Canterbury evensong for Royal Arch

The choral evensong congregation at Canterbury Cathedral was enhanced by almost 500 companions, brethren, their families and friends coming together for the Province of East Kent’s Royal Arch biennial church service.

Led by Grand Superintendent Geoffrey Dearing, distinguished guests included Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton, Third Grand Principal David Williamson, the then Metropolitan Grand Master Russell Race and several neighbouring Provincial Grand Masters. 

Guests were able to view the Ancestors exhibit, a series of life-size figures representing the Ancestors of Christ that date to the 12th and early 13th centuries. These beautiful examples of medieval stained glass had been temporarily removed from the Cathedral’s Great South Window while conservation work was carried out on its crumbling stonework. They were on display in the Chapter House, the East Window of which was a gift from the Freemasons of Kent.

Devonshire benevolence

The Devonshire Provincial Garden Party took place at Ugbrooke House, Chudleigh, the home of Lord and Lady Clifford, with the proceeds going to the Devonshire Masonic Benevolent Fund. 

Entertainment was provided by the Budleigh Salterton Male Voice Choir; the Tiverton Town Brass Band; musician Steve Scadgell of Sanctuary Lodge, No. 5358; and the Royal Marine Volunteer Cadet Corps drummers from Plymouth, whose uniforms depicted five periods in the 350-year history of the Royal Marines. There was also a display of vintage cars and motorbikes, a fly-casting competition hosted by the Masonic Fishing Club and an exhibition of paintings by local Freemasons.

Aylesbury children receive a boost

Children enjoying their end of term day at the PACE centre in Aylesbury welcomed Buckinghamshire Provincial Grand Master Gordon Robertson when he popped in to see the covered playground that local Freemasons had donated £10,000 to fund in action.

PACE is a family-centred charity that provides an innovative education for life for children with sensory motor disorders, such as cerebral palsy. The play area is part of the first stage of a building project that is eventually going to be the new Early Years and Independence Training Centre for the charity.

£30,000 for island community groups

Guernsey and Alderney Freemasons have donated more than £30,000 to support local groups, with charity representatives attending a special gathering at the masonic centre in St Martin to receive their cheques. PGM David Hodgetts said the organisation was keen to support as many local groups as possible on the island. Charities receiving funding included Guernsey Jumbulance Holidays, Headway Guernsey, the Guernsey Sailing Trust, Wigwam Support Group and the Bailiwick of Guernsey Scout Association.

Gloucester entertainment

It was a fun day out for Gloucestershire masons and their friends and families as a variety of attractions kept almost 500 people entertained in the spectacular 17th-century venue of Highnam Court Gardens near Gloucester (pictured above).

‘To see the happy, smiling faces of children and adults alike was worth all the hard work put in by the charity team,’ said Phil Waring, Gloucestershire Provincial Grand Charity Steward. The event raised more than £5,000 for the Province’s Festival for the Grand Charity, whose Chief Executive Laura Chapman was guest of honour at the day.  

Out of the scrum at Northampton

A record number of attendees were at the 2015 Convocation of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, in Northampton, where the guest of honour was Second Grand Principal George Francis. At the Festive Board, Grand Superintendent Wayne Williams presented him with a ‘refill’ for a previously bestowed cut-glass decanter, and a Northampton Saints rugby shirt bearing the number two and the name ‘Francis’. The Second Grand Principal said he was pleased to visit the Province in which he had started his masonic career at Castle Ashby many years earlier.

‘Mr Seafront’ honoured

A Brighton bus has been dedicated to Sussex mason Andy Durr, a former mayor and councillor. On his death at the end of 2014, Andy left a lasting legacy to Brighton that few councillors will ever surpass. He had the idea of revitalising the seafront between the piers, leading to the council restoring the lower esplanade. The work took place in the 1990s, with Andy dubbed Mr Seafront. 

As well as being a Labour councillor, Andy was a lecturer at the University of Brighton, a member of the West Pier Trust, and founder of the fishing museum. In 2000 he became mayor and welcomed HM The Queen to the Royal Pavilion. 

Lodge gets on board in Poole

A cheque for £1,000 has been presented to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in Poole from the Grand Charity Relief Chest of Public Schools Installed Masters’ Lodge, No. 9077. This donation was part of the Master’s List raised by the lodge during Lt Cdr James King’s year as lodge Master and was received by Will Collins, an RNLI employee and volunteer member of the Poole lifeboat. 

Continuing aid for Vanuatu

Following the Grand Charity’s £20,000 donation via the British Red Cross after a severe tropical cyclone hit Vanuatu in the South Pacific in March 2015, Warwickshire masons have also provided aid. More than £5,600 has been sent to the Vanuatu Recovery Fund thanks to 16 Warwickshire lodges, one very generous brother and the Province’s Masonic Charitable Association.

The Vanuatu Recovery Fund, managed by Lodge of Discovery on the island, has decided to fund the rebuilding of the library at Suango Mele Primary School, and to create a bigger and better structure than had previously existed. The school will now have a media centre within the library to ensure it meets students’ future study needs.

Holy trinity celebrations in North Wales

Llandudno’s Holy Trinity Church has celebrated its 150th anniversary. A sermon was delivered by Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, who also dedicated a new plaque for the cornerstone of the building.

Lodge of Saint Tudno, No. 755, was instrumental in the foundation of the church, with the first Rector, John Morgan, being its first initiate. Church architect George Felton was also a lodge member. At the laying of the cornerstone in 1865, masonic ceremony was performed by the Provincial Grand Master of North Wales and Shropshire, Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn.

Current PGM Ieuan Redvers Jones recited the prayer read at the original cornerstone ceremony, while masonic memorabilia connected with the foundation was on display.

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