Lincolnshire Freemasons have given £5,000 to help improve the quality of life for those most in need in one of the country’s most deprived wards
This is the East Marsh in Grimsby, which has the unenviable status of being in the bottom 1% on a national deprivation league table. The money, which has come through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, has been given to Harbour Place who are based in Hope Street, Grimsby, and support rough sleepers, the homeless and other socially excluded people.
In September last year, the charity moved to the Hope Street premises, which allowed it to launch a permanent night shelter in support of its Street Outreach Project, which has been running since April 2011, and has now been expanded.
Project Director Robin Barr said: 'A key part of the project’s activities include supporting and advocating on behalf of clients through signposting, referral and access to a wide range of statutory and voluntary sector agencies. Since opening the Hope Centre in September 2018, Harbour Place has registered over 175 clients for the new service.'
'Since the move to Hope Street more than 50 people have been helped to find permanent accommodation, more than 30 of whom have been through the night shelter.'
Robin said that success was an indication of the significance of the £5,000 donation: 'Our records indicate that if we can work consistently with someone over a short period, we can usually assist them to find accommodation.'
The donation was made by Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master, David Wheeler, and Pete Tong, the Provincial Charity Steward.
Pete said: 'The message we brought away from the staff and volunteers at Harbour Place was that for more people than we might have imagined, the prospect of living on the street was too close for comfort. For many, the financial cushion which keeps the roof over their head is very thin indeed.
'They told us of one man they were helping who had been a respected professional in the community, but after problems resulting from a marriage break-up he had been reduced to living on the street.
'The successes achieved by the team of staff and volunteers are hard won, and we trust our donation will help their efforts to be even more effective.'
Father and son coffee shop owners Mike and Jamie Bristow have become brothers, having been initiated side by side as members of Eccles Lodge No. 8632 in Lincolnshire
Their double initiation as father and son is rare, and resulted from a masonic journey started several years ago.
It began over not one cup of coffee, but hundreds, because it grew from conversations they had when they used to run a market stall in Louth near fellow stallholder Mark Brown, who is also the Lodge secretary. Having taken their first tentative steps, both are excited about what lies ahead.
Mike, 54, said: ‘We’re on a journey. It’s a new road of discovery for us, and we don’t know where it’s going. That’s what makes it so exciting.’
Jamie, 29, agreed, explaining that they had turned down the opportunity to visit the lodge room at an open day. ‘We wanted it to be as new as possible, so the less we knew, the better.
‘It was a fabulous experience, and brilliant when we later saw someone else going through their first degree, because we had been through it ourselves.’
Having watched someone else’s initiation later provided their first opportunity to share the festive board with other members in the body of the room. Jamie added: ‘It was our first meal sitting with everyone else. It was good to chat with people and get to know them.’
Brothers beyond borders
A chance discovery of a 100-year-old piece of paper has revealed a masonic meeting in Jerusalem and a fraternal bond that brought together men of all ranks and religions
Found in an old leather regalia case, a typed document has surfaced reporting on how New Zealand Freemasons held a masonic meeting in a mosque on the site where King Solomon’s Temple had once stood. It tells the story of how ‘a great sheikh’ not only allowed the masons to hold a meeting in the mosque, but also that the sheikh was a Freemason.
The scrap of paper belonged to Thomas Jackson, who had been raised in Star in the East Lodge, No. 650, and the Freemasons mentioned in his story were members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force Masonic Association. Formed in France by Colonel George Barclay in 1917, the association’s objective was to hold meetings to promote fraternity among its members, with branches formed in various camps, depots and hospitals.
MEETING IN TROUBLED TIMES
One branch was formed in Egypt and Palestine in May 1917 by Brigadier-General William Meldrum (1865-1964), with the meeting referred to in Jackson’s account likely taking place in April 1918 in the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem. Standing on Mount Moriah, this is where Abraham is said to have prepared to sacrifice Issac, and where Muhammad ascended to heaven, making it a holy place to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Believed to have been built around 1,000BC on the same site, King Solomon’s Temple has influenced masonic symbolism for centuries.
More than 100 years after the meeting, the piece of paper was passed to Peter Brooks, Lincolnshire Assistant Provincial Grand Master and husband of Jackson’s granddaughter, Jackie. ‘The Star in the East Lodge is still active, and we sent the paper back to them in Harwich, along with a centenary booklet from 1955 and a summons dated 1934 – all of which they were delighted to receive,’ says Peter.
On conducting further research into his lodge’s archives, Colin Ruffle from the Star in the East found that Jackson was initiated into the lodge on 9 April, 1915, passed on 11 May and was raised on 23 July. The raising was one of dozens of emergency meetings during the First World War, completed outside the usual May to September period to get candidates in before they were posted abroad. ‘We read out the minutes of meetings from 100 years ago at our corresponding meetings and found they did first, second and third degrees at a single meeting, sometimes with multiple candidates,’ says Ruffle. ‘It must have gone on all night!’
For Jackson, the meeting he witnessed in the mosque showed the ‘universality of the order’, bringing together soldiers of all ranks from around the world, and with a great sheikh acting as one of the guards.
Thomas Jackson's report on the masons in a mosque
‘Ancient rites observed on the site of Solomon’s temple
Freemasons in Palistine [sic] have held a masonic meeting on the historic site of King Solomon’s Temple where Freemasonry is supposed to have originated about 1,000BC. This meeting was organised by members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in Palistine. The Mosque of Omar being on the site of the Temple, the Newzealanders [sic] approached the Great Sheikh in charge of the Mosque for permission to hold a meeting. Then occurred an incident showing the universality of the order. The Sheikh listened to what the strangers had to say, and then to their amazement asked if there were any Freemasons among them. The rest was easy. He declared himself a mason and at the meeting acted as one of the guards of the lodge. The place within the mosque where the meeting was held is known as the cave of the Rock of the Dome and is believed to have been the Holy of Holies of the old Temple as it is today of the Mosque of Omar. Soldiers of all ranks were present, and after a lodge had been duly const tuter [sic] and opened, resolutions were passed conveying fraternal greetings and good wishes to the various Grand Lodges in New Zealand and the brethren in France.’
The star in the east
The Star in the East Lodge, No. 650, meets in Harwich, Essex and was consecrated in 1855. The centenary meeting took place two years after a flood had left the masonic hall under six feet of water. The most famous member was Captain Fryatt, who was arrested by the Germans in 1916 after trying to ram a German sub with his ship. He was executed and his body was one of only three to be repatriated after the war, in the same railway carriage that brought Edith Cavell and the Unknown Soldier back to the UK.
It costs an average of £2,500 every time the Air Ambulance scrambles for another life-saving mission from its base at RAF Waddington.
Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master David Wheeler said: ‘The Air Ambulance provides a vital service in our largely rural Province, and we are pleased to say that by helping to fund it with our donation we have played a small role in ensuring that there will be people alive tomorrow who might otherwise have passed away.
‘We see ourselves as part of a community, with a duty to help everyone in it. Support for the Air Ambulance is a positive way to do that at life-changing moments for patients and their families.’
The £4,000 grant came from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), and was part of the latest round of Air Ambulance funding, which totals over £4 million since 2007. This year, 20 services will share in £192,000 from the MCF, which administers funds raised through personal contributions from Freemasons.
The Lincs and Notts donation was handed over by Provincial Charity Steward Peter Tong, who said: ‘The Air Ambulance service in our region has been there to help more than 192,000 people since its inception in 1994.
'It already flies two or three times a day, but the organisation’s ambition is to make itself available to fly to where it’s needed on a 24/7 basis. That could lift the number of missions to five a day, which is a tremendous financial commitment. We wanted to play a small part in helping to make that happen.’
Sally Crawford, the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance head of Fundraising and Communications, said: ‘Thank you so much for supporting the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance; £4,000 is an incredible amount of money and we are most grateful. The critical care we provide gives people their very best chance of survival and recovery. We receive no direct Government funding, and are not part of the NHS, so your donation really is essential in helping us to save lives.’
Members of the Lincolnshire Masonic Motorcycle Club (LMMC) rode their bikes to Scunthorpe for a meeting to discuss their programme for the year ahead
Led by Chris Jones, who is currently Worshipful Master of the Round Table Lodge of Lincolnshire No. 8240, as well as LMMC secretary, the club brings together Freemasons in the Province who have a passion for motorcycling.
The Club was establised in 2017 with a view to creating touring opportunities. So far, they have recruited more than 40 members, from which groups of up to a dozen riders have visited lodges in Scotland, Switzerland and Germany.
Chris said: 'Next year we would like to extend that by including Norway and Luxembourg. The touring has been fantastic, but the visiting has been even more so, creating many contacts and friendships.'
Chris and his fellow club members have ambitions for the fledgling organisation and are actively considering the possibilities not only of forming a Blood Bikes organisation in the Province to support the emergency services, but also a motorcycling lodge.
It started with what seemed a good idea at the time, when Keith Edwards said to his friend Keith Appleton: 'I want to play my guitar on the top of England’s highest mountain, and I want you to be my guide and percussionist'
That’s how ‘The Two Keefs’ was formed to play a one-in-a-lifetime gig on the top of Cumbria’s Scafell Pike, and to raise money for Lincolnshire’s New Provincial Benevolent Fund in the process.
Keith A is an experienced walker, with numerous demanding treks to his credit, but Keith E is not. Pretty soon into the climb it became apparent that practice walks in the flatlands of Lincolnshire had not adequately prepared him for the 3,200 foot ascent. He said: 'I must admit I found it quite tough, although the many fellow climbers we came across provided me with lots of breaks whilst I explained why my rucksack was guitar-shaped.'
The Keiths – both members of Astral Lodge No. 3841 in Grimsby – made it to the top and played two rock songs, Wishing Well and Fisherman’s Blues. It wasn’t long before the cold was in danger of making their fingers blue too, making playing tricky and bringing the gig to an end. Keith A said: 'It was nice to see that the Great Architect laid on some atmospheric dry ice for the gig, although it did restrict the view of the beautiful Cumbrian scenery.'
Keith E added: 'When we finished we heard clapping which was very pleasing – until we discovered that it was someone’s cagoul flapping in the strong wind.'
The New Provincial Benevolent Fund is an initiative from the Province of Lincolnshire, and raises money to support Masonic and non-Masonic causes alike. In doing som, it is invaluable in enhancing the perception of Freemasonry in the community.
A donation of over £61,000 from Lincolnshire Freemasons will support the Linkage Community Trust in its work to help people with learning difficulties to get into work
The £61,236 grant, which comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, will allow the Trust and the University of Lincoln to work with partners from the statutory and voluntary sectors to create an online support tool that, over the next few years, is expected to help hundreds of users develop Individualised Career Action Plans.
Linkage has been committed to supporting individuals with a learning disability and or autism to develop their independence for more than four decades. Although much progress has been made in many areas such as social integration, independent living and education, access to employment remains a huge challenge. Linkage sees employment as a key to independence and a major contributor to health and well-being.
Rex Richardson, Director of Care Services at Linkage, said: 'Getting people with autism and/or learning disabilities into employment can be complex and challenging. To do it successfully requires a planned and personalised approach, with all partners working together to achieve an identified and shared goal.
'Research shows that the benefits of employment for people with autism or learning disabilities can be immense, improving independence, well-being, reducing isolation and promoting better mental health - as well as providing many employers with a loyal and productive employee.'
It is estimated that there are around 7,500 individuals with autism in Lincolnshire. Data on employment figures for people with autism in Lincolnshire is limited, but national figures suggest only 15 per cent of adults with an autistic spectrum condition are in full time employment.
Mr Richardson added: 'We’re very grateful to Lincolnshire Freemasons for their generous support. This project is about bringing together organisations who share our commitment with the University of Lincoln to develop individualised career development plans which are comprehensive and efficient, which can identify their strengths and support them and employers in enabling disabled individuals to gain employment and to make an important contribution to the workforce.'
Graham Ives, Provincial Grand Master of Lincolnshire, said: 'We’re very pleased to be able to help the Linkage Community Trust, which is doing outstanding work supporting people with learning disabilities find employment. This not only provides enormous benefits to the job seekers, but also to local employers who obtain loyal and productive employees.'
Supportive sailors in Lincoln have transformed a £25,000 Tercentenary donation from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) into a specialist pontoon and a safety boat to transform the way it can help disabled people on to the water
The sailors are members of Hykeham Sailability, a charity launched in 2009 to provide sailing opportunities for disabled people in Lincolnshire, but at that time the group had no boats, equipment, sailing expertise, volunteers, or even potential members.
Led by non-sailing Keven Roberts, who sadly passed away in 2016, the group has secured thousands in funding, inspired and trained numerous volunteers and instructors and worked tirelessly to establish what is now a thriving, vibrant sailability club.
Hykeham Sailability is part of the national RYA Sailability programme, which supports disabled people in learning to sail and sailing regularly. The group’s aim is to give both adults and young people the freedom and confidence to get out on the water.
Lincolnshire Freemasons Walter Cook, Worshipful Master of Doric Lodge No. 362, and Terry Wallhead, from Witham Lodge No. 297, have visited the club to see the equipment bought with the MCF grant.
Changing of the guard
Graham Ives reflects on 10 years of teamwork free from preaching and dictating as he prepares to step down as Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent
In the middle of May 2008, Graham Ives received a letter from the Grand Secretary that would change his life. The Grand Secretary had been instructed by the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, to offer Graham the position of Provincial Grand Master for Lincolnshire.
Graham was installed as Provincial Grand Master one month later. ‘I didn’t really know what the role held for me; it was a steep learning curve,’ he says. ‘For a time, I felt like a fish out of water, but I received much support, advice and friendship, and soon became very comfortable with the role.’
Graham’s rise to the role of Grand Superintendent in the Royal Arch happened at a more leisurely pace. ‘I had been a member of the Provincial Executive of the Royal Arch for a number of years before I became Grand Superintendent. I understood that role more fully and was immediately at ease with it,’ he says of the office, which he has held for as long as he has been Provincial Grand Master.
Occupying the two most senior roles in Lincolnshire Freemasonry, Graham knew there would be a tremendous amount to do in the years ahead. ‘Fundamental to my time in office has been a desire to reach out to every mason in the Province, whatever their rank. Whenever I was on an official visit, I ensured that I was talking not just to senior brethren and companions, but to everyone.
‘My hope was always that when I left the lodge or chapter, everyone would be smiling and would have enjoyed my presence as much as I had enjoyed their company – from the newest Entered Apprentice to the longest-serving Grand Officer. I genuinely believe that I have achieved that goal.’
Graham recognises how crucial those around him were during his time as Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent. ‘It would have been impossible for Lincolnshire to have achieved what it has without the capable and dedicated teams I have had the privilege of working with.’
Looking forward, Graham acknowledges that given the pace and form of modern Freemasonry, no one individual can accomplish all the tasks required. ‘The modern roles of the Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent are very similar now to those of a chief executive. I believe that it is an exciting time to be a Freemason and that we can all look forward with confidence to the future.’
HIGHLIGHTS FROM A DECADE AS PGM
Far exceeding Festival targets
‘Against a target of £1.5 million, Lincolnshire raised £2.75 million for the 2014 Festival for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. This was right at the top of my achievements during my term of office. I was overwhelmed by the way in which the brethren and their families donated their hard-earned money to this very worthy cause, especially when you recall that for part of the time, the country was in recession.’
The Tercentenary service in Lincoln Cathedral
‘In Lincolnshire, we celebrated the Tercentenary in fine style, culminating in a magnificent service in Lincoln Cathedral. It took a lot of organising by a large number of people, but it paid off handsomely. It was a splendid and moving feeling to see the brethren and their companions, together with families and friends, filling the cathedral to capacity, wearing full masonic regalia.’
The commitment to involving Provincial officers
‘I made a decision to invite the year’s acting Provincial officers to accompany me on all my official visits. I wanted to create the opportunity for it to be something very special, but this is a big Province, stretching from the Humber almost to Peterborough. Would the officers want to make those journeys? It turned out that they did, and the visits have been a resounding success for the acting Provincial officers as well as the brethren and companions of the lodges and chapters visited. I suspect that I shall miss those official visits more than anything else.’
Consolidating the Royal Arch in Lincolnshire
‘I was determined that the Royal Arch would play a prominent part during my terms of office, not only as Provincial Grand Master but also as Grand Superintendent. A number of successful initiatives have taken place, and I am very grateful to all the dedicated Royal Arch masons who have supported me in these ventures. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and Lincolnshire has one of the country’s highest percentages of Royal Arch masons in relation to Craft masons. We have consolidated the strength of the Royal Arch in Lincolnshire over the past 10 years, and there is a very sound platform to move forward.’
Freemasons have met in the historic city of Lincoln for more than 200 years – but this Saturday will be the first time that members of the public have been invited to tour their meeting rooms
Created inside the former Nightingale pub in the city’s Nettleham Road, the building will be open to the general public between 10am and 3pm on Saturday 9th June. Visitors will be able to tour the building, see first-hand the rooms in which ceremonies take place and ask questions of members who will be there throughout the day.
Lincolnshire’s 3,500 Freemasons meet in 74 lodges based at 21 centres from Barton and Grimsby in the north to Grantham, Bourne, Spalding and Deeping St James, close to the county boundary, in the south.
The oldest of them all is a Lincoln lodge, Witham Lodge No. 297, which has a warrant dated 23rd September 1793. It meets at the Nightingale Rooms Masonic Centre, which was opened for Masonic business in 2013, having been converted from its former life as a pub by the brethren themselves.
Find out more about the centre, and see an interview and video with Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Wheeler in the city’s media outlet The Lincolnite.