A toy appeal by Leeds Freemasons is bringing festive cheer to several local charities
The initiative has proved very popular; more than 300 gifts will be shared between four groups - Leeds Children's Hospital, Martin House Hospice Care for Children and Young People, Leeds Children's Charity and Leeds Jewish Welfare Board.
The Castle Grove Masonic Lodges Festive Toy appeal was launched in November 2018, to bring various Lodges together to provide something tangible to young people in the local community.
Initially, the toys and gifts were to be donated to Leeds Children's Hospital. However, the response proved so overwhelming that a large number of gifts were also donated to Barnardo's.
This year, the number of charity recipients has been increased to four, including Leeds Jewish Welfare Board which will receive Chanukah gifts for 28 children under its care.
Leeds Freemason and toy appeal co-ordinator Graham Shiers said: 'Once again, I've been absolutely staggered by the response of lodge members to the toy appeal. Since launching this year's appeal in October, we have been inundated with both toys and financial donations. The money has been used to buy more gifts, including pyjamas and clothes for children living in poverty.
'I would like to thank the masonic community who meet at Headingley's Castle Grove for their generosity. Thanks to them, several children who may not have had a present to open on Christmas Day will receive at least one.'
Graham added: 'One of the three great pillars that Freemasonry is founded on is charity, and charity is very close to our hearts. Each year the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding presents grants totalling £200,000 to a wide range of organisations including schools, youth organisations, hospices and community clubs.'
He has concluded saying: 'We are very proud of our support of the communities we live and work in, and these toys, gifts and clothes will go to four great charities that do so much for local children and their families.'
In 2018, the Leicestershire & Rutland Light Blue Club successfully bid to host the 2019 New & Young Masons Clubs Conference. Beating competition from other clubs throughout the country, the Light Blue Club’s winning theme of 'Building Bonds’ was the foundation for months of hard work, culminating in the conference that was held at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester on 28th September 2019
The New & Young Masons Club (NYMC) was created to bring together all of the Light Blue Clubs from around the country, to share ideas and best practices and to ensure their continued success. Representatives from 31 of these clubs descended on Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, to enjoy an action packed and informative day, with friends, acquaintances, new members and a great line up of speakers.
After welcoming their guests, a tour was conducted by our Light Blue Club members of the magnificent building we have at London Road, culminating in a talk in the Holmes Lodge Room by Richard Barnett and a viewing of their museum.
By 10am, the 100 seats in the magnificent Holmes Lodge Room were filled as their Light Blue Club Chairman Bob Reay opened the conference. Bob gave a welcoming speech and introduced the Provincial Grand Master for Leicestershire & Rutland David Hagger, who thanked everyone for attending and introduced the day’s guest speakers. Next to take to the stage was the President of the Light Blue Club, Peter Kinder, who gave an insight into the origins of the Light Blue Club, along with his thoughts and aims for the day.
Samuel Harris of the Light Blue Club then took great pleasure in introducing the next two sets of speakers, with whom he had been liaising to secure their time for a ground breaking set of presentations. First to the stage was the Grand Master of the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons, Christine Chapman, to give an insight into the history and background to Women’s Freemasonry in England.
There are two Grand Lodges of Women Freemasons in England, and the second presenter was Elaine Malone, Deputy Grand Secretary, accompanied by Mia Cameron-Dungey, from the Order of Women Freemasons. This presentation was very well received and gave the audience a better understanding of where the Order originated from, as well as an insight into their future plans.
The first ‘Break out session’, with the theme entitled The Foundation Stone, involved a move downstairs to the Oliver Dining Room, which was set up by the superb team at Devonshire Place. The round table discussions proved to be a huge success, with energy and enthusiasm for understanding what it is our New & Young Masons Clubs need to be successful.
After lunch, the team from Solomon, David Pratt, Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire, West Riding, together with Dr. Craig Johnson and Ken Wootton, gave a valuable insight into the Learning & Development programme.
Breakout sessions two and three, ‘Raising a Superstructure’ and ‘Building Bonds’ were equally a success, with great feedback from all participants as the attendees worked towards sharing ideas and developing a mission statement.
Then in the Holmes Lodge Room. Focusing on the Future of Freemasonry and how we can all help to achieve this bright future, David conducted a captivating presentation, which was followed by a question and answer session before the day's proceedings were brought to a close. To round off an exhausting yet captivating day was Mitch Merrick-Thirlway, the Administrator of the NYMC, as it was down to him to announce the winners who would host the conference to held in 2022. And the winners were, the Fleet House Light Blues Club from the Province of Hertfordshire.
After such a superb day, of learning, listening, education, and sharing of ideas, many of the attendees stayed on to enjoy the hospitality of the Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448 to complete the day.
David Hagger said: ‘I would like to thank all of the organisers and members of our Light Blue Club for what has been an excellent day. I would also like to thank all of our guests and speakers for their valuable time and also to all of the members from up and down the country for their energy and enthusiasm. You are the future of Freemasonry and today has demonstrated what a bright future we have.’
Victims of the recent flash flooding that has hit hundreds of homes across the dales, including Arkengarthdale, Reeth, Leyburn and Bellerby, are being helped by a grant of £25,000 from Yorkshire Freemasons
The grant includes £5,000 each from Freemasons in Yorkshire West Riding and Yorkshire North and East Ridings, as well as £15,000 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons’ national charity. The money is being given to the Two Ridings Community Foundation, which has launched an appeal to help householders and local businesses.
Local Freemasons’ lodges are also raising funds for the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team as well as a small local charity in the village of Reeth, which was especially badly hit by the floods.
The grant will help vulnerable or elderly people or families to get back on their feet by replacing essential items such as carpets, basic furniture or white goods or by assisting with repairs. This support is especially needed by those who were not able to afford insurance or for those who have properties for which insurance companies have refused to provide cover.
It will also provide assistance to those local businesses in the area facing hardship as a result of the floods. This could include replacing tools or equipment or loss of earnings to tide people over while businesses recover.
Jan Garrill, Chief Executive of Two Ridings Community Foundation, said: 'We’re hugely grateful to Yorkshire freemasons for their generous grant, which will allow us to help the hundreds of local people who have suffered serious losses, many of whom are especially vulnerable. It can take years to fully recover from a major flood and getting immediate help can make a massive difference.”
Jeff Gillyon from Yorkshire Freemasons said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help local people across the dales who have suffered in the recent floods. Damage and disruption from a major flood can be a terrible blow for anyone, but especially for elderly people, the very young, or those with disabilities. I’m delighted that the freemasons are able to do their part in helping our community recover.'
Yorkshire Freemasons have reaffirmed their longstanding commitment to Harrogate by continuing to stage their annual meeting in the spa town into the next decade
The Province of Yorkshire, West Riding has signed a five-year contract with Harrogate Borough Council to hold its Provincial Grand Lodge Meeting in the Royal Hall, whilst at the same time booking the Majestic Hotel for the next three years for its annual post-meeting celebration dinner.
Whilst the first occasion the Royal Hall hosted the fraternity’s annual meeting was in 1937, its masonic links go back to the hall’s origins, including local benefactor, industrialist Samson Fox, and designers Robert Beale and Frank Matcham, who were all Freemasons.
Additionally, Julian Clifford, the Royal Hall’s musical director for many years, and Alderman David Simpson, four times Mayor of Harrogate, who laid the foundation stone in 1902, were also members of the fraternity.
Traditionally held on the first Tuesday in May, the annual meeting sees almost a thousand Freemasons from across the Province’s geographical area – south Yorkshire, west Yorkshire and parts of north and east Yorkshire - and further afield heading to Harrogate for the ceremony and dinner.
Provincial Grand Master David Pratt said: 'Both the Royal Hall and The Majestic Hotel have become synonymous with our annual gatherings, and I’m delighted that this is set to continue. In previous years, Provincial Grand Lodge meeting were also held at the Majestic Hotel in addition to the Royal Hall.
'The proximity of the pair to each other is another qualifying feature, as is the fact they are located in the town centre and can cater for the number of masons that attend each and every year.'
Matthew Hole, general manager of the Majestic Hotel – which is undergoing a major £15m refurbishment - said: 'For many years it’s been our pleasure to host the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding’s annual celebration dinner. Since first opening our doors more than 100 years ago, The Majestic Hotel has been the setting for many Masonic functions, in particular ‘ladies’ nights’.
'We are very much looking forward to continuing our relationship with the Freemasons over the years to come.'
Harrogate Convention Centre director Paula Lorimer said: 'What fantastic news that the Freemasons are to continue their long and historic partnership with the Royal Hall. The new five-year contract is a huge vote of confidence in the venue’s facilities and team. We look forward to welcoming the Yorkshire Freemasons back to Harrogate next year.'
Freemasons from Harlow Lodge No. 4404 – based in Harrogate in the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding – have given the town’s homeless project a £1,263 boost
The money – raised over a 12-month period from raffles held at monthly lodge dinners – will be used by the charity to maintain its running costs for its Bower Street hostel and ‘Springboard’ day service.
The donation was presented to Harrogate Homeless Project representatives by last year’s Master, Andrew Simister, and the current lodge mater, Leigh Eyles.
Andrew Simister said: ‘Many people outside the area would not think that an affluent town like Harrogate has a homelessness issue, but having lived here all my life I can assure them it does.
‘That’s why we, the members of Harrogate’s Harlow Lodge, are keen to support this project that does so much within our local community. Harlow Lodge has been in existence for just short of 100 years, and in that time charity has been one of our central themes. It will continue to be this way for many years to come.’
Harrogate Homeless Project chairman John Harris said: ‘I would like to thank the members of Harlow Lodge for their generosity and for nominating us as their nominated charity of the year.
‘This is the second time in as many weeks that Freemasons from Harrogate have given us a much-needed financial boost, as we received £1,700 from Harrogate and Claro Lodge to purchase office equipment.’
A £20,000 donation from Yorkshire Freemasons is assisting the Yorkshire Air Ambulance to save even more lives
The money, which has come from Yorkshire West Riding Masonic Charities Limited, has been used by the organisation to purchase an additional pair of night vision goggles.
With up to one in 10 missions now taking place after dark, the grant will enable the pilots based at the Nostell Priory air support unit to fly to emergencies across the region – night and day.
To keep both of Yorkshire’s air ambulances in the air, the charity needs to raise £12,000 per day – the equivalent to £4.4 million per year – and Yorkshire’s two masonic provinces annually contribute to the flying costs.
In recognition of this on-going financial support, the helicopters carry the masonic emblem of the square and compasses on their fuselages.
David Pratt, the Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding – whose geographical area encompasses south Yorkshire, west Yorkshire and parts of north and east Yorkshire - said: 'We are incredibly lucky to be in a position where we can fund vital equipment for charities such as the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
'When we were told night vision goggles these were on their wish list, we immediately informed the charity that we would be delighted to purchase a set.
'It was superb to revisit the air support unit and hear from pilots and staff the difference this purchase will make, and in particular that further lives will no doubt be saved as a result.'
Steve Waudby, Chief Pilot from Yorkshire Air Ambulance, said: 'Once again we would like to say a big thank you to the Freemasons from the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding for their generosity.
'If it wasn’t for the continued support of organisations, individuals and businesses, we would not be able to provide the life-saving service that we do. These night vision goggles will make a huge difference to our operation.'
A charity that delivers life-saving blood, breast milk and pathology samples to hospitals at night has added a new motorbike to its fleet, thanks to Sheffield Freemasons
Due to a sizeable financial legacy left to Ivanhoe Lodge No. 1779, which is based in the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, its members agreed to use a portion of the bequest to not only purchase a motorbike for Whiteknights Yorkshire Blood Bikes, but also to pay for its running costs for three years.
The bike – named ‘Ivanhoe’ – was officially handed over to the charity at a ceremony held at Tapton Hall in the city, where Ivanhoe Lodge meets.
Whiteknights Yorkshire Blood Bikes was co-started 10 years ago by biker Vic Siswick after noticing a lack of sample delivery provision at night while he was undergoing cancer treatment. It now has 60 volunteer riders, all advanced motorcyclists, who deliver urgent samples between 7pm and 7am, which are outside normal NHS hours.
One of those to benefit from the charity’s services is Ivanhoe Lodge member John Bulliman, whose life was saved three years ago by the delivery of an emergency unit of blood from his original bone marrow donor in the Midlands, to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, where he was being treated for leukaemia and sepsis.
John Clague, from Ivanhoe Lodge, said: ‘Before deciding on making this donation we invited Whiteknights Yorkshire Blood Bikes chairman Andrew Foster to tell us about the work of the charity.
‘John was present and it was the first time Andrew had ever met a beneficiary of the service they provide. Subsequently, John has now done an interview for the charity to thank them for helping save his life. Following Andrew’s presentation the lodge voted unanimously to purchase ‘Ivanhoe’ and pay for its running costs for three years.
‘Charity is one of the three grand principles Freemasonry was founded on, and, thanks to this legacy, we are able to support the Whiteknights Yorkshire Blood Bikes and the selfless service they provide to the benefit of people across Yorkshire.'
Whiteknights Yorkshire Blood Bikes chairman Andrew Foster said: ‘We are truly grateful to the members of Ivanhoe Lodge for this wonderful donation. It’s a fantastic way to start the New Year.
‘I am also a Freemason, and was personally humbled by the level of support I received from the lodge when I was asked to give a presentation about our work.
‘This new bike takes our fleet of blood bikes to eight and means that we can respond to even more requests to transport samples, and that means hopefully saving more lives of people in Yorkshire. We have a terrific team of volunteer riders and Ivanhoe Lodge’s generosity is a massive boost for us.'
Solomon the teacher: Fostering curiosity – developing understanding
The launch of Solomon, an online learning resource, is making daily advancement a reality in the Craft and Royal Arch
Sir David Wootton, Assistant Grand Master and Chairman of the Improvement Delivery Group, wrote in the last issue of FMT that the requirement to learn ritual by rote and then present it without any attempt at providing the most basic of context and understanding fails the candidate, because it overlooks the important messages that lie within.
Member surveys have highlighted learning as a major unmet need and a potential reason why members leave. Solomon has been created as an accessible online resource to stimulate interest and meet current and future needs.
WHO IS SOLOMON FOR?
Solomon will support the wants and needs of at least three groups:
- Those who want to learn more about their masonry.
- Those with programme planning or member development responsibilities in a lodge or chapter.
- Provincial or District Officers charged with promoting and providing learning resources and activities.
Solomon will support personal inquiry or study, irrespective of experience or prior knowledge. It brings together material from many sources to help answer common questions and improve masonic knowledge and understanding. The online resource can be accessed on multiple platforms such as smartphones, tablets and computers and currently contains more than 350 items.
Solomon is also designed to support the interests and requirements of lodges and chapters. The Lodge Mentor or Director of Ceremonies will be able to find material to help a member learn about or understand a topic or issue, or may introduce learning content into regular meetings. Solomon material comprises short ‘nuggets’, papers and demonstrations, as well as longer items for presentation and discussion. A regular presentation of these nuggets at meetings will stimulate a desire to learn more.
Solomon materials will complement material collected locally by Provinces and Districts and will guide and support them in the advancement of their learning.
WHAT WILL I FIND?
Solomon is devoted to the Craft and Royal Arch. It is organised into three categories:
- Seek & Learn: for individual exploration or presentation.
- Share & Encourage: for use by lodges and chapters.
- Support & Promote: for Provinces and Districts.
The first two categories have eight modules covering the Craft, the Royal Arch and more general areas, such as symbolism and history. This arrangement will enable users to focus and drill down to individual nuggets, papers and presentations. It will also help to confine the inquirer to those areas appropriate to his masonic progress.
Once registered, you can login and enrol in one or more modules and explore Solomon to your heart’s content. It is intuitive and has been designed to foster curiosity and draw you in to seek answers. You can use various search tools to find and refine your inquiry. You may then read or download as much or as little as you wish. With smartphone access, Solomon can readily provide an answer to a question at a Lodge of Instruction.
Solomon provides a range of interesting material that will complement or even replace a ceremony
HOW WILL SOLOMON BENEFIT A LODGE OF CHAPTER?
Solomon complements the Members Pathway and individual mentoring programmes. These encourage a personalised approach to development. This approach should be extended to develop the interest and enjoyment of all members, enabling them to benefit from a deeper understanding of our ritual and traditions. The result will be improved performance of ceremonies, better mentoring and greater confidence in explaining Freemasonry to others.
Solomon provides interesting and accessible material that, if well chosen and well delivered, will complement or even replace a ceremony. It is designed to be popular, boosting attendance and interest. Ideally, learning activities will become an appreciated and regular feature of lodge and chapter meetings.
A ‘nugget’ is a five to ten-minute item of interest that can be presented by a member. It will easily fit into a meeting; perhaps to set the scene, or to act as a conclusion, or even when the candidate retires. It is also suitable for personal study and can be a resource for lodge quizzes. It may also lead to a presentation that expands on a topic of interest.
While there may be some who feel there is no time at a meeting, it’s hoped that by making time for learning, the benefits will become clear and members will increasingly value time devoted to it. A well-organised lodge or chapter will have a programme that reflects the needs and interests of all its members, one which they enjoy and which encourages them to attend. Learning may also extend beyond the regular meeting to a Lodge of Instruction or special masonic events.
HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?
As the success of the UGLE Learning and Development programme depends on local support, the Programme Support Team wishes to work collaboratively with Craft and Royal Arch Provinces and Districts. Solomon therefore includes resources to support local development.
In launching Solomon to Provinces, Stuart Hadler, the Programme Lead, emphasised the key importance of presenting and delivering material in an understandable and engaging way. This takes skill and so Provinces are being asked to identify suitable members to be presenters, to develop their skills and to promote their use. The skilled presenter will draw attendance and overcome the negative stereotype of the boring lecture.
The team also wants to share good examples; these include specialist lodges and working with light blue clubs. A collaborative approach between the Craft and the Royal Arch is encouraged.
Solomon is still in its early stages and will expand in volume, range and diversity. There will always be a need to commission and source new and credible material and the team looks forward to receiving the views and suggestions of Solomon users. For able members eager to write material for inclusion, Solomon provides guidance on the style and other format requirements.
Early feedback on Solomon has been positive from new and experienced masons alike. David Pratt, Provincial Grand Master for Yorkshire, West Riding, remarked that the nuggets are ‘solid gold’, packed with interesting topics to educate even experienced Freemasons. ‘They are so easy to access and use. Any lodge member can lead the activity… I shall be strongly supporting and promoting the use of Solomon within my Province.’
To access Solomon, go to https://solomon.ugle.org.uk
Spa Lodge No. 7609 in the North Yorkshire town of Harrogate has celebrated its Diamond Jubilee by planting trees at RHS Harlow Carr, at a ceremony attended by leading regional civic and masonic figures
In celebration of its consecration, the lodge also donated an oak bench sited in the Lakeside Garden area, overlooking the Queen Mother’s Memorial Lake, and the newly-planted trees.
These trees form part of a new woodland area, which acknowledges Her Majesty the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy Project, which is designed to create a network of forest conservation schemes throughout the 53 nations of the Commonwealth, with Harlow Carr forming part of what was the ancient Forest of Knaresborough.
A successful application was also made to the Provincial Grand Master’s Fund, which funded an oak information lectern, together with a graphic board, part of which is in braille.
The Deputy Lord Lieutenant for North Yorkshire, Simon Mackaness, and David Pratt, the Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire, West Riding, ceremonially planted an Acacia tree, whilst The Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate, Councillor Bernard Bateman, and Stephen Brown, Master of The Spa Lodge, planted a Red Oak tree.
The Lodge – which was founded in 1958 – is so named following a likening to the springs in Harrogate and the 'SPAW' mineral springs in Spa Belgium, and has a logo which features three heraldic emblems representing medicinal springs or watering places.
More than 800 cancer patients will receive therapy or counselling, following a grant of £60,000 to Cavendish Cancer Care from Yorkshire, West Riding Freemasons
The grant will be used to fund a new Assessor, who will put together personalised care plans to help those with a cancer diagnosis deal with the physical and emotional consequences of cancer, and the treatments that are prescribed.
Every year, 30,000 people in Yorkshire are diagnosed with cancer, and 320,000 in England and Wales, where there are currently over 2.1 million people living with the condition.
Cavendish Cancer Care supports people living with cancer in Yorkshire and their loved ones, offering complementary therapies such as counselling, massage and acupuncture.
Assessors are the first point of contact at the centre and form a fundamental part of the support process. The Assessor will talk through a person’s concerns and will help them to decide on treatments. At the end of a client’s course of therapy, they will undertake a review and will re-refer clients if they feel they would benefit from more Cavendish support, or refer them onto other services. As well as supporting patients, Cavendish also offers support to their carers and loved ones, including their children who can use the centre’s specialised young people’s service.
Carly Honeycombe was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 26, and visited Cavendish alongside her chemotherapy for sessions of reflexology and healing. 'My sessions were all about me and keeping my body as healthy as possible through this process,' Carly says.
'They helped me get through it. I don’t think people realise how valuable Cavendish is. I wasn’t picking between Cavendish and somewhere else to go for respite and rejuvenation. It’s invaluable because there’s nothing else like it.'
The grant from Yorkshire, West Riding Freemasons, comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.