Sixteen members of the Heal family from Sussex are in the same lodge, including former RAF pilot Marc, who won the DFC in Afghanistan for evacuating 29 casualties in his Chinook helicopter while under fire. Marc, 31, flew eight combat missions in as many days. On one occasion his helicopter’s landing site was mortared by insurgents and some of the missions took place without an Apache escort.
Somerset mason James Heal began the family connection with South Down Lodge, No. 1797, in 1963 when he moved to Brighton, followed by his five sons – all of whom went through the chair – as well as three brothers-in-law and seven grandsons.
Four of the five sons were Directors of Ceremonies, while three of the family are Grand Officers and one, Keith Schofield, is the Provincial Grand Mentor for Sussex. His uncle John was Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and later an Assistant Provincial Grand Master, while his uncle Victor was Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, both of whom – with his father – have been his mentors.