Tuesday, 12 September 2017 00:00

The quiet entrepreneur

As well as launching a television rental empire and revolutionising the British horse racing industry, Freemason David Robinson also shared his prosperity with worthy causes, as Paul Hooley explains

The culmination of more than a year of preparation, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 brought three million spectators to London’s streets to witness her procession. It was the first British coronation to be televised and the subject caused considerable debate, with Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill opposed
to the idea. Elizabeth was convinced otherwise, however.

The event highlighted public interest in television, but few people had been able to afford to purchase their own set – so Freemason David Robinson saw an opportunity. He formed a television rental business through his existing chain of shops, carrying out repairs in a pre-war workshop behind his garage.

Born in Cambridge in 1904, Robinson was the son of a local bicycle-shop owner. In 1930 he bought a garage in Bedford and developed it into a substantial business. Later, he opened a radio and electrical shop in the high street and then similar shops in several neighbouring towns.

By 1962, Robinson Rentals had expanded nationwide and was making an annual profit of £1.5 million. Robinson sold the business to Granada for £8 million in 1968, and turned his attention to his great love – horse racing. Over the next few years, he set up three separate and competing stables at Newmarket and purchased Kempton Park Racecourse.


Horse racing in those days was something of a closed shop. But Robinson was his own man and had little regard for the racing establishment or the slapdash way in which the industry was run. He dismissed many antiquated ways of running stables and developing horses, bringing in his own methods.

Robinson revolutionised the ‘sport of kings’ and made it what it is today. He never bred horses himself but spent lavishly at the yearling sales, where his buyers were known as Robinson’s Rangers. He was always looking for a return on every investment, first on the racecourse and then on the resale of the horse as a stallion.

Robinson proved that efficient management could make horse racing profitable. He ranked all his horses, jockeys and the courses they ran on by colour – red, blue or green, according to ability – and woe betide any trainer who ran a red horse with a blue jockey at a green course. In the 10 years he was actively involved in horse racing, Robinson topped thenumber-of-winners table eight times, setting a new record of 115 wins in the 1973 season. At that time, he had 157 horses in training and his career total was a staggering 997 winners.

‘While Robinson’s charitable giving was legendary within the Craft, he never sought to go through the chair’


As spectacular as Robinson’s achievements were, it was his support of worthy causes and altruism that most impressed those who knew him. In Bedford, he paid for the building of an Olympic-sized swimming pool and sports complex, and in Cambridge his donations paid for a nursing home, an arts centre at his old school and new developments at Papworth and Addenbrooke’s Hospitals, including a maternity unit. When the Penlee lifeboat sank with the loss of the entire crew in 1981, Robinson paid £400,000 for a replacement and went on to fund a further three boats. He made many other donations – often anonymously – the greatest being the £18 million he gave to the University of Cambridge in 1973 to build Robinson College.

Although he accepted a knighthood in 1985, Robinson had little time for honours, social climbing or self-promotion. Equally, while his charitable giving was legendary within the Craft, he never sought to go through the chair, preferring instead to sit quietly among the backbenchers.

Robinson was initiated into Etheldreda Lodge, No. 2107, Cambridge, in 1929 and was made an honorary member in 1984. He was also a member of Robert de Parys Lodge, No. 5000, Bedford, from 1931 until 1982.

A devoted family man, Robinson married Mabel Baccus when they were both 18 and they had a son and a daughter. He led by example and was a remarkable entrepreneur and philanthropist, amassing a fortune so he could give it away to deserving causes. Robinson died in 1987 and was buried at sea by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Published in Features

Giving continuity

Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes explains how the new Masonic Charitable Foundation will offer support and services to those who need help

 In December 2014, I announced that the Grand Master’s Council and the Provincial Grand Masters’ Forum had endorsed proposals from the charities to consolidate the activities of the four central masonic charities. Subsequently, the proposals were endorsed by the Grand Master, and over the past nine months all four charities have launched consultations with their members. 

Should the members of each of the charities endorse the proposals, it is anticipated that a new charity will become operational on 1 April 2016. This new charity, subject to legal approvals, will be called the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF). 

The MCF will continue to offer the same services to those Freemasons and family members who need help, as well as providing support for the non-masonic charitable causes that the Craft wishes to assist. Thus, continuity of our charitable giving will be achieved. The new charity will also continue to rely on the generosity of Freemasons for its funds, and the Festival system will transition in favour of the new charity over the next few years.

A shadow board comprising trustees from the existing charities has met and will, with the existing charities, oversee the creation of the new charity. The board has elected James Newman as interim chairman and Michael Heenan as interim treasurer. These changes will require amendments to the Book of Constitutions with formal notice of those amendments being brought to the December meeting of Grand Lodge.

‘The new masonic charity will be one of the largest charitable foundations in the country.’

Bringing the existing masonic charities together means that the trustees will be responsible for one of the largest charitable foundations in the country – a tremendous achievement and something of which we can all be proud.

When talking about our charities, I am inevitably reminded of Iain Bryce who so sadly died in July. Apart from his dedication to our masonic charities, he was also a long-serving treasurer of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. I first met him at his installation as Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire, North and East Ridings in 1984. When Iain became involved in something, he gave it his full attention. 

I am sure that all the charity presidents who were in office during his time as Deputy Grand Master will have benefited enormously from his wise counsel. He was passionate about all of the charities and held strong views on their management. I shall miss him greatly and I know that I am far from alone in that.

Lodge gets on board in Poole

A cheque for £1,000 has been presented to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in Poole from the Grand Charity Relief Chest of Public Schools Installed Masters’ Lodge, No. 9077. This donation was part of the Master’s List raised by the lodge during Lt Cdr James King’s year as lodge Master and was received by Will Collins, an RNLI employee and volunteer member of the Poole lifeboat. 

Missed by many

After a short illness Iain Ross Bryce, Past Deputy Grand Master and Past Second Grand Principal, died peacefully in hospital on 30 June aged 79

Educated at Bridlington Grammar School, Iain Ross Bryce trained in accountancy, becoming a Fellow Chartered Accountant and joining Ernst & Young, where he rose to senior partner and ran the Hull office. After national service with the Royal Engineers, he enlisted in the Territorial Army, becoming colonel and earning the Territorial Decoration. 

A keen yachtsman, Iain served as treasurer, chairman and president of Bridlington Royal National Lifeboat Institution and was for many years the charity’s national treasurer. A well-known and popular figure, he was involved in many community organisations in the town and was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire. 

A lifelong friend commented: ‘He did a great deal for Bridlington, mostly behind the scenes. He had a very kind nature and many people in Bridlington have received his help, mostly without knowing it.’

In Freemasonry, Iain was active in the Province of Yorkshire, North and East Ridings, serving as Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent from 1984 to 1991. Appointed Deputy Grand Master and Second Grand Principal in 1991, he served for 13 years during which time he gave wise counsel and strong support to the ‘top to bottom’ overhaul of the administration of the Craft. He also did much to bring the masonic charities together, laying the foundations for the major changes taking place.

A big man in every sense, Iain had a great love for and enjoyment of life, but always said that he could not have achieved anything without the great support of his wife Jan and their family. 

He will be much missed by many.

Published in UGLE

Drawn together

On one level, the members of the Devonshire Masonic Art Group create works of art, put on exhibitions and raise money for good causes. But as Peter Watts discovers, they are also spreading the word about Freemasonry to the wider community

Although Devonshire’s Masonic Art Group was formed in 2013, the seed was planted three decades earlier. 

‘It goes back 30 years,’ says the group’s founder, Cyril Reed from Lodge of Perseverance, No. 164, who is 81 years old and has been a mason for more than 50 years. ‘I was working in London where there was an exhibition of postmen’s art at the Barbican. Then about five years ago, an art teacher came to our village in Devon and started holding classes. I attended, remembered that exhibition and thought there must be a lot of masons – and relatives of masons – who were interested in art.’

Cyril asked the secretaries of local lodges to put the word out and by October 2013 had rustled up enough interested – and talented – bodies to hold an exhibition at the masonic hall in Newton Abbot, which was opened by Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury. Money raised from sales was split between the Devon Air Ambulance Trust and the masonic charities, with the initial show followed by similar events at lodges in Crediton, Sidmouth, Totnes, Dartmouth, Exeter and Exmouth. 

A picture of success

To date, the art group has sold paintings and raised money for local causes such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and a children’s hospital, while also allowing members of the public to visit lodges and speak to masons about the Craft. ‘We’re all in it for the same aims,’ says Keith Eddiford, a member of the group and of Teign Lodge, No. 7018. ‘To further knowledge of Freemasonry among the general public, to make a little bit of money for charities and to show off our work.’ 

The group has worked in various styles and disciplines that extend beyond traditional painting. Keith, for example, has made pens and snowmen in numerous types of wood. Mervyn James from Lodge of Perseverance, No. 164, who sadly passed away shortly after the group held an exhibition of their work at Exmouth Masonic Hall in April, built fairground organs.

‘We’re all in it to further knowledge of Freemasonry, make money for charity and show off our work.’ Keith Eddiford

Exhibiting talent

‘We try to have a certain standard – without upsetting anyone – and they must be affiliated with Freemasonry in some way,’ says Keith. Cyril, who trained as a draughtsman but had done little painting until he took it up in his 70s, focuses on animals and birds. Barbara Bird, who was instrumental in setting up the Masonic Art Group, specialises in cats, both large and small. Meanwhile, the current chairman, Phill Mitchell, calls upon his experiences in the Merchant Navy to depict seascapes and boats, having begun painting when home on leave. 

There’s even a professional artist in the ranks. Emma Childs, whose 2015 exhibitions include events in London and Monaco, also displays her mysterious, colourful forest scenes with the Masonic Art Group. Her partner, Rob Potter, is a photographer and member of Devon Lodge, No. 1138. The pair supply much of the material required for staging an exhibition – the boards and large wooden A-frames that are used to display the artworks. 

‘They are really good exhibitions,’ says Emma. ‘There’s a great deal of talent there. And the group are very proficient with the practicalities; they don’t need me to show them how to put on an exhibition, we all help equally.’ There are three or four Masonic Art Group meetings a year, and while it’s the chairman’s responsibility to identify and contact potential venues, Phill says that with several exhibitions under their belt, the group now moves as a ‘well-oiled machine’. 

For many of the members, one of the benefits of the group is that the exhibitions give the public a chance to visit lodges and learn about Freemasonry. ‘People who are walking past can come in,’ says Phill, who is a member of Unity Lodge, No. 1332. ‘They may have never been inside a lodge, they may not even know what one is, so we can tell them what we do and show them around the temple. People are very interested in the history of masons and the buildings.’ 

Emma believes that the fact that each lodge is different attracts people. ‘The public gets to see a free exhibition and to look inside a lodge. Then the Freemasons are on hand to discuss what masonry is about and which charities we are raising money for, and people can also look at the art.’

For Cyril, showing the friendly face of Freemasonry was his principle motivation in forming the group. ‘It wasn’t just the money we’d raise, it was to show we are normal people, we like painting and we like showing it to everyone.’ Phill believes that the group broadens the masonic experience for members. ‘We get to meet other masons and see different sides of each other,’ he says. Keith agrees: ‘It’s wonderful seeing these old lodges. Parts of Gandy Street in Exeter go back to the 14th century.’

‘We’re still a small group. We want to raise the profile, encouraging other people to do the same.’ Phill Mitchell

Into the groove

Many of the members are retired and find time for painting between their other activities, including volunteering and masonic responsibilities. The art group fits neatly into this groove, bringing together charity work and the promotion of Freemasonry. For Keith, the group allows him to combine masonry with his artistic skills. ‘I was in the ambulance service for 32 years but before that I trained as a carpenter,’ he says. ‘I bought myself a wood-turning lathe and one of my first projects was turning pens, using all types of wood. I gave a lot away but I also sold some to masons after putting masonic clips on them – the square and compasses, things like that.’ 

Phill is also interested in the symbolism of masonry and plans to paint some of these elements. ‘I like the fact everything has an allegorical meaning,’ he says. ‘The way we attach meaning to working tools – trowels, squares, compasses. Each degree is represented by different symbols and I’ve painted a first degree tracing board. That’s something that interests me.’

Looking forward, the hope is that other areas of Devon will get their own groups together. ‘We can’t travel all over the county, but we think it’s a nice concept and it would be great to see others take it up,’ says Keith. Phill agrees, keen to expand into Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset: ‘We’re still a small, Provincial group and we want to raise the profile, hopefully encouraging other people to do the same. If they are interested we are more than happy to offer advice.’ And what about exhibiting in London? ‘We haven’t thought about that at all,’ laughs Phill. 

‘We would need to get a lot more A-frames first!’

Turning the tide

With a partnership that stretches back more than one hundred and forty years, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and Freemasonry have a shared history. John Hamill charts its origins

As a seafaring nation with a proud naval history – and a great delight in messing about in boats – it is not surprising that one of our best known and much loved national charities is the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). 

Its founder was Sir William Hillary, who resided on the Isle of Man. He had witnessed many shipwrecks around its coast and had on numerous occasions helped in rescuing people from the wrecks. He began to lobby for a national organisation to assist ships in distress, resulting in the formation, in 1824, of what is now the RNLI.

The RNLI relies entirely on the generosity of the public to fund this essential work, and rescues an average of twenty-two people every day. It is able to provide its services because the crews who man the lifeboats, those who look after the lifeboat stations and equipment, and those who do the local fundraising are all volunteers. 

It costs around £385,000 a day to keep the service going, which might seem a lot until you start to consider the costs of building, maintaining and fuelling the lifeboat fleet, as well as providing the crews with protective clothing and the equipment that is vital for their work. 

What is less well known is the long association between Freemasonry and the RNLI. 

It was in 1871 that members of Lodge of Faith, No. 141, London, came up with the idea of providing a lifeboat for the RNLI. They raised £260 and petitioned Grand Lodge to provide the additional funds to purchase a boat. Grand Lodge agreed and, learning that the lifeboat at North Berwick needed replacing, provided the funds for a thirty-foot, state-of-the-art vessel, together with a lifeboat carriage to get it to the water. The boat provided sterling service for sixteen years.

In 1875, HRH Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, was installed as Grand Master. He was sent on an extended tour of India to represent Queen Victoria, who had become Empress of India. This was a journey not without its hazards and dangers in those days, so when Albert returned, Grand Lodge decided to mark his safe homecoming in some permanent way. 

To the rescue

A committee recommended that Grand Lodge provide £4,000 to build two new lifeboat stations, complete with lifeboats, where the RNLI had no presence; Clacton-on-Sea in Essex and Hope Cove in Devon were the chosen sites. The boat at Clacton was named Albert Edward in honour of the Grand Master and Hope Cove’s was named Alexandra after his wife. The lifeboat station at Hope Cove still exists and is adorned with the Prince of Wales’s insignia, as well as a plaque marking its origins.

The last occasion on which Grand Lodge, through its Board of Benevolence, provided a lifeboat was in 1980. The fifty-four-foot Arun-class lifeboat has worked all round the British Isles as part of the RNLI General Reserve Fleet, and was named the Duchess of Kent in honour of the Grand Master’s wife. The naming ceremony took place on the Thames alongside County Hall on 27 April 1982, when His Royal Highness was in the curious position, as Grand Master, of presenting the new lifeboat to himself as president of the RNLI.

The Grand Master had been president since 1969, when he succeeded his mother, HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. She, in turn, had succeeded her husband, HRH Prince George, Duke of Kent, who was our Grand Master from 1939 until his death in war service in 1942.

In total there have been fourteen masonic lifeboats (see panel) but it is not just through the provision of lifeboats that Freemasonry has supported the RNLI. Over a long period, many Provinces, lodges and individual brethren have made regular donations to the RNLI. 

Nor has support been limited to the Craft. The last masonic lifeboat to be launched was funded by the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons in 2009 and is named the Mark Mason, operating out of Angle in Pembrokeshire. And, of course, many of the volunteers who work for the RNLI are Freemasons.

Masonic lifeboat history

The Freemason
North Berwick, 1871–1887

Lady Leigh
Scarbrough, 1872–1887

Albert Edward
Clacton-on-Sea, 1878–1884

Hope Cove, 1878–1887

Albert Edward
Clacton-on-Sea, 1885–1891

Hope Cove, 1887–1900

City Masonic Club
Poole, 1887–1910

Relief Fleet, 1910–1918
Albert Edward

Clacton-on-Sea, 1901–1929
Aranmore, 1929–1932

Hope Cove, 1903–1930

Cromer, 1931–1934
Duke of Connaught Peterhead, 1921–1939

General Reserve Fleet, 1939–1951
Duchess of Kent

General Reserve Fleet, 

Valerie Wilson 
Newquay, 2003–present

Essex Freemason
Southend, 2009–present

Mark Mason
Angle, Pembrokeshire, 2009–present


• Lady Leigh was the wife of Lord Leigh, Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire, 1852–1905.
• HRH The Duke of Connaught was Grand Master 1901–1939.
• Valerie Wilson was the wife of Leslie Wilson, former Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Middlesex.

Letters to the Editor - No. 29 Spring 2015

Making waves


I could add to the article on Freemasonry and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in the winter 2014 issue of Freemasonry Today with another lifeboat launched and supported by Lodge of Friendship, No. 5909, in October 2007. 

The Master of the lodge named the new Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat at Aberystwyth, at the naming ceremony and service of dedication in April 2008. 

The Atlantic 85 was the most advanced inshore lifeboat ever produced by the RNLI and its introduction at Aberystwyth is thanks to the legacy of Joan Bate, sister of a Past Master of the lodge, the late Arthur Bate. Lodge of Friendship is honoured to be associated with this lifeboat at Aberystwyth and has continued to support it.

Alan Harris, Lodge of Friendship, No. 5909, Birmingham, Warwickshire


I read with great interest John Hamill’s article, ‘Turning the Tide’, in the winter issue of Freemasonry Today. It reminded me that in 1997 the Grand Charity donated £30,000 towards a new Severn-class lifeboat based at Spurn Point on the River Humber, and she is aptly named Pride of the Humber.

The Grand Master accompanied by the then Deputy Grand Master Iain Ross Bryce, who was the Chairman of the Northern Area Appeal Fund, attended the naming ceremony and dedication service, which was held at the Promenade, Hull Marina on 24 September 1997. After the dedication service Iain Ross Bryce invited the Grand Master to name the new boat, in which they then travelled down the river. 

The Duchess of Kent lifeboat gave excellent service to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) for over twenty years and was launched two hundred and fourteen times, saving seventy-one lives. 

It was eventually retired out of service in May 2003 and sold.

The lodges and chapters within the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding and the sister Province of Yorkshire, North and East Ridings continue to support the RNLI with some donations going to the new boathouse, which was opened by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent on 7 September 2007. 

I think Freemasonry in general can be very proud of its support for this charity because the RNLI staff are ordinary people doing an extraordinary job.

Alan Hurdley, Rugby Football Lodge, No. 9811, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, West Riding

Published in Features

Lift for Norfolk lifeboats

Norfolk Provincial Grand Master John Rushmer has presented match-funded cheques for £2,500 to the RNLI Happisburgh Lifeboat Station. Under the Matched Funding Scheme, the Grand Charity matches grants made by local lodges to national non-masonic charities in 12 selected Provinces, up to £5,000. The scheme aims to raise awareness of the charitable help available from masons at a local level. 

Lodge generosity launches lifeboat: An inshore lifeboat is now patrolling off Littlehampton in West Sussex, made possible by the fundraising activities of Mandalay Lodge, No. 9383, which meets in Bromley in West Kent

In just 18 months, the lodge raised £9,500 for the Arancia boat and trailer. Called Mandalay in honour of the lodge, the boat was officially named by Rene Jeffs in memory of her late husband, Eric, who was a member of the lodge.

The fundraising was led by Jeff Baylie, who commented: ‘This has been a wonderful effort. The outboard boat, which has a brass plaque proudly bearing our name, can have a two- or three-man crew.’ Lifeboat manager Rory Smith said: ‘The inshore rescue boat is the workhorse of the lifeguard fleet. Thanks to your generous donations, the boat will help the RNLI continue in its mission to save lives at sea.’ 

Monday, 05 August 2013 01:00

MV Arcadia's return trip

Having sailed all the way down to the southern hemisphere it was time for MV Arcadia to set sail from Sydney for the return journey back to Southampton

The three officers of the committee remained the same as the south bound journey, Mike Walker, a member of Gratitude Lodge No. 6514 in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, president, John Strange, a member of Three Kindred Lights Lodge No. 5066 in Metropolitan Grand Lodge, secretary and Frank Parle, a member of Victoria Lodge No 4629 in the Province of West Lancashire, treasurer.

16 members attended the first meeting on the return leg, and as on the south-bound journey there was a wide range of masonic ranks, with members from across England, Australia and New Zealand. As a number of brethren would be leaving the ship at San Francisco it was decided that we would have a coffee morning and a cocktail party for this leg and carry over the money raised for charity to be distributed at the cocktail party on the journey from San Francisco to Southampton. Chris Hamer, a member of Fitzwilliam Lodge No 3023 in the Province of Yorkshire West Riding volunteered to act as DC at the cocktail party on the journey to San Francisco.

Whilst heading in a north, north easterly direction from Auckland to the Samoan islands in the South Pacific the ship underwent three more time warp turbulences. The first occurred when it got stuck on a Sunday for two days, this was immediately followed by the ship jumping from Monday to Wednesday and then being stuck on Thursday for two days! Another strange time phenomenon kept on affecting the ship’s time, some of the days would be 25 hours while others would be 23 hours.

Again, there was no damage to the ship and no ill effects to the passengers, although some lucky passengers did enjoy a two day birthday while others never got theirs. But that wasn’t the end to it, on the second Thursday the passengers had King Neptune to contend with as he demanded the same procedure for crossing his equator north bound as when south bound.

Fortunately, all passengers complied with his demand and the ceremony and all the slimy pollywogs were changed to shell backs and awarded certificates.

After getting through the time warp turbulences unscathed and dealing with King Neptune, it was time for the coffee morning en route to San Francisco. This was held in the Orchid Bar and was felt as a great success by all who attended. One new member joined at this event.

The next event was a cocktail party in the Viceroy Room which was held before arriving at San Francisco, as some of the brethren would be leaving the ship. Guest of honour was Captain Sarah Breton, accompanied by Deputy Captain Derek Grey, Executive Purser Alisdair Ross and Cruise Director Neil Oliver. Again, the party was a great success and well attended with 17 masons and their wives, one lady mason and her husband, five masonic widows, six guests and four members of the ship’s company.

To formalise the program for the final leg of the journey, a meeting was held after completing the north-bound passage along the Panama Canal. 21 members attended this meeting. As more time was available, it was agreed that a coffee morning, lunch and a cocktail party would be arranged. Bob Taylor, a member of Royal Sovereign Light Lodge No. 6630 in the Province of Sussex, and Stanley Broderick, a member of National Westminster Lodge No. 3647 in the Province of London, volunteered to assist in coaxing prizes from the onboard shops. Michael Collins, a member of Liverpool Mercantile Lodge No. 4319 in the Province of West Lancashire, volunteered to act as DC.

It was agreed that the charity donations this time would go to the widow of Allan Lili, a member of the ship’s crew in his late 30’s, who was medevac’d off the ship towards the end of Arcadia’s previous cruise with heart problems and sadly passed away not long after the Arcadia left Southampton. Allan was an Electrical Technician from the Philippines, who was well liked and respected and won the Outstanding Performer award for November and was being put forward for the Outstanding Performer of the Year award. He leaves a wife and three children, the eldest of which is about to start university. Another donation would be made to the captain’s charity the RNLI.

The first event after leaving San Francisco was a coffee morning in the Orchid Bar and this was followed five days later with a lunch in the Meridian Restaurant. Both these events were very well attended by masons and their wives, along with five masonic widows and two lady masons.

The third event was the Cocktail Party reception in the Retreat. Over 70 masons and their wives, masonic widows, two lady masons and guests attended and enjoyed drinks and canopies in very good company. Guest of honour was Captain Sarah Breton, accompanied by Deputy Captain James Brown, Chief Engineer Paul Yeoman and Cruise Director Neil Oliver.

Mike Walker proposed the loyal toast and Michael Collins proposed the toast to the ladies and guests to which Yvonne Franklin gave the response. The toast to the health of the captain and ship's company was proposed by Don Lunn, a member of Isle of Thorney Lodge No. 6194 in the Province of London. Sarah Breton gave a very good response to this toast and mentioned that the donation to Allan Lili’s widow was a magnificent gesture and would by very much appreciated. Sarah also thanked everyone for the donation to the RNLI.

There was a very good response from the onboard shops and members to help raise money for the charities, with a good number of prizes donated. The prizes were a book about MV Arcadia, a meal for two in the Orchid and Ocean Grill Restaurants, two bottles of wine, three bottles of whisky and a box of chocolates. The captain made the draw for the lucky winners and the raffle raised £456 for the charities.

A big thank you was given to Bar Supervisor John Ribeiro for all his help in organising the locations for the events and making them such a success and to Neil Oliver for his help in getting raffle prises.

The last meeting of the cruise was arranged to report on the charity donations as the epic journey back to Southampton would soon be over. Everyone agreed that all the events had been a great success, as the total raised for charity for this part of the cruise was £921. John Strange made arrangements for the donations of £691 to the Allan Lili Fund and £230 for the RNLI to be handed over to the captain.

The following are extracts from an email sent by Allan’s daughter to the captain and forward to the treasurer: 'We, the Lili Family, would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the officials and crew of the MV Arcadia, its passengers and all of those who had offered help to our family during a crucial event in our lives.'

Comments from the captain: 'I would like to join her and his family in once again saying thank you to you all for raising so much money for them. The total the ship has now sent amounts to £5,263; this includes £691 which I received from passengers during the RWC for them.'

Letters to the editor - No. 26 Summer 2014


While on a cruise from the UK to the Adriatic, my wife noticed an item in the ship’s daily bulletin, referring to a proposed meeting of Freemasons on board. Being between meals and excursions, I went along and found various groups of men chatting in the bar. 

Most of us had never experienced an informal meeting like this. To break the ice, we decided to introduce ourselves by name, rank and Province, and found that there were members from London, Devon, Dorset, Monmouthshire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Essex, East Kent, Cumberland, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Durham and Surrey. 

Someone suggested we could do something for our ladies. A meal was not really appropriate as we had food aplenty, so a light afternoon tea with some drinks was arranged for fifteen brethren and their partners, plus two widows. We had a raffle that raised £145 for the ship’s charity, and we gave a toast to the Queen.  

We are still in contact, which is great, considering it sprung from a mention in the ship’s bulletin. This is Freemasonry at its best – being happy and spreading happiness.

John Banks, The Friends’ Lodge, No. 9789, Surbiton, Surrey

Masonry across the globe

Provincial Grand Steward Frank Parle was one of 23 masons who attended the first meeting on board MV Arcadia on route to Australia from Southampton. Some of the brethren were from England, some from Australia and some from New Zealand.

Frank said it was great to see that masonry is thriving across the globe.

As quite a number of brethren would be leaving the ship in the southern hemisphere it was decided the three main officers should be selected from those who were going all the way back to Southampton.

After due process Mike Walker, a member of Gratitude Lodge No. 6514 in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, was elected president. John Strange, a member of Three Kindred Lights Lodge No. 5066 in Metropolitan Grand Lodge, was elected secretary and Frank Parle, a member of Victoria Lodge No. 4629, West Lancashire, was elected treasurer.

The second meeting saw three new members join the group and after a little discussion it was decided that during the cruise down to Australia two coffee mornings, a lunch and a cocktail party would be organised.

The first coffee morning in the Crow’s Nest, at which four new members attended, went well and gave the opportunity for masons and their wives to meet and get to know each other in a very informal get together.

At approximately 2 am one morning on the journey to Recife in Brazil, a bump could be felt as the ship crossed the equator. Permission had been previously sought from King Neptune, ruler of the seven seas, for Arcadia to cross the equator. Word came back that permission had been granted and that he would visit Arcadia at 3 pm to perform the ceremony of crossing, which officially changed all those who had not previously crossed the equator from slimy pollywogs to shell backs. All passengers were notified that they were required to attend.

It was agreed at the next meeting a charge of £20 per would be applied for the cocktail reception. Charity funds to be split 50% to the captain’s charity and 50% between English and Australian charities. The Flying Doctor Service in Australia was nominated to receive a donation along with the Grand Charity. It was also agreed that masonic widows would be invited to the next coffee morning and the cocktail party.

While in Montevideo the ship had a change of captain, Trevor Lane left the ship to go home on leave and Sarah Breton came on board and took over command.

The next coffee morning was held in the Orchid Bar and was well attended by masons and their wives along with four masonic widows and one lady mason. Two of the widows came from Wales, one from the Isle of Wight and one from Ilfracombe.

25 members were in attendance at our next meeting. This included one new member who joined the ship in Montevideo. The date for the cocktail reception had been agreed by the captain and would be held in the Retreat, from 4 pm onwards. In an effort to try and increase funds for charity donations a raffle was to be organised, Terry Mitchell and Pieter Swinge volunteered to assist in coaxing prizes from onboard shops. A date for the lunch get together to be arranged as soon as possible. Brian Rigby, a member of Preston Guild Lodge No. 4408, West Lancashire, agreed to act as director of ceremonies for the cocktail party.

Lunch in the Meridian Restaurant was well attended by a large number of masons and their wives who thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to have a meal and meet new friends. One more new member joined our group at this event.

The next event was the cocktail party reception in the Retreat. Over 70 masons and their wives, masonic widows, one lady mason and guests attended and enjoyed drinks and canapes in very good company. Mike Walker proposed the loyal toast and the toast to the ladies and guests. The toast to the health of the captain and ship's company was proposed by Brian Rigby to which Sarah Breton gave a very good response.

There was a very good response from the onboard shops to help raise money for the charities with good number prizes donated. The prizes were an English Cricket Board tie and a book about MV Arcadia from Sarah Breton, Thermal Suite and Hydro Pool day pass, back, neck and shoulder massage from Oasis Spa and a meal for two in the Orchid Restaurant. Prizes donated by members included three bottles of wine, a pendent and a box of chocolates. The captain made the draw for the lucky winners and the raffle raised £450 for the charities.

A big thank you was given to Bar Supervisor Mark Perreira for all his help in organising the locations for the events and making them such a success.

All the money raised will be distributed to the selected charities in the following proportions: 50% to RNLI, captains nominated charity, 25% to Flying Doctor Service in Australia and 25% to The Freemasons' Grand Charity. As the captain had to leave early for other duties Christine Noble, Cruise Director, deputised for her in the group picture.

During the night on the way from Bora Bora to Suva in the south pacific the ship encountered a strange phenomenon when it travelled through a time warp. Having gone to bed on a Tuesday we all arose next morning and it was Thursday. Fortunately no damage was done to the ship and no passengers suffered any ill effects, accept those who lost their birthday!

Our ninth and last meeting for this part of the trip saw 19 members attend the meeting which was arranged to report on the charity donations as many of our Australian brethren would be leaving the ship over the next couple of days. Everyone agreed that all the events had been a great success as the total raised for charity was £747. Mike Walker was handed £373 which is to go to the captain for her chosen charity. Terry Mitchell was handed £187 which he will deliver to the Flying Doctor Service in Australia and John Strange was handed £187 which he will deliver to the Grand Charity in London.

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