Celebrating 300 years

Monday 14 May 2018 proved to be a memorable day for members of the Lodge of Saint Mark No. 8479 in Dorset, with 92-year- old, World War II veteran Ray Fuller being installed as their Worshipful Master

Ray joined the Royal Navy as a 17-year-old in 1943 and served on HMS Illustrious. The carrier's aircraft attacked targets in Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies and took part in the Battle of Okinawa.

In early 1944, the aircraft of HMS Illustrious and USS Saratoga joined forces to strike a naval base at Sabang in northern Sumatra.

Nearly 80 Brethren gathered in the village of Kinson to see Ray take the chair, which created a fantastic atmosphere on this remarkable evening. It wasn't Ray’s first time in the chair though having previously been Master of Bisley Lodge No. 2317 in Surrey, but that didn't detract from making this a special occasion for him. Over £700 was also raised for three charities during a bumper raffle.

Giving a moving response to the visitors toast was one member who had travelled down in a minibus from Surrey. He had known Ray since they were seven-years-old and they're both proud holders of the Burma Star, a military medal awarded to those who served in World War II.

The Provincial Grand Master for Dorset, Richard Merritt, commented that it was a remarkable coincidence that it was Ray's second time in the chair and that he was the 46th Master, as doubling this figure equalled Ray's exact age.

He went on to add that having made enquiries with UGLE, Ray was one of the oldest brothers to be installed into the chair of a lodge.

Freemasons from the Lodge of Amity No. 137 in Dorset gave up their time to redecorate a local charity’s building

Members of the lodge assembled at Barnabas House, a facility of the Diverse Abilities charity in Poole. Armed with paint brushes, rollers and gallons of white paint they set about transforming the appearance of the building.

Dorset Freemason Martin Barker said: 'I was Master of the Lodge of Amity last year when our members donated over £2,000 to the Diverse Abilities charity. When I heard that the outside of Barnabas House needed painting, I realised that this was a project where our lodge could also provide practical help.'

Barnabas House is a lively day centre for adults with a disability. It is a place where they can meet and make new friends, acquire new skills and enjoy a wide range of experiences.

A Barnabas House representative expressed delight at the results, commenting: 'Without the volunteers from the Lodge of Amity we would have had to spend many hundreds of pounds out of the charity’s limited funds to do this.'

The Lodge of Amity is the oldest Masonic Lodge in Dorset, dating back to 1765. It meets once a month in a magnificent grade II listed building in Poole.

Paul Baggett, Immediate Past Master of Dunckerley Lodge No. 3878 in Poole, Dorset, travelled to the Menin Gate war memorial in Ypres, Belgium, to take part in The Last Post Ceremony

This poignant ceremony has become part of the daily life at Menin Gate and takes place every night at 8pm. It is a simple but moving tribute to the courage and self-sacrifice of those who fell in World War I. Every evening the busy road through the memorial is closed to traffic before the ceremony and 'Last Post' will be played.

A member or guest of the Last Post Association, a visiting dignitary or a visitor, will say the words of the Exhortation, taken from Laurence Binyon's poem 'For the Fallen'. Standing in the centre of the road under the arch of the Hall of Memory, the person will say the words:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Afrer laying a wreath on behalf of Dorset Freemasonry, Paul Baggett, who was accompanied by Phil Conway of Lumen Lodge No. 4922 in Surrey, was honoured to be the one to read those words and help continue this most important tradition – watch the video here.

Members of Lodge of St Cuthberga No. 622 in Dorset travelled to Freemasons' Hall in London to present a cheque for £1,785 to the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT)

The lodge's Past Master Geoff Knights and current Master Andy Gale presented the cheque inside Freemasons' Hall to Patrick Tonks, CHECT's Chief Executive, and Diana Emery, their Fundraising Manager. Geoff Knights said: 'During my term of office, I had funds for several charities and the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust was dear to everyone’s heart.'

The lodge raised a proportion of the funds through social events and lodge meetings. A large share however, was raised by James Smith, the lodge Charity Steward, when he and his wife Maria ran the London Marathon last year.

CHECT supports children with Retinoblastoma, which is a fast-growing eye cancer found in some babies and children under the age of six years. CHECT helps guide families through the shock, stress and practical challenges after diagnosis.

The charity funds research to improve understanding, treatments and outcomes and raises awareness to improve recognition and early diagnose of the disease. 

Diana Emery said: 'I am over the moon with the amount raised by Dorset Freemasons as CHECT is a small charity with no public funding.'

Ashley Lodge No. 6525 in Dorset has donated £2,650 to the Piam Brown Children's Oncology and Haematology ward in Southampton General Hospital

The Piam Brown ward caters for children from Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Surrey, Sussex, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands.

Funds raised for the ward go towards providing those 'extras' that the NHS doesn't. These include things like pull-out beds so exhausted parents can have a decent night's sleep and be close to their child, computer games, DVDs, books and games for the children and young people, as well as pleasant décor, quiet rooms and kitchen facilities so parents can cook for themselves and their child.

Each year the ward cares for around 120 new patients. Their team is multidisciplinary, led by four consultants and supported by differing grades of nurses and trainee doctors. Other people on the ward include social workers, physiotherapists, dieticians, pharmacists, research and data staff and support and play staff.

Master of Ashley Lodge David Sanford presented the cheque for £2,650 to the Piam Brown ward, which represents part of their charitable donations raised over the last year.

Other recent donations in the Province include the Dorset Jurassic Youth Adventure, which provided over 200 children from around the country with a free adventure holiday in Dorset.

Friday, 23 March 2018 15:16

Five generations of Freemasons in Dorset

Geoffrey James Blake has become the fifth generation of his family to become a member of Portland Lodge No. 1037 in Dorset

His heritage stretches back to 1908. His family have been members of the lodge unbroken since 1908 and have supported the lodge for a total of 152 years – with more to come.

Geoffrey's Great–Great Grandfather Joseph Stone was initiated into Portland Lodge in 1908. He served the lodge as Worshipful Master in 1919 and died a member in 1954. During his year as Master, he initiated his son, Lesley W G Stone (Geoffrey's Great–Grandfather), who remained a member until 1980.

Lesley's daughter Esme married George F J Blake (Geoffrey's Grandfather), who was initiated in 1972 and remained a member until his death in 1998. George's son Graham D Blake was initiated in 1979, served as Master in 1990 and proudly initiated his son Geoffrey into Portland Lodge, completing five generations.

The Past Provincial Grand Master of Dorset Harry Barnes was present and even sang the Initiates Song in the dining room after the Festive Board.

Kevin Abbiss from Portland's mother lodge, All Souls Lodge No. 170 in Weymouth, presented Geoffrey with a number of booklets and pamphlets from All Souls library that mentioned the family over the past century. A wonderful evening was enjoyed by all.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 00:00

Modern masons: Wayne Ingram

Giving

Despite having raised money to give one boy life-changing facial surgery and more to build an orphanage in Africa, Wayne Ingram doesn’t spend much time considering his role in improving the quality of people’s lives. ‘I don’t really think about my involvement,’ he says. ‘I’m just glad it happened'

Wayne’s fundraising fervour began while stationed in Bosnia. He heard about Stefan Savic, a boy of four born with a facial cleft. Wayne organised a football match between the British Army and local nationals to raise more than €6,000 (£5,288).

Stefan’s first surgery in 2003 was a success but he has needed a series of lengthy operations since, all of which were funded with money raised by Wayne, which opened the door to other fundraising efforts.

When working in Nouadhibou, Africa, in 2012, Wayne was asked to conduct a health and safety audit on an orphanage. ‘There were 40 children sleeping on the floor, in a room with no lights, open sewage and rats running around. They had nothing at all.’

True to form, Wayne set about raising money for the children, intending to cycle 900km across the African countryside. When this was thwarted because of the potential of a kidnap threat, he altered the challenge to have expats and locals cycle in a gym for 24 hours under the banner ‘Ride a Mile and Make a Smile’, raising £67,000.

Wayne’s commitment and compassion sit well with his membership of the Craft. His father a mason, Wayne joined All Souls Lodge, No. 170, based in Dorset, in 2007. ‘At first, I enjoyed going to the events and didn’t want to seek progression. But it’s an amazing lodge: most of them are ex-servicemen and there’s a great family atmosphere.’

What does the Tercentenary mean to you?

‘It’s an amazing achievement for UGLE. I was extremely lucky to be part of the Tercentenary Interprovincial Banner relay, where the Provincial banner was relayed to every masonic hall in Dorset by masonic motorcyclists.’

Published in Features
Thursday, 22 February 2018 16:37

Dorset Freemasons in life saving donation

Dorset Freemasons have donated a lifesaving defibrillator to Branksome Chine Surf Lifesaving Club

The defibrillator is available for use by the public and is situated right on the promenade within a few yards of Branksome Chine car park. Dorset's Provincial Grand Master Richard Merritt commented: 'As Freemasons we believe in playing a key role in our communities and give time and money to charitable ventures. It’s an honour to be able to supply this machine to the club.'

A defibrillator gives a high energy electric shock to the heart through the chest wall to someone who is in cardiac arrest. It's an essential lifesaving step in the chain of survival.

This defibrillator is the latest in a succession of similar donations by Dorset Freemasons who have placed public access defibrillators on all 17 Masonic buildings across Dorset. In the summer of 2016, a man’s life was saved in Swanage when a Masonic defibrillator was successfully used.

Branksome Chine Surf Lifesaving Club is a voluntary organisation involved in both actively lifeguarding and promoting sea/surf safety in and around Bournemouth and Poole. The club was formed in 1990 and provide voluntary first aid and rescue cover, as well as beach and water safety advice, re-uniting lost children/people with their families/groups and information for tourists.

The Lodge of Honour and Friendship No. 1266 in Blandford, Dorset, has donated £500 to Blandford Fashion Museum, to help with the restoration and preservation of their exhibits

The members of the lodge and their partners were given a fascinating talk by two members of the team from the museum. This then led to the lodge loaning items from their collection of Masonic regalia and memorabilia to the museum.

The fashion museum has created a exhibition recording the history of Freemasonry in the town of Blandford, which will be on display for two years from February 2018, and includes Masonic aprons, regalia, jewels and photographs that give a fascinating insight into the history of Freemasonry in Blandford.

Jean Longley, Bookings Secretary at Blandford Fashion Museum, said: 'This donation will help so much. Preserving our collection can be very expensive, with a storage box for one dress costing up to £25.' 

The museum receives no external support funding and raises everything needed through donations and admissions.

The Blandford Fashion Museum is open Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10am-4pm, and features 10 rooms of fashion history from 1740 to 1970.

The Lodge of Honour and Friendship also has an Open Day on Monday 28th May, when Blandford Masonic Hall will be open to the public.The Open Day will give visitors a chance to look around the hall and ask questions of the lodge members.

Friday, 26 January 2018 00:00

Remembering Bruce Graham Clarke DSC

Dorset Freemason Bruce Graham Clarke DSC, one of the last surviving crew members of the Second World War XE midget submarines, has passed to the Grand Lodge above aged 95 years

A public servant and talented artist, Bruce was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his role in the mission to cut the undersea telephone cables connecting Singapore, Saigon, Hong Kong and Tokyo. The success of this operation forced the Japanese to use radio which left their messages open to interception.

Born in Edinburgh on 9 September 1922 into a military family, his father was a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Educated at the Tower House School and University College School in London, Bruce volunteered for the Royal Navy in 1941. He initially served aboard destroyers, escorting convoys in the North Sea and the Mediterranean and witnessed the sinking of the French fleet. He later took part in Operation Torch – the invasion of Northwest Africa.

In 1943, Bruce volunteered for service aboard the Royal Navy’s midget submarines and after training in Scotland was commissioned. In July and August of 1945 Bruce was one of the crew of midget submarine XE5 which took part in Operation Foil to cut the Hong Kong to Singapore telegraph cable west of Lamma Island, running under Hong Kong harbour. In the book “Above us the waves” by Charles Warren and James Benson the mission is recalled ‘... Hong Kong was supposed to be blessed with clear water. It was most galling, therefore, for the crew of XE5 to arrive in the defended waters of Hong Kong after a very rough trip… and for the best part of four days ... the two divers, Clarke and Jarvis, were working up to their waists in mud…’

In his report of the operation, the commanding officer Lieutenant H.P. Westmacott wrote: ‘Whilst trying to clear the grapnel, S/Lt Clarke had caught his finger in the cutter, cut it very deeply and fractured the bone. It is impossible to praise too highly the courage and fortitude which enabled him to make his entry into the craft in this condition. Had he not done so, apart from becoming a prisoner, it is probable that the operation would have had to be abandoned for fear of being compromised.’ A month later the war ended and Bruce was posted to Minden in East Germany and put in command as Physical and Recreational Training Officer of Allied troops. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his part in Operation Foil on 17 November 1945 and subsequently demobilised in 1946.

After brief spells working in India and Africa, Bruce joined the Overseas Civil Service and through a series of promotions and secondments formed a successful career in Kenya. In 1955, Bruce married Joan in Nakuru, Kenya. The family moved to Aden in 1957; this posting for Bruce included a period as Labour Commissioner.

In 1962, Bruce retired from Her Majesty’s Overseas Civil Service and after a three year contract as Personnel Manager for the East African Power & Light Company in Tanganyika, Bruce returned to the UK, settling in Boscombe in Dorset in 1967. For a brief period, he and his wife Joan bought and let property but latterly restored antique china, porcelain and furniture, until Joan’s death in 1982 at the age of 60. In retirement, he returned to his hobby of oil painting; he was a very talented painter and produced some fine copies of the old masters.

He was initiated into United Studholme Alliance Lodge No. 1591 in 1979 and in 1986 joined Lodge of Meridian No. 6582 in Dorset, where he was Chaplain of for many years. Bruce was a holder of London Grand Rank and a Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in Dorset. He was exalted into St Aldhelm's Chapter No. 2559 in Dorset in 1996.

Richard Merritt, Provincial Grand Master for Dorset, said: 'Brother Clarke was typical of so many unsung heroes within the Masonic Order. His military career, extreme bravery in the face of the enemy, personal charm and life-long modesty exemplify the principles observed and practised by Freemasons throughout their lives.' 

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