Having seen Buckinghamshire’s Provincial Grand Master John Clark put through 26 miles of intense rowing along the River Thames to raise £7,000 for charity back in June 2019, two double kayaks used for the challenge have now been donated
John Clark completed the challenge alongside Assistant Provincial Grand Master Gary Brodie to raise the money in aid of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The kayaks they used on the day have now been handed over to the Jubilee River Riverside Centre to help people with disabilities get on the water.
As a result of the initial donation from the Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund, in conjunction with the Slough Masonic Centre, the Jubilee River Riverside Centre have applied for further funding for additional Kayaks designed specifically for people with disabilities.
Moving forwards, the Slough Masonic Centre plan to work closely with the Riverside Centre to help with its work in sports, youth work and for tackling environmental issues.
If you would like to support The Paddle Challenge you can donate by clicking here.
Four Swansea Freemasons set out on a gruelling 175-mile one-day ‘Home from Home’ ride from Llandudno to Porthcawl to raise funds for the 2021 festival, in aid of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI)
Simon Francis, Derek Johnson, Jason Thomas and Richard Owen – all members of an informal cycling club – had come up with the idea of cycling between two RMBI homes during the planning of the upcoming festival events.
The day of the ‘Home from Home’ event on 22 June 2019 was sunny with a cooling breeze, and after a 4.30am start at the Queen Elizabeth Court RMBI nursing home in Llandudno, the team set off at a relatively gentle pace towards Blaenau Festiniog. There a respite from the energy-sapping gradients of Snowdonia was taken before a gentler run down to Machynlleth and then Aberystwyth.
However, the mid-Wales stage of the ride was more challenging than expected. Organiser and lead rider Simon Francis commented: ‘The combination of steady headwinds and relatively gentle but long climbs made this stage a real test of endurance and toughness for all the riders.”
Fortunately, the rest of the journey via Ammanford and Swansea was easier. The team was joined for the last 35 miles by Alison Aberdeen, the manager of the Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court Nursing Home in Porthcawl, which was also their ultimate destination.
Simon commented that: ‘Everyone had to dig deep to get the ride done in one day – it was very challenging, and it was an honour to have had such a team to do it with. Without exception everyone performed admirably and it was fantastic that we were able to raise £12,500 for such a good cause.’
The cheque for the money raised from the ride was presented by the group to the Provincial Grand Master of South Wales Gareth Jones and Chairman of the 2021 Festival Sir Paul Williams, at the PGM’s Summer Ball held in Brangwyn Hall on 29 June, where it was gratefully received.
Simon concluded: ‘Events like these, where members capitalise on a passion or a skill to raise much-needed funds, are really important.
'Not only do we set ourselves a challenging personal task, but in doing so we are able to raise a significant amount of money, in this case for the RMBI, and to support our Province in reaching its £5 million target during our festival period.’
The new Devonshire Provincial Grand Lodge Offices were officially opened with much pomp by their Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury on 9th August 2019, with the cutting of the Craft blue ribbon at the main entrance to the offices
The occasion was watched by their executive team and many Provincial Grand Secretaries both past and present and accompanied by champagne and a Provincial cake which had been made especially for the day.
The new offices which are located at 7 Harrier Court, Exeter Airport, Exeter, are a vast improvement on the previous office being bright, modern and spacious. They are located on two floors, an open office area and a meeting room on the first floor and a second meeting room and storage space on the ground floor.
It has taken a long time in the planning and the eventual purchase of the new premises will be seen as a major step forward for the future of the Province.
A lot of hard work has been undertaken in completing the move from Richmond Road by the Provincial Secretary Richard Ebrey and Assistant Secretary Tony Jordan, alongside considerable help from Rem Locton and Adrian Rogers.
Ian Kingsbury said that It had taken a lot of searching to find the new offices, but the wait had been worth it as these premises had everything needed to take the Province onwards into a bright new future.
Louth’s new Masonic Hall has come a step closer with the laying of a commemorative foundation stone by Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master Dave Wheeler
The next stage in the building’s history will be the addition of roof trusses, which is expected during September 2019 – writing the next chapter of a story which began in 2010.
Fund Secretary Ian Castledine said: ‘We first looked into moving premises in 2010 when it looked as though we might lose our car parking facilities in Queen Street due to re-development in the town.
‘We looked at several buildings around the town, but could find nothing suitable. Then, due to the ongoing costs of keeping the building in a good state of repair and seeing what the Skegness brethren had achieved we decided to look again.’
Early in 2017 a questionnaire was sent to members of both of Louth’s Craft lodges asking the question: ‘should we stay or should we go?’ The majority was in favour of going, if new premises could be built.
‘We found the current building site in Bolingbroke Road on the Fairfield Industrial Estate, and the owner allowed us to buy it when we had sold existing site and received planning permission,’ added Ian. ‘Our old premises went on the market in 2017 and permission was granted last September.’
Contracts on the old building were exchanged at the end of November, and members moved out. Everything except the lodges’ warrants are in storage and meetings have been taking place principally at Alford and Skegness Centre, but also Grimsby and Cleethorpes.
‘After some unforeseen delays, contracts were exchanged on the new site on 20th February this year, with building due to start on 8th April. In the event, a start wasn’t made until the second week in May, but the building is really taking shape now.’
Prostate cancer is now recognised as one of the greatest threats to the health of men in the United Kingdom and one in eight men will contract the disease at some time in their lives. Derbyshire Freemasons have been active in supporting Miss Jyoti Shah, consultant urologist at Burton hospital, in her initiative in getting men tested for the disease – an initiative which has undoubtedly saved lives
Derby Royal Infirmary were delighted when one Derbyshire Freemason, Mark Lee, who’s company manufactures plastic water bottles, made 5,000 re-usable bottles to be issued to men who are attending for testing.
Part of the test requires them to drink a measured amount of water and the bottle has been made to the exact size required. This is a great benefit to the nursing staff who no longer have to keep checking the amount the patient has drunk. The bottles proudly bear the square and compasses and are free for the patient to keep, take home and re-use.
A strong delegation of Derbyshire Freemasons were on hand to make the presentation including the Provincial Grand Master Steven Varley, who commented: ‘This is a fantastic initiative which continues our efforts to do all we can to help people to get tested for prostate cancer so treatment can be started as soon as possible where necessary.
‘We are always delighted to help Derby Royal Infirmary with their wonderful work in any way we can – it’s part of our ongoing commitment to support the community.’
Anthony Henderson, Bedfordshire’s Provincial Grand Master, announced the exciting news that work has now begun on a new Accommodation and Amenities Lodge for Bedfordshire Scouts – following a £500,000 donation from Bedfordshire Freemasons
The Lodge, which will accommodate 40 Scouts and eight Leaders – and even more during the day – has abled and disabled facilities, as well as a kitchen, drying room and a large activities area. It has a log cabin appearance and is designed to blend in with the 17-acre ancient woodland in which it will be built.
Following the arrival of the first delivery of logs, Bedfordshire Freemasons held a BBQ and log laying ceremony at the Leslie Sells Activity Centre on 4th August 2019, where all those present were able to see the size and footprint of the building, which is due to be complete by Spring 2020.
Anthony Henderson said: ‘To mark our Tercentenary – celebrating 300 years of Freemasonry in 2017 – we in Bedfordshire wanted to create a lasting legacy that would benefit our Province for many years to come. We discussed ideas with a number of Bedfordshire-based charities and decided to support the Scouts, because we felt we shared common values and the inscription I wrote on the First Log laid, ‘Freemasonry and Scouting – Sharing One Ethos’, reflects our shared aims and values.
‘The lodge we are providing for Bedfordshire Scouts should last for in excess of 100 years. We hope it will bring great joy to many hundreds of thousands of Scouts over the coming years. I would like to take this opportunity to place on record, my most sincere thanks to the members of Bedfordshire, for their truly amazing support and generosity. Without your support and enthusiasms, we could not have created this amazing building.
‘I would also like to thank all those companies and individuals who have donated goods and services – valued at just under £100,000 – to help us deliver this project. I look forward to next Spring, when the lodge should be echoing to the sound of Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts, Explorers Scouts and the Scout Network enjoying themselves.’
Scott Robert, County Chairman of Bedfordshire Scouts, said: ‘We were approached some four years ago by Bedfordshire Freemasons, to explore how we could work together for the benefit of Scouting in Bedfordshire. We had known for many years that our existing accommodation facilities were no longer fit for purpose, but just did not have the money to replace them.
‘When the Freemasons first approached us, we hoped they might make a donation towards replacing our accommodation facilities. We never imagined that they would design, construct and most importantly pay for a 48 Bed State of the Art Accommodation Lodge. On behalf of Bedfordshire Scouting and all the tens of thousands of Scouts, not just from Bedfordshire, but from across the whole of the UK and the world, who will use this facility, I would like to place on record, our most grateful thanks to Bedfordshire Freemasons for their most generous donation.’
Bedfordshire Freemason Terry Thurley undertook a sponsored Wing Walk to raise £10,000 for the Bedfordshire Provincial Grand Lodge Appeal to build a new Accommodation Lodge for Bedfordshire Scouts
When Bedfordshire’s Provincial Grand Master Anthony Henderson heard what Terry was planning to do he pronounced: ‘He must be bonkers.’
Terry, Master of Bedfordshire Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards No. 9577, proceeded to take on the feat of standing on the wings of a 75 year old Boeing Stearman bi plane, as it flew over the Cotswold countryside at 130mph.
Terry said: ‘To be Master of any lodge is a great honour, but to be Installed as Master of a Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge is very special privilege, so I wanted to do something to say thank you to the lodge for electing me as their Master.
‘In Bedfordshire we are building a new 48 bed state of the art Accommodation and Amenities Lodge for Bedfordshire Scouts. To help raise the £500,000 needed, I enlisted the assistance of members of the Bedfordshire Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards, to ask their Mother Lodges/Lodges they were associated with, whether they would consider sponsoring my wing walk.
‘We only asked them to consider sponsoring me for £1 plus Gift Aid, which would have raised around £2,000. We were surprised, but absolutely delighted, that many members and lodges and chapters dug deep into their pockets and raised over five times what we expected.
‘I was initially very apprehensive taking on the challenge, but once I was air born and travelling at 130mph over the beautiful Cotswold countryside, I started to relaxed and then I became exhilarated by the experience.’
When asked if he would do it again, Terry replied, ‘I may be bonkers, but I’m not totally mad!’
Devonshire Freemasons have given the Exeter based charity Balloons a grant of £10,500 over three years to help in the support of the very worthwhile work they undertake
Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Freemasons, and Dr. Reuben Ayres, Provincial Grand Charity Steward, visited the offices of Balloons to present them with a certificate denoting the grant which was funded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) where they met up with Sara Bennett Balloons CEO who kindly showed them round the offices while explaining the work they do with bereaved children and young people in Exeter, Mid and East Devon.
Balloons was first conceived by a small group of healthcare professionals who didn’t have anywhere to refer bereaved children for specialist support. They applied to the lottery who supplied start-up funding back in February 2007. Their services provide grief support to children and young people between the ages of 5 & 25 throughout Exeter, Mid and East Devon. They give one to one support sessions, activity days, family events together with a telephone helpline and training for professionals. They also provide support before an expected bereavement, helping the children to prepare for life without a loved one.
When presenting the certificate denoting the £10,500 given by the Freemasons of Devonshire and the MCF Ian Kingsbury said that after listening to the stories of support and help that are given by the team at Balloons to so many young children he is more than gratified that this sum of money will in some small way enable the much needed work to continue long into the future.
Sara Bennett replied ‘We are absolutely delighted to have been granted funds from the Freemasons of Devonshire. We are a small and local charity and as such we rely heavily on the generosity of our donors to support our work, and are delighted that the freemasons have seen the value of what we do. In 2018 we provided one to one support to 161 children and young people, and with this injection of funds we know that we will be able to continue to support grieving children when they are at their most vulnerable going forwards. Thank you’
Some of the comments by the children who have received the help from the team at Balloons were:
‘Since Mummy died, talking to my Balloons lady is really good because she doesn’t mind if I get upset but Daddy really minds. He says he wants me to be happy’ – demonstrating the need for a neutral third person for the child to talk to
‘Since Dad died my feelings are all over the place. I feel like hurting people. I don’t hit anyone, but I say mean things…working with Balloons is helping me a lot. No one can bring Dad back but I can get my feelings out and look at them and understand them a bit better’
Sited in the 12th century Quire, the organ at Canterbury Cathedral had lost its once magnificent orchestral colour. Trusted organ builders, Harrison & Harrison, and the Cathedral’s expert team of craftspeople are sensitively restoring the organ to its full and beautiful voice in time for the Lambeth Conference in July 2020 and indeed for the hundreds of thousands of people who journey to this special place each year
In 2017, the Provinces of East Kent, West Kent, Surrey and Sussex generously donated the sum of £200,000 to go towards the Building Restoration Project of Canterbury Cathedral. The Province of East Kent also gifted £50,000 towards the Organ Restoration Project.
Samantha Royle, Trust and Research Manager said: ‘All at Canterbury are enormously grateful to the East Kent Freemasons for your outstanding support of this transformative project. Thank you so very much.’
With the organ off-site for restoration, there is a once in a lifetime opportunity to address urgent fabric repairs in the historic Quire. With claims to be the earliest Gothic structure in Britain, the Quire’s style was a direct import from France and changed the face of English medieval architecture.
The coherence and almost perfect homogeneity of its choir, east transept, unfinished eastern tower, and Romanesque side chapels are still evident and these were seen at the time of inscription as one of the most beautiful architectural spaces of Early Gothic art. 2,240 pipes forming the Pedal Open Wood, Choir, Solo and Transept Great organs have been installed and voiced in the North Triforium.
A further 3,367 pipes for the South Triforium organ, consisting of the Solo Tubas, Pedal, Great and Swell organs are scheduled to arrive in late July. The separate Nave organ, playable from the Quire console, has its own 498 pipes, bringing the total number of pipes controllable from the Quire organ console to 6,105. Working in a busy Cathedral such as Canterbury has many challenges. Loading and unloading wagons and voicing has mostly had to happen after hours.
Programming and dovetailing the organ work alongside not only the Opus Dei but also many other ongoing projects and events has to be carefully planned so that all can somehow co-exist. The console includes all the aids which an organist can expect in order to make the very best use of this large instrument. It has been designed by Harrisons’ craftsmen and is similar to the console in the Royal Festival Hall. It has been kept as low as possible so that it fits neatly into the aspect of the Quire and it looks very elegant.
2019 will see the organ complete but not entirely finished, since the voicing and fine adjustment of the south side in tandem with the north will take the project into 2020.
Neil Johnstone, Provincial Grand Master of East Kent, said: ‘Supporting the restoration of such a wonderful musical instrument has brought pleasure to so many over the years, and long may it continue to do so. We are always pleased to help the Cathedral when we can.’
Last year, Cheshire’s Provincial Grand Master Stephen Blank set a challenge to members to organise an event promoting awareness and building support for the Cheshire Freemasons Charity
John Miller was first to step forward and so developed the idea of organising a sponsored bike ride from Chester to London, utilising only the intricate canal network and towpaths that weave between Cheshire’s’ county town and capital city.
The route was agreed from the Masonic Hall in Queen Street, Chester, to Freemasons’ Hall at Great Queen Street following the Shropshire Union Canal to Wolverhampton, then the routes through Birmingham, picking up the Grand Union Canal near Solihull and following that into the heart of London, some 230 miles and crossing several masonic Provinces.
The team consisted of 16 riders with a support team of two and given the rough terrain and general riding conditions it was agreed to limit each day to between 40 and 50 miles allowing the challenge to be completed within five or six days. Riders were tasked with raising sponsorship and several Cheshire businesses sponsored the exclusive team shirts produced in order to support logistical costs such as travel, accommodation and food.
A black tie benefit event was also held within the Province which greatly contributed to the costs of the task ahead. To make the most of the fine English weather, the departure date was set for 6th June and the Deputy Provincial Grand Master David Dyson was present to see the team off safely from the Chester start point, and the Provincial Grand Master put a date in his diary to meet the exhausted riders outside the doors of Great Queen Street on the 11th June, what could possibly go wrong? The answer is Storm Miguel – which for three days of the journey tested each and every rider for their tenacity, and for how waterproof their kit truly was.
In the main the team discovered that waterproofs aren’t that effective in the face of a tropical storm, and indeed for two of the riders who managed to fall in to the canal, and are now affectionately referred to as the ‘Cheshire Splash Masters’. Cheshire’s Provincial Office reached out to Provinces that the riders would pass through en route.
Shropshire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire were all kind enough to offer a warm welcome and kind words of encouragement, as well as contributions, a true reflection of communication, commitment and teamwork by Freemasons. It is noteworthy that during the ride, many conversations with members of the public took place, lifting the profile of Freemasonry in general, and additional contributions were made by many of these non-Masons met along the way in support of the rider’s objectives.
A joint effort between the riders and HQ meant the Communications team were able to promote the event on social media platforms, using the dynamic mapping of GPS, daily blogs and great pictures sent by the riders each day.
Followers loved watching the daily progress made by the cyclists. The event organiser, John Miller, was keen to ensure the fundraising aims were kept clearly in the spotlight throughout the event via the online donation link and ‘interviewed’ members of the team at each overnight stay so this could be broadcast. The ride ended with the entire team completing the journey.
The total fundraising was then announced that over £22,000, which this was increased at Quarterly Communications the following day when the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes made a donation to the Cheshire Freemasons Charity of a further £1,000.