Members of Blundell’s School Masonic Lodge have met at the school in Devon for the first time since the lodge was consecrated in 1934
The event in 2017 was arranged to coincide with the Tercentenary of the world's first Grand Lodge for Freemasons last year, and to mark the occasion members of Blundell's Lodge No. 5467 wanted to celebrate it in a unique way.
This led to the idea of approaching Blundell's School, and so with the help of the lodge's Senior Warden Craig Cox and his wife Sarah the permission of the Head of Blundell's Nicola Huggett was obtained and plans were set in motion.
The logistics of such an event was never going to be easy to arrange, but the outcome was a marvellous afternoon and evening culminating in 116 members and their partners sitting down for a gourmet dinner in the main dining room of the school.
Nicola Huggett and Richard Swarbrick, Chairman of the Old Blundellian Club, were guests of honour and both the Worshipful Master of the lodge John Shepherd and the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Ian Kingsbury were each delighted to present the Head with a cheque for £1,500 – making a total of £3,000 to mark the celebrations of the Tercentenary.
This donation enabled year 11 students at the school to assist with projects identified by Community Learning International, who currently operate five learning centres in district towns of rural Luang Prabang in Laos, where they provide opportunities for children to develop their skills and knowledge.
This aid has now reached the children in Laos and the delight on their faces and the knowledge that without this sort of help the education of the children would be much poorer has made the project worthwhile in the eyes of everyone who took part.
People in East Devon living with dementia and other degenerative conditions will be offered ‘armchair adventures’ and ‘musical life stories’ as part of an expanded reminiscence service, thanks to a £44,000 grant from Devonshire Freemasons to the Action East Devon charity
The Forget Me Not project will see trained volunteers and project staff run themed sessions for people with early onset dementia, helping them to collect music associated with their life stories. Music is downloaded onto portable personal music players, including headphones which can accommodate hearing aids.
The Armchair Travel sessions takes participants on an armchair tour of a chosen country, including music, large screen videos, food, celebrations, clothing and decorations from the destination country.
Memory boxes are provided for those with sensory impairment and memory loss, containing a collection of objects from the 1930’s to the 1970’s. The boxes are based on a theme such as Christmas Past, Looking Good, Staying Healthy, Royalty, In the Kitchen, School Days, Travels and Holidays, Tools and Gadgets, Home Front. The items are textured, scented, colourful and noisy, appealing to all the senses and prompting participants to share stories and compare past experiences.
Dementia is now the leading killer in the United Kingdom. Dementia rates in East Devon are far higher than the national average, which makes Forget Me Not such an essential service to people in the area.
Charlotte Hanson, Chief Executive of Action East Devon, said: 'We’re very grateful to Devonshire masons for their generous grant which will help us to make sure older people in East Devon continue to have their stories valued and that they and their families and carers are supported throughout their lives.
'This year we are celebrating Action East Devon’s 20th birthday and we are very excited to be able to carry on this work for a further three years.'
The £44,000 donation comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, commented: 'We’re very pleased to be able to help Action East Devon with this very valuable project to help people with dementia.
'Dementia rates in Devon being much higher than the national average, it’s especially important that we look at providing new services both for people with dementia and for their families and carers.'
Devonshire Freemasons have donated £5,000 to the Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education to go towards purchasing play, sports and electronic equipment which can immediately benefit their students
Ian Kingsbury, the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, was inspired by a presentation given by Steve Morton, Director of Development for the Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education, outlining the Academy’s aims and development plans for the future academy which is to be relocated to a new site in Exmouth.
When he came back to Devonshire he had a desire to help those who are affected by this very difficult sensory disability. To this end, he approached the Devonshire Freemasons Benevolent Fund Committee for help and they immediately responded by giving him a cheque for £5,000.
Accompanied by Dr Reuben Ayres, the Devonshire Provincial Grand Charity Steward, Ian paid a visit to the school which is currently based in Exeter. Here he met up again with Steve Morton and Appeals Manager Sarah Shaw and presented them with the cheque to purchase the equipment, which can also be transferred to the new school when the time is right.
The Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education has been located in Exeter for over 190 years and the current location is a property purchased many years ago which is no longer fit for the needs of the deaf students. The property and the land has now been sold and the proceeds will partially fund the new academy which is being been built with all the latest facilities available to the architects, to give the students what they really require.
All the students have additional needs, including multi-sensory disabilities, autism, epilepsy and physical disabilities which is why, when designing the new building, so much thought has gone into making each part of the facility user friendly. It is planned that completion of the new building will be within 18 months from now.
When presenting the cheque Ian Kingsbury said: 'Young people all need us to be there to help them grow for the future, none more so than those with a lack of hearing who are denied the normal things that we take so much for granted in the world we live in.'
Steve Morton added: 'One of the most important things we give to our young people is the gift of confidence; confidence to achieve whatever they wish to in life and to have pride in who they are.
'Donations enable us to provide our staff and students with the tools to succeed, but a gift, particularly one from such a well respected source, tells our students that others have confidence in them too. This is invaluable and on their behalf I sincerely thank the Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire.'
Martha Wilkinson, Chief Executive of Devon Community Foundation, was delighted to be presented with the cheque by Ian Kingsbury, the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Freemasons.
Martha commented: 'Thank you once again to Devon Freemasons for their generous and continued support. The donation further enables Devon Community Foundation to help fund local groups that may not otherwise receive the vital income they need to survive.
'These local community groups play an essential role in the lives of residents who are most in need and the bringing together of communities as a whole.'
The generous gift brings the total donated over the last four years to almost £35,000 and will be allocated to the Foundation’s Community Grants, supporting hundreds of voluntary and community groups offering local people in need a helping hand.
Ian Kingsbury, who was accompanied by the Devonshire Provincial Charity Steward Dr Reuben Ayres and Barry White, said: 'It is a delight for us as Freemasons to be able to assist such a worthwhile and important local organisation, helping them to reach out to those most in need in our local communities.'
Some examples of the groups that receive grants from the Community Grant pot:
Torbay - supporting a series of workshops for older women, empowering them to become involved in a range of activities, helping to build confidence and friendships
East Devon - addressing social isolation of older people through a range of activities that will engage with people of all ages, encouraging inter-generational opportunities and access to services and support networks, increasing health and wellbeing
North Devon - purchasing of reading manuals to assist those who are unable to read to improve their reading skills, enhancing their life and social opportunities and helping to raise confidence and self esteem
Mid Devon - supporting general running costs for work which addresses homelessness in mid Devon, ensuring that those most at risk have somewhere warm and safe to live
South Hams - contributing to the setting up of a new men's shed, encouraging men to get together to make items for the good of the community, promoting social inclusion and a sense of self worth
Simon Wills, General Manager of Babbacombe Model Village in Torquay, Devon, had invited Ian to view the latest introduction to their collection – an exact replica of the iconic Freemasons' Hall building in Great Queen Street. Ian was also featured in his dress regalia as part of the new model demonstration.
These models had taken many months to build and also included in their new City display is a model of Mark Masons Hall.
The village, which has been open since 1963, houses hundreds of model scenes of famous and iconic buildings which can be found around the country, surrounded by waterfalls and water features and includes over 13,000 miniature residents who live there.
Simon also kindly offered to donate 50% of the entrance fee from Devonhsire Freemasons and their families to help fund the MCF Masonic Charitable Foundation Devonshire Festival 2023.
It was a unique evening at Saint Nicholas Lodge No. 6377 in Ilfracombe on Wednesday 21st March 2018 where Ron Thompson, aged 97, was installed as Worshipful Master in a fine ceremony carried out by his predecessor Terry Bridges
Ron was also taken by surprise on the night when he was presented with a 70 Year Certificate of Service to Freemasonry on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Ian Kingsbury. Ron was also given the rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden and presented with the badge and jewel of that office.
Ron was initiated back in February 1948 in a double initiation with his elder brother. They were initiated by their father in Pro Minimis Lodge No. 5180 which met at Freemasons' Hall in London. Ron became Master in 1960 and again in 1972.
When he moved to Devonshire in 1997, the lodge elected him to Honorary Membership. Ron also received London Grand Rank in 1975 and was Exalted in Pro Minimis HRA Chapter on 26th January 1956.
Ron joined Saint Nicholas Lodge and Davie HRA Chapter 3721 in 1997, but resigned as he moved to Essex where he joined Gunfleet Lodge No. 6884 and Le-Soken Chapter No. 2949. Having returned to Devon two years later, he rejoined both St Nicholas Lodge and Davie Chapter.
Ron was installed as MEZ of Davie Chapter in 2005 and appointed as Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in 2009.
Last year, he served as Senior Warden in Saint Nicholas Lodge and the brethren were delighted when he agreed to become their Master.
When Bristol’s Freemasons’ Hall was destroyed by bombing in November 1940, almost the entire contents of the Library and Museum were lost
As well as destroying the lodge and chapter rooms, many portraits of Past Provincial Grand Masters and their Deputies were ruined. Black and white photographs of many of these masons, however, had been published in various books.
Hannah Baker is a young English artist who was commissioned to reproduce several of the lost Bristol portraits, including a commission by the Bristol Masonic Society to replace the portrait of Alderman Sir Ernest Henry Cook, the Society’s very first President, which was originally painted by Ernest Board.
This new portrait was unveiled as part of the Society’s centenary celebrations.
As part of their annual support of Hospices throughout the country, Devonshire Freemasons have donated over £1,000 to Children’s Hospice South West’s Little Bridge House in Barnstaple, North Devon
The Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Ian Kingsbury presented a certificate denoting £1,083, given on behalf of the Devonshire Freemasons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, to Ann Juby from the hospice.
Little Bridge House is one of three Children’s Hospice South West hospices offering home from home care and support for families across the South West region. Each hospice offers respite, emergency and end of life care for local children who are not expected to live until adulthood, as well as support for the whole family including a dedicated sibling service.
Devonshire Freemasons have been long-term supporters of Children’s Hospice South West and along with individual donations made by many of their 133 lodges that meet throughout the county and the MCF, together have donated over £100,000 to the hospice since it opened in 1995.
On receiving the certificate, Ann Juby, Trusts and Grants Fundraiser for the Hospice, said: ‘The Freemasons fundraising over the years for Children’s Hospice South West has been incredible and we are extremely grateful for the support.
'It costs £3.4 million each year to run our Little Bridge House hospice and these costs are met almost entirely by voluntary donations. Support such as this is vital to ensure that we can continue to make the most of short and precious lives well into the future. Our thanks to the Freemasons and the many Lodges who support us.’
Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury said: 'It is always very sad when a child is taken from us without ever having the chance to reach their potential. If in some way we as Freemasons can contribute to their care at this moment in their short lives, then we can continue to hope that one day cures can be found.
'It was wonderful to meet some of the people who give so much of their time and energy in caring for the children.’
Eight Devonshire charities benefited from a series of special MCF Community Awards from Devonshire Freemasons after an unprecedented public vote, with 178,801 people in England and Wales participating
The MCF Community Awards are a major part of UGLE’s 300th anniversary celebrations. The Masonic Charitable Foundation is distributing £3 million to 300 charities across the country, with the public vote deciding on the level of awards, which range from £4,000 to £25,000.
Presentations to the charities were made in September at a special ceremony in Plymouth by Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury on behalf of the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
Find out more about the thinking behind the MCF Community Awards here.
The final journey of the Provincial Tercentenary travelling banner made its way through Cornwall on Saturday 14th October, terminating with a Civic Parade through the streets of St. Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly
The Provincial travelling banner has been specially designed by all eight Provinces that make up the South West region. Each of these Provinces have enjoyed being the custodian of the banner throughout its entire journey arriving at many special locations.
The final leg was supported by the Provincial Grand Masters for Cornwall, RW Bro Stephen C Pearn, and Devonshire, RW Bro Ian Kingsbury, together with a special guest, the United Grand Lodge of England's Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton.
Despite the arrival of the impending Storm Ophelia, the weather, whilst overcast, remained dry and warm. Proceedings started with a bumper lunch at The Mermaid Inn on St. Mary’s Quay, followed by an enthusiastic Civic Parade in full Masonic regalia through the streets, which was supported by local islanders.
The parade continued its way through the streets until it reached Godolphin Lodge No. 7790, where those who had paraded assembled in the Lodge room together with several lady guests to hear an historic oration by the Provincial Orator for Cornwall, W Bro Mike Murton.
The special events then concluded with a Festive Board held in the stunning conservatory at the Star Castle Hotel.