King Alfred Lodge No. 3169 in Somerset held a special presentation ceremony on 16 November 2018 to celebrate 60 years of Freemasonry to one of its members, Ron Ward

Ron was initiated in Newcastle in 1958 and has enjoyed being an active mason for almost the entire period since that time.

Past Provincial Grand Master for Somerset David Jenkins presented Ron with his certificate and spent 15 minutes reading out his masonic biography. His considerable experience of the Craft in several Provinces showed his dedication to masonry in general and in particular, to Somerset.

David congratulated Ron on his contribution to the Craft and handed him his certificate. The presentation was greeted with a standing ovation from the 60 members of King Alfred Lodge who were present on this memorable occasion.

Guernsey and Alderney Freemasons have donated £2,160 to bring a number of Chelsea Pensioners to the Channel Islands to celebrate Liberation Day on 9th May

On that day in 1945 the towns of both St Helier in Jersey and St Peter Port in Guernsey were inundated by vast crowds of rapturously joyous islanders thronging the seafront to welcome the arrival of British troops.

The subsequent annual celebrations in Guernsey include a parade prior to a church service of Thanksgiving, a cavalcade of military and vintage vehicles of the era and tea dances for liberated islanders. Chelsea Pensioners have been providing a grand spectacle at all of these events for the past 40 years.

Since 2008, lodges in the Province of Guernsey and Alderney have been providing them with substantial financial support to meet the costs involved with their visits.

The Chelsea Pensioners visit the Masonic Centre every year and those who are Freemasons attend a lodge meeting during their stay. In recent years, they have been accompanied on their visits by a party of Ghurkhas.

The visiting party, which was led by Captain of Invalids Royal Hospital Chelsea, Lt-Colonel Johnny Lowe, was welcomed by Past Provincial Grand Master David Hodgetts.

The Past Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland RW Bro Derek Buswell celebrated 60 glorious years as a Freemason on 12th April 2018

At the meeting of the Lodge of the Flaming Torch No. 4874, the Provincial Grand Master David Hagger, supported by his Provincial Officers, presented Derek with a certificate celebrating his 60 years continuous service to Freemasonry.

Derek was Initiated into Freemasonry in the Lodge of the Flaming Torch on 10th April 1958 and was its Master in 1971.

He subsequently became Master of the Leicestershire and Rutland Lodge of Installed Masters No. 7896 in 1984 and the Lodge of Research No. 2429 in 1987. Derek was a Founder of the Gayton Taylor Lodge No. 9176 which meets in Leicester in 1986.

He is also an Honorary member of Chetene Lodge No. 9516 in the Province of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire and a joining member of of Good Neighbour Lodge No. 8378 in the Province of East Kent.

Derek was appointed Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies at the Craft Annual Investiture in 1986, and was installed as Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland in 1989, continuing for 13 years until 2002.

During this time, Derek oversaw the 2001 Festival for the Grand Charity which raised £1.875 million, Freemasonry in the Community Week, the launch of Leicestershire and Rutland's Provincial website, the launch of the Leicester Square newsletter predecessor Masonic News and the first open day at Freemasons' Hall in Leicester followed by many future modernisations including the installation of stair lifts, a new heating system and the bar in the front lounge.

David Hagger said: 'It was a great pleasure for me as Provincial Grand Master on behalf of the Province to present Derek with a 60 year certificate of service. Derek has had a very distinguished career in Freemasonry, not only in this Province but also Freemasonry in general.

'His dedication to Freemasonry has been second to none. I wish him good health to enjoy many more happy years in Freemasonry.'

David Kenneth Williamson Lodge No. 9938 held its first meeting outside of London at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, to conduct a quintuple Passing ceremony on behalf of the three Universities Scheme Lodges in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland

The lodge is the Installed Masters Lodge for the Universities Scheme and whilst consecrated in London in 2016, it was agreed that the lodge meet around the English constitution to undertake second and third degree ceremonies on behalf Universities Scheme lodges.

The meeting was held in the very decorative surroundings of the Holmes Lodge Room on 4th May 2018 and was opened in due form by the Master Oliver Lodge, Grand Director of Ceremonies, with 66 Brethren in attendance, including David Kenneth Williamson, Immediate Past Master, Sir David Wootton, Assistant Grand Master, David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, David Pratt, Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire, West Riding, Peter Kinder, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, and Derek Buswell, Past Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland.

The five candidates David Hames of Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448, Jonathan Haslam and David Veryan Jones of Castle of Leicester Lodge No. 7767, and Marat Guysin and Steven Brian Szukielowicz of Lodge of Science and Art No. 8429 were Passed to the degree of a Fellowcraft in a superbly conducted ceremony.

Sir David Wootton, President of the Universities Scheme, provided an update on the Scheme and made mention of a recent audit undertaken of all Scheme lodges to help identify those who may benefit from extra help and support. He also highlighted the four strategic aims the Scheme was pursuing, namely: 

  • Providing support to lodges and producing ‘know how’ guides on topics such as lodge finance and ritual. Also suggesting to Lodge Almoners that they could focus on understanding their student members and when they have exams coming up, when they are graduating, and celebrating their successes. 
  • Talent transfer - how to assist members to find a new masonic home after leaving university.
  • The Royal Arch – the Scheme now has five Royal Arch Chapters and is looking at how best to develop this important part of the Scheme. 
  • Overseas - students from districts graduation in England and helping Districts attract students in their home countries.

Also mentioned was the important work of the New and Young Masons Clubs (NYMC) and that the Scheme was increasing its engagement with NYMC both on a local and national level to ensure that with items, such as talent transfer, both groups can work together. He also referenced the links with the Association of Medical, University and Legal Lodges (AMULL). 

David Kenneth Williamson, Past Assistant Grand Master, concluded: 'It was a perfect demonstration of how a multiple ceremony can be done without detriment to the candidates, and brought much credit to the lodge.' 

The Brethren retired to the Holmes Lounge were they were welcomed with reception drinks before a four-course dinner.

After grace, Mo Afsa, of Old Mancunians’ with Mount Sinai Lodge No. 3140 in Manchester, presented the DKW Loving Cup to the lodge. Under the watchful eye of David Kenneth Williamson, whose initials the cup bears the name, as Founder President of the Universities Scheme, the Loving Cup circulated around the room. There being six members of Apollo University Lodge No. 357 present, Paul Grier rose to claim the Cup on behalf of that lodge and announced that the next meeting would be held on Saturday 2nd June 2018. 

Published in Universities Scheme
Friday, 23 March 2018 15:16

Five generations of Freemasons in Dorset

Geoffrey James Blake has become the fifth generation of his family to become a member of Portland Lodge No. 1037 in Dorset

His heritage stretches back to 1908. His family have been members of the lodge unbroken since 1908 and have supported the lodge for a total of 152 years – with more to come.

Geoffrey's Great–Great Grandfather Joseph Stone was initiated into Portland Lodge in 1908. He served the lodge as Worshipful Master in 1919 and died a member in 1954. During his year as Master, he initiated his son, Lesley W G Stone (Geoffrey's Great–Grandfather), who remained a member until 1980.

Lesley's daughter Esme married George F J Blake (Geoffrey's Grandfather), who was initiated in 1972 and remained a member until his death in 1998. George's son Graham D Blake was initiated in 1979, served as Master in 1990 and proudly initiated his son Geoffrey into Portland Lodge, completing five generations.

The Past Provincial Grand Master of Dorset Harry Barnes was present and even sang the Initiates Song in the dining room after the Festive Board.

Kevin Abbiss from Portland's mother lodge, All Souls Lodge No. 170 in Weymouth, presented Geoffrey with a number of booklets and pamphlets from All Souls library that mentioned the family over the past century. A wonderful evening was enjoyed by all.

Hearts & Minds

For Ray Reed, past Deputy President of the Board of General Purposes and Past Provincial Grand Master of Buckinghamshire, the process of change that he helped to introduce within Freemasonry is only just beginning

What did your early career teach you?

I joined BP Chemicals straight from school and served a five-year apprenticeship as an instrument and electronics engineer before moving on to Reckitt & Colman when I was 23. The next 15 years were manic – two years after joining I was asked to set up and manage a new work-study department, followed by secondment as company negotiator with trade unions, then I became human resources director before becoming general manager.

Each move involved a new discipline and took me out of my comfort zone. I like the challenge of being thrown in at the deep end and rarely get stressed. If I had, I think I would have failed. These challenges opened my eyes to the fact most of what goes on in business management is common sense. Get a great team around you, identify what works, question what doesn’t, create a strategy and focus on improvement.

Equally, I learned that people at all levels love you to listen to and debate their ideas for improvement – it gives them confidence that they are part of the change process and makes them feel valued.

Why did you establish your own company?

By 1980 we were selling off the industrial division. Reckitt & Colman wanted me to stay but I was nearly 40 and wanted a new challenge, something completely different. Close friends thought I was mad.

My old sales director had left to do his own thing, working for an American company in psychological assessment. He asked me if I’d advise him on setting up a business, so I talked him into going to the US. Instead of working for the American company, we bought the franchise for the UK. About three years later, we found ourselves bigger than the US business, so we bought them out.

Family has been so important in the success of the business. My wife Doreen, who was a business partner, has been a vital cog from the outset and, after I retired in 2005, our son Martin has grown the business to become one of the top five assessment companies in the world. We are still a private entity and I continue to serve as a non-executive director.

What drove you to join Freemasonry?

I had been attending masonic social events from the age of 16 and always felt comfortable in the company of members. One day shortly after I married I asked my father-in-law, ‘What’s Freemasonry all about?’ I can recall his exact words: ‘I’ve been waiting for you to ask, I’ll get you a form. I can’t tell you what it’s about, you’ll have to trust me.’ In today’s fast-moving world such an approach would be laughed at, but that was the norm then.

Freemasonry was so popular in those days so I had to wait three years to be initiated, which just made me want it more. I joined Thesaurus Lodge [No. 3891] in North Yorkshire on 11 May 1967. It was the perfect lodge for me: great ceremonial, friendly and very encouraging with new candidates. I realised as a 27-year-old that while my business life was driving me into new areas and becoming ever more demanding, Freemasonry was developing me as a person, giving me a new-found confidence and a better understanding of my values in life.

Did you feel ready to become Provincial Grand Master?

No. Sadly, Lord Burnham died in office in 2005 and I received a letter asking me to take the role – not long after I had been appointed an APGM. There was no training, just a patent that told you to run the Province in accordance with the rules and regulations of the United Grand Lodge of England. And that was it, you were on your own. That suited me; it comes back to being thrown in at the deep end.

We identified member expectations through surveys, set a modernisation strategy that took account of these results, communicated them to members and then monitored the progress. Member collaboration was vital to the process – we set out to make masonic life more enjoyable, to improve our image in the local community and to market the Craft as a power for good within society.

It appears to me that succession planning is as vital at lodge level as it is at Provincial and UGLE level’

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve had as a PGM?

When I became Provincial Grand Master, the Past Pro Provincial Grand Master of Middlesex, Gordon Bourne, suggested I miss out the sweet course and coffee at the Festive Board in order to make time for talking to members. At first I thought, ‘This is a bit stupid’ – but within three months, members were coming up to me with really creative ideas to improve the Province’s image. It was a great success.

Gordon also suggested that at non-installation meeting dinners, I ask lodges to sit me with the five newest members of the lodge. That was magic; few realised the significance of the Provincial Grand Master role, so they talked openly and honestly. I heard their expectations, what they liked and did not like about their lodges and Freemasonry. The insights we collected helped convince Grand Lodge Officers to sit off the top table. It really broke so many historic barriers.

How important is the process of succession planning?

The second highest resignation levels in the Craft are those of Past Masters resigning shortly after completing their year in office. It therefore appears to me that succession planning is as vital at lodge level as it is at Provincial and UGLE level.

While there is no right or wrong approach to succession planning, lodges may well benefit from discussing the future aspirations with their lodge Masters well before they end their year in office. This should be done to ensure commitment and motivation, and in order to take any necessary steps to reduce the likelihood of resignation. One thing is for sure: if a member has an ambition toward a specific discipline – be it administrative, ceremonial or charitable – he is more likely to succeed in that discipline than in a role he has been cajoled into and does not really aspire to.

When did you become a member of the Board of General Purposes?

After a couple of years as a Provincial Grand Master I found myself sat next to Anthony Wilson, President of the Board, at a dinner. We had an enlightening discussion about Freemasonry’s past, present and future. Little did I know I had been recommended to him as a Board member and the next day I was asked to join. It was a complete shock and I embarked on another steep learning curve, but I loved being on the Board. We were all like-minded, giving our time freely and seeking to positively influence both the present and future of the Craft for our members.

How does change occur in the world of Freemasonry?

Historically, change has happened very slowly as we are a bottom-up organisation. Even small change in the past caused the shutters to go up. Members were perhaps fearful that there was a desire to change our traditions, which has never been on the agenda.Over recent years, Freemasonry has created a strategy for 2015-2020. Webinar technology has been tested and rolled out in the Provinces for member training and coaching, which can take place online at home. Even after one year of the strategy being communicated in 2015, membership loss dropped dramatically; indeed, several Provinces increased their numbers. This is a sure indication that members are getting behind the change process. We just need to win the hearts and minds of those who are yet to come to the party.

Published in UGLE

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.

Eight days after celebrating his 100th birthday Cyril McGibbon was installed as Worshipful Master of one of the oldest lodges in the Province of West Lancashire - the Lodge of Perseverance No.155.

This lodge, which meets in the Britannia Adelphi Hotel in the centre of Liverpool, dates from 1803 and has several unique traditions, one of which is that the only guests to the installation are invited by the new Worshipful Master. It was also the first time that any member has served as Worshipful Master on two occasions.

To mark this extraordinary occasion this tradition was broken and an open invitation issued for the first time in the lodge’s history. The membership of this venerable lodge is restricted to 25 brethren and the fact that there were 125 attendees, 23 members and 102 guests gives testimony to the high regard and affection felt by the Freemasons of West Lancashire for Cyril McGibbon.

An inspection of the Masonic year book will immediately show the calibre of the members, which includes a large number of Grand Officers many of whom have held high acting Provincial offices as well.

Indeed Cyril’s Masonic CV is very impressive. He was initiated in 1951 into his mother lodge University Lodge of Liverpool and was installed as its Master in 1964. In 1970 the then Provincial Grand Master, Sir Knowles Edge Bt recognised his qualities in appointing him as Provincial Senior Grand Warden  Barely had Cyril relinquished that position when he was appointed as Assistant Provincial Grand Master an appointment that he held from 1973 to 1987, a run of 15 years continuous service. Prior to this Cyril became a joining member in 1971 of Lathom Lodge No 2229 and Setentia Lodge of Installed Masters No 7755 and then in 1974 joined The Lodge of Perseverance, becoming Master of this lodge for the first time in 1976.

The calibre of the members of Lodge of Perseverance would eclipse most meetings but this evening the calibre of the guests has exceeded that of the members. Principal guest was Howard Jones (Deputy Provincial Grand Master) accompanied by Colin Wright (Past Provincial Grand Master), Brian Gillbanks and Michael Hill, both of whom are Past Deputy Provincial Grand Masters and four Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Phil Gunning ,Tony Bent, Tony Harrison and Roy Skidmore. It should also be pointed out that another tradition of the Lodge of Perseverance is that all members and guests, no matter what their rank, are clothed in Entered Apprentice aprons.

After opening the lodge the Worshipful Master Robert Hall greeted the principal guest and proffered the gavel which was immediately returned. The normal business of the lodge was conducted during this part of the ceremony the lodge was introducing a joining member. Once the business was transacted the only Entered Apprentice retired and the lodge was then opened in the Second Degree.

The Master elect, Cyril McGibbon, Past Senior Grand Deacon, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master of the Province of West Lancashire was the presented by Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Moore to the Installing Master Robert Hall who, after congratulating  Cyril on his election to Master elect proceeded with the installation ceremony. Having been installed in the chair of the worthy lodge in a very dignified manner by his predecessor Cyril was then invested with the Hall Stone Jewel of the lodge. As is customary an explanation of the origin and meaning of the jewel was delivered, on this occasion by John Price.

On completion of the ceremony of installation Howard then rose to deliver the congratulations and thanks of the Provincial Grand Master to Cyril which on this occasion took the form of a personal letter expressing his profound regret at being unable to attend the installation ceremony in person.

Before closing the lodge Cyril took the opportunity to thank the members for all their work and the multitude of guests for their support. He also informed the gathering that he had received 91 cards on his birthday which were decorating his dining room, at least until the end of the month! With such a large number he was unable to reply to them all but as a larger number of senders were present, he thanked them verbally.

The lodge was then duly closed and although there is no formal recession normally, all stood to allow the new master to retire first. The assembly were then transferred to the dining room where after the drinks were served an excellent meal was served by the hotel.

Another tradition of this lodge is that there are only three formal toasts and no others, yet another tradition  was a casualty of this special evening when the Installing Master then with a few short words proposed a toast to  the health of the newly Installed Worshipful Master. Cyril was then called upon to respond which he duly did. Citing some of the founding principles of the Lodge of Perseverance he concluded by thanking all the members of the lodge for their hard work, in particular the lodge's Director of Ceremonies, Sidney Ford, and his wife who had manufactured 70 extra white aprons for the occasion. He also thanked all the brethren for making a special day unforgettable. On taking his seat all those present rose and gave a prolonged acclamation to a very special man and Freemason.

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