Celebrating 300 years

People living with multiple sclerosis (MS) in Buckinghamshire will benefit from a grant of £30,000, which will provide over 850 hours of physiotherapy to members of the Chilterns MS Centre

Regular physiotherapy and support can help those with MS to maintain mobility, cope with their disability and achieve an improved quality of life. On average, the Centre offers 256 hours of physiotherapy a week through one-to-one care and group exercise sessions. There are just over 110,000 people diagnosed with MS in the UK and approximately 850 in Buckinghamshire, of which 550 of them are members of the Chilterns MS Centre.

Many people using the Centre feel that it really makes a difference to their everyday lives. One of their members, Sue, said: 'Thanks to the fantastic physiotherapy I have had, I managed to appear in my daughter’s wedding photos without my walking aids. A year ago that just wouldn’t have been possible, so you can never know how much this means to me. Thank you for being a lifeline to me and so many others.'

The grant from the Buckinghamshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Robert Breakwell, Chief Executive of Chilterns MS Centre, said: 'We are delighted that Buckinghamshire Freemasons have made this very generous grant to support our physiotherapy service. As a small charity, we rely on grants like this to continue to treat and support people living with MS in the local area, and to keep them independent for as long as possible.'

Barry Sparks, Provincial Grand Secretary for Buckinghamshire Freemasons, said: 'We’re very pleased to be able to help the Chiltern MS Centre, who do outstanding work for people living with MS. The regular physiotherapy they provide can make a huge difference to their quality of life and extend their capacity for independent living.'

Buckinghamshire Freemasons arranged a visit to the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway Line for a group of 30 autistic children between the ages of 6 and 15 with their parents and carers

The trip was organised by Sean Boardman and Andy Sutton of Hall Barn Lodge No. 8480, Andy Barr of Frederick Lawson Lodge No. 9185 and Graham Thorn of Penn and Tyler's Green Lodge No. 5876 on 15th April 2018.

The reserved carriage next to the engine was boarded by the steam train enthusiastic children, with a lunch bag distributed to each one before they went off on the journey to the Buckinghamshire town of Princes Risborough and back.

After their enjoyment and excitement, the children were then allowed to explore the restored and preserved railway.

The children are part of the Engine Shed, a special interest group for children and young people with autism. The club enables young people on the autistic spectrum with an interest in trains to come together with their peers to observe, play, talk and enjoy their hobby in a welcoming, safe and relaxing environment.

lodges meeting at Eliot Hall in Winslow have teamed up with the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF) to provide a small fleet of 4X4 vehicles to serve all areas of rural Buckinghamshire

Provincial Grand Master John Clark, assisted by Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Graham Dearing and Phil Blacklaw, presented the latest addition of three vehicles, which have been placed to serve the Buckinghamshire communities of Winslow, Marlow and Thame/Haddenham. 

Community First Responders (CFR) are all highly trained volunteers who do not get paid for the many hours they give in support of their communities. Neither do they receive support from the NHS or local government. 

The First Responders live and work in the community they serve and are able to start life-saving treatments prior to the arrival of an ambulance in a wide variety of medical emergencies such as stroke, choking and serious injuries. They can also reach emergencies and transport medical staff from the air ambulance landing point. In rural areas it is often difficult to reach incidents in the Responder’s own cars and an off-road capability is invaluable.

Steve Acton, the CFR for the Winslow area and a member of Saxon Lodge No. 9735 at Eliot Hall, first highlighted the need over two years ago. Since then the BMCF and Winslow lodges have worked together to build the fleet and extend the area of Buckinghamshire covered.

The fundraising has been boosted by the generous bequest of the late Rodney Meerza, who was also a Winslow Mason.

The vehicles provided all have the 4X4 capability, essential at some incidents on local farms and bridleways, and are fitted with scene lighting bars for night use, as well as alley lights to enable the user to see street numbers easily at night. 

Over the past few months, all three vehicles have been regularly called on to assist in areas of heavy snowfall or muddy conditions and have helped to save lives in times of medical emergency.

Buckinghamshire Freemasons have presented Willen Hospice with two new Rise and Recline chairs

The chairs will assist in helping patients experiencing pain by allowing them to adjust position and help prevent falls by assisting with seating and rising. They will also reduce strain to medical staff by making transfer and the provision of care easier.

Phil Blacklaw, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for Buckinghamshire, and Andrew Hough, Honorary Secretary to the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF), were in attendance for the presentation. Buckinghamshire Freemasons have long supported the hospice which, in the past year alone, has treated over 1,000 patients with terminal illness.

Susan O’Dell, Trust Fundraiser of Willen Hospice, commented that the BMCF's support has contributed to their efforts to make a real difference for patients reaching the end of their life, ensuring they receive the comfort, dignity and respect deserved and ensuring that their end of life experience is as pain-free and comfortable as possible.

It was back to school for a party of Winslow Freemasons in Buckinghamshire when they attended the presentation of a specially adapted minibus at Furze Down School

Freemasons from the Eliot Hall Masonic Centre in Winslow, representatives of the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund and the Lady Taverners gathered together to hand over the minibus to the school, situated on the edge of the town.

The minubus was funded by the Lady Taverners alongside a donation of £3,500 by Winslow Freemasons, who asked all their lodges and chapters to help contribute – which was then matched by the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund to help raise £7,000.

Furze Down School, which has over 100 students with complex special educational needs between the ages of 2 and 19, admits students from a wide area of Buckinghamshire. The new minibus has special adaptations to enable wheelchair users to have access to it including a lift to the rear entrance doors and seats which can be reconfigured to allow several wheelchair users to travel securely. Previously, such students would have to travel separately from their more able- bodied classmates when out on trips and visits.

Despite the inclement weather, the students enthusiastically gathered for photographs during the handover to their Headteacher Alison Rooney. This was followed with a lively assembly in which the students thanked those present and all those who had worked to make it possible.

The children had also made cards to express their appreciation which were presented to representatives of Eliot Hall and the Centenary Fund.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018 10:19

Pro Grand Master's address - March 2018

Quarterly Communication

14 March 2018 
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren, it is always a pleasure to see this magnificent temple as full as it is today, although it is hardly surprising bearing in mind the special nature of today’s meeting. Our Provinces and Districts, as well as those involved here at the centre, have taken a great deal of trouble in identifying those brethren most deserving of the honour that they have received today. I hope it has been a very special day for them and I really do congratulate and thank them. As always brethren, whilst congratulations are very much in order for all that you have done, particularly during the Tercentenary year, it also raises great expectations for your endeavours in the future.

We also have the Soane Ark back with us today. As those of you who were at the Tercentenary celebration at the Royal Albert Hall, (or those of you who read Freemasonry Today) will know, the original of this beautiful mahogany piece, the “Ark of the Masonic Covenant”, was made by Bro Sir John Soane in 1813. It was dedicated at the great celebration marking the Union of the Ancient and Modern Grand Lodges in 1813 and the Articles of Union were deposited inside.

It was tragically destroyed by fire in 1883, but UGLE commissioned an exact replica for our Tercentenary, which was dedicated at the Royal Albert Hall in October. Then, as in 1813, we placed a facsimile of the Articles of Union inside it, as well as the “Three Great Lights”.

It was on public display at the Soane Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields for the months after the Royal Albert Hall celebration, but now it has returned to its intended place in Grand Lodge. Triangular in form, it has at each corner a column of the Ionic, Doric and Corinthian order representing Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, the three great pillars on which our lodges, including this Grand Lodge, are said to stand.

I am sure that it will grace our Grand Lodge meetings for centuries to come.

We have become only too well aware of the term 'fake news' in recent times and we began this year with our own encounter with 'fake news'. Many of you will have seen the coverage generated by the outgoing Chairman of the Police Federation and the Guardian newspaper and I trust you will have also seen our responses. Let me assure you that UGLE will always stand up for its members, their integrity and their care for the communities from which they are drawn. It is my firm belief that policemen are better policemen for their membership of our proud organisation. However, it is not just policemen who can benefit from membership – lawyers, public servants and indeed all men benefit from the teaching our ceremonies have to offer, and the time has come for the organisation to stand up and make these points loudly and clearly. Enough, brethren is enough.

I have said it before and I say again I strongly believe that the future is bright for Freemasonry. We created a bow wave of optimism last year which produced a surge of interest in the Craft. We must now ensure that we maintain the momentum created and build on that legacy, and we will.

This year is very much a year of change, particular of key personalities both here and in the Provinces and Districts. On your behalf I welcome Geoffrey Dearing to his first Quarterly Communication as President of the Board of General Purposes and, in April, David Staples, our CEO will become our new youthful and dynamic Grand Secretary, bringing together all the activities here in Freemasons’ Hall. Already this year we have installed two new PGMs as well as new DGMs in New Zealand South Island and SA Western Division. Both John Clark from Buckinghamshire and Anthony Howlett-Bolton from Berkshire are able to be present and I welcome them to their first Quarterly Communication as Provincial Grand Masters. We now start a steady stream of installations: nine Provincial Grand Masters and ten District Grand Masters, plus many Grand Superintendents in the Royal Arch. This will keep the Rulers in both the Craft and Royal Arch busy this year as we catch up on the backlog.

Although we have plenty of ceremonial work to do, I am also keen that we continue to visit Provinces and Districts in a less formal way. We are here to provide help and support and we must show it.

This year, as you know, is the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War – 'The Great War'. I have no doubt that many of you will be commemorating this, as appropriate in your area. This building was built to commemorate those masons who lost their lives in that war. It was called the Masonic Peace Memorial Building, but changed its name at the outbreak of the Second World War to Freemasons’ Hall. We shall commemorate the end of the First World War on 10th November 2018 under the auspices of Victoria Rifles Lodge and I am sure it will be an impressive occasion.

Brethren, I hope that today has been a memorable event for those I have invested. Many congratulations, once again, and remember there is no resting on your laurels.

Published in Speeches

More than 30 vulnerable young people will have the chance to transform their lives, thanks to a grant from Buckinghamshire Freemasons

Milton Keynes charity Ride High helps disadvantaged and vulnerable children by teaching them to ride and care for horses. They also deliver projects and activities to develop confidence and skills that many of the children lack, but desperately need, so they can fully participate in life.

The grant from Buckinghamshire Freemasons of £4,576 comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation and is helping Ride High to work closely with their teenage members and to encourage and support their future ambitions. Ride High seeks to instil confidence and to give the children opportunities such as work experience placements to broaden their horizons and give them something to aim for.

Since it was established in 2008, the charity has supported nearly 1,000 children across Milton Keynes and over 90% of leavers are in full-time education, work experience or employment and thriving six months after leaving.

Helen Dixon, Marketing and Fundraising Manager at Ride High, said: 'We are delighted to have received this generous grant from Bucks Freemasons. It will allow us to provide our older members with extra support, guidance, experiences and skills to give them a real chance at having a successful future career.'

Phil Blacklaw, the Assistant Grand Master for Buckinghamshire, commented: 'We are very pleased to be able to help Ride High in their hugely important work with some very vulnerable young people. Helping them at this crucial point can give them a much higher chance of making a success of their lives in the future.'

Young adult carers in Buckinghamshire are being helped to overcome social isolation and improve their wellbeing, thanks to a grant from Buckinghamshire Freemasons to Carers Bucks

The £20,000 grant comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation and will support the ‘Same Chances’ programme, designed to work with young people as they transition into adulthood and independence whilst continuing to provide unpaid care for an ill or disabled family member.

In the UK there are an estimated 700,000 young carers, 2,500 of them in Buckinghamshire. The Young Adult Carers service started in September 2015 with the target to support 50 young adult carers living in Buckinghamshire within the first 18 months. In just over two years, the Young Adult Carers team have connected with and supported double that figure within the county. 

Young Carers Bucks believe a young person who is the primary carer for a family member should not have fewer chances for further or higher education and employment compared with their peers.

The Young Adult Carers team help young people overcome the barriers they may be facing, while knowing the person they care for is safe and looked after. The team offer regular Life skills sessions, support worker drop in sessions, social meet ups, targeted group work and one to one support. There is also a Young Adult Carers steering group, which gives young people a voice to share their experiences with other young people and professionals.

Sally Mansi, Young Carers Service Manager at Carers Bucks, commented: 'We’re very grateful to Buckinghamshire Freemasons for their generous grant. It will support 80 young carers as they move into adulthood, giving them some of the same life choices and opportunities as their peers.'

Mike Clanfield, Provincial Grand Charity Steward for Buckinghamshire, said: 'We’re very pleased to be able to support the Carers Trust in Bucks who do hugely important work with young people who are the primary carers for ill and disabled family members. These young people deserve the same chances as everyone else.'

United Grand Lodge of England's Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton graced a regular meeting of Marlow Lodge No. 2752 in Buckinghamshire on 14th February 2018

Sir David, who is also President of the Universities Scheme, was escorted by Alan Baverstock, Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies. Also in attendance were Julian Soper, Deputy Chairman of the Universities Scheme, and Nigel Scott-Moncreiff, Vice Chairman of the Universities Scheme.

The Buckinghamshire Provincial Executive team was led by John Clark, the Provincial Grand Master on his first official visit, accompanied by Hugh Douglas-Smith, Deputy Provincial Grand Master and  Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, Graham Dearing, Philip Blacklaw and Tony Robinson.

All the distinguished guests, as well as members of the lodge, then witnessed a Second Degree ceremony. The candidate Marco Davi was congratulated by the Assistant Grand Master and the Provincial Grand Master before the brethren retired to the dining room to enjoy the festive board.

This was the first time in the 120 years history of Marlow Lodge that one of the UGLE Rulers was in attendance and proved to be a lasting memory to all those present.

Published in Universities Scheme

Over 500 Buckinghamshire Freemasons were present at Freemasons' Hall on 9th February 2018, where John Clark was installed as the Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Buckinghamshire

The Installation was conducted by the United Grand Lodge of England's Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence and the visiting Officers of Grand Lodge.

John Clark then Invested Hugh Douglas Smith as Deputy Provincial Grand Master and reappointed Graham Dearing and Phil Blacklaw as Assistant Provincial Grand Masters. Tony Robinson recited the Obligation and was also invested as Assistant Provincial Grand Master.

Alongside over 500 Buckinghamshire Freemasons, brethren from many other Provinces were also in attendance and following the ceremony enjoyed a banquet in the Grand Connaught Rooms.

Both the Deputy Grand Master and the new Provincial Grand Master thanked all those present for their attendance and delighted everyone with amusing speeches.

John Clark then presented Jonathan Spence with a pair of magnificent gold cuff links, replicating the Hall Stone Jewel.

During the ceremony, John Clark was also wearing the Hall Stone Jewel around his neck, with Buckinghamshire the only Province in possession of the gold and coloured enamel jewel on a dark blue collarette. This distinctive jewel was given to Buckinghamshire and the Districts of Japan (now defunct) and Burma (in abeyance) in recognition that every one of their lodges contributed an average in excess of five hundred guineas (£525.00) to the Masonic Million Memorial Fund.

This fund went towards establishing a memorial to the brethren who made the ultimate sacrifice during the First World War, which resulted in the erection of UGLE's current headquarters at Freemasons' Hall.

It is why Buckinghamshire is known as the only Hall Stone Province in English Freemasonry, and can boast the unique distinction of being the sole and proud wearer of such a jewel. Read more about the Hall Stone Jewels here.

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