Following several months of building work, the new refurbished Berkshire Library and Museum of Freemasonry has been opened by their Provincial Grand Master Anthony Howlett-Bolton, in the presence of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton
Also in attendance for the opening was Dr Vicky Carroll, Director of the Museum of Freemasonry at Freemasons’ Hall in London, the Mayor of Wokingham and a number of invited guests.
The Library and Museum was started in 1896 at the Masonic Hall in Reading. It was created by the members of Grey Friars Lodge No. 1101 with assistance from members of other lodges in Reading. It was moved to the Berkshire Masonic Centre in Sindlesham in 1969, but space was not available, so all the contents were put into storage.
By 2002, a small, somewhat pokey, room was found and part of the contents were put on display, however, space was still at a premium, so the majority of the contents were kept in storage. This has all now been consolidated into two rooms in Sindlesham with state of the art display and racking with additional modern storage space developed elsewhere in the building.
When the Library and Museum moved to Sindlesham, it was funded by the sale of regalia donated to the Province and donations from individual masons and lodges. The then Librarian and Curator, Roger White, was still purchasing artefacts as when they became available so add to the collection.
The museum collections contain items of ceramics, glassware, regalia, jewels and a lot of other items such as horse brass, gavels, watches, paperweights, cufflinks and similar memorabilia. There is even have an American casket handle. There are about 3,500 items altogether some of which are more than 200 years old.
The library itself houses over 20,000 books on Freemasonry, including many rare editions – making the collection one of the largest in England. In addition to books, there are over 3,000 certificates, prints, postcards, photographs and other archival items, as well as a reference database in excess of 90,000 records. These collections continue to increase in size and provide a very valuable resource for reference and research by masons and non-masons alike.
Although the library was primarily established for the interest, education and information of its own members, it is also used by members of the general public wanting information on Freemasonry, or those researching the masonic membership of their ancestors. Equally, over the years, they have had a number of students using their resources to research materials for their academic degrees.
Anthony Howlett-Bolton, Berkshire’s Provincial Grand Master, said: ‘Whilst it has been something of a rollercoaster challenge to bring this project to fruition over several years, I am delighted that we have now succeeded in establishing this new facility and indeed as a consequence the provision of disabled access throughout the whole building.
‘All of this is a direct result of a very generous bequest from a former stalwart librarian Robin White whose unbounded enthusiasm resulted in the increase of the number of books from a few hundred to the sizeable number we hold today.’
Sir David Wootton, UGLE’s Assistant Grand Master, said: ‘In London, we are also of the firm view that it is important that we ensure that the history of Freemasonry and its rationale is more widely understood both by Freemasons and the wider community alike. To this end, we are taking significant steps to ensure that we play our part in raising the positive profile of Freemasonry with the full understanding that we have, have always had and will continue to have an important role to play in civil society as a whole.
‘With this in mind, it is pleasing to see that you have taken the opportunity to rationalise and fresh these facilities so as to make them more accessible to all. I understand that you have firm plans in mind to ensure that the inter-connected Library and Museum are open on a regular basis for much wider use and that whilst your library catalogue is already online, you intend to explore further the use of modern technology to enhance the users experience.’
A superb night was held at the Charles Lyne (Installed Masters) Lodge No. 2964 this month, as Monmouthshire Freemasons launched their 2024 Festival with a £50,000 donation to the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF)
The meeting included a presentation from Les Hutchinson, Chief Operating Officer of the MCF, on the work of the organisation before Richard Davies, Provincial Grand Master for Monmouthshire, presented Les with a cheque for £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. He also displayed to members the new festival tie and jewel.
Following the meeting, members were entertained by the talented group of young people from Chordis Caerllion. Richard Davies together with David Powell, Provincial Grand Master of the Mark Master Masons of Monmouthshire, were very proud to support Chordis Caerllion, as they presented them with new percussion instruments.
Thousands of men with prostate cancer will be able to avoid the damaging side effects of surgery thanks to a new research scanner that will be installed in Norwich
Thanks to fundraising by Norfolk Freemasons, a state-of-the-art Affymetrix Microarray Scanner will be used to differentiate between the majority of harmless prostate cancers, known as pussycat cancers, and the 10 per cent which are aggressive, known as tiger cancers.
The Freemasons raised not only the £144,000 needed for the scanner, which will be in a new screening laboratory at the University of East Anglia, but also another £46,000 for prostate cancer research.
On top of that, the Masonic Charitable Foundation have given a grant of £100,000 to further fund the research project.
Up until now there has been no way for doctors to tell the difference between the two types of the cancer, which led to tens of thousands of men having unnecessary operations with serious side-effects including incontinence and impotence.
Each operation costs the NHS £7,500 to perform, so there are also significant savings to be made from performing less unnecessary surgery.
The clinical research team behind the test, which is enabled by the scanner, is led by Professor Colin Cooper, who is developing the new test after a laboratory breakthrough made using artificial intelligence.
He is hoping to raise £2 million to continue his vital research into this condition over the next three years, to create the new clinical test.
Prof Cooper said: 'I am extremely grateful to Norfolk Freemasons for their generous grant, which will fund not only the scanner itself, but also the continuing research into prostate cancer. Many lives will be saved as a result and many unnecessary operations will be avoided, saving patients from some very unpleasant side-effects. There is a critical problem at the moment of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer.'
Prof Cooper had been working on the issue for 15 years, but it was only when he came to the University of East Anglia (UEA) he was able to get to the bottom of the issue. His research will be the only of its sort in the country, and could have ramifications worldwide.
Norfolk's Provincial Grand Master Stephen Allen, said: 'I'm delighted that we've been able to not only achieve our goal of buying the scanner, but we've raised more than double the amount needed. This will allow us to make a very significant contribution to Professor Cooper's ongoing research.'
Surrey Freemasons completed their 2019 Festival Appeal on 11 May 2019, with over 650 guests attending a banquet at Guildford Cathedral – as it was announced they had raised over £3.3 million for the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI)
Jonathan Spence, Deputy Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, was in attendance, alongside Ian Chandler, Provincial Grand Master for Surrey Freemasons, with his Executive organisers and members of the Province and their partners. The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) and RMBI Executives and Trustees were also present, including Managing Director Mark Lloyd and Chair Sir Paul Williams.
The RMBI was established in Surrey back in 1850 with the opening of the very first home in Croydon otherwise known as the 'Asylum for Worthy, Aged and Decayed Freemasons'. Nowadays, the RMBI is a charity providing affordable care facilities for the elderly across the UK. In Surrey they are lucky to have two RMBI homes – James Terry Court in Croydon and Shannon Court in Hindhead.
Paul Crockett, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Surrey and Chair of the Festival, said: ‘All of the people who work and volunteer in every home will make sure that our donations make a positive difference to people’s lives; helping to keep our loved ones feeling safe, preventing isolation and loneliness and wrapping that warm blanket of security around them.’
The Province has raised over £3.3 million over the last five years through its hard work and ongoing efforts. Various fundraising events have taken place during this time from descending down the longest and fastest zip wire in Europe raising over £35,000, and a charity ball and auction of celebrity memorabilia raising £55,000, to Ian himself completing a triathlon where he raised over £10,000.
Announcing the grand total of £3,313,470, Mark Lloyd said: ‘Sincere thanks to the Lodge Charity Stewards, fundraisers and members of the Province, and their Ladies, for all they have done over the years of the Appeal. Your enthusiasm and hard work is greatly appreciated and has certainly made a huge difference to the lives of a great many.’
Sir Paul Williams OBE, responding to the announcement of the grand total, said: ‘The per capita return of your last Festival has been massively increased from £387 to £532 for this, demonstrating that Surrey truly is committed to caring about the RMBI. Everything we do and achieve is made possible by the generous support of Freemasons and their families, so I would like to thank you on behalf of every person who will benefit from this tremendous display of support.’
Responding to Jonathan Spence’s toast to the Festival President, Ian Chandler said: ‘Everyone who has contributed to this appeal has done so in the knowledge that they were helping in providing a safe and comfortable home for the residents of all the homes, especially at James Terry Court and Shannon Court where we have all witnessed first-hand the quality of care.
‘Also, while giving priority to our appeal we have not ignored local charities who have received at least a quarter of a million pounds a year. Also, while giving priority to our appeal we have not ignored local charities who have received at least a quarter of a million pounds a year maintaining our support for the community of Surrey. This is something we should all be very proud of.’
The banquet was ended in magnificent style with a firework display over the Cathedral lawn brilliantly choreographed to the finale of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture.
The Human Milk Foundation has teamed up with SERV Norfolk to give mums across Norfolk access to donated breast milk – thanks to a £8,776 donation from Norfolk Freemasons to purchase the vital specialised breast milk storage fridge
This will give support to mothers in the community whose babies need short-term donor milk to help establish their own milk supply, or where they are unable to breastfeed for medical or practical reasons. The donor breast milk hub is the very first of its kind and will be located in Norwich.
Dr Natalie Shenker from The Human Milk Foundation said: ‘We are overjoyed to have received this support to establish the very first Human Milk Foundation donor milk hub. This will help more mothers across Norfolk to donate their milk, including those who have been sadly bereaved.
‘Donor milk will be more easily available to the hospitals in Norfolk caring for very sick or premature babies, for whom human milk can be lifesaving, as well as to mothers diagnosed with cancer or other illnesses that mean they cannot breastfeed. This will be a model which can be rolled out across the country.’
Transport will be provided by SERV Norfolk, whose blood bike volunteers currently carry blood, plasma, platelets, samples and vaccines to hospitals.
SERV Norfolk Operations Manager Colin Farrington added: ‘We have quietly been working on this project for a while, but the funding from Norfolk Freemasons means we can now move forward. It will also reduce the number of journeys to the milk banks in Cambridge and Hertfordshire currently made by the SERV Norfolk volunteers.’
Stephen Allen, Norfolk Freemasons Provincial Grand Master, presented the cheque to Dr Natalie Shenker from The Human Milk Foundation and Colin Farrington SERV Norfolk Operations Manager.
Stephen said: ‘We have previously supported SERV Norfolk with three bikes and local lodges have also given their own financial support. The donated breast milk hub is a first for Norfolk. We saw the need and are proud to fund the specialist fridge to get the service up and running and benefit the community.'
Excited interest and conversation filled the evening reception in Kings Heath on the 23rd May, as Worcestershire’s ‘Bring a Friend’ event attracted over 80 people – including 28 potential new members – many accompanied with their partners or sponsors
There were thoughtful presentations by Membership Officer Mike Dykes and his team who represented their experience since joining, whilst there were many questions and answers exchanged between guests and members.
The event was opened with a welcome by Worcestershire's Provincial Grand Master Robert Vaughan.
Local Freemason Alan Bolton, with restrained formality and good humour, added an introduction to the customary proceedings of the Festive Board, including an after dinner account of ‘The Masonic mumblings of a rural Rector’ by Rev Justin Parker.
Historic stained glass windows have been returned to Barnstaple in Devonshire after 30 years
When St Mary Magdalene Church in Devonshire – built in 1842 – was demolished in 1988, it was to make way for a new inner relief road. That was until the Honourable Glaziers Company stepped in to rescue a pair of stained glass windows which depicted the building and Dedication of King Solomon’s Temple.
Those stained glass windows have lain since then in the cellar of Glaziers Hall in London. However, through the offices of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton, who is also Worshipful Master of the Glaziers Company, the windows have been returned to members of Loyal Lodge No. 251 which meets in Barnstaple.
On 17th May 2019, Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, Ian Roome, Mayor of Barnstaple, Alison Mills, Manager of Barnstaple’s Museum, and Robert Patterson, specialist glass Restorer, together with Roger Moore, Worshipful Master of Loyal Lodge, and members of the lodge accompanied by their families, welcomed members of the Worshipful Company of Glaziers.
The windows are an outstanding historical artefact which commemorates the life of a prominent member of the Barnstaple community and Past Master of Loyal Lodge, John Thomas Britton (1790 to 1855), and is a small piece of local history.
Thomas Britton was an active member within the community and of St Mary Magdalene’s Church. It was in 1859 that the members of Loyal Lodge decided that as a permanent memorial they would commission the stained glass south window of the Church to be dedicated to his memory.
In 1843, John Britton took a leading role in the acquisition of what is known as the Bath Furniture consisting of some of the finest masonic chairs, pedestals and pillars still in existence anywhere in the masonic world.
During the meeting a resume of the history of the windows and St. Mary Magdalene Church was very ably given by Estcourt Miller. In presenting the windows, Sir David Wootton said how pleased they were to be able to return them to North Devon and to know that in due course they will be displayed so prominently for all to see.
The Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass are one of the ancient livery companies of the City of London, its origins dating back to the 14th century. Through its charity – The Glaziers Foundation – it supports education, the training of stained glass artists, together with the conservation of stained glass and are devoted to promoting the art and craft of stained glass.
Roger Moore formally accepted possession of the windows and thanked all those who had been involved in their return and eventual display in the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon when their refurbishment of the building is complete.
A special event took place in the Province of Monmouthshire at the meeting of the Albert Edward Prince of Wales Lodge No. 1429, with a presentation to Colin Biggs on what was the 50th anniversary of his initiation into the Lodge – to the day
The ceremony for the evening was undertaken by the Worshipful Master Keri Phillips, who initiated Kenneth Coppard, able assisted by the officers of the lodge.
This was then followed by the presentation of a 50 year certificate to Colin Biggs by the Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Monmouthshire Robert Arundel. The certificate itself was also signed by the Provincial Grand Master of Monmouthshire Richard Davies.
Dorset Freemasons have donated £500 to support dementia care in the local community
Lodge of Friendship and Sincerity No. 472, who meet in Shaftesbury, were approached by a local care company asking for help to purchase a new piece of technology to help their clients.
An interactive games machine has been designed to help numerous clients, but in particular those with early to mid-stage dementia. The lodge readily agreed to help and pledged £250.
A matching amount from the Provincial Grand Master’s discretionary fund was also pledged. The care company, Tricuro, have now raised the necessary funds of nearly £10,000 and the lodge was delighted to present a cheque for £500 to them.
Graham Glazier, Provincial Grand Master for Dorset, said: This type of donation is typical of the care and attention Dorset Freemasons put into their communities. Kindness is at the core of our masonic values – we believe in playing a key role in our communities and give time and money to charitable ventures.’
Nottinghamshire Freemasons hosted a special evening at their headquarters on 5 April 2019, where they donated £8,000 in recognition and support of the life-saving work on prostate cancer carried out by Jyoti Shah and Sarah Minns
Jyoti Shah, Macmillan Consultant Urological Surgeon with University Hospitals of Derby & Burton NHS Foundation Trust, along with Sarah Minns, specialist Macmillan Nurse, operate an innovative health campaign designed to raise awareness of prostate cancer and alleviate the ‘fear factor’ of being screened.
The ‘Inspire Health: Fighting Prostate Cancer’ campaign, which has been running since early 2016, enables men to seek advice and get screened by visiting a ‘pop-up’ clinic in venues based within local communities across the region where they feel more comfortable and which are easily accessible. There is no charge to attend a screening event, with costs covered by donations and fundraising.
When it comes to prostate cancer, the numbers are damning. In this country, prostate cancer claims a new victim every 45 minutes. It is the number one cancer in men, with one in eight men over the age of 50 being diagnosed.
At the event, held at their headquarters in Goldsmith Street, Nottingham, both Jyoti Shah and Sarah Minns were in attendance, alongside Philip Marshall, the Provincial Grand Master of Nottinghamshire, his wife Ann, along with other masonic leaders, their spouses and partners. Other attendees includes VIPs from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, and local Freemasons and their spouses and partners, gathered in support of this life-saving campaign.
Whilst handing over a cheque for £8,000 to Jyoti and Sarah, Philip Marshall said: 'Nottinghamshire Freemasons are proud to be associated with this campaign which, though based in Derbyshire, benefits the male population of Nottinghamshire where several screening sessions have taken place.'
Jyoti and Sarah Minns were also presented with two other cheques, each for £1,000, from other masonic leaders.
Also in attendance at the event were volunteers from Derbyshire Blood Bikes, co-ordinator, Mark Vallis, and Nottinghamshire Blood Bikes, Jim McRury. The former being presented with a cheque for £1,000 and the latter £500. Mark personally delivers blood samples from the screening sessions, wherever in the UK), to the lab at Queens Hospital, Burton, on a twice-daily basis. The Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes provide a free transportation service to the National Health Service.
For more information on prostate cancer screening, please contact your GP.