemasons have donated £2 million towards London’s Air Ambulance ‘Your London, Your Helicopter’ campaign, which has now succeeded in raising enough to acquire a second emergency medical helicopter for use by London’s Air Ambulance advanced trauma team. 

The Freemasons presented a cheque for £250,000 in March 2015, with a further instalment of £750,000 presented by Metropolitan Grand Master Sir Michael Snyder in November 2015. Graham Hodgkin, CEO of London’s Air Ambulance, said: ‘We thank all those Freemasons across the Metropolitan area who worked tirelessly to raise the £2 million.’

Monday, 29 February 2016 14:43

London’s 2nd Air Ambulance now named….

London Air Ambulance ran a competition for children in London to come up with a name for the new second helicopter. The judges have deliberated and six year old Megan from Fulham has been declared the winner with the name "Walter", after her late grandfather.

The ‘Your London, Your Helicopter’ campaign had a target of £4.4 million to acquire and sustain the new second helicopter and extend daylight flying hours for five years. Of this £4.4 million, £2 million came from Metropolitan Freemasons through fundraising activities in the Province’s 1,350 or so Lodges.

Congratulations to Megan! More information can be found on London's Air Ambulance website.


The 50th anniversary meeting of Falcon Lodge No. 8062 took place on Monday, 8th February 2016 at Freemasons' Hall

W Bro Paul Norton, PAGDC, a Founder of the lodge, was installed as Worshipful Master and W Bro Philip Belchak, PGStB, the only other living founder and an honorary member acted as Senior Warden for the meeting. Honorary members, Assistant Metropolitan Grand Master VW Bro David Wilkinson, PGSwdB, and VW Bro David Taylor, PGSuptWks, attended the meeting which was officiated by Metropolitan Grand Inspector VW Bro Stratton Richey.

The lodge presented a donation to the MMC Air Ambulance Appeal for £5,000 which was gratefully accepted by Bro Richey on behalf of Metropolitan Grand Lodge. The lodge, already a Grand Patron of the RMBI, presented a further donation of £500 to VW Bro James Newman, President of the RMBI, who was also in attendance.

A lecture on the history of the lodge, written by the Lodge Mentor, W Bro Neil Mills, PAGPurs, was delivered by a new Master Mason in the lodge. The history highlighted the lodge's origination from the 'Arts and Circles' Class of Instruction held on Sunday mornings at the Albion, Ludgate Circus which provided a school of instruction for members of the theatrical profession whose only free day was a Sunday.

Following the lecture, Bro Richey presented two Grand Lodge certificates to new members after which Assistant Metropolitan Grand Master VW Bro Stephen Fenton, PGSwdB, presented a letter of congratulations, signed by the Metropolitan Grand Master RW Bro Sir Michael Snyder, to the Worshipful Master.

More than 100 members and their guests dined afterwards at the Grand Connaught Rooms. All attending received a pair of white masonic gloves, suitably inscribed, as a gift.

At the meeting of the John Evelyn Lodge No. 5518 held at Mark Masons Hall on 24th October 2015, Visiting Officer W. Bro John Blackman, SLGR, took the chair to Initiate his son Christopher into the Lodge.

Bro. Blackman is also a member of Verity Lodge No. 4870 in Eastbourne and ten members from Verity travelled to London to witness the ceremony with W. Bro Jamie Allen presenting Christopher with a Masonic Bible.

It was a very emotional day for Bro. Blackman as it also marked his 33rd year in masonry, for it was at the October meeting in 1982 that he had been Initiated into the Lodge.

It was a good end to a very busy year for Bro. Christopher who at the start of 2015 became a Karate and Kickboxing Instructor and then graduated from university with a degree in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.

Bro. Christopher said "It was a fantastic day, having grown up with masonry, I had been keen to join for a long time and being surrounded by brethren I have come to know over the years from both London and Eastbourne made it even more special. But the highlight was of course having my dad carry out the ceremony; it was a day I will remember for a long time".

The evening was rounded off by the Brethren being treated to the excellent carvery at Mark Masons' Hall for their Festive Board, during which, not only did Bro. Blackman propose the toast to his son but also sang the Initiates song.

On 27th January 2016, Fidentia Et Lutine Lodge No. 6272 was pleased to receive VW Bro. Robert Grant, Metropolitan Grand Inspector, who presented a 50 year Long Service Certificate to W. Bro Michael Roberts, PAGDC.

Bro. Roberts was Initiated into Fidentia Lodge by his father-in-law on 2nd November 1965 at The Piccadilly Hotel and has been Worshipful Master of the Lodge three times including presiding at the Amalgamation meeting in 2009 when the Lodge became Fidentia et Lutine.

Bro. Roberts is also involved in Chapter, Mark and Rose Croix and is the current Worshipful Master of Neasden Lodge No. 3695.

Forget-Me-Not charity set up by Freemason brothers to help the homeless

The adjective term of a ‘down and out’ person relates to a person being without money, a job, or a place to live, in fact quite destitute. This form of destitution is clearly apparent and seen on many of the UK city centre streets, under many highways and by-ways. The term ‘objective’ relates to ‘a thing aimed at or sought a goal’, conjoin these two terms and in this case is where the needy become quite literally, served by some good.

Ezra McGowan of Hand and Heart Lodge No. 4109 and his brother Nathan, a former Freemason in a London lodge but soon to be a joining member of a West Lancashire lodge, through their travels have seen many situations in our city streets and in particular Manchester, Peterborough and London where people were and clearly still are, just living in tents and makeshift cardboard box homes or just sleeping rough and in fact quite destitute and many through no fault of their own.

Two years ago, Ezra along with his brother took an objective decision to try to support these unfortunate individuals and to give some support by way of warm food, warm clothing and in the really destitute circumstances what Ezra refers to as crisis packs which contain, a hat, gloves, sandwich, drink and male or female specific toiletries. Ezra initially purchased what he refers to as a burger van which he had inspected and passed by the authorities for distribution of hot soup and other food.

Between the brothers, they then set up trailers for use in the Manchester, Peterborough and London areas which is where they distribute today. They proudly display the square and compass on their trailers and on their hats, of which they are frequently asked about their significance to which Ezra responds it’s about helping others and helping people to realise themselves.

When Ezra was asked for his reasons and his experiences for their work, he said: 'I have been blessed in life with family and business; I have also been privileged to have the total enjoyment of support from within Freemasonry.' Ezra refers to his lodge as a wonderful friendly experience and he said it’s time he and his brother gave something back into society and he saw the homeless and those very much less fortunate people as a way to do exactly that.   

Ezra’s experiences transmit quite a stark vivid realisation of what it is actually like to be in such a social disposition that affects all are all faiths. He estimates in his own experience that there are less than five women to every 50 males. There can be threatening situations and sees people having to move from location to location. He said that in one recent scenario a man and wife had lost their home, business and everything associated with family and were living in a derelict shop doorway – this is why he helps.

The brothers also assist in supplying provisions to local shelter homes and an outreach men’s home in Salford, Manchester and more recently supported both the local Women’s Institute and PROBUS meetings at Urmston Masonic Hall in providing coffee, tea, biscuits and chocolates.    

Currently self-funded, Ezra along with his brother have recently set up a registered charity, numbered 1164359 which is called The Forget-Me-Not Trust and hope that any further donations they can obtain will assist those who are in dire need. They have a website too which is:

At a recent Hand and Heart Lodge Christmas ladies to dine evening, a presentation of £50 was donated towards the charity and a forget-me-not raffle raised a further £110 with a further donation of £20 from a very moved lady, Ezra responded by thanking the lodge members and their ladies for such fine support saying he was most humbled and quite taken by the support and said that the donation will go such a long way in feeding a lot of people on these forthcoming, cold winter nights.    

Moment of opportunity

In his new role as Metropolitan Grand Master, Sir Michael Snyder explains how his appetite for change has steered a distinguished career in accountancy and the City

How did you become the managing partner at Kingston Smith?

I took articles at Kingston Smith when it was a small accountancy firm, as most were in 1968. I was asked to look after our Hayes office in 1973 for a couple of weeks, as the manager they’d put in wasn’t working out. Two weeks became a month and by late 1973 I was running the office, becoming one of five partners in 1974. In 1979 the then senior partner became ill and I took over running the firm. We were seven partners at the time, then merged with another firm and became 11. It’s been pretty successful: we’re client focused, have a good niche in the market and are in the top 20 firms in the UK. 

Are you proud of your career?

I never use the word ‘pride’. I always think that’s a bit pompous, a bit self-satisfied, and tends to come before a fall. I’m happy with the way we’ve grown the firm. Of course, I could have done some things better but we’ve avoided major pitfalls. I think we’re respected and we’ve always focused on our clients.

How did you come to Freemasonry?

I was a member of The Worshipful Company of Needlemakers, which has an associated lodge, so I joined because a good number of my friends were members. I was a bit apprehensive beforehand but I thought, why not? When you join Freemasonry, you go through the degrees and it all slowly unfolds. However, it didn’t really mean an enormous amount to me until I went into the chair some years later – then it all started to come together and I began to really understand. I like the symmetry of it, I like the ritual, and however busy I am in business and public life, I always attend some meetings.

Are you ambitious?

I’ve been dedicated but I haven’t been on a mission. When most of we baby boomers were born after the war it didn’t matter what strata of society you were from, there wasn’t a lot to go around. We grew up understanding that we had to make our way, work hard and dedicate ourselves to our careers. I guess that’s where my motivation comes from. 

Has the City changed?

It used to be like a big club, but since the Big Bang [in 1986] there are more international players, more regulations. But it’s always been a level playing field. 

I believe that perhaps the reason the City has been so successful over the centuries is because anyone in the world can come here to trade and expect the same treatment. I think that’s important.

Could you work anywhere else?

I love the City of London – I think it’s a wonderful place. I like its cosmopolitan nature, the diversity and the fact that it’s the centre of the international business world. I started doing things for the City 30 years ago because I wanted to give something back, and I was asked to stand for election to the City of London’s Court of Common Council.

‘As a baby boomer, I grew up understanding that we had to make our way, work hard and dedicate ourselves to our careers. I guess that’s where my motivation comes from.’

Are you a reformist?

Before I led the City of London Corporation it ran like a sort of federation of states, with each department reporting only to its committee, not to the CEO, so we changed that and brought it together as one organisation. When I became policy and resources chairman, I didn’t have an office, didn’t have a meeting room, no staff – it was impossible to run, so I put the necessary support in place.

I felt that we couldn’t just be insular in London, so we opened an office in Brussels to engage with the EU, as well as opening offices in Mumbai, Shanghai and Beijing to connect with two of the powerhouses of the future. We also engaged with the surrounding and deprived areas of London and were at the forefront of the Academy schools initiative. 

There was considerable change but I wasn’t trying to kill tradition; I was introducing direction and modernity to how things worked. We decided the City needed buildings fit to house the world’s leading financial businesses, rather than the City becoming a museum, so we changed the planning policy and some of London’s best buildings are now here.

Do you seize opportunities?

Yes, I have always tried to make the best of opportunities that come my way. I like to get things running properly and I’m driven by fairness. If I see something unjust I can’t stand it and I have to try to resolve the situation. It’s been an exciting journey. My wife’s bugbear is about me learning to say no. 

I’m trying, and I think I’m a good delegator.

What keeps you in the Craft?

I do like the Craft, not only its good spirit but also the charity side. It’s incredible what masons do in terms of giving. Take the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys’ support of Lifelites, which contributes to all of the children’s hospices in the country, or the London Freemasons who are raising £2 million for an Air Ambulance. The London members of the Craft and Royal Arch add up to something like 45,000, which is a significant proportion of Freemasonry in England, but it’s not an enormous number of people when you look at the amounts of money they raise. 

How do you feel about becoming Metropolitan Grand Master?

When I was approached I was flattered and somewhat apprehensive. I admire [the outgoing Metropolitan Grand Master] Russell Race, he’s done a fantastic job and has steered London rather astutely from an embryonic concept into a strong, viable organisation. Russell’s had an excellent team, but you’ve also got to recognise the contribution made by the hundreds of Freemasons in London who have been involved in Metropolitan’s activities. 

What are your aims for the role?

I like to get things working smoothly and I see my appointment as an opportunity. We have nearly 1,870 lodges and chapters in the Metropolitan area, so considerable organisation is needed to lead and support them. I want every volunteer in every role to be able to undertake their masonic duties while still being fully involved in their family and professional lives. Some masons who are retired may wish to start meetings early and finish early, whereas those who are working in their careers will need meetings to start later; we need to accommodate both. 

Freemasonry is an interesting hobby that needn’t take over from family life or earning a living. It can help develop the skills and confidence that serve us well in our careers, as well as provide fellowship and a network of friends.

Saturday, 31 October 2015 17:41

West Lancashire team shines at Grand Lodge

Demonstration teams are popular attractions at lodge and chapter meetings and in recent years a plethora of teams have performed with demonstrations of 18th century degree ceremonies, Scottish degree ceremonies, modern chapter exaltations, ‘Talking Heads’ presentations and many more; not forgetting the Fylde Group Lodge of Instruction Festival.

For this purpose, a gathering of 29 West Lancashire brethren from the Fylde Coast, Southport and Wigan Groups met at Preston station. They were preparing to travel to Freemason’s Hall, Queen’s Street, London as a team with a difference; they were going to the home of United Grand Lodge to demonstrate a West Lancashire installation, for real!

The organiser of the trip was Chris Sage, holder of London Grand Rank and a member of Broadwater Lodge No 9027 that meets at Fleetwood. Chris was also the master elect of the Lodge of St Mary Balham No 3661 that meets at Freemason’s Hall. The team consisted of friends that Chris has made since his move to Blackpool in 2000. The team was going to install one of its own, ‘an honorary northerner’ as one brother put it. As many will know, there are no two lodges that work exactly the same. The team therefore choreographed an eclectic ceremony combining a number of the ‘quirks’ seen in their respective lodges. There were also reserves in the team ready to cover if necessary. Peter Bawden of Broadwater Lodge was one such member who assisted the lodge by acting as their opening inner guard while Mark Allen of Mount Lodge No 6654 was organist throughout the whole event.

The lodge was opened by its master Marios Alexandrou, in the Buckinghamshire Temple. There were six distinguished brethren present. They included Metropolitan Grand Inspector Jeremy Beech who is a Past Senior Grand Deacon; senior visiting officer Jonathan Hillman, accompanied by other grand officers Ronald Worby, George Cody and Barry Payne, with the lodge’s visiting officer Peter Walker, holder of Senior London Grand Rank, present in his official capacity.

The secretary Keith Waddy transacted the business of the lodge with alacrity and the scene was set for the installation ceremony. WM Marios Alexandrou then invited John Deal of the Southport Emulation Lodge No 3675 to occupy the master’s chair. Brian Dicks of Mereside Lodge No 6360 was asked to act as director of ceremonies while Tony Hind and Provincial grand steward of the Province of West Lancashire Jim Finnegan, both also of Mereside Lodge, took over as installing senior and junior wardens respectively. With Ben Clarkson of Blackpool Lodge of Fellowship No 7692 acting as installing inner guard and Darren Shillito of Thornton and Cleveleys Lodge No 3854 becoming chaplain, the team was in place and ready.

The lodge was opened in the second degree and Darren Shillito presented Chris Sage as master elect, after which Chris advanced and recited his obligation. In customary fashion, the lodge was opened in the third degree and the installing officers assumed control. Chris was duly installed according to ancient custom in fine style. Thus installed, Chris invested his predecessor Marios Alexandrou as immediate past master and Marios was presented with a past master’s jewel, with an explanation thereof delivered by Ron Fenton of Hesketh Lodge No 950.

Brethren were admitted in their order of precedence and they saluted and greeted the newly installed master in the appropriate degrees. The working tools in the third degree were explained by Carl Gittins of Blackpool Lodge of Fellowship, those in the second degree by John Brumfield, master of Mereside Lodge and finally Steve Cullen of Southport Emulation Lodge explained the first degree tools.

Glenn O'Brien of Landmark Lodge No 7273 presented the Hall Stone Jewel. This golden jewel on a sky blue collarette was presented to the lodge on 1 December 1926. It serves as recognition that former members of the lodge contributed worthily to the building of, the then new, Freemason’s Hall.

The appointment and investiture of officers of the lodge then followed. The senior warden Andy West and junior warden Jason Reid were placed in their chairs by the installing wardens who explained their gavels, columns, duties and pillars. The remainder of the lodge officers were then invested. The address to the deacons was by Graham Suthers of Blackpool Lodge of Fellowship. The address to the inner guard was by Ben Clarkson, with the address to the stewards given by Jim Finnegan. The principal addresses were then delivered by Walter Daubney of Mereside Lodge, who delivered addresses to both the newly installed master and to the brethren, with Clive Gitsham of Tithebarn Lodge No 8446 delivering the address to the wardens.

A notice of motion in the name of Robert Harvey, the lodge almoner, then proved in favour of £300 being donated to Prostate Cancer and £300 going to the Metropolitan Masonic Charity. Following this a collection of alms raised a very generous sum of £179.

Salutations, which in this lodge occur just before the risings, were extended to the grand officers, receiving a suitable response from Jeremy Beech and to the officers of Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Lodges, receiving an informative response by Peter Walker.

The lodge was then closed and the brethren retired to the Dorset Suite at the Grand Connaught Rooms for a fine banquet, during which the toasts appropriate to a London lodge were observed. In response to the toast to holders of Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Lodges, Peter Walker observed that the hub of conversation during the meal was a clear indication of the friendly and vibrant effect of this wonderful event. He praised the installation team for an interesting and fascinating ceremony which was so well done, adding that there were pieces of ritual that he had never witnessed before. He concluded by saying that he hoped that the brethren from West Lancashire would return on future occasions.

The toast to the WM was delivered by Marios Alexandrou, He stated that the Lodge of St Mary Balham had installed a great master and added that Chris had done a fine job during the evening and the lodge was looking forward to a successful year in his capable hands. He noted that it was nice to see so many guests present from the north, who added so much to this meeting. He urged Chris to bring his many friends as often as possible. Following this toast the ‘master’s song’ was performed by Arthur Caldicott, to the delight of all.

Chris responded with special thanks for the support of his visiting team. He spoke of the work done to make sure that the ceremony ran smoothly and said that he knew how ‘nervous’ St Mary Balham director of ceremonies Arthur Lewer had been about what the team were going to do, but knew the meeting would go well. Chris advised his audience that 12 West Lancashire lodges had been involved in the team and hoped that everyone had enjoyed the ceremony. He closed by expressing his pleasure to be at a banquet with so many people in attendance.

The toast to the visitors was delivered by Andy West, saying that it had been a splendid night with a brilliant ceremony. He added that it was a treat to see how things are done in West Lancashire and concluded by urging all the visitors to return whenever they could. In response, Mike Fishwick of Sincerity Lodge No 3677 expressed his pleasure at being asked to respond on behalf of the visitors, having been present on a previous occasion that Chris went into the chair. He thanked the members of the lodge for the way they had received the visitors and for providing such a magnificent meal.

In keeping with the West Lancashire theme, the raffle was conducted in the ‘Westhoughton’ fashion by Mark Tomlinson of Thornton and Cleveleys Lodge. With an excellent table of prizes, the numbers were flying. With that extra prize for claiming the last number up for grabs, there was some interesting and amusing bidding in the later stages. The raffle raised the excellent total of £420 which will be donated to Masonic and non-Masonic charities.

After starting the following morning with hearty breakfasts, the team met with Mike Baker, the Director of Communications at Grand Lodge, who treated the team members to a special tour of Freemason’s Hall, including rooms that the general public don’t get to see. The day continued with a boat trip down the Thames to Greenwich. After a fish and chips lunch they removed to the Tower of London where they had a brief walk before moving onto the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub in Fleet Street, which was rebuilt shortly after the Great Fire of London. There has been a hostelry there since 1538. It was in such a historic setting that the team enjoyed a final sojourn before collecting their luggage and catching the train home.


Quarterly Communication

10 June 2015 
An announcement by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren, I have to announce that the MW The Grand Master has made the following appointments:

In his capacity as First Grand Principal, he has appointed E Comp Russell Race, Metropolitan Grand Superintendent in and over London, to succeed ME Comp George Francis, who will retire as Second Grand Principal on 10 November. Comp Race will be installed at the Convocation of Grand Chapter the following day.

In consequence, Bro Race will retire as Metropolitan Grand Master and Metropolitan Grand Superintendent on 20 October. To succeed him as Metropolitan Grand Master, the Grand Master has appointed RW Bro Sir Michael Snyder, who was last year's Junior Grand Warden. Bro Snyder will be installed on 21 October.

Published in Speeches

A son of a Freemason was inspired to take on the Paris Marathon by his father’s enthusiasm and dedication to support the Masonic Samaritan Fund

Elliot Mason’s father, Robert James Mason is a London Freemason from Perfect Ashlar Lodge No. 1178.

Elliot said: 'I came to support the MSF through my dad, who is incredibly passionate about the work the charity does. I wanted to raise awareness and money for the fund because people with a health and care need require immediate treatment and support. The charity also provides grants to medical research charities which can help improve healthcare around the world, helping groups of people whose complex needs are often overlooked and underfunded.' 

At the 19th mile, Elliot took a short break to get down on one knee and propose to his longterm girlfriend. After celebrating together, Elliot raced the remaining seven miles to complete the course in three hours fifty minutes. So far he has raised over £300 for the charity and donations are still accumulating on his online fundraising page.

The Paris Marathon starts on the Champs Elysees, and runners pass historic sites such as Notre Dame Cathedral, the Bastille and the Eiffel Tower before finishing in sight of the Arc de Triomphe.

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund
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