RW Bro Anthony Wilson died peacefully on Monday 14 May, after a long battle with cancer fought with great dignity
He was President of the Board of General Purposes for 13 years, retiring from the role at the end of December 2017, and had been President of the Committee of General Purposes for three years before that.
Anthony was born in 1950, educated at Eton, and subsequently qualified as a chartered accountant. One of the first audits he conducted was for The Grand Lodge 250th Anniversary Fund, which sponsors research fellowships at the Royal College of Surgeons. Some 20 years later he became a Trustee of the charity, which is now known as The Freemasons' Fund for Surgical Research.
Initiated into Tuscan Lodge No. 14 in March 1976, Anthony was appointed Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1997, and served as President of the Committee of General Purposes from 2001 to 2004.
He was appointed President of the Board of General Purposes in March 2004 and was instrumental in reducing the Board to a more manageable size and making it more effective, efficient and fit for purpose. He was promoted to Past Senior Grand Warden in April 2012.
He also played a prominent role in many events throughout our Tercentenary celebrations including the unveiling of the memorial stones to Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross during World War I, through to the Especial meeting of Grand Lodge at the Royal Albert Hall where he was seated in the Royal Box with the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent.
UGLE has sent condolences on behalf of all members of Grand Lodge to his widow Vicky and family.
Read Anthony Wilson’s interview in Freemasonry Today in 2014, where he revealed that modernising the business of Freemasonry was one of his proudest achievements.
Originally founded as ‘The Black Fryers Bridge Lodge’ by operative masons working on the now famous river crossing, Cadogan Lodge No 162 celebrated its 250th anniversary in Temple 10 at Freemasons Hall, London, on Tuesday 6th June 2017
This was in the presence of RW Bro Sir Michael Snyder, Metropolitan Grand Master, and RW Bro The Earl Cadogan, Past Deputy Grand Master, who, half a century earlier, during it’s Bicentenary in 1967, was Worshipful Master of the Lodge bearing his family name.
Under the watchful eye of Worshipful Master Shravan Joshi, a selection of current and Past Provincial Grand Masters from Kent, Surrey and Warwickshire joined 140 members and other guests. All present were treated to an afternoon of contrasting types of agenda items. Two in particular illuminated the proceedings, due to their originality and pertinence.
Cadogan Lodge Past Master W Bro Don Foreman, combined his passion for history and talent as a public speaker by entertaining the Brethren with a thoroughly researched and frequently humorous history of the Lodge. Highlighting notable members of both ill and commendable repute, W Bro Foreman was at great pains to point out that the latter far outweigh the former.
W Bro Alan Wolsey (Loyal Manor Lodge No 6445 in Dorset) then gave a fascinating demonstration of the traditional methods of working stone, but not before arranging a tarpaulin to protect the chequered carpet of the ‘Indian Temple’ from flying debris. As he introduced the assembled Brethren to the necessary tools and age-old techniques, the familiar symbolism became increasingly vivid: the dedication, patience and practice being imperative to improving oneself as a mason, whether speculative or operative.
Since the 1800s, Cadogan Lodge has had many international links and testament to this was the visit by members of one of Cadogan’s two daughter lodges, The Lodge of St. George (Singapore) No 1152. Their Master, W Bro Thomas Graeff, presented commemorative coins to mark the occasion. Interestingly, Cadogan member RW Bro William Read rose to the rank of District Master of the Eastern Archipelago during his time in Asia and was the Consecrating Officer at the formation of St. George in 1867.
Having closed the Lodge in due form, the Brethren retired to a Festive Board at the Royal College of Surgeons where Cadogan Lodge’s rich history and centuries of convivial masonic spirit were continued and suitably celebrated.
The MCF invests in the future of both the masonic community and wider society by funding research into a range of health conditions and disabilities
While it may be some time before the outcomes of these research grants are announced, there have been two recent and notable developments as a result of masonic funding.
In 2015, £100,000 was awarded to the University of East Anglia to fund research into prostate cancer. The research has resulted in the development of a new test that makes the vital distinction between aggressive and less harmful forms of prostate cancer. The breakthrough will help to avoid unnecessary and damaging treatment for some cancer patients.
There has also been success in developing a new mode of healthcare for people with cystic fibrosis thanks to a £500,000 grant to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust in 2016. The funded project used the latest technology to enable patients to monitor their condition at home and liaise with specialist health teams remotely, rather than visiting a hospital. The trial has been successful in limiting infection and there is potential for the method to be translated to other conditions.
The MCF Charity Grants programme will be redefined over the coming months, but medical research will remain one of the charity’s top priorities.
Find out more: For more details, visit www.mcf.org.uk/community
Seen to enjoy ourselves
Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes reflects on how far Freemasonry has come since he was initiated 44 years ago
As many of you know, 2017 will see a large number of special events to celebrate the Tercentenary. There are 106 events planned so far, of which four have actually taken place. Not the least of these events relate to the 62 paving stones that will be laid outside the front of this building to commemorate the 62 Victoria Crosses awarded to masons in World War I, and also the formal reopening of the Masonic Memorial Garden at the National Arboretum.
During May I was lucky enough to attend two splendid Festivals. The first was for the Samaritan Fund, held by the Province of Cheshire at Old Trafford, and the second was for the Grand Charity, held by the Province of Norfolk in Norwich. Cheshire raised just over £3 million and Norfolk just over £2 million – remarkable results very much on a par with each other, bearing in mind the relative sizes of the Provinces. Congratulations to both.
It never ceases to amaze me how good our members are at fundraising. Every year, the four Charity Festivals raise close to £10 million. Over and above that, there are the Provincial charities and the individual lodge charities. These, of course, don’t include the Freemasons’ Fund for Surgical Research, which provides funding for the marvellous work of the Royal College of Surgeons.
Indeed, there are several other exceptional masonic charities, but space doesn’t permit me to mention them all. Suffice to say that the central masonic charities gave more than £4.8 million to 393 non-masonic charities last year and I have little doubt that the Provinces and lodges added considerably to this figure.
Finding the fun
Not only are our members good at fundraising but, just as importantly, they have a huge amount of fun in the process. I mention the enjoyment created by these events, as surely that must be the aim at all of our meetings. We have come a long way since I was initiated 44 years ago: I enjoyed my early meetings, but possibly despite some of the more elderly members rather than because of them. In those days it was nearly a capital offence to smile in lodge, but now more often than not some amusing incident occurs and it is allowed to be seen as such. There is no harm in being seen to enjoy ourselves.
‘I mention the enjoyment created by these events, as surely that must be the aim at all of our meetings.’
We can probably all cite instances when a more senior member is less than sympathetic to a newer member who has had a few lapses during the ritual. In my view, encouragement is what is required. This will almost certainly give him the confidence to improve, thereby increasing his enjoyment of our proceedings. If we encourage and congratulate – rather than routinely castigate – our new members, we will go a long way to retaining them.
Brethren, I should probably warn you that I have developed a liking for visiting lodges and chapters unannounced. Whether the lodge or chapter has enjoyed it I don’t know, but they have been kind enough to say that they have. A chapter that I went to in West Wales recently performed an excellent installation ceremony and I heard at least three pieces of ritual I had not come across before and all were delivered without hesitation. Above all, brethren, it seemed to me that they – you’ve guessed it – thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - NO. 36 WINTER 2017
Seen to enjoy ourselves
My eye was caught by the article by the Pro Grand Master entitled ‘Seen to enjoy ourselves’ (Freemasonry Today, autumn 2016). Can I straight away say that the sentiments contained express totally my experience in my own lodge.
I joined my school lodge, Old Patesian, No. 7828, from my mother lodge when it was suffering from a lack of members, not having initiated anyone for 10 years. The members, bar one, were members elsewhere and the ritual was an amalgam of areas. In the two meetings before I took the Chair, we had 11 at one and seven at another. The lodge was dying.
I called a meeting of all members and told them that they were not enjoying themselves enough and had no focus. I asked if we could open the membership up to non-old boys from the school and asked friends to support me by joining and to encourage the search for new initiates. I asked everyone to consider that the new ethos of the lodge was to take what we do seriously but to not take ourselves too seriously.
I was privileged to spend two years as Chair and now, as Director of Ceremonies, guide the lodge and its new Masters as they initiate, pass and raise. We now fill the dining room for our Christmas party and raise a good level of funds for the likes of the Military Wives Choir.
All this has been built upon the enjoyment factor, the insistence that we are partially in the entertainment business, understanding that we are not all great ritualists but so long as members are genuinely trying and going to a lodge of instruction then that is good enough.
Experience has shown me that the ‘tut-tut’ older members do nothing but harm to the enthusiasm of new members. In fact, by giving the younger members a responsibility for ensuring that the older members are brought to lodge and taken home they have integrated and begun to understand each other.
Please thank the Pro Grand Master for his article; it was heartening to read that he sees what I think many need to see.
Robert Ward, Old Patesian Lodge, No. 7828, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Regular Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter
9 November 2016
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes
Companions, I am very pleased to see so many of you here both from our Districts overseas and from our Provinces, including sixty companions from Cambridgeshire. Since our last meeting in April the Most Excellent First Grand Principal has been pleased to appoint Comp Willie Shackell as Grand Scribe Ezra and we wish him well. He was, of course, formally invested as Grand Secretary at the June Quarterly Communication.
This meeting, companions, always falls near to 11th November, Armistice Day, and as you are well aware this marvellous building is a peace memorial to all those who gave their lives for us during the First World War. It is worth, therefore, drawing your attention to two events taking place next year.
The first is on 18th April 2017 at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, when the newly constructed Masonic Memorial Garden in memory of all those masons who gave their lives during conflict in the service of our country will be opened. You are all invited.
The second is the unveiling of the Victoria Cross Memorial by the Grand Master on 25th April 2017. It will be placed on the pavement in front of the Tower Entrance of this building and will take the form of a number of paving stones with the names of the 63 Victoria Cross holders who were awarded the Victoria Cross in World War I and who were members of UGLE. Of these, 17 were also companions in the Royal Arch.
Companions, this seems to be an appropriate time to say a few words about Comp Denis Beckett who was one of the companions we stood in memory of earlier in the meeting. Comp Beckett was a very remarkable man and I had the good fortune to know him well. Indeed he was President of the Committee of General Purposes when I joined it in 1987. He was a Craft mason for 71 years and a Royal Arch mason for 59 years. He was initiated immediately after World War 2 in which he served with such distinction. He was awarded the DSO for his extraordinary courage during the battle of Monte Cassino. There were those who felt a VC would have been more appropriate.
Companions, we were privileged to have him as a member and particularly so that he presided over the Committee of General Purposes for 7 years.
Companions, whilst it is clearly important to remember the past, we must also look to the future. I am therefore very pleased that the successor to the Membership Focus Group, the Improvement Delivery Group, is composed of both Provincial Grand Masters and Grand Superintendents, with our Third Grand Principal, Gareth Jones, as its Deputy Chairman. It will be designing and delivering the future direction of both the Craft and Royal Arch.
Companions, you may have seen that, after my address at Quarterly Communications in June, I have been accused in the national media of suggesting that masons are all grumpy and boring – a misrepresentation, companions. At least I consider it to be a misrepresentation, but, if any of you think otherwise, I apologise. I said that if an amusing incident occurs at one of our meetings, it should not be frowned upon as had sometimes been the case in the past. It is not a capital offence to smile during meetings. Whilst I was not suggesting we should turn our meetings into a pantomime, there is no harm in us being seen to enjoy ourselves.
I believe this to be particularly so in the Royal Arch, as our Exaltation Ceremony is one of the finest and, in my experience, candidates derive great enjoyment from it. I think this is particularly so when the new format of the ritual is used which involves more of the companions and has the benefit of changing the voice that the candidate hears which I always feel refreshes his interest.
Finally, since Supreme Grand Chapter arranged the refurbishment of our magnificent organ, we have been treated to a number of superb concerts in this temple and I congratulate the Organ Committee on its achievements to date. I am very keen to draw your attention to the next concert at 5.00 pm, on 14th December, after the Quarterly Communication, to be given by the international concert artist, Jane Parker-Smith. The concerts are free, companions, and, so far, they have been wonderfully entertaining, and I am quite certain that this will be no exception.
Companions, I have no doubt that after our closing, you will enjoy listening to a team from the Royal College of Surgeons led by Professor Neil Mortensen, RCS Research Board Chairman at Oxford University, who will enlighten us on what has been achieved through your most generous support.
Thank you, companions.
Blue sky thinking
London’s Air Ambulance is able to reach any location in the city within 10 minutes. Aileen Scoular discovers how Metropolitan Freemasons came together to help put a second helicopter in the air
London is a city like no other. Covering some 600 square miles, and with a burgeoning population of 8.6 million – nearly 10 million if you include those entering the city within peak times – the average traffic speed is just nine miles per hour. Not a problem if you are driving to the supermarket; more worrying if you have just been involved in a traffic accident.
The city generates about 4,500 health-related calls to 999 every day and, typically, London’s emergency vehicles will reach an average speed of 20 miles per hour – better than the average, but potentially not fast enough if you have life-threatening injuries. And that’s where London’s Air Ambulance comes in: a remarkable charity established in 1989 when the Royal College of Surgeons criticised the care that seriously injured patients received in the UK.
Due to the importance of ‘the golden hour’ – the hour immediately following a serious injury – London’s Air Ambulance initially struggled to convince the medical profession that pre-hospital diagnosis and treatment could be implemented on the street or in the air. Since then, the charity has proved to the capital’s medical community – and the rest of the world – that life-saving surgery, anaesthesia and pain relief can all be delivered effectively out in the field.
Yet there have been challenges, not least the physical barriers: these helicopters can only be landed safely in daylight hours, which means that, after sunset or during adverse weather, London’s Air Ambulance service is delivered by high-performance cars. The other big challenge is, of course, funding.
It costs about £6 million a year to deliver what Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has described as a ‘world-class’ service. And while the charity receives some funding from the NHS, it relies heavily on donations from the public – which is why corporate partnerships and individual donations are invaluable.
When London’s Air Ambulance launched its ‘Your London, Your Helicopter’ funding appeal in 2014, its mission was simple: the charity needed to raise in excess of £4 million to acquire, adapt and fly a second helicopter for five years. The second helicopter has been the dream of the outgoing chief executive, Graham Hodgkin, from the first day he joined London’s Air Ambulance in 2012. What he and his team did not necessarily expect was that the London Freemasons would step forward and pledge £2 million – an unbelievably generous donation that would make the dream a reality far sooner than he had hoped.
‘I remember the call coming in,’ he says. ‘I was at a conference where one of our patients was talking about having survived open chest surgery at the side of the road, and I got a message to call the office urgently. I assumed something was wrong, but when I called I could hear the whooping in the background! I knew even then that it would be the biggest step change in our organisation’s history. The generosity was an absolute game changer.’
‘I knew even then that it would be the biggest step change in our organisation’s history.’ Graham Hodgkin
For London Freemasons, it was a chance to donate to a charity that could, and would, genuinely make a difference to the lives of Londoners of every age and in every borough. Tony Shields, the Metropolitan Grand Charity Steward, recalls the moment the decision was made.
‘Quite simply, it was an absolute no-brainer,’ he says.
‘We were looking for a fundraising campaign to take us up to our Tercentenary in 2017, and they wanted to get a second air ambulance into the air as soon as they could. Everything about their vision appealed to us.’
The new helicopter, with its eye-catching ‘London Freemasons’ branding, has been up and running since January this year and, according to Hodgkin, ‘has completely changed the scale and resilience of our service’.
The partnership between London’s Air Ambulance and the London Freemasons is equally exciting. ‘It’s a magnificent organisation and the team has been brilliant at promoting our involvement,’ explains Tony. ‘This donation will probably end up being our largest to date. It has also been the cause that has met with most enthusiasm from our members, and we are delighted to have been able to establish such a positive fundraising partnership.’
Hodgkin is also very happy. ‘It’s about two organisations with the same values coming together, based on a unifying cause,’ he says. ‘We have worked very hard to show the lodges how their donation has been used and we’re thrilled that so many more people now know about what we do. It creates a groundswell of support and momentum, and helps to drive us towards a more sustainable future. We cannot thank the London Freemasons enough.’
The pilot’s story
Chief pilot at London’s Air Ambulance, Captain Neil Jeffers knows London’s skyline better than most
‘London has some of the busiest air space in the world because we have two airports, City and Heathrow, in relatively close proximity. We always have two pilots on board our twin-engined helicopters, and we are afforded a great luxury, which is “alpha priority” – you could describe it as blue-light driving in the sky!
‘Working for London’s Air Ambulance is a wonderful job for a helicopter pilot and having the luxury of two pilots means that one of us can help the medical team, if need be. From the helipad at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, we can reach almost any location in London within 10 minutes by air and we decide where we’re going to land once we get there.
‘We never plan the landing site in advance because things can change in weeks, days or even minutes. We need an area of about 80 feet squared – about the size of a tennis court – but trees and new buildings are making safe landing spaces increasingly challenging.
‘With experience, we’ve learned how to identify the potential risks – loose tree branches, baby buggies and clothing can all be dislodged by the helicopter’s downdraft. Many people don’t realise that our helicopter throws down about 2.85 tonnes of air a second when it hovers, and that makes it incredibly windy.
‘Every day is totally different, although we always start with an aircraft check, an equipment check, a team briefing and a practice drill. Then, when the bell rings, you’re immediately up in the air, liaising with Heathrow and the fire crew, the medics, and the police on the ground. There’s this whole amazing teamwork process going on, which is brilliant. And, of course, we get to see how beautiful London looks from above.
‘There have been cases over the years where we can genuinely say, if London’s Air Ambulance hadn’t arrived at that time, the patient would not have survived. We get to save lives and that’s a huge privilege.’
The meaning of fellowship
Anthony West, Chairman of Trustees for The Freemasons’ Fund for Surgical Research, explains the charity’s history, achievements and selection process
Back in 1967, in partial commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the foundation of Grand Lodge, every Freemason in England and Wales was invited to contribute at least £1 to create an endowment for what was then the Grand Lodge 250th Anniversary Fund. More than £580,000 was raised, and used to create the first masonic charity with exclusively non-masonic objectives. The charity’s objectives remain ‘to further, in conjunction with the Royal College of Surgeons, research in the science of surgery’.
In its first years, the fund gave £25,000 to the Royal College of Surgeons of England, financing the first three Freemasons’ surgical research fellowships, a dental research fellowship and a library grant to help with the research process. Grants were made in all subsequent years and, by last year, total grants of more than £4.4 million had been made. In 2014, £135,000 was credited to three Freemasons’ fellowships and now the fund is regularly the largest fellowship contributor (although occasionally the College receives more from a donation).
The Royal Arch steps in
It has been tacitly understood that the fund’s trustees would not engage in fundraising, which was seen to conflict with the fundraising efforts of the four major masonic charities and the festival system. But to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the formation of Supreme Grand Chapter in 2013, an appeal had been launched by the Royal Arch, with the object of ‘helping to fund the Royal College of Surgeons research fellowship scheme’.
The appeal suggested a minimum of £10 plus Gift Aid from every Royal Arch companion, of whom there are 86,000 in England and Wales; the hope was to raise at least £1 million. In support of the appeal, the College mounted a roadshow to visit Provinces and chapters, where research fellows would speak in support of the appeal, and of their individual research projects.
When the appeal concluded, an astonishing £2.5 million had been raised, the Province of Northumberland alone raising about £50,000, which it donated directly to the College. This, together with other direct donations from chapters, has funded the first Royal Arch Fellowship, which was awarded to a research fellow at the Newcastle Medical School. It was subsequently decided to change the fund’s name to The Freemasons’ Fund for Surgical Research (FFSR), more accurately reflecting its nature.
‘When the appeal concluded, an astonishing £2.5 million had been raised – and this has funded the first Royal Arch Fellowship.’
What is the process for selecting Freemasons’ Research Fellows? Until 1993, our annual grant was used not only for fellowships but also for the purchase of pieces of medical equipment and for the library. In 1993, the College established its formal Surgical Research Fellowship Scheme, to which our fund has since been contributing. Currently, the College receives applications from some 120 prospective one-year research fellows. The applicants are all qualified doctors who have elected to become surgeons.
The process for applicants is rigorous, consisting of a written application, setting out details of the project and justifying the reason for the research to be undertaken. The application for patient benefit in the near future is a key criterion.
At the end of the assessment process, the College matches potential awards with the funds available. At this stage about 20 research projects will be funded and the sponsors are then invited to choose those projects that particularly resonate with them. In the case of the FFSR, our trustees have an annual meeting with representatives of the College, at which we are presented with a choice of about six projects, from which we select three (or, in the future, four).
I hope that this has given you some insight into the valuable research facilitated by the College and the significant role played by Freemasonry. In a very recent letter to me from the president of the College, thanking us for the current year’s grant, she says: ‘This significantly increased grant is very much appreciated – and can only enhance the very real friendship and bonds that exist between our respective organisations.’
10 June 2015
An address on The Freemasons' Fund for Surgical Research by RW Bro JAH West, PJGW
MW Pro Grand Master and brethren, thank you MW Pro Grand Master for allowing me to speak about the history and achievements of the Freemasons’ Fund for Surgical Research, of which I am the Chairman of Trustees.
I have some hesitancy in speaking of the fund under its new title as it was formerly known as the Grand Lodge 250th Anniversary Fund and this is where its origins lie.
In 1967, in partial commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the foundation of Grand Lodge, every Freemason in England and Wales was invited to contribute at least £1 to create an endowment for the fund. The members of all bar four lodges did contribute and a sum in excess of £580,000 was raised. This money was used to create the first masonic charity, with exclusively non-masonic objectives. The objects of the charity were (and remain) 'to further, in conjunction with the Royal College of Surgeons, research in the science of surgery.'
The MW Grand Master is the Patron of the fund and has the power of appointing the trustees.
The longer serving brethren amongst you may be interested to know that the first trustees, all eminent Freemasons of their day, were Sir Arthur Porritt (as he then was), Sir Reginald Goff, Alexander Frere, Frank Douglas, Jeremy Pemberton, Peter Studd and Alan Hunt, two of whom were surgeons and it is this balance of medical expertise that we try to preserve today.
I was appointed a trustee in 1984 (over 30 years ago), by which time Jeremy Pemberton was Chairman and Lord Porritt was still a trustee.
The fund’s trust deed stipulates that there shall be no more than seven trustees, the majority of whom must be Freemasons. In practice no non-mason has ever been appointed a trustee
In the first years, 1967/8, the fund contributed £25,000 to the Royal College of Surgeons and this funded the first three Freemasons’ surgical research fellowships, one dental research fellowship and a grant towards the library, to assist in the research process. Annual grants were made in all subsequent years and, by last year, total grants of over £4.4m had been made, that for 2014 being in the sum of £135,000, which was credited to 3 Freemasons’ fellowships. Year in, year out, the fund is the largest contributor towards fellowships, although, occasionally, the college receives a larger one off donation.
Again, by 2014, the capital value of the fund had grown to around £3.5m but, as the original trust deed had specifically excluded the spending of capital, and as income had not grown at the same rate as capital appreciation, the trustees requested the Charity Commission to authorise the adoption of a total return policy, thus allowing present research fellows to enjoy the benefit of increased grants. The total return policy now allows the trustees to augment the income but subject to strict limits, permitting no more than 5% per annum, of the capital value of the fund to be distributed, whether by way of income or capital appreciation. In practice, over the past two years, no more than 3.5% has been distributed and this is well within the permitted figure. In all these matters, the trustees are advised by Cazenoves, as investment managers and by Dixon Wilson, as accountants.
Since the formation of the fund, it has been tacitly understood that the trustees would not engage in fundraising, as this was seen to conflict with the fundraising efforts of the four major masonic charities and the festival system.
However, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the formation of Supreme Grand Chapter in 2013, an appeal had been launched by the Royal Arch, with the object of 'helping to fund the Royal College of Surgeons research fellowship scheme.' The appeal literature specified a target of raising a minimum of £10 plus gift aid from every Royal Arch companion of whom there are 86,000 in England and Wales, thus anticipating a minimum of around £1m to be raised.
In support of the Royal Arch appeal, the college mounted a road show, visiting many Provinces and individual chapters, where one or more research fellows would speak in support of the appeal, in general, and of their individual research projects in particular.
This involved a huge amount of work by the college and I must express my thanks, in particular, to Martyn Coomer, whose task it is to ensure that the highly qualified research fellows can deliver a talk in non-medical English, sufficient to be understood by the layman. He achieves this feat with consummate skill. To illustrate his expertise, a presentation was made to a meeting of Freemasons, under the heading of 'Delineating the role of integrins in the repair and regeneration of the human vestibular system'. Apart from any medics present, I defy most of you to recognize that this was research into dizziness!
More about the Fellowship Scheme, shortly, except to say that Freemasonry has been the beneficiary of the road shows, in that at least two research fellows have been initiated into the Craft, having previously had no knowledge of it, but, having met with members, had formed 'a favourable opinion preconceived of the institution.'
When the appeal concluded, the staggering amount of £2.5m had been raised and I had previously suggested that, as the objects of the appeal were identical to those of the 1967 fund, it would be sensible for the appeal monies to be transferred to the fund and to be managed as one. I am delighted to say that Supreme Grand Chapter agreed to this course and, in future, the fund trustees will award fellowships on behalf of Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter in the proportion of 3:2.
During the appeal, the Province of Northumberland raised about £50,000 which they donated directly to the college and this, together with other direct donations from individual chapters, has funded the first Royal Arch Fellowship. This was awarded to a research fellow at the Medical School, in Newcastle, to undertake a urology project, in connection with the narrowing of the urinary channel and looking at corrective treatments.
At the conclusion of the appeal, it was decided to change the name of the fund from 'the Grand Lodge 250th Anniversary Fund' to 'The Freemasons’ Fund for Surgical Research' as this more accurately reflected the nature of the fund, going forward.
At a very recent meeting of the trustees, it was noted that the investment portfolio of the enlarged fund was valued at £6.5m (up from £6.25m, when the new money was introduced in January 2014) and the estimated annual income would be £186,000, a yield of 2.9%. It was agreed that the current year’s grant to the college should be £220,000 (a total return yield of under 3.5%), sufficient to be allocated four fellowships to be attributed equally between Grand Lodge and the Royal Arch.
So much for history and finance. What is the process for selecting Freemason Research Fellows.
Prior to 1993, the college had a number of basic science departments, onsite, at their headquarter building in Lincoln's Inn Fields and, whilst research grants were awarded, there was no formal scheme in place. Our annual grant would be applied not only towards fellowships, but also in the purchase of essential pieces of medical equipment and the library.
In 1993 the college established its formal Surgical Research Fellowship Scheme, to which our fund has been contributing annually. Currently, the college receives applications from some 120 prospective, one-year, research fellows. The applicants are all qualified doctors who have elected to become surgeons. They will be members of the college, having passed the membership exams, for which the current pass rate is only 36%.
Ultimately the research fellows will hope to become consultants and their fellowship will be especially helpful for those who wish to become academic surgeons. Typically, academic surgeons will become professors or senior lecturers in medical schools, attached to National Health Service hospitals, where they will operate and run clinics, whilst teaching and continuing their research.
The amount of fellowships awarded depends on the funds available from all the supporters of the scheme (of whom there are about 15) but, typically about 20 are awarded each year. The process for the applicants is rigorous, consisting of a written application, setting out details of the proposed project and justifying, in medical terms, the reason for the research to be undertaken.
In particular, patient benefit is a key criteria. This aims to ensure that the research is not light years away from having a translational application for the benefit of patients.
Note is also taken of the potential of each applicant and the environment in which the research will take place. All applications are considered by a committee of the college, which reduces the number of possible researchers to be funded by about two thirds. The remaining one third (typically between 40 and 50) are called to attend a poster viva, at which each is asked to show that he or she is fully conversant with their project, work on which they may well have already been engaged in their overall medical training.
At the end of the assessment process, the college matches potential awards within the funds available. At this stage about 20 research projects will certainly be funded and the sponsors are then invited to choose those projects which particularly resonate with them. In the case of the Freemasons fund, our trustees have an annual meeting with representatives of the college, at which we are presented with a choice of about six projects, from which to select three (or, going forward, four). The trustees seek to select projects in different specialties, but it has to be said that male dominant conditions usually receive favourable consideration.
The following gives a flavour of the research projects funded, by Freemasons, in recent years:
Cancer, whether pancreatic, prostate, colorectal or oral and laryngeal, selecting viruses to infect and destroy tumour cells, using fiber optics to detect precancerous lesions in the oesophagus, developing a novel visualisation technique using magnetic resonance imaging to detect brain tumours
Kidney failure in patients undergoing heart surgery, looking to improve the long term outcomes of transplanted organs and, although in early stages, to build a kidney for transplantation in a laboratory, using stem cells.
Improving the outcomes of extremely premature babies who suffer brain hemorrhages.
From the above sample, you will understand that it is essential to have medical expertise amongst the trustees. Currently we have RW Bro Lord Ribeiro, PJGW, a Past President of the College and, subject to approval by the Grand Master, we are hoping, very shortly, to appoint another former member of the Council of the College, to replace W Bro David Rosin, who is now permanently based abroad.
At the annual meeting with the college the trustees not only decide on the prospective fellows, but also receive oral reports from those of the previous year, outlining, in plain English(!), the stage which has been reached by their research and whether it is ongoing, with funding outside the college.
The 2013 Royal Arch Appeal has highlighted the work of the fund and it is hoped shortly to create a website, further to educate both Freemasons and others as to what the fund has, and hopes to, achieve.
I hope, MW Pro Grand Master and brethren, that this has given you some insight into the valuable research facilitated by the college and the significant role played by Freemasonry. In a very recent letter to me, from the President of the College, thanking for the current year’s grant, she says: 'This significantly increased grant is very much appreciated and can only enhance the very real friendship and bonds that exist between our respective organisations.'
Recognising our legacy
HRH The Duke of Kent explains how funding from the Royal Arch is supporting the Royal College of Surgeons and has helped to restore the Willis organ in the Grand Temple
You will remember the generous £2.5 million raised for the 200th anniversary appeal to support the research work of the Royal College of Surgeons. A fundamental decision was needed as to how this sum should be invested and administered.
It was decided that this would best be done together with the existing Grand Lodge Fund, launched for the Royal College in 1967, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Grand Lodge.
It has been agreed that the fellowships will be allocated to both the Craft and the Royal Arch in proportion to the contribution of funds. So, this will mean that there will be two Royal Arch Fellows in every five fellowships that are supported.
As patron of the fund, I confirm that in order to reflect these important changes – notably that the funding for these fellowships has come from both the Craft and the Royal Arch – the name of the fund has been changed as of January 2015 to The Freemasons’ Fund for Surgical Research.
On the east wall of the Grand Temple at Freemasons’ Hall, the Willis organ has been renovated and greatly improved during the past year. You will be aware that Supreme Grand Chapter has funded this initiative from its reserves as the Royal Arch’s contribution towards the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England. In recognition of this contribution, the organ’s new case bears a triple tau at its top as well as on the front of the renovated console.
I am sure you would want me to congratulate all concerned with this project, which not only enhances this magnificent room, both audibly and visually, but also adds to the heritage of this building and the memory of those many Freemasons who died in World War I.
‘The renovation of the Willis organ is the Royal Arch’s contribution towards the Tercentenary of UGLE.’
Chapter support for surgical research
Established with £587,629 in 1967, the Grand Lodge 250th Anniversary Fund is a registered charity supporting the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS). By the end of 2013, the fund’s capital was £3.7 million, despite providing more than £4.3 million in grants during the previous 45 years.
However, with lower returns and the increased cost of financing Fellows to undertake surgical research, fulfilling the fund’s aspirations was becoming difficult. Supreme Grand Chapter therefore decided to launch an appeal to support the RCS in recognition of the 200th anniversary of the Royal Arch, and £2.5 million was raised. From this year, two Royal Arch Fellows in every five fellowships will be supported.
To reflect these changes, the fund was renamed The Freemasons’ Fund for Surgical Research (FFSR) on 1 January 2015.