The annual carol service attended by Freemasons of the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland was held at Leicester Cathedral on Sunday 11th December 2016
The Rev Canon Johannes Arens, Canon Precentor welcomed over 200 members and their family and friends to the cathedral for the service, including the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Jim Buckle and Assistant Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Peter Kinder.
The congregation were supported in singing carols by the Senior Trebles and Songmen of the Cathedral Choir and accompanied by the Cathedral Organist, Simon Headley. Carols sung included ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’, ‘Long Ago, Prophets Knew’, ‘It Came Upon the Midnight Clear’, ‘See Amid the Winter's Snow’, ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ and ‘Hark! the Herald Angels Sing’.
Lessons were read by W Bro Ian Hammond, Master of the Howe and Charnwood Lodge No. 1007, W Bro Kelvin Johnson, Provincial Grand Secretary, W Bro Paul Roberts, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, the Provincial Grand Master, Deputy Provincial Grand Master and Assistant Provincial Grand Master. The sermon was given by the Rev Canon Jeff Hopewell.
After the service, wine and mince pies, provided by the Province, were served in the cathedral by members of the Derek Buswell Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards No. 9705.
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.'
Remembering the fallen
For the first time in living memory, Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons attended the annual Remembrance Day service in Leicester in order to pay their respects and to lay a wreath to the fallen.
The Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Peter Kinder together with other Provincial Officers and their wives and partners attended the service at Victoria Park on Sunday 13th November 2016. They joined thousands of military veterans, local civic dignitaries and members of the public.
The service was led by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Martyn Snow. During the service, maroons marked the two-minute silence between 11am and 11.02am.
Wreath-laying was led by the Lord Mayor of Leicester Cllr Stephen Corrall and Deputy Lt Col Richard Hurwood. The Provincial Grand Master was also invited to lay a wreath, on behalf of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, at the war memorial to honour those who lost their lives during active service.
The Provincial Grand Master said: 'During the Great War, we had over 160 brethren serve, of which seven died. In the Second World War, five brethren also lost their lives.'
He continued: 'It was therefore a great honour to lay a wreath on behalf of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons honouring the brethren and all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.'
The Rutland Lodge No. 1130, which meets at Freemasons’ Hall, Melton Mowbray, celebrated its 150th anniversary on Thursday 6th October 2016
The Sesquicentennial Festival was held at the regular meeting of the lodge who were honoured to receive the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Jim Buckle, and the rest of the Provincial Officers.
In total over 90 brethren were in attendance to witness this relatively unique occasion which has seen only five other lodges in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland celebrate this milestone.
After the lodge was opened the Master offered the gavel to the Provincial Grand Master who on this occasion willingly accepted it. The Master read the Warrant and the Centenary Warrant of the lodge before W Bro Keith Harkness gave a thoroughly absorbing talk on the Highlights from the History of the Lodge.
The Rutland Lodge No. 1130 was consecrated on the 19th October 1866 at the George Hotel, Melton Mowbray by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master W Bro William Kelly. The lodge was named after His Grace the Duke of Rutland, the cousin of the first Master Bro George Norman, Squire of Goadby Marwood. The lodge was given permission by the Duke of Rutland to use the arms of the Duke on the lodge banner.
In the days before street lighting, the lodge originally met on days of the full moon to enable the members to find their way home by light of the moon but now meets 8 times a year on the first Thursday evening in the months between October and May. The lodge met at the George Hotel for 44 years and then subsequently met at the Colles Hall, Burton Street, Young Men’s Institute Hall in Market Place, Egerton Lodge, the Corn Exchange, and has met at its’ current home at Wicklow Lodge since 1951.
After the lodge meeting was closed, the Brethren enjoyed a wonderful Festive Board and were each generously presented with a hardbound copy of ‘The Sesquicentennial Festival 1866-2016’ which was compiled by W Bro Harkness and designed by W Bro Mike Rawson.
The Provincial Grand Master said: 'The 150 years of this lodge, since its consecration in 1866, are ample proof of the dedication shown by the Brethren in Melton Mowbray to our great Order. As the lodge travels its masonic pathway, I’m sure the brethren will display that same devotion and dedication in the future. I, and the masonic Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, wish them well.'
On Saturday 29th October 2016, the Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger, along with Trustees of the Bradgate Park Trust marked the commencement of the first tree clearance for the reflection area of the Memorial Wood at Bradgate Park, Leicestershire
The Memorial Wood is being funded by Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons along with United Grand Lodge of England to enhance a small woodland at the Park to create a tranquil and reflective space. This project is one of a number of projects in Leicestershire and Rutland that will be supported to mark the 300th anniversary of the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717.
The small woodland plantation is located opposite the Cropston Reservoir. Currently the woodland is fenced and inaccessible, but a new path into the heart of the space from the main carriageway will be suitable for all visitors. As part of the proposals the woodland will be fenced with traditional parkland deer fencing, new hedgerow planted and the wildlife value of the area enhanced, with new glades and trees planted. Natural paths within the woodland will allow people to explore the wood, whilst seating and a central feature will ensure there is an area for quiet reflection and remembrance. A centrepiece within the wood will consist of a seating area along with a sculpture of a stag.
Peter Tyldesley, Director of the Bradgate Park Trust said, 'We are regularly asked about opportunities for memorial trees and benches with plaques, but the nationally important landscape and heritage designations of the site means we cannot always accommodate these. This is a way that we can provide somewhere for our visitors to remember someone special, with a memorial plaque within a dedicated space. As a charity we are delighted to be working with the local Freemasons and also the United Grand Lodge of England.
'Their generous grants will support the physical work on the ground within the Site of Special Scientific Interest. It will also assist the charity in establishing a programme whereby people can purchase plaques within the Memorial Wood in recognition of the special nature of Bradgate Park to people throughout their lives. This will be available once the habitat improvements are completed in the autumn of 2017.'
The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, David Hagger said, 'We have worked with the Bradgate Park Trust in the past and this project is an important community initiative for our Tercentenary celebrations. Not only will conservation volunteers and our members be able to get involved in developing the project, working alongside the Bradgate Park Team, it will provide a lasting legacy of a special place where people can reflect on loved ones. Bradgate Park is close to the heart of local Freemasons, as Charles Bennion, Bradgate Park’s original Benefactor, was an eminent Leicestershire Freemason.'
The Memorial Wood will be officially opened on Thursday 5th October 2017 by the Pro Grand Master, RW Bro Peter Lowndes.
Children’s ward gets new nebulisers
Six nebulisers were presented by local Freemasons to the Children’s Ward at the Leicester Royal Infirmary via the Asthma Relief Charity by Leicestershire and Rutland PGM David Hagger.
Nebulisers convert liquid medication into aerosol droplets suitable for inhalation, using compressed air to enable patients to breathe more easily.
Each nebuliser will help 150 children over its six-year life. Members of Grey Friars Lodge, No. 6803, which meets in Leicester, also donated £1,400 to the Leicestershire Royal Infirmary Children and Young People’s Cancer Unit to provide play equipment and materials together with updating medical equipment.
Freemasons in Leicestershire and Rutland are celebrating a magnificent milestone in their charitable donations to the local community during the last five years
As they approach their 300th anniversary, figures released today show that Freemasons based in Leicestershire and Rutland, despite the recent economic downturn, have donated to over 400 different charities to the sum of £800,000.
Just under a third of the money donated went to healthcare charities, whilst those charities supporting children and youth received a quarter of the funding. Other charities were also supported who focus on social welfare, education, disability, elderly, culture, sport, religion, homeless and animals.
Freemasonry is one of the biggest contributors to UK charities, including both masonic and non-masonic causes. It encourages members to take a moral and ethical approach to life, helping them become the best that they can be. It seeks to reinforce the principles of kindness, honesty, fairness, tolerance and integrity.
Some of their recent donations include £10,000 to Warning Zone, the Leicester based interactive life skills centre, for an e-Safety zone, £15,000 to Leicester Cathedral for the reinterment of Richard III, £25,000 to the Leicester Children’s Holiday Centre Mablethorpe for play equipment and £50,000 to the new Centre for Medicine at the University of Leicester.
Other major beneficiaries include the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, LOROS Hospice, Rainbows Children's Hospice, and PROSTaid.
David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland said: 'All of our members are encouraged to give to charity but should always be within their means and it is entirely up to each member how much they wish to contribute. The money donated is raised by the members themselves from such events as ladies' nights and other social occasions where family and friends get together.'
He continued: 'I'm incredibly proud and thank all our members for their philanthropy and generosity by contributing this amazing amount of money to local communities reinforcing the role that Freemasonry has always and continues to play in society.'
Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons are currently in full training getting ready to do a 300-mile cycle ride marking their 300th anniversary and aiming to raise £20,000 for the Rainbows Children's Hospice in Loughborough and the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF)
On 24th June 1717, four masonic lodges, which had existed for some time in London, formed the Grand Lodge of England which has since continued to administer the 7,000 lodges and it's 200,000 members across England and Wales.
Leicestershire and Rutland have 3,000 members which meet in the 76 lodges across the two counties. Masonic lodges are based in Leicester, Loughborough, Hinckley, Syston, Uppingham, Melton Mowbray, Lutterworth, Market Harborough, Oakham, Coalville and Ashby de la Zouch.
At least 35 Freemasons, aged between 22 and 70 years old, from over 20 different lodges will be cycling in June 2017 to each of the 11 masonic meeting places within Leicestershire and Rutland. They will then head to the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England at Freemasons' Hall, Covent Garden in London. 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 before they head back to Leicester.
Simon Oldfield, keen cyclist and organiser said: 'Cycling 300 miles will be a test of all those taking part, everyone is motivated to do the training knowing that we are raising money for two very worthwhile causes as part of our Tercentenary celebrations. It has brought together cyclists of varying age, experience and fitness, building a real team spirit for the challenge ahead.'
The Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People, based in Lougborough, provides care to those that are affected by life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. Helen Lee-Smith, Head of Individual Giving at Rainbows, said: 'I would like to thank Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons for organising their 300 mile cycle ride to celebrate 300 years of Freemasonry and for supporting Rainbows. 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.'
The MCF supports Freemasons, their families and the wider community. David Innes, Chief Executive of the MCF said: 'Our work depends entirely on donations from Freemasons and their families across England and Wales, and we are continually surprised and inspired by the unique and challenging ways that they raise funds for us. We wish all participants in the Leicestershire and Rutland 300 mile bike ride the best of luck and thank them in advance for their hard work and generosity.'
The Provincial Grand Master of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, David Hagger, added: 'We'll be holding several celebratory events in 2017 and this charity bike ride is a perfect opportunity for our members to raise money for good causes by undertaking this physical challenge. We're keen to shake off our bygone image and this bike ride is a great example of this. Recently we have found that more younger people are attracted to Freemasonry as they seek a social environment with strong values and traditions that also supports the local community.'
He continued: 'During 2017, we'll also be opening the doors to our masonic halls for everyone to see inside and an exhibition on Freemasonry at Newarke House Museum in Leicester highlighting the contribution of Freemasons to our local communities. We hope this will lead to further interest and a better understanding of our historic fraternity.'
Right royal knees-up
The bunting was out as Freemasons' Hall, Leicester dressed to impress with the Union Flag flying high to celebrate the 90th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the style of a street party
The dining halls were packed as Freemasons, family and friends gathered to celebrate the Royal birthday with sandwiches, tea, cakes and songs from the 1920's through to modern day.
The Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger kicked off the occasion, before handing over to the microphone to stars of the show, Phillip and Judy Dodd, and Marguerite Beatson, who raised the roof with expert renditions of classic hits from throughout the ages. Songs were selected from each of the decades, with titles such as Somewhere over the Rainbow, (There'll be Bluebirds over) The White cliffs of Dover, and Abba's Thank you for the Music.
The afternoon had something for everyone, for the many children that were present a table had been prepared just for them, with activities such as crown making and colouring, enough to keep them entertained whilst they waited for the cakes to be served! The fun was rounded off with flag waving and singing which had everyone up on their feet.
Treasure trove returned
On May 17th 2016, the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger received, on behalf of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, a magnificent collection of masonic jewels, regalia and documentary material from the surviving children, Dr Anthony Howe and Mrs Elieen Mann, of W Bro Harry Billson Howe who was part of the vibrant textiles business in Leicester.
Dr Howe discovered the hoard in a case at his home in Poole, Dorset and contacted the Lodge of Gratitude No. 5614 via its website. W Bro Richard Brocklehurst of the lodge subsequently arranged a meeting, with representatives from several lodges and chapters, at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester so that the collection could be returned.
W Bro Harry Howe was initiated into the Commercial Lodge No. 1391 in 1919 and became the first Junior Warden of the newly consecrated Holmes Lodge No. 4654 in 1924, becoming its third Master in succession to his friends and business colleagues from Leicester's industrial core industries, W Bro George Hunt and W Bro Sir John Corah.
W Bro Howe was a Lewis and his father also had a distinguished masonic and business career, and has a memorial window in the St Katherine's Chapel at Leicester Cathedral. At a Provincial level, W Bro Howe served for many years as Provincial Director of Ceremonies and was honoured by receiving Grand Rank as PAGDC. W Bro Howe was also heavily involved with the Holy Royal Arch degree and the Ancient and Accepted Rite in both of which he also received Grand Rank.
W Bro Howe was a keen supporter of the Leicester Union Lodge of Instruction and it was through that body that the Lodge of Gratitude came to be formed as a token of thanks from the Union Lodge's preceptors for the fellowship they had enjoyed. W Bro Howe was the 'Primus' Master of the lodge and he was given a particularly fine jewel in token of this. Despite leaving Leicester, he retained his subscribing membership to the Lodge of Gratitude while accepting honorary membership of Holmes Lodge and St Margaret's Rose Croix Chapter No. 92.
W Bro Howe’s regalia, which was generously and thoughtfully returned by the Howe family, include collars and jewels for various Grand Rank appointments, and also a number of highly valuable and precious jewels in connection with his appointment in Holmes Lodge and the Lodge of Gratitude. In addition to the regalia and jewels, W Bro Howe's papers include a considerable number of fascinating items giving insights into the life of freemasonry between 1919 and 1960.
However, it was not just masonic material which was received. There was a wealth of matter relating to the Howe family business which was situated in Curzon Street and Birstall Street and which ultimately became part of the Curzonia Group. This will be invaluable in the staging of exhibitions to demonstrate the links between Freemasonry and Leicester's industrial heritage. In addition, material relating to his service in the Great War was also received when he was involved in espionage behind the German lines as an agent for what is now known as MI6.