England may have lost their touch at the World Cup, but the Metropolitan Grand Lodge Clay Shooting Association have retained theirs, despite the best efforts of sixteen Provinces!

London scaled the heights at the Inter-Provincial Clay Shooting Championships on Saturday June 21st, with the MetGLCSA team retaining the Championship Challenge Cup. More details of the team and its victory will appear in the Autumn edition of ARENA, but in the interim, here is a photo of the Hon Team Captain, Brian Saidman receiving the Cup from RW Bro Alan Vaughan, ProvGM of the Province of Bristol.

Well done to Metropolitan Grand Lodge for braving the rain and appearing at the Lord Mayor's Show!

You can see the footage of them on the BBC's website from 1:02:32 onwards here. It is online until 16th November.

If you have any photos of the day you'd like us to share, please either post them to our Facebook page or tweet them @UGLE_GrandLodge.

Brethren will be delighted to see that there was some time laid aside from the very serious work being done at a recent MetGC/MetGL strategic update meeting at Freemasons' Hall, London, on Friday 15th March. This was of course also Red Nose Day, the fundraising day for the Comic Relief campaign.

Pictured with the Metropolitan Inspectors are the Metropolitan Grand Master, RW Bro Russell Race, DL, and a sprinkling of Assistant Metropolitan Grand Masters, together with the active Metropolitan Officers who had been giving presentations during the day. Thanks are due to Ben Jennings of the Metropolitan Office who took the photographs and stitched them together in time to be sent out as part of the first 'tweet' of the Metropolitan Grand Master, thus fulfilling his promise to those assembled at the recent SLGR Investiture and Annual Meeting of the Metropolitan Grand Lodge! A splendid photograph for a splendid cause!

Friday, 14 December 2012 00:00

Missouri sees English degrees

Three years of planning – following a suggestion by Jim Morris of St Clair Lodge, No. 24, in Belleville, Illinois – resulted in a trip by English masons to St Louis, Missouri, that involved four degree demonstrations in 10 days. Members of five London lodges, three from Essex, and one each from West Kent and Cambridgeshire, formed the nine-strong demonstration team. One demonstration was held in St Louis and three in Belleville.

Teaching the ritual

The Taylor’s Ritual Association (TRA) is mounting a campaign to improve ceremonies. It has refreshed its website and is introducing new ways to teach ritual, contacting all London lodges during the process. TRA chairman Keith Alexander said, ‘One of the big attractions of Freemasonry is that when ritual is done well, it is a moving, meaningful and memorable experience for all those involved.’

The TRA will seek to identify a number of high quality Lodges of Instruction that may be accredited by the association to teach the ritual according to approved practice.

The Taylor’s Ritual Association plans to publish a lodge directory, consisting of a database of registered lodges that are happy to share the dates of their meetings online.

Go to www.taylorsritual.org for more information

Thursday, 15 March 2012 00:00

the new age

It’s an acknowledged fact that Freemasonry is facing a challenge in recruiting young masons in the UK. But what is the Craft doing to address the issue? Adrian Foster goes in search of answers

For some, the term ‘young Freemason’ is an oxymoron on a par with ‘clear as mud’ or ‘honest broker’. However, a quick search on the internet for ‘young Freemasons’ reveals dedicated Facebook and Twitter sites that point to a new generation who are looking to discover the fraternity and relevance of the Craft.

The Connaught Club’s website proclaims that it has been founded to give young Freemasons in London a means to meet and socialise with like-minded people of similar ages who might otherwise be dispersed over London’s many lodges and large geographic area. Chris Hirst, chairman of the club, explains how it was established: ‘The vast majority of young Freemasons I meet tell me that they are the youngest member of their lodge by twenty, thirty, even forty or more years and, that although they enjoy the company and friendship of the other members, they sometimes feel left on the periphery. This in turn can lead to disillusionment with the Craft and this is exactly what the activities of the Connaught Club are meant to counteract.’

Chris explains that the club was formed to address a gap identified by the Metropolitan Grand Lodge over the lack of a focus for young brethren. ‘It was felt that although our fraternity transcends differences in men, including age, there is still a particular affinity between brethren of a young age. Our non-masonic events are social occasions offering young Freemasons the chance to meet with each other. At open receptions at Freemasons’ Hall, we congregate in and around the Grand Temple. Non-masons are welcome at these events and they have proved to be useful for introducing potential members to the Craft and for showing wives, girlfriends and partners a little about Freemasonry.’

Social Freemasonry

With membership open to any Freemason under thirty-five, the club has an annual picnic on Lincoln’s Inn Fields for friends and family too. It also meets more informally on the first Friday of every month at a pub local to the Freemasons’ Hall for after-work drinks. ‘We do not have recruitment of new Freemasons as a principal objective of the club, but this has occurred quite often as a result of our activities,’ concludes Chris.

Jayson Brinkler, of The Campbell Lodge, No. 1415, offers an insight into what his lodge is doing to connect with young people: ‘Our meetings, which take place at Cole Court, Twickenham, are renowned within the Province for their social events, encouraging brethren to invite non-masons along to join in the fun. These events raise money for charity as well as encouraging our non-masonic friends to ask us questions about Freemasonry in a relaxed and friendly environment. The sort of events include an annual barbecue, golf, clay pigeon shooting, a ladies’ festival – and we recently hosted a discussion meeting about English Freemasonry where twenty-two non-masonic guests attended, nineteen of them ladies. If other lodges followed our example, the Craft would certainly become a lot more vibrant,’ suggests Jayson.

In 2010, Jayson helped to establish The Kent Club – named after Grand Master the Duke of Kent – and became its secretary. Like the Connaught Club, The Kent Club is a social hub that enables young Freemasons between the ages of thirty-five and forty-nine to mix and socialise with brethren of their own age. This initiative, which is supported by Metropolitan Grand Lodge, has a committee that includes an events secretary who organises social events such as masonic talks, an annual dinner and monthly informal drinks. With partners and non-masonic friends encouraged to attend, The Kent Club has gained a membership of around ninety in its first year, clearly showing that it is meeting a need among the younger fraternity.

‘English Freemasonry is doing what it can, but it is the responsibility of individual lodges to find new and inventive ways to attract younger people into the Craft,’ says Jayson. ‘Not enough is being done to reverse a trend which, if not addressed, will result in many more lodges closing and members leaving the Craft. All too often we see lodges holding their standard four meetings a year – and that’s all. Social activities are vital in Freemasonry because they not only provide a means of introducing potential new members to a lodge, but they also prevent young, and new, brethren losing interest between meetings. So it is as much about retention as it is about recruitment.’

adapt to survive

Keith Mitchell runs new masons’ receptions at Freemasons’ Hall and is forthright in his views. ‘Many of us probably believe that Freemasonry is largely populated by men aged sixty to ninety, with a few lively centenarians. However, there are now more than fifty lodges specifically for undergraduates, postgraduates, senior members of a university and their alumni, ranging in age from eighteen upwards,’ he says, pointing to the growing level of interest in Freemasonry shown by enquiries through the UGLE, Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Provincial websites.

‘Should we worry if the average age of a London Freemason is sixty? I believe we should,’ says Keith. ‘We can shrug and ignore our ageing membership, or we can look critically at Freemasonry and ask what we can do to appeal to a broader swathe of society while maintaining our traditions. I believe it’s time to jettison timidity in masonry. London masons have a float in the Lord Mayor’s Parade and wear their regalia. Many Provinces organise open days and there are frequent social events which are open to non-masons across the country.’

Keith accepts that his views might not be popular: ‘I can already hear some senior brethren groaning loudly, but I do think we need to reflect on what changes would help us to maintain a healthy flow of new members and which lodges would be best placed to make those changes. With 1,400 lodges in London alone, there is flexibility for experimentation and trial. I encourage masonic brethren to reflect on the inevitability of decline if we do not adapt, innovate and move with the changing times.’

Published in Initiatives & Clubs
Thursday, 15 March 2012 00:00

LONDON freeMASONS ON SHOW

For the fourth year in succession, London Freemasons supported the Lord Mayor’s Show and the installation of the 684th Lord Mayor of London, Alderman David Wootton

This year’s float theme was the Metropolitan Masonic Charity’s appeal in support of the cancer-busting CyberKnife, currently in use and saving lives at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, which London masons are enthusiastically supporting.

Freemasons feel a particular bond with the City of London, as the history of English Freemasonry has many similarities with the structures, aims and appeal of the ancient Livery Companies of the City. The first-ever Grand Lodge was also founded in the City by London masons meeting in a coffee house in St. Paul’s Churchyard in 1717.

The Lord Mayor’s Show is the world’s oldest civic procession, reflecting nearly 800 years of London’s history and marching unscathed through everything from the Black Death to the Blitz. It is a day out for half a million people, with millions more watching on television. The modern procession is more than three miles long.

Phase 1 of the rebuild at the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) care home James Terry Court, in Croydon, has been officially opened. The event was attended by more than 40 representatives from the Province of Surrey, the Association of Friends and the RMBI.

RMBI President Willie Shackell opened the event and spoke about the history of the RMBI, which started in East Croydon with its first home, named ‘Asylum for Worthy, Aged and Decayed Freemasons’ in 1850. Shackell went on to explain why the rebuild of the home was necessary, as it needed to adapt to the changing needs of older people.

Thanks were given to Dennis Vine, who oversaw the development of the home in his role as Co-opted Trustee. Julian Birch, Regional Property Operations Manager, who sadly passed away in October, was remembered for all his efforts in the rebuild. The Association of Friends and the Province of Surrey, Metropolitan Grand Lodge, and the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight were also thanked for their support. The event saw the official opening of the lounge and library by Eric Stuart-Bamford.

Published in RMBI
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 09:58

Community Chest

With the Relief Chest Scheme celebrating its 25th anniversary, Freemasonry Today looks at how the scheme makes giving easier for Freemasons around the UK

Launched in 1986, the Relief Chest Scheme provides administrative support for the fundraising activities of masonic units. The Freemasons’ Grand Charity operates the scheme for free, enabling masonic organisations to manage their charitable donations more efficiently by offering individual chests that can be used to accumulate funds for charitable purposes. The scheme maximises the value of charitable donations by pooling funds to ensure that they earn the best possible rate of interest and by claiming Gift Aid relief on all qualifying donations. By taking on this administrative function the scheme saves valuable time and resources involved in lodge fundraising.

The scheme is particularly useful to Provinces running charitable fundraising campaigns, including festivals, with Provinces able to request that the Relief Chest Scheme open special chests. ‘Following our very successful 2010 RMBI Festival, we decided to maintain the culture of regular charitable giving by making use of the Relief Chest Scheme, which had not been previously used by our Province,’ explains Eric Heaviside, Durham Provincial Grand Master. ‘The scheme is a very efficient way to generate funds, as it not only makes giving regularly easy but also provides the opportunity for tax recovery via the Gift Aid allowances. All of this is professionally managed by the Relief Chest Department in The Freemasons’ Grand Charity office in London.’

With over four thousand chests, the scheme is helping Freemasons give charitable support to the people who need it most. Grahame Elliott, President of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, explains how the scheme has evolved over the years, ‘When the idea for the Relief Chest Scheme was announced in September 1985, it was hoped that it would provide a simple and effective way for lodges to give to charity. Lodges would be able to give practical proof of an ever-increasing attachment to the first two of the grand principles on which our order is founded – brotherly love and relief. Twenty-five years later, it is clear to me that the scheme has successfully met these aims, evolving as an excellent way of helping lodges to spend less time on the administrative work involved in processing donations, giving them more time to spend on other important activities.’

With over £14 million donated to charitable causes via the Scheme in 2010, it is hoped that this success will continue, assisting the masonic community in its charitable giving for many years to come.

To find out more, go to www.grandcharity.org



Provincial supporters

Provincial Grand Masters from around the UK give their experiences of working with the Relief Chest...
‘We opened our Relief Chest in the name of the Provincial Benevolent Association principally to take advantage of the Gift Aid tax reclaim facility. In addition, by utilising the expertise of the team we have been able to develop a much more efficient and thorough analysis of donations. The Province looks forward to our continuing association with the Relief Chest team and thanks them for their ongoing advice and assistance.’
Rodney Wolverson
Cambridgeshire Provincial Grand Master

‘Relief Chests have proved an immense boon to London charity stewards and treasurers in easing the administration of charitable giving. For our big appeals – the RMBI, the CyberKnife and the Supreme Grand Chapter’s 2013 Appeal – the support given by the Relief Chest team is vital.’
Russell Race
Metropolitan Grand Master

‘The record-breaking success of the 2011 Essex Festival for the Grand Charity was not only due to the generosity of the brethren, but also to the support we received from the Relief Chest Scheme. The scheme’s online reports and personal support made the tracking of donations, interest accumulated and Gift Aid recovery
a seamless operation for our administration.
That information enabled us to keep the lodges and brethren informed of their totals.’
John Webb
Essex Provincial Grand Master


Relief chest breakdown

Who can receive a donation from a Relief Chest?
• Charities registered with the Charity Commission
• Any organisation holding charitable status
• Any individual in financial distress
The benefits provided by the Relief Chest Scheme:
• Interest added to your donation: A favourable interest rate is earned on funds held for each Chest and no tax is payable on interest earned
• Tax relief: The Gift Aid Scheme means HMRC gives 25p for every £1 donated to a Chest, where eligible
• Easy depositing: Make donations by direct debit, cheque and the Gift Aid Envelope Scheme
• Ease of donating to charities: Once a donation is authorised, the payment is made by the Relief Chest Scheme
• Free: There’s no direct cost to Relief Chest holders
• Easily accessible reports: Annual statements are provided, plus interim statements and subscribers’ lists are available upon request
• Additional help for Festival Relief Chests: Comprehensive performance projection reports and free customised stationery are available      




Published in The Grand Charity
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 09:40

Peak performers

Peter Reeves, his son James, both of Wembley Lodge, No. 2914, Middlesex, and son-in-law Mark Best of Bishopsway Lodge, No. 6061, London, scaled the 4,409ft Ben Nevis, 3,200ft Scafell Pike and 3,500ft Mount Snowdon, on consecutive days in July.

Peter Reeves commented, ‘It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but being able to donate a worthwhile sum of money to Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support made it all worthwhile.’

James Reeves, a former soldier and Iraq veteran, set the pace up the mountains. ‘After the third one, the soles of my feet felt as if they had been beaten with a baseball bat,’ laughed climbing companion Mark, after completing the three peak challenge.

To donate, please go to www.justgiving.com/Pete-Reeves or www.justgiving.com/Mark-Best1.

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