Jack Whalley (MEng Aerospace Engineering 2012) explains how he joined his local Freemasons’ Lodge through a new scheme to attract university students:
'A friend of mine joined Freemasonry a year ago and spoke about what an amazing time he had, meeting new people and the things they were up to. Considering the mystery and secrecy that can sometimes surround it, I asked for a bit more information. He introduced me to the Universities' Scheme liaison officer, who showed me around and talked me through what goes on behind the ‘closed doors’.
'He explained that Freemasonry isn’t as secret as everyone makes out and that the secrecy aspect arose after World War II where Freemasons were persecuted, which drove the fraternity underground. Since then things have evolved and the public perception is not the modern day reality. Something that sparked my interest further was the amount of charity work that Freemasons get involved with. After the National Lottery, Freemasons give the largest donations to charity in the UK – all through donations from its members.
'At my first meeting I was joined by four other students from the university as part of the Universities' Scheme. The scheme engages students with Freemasonry to help continue the strong traditions. We were made to feel incredibly welcome by everyone, which helped overcome any nerves we may have had. Everyone was interested in who we were, what we were doing and offering encouragement. A huge part of Freemasonry is the fact we are all equal; it is one of the few places where you can sit down for a meal with people from all walks of life, ages, races, and careers and have a great, relaxed time.
'I have enjoyed meeting so many different people, whom as a student I wouldn’t have met otherwise. It has become something that I look forward to each month, where I continue to learn things and I’m really looking forward to getting more involved next year.'
St Alphege Lodge is responsible under the UGLE Universities Scheme, for forging links with the University of Bath
As a result of considerable interest generated by the Scheme and from members already recruited through it, Christmas came early this year with five candidates being initiated into the Lodge in a multiple ceremony.
St Alphege last carried out such a ceremony in 1925, so this was a very special evening for everyone concerned.
The Assistant Grand Master, RW Bro David Williamson, who is President of the Universities Scheme, attended along with the Provincial Grand Master for Somerset, RW Bro Stuart Hadler. The Assistant Grand Master subsequently wrote to the Lodge saying "I sat in Lodge, enthralled and touched by what we witnessed."
The Provincial Grand Master described it as "a great success and a landmark in the history of the lodge"
The Ceremony concluded with a presentation of a 50-year certificate by the Provincial Grand Master to Brother Keith Brown, the significance of which made an important impression on the five young Initiates.