Woking Lodge in Surrey have raised almost £55,000 for a number of worthy causes when members, friends and family attended their charity ball on 9 March 2019

The background to the lodge itself makes very interesting reading. The Home Guard, often referred to as ‘Dad's Army’ as depicted in the BBC sitcom of the same name, was a defence force of the British Army during the Second World War. Operational from 1940 until 1944, the Home Guard comprised of 1.5 million local volunteers too old or otherwise ineligible for military service. 
 
In 1946, members of the Woking branch of the Home Guard and fellow members of Bisley Lodge No. 2317 in Godalming, Surrey, decided to form a lodge of their own to commemorate the friendships made during the war years. Woking Lodge No. 6264 continues to meet today in Godalming and preserves the foundations laid by the Dad's Army founders. 
 
The lodge banner portrays the hill in Old Woking, where, had the Germans invaded, the Home Guard would have lit one of a chain of bonfires across the country, to warn the population of the invasion. In the foreground is Hoe Bridge and the River Wey. Also depicted are the sun and moon to indicate the Home Guard watched over Woking by night as well as by day.
 
The lodge held its latest Charity Ball at the historic and beautiful setting of 17th century Wotton House, Dorking, with attendees treated to a meal and live entertainment. Auction lots and raffle prizes were donated by various sponsors, as well as members of the lodge. Lots included sports and music memorabilia, signed by the likes of Pele, Lewis Hamilton and George Ezra, a holiday in Bali and a Caribbean cruise.  
 
The star lot was a life-sized Zest Model car, donated by John Bennyworth, a Surrey Freemason, and on the night raised £12,000, of which a third will be donated to Shooting Star, a Surrey Hospice for children.

Ian Chandler, Provincial Grand Master of Surrey, said: ‘This was a night that showed Freemasonry at its very best.  Friendships made and renewed while raising a significant sum for very worthy causes. My sincere thanks to everyone who attended and congratulations to Woking Lodge.’
 
The auction and raffle raised almost £55,000 and the money will be donated to:

  • Shooting Star - £4,000, offering a wide range of support for families caring for a life-limited child, including palliative and respite care, and bereavement support
  • Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys - £3,500, offering grants to relieve poverty and advance education for children and young people
  • Surrey 2019 Festival - £46,750, supporting care homes for over 1,000 elderly people across England and Wales

Rowland Gbedemah of Woking Lodge said: ‘I want to thank you all in no small part for supporting us in our fundraising effort this evening. Charity is at the heart of Freemasonry and the charities who will be the beneficiaries of this evening’s fundraiser do a lot to help people locally, nationally and internationally.’

Monday 14 May 2018 proved to be a memorable day for members of the Lodge of Saint Mark No. 8479 in Dorset, with 92-year- old, World War II veteran Ray Fuller being installed as their Worshipful Master

Ray joined the Royal Navy as a 17-year-old in 1943 and served on HMS Illustrious. The carrier's aircraft attacked targets in Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies and took part in the Battle of Okinawa.

In early 1944, the aircraft of HMS Illustrious and USS Saratoga joined forces to strike a naval base at Sabang in northern Sumatra.

Nearly 80 Brethren gathered in the village of Kinson to see Ray take the chair, which created a fantastic atmosphere on this remarkable evening. It wasn't Ray’s first time in the chair though having previously been Master of Bisley Lodge No. 2317 in Surrey, but that didn't detract from making this a special occasion for him. Over £700 was also raised for three charities during a bumper raffle.

Giving a moving response to the visitors toast was one member who had travelled down in a minibus from Surrey. He had known Ray since they were seven-years-old and they're both proud holders of the Burma Star, a military medal awarded to those who served in World War II.

The Provincial Grand Master for Dorset, Richard Merritt, commented that it was a remarkable coincidence that it was Ray's second time in the chair and that he was the 46th Master, as doubling this figure equalled Ray's exact age.

He went on to add that having made enquiries with UGLE, Ray was one of the oldest brothers to be installed into the chair of a lodge.

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