On behalf of the MCF, East Lancashire Provincial Grand Charity Steward Steve Clark was delighted to attend a ‘speed interview’ session of the LTSB, which involved a dozen young people and business professionals. The space, and several interviewers, was kindly provided by Mazars in central Manchester.
These intelligent young people are at risk of becoming so-called NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training). With the help of LTSB, and working closely with local employers, they can find paid apprenticeships which are highly likely to result in full-time employment.
Although it was clear that the interviewees were nervous, the LTSB staff put them at ease and Steve did his part by sitting down with them prior to the session and giving them some friendly advice. He was very impressed with the professionalism and drive of these young people aspiring to greater things in their lives.
LTSB relies on growing relationships with local employers. Operating in London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, the MCF grant of £5,000 will help them in their valuable work with disadvantaged young people in finding full-time employment through apprenticeships and professional development sessions.
The event took place in Spalding, where the Duke had a variety of other engagements during the day. It was hosted by Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master David Wheeler and had been arranged at the Masonic Hall at the request of the Lord Lieutenant of the county.
Also in attendance was the President of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, Richard Hone, who was pleased to accept the donation of £100,000 for the MCF, which marked the start of Lincolnshire’s 2025 Festival.
London Freemasons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation have donated £5,000 to support East London-based charity, It’s Your Life, to improve life chances of children, young people and adults through three innovative and proven programmes delivered by inspirational mentors
One Programme, called the It's Your Community Project, engages with women from BAMER backgrounds who are taught to sew and practice their English skills, and to gain a certificate in citizenship and local democracy. One woman said that It's Your Life has 'helped show us how we can encourage our children to learn and to do something in the future – we want to show them they can learn anything'.
Another programme, It's Your Future, gives young people the social and emotional skills that promote engagement with learning, prevent exclusion and reverse poor attainment at school. One boy said 'It's Your Life has completely changed my confidence and I wish I could have stayed longer'.
Frankie Taylor from the charity said: 'We are really grateful for the support of London masons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is helping us to support some of the most marginalised and vulnerable families and young people.'
Tony Shields, Metropolitan Grand Lodge Charity Steward, commented: 'Our members are delighted to support this very worthwhile charity as it provides opportunities for those who are vulnerable and marginalised to gain the skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty and disadvantage.
'This is another example of Freemasons supporting the London community.'
13 March 2019
A talk by RW Bro John Pagella, Grand Superintendent of Works
Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master and Brethren
If you want to understand the responsibilities which you have as a Grand Lodge Officer you can do one of two things. Consult the Book of Constitutions, or speak to Graham Redman.
Rule 35 states – ‘The Grand Superintendent of Works shall advise the Board of General Purposes when required on any matter in connection with the building and the works. He shall furnish reports on the state of repair of the properties of the Grand Lodge when required’.
When I asked Graham if this meant that I simply had to submit periodic reports on necessary works we intended to carry out to keep this building in repair his reply was to the effect that ‘well - you may find that in practice it is rather more than that’
He was right.
I will start with Freemasons’ Hall.
You are surrounded in the Grand Temple by the centrepiece of one of this country’s foremost art deco buildings with a heritage value sustained by the fact that it remains today in use for the purpose for which it was originally designed and built. We are in the middle of a Conservation Area, and the building itself is Listed Grade 11*. What this means in practice is that anything which we do which affects the exterior of the building requires planning permission, and anything other than very minor like for like repairs to both the interior and the exterior must be notified to, and approved by, the Conservation Officer.
Planning Officers have to work within National Planning Policy Guidelines, and they are required to implement Local Plan Policies. Conservation Officers on the other hand have responsibility for protecting the heritage value of buildings of architectural and historic interest which, by their nature, are individual. They have wide ranging powers, which frequently involve subjective judgements which, even with professional advice, can be hard to predict.
Carrying out work to a listed building which requires, but does not have, Listed Building consent is a criminal offence. As I have no wish to return to address Grand Lodge on my experience as Grand Superintendent of Works after 12 months in Ford Prison I treat the need for works in this building to be approved by the Conservation Officer with the utmost care and respect.
Late and unexpected interventions by the Conservation Officer can be a very real problem, as we discovered when we renewed the West Door steps. To avoid this in the future we are at an early stage in negotiations with the Conservation Officer and Historic England for an HPA, a Heritage Partnership Agreement, which will give pre-approval in principle to specified works which we are likely to carry out, often repeatedly. Examples range from future phases of repairs to the building’s steel frame ( Regents Street Disease ), through work to repair and refurbish the many original toilets in the building ( not very glamorous, but nevertheless necessary ) down to the specification of the paint to be used when redecorating some of the more elaborately embellished Lodge Rooms.
HPAs are complex, time consuming, and costly, but the prize is securing for UGLE ownership and control of the timing and phasing of major works of repair which we need to carry out.
Keeping a building in repair can require reacting to the unexpected, but for the most part it can be anticipated through planned property maintenance. We are working to a ten-year time horizon in implementing recommended works within this building so that, for example, phased repairs to deal with RSD will include routine maintenance and general repairs within the same area. As far as possible once we have access to any hard to reach area within this building, or for that matter any area, our aim is to complete all necessary work properly and to a high standard so that an early return is not needed.
I have concentrated up to this point on repair, but the more interesting challenge is working to deliver changes to the way in which Freemasonry needs to use Freemasons’ Hall to support the vision of the Craft’s place in society today which the Grand Secretary outlined at the Quarterly Communication in December.
Freemasons’ Hall is and will remain a Masonic building, but our needs are changing. Many of you will know from personal experience that most of the Lodge Rooms here in Freemasons’ Hall, with the notable exception of Lodge Room No 10, were designed to accommodate meetings with an attendance of between 70 and 80. Today average attendance is in the mid 20s.
We cannot subdivide Lodge Rooms in response to this. Their scale and proportions were an important element within the original design of the building, and we know that any attempt to change this would meet with strong opposition from the Conservation Officer.
We can, however, adapt space to form smaller Lodge Rooms from accommodation in the building designed for other uses. Examples of where this has been achieved are the conversion of two committee rooms on the Sussex Corridor to provide two Chapter Rooms, and the three Lodge Rooms created on the third floor in what was originally two caretaker’s flats.
While these changes take place we are also looking at how this building can play its part in encouraging a wider understanding of Freemasonry in society. This means improving public access, both generally and through supporting outside hire events. Both encourage improved awareness, while providing the opportunity for education through community engagement.
Improving public access, while at the same time meeting the continuing needs of UGLE as well as those of MetGL, the Library & Museum and the Masonic Charitable Foundation is far from straightforward, and we always have to keep in mind that our ideas and ambitions may not always meet with approval from the Conservation Officer if work is involved requiring Listed Building Consent.
I don’t want to overstate the problem. There are projects which receive immediate support, at least in principle.
Freemasons’ Hall, like many public buildings, fails to provide enough female toilets. The building was designed to provide toilets for the convenience of members, and the paid employees of Grand Lodge were thought unlikely to include women. How the world has changed.
We have legal obligations to provide facilities for both men and women who work in the building, and if we are serious in wanting to host events such as Letters Live and London Fashion Week we must provide facilities which are as good, if not better, than competing venues. The unisex toilets off the vestibule and those on the floor below meet this need, and as we approach the refurbishment of the Gallery Suite to improve the facilities available for Masonic use and outside hire in what was Lodge Room 1 and its ante room, we will be restoring to their original use nearby toilets on the lower ground floor. These will, however, be designed with flexible male / female use use in mind.
As I and others on the Hall Committee oversee these projects I do so in the knowledge that my responsibilities as Grand Superintendent of Works do not end at the front door.
From the very early years of Freemasonry, Grand Lodge has owned a number of buildings in Great Queen Street. These include the Grand Connaught Rooms and the Sway nightclub, together with most of the buildings opposite on the north side of Great Queen Street. They are in the same Conservation Area as Freemasons’ Hall, and many of them are listed, including several which are Grade 11 *.
A diverse property portfolio such as this is by its nature management intensive, and just over 10 years ago the Board of General Purposes received a report from the then Grand Superintendent of Works John Edgcumbe drawing attention to the possibility of selling the properties to reinvest in a modern, well let commercial property which might provide better growth prospects without the need for continuous oversight, and periodic investment in refurbishment and repair.
Mindful of the importance which heritage has to Freemasonry, and the fact that ownership provides control over the setting of Freemasons’ Hall, the decision was taken by the Board that the buildings should be retained.
Maximising value by improving tenant mix, and income quality, while refurbishing and modernising the properties where necessary, became a long-term objective of the Property Investment Committee chaired by the Grand Treasurer, Quentin Humberstone. As well as being Grand Superintendent of Works I am a Chartered Surveyor with practical experience of property investment and asset management, and the valuation of commercial properties. With this background I should perhaps have expected that my work would extend beyond looking after Freemasons’ Hall to include contributing to the work of the Property Investment Committee.
Pausing at this point it is perhaps worth drawing attention to the fact that the Property Investment Committee’s investment objectives have served Grand Lodge well.
The accounts of Grand Lodge are not exactly bedtime reading, but in 2006 the north side of Great Queen Street had a book value in the region of £14.5m. By 2011 an external independent valuation confirmed that the value of the whole portfolio including the Grand Connaught Rooms, and with the benefit of investment in the refurbishment of several of the properties, had risen to £31.1m, and as at 31st December 2017 the figure in the UGLE accounts was just over £56.5m. You must wait for publication of the 2018 accounts for the corresponding value as at December last year, but I can reveal that a further increase in value will be reported.
Given the long-term commitment of Grand Lodge to holding this portfolio improvements in capital value, while reassuring, are perhaps less important than rental income. This is currently just over £2.5m pa. which contributes to the investment income which is available for Grand Lodge to maintain, repair and improve Freemasons’ Hall without making a call on individual members’ Grand Lodge dues.
Masonic ownership of land and building extends well beyond Great Queen Street to the many Masonic Halls and Centres throughout the country. These are the responsibility of their owners. Whilst Freemasonry is a Craft, running and managing Masonic Halls and Centres is a business. Over the years there have been many successes, but occasionally things have gone wrong, and the accompanying adverse publicity compromises years of hard work in promoting the reputation of Freemasonry for the better.
We have within our membership valuable knowledge and experience of how to manage a Masonic Hall and Centre in a way which is both sustainable, and financially viable. What we did not have until recently was a reference resource which brought together in one place experience and best practice. This gap was recognised by the Membership Focus Group in 2015 which set up a Masonic Halls Working Group tasked with creating a Guidance Manual to share knowledge of best practise.
Unlike the Book of Constitutions compliance with the Guidance Manual is not mandatory, although ignoring advice inevitably leaves room for criticism if things go wrong.
As Grand Superintendent of Works I am now responsible for issuing updates to the Masonic Halls Best Practise Guidance Manual. Working with a Steering Group we issue periodic updates – best practise is not static. It evolves in the light of new legislation, and widened experience. We hold annual seminars here at Freemasons’ Hall as a way of making sure that Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works and those looking after Masonic Halls and Centres can contribute their knowledge and experience to the Guidance Manual and its advice.
As Grand Superintendent of Works here at Grand Lodge I am as much a user of the Guidance Manual as my counterparts in MetGL and across the Provinces.
As you can see Graham Redman was correct when he explained to me that I would be spending my time doing rather more than simply submiting periodic reports to the Board of General Purposes on the condition of this building.
Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge
13 March 2019
Report of the Board of General Purposes
The Minutes of the Quarterly Communication of 12 December 2018 were confirmed.
Election of the Grand Master
HRH The Duke of Kent was re-elected as Grand Master.
Grand Lodge Register 2009-2018
The tables below show the number of Lodges on the Register and of Certificates issued during the past ten years.
Charges for warrants
In accordance with the provisions of Rule 270A, Book of Constitutions, the Board has considered the costs of preparing the actual documents specified in this Rule and recommends that for the year commencing 1 April 2019 the charges (exclusive of VAT) shall be as follows:
Installed Masters' Lodges
In December 2012 the wording of Rules 269 and 271 in relation to the definition of an Installed Masters’ Lodge was amended to include those Installed Masters’ Lodges serving a group of Lodges with a common affiliation. Because of the way the amendment was framed, the last sentence of each Rule was inadvertently omitted in the next and all subsequent reprints of the Book of Constitutions.
The Board, having considered the matter, is of the view that for the avoidance of doubt the lost wording should be restored by way of a formal amendment to the two Rules, and that for ease of reference the full wording of each Rule should be printed in the Paper of Business.
The Board has received a report that Cleddau Lodge, No. 6952 has resolved to surrender its Warrant in order to amalgamate with Cambrian Lodge, No. 464 (West Wales).
The Board accordingly recommends that the Lodge be removed from the register in order to effect the amalgamation.
Erasure of lodges
The Board has received a report that 13 Lodges have closed and have surrendered their Warrants. The Lodges are:
Ellesmere Lodge, No. 3068 (West Lancashire), Hillingdon Lodge, No. 3174 (Middlesex), Ashfield Lodge, No. 4129 (Cheshire), Meridian Lodge, No. 5060 (Cheshire), Hadrian Lodge, No. 5216 (Cumberland and Westmorland), Byerley Lodge, No. 7853 (Durham), Lodge of Friendship, No. 7902 (Worcestershire), Ancient of Days Lodge, No. 9230 (West Kent), Caer Estyn Lodge, No. 9252 (North Wales), Southwood Lodge, No. 9293 (West Kent), Service above Self Lodge, No. 9537 (Durham), Black Country Heritage Lodge, No. 9702 (Staffordshire), and Essex Millennium Lodge, No. 9729 (Essex)
Over recent years, the Lodges have found themselves no longer viable. The Board is satisfied that further efforts to save them would be to no avail and therefore has no alternative but to recommend that they be erased. A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Amendments to the Book of Constitutions
For the next Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge, the President of the Board of General Purposes to move:
a. That Rule 269 be amended to read:
“269. There shall be payable to the Fund of General Purposes annual dues inrespect of each of its members by every Lodge
(i) in England and Wales that isunattached
(ii) in a Metropolitan Area or a Province
(iii) in a District and
(iv) abroad not in a District of such respective amounts as shall be fixed for each calendar year by resolution of the Grand Lodge in the preceding June.
Provided that any Lodge in a Metropolitan Area, Province, District or Group that is from time to time determined by the Board of General Purposes to be a Lodge the membership of which is restricted to Brethren who are Installed Masters but which is otherwise open without further restriction to all Brethren either within the relevant Metropolitan Area, Province, District or Group, or within a group of Lodges linked together by a common purpose or affiliation, shall pay annual dues in respect of those Brethren only who are not members of any other Lodge, and in the case of a Brother who is a member only of one or more such Lodges restricted to Installed Masters the Lodge of which he has been longest a member shall alone pay annual dues in respect of him. Such a Brother shall pay, by way of annual subscription, an additional amount equal to the dues payable in respect of him by such Lodge, but such additional amount shall be disregarded in determining for the purposes of Rule 145 whether all the members of the Lodge entitled to the same privileges pay the same subscription.”
b. That Rule 271 be amended to read:
“271. There shall be payable to The Masonic Charitable Foundation by every Lodge in a Metropolitan Area or a Province or in England and Wales that is unattached in respect of each of its members annual contributions of not less than such amount as shall be fixed for each calendar year by resolution of the Grand Lodge in the preceding June. (No payment is due in respect of members of Lodges Overseas).
Provided that any Lodge in a Metropolitan Area or Province that is from time to time determined by the Board of General Purposes to be a Lodge the membership of which is restricted to Brethren who are Installed Masters but which is otherwise open without further restriction to all Brethren either within the relevant Metropolitan Area or Province, or within a group of Lodges linked together by a common purpose or affiliation, shall pay annual contributions in respect of those Brethren only who are not members of anyother Lodge, and in the case of a Brother who is a member only of one or more such Lodges restricted to Installed Masters the Lodge of which he has been longest a member shall alone pay the annual contribution in respect of him. Such a Brother shall pay, by way of annual subscription, a further additional amount equal to the annual contribution payable in respect of him by such Lodge, but such additional amount shall be disregarded in determining for thepurposes of Rule 145 whether all the members of the Lodge entitled to the same privileges pay the same subscription.”
Presentatation to Grand Lodge
A talk on A year in the life of the Grand Superintendent of Works by RW Bro John Pagella, PJGW, Grand Superintendent of Works.
List of new lodges
List of new lodges for which warrants have been granted by The MW The Grand Master, showing the dates from which their Warrants became effective with date of Warrant, location area, number and name of lodge are:
14 November 2018
9972 Hinckley Lodge of Installed Masters, Hinckley, Leicestershire and Rutland
9973 Epicurean Lodge, Kingston, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands
9974 Ruck and Maul Lodge, Marsh Baldon, Oxfordshire
12 December 2018
9975 Fidelity Lodge, Avellaneda, South America, Southern Division
9976 Ferring Contemporary Lodge, Worthing, Sussex
9977 Aubrey Shervington Jacobs Lodge, Kingston, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands
Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge
A Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge is held on the second Wednesday in March, June, September and December. The next will be at noon on Wednesday, 13 June 2019. Subsequent Communications will be held on 11 September 2019, 11 December 2019, 11 March 2020 and 10 June 2020.
The Annual Investiture of Grand Officers takes place on the last Wednesday in April (the next is on 24 April 2019), and admission is by ticket only.
Supreme Grand Chapter
Convocations of Supreme Grand Chapter are held on the second Wednesday in November and the day following the Annual Investiture of Grand Lodge. Future Convocations will be held on 25 April 2019, 13 November 2019 and 30 April 2020.
Rennie Grove Hospice Care have received a £800 donation from Buckinghamshire Freemasons
The grant comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) and is part of a £600,000 grant made to 237 Hospices across England and Wales.
Buckinghamshire Freemason Peter Thomas (MCF Area Representative) presented the certificate to members of the Rennie Grove Hospice Care team, who are based in Tring.
Christine Goldsmith, Trust Fundraising Manager at the hospice, commented: ‘Thank you for the generous grant received from the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
‘Your grant has enabled Rennie Grove Hospice Care to continue to support local people with life-limiting illnesses and their families across Herts and Bucks. This grant provides 32 hours of specialist care from a Rennie Grove Hospice at home nurse.’
A charity providing life-saving support has received a cash donation of nearly £10,000 from Berkshire Freemasons
This huge sum was gathered through a series of contributions from Berkshire Freemasons and given to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance in January 2019.
The bulk of the funds were from the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the Berkshire Masonic Foundation, while further funds were being provided by individual lodges in Berkshire.
Anthony Howlett-Bolton, the Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire, said: 'We are thrilled to continue supporting the Thames Valley Air Ambulance. Thanks to the tireless efforts of their doctors, paramedics and pilots, many lives of people in the Thames Valley are saved every year.'
Freemasons are very large contributors to the air ambulance charities; Berkshire Freemasons have contributed over £75,000 in the last ten years. Nationally, the contributions are in excess of £2 million.
Thames Valley Air Ambulance operates across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, providing frontline emergency car using four rapid response vehicles and one air ambulance.
Neil Harman, Director of Fundraising for Thames Valley Air Ambulance, said: 'We are very grateful to Berkshire Freemasons for their continuing generosity. Without support like this our crew would not be able to provide advance critical care and our life-saving work could not continue.'
Buckinghamshire Freemasons have donated £400 to Florence Nightingale Hospice, which comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), as part of a £600,000 grant made to 237 Hospices across England and Wales
Peter Thomas, MCF area representative, presented the certificate to Jo Turner, CEO of the charity, which is based in Aylesbury.
Jo commented: ‘Thank you very much to the MCF and to Peter for delivering this generous donation.’
The hospice, which is now celebrating its 30th anniversary, has an in-house service and day hospice service. It also has ‘Florries’ which is a service specialising in supporting children with life limiting illnesses, and their families, in their own homes – the donation has been earmarked for this very important support.
This year, as part of their annual support of hospices throughout the country, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Chris Yard presented Kings House Day Hospice with a donation of £800
Chris handed over a certificate denoting the amount on behalf of Devonshire Freemasons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) to Toni Hiscocks and Angie Phillips at Hospiscare’s Kings House Day Hospice in Honiton.
Devonshire Freemasons have been long-term supporters of Hospiscare’s Kings House and, along with individual donations made by many of the 133 lodges that meet throughout the county and the MCF, together have donated nearly £105,000 to Hospiscare since 1994.
On receiving the certificate, Angie Phillips, Clinical Nurse Practitioner for Kings House Day Hospice, said: ‘I am delighted to receive the £800 donation from the Masonic Charitable Foundation on behalf of Hospiscare’s Kings House Day Hospice.
'This will go a long way in helping us support our patients in the East Devon area. We are reliant on 80% of our funding coming from voluntary sources and wouldn’t be able to deliver our care without the community’s support and organisations such as the Masonic Charitable Foundation.’
Hospiscare’s Kings House Day Hospice opened in 2015 with great support from the local community. Patients have access to specialist help and support, advice and treatment, and Hospiscare’s local team of Community Nurse Specialists that support patients in their own homes are also based there.
Assistant Provincial Grand Master Chris Yard said: ‘It is always a delight to be here with such dedicated and wonderful people, the Freemasons are very happy to be able to help by making this donation towards the on-going work of the Hospice.
'The dedication to the staff to the people of this area that need help is admirable – long may it continue.’
Hope Support Services, founded in 2009 in Ross on Wye, provides support for young people aged 11-25 when a close family member is seriously ill with a life-threatening condition, especially those with cancer. They provide support at this stressful time through sessions where young people can gather together in Ross, Leominster and Hereford.
They arrange various activities and outings, and also provide support online, through Facebook and Skype, and are in the process of developing an app with help from Comic Relief which will enable young people to communicate with each other and to link with other charities which might be able to provide help.
Their aim is to provide emotional support for their young clients, of whom there are around 300, and to prepare them for bereavement. They also run a Building Better Opportunities course for those young people who are wanting to find work.
In 2017, they were approached by St Michael’s Hospice to run their services for the children of cancer patients being cared for by the Hospice. Children looked after in this way can be as young as five, and around 130 children and young people are cared for through this initiative.
They have eight full and part-time staff, plus a session worker and two online workers. There is also a Youth Management Team, who have benefited from the services themselves in the past and now help with planning and holding the charity’s range of activities.
On receiving the donation, Hope Support Services warmly thanked the Freemasons of Herefordshire for the generous grant, which will go towards developing the activities provided for young people at this difficult time in their lives.