On a sunny Saturday in August, members of the Light Blue Club, some 48 in total, all arrived at The White Hart in Loughborough, to begin the first Magical Mystery Bus Tour
Arriving in Hawaiian shirts, which was the dress code for the day, the members were in good spirits and excited about the day ahead.
The day was organised by Freddie Harris, of Beacon Lodge No. 5208, and Andrew Yorke, of Highcross Lodge No. 4835, and proved to be a great opportunity for the members to meet up during the summer break, blow off some steam and have a good time together.
Visiting picturesque establishments in Walton on the Wolds, Hoby, Sileby, Rearsby, Thrussington, and Quorn to name but a few the journey on the vintage double decker bus was most enjoyable.
There were even a few non-masons on the tour; one is joining Highcross Lodge very soon and another enjoyed it so much, meeting the members plus hearing about all the good deeds undertaken by Freemasons, that he has just applied to join Beacon Lodge.
At the end of the tour, they all returned to Loughborough, where the venue had live music and bands playing throughout the rest of the evening. £100 was also raised for Leicestershire's 2022 Festival appeal.
Cheshire Masters’ and Masons’ Forum (MMF) recently ‘took over’ Freemasons Hall in an initiative bringing Freemasons, their families and non-Masonic friends together for a unique gathering in the iconic home of the United Grand Lodge of England
It was June 2017 when Paul Massie, Assistant Provincial Grand Master with responsibility for overseeing the MMF, first approached the Provincial Grand Master Stephen Blank with the idea of inviting Masonic and non-Masonic guests from around the country to take part in a day that would be remembered by all involved. The event would consist of a Masonic Lecture and a Masonic ceremony performed by a team of MMF members from lodges across the Province of Cheshire plus a tour of Freemasons Hall for friends and family during the day – a real family occasion. With the Provincial Grand Master's enthusiastic approval, the date was set for Saturday 18 August 2018.
Invitations were sent to all 1,600 members of the MMF, inviting them to be part of a 22 strong team of light blue masons. From applications received the team was selected, its memberships ranging from one to 10 years, each keen to play their part in this unique opportunity.
The ceremony work was divided up so that all team members could play an active part, the initial challenge being the differences in ritual the members were used to performing. Director of Ceremonies Mike Christian (Preceptor of the 100 of Wirral Emulation Lodge of Instruction, No. 39) was tasked to use his experience to train the members in Emulation Ritual and create a well-rehearsed team fitting of the big occasion.
Whilst the team worked hard to perfect the ceremony, the organising committee were busy building a special website, arranging finances and the logistics necessary to put on such an event so far from Cheshire. Tony Harvey was delighted to be invited to present his 2012 Prestonian Lecture ‘Scouting and Freemasonry: two parallel organisations?’ as part of the day’s events. Harvey, a renowned Scouter and Freemason, had recently attended a meeting of West Cheshire Lodge No. 2977, the newly appointed Scouting Lodge in Cheshire, where he and Massie gave presentations on Scouting and Freemasonry and updated those present regarding the MMF event. Tony adapted his lecture to make it suitable for his Masonic and non-Masonic audience.
By midday on Saturday, guests had arrived from 17 Provinces including the District of South Africa (Western Division) and were escorted through the North doors leading up to the beautiful marbled mezzanine area in front of the main temple. Here they were able to view the temple itself as the doors were open to allow full access. The guests then moved to Lodge Room 10 and Tony Harvey delivered his Lecture and answered questions.
It was then time for the non-masonic guests to enjoy the pre-arranged tour of the Hall, the members remained to watch the delivery of the second degree ceremony – this would be a one off display by the 22 members who had come together and worked so hard for this moment. The ceremony started with the entrance of the Provincial Grand Master to music played by David Roberts-Jones. What followed was an exemplary example of teamwork with the brethren performing a faultless ceremony and tracing board.
The changes of personnel was seamless and a fine example of how ceremonies can be shared. Towards the end, the Provincial Grand Master addressed the meeting, highlighting the aims of the event and his pride at witnessing the excellent ceremony which had been performed by relatively inexperienced Freemasons from his Province. He thanked the organising committee for the work which had been done and Manor Lodge No. 4202 for allowing the ceremony to be conducted under their banner.
This event, sponsored by the Cheshire Masters’ and Masons’ Forum, is the first by any Province where a Provincial Light Blue Masons Club has invited and encouraged members from other Provinces and their New Young Masons Club (NYMC), together with their non-masonic guests, to attend and enjoy a day of social and Masonic activity together.
It is hoped this flagship Freemasons Hall event will encourage similar ones to be held in the future, where both Freemasons and non-masons can meet to enjoy a day of suitably arranged activities, possibly sponsored by different clubs around the country.
In the future, the Cheshire MMF will be hosting a range of events including team competitions amongst its members with questions on Masonic and General Knowledge, various local and provincial social events, Masonic lectures, visits to Lodges both within and outside of the Province of Cheshire and more ceremonies performed by MMF volunteers. The efforts and success of the Masters’ and Masons’ Forum will play an important part in the growth of Freemasonry within Cheshire over the years to come.
At the end of February 2018, members of the Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blue Club travelled to Rome in order to visit the Keats and Shelley Lodge No. 1, on the register of the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy
The brethren had an early departure from Stansted Airport on a morning flight and arrived in Rome well before lunch where the weather was somewhat inclement and to be later described during their visit as some of the worst rainfall they had seen in the city.
Despite this, they started on a tourist trail around the city taking sights including the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, Pantheon, Vatican, and the Altare della Patri (Alter of the Fatherland). On arriving at the Cinabro Masonic Hall, the Light Blue Club were warmly welcomed by the brethren of the lodge; a mixture of expats, members travelling from the UK and Italians.
The lodge room was small but perfectly formed. A ceiling of small lights created a great star scape with lighting around the edge, representing the sunrise and sunset together with night and day, which made for an impressive sight. The lodge meeting itself was a Raising Ceremony which was performed in English and very recognisable.
After the meeting, the brethren enjoyed a fairly informal festive board of traditional Italian fayre which had been prepared by a member of the lodge.
The Light Blue Club then continued on to a second Lodge meeting at Santa Cecilia Lodge No. 180 which is a lodge of musical research. This truly was a different experience with the entire ceremony and lecture in Italian. Once the lecture, translated as, 'Orpheus and the trial, the story of a Thracian singer who became a mason', was complete there was further discussion before the lodge was closed.
Robert Reay, a member of the Light Blues Club and Highcross Lodge No. 4835, said: 'It was a fantastic trip and lodge visit. The Light Blue Club were made so welcome by the local brethren who have extended an invitation on to any other brother that may wish to visit.'
Brethren from all four craft lodges in Boston have attended the very first meeting to form a Light Blue Club committee for the Province of Lincolnshire, which has been setup for new and young Freemasons
Although the speeches had to compete with the local football club’s firework display during the meeting led by W Bro Gary Cadle, a committee was formed. All committee members are below Provincial rank and include a brother who had taken his Second Degree just two days previously, as well as many Master Masons who have not yet been through the chair of their Lodge.
The meeting followed the formation of Lincolnshire’s Light Blue Focus group by the Provincial Grand Master Graham Ives and overseen by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master. The group will help to set up similar clubs in the Province wherever there is a need – and there has already been interest from brethren across the Province. It is envisaged that although each club will be run separately, they will work under the Lincolnshire Light Blue Club Banner so that a member of one club will be able to attend events organised by any other club.
Many events will involve casual social activities open to anyone (masons, non-masons, partners and families) when invited by a member. The network of clubs will work under the DARE initiative, to Develop, Attract, Retain and Encourage, and it is predicted that through the social and Masonic activities organised, brethren and non-masons from across Lincolnshire will meet and enjoy companionship in a variety of ways.
W Bro Gary Cadle said: ‘It really has been encouraging to see Brethren from across Boston coming together so enthusiastically with the aim of increasing their Masonic knowledge and social circle. We have some great ideas for events and activities which we will be publicising across the Province soon.’
He added: ‘It would be great if we can work with other similar groups in Lincolnshire. We have already met with members of Light Blue Clubs from Warwickshire, London, Essex and Wales.”
Following the meeting, and as an indication of the social spirit of the new club, many members went for a meal at a local Indian restaurant.
Leicestershire and Rutland Freemason Paul Simpson is getting ready for the biggest challenge of his life when he cycles 300 miles for charity, as part of the celebrations of 300 years of English Freemasonry.
Paul, aged 51, is one of 20 Freemasons cycling to each of the 11 Masonic meeting places within Leicestershire and Rutland, followed by a hard slog to the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England at Freemasons' Hall.
When clocking up the 300 miles, they will take a short detour to the site of the former Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St Paul's Churchyard, London, where the first Grand Lodge was formed in June 1717 before they head back to Leicester.
Paul said: 'Little did I realise that when I purchased a bike for my 50th birthday in October 2015, in less than two years I would be attempting a 300 mile charity ride over four days.
'On my first ride I managed just six miles. I returned home out of breath and extremely hot and red faced due no doubt to the excess weight that I was carrying but my appetite for cycling was whetted.'
By July 2016, Paul had completed his first charity cycle ride, 40 miles for Archie’s Army, a charity set up to support a young boy with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. In April 2017, he completed the Rutland Sportive which covered 85 miles over the notorious Rutland hills.
After extensive training, and losing over two and half stone in weight, he is now ready to face the challenge of 300 miles in four consecutive days from Thursday 8th June 2017, which aims to raise £20,000 for the Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People in Loughborough and the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
The Masonic Charitable Foundation supports Freemasons and their families as well as providing more than five million pounds in grants to good causes across England and Wales.
David Innes, Chief Executive of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, said: 'We’re very grateful to Paul and his friends for making this magnificent effort in support of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. We wish them all the very best of luck on their journey and look forward to welcoming them to Freemasons Hall on 9th June.'
The Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People, based in Loughborough, provides care to those that are affected by life-limiting and life-threatening conditions.
Helen Lee-Smith, Head of Individual Giving at Rainbows, said: 'On behalf of everyone at Rainbows, I would like to thank Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons for supporting Rainbows with their 300 mile cycle ride to celebrate 300 years of Freemasonry.
'Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons are doing a wonderful thing raising funds to help us run the hospice - fundraising efforts make such a huge difference to both the children and young people at Rainbows and their families. We would like to wish them all the best for their challenge.'
You can donate to the team here.
Opening evening for the curious
Freemasons from lodges in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland were invited to bring their sons, friends and colleagues who might be interested in finding out more about the ancient fraternity to an open evening at Syston Masonic Hall on the 14th November 2016.
In the past three years, unlike the national trend, membership in the Province has seen a rise – particularly amongst younger masons who are keen to join and to mark the Tercentenary of United Grand Lodge of England in 2017. It is aimed to welcome 300 new members across Leicestershire and Rutland joining the 3,000 strong membership which meet in the 76 lodges across the two counties.
A total of 80 gentlemen accompanied by their hosts packed into the lodge room to listen to a number of short talks on what Freemasonry is, how it developed, why people join and charitable aspects which were given by W Bros Phillip Dodd, Brian Golland and Marc Taylor. Additionally Bro Andrew 'Jock' Keenan introduced the Light Blue Club which is the social club for newer members. It was so well attended that extra chairs had to be brought into the lodge room to accommodate everyone.
The Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro. David Hagger, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Jim Buckle and the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Peter Kinder were also in attendance to support the event and answer any questions from the guests.
After the talks, the guests and their hosts enjoyed a sumptuous buffet and a chance to chat with their hosts about masonry on a more casual basis.
The Provincial Grand Master said: 'We are finding that more and more younger people are attracted to Freemasonry as they seek a social environment with strong values and traditions that also supports the local community in charitable giving.'
He added: 'Whilst we would be delighted if our guests this evening consider joining our fraternity, I trust that they have all left with an extremely positive attitude about the Freemasons.'
Och Aye the Blue
The Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blue Club started their 2016 with a visit to Scotland and to two of the oldest masonic lodges in the world and to top it all off a visit to the beautiful Rosslyn Chapel.
On Tuesday 26th January 2016 the group left Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester by bus to travel to Kilwinning in Ayrshire to visit the Lodge Mother Kilwinning. The lodge is said to date back to the building of the abbey in 1140 and up until the formation of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1736 Kilwinning Lodge was in itself a grand lodge, issuing warrants and charters and is the reason that many Scottish lodges still hold the name Kilwinning in their name.
The Light Blue Club were warmly welcomed by the brethren and had a look around their fascinating museum, followed by an excellent Passing ceremony. Once the lodge had closed, they were treated to an informal festive board, known as a harmony, of pie and beans in the bar and finally a talk about the history of the lodge which is something that is usually incorporated into their first degree ceremony for all new Initiates.
The next day, the group left for Edinburgh to visit Canongate Kilwinning Lodge No. 2. After a short ceremony to confer Honorary Membership on Bro David Begg, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Scotland the annual banquette to Burns and Hogg was held. In attendance was the Grand Master Mason Bro Charles IR Wolrige Gordon of Esslemont, who was very welcoming of the Light Blue Club and even joined them for a late night selfie!
The banquette itself was excellent from an initial parading and address to the haggis, complete with piper, to some wonderful singing and fiddling of traditional Scottish songs from Jess Conway as well as an entertaining and humorous talk from Bro David Venard entitled ‘The Immortal memories of Robert Burns and James Hogg’.
The final part of the Scottish tour was a visit to Rosslyn Chapel where the Light Blue Club enjoyed a talk on the history of the chapel followed by a masonic tour that pointed out all its masonic references, which was described by Bro Bob Reay as, 'a fascinating experience'.
Beacon Lodge No. 5208 held an emergency meeting on Friday 29th May 2015 for a very special ceremony where they initiated a 'Lewis' on the very day of his 18th birthday
Whilst the normal age for joining Freemasonry is usually 21 years old, there are special circumstances where those aged 18 years and above can join.
A ‘Lewis’ is the name given to the uninitiated son of a mason. In stonemasonry, a lewis is an iron cramp that is forced into a cavity of a stone to enable the lifting or lowering of that stone. Although it is not a working tool used in masonic ritual it can be seen as a symbol of strength, which a son is to his father.
Joshua Symonds, who is the eldest son of W Bro Garry Symonds and Past Master of Beacon Lodge, became what is most probably the youngest Freemason in the country thanks to a dispensation granted by the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger.
The ceremony was witnessed by over 70 brethren including visitors from far and wide, including a good contingency of younger masons from the Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blue Club. The ceremony was first class and a very proud father took the Master’s Chair to Initiate his son and give those attending a memorable and very unforgettable evening.
Beacon Lodge has one of the lowest age profiles in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland with an average age of just 51. The addition of Bro Symonds will undoubtedly continue the trend in the lodge for younger men to join the fraternity and enjoy Freemasonry at an early age.
After the meeting, a very enjoyable Festive Board was held after the ceremony where £475 was raised for Leicester Children’s Holiday Centre who provide free seaside holidays for disadvantaged children across the county.
A grand introduction in Ireland
Coming from eight different lodges, members of the Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blue Club, including Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Kinder, visited the Grand Master’s Lodge in Dublin, Ireland. Prior to the meeting, the visitors were treated to a private tour of Freemasons’ Hall by the Grand Tyler of Ireland. The Light Blue Club’s visit (pictured above) took place when the Grand Master of Ireland, Douglas Grey, was attending his own lodge.
The installation ceremony offered a fascinating insight into the differences between the English ritual and that practised in Ireland.
Over the festive period a band of determined and enthusiastic brethren from the Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blue Club undertook a unique and historic feat, visiting 12 different lodges across 12 different evenings in December
The lodges visited were:
1st December - Jason Lodge No. 7716 (Leicester)
4th December - Highcross Lodge No. 4835 (Leicester)
5th December - Edward Sherrier Lodge No. 6757 (Lutterworth)
9th December - Castle of Leicester Lodge No. 7767 (Leicester)
11th December - Beacon Lodge No. 5208 (Loughborough)
12th December - Rothley Temple Lodge No. 7801 (Leicester)
13th December - Old Oakhamians No. 8033 (Oakham)
15th December - Lodge of the Golden Fleece No. 2081 (Leicester)
16th December - Temperantia Lodge No. 4088 (Leicester)
17th December - Reynard Lodge No. 9285 (Loughborough)
18th December - St Peter's Lodge No. 1330 (Market Harborough)
19th December - Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448 (Leicester)
The event was organised by Samuel Harris (Lodge of the Golden Fleece), and was conceived not only as an enjoyable test of endurance (and waistlines), but also to achieve three specific aims:
- To introduce brethren to the joys of visiting and meet other masons across the Province, by providing a unique opportunity to attend any of the 12 lodges during this period knowing there were a group of likeminded individuals also attending
- To raise awareness of the Light Blue Club and its aims across the Province and
- To raise a significant amount of money for LOROS Hospice as one of the designated charities
Over the course of the event, over two dozen individual brethren took part at various stages, including a few who had only been in the Craft for a matter of weeks but were keen to take part. Indeed, one brother who was initiated at one of the meeting, then came to visit another first degree ceremony the day immediately after his own!
In total, visits under the guise of the 12 lodges accounted for over 60 individual visits during the period, with the Light Blue Club attended meetings across the Province, from Leicester to Loughborough and Lutterworth, from Oakham to Market Harborough.
The brethren were overwhelmed with the warm welcome and hospitality they received at every lodge, and enjoyed seeing a wide variety of ceremonies performed, as well as the peculiarities and traditions unique to each Lodge either in the meeting or at the Festive Boards.
Every degree was witnessed at least one, as well as an Installation, although due to the time of the year, Christmas dinner was more often than not the menu of choice! The brethren enjoyed being able to explain to other junior Freemasons the aims of the Light Blue Club, the events put on, and how much they enjoy meeting and socialising with others across the Province. As a result, many more are now aware of the club and intend to get involved in the future.
Samuel Harris was supported in organisation of the event by Karl Coles (Edward Sherrier Lodge), and both deserve full credit for their commitment being the only members who managed to attend all 12 lodges. By the end of the final visit, both stated they would be happy if they never had to see turkey on the menu again!
Over £800 has been raised so far for LOROS, with contributions still coming in.