Ostrea Lodge No. 8209, who meet at Wivenhoe, within a mile or two of the University of Essex Colchester campus, joined the University Scheme in 2010. Bros. Michael Egbuna, Salman Riaz (both University Students), newly-Raised Bro. Ian Taylor, along with Lodge Secretary, W.Bro Paul Fell PPAGDC, supported other Essex Masons for a press interview and photo session at the St Giles Masonic Centre, Colchester in April last week.
The interview was conducted by Tom King, chief feature writer for Echo Newspaper Group accompanied by a press photographer.
Bro Salman (a Muslim Brother) intends continuing his freemasonry in Pakistan when he returns home after graduation, whilst also continuing his association with Ostrea Lodge - his Mother Lodge. Bro. Michael is Nigerian and will divide his work and Masonic time between England and Nigeria. Bro Ian is an IT specialist living locally. All three were enormously enthusiastic about their membership and proved to be excellent ambassadors for the Craft when talking to the Press.
Tom King was shown round the Centre and was particularly impressed with the Temple, already prepared for a meeting of Abbeygate Lodge later in the day.
The interviews were given to enable the Features Editor to write about Freemasonry to dispel some of the myths and to explain the activities and intentions of Freemasons. The Echo Group of Newspapers, whilst based in Basildon, cover most of Essex.
Ostrea Lodge No. 8209 has become the designated lodge for the Masonic University Scheme in the Province of Essex in a ceremony held in the presence of the Assistant Grand Master David Williamson, Provincial Grand Master John Webb and regional co-ordinator for the scheme, Dr Richard Lewin.
Ostrea Lodge is the 37th lodge to become part of the scheme and experience in other areas showed that membership was gained from students, whether graduate, undergraduate or postgraduate. The Alumni Society at Essex University was showing interest in the scheme and two possible applications had been received through the provincial website. The scheme itself would have a website in the near future.
Provincial Grand Master John Webb said that other local lodges could assist with the scheme in due course and long term it might become possible to form a university lodge. The lodge was reminded that, under the scheme, members under the age of 25 paid only half the Grand Lodge and Charity dues.