The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger, visited the new Centre for Medicine at the University of Leicester on Thursday 26th November 2015, which is currently being completed.

The Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association (LRMCA) generously donated £50,000 towards the building which will provide a state of the art academic research and teaching environment for medical students.

A multifunctional room on the lower floor of the new centre will be proudly named the ‘Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons’ Room’. The Provincial Grand Master, along with the Chairman of the LRMCA, W Bro John Peberdy, the Provincial Grand Almoner, W Bro Anthony Molyneux, a Grand Charity Representative, W Bro Anthony Wood and their partners were given a guided tour of the centre by Estates Project Manager, Dave Vernon.

The tour started at the room to be named after the local Freemasons which is located to the left of the main reception of the building. Other parts of the new building were shown during the tour including the lecture theatres, communal spaces and offices particularly highlighting its Passivhaus (very little energy required for heating and cooling) features.

The Centre for Medicine has also recently had a green 'living' wall installed which is the largest green wall in the UK outside of London. This will provide year round colour from the flowering plants and a habitat for birds, bees and butterflies.

The centre is due to be opened during the next couple of months and will be in full use by Easter 2016.

Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons have donated £10,000 to the children’s educational charity Warning Zone towards the funding of a new interactive zone based on the dangers of the internet

The new E-Safety Zone is an interactive experience, based on a trip to the fairground, for Year 6 students which aims to educate children about online safety including learning about internet security, cyberbullying, grooming, digital identity and unsuitable material.

Warning Zone was first launched in October 2006 and is the adopted charity of the High Sheriff of Leicestershire and Rutland. It combines vital messages in a single stimulating and memorable experience which helps to prepare youngsters for increased independence and their transition into early adolescence. Located on Frog Island in Leicester it aims to foster an understanding of risk, consequence of actions, peer pressure and personal responsibility. It is not about wrapping children in cotton wool, rather presenting the plain and honest facts in a memorable and understandable way in order to encourage responsible behaviour and sound decision making while living full and active lives.

The new zone was officially opened by Sir Clive Loader, Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire and Rutland, on Monday 5th October 2015. The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, David Hagger, along with other members of the fraternity, also attended the opening ceremony and were given a most interesting and informative tour of the new learning zone.

David Hagger said: 'We are very proud to have contributed to this excellent learning facility for children. As Freemasons, we follow five principles which encompass the fundamental values of good citizenship. Educational facilities such as Warning Zone similarly help youngsters to develop the concept of their own personal and social responsibility. The E-safety zone is an excellent new facility that will ensure the risks of using the internet are highlighted to children.'

Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons held a grant award ceremony at Freemasons' Hall, Leicester on Saturday 26th September 2015 where 24 local charities were gifted a total of £92,845

Among the charities receiving awards was the University of Leicester. Dr Kevin Harris, Interim Dean of the Medical School, was pleased to receive an award for £50,000 towards the building of the new Centre for Medicine which will provide a state of the art academic research and teaching environment for medical students. Dr Harris said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons of Leicestershire and Rutland for this generous gift. This will be the newest and most advanced medical school in the country and not only will it train the next generation of doctors and healthcare professionals it will also promote the health of the local population.'

LOROS Hospice, who care for over 2,500 people across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, were granted £8,363. John Knight, Chief Executive of LOROS, said: 'Thank you to the Freemasons for this donation which will go straight to the work of the organisation for the whole of Leicestershire and Rutland.'

Within the region, other charities received donations included:

Ashby-de-la-Zouch

Home Start North West Leicestershire, based in Ashby, which supports families with a child under the age of five who have been experiencing difficulties with family life, received a donation of £600 to purchase 40 Christmas Hampers. Scheme Manager Pamela Moretta said: 'It will be so nice at Christmas to be able to take each family that we home visit a Christmas Hamper full of goodies.'

Coalville

MRC Community Action, which is based in Coalville, received a donation of £1,200 to provide social and therapeutic activities for those over 60 years of age affected by acute loneliness, social isolation, poor physical or mental health. Operations Manager, Lesley Massey said: 'This is going to provide to start to delivering services on a Sunday in the Marlene Reid Centre including transport, entertainment and food.'

Leicester

The Harley Staples Cancer Trust received a donation of £2,112, raised in part by the Wyggeston Lodge which meet in Leicester, to provide a years rent for ‘Harley’s Caravan’ allowing families with children suffering from cancer to spend quality time together at the seaside and away from hospital. Upon receiving the donation, Jamie Staples said 'A massive thank you to all the Freemasons for this donation. We have had 25 families stay in our Caravan this year and we now don’t have to worry about the rent for next year as it is now sorted.’

Leicester-based the Laura Centre, which offers specialist bereavement counselling to parents whose child has died and to children or young people who have been bereaved of a parent or significant person, received a donation of £2500. Co-founder Gail Moore said: 'On behalf of everyone at The Laura Centre and the children and families we were founded to serve, I would like to thank the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons for this extremely wonderful gift.'

Loughborough

Loughborough based charity Leslie Edwards Trust received £2,000, including £1,000 from the members of Beacon Lodge who meet in Loughborough, which will provide lip reading classes to help people with hearing difficulties across Leicestershire including Loughborough, Market Harborough, Melton Mowbray, Coalville and Hinckley.

Home Start Charnwood was granted £1,000. Director, Elena Folkes, said: 'A huge thank you on behalf of Home Start Charnwood for such a generous donation which will go towards training a volunteer to support a family in need.'

The Castle Donnington Volunteer Centre (CDVC) received £1,500 towards the cost of a volunteer co-ordinator. Chair of the CDVC, John Williams, said: 'There are a lot of people that become isolated and this donation will go a very long way to assist with our Help@Hand service to help people in their homes.'

Lutterworth

Lutterworth Community Transport Community Bus Scheme who was granted £2,000 which will provide enough funds for weekly lunch and social activities for those that are socially isolated in Walcote. Stephen Jeffries said: 'We are enormously dependent on funding and this award will continue to help us to keep the operation going.'

St Mary's Church at Broughton Astley who was granted £2,000 to provide a new heating system. Rev Sharon Constable said: ‘I would like to thank the Freemasons of Leicestershire and Rutland very much for this donation. Having a new heating system is going to make such a difference so that we can offer our space, not just as a place to worship, but also for the whole community to use.'

Melton Mowbray

Somerby based Mount Group Riding for the Disabled was granted a total of £2,000 by St Mary’s Lodge, who meet in Melton Mowbray, towards the cost of upgrading a riding simulator. Peter O’Connor from the charity said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for this generous donation. We provide riding facilities for disable children and adults and this donation will go a long way to help with out with upgrading our riding simulator which allows children and adults who want to ride but do not have the confidence to get on a real animal.'

Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, David Hagger, said: 'Freemasonry is one of the biggest contributors to UK charities and the generous donations we have given locally were raised by our members themselves through contributions and social events. We continue to raise funds for a large variety of good causes as well as contributing to society and these grants are a wonderful example of the generosity of Freemasons.'

The reinterment of Richard III

The Province of Leicestershire and Rutland and the Grand Charity have donated £15,000 to Leicester Cathedral Charitable Trust for the reinterment of Richard III. The contribution went towards the £2.54 million appeal, which has funded a tomb and alterations to the cathedral, including a new chapel. 

David Monteith, Dean of Leicester Cathedral, said, ‘We were delighted to have had the support and interest of the Freemasons from the very start of this project on both a national and local level.’

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.

Local charity recognition

The Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association has given awards totalling £25,000 to 17 local charities. Among the recipients was Lady Gretton, Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire, who received £1,000 on behalf of the Award for Young People 2015, which celebrates the best examples of achievement by young people in the county. 

Lady Gretton (pictured) said: ‘It will make a colossal difference to the awards, which recognise young inspirational people in Leicestershire.’ Provincial Grand Master David Hagger congratulated the charities and their volunteers who give their time to such good causes.  

An inaugural concert at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester in aid of the Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People was held on Friday 8th May 2015 to celebrate the refurbishment of the 19th century pipe organ

The origins of the organ can be traced back to the early years of the 19th century, when it started life as a small chamber instrument built by the famous London craftsman William Gray.

It was utilised by the local organ builders Taylor and Company as the basis of the instrument installed in the old Masonic Hall in Halford Street, Leicester in 1903. This was moved to the present Hall in 1910 and was extended by Taylors in the 1940s.

After many years of faithful service the old instrument fell into disrepair and silence until being rescued by a young member, Carl Heslop, who volunteered his services to restore the organ to its former glory.

The concert began with the Rainbows Choir, consisting of staff and volunteers from the Hospice who energetically sang a number of songs including a medley from the Sound of Music.

This was followed by Carl Heslop who played several pieces on the newly refurbished organ including Dance of the Three Old Maids, and a medley in tribute to the British cinema organist, Sidney Torch.

One of the highlights was most certainly Carl accompanying Buster Keaton’s 1920 short comedy film One Week in true cinematic style, including his own improvisational flourishes heightening the drama seen on the screen much to the delight of the audience.

David Hughes entertained the audience of 140 with several monologues including Playing the Harmonium, which was a letter sent from the Rev FP Harton to Penelope Betjeman sacking her as Baulking Church organist, and a modified version of The Father of the Bride, originally written by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall for Roy Kinnear.

The Tudor Choir, a 16-strong mixed voice choir based in Leicestershire, also performed several songs from movies and shows including The Circle of Life from Disney’s The Lion King.

The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger, concluded the evening by presenting a cheque for £2,000 on behalf of the Freemasons and the Tudor Choir to the Chief Executive of Rainbows, Andy Campbell, and said: 'We are proud that the Rainbows Choir has helped us celebrate the rebuilding of this fine pipe organ and in return we are very pleased to make a major contribution to society by donating the proceeds of the event to Rainbows which provides a place where life-limited children and their families in the East Midlands can find care and support.'

Incredible sum of £36,000 distributed to Leicestershire and Rutland charities

Twenty-three diverse local charities gathered at Freemasons' Hall in Leicester on Saturday 25th April for a presentation event to receive over £36,000 in generous donations from the Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association, The Freemasons' Grand Charity and the Leicestershire and Rutland Royal Arch Masons.

Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, based at East Midlands Airport, was given a total of £11,000. Charlotte Marson Fundraising Co-Ordinator for the charity said: 'A huge thank you to all the Freemasons for this very generous donation which will go a long way to help save more lives.' 

Other charities to benefit included:

Leicester Navy Training Corps is a voluntary youth organisation that trains young people in the ways and customs of the sea, using the methods and practices of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Commanding Officer, Matthew Taylor, said: 'A massive thank you to the Freemasons for the £1,500 donation which will provide opportunities for our cadets to go flying and off-shore sailing.'

Home Start Melton and Rutland which is a family support charity that helps parents to build better lives for their children. Chair of Trustees, Jane Loake, said: 'Thank you very much for the generosity of the Freemasons which will fund children to attend a Christmas Pantomime which for some children is a once a year enrichment activity in their lives something that they would not have the opportunity to do before.'

The Bradgate Park Trust which provides the maintenance and improvement of the public park received £1,000 towards the purchase of an off-road mobility scooter to enable greater disabled access to the park. Peter Tyldesley of the Trust said: 'The charity was set up in 1928 by Charles Bennion, a prominent Leicestershire Freemason, for the benefit of all the people of Leicestershire, and we are delighted to receive the donation from the modern Freemasons.' To receive the donation on behalf of the Trust was Col Robert Martin, Trustee of Bradgate Park, and also Charles Bennion, grandson of the benefactor, who was keen to learn of his grandfather's masonic connections and was fascinated to learn he was a Past Master of St John's Lodge No. 279 and Lodge Semper Eadem No. 3091, a Founder member of East Goscote Lodge No. 2865 and Provincial Grand Treasurer.

Radio Gwendolen which provides a 24-hour service of music, news and information specifically for patients of the General Hospital, Leicester. The donation of £1,500 will go towards the purchase of a dual CD player and equipment to allow the radio to be streamed on the internet. 

The Provincial Grand Master of the Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger, concluded the meeting by applauding all the charities and their volunteers who give their time to such good causes: 'I'm proud that the Freemasons have been able to make a major contribution to society by supporting our local charities helping children, young people, those with disabilities and the elderly.'

The full list of charities were:

Long Whatton and Diseworth Scout Group – £2,000
Leicester Navy Training Corp – £1,500
Hinckley and Bosworth Community Transport Scheme – £2,000
Women's Aid Leicestershire – £1,000
The Brain Tumour Charity – £1,514 (from the Lodge of the Holywell No. 7827)
South Leicestershire Scouts – £1,500
Radio Gwendolen – £1,500
Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance – £11,000 (including £4,000 from the Grand Charity)
Dogs for the Disabled – £1,000 (from Grey Friars Lodge No. 6803)
Cottesmore Scout Headquarters – £1,000
The Bradgate Park Trust – £1,000
PROSTaid – £264 (from the Lodge of Gratitude No. 6514)
Friends of Devonshire Court – £150 (from Wiclif Chapter No. 3078)
Bark Foundation – £200 (from the Royal Arch Masons)
Loughborough Cancer Self Help Group – £250 (from the Royal Arch Masons)
Mesothelioma UK – £250 (from the Royal Arch Masons)
Myeloma UK – £2,500
Leicestershire Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus – £1,665
Home Start South Leicestershire – £1,000 (including £500 from St Wilfrid's Lodge No. 8350)
RABI – £1,000 (including £500 from St Wilfrid's Lodge No. 8350)
The Well, Kibworth – £1,000 (including £500 from St Wilfrid's Lodge No. 8350)
Shopmobility Market Harborough – £1,000 (including £500 from St Wilfrid's Lodge No. 8350)
Home Start Melton and Rutland – £2,000

The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger, was kindly offered and willingly accepted the gavel at the meeting of Wiclif Lodge No. 3078, which meets at Lutterworth Masonic Hall, in order to Pass Bro William Robinson to the degree of a Fellowcraft

Those present at the meeting held on Wednesday 8th April 2015, accompanied by his Provincial Officers, witnessed a truly wonderful and unique ceremony with the Provincial Grand Master not only Passing Bro William but also delivering the Second Degree tracing board.

Bro William has his own part in the history of Wiclif Lodge and the Province being Initiated into the fraternity at the age of 19 by special dispensation of the Provincial Grand Master. Bro William has a long standing family connection with Freemasonry with many of his family being members of the Craft. His great grandfather and namesake, W Bro William A Robinson, was Past Master of Wiclif Lodge in 1970. His grandfather, W Bro Michael A Robinson PPSGW is also a Past Master of the Lodge and was in the Chair in 1974.

The lodge room at Lutterworth was packed with over 100 in attendance to witness this historic event.

After the meeting, the Provincial Grand Master said: 'I was thrilled to be asked to Pass Bro William to the degree of a Fellowcraft who was an excellent candidate. It was extremely good to see so many young brethren in the lodge being involved in a very high standard of ceremonial work.'

He also paid tribute to W Bro David Milner ProvGTyler who stood in as acting Master and has recently been appointed to Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in recognition of his commitment to masonry. The PGM continued to thank all of his Provincial Officers for their support in attending the special meeting.

After the meeting, at the Festive Board, a donation of £600 was presented to the Provincial Grand Master for the Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association.

On Tuesday 2nd December 2014, RW Bro David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master for Leicestershire and Rutland, attended the meeting of Lodge of Friendship No. 7168 at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, along with his Provincial Officers, to present RW Bro Michael Roalfe with a 50 year certificate of continuous and dedicated service to Freemasonry

RW Bro Michael was initiated into the Lodge of Friendship No. 7168 on the 1st December 1965 and was installed 15 years later into the Master's Chair in 1979. He joined the Leicestershire and Rutland Lodge of Installed Masters No. 7896 and became its Master in 1999 and is also a member of Reynard Lodge No. 9285, the Three Counties Lodge No. 9278 (Province of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire) and an Honorary member of 8 other Craft lodges.

RW Bro Michael was installed as Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland in 2002 and remained in Office for 8 years until 2010. He attained Grand Rank of Past Grand Sword Bearer in 2000.

Within the Royal Arch, RW Bro Michael was exalted into Chapter of Welcome No. 5664 in 1982, was a Founder Member of Uppingham in Rutland Chapter No. 9119 and is also a member of the Gateway Chapter No. 6513. He was Third Provincial Grand Principal of Leicestershire and Rutland in 1991 and has since received Grand Rank of PGScribeE in 2002. He further holds Grand Rank in 10 other masonic degrees.

During the presentation, the Provincial Grand Master referred to RW Bro Michael's 'glittering career in Freemasonry and wished him many more happy years', to which he responded that he had enjoyed every moment of his masonry and gave heartfelt thanks to the Provincial team, visitors, his personal guests and to the members of the Lodge of Friendship, which amounted to over 100 in total, for attending and supporting him on this special occasion.

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