Freemasons in Hampshire have formed a new lodge for those involved or interested in air travel as it attempts to attract members
It is the latest specialist lodge in the province following the creation of a Scouting lodge, football lodge, rugby lodge, sailing lodge and two motorsports lodges, which are proving highly popular.
The Samuel Cody Aviation Lodge No. 9953 – named after the early 19th century flying pioneer - meets in Bordon. Among its number are members and former members of the RAF, members and former members of civil aviation and ground crew, those from air traffic control as well as aeroplane enthusiasts.
It is run in the same way as any other lodge and its first master is Roger Bricknell who spent 25 years as a Concorde flight engineer – clocking up 14,000 flying hours.
Roger said: 'After the success of the other specialist lodges it became clear that there was enough interest to form a ‘flying’ lodge. There were many Freemasons from Hampshire and further afield who were keen to help.
'We do the same things as in other lodges, but just have a shared interest which makes meetings even more enjoyable.'
Mike Wilks, the Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight, consecrated the lodge. He said: 'We are using various methods to increase membership in the province and specialist lodges have proved a great way of doing it.
'Samuel Cody was a Wild West showman who became a flying pioneer and made the first ever flight in the UK in Farnborough in 1908. His name was a great choice and the lodge has got off to a flying start with interest from around the province and beyond.'
One of the new lodge’s members is Bernard Brown, well into his 90s, a world renowned air traffic controller who, amongst his achievements, is credited with the requirement that all pilots must be able to converse in English.
Members of Coningsby Lodge No.6383, known as the `Weekenders’, have raised £360 to support the emergency operations of Longtown Mountain Rescue Team
Longtown Mountain Rescue Team, which is based in the shadow of the Black Mountains and consists of some fifity volunteers, undertakes in excess of thirty search and evacuation missions each year in liaison with other emergency services, particularly RAF Search & Rescue (SARF) and Midlands Air Ambulance.
Chairman of the Longtown Team, Mike Jones, stressed the importance of community and public support to meet the £15,000 annual cost of maintaining this vital public service, and applauded Herefordshire Freemasons for the donations received by both the Mountain Rescue Team and Midlands Air Ambulance.
Gordon Bumfrey, Coningsby Lodge's Charity Steward, with first-hand experience of the expertise of the Longtown Team, said he was privileged to be given the opportunity, on behalf of Herefordshire Freemasons, to support such a worthy, crucial and indispensible local service.