“England Expects Every Man will do his Duty”. Those were the immortal words of Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson in his message to the officers and ratings of the British navy assembled off Cape Trafalgar on the 21st October 1805 and just prior to the historic sea battle that was to follow when the Spanish and French fleets were decimated
To this day the significance of the epic battle still faithfully exists aboard HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship, the oldest commissioned warship in the world and when the Battle of Trafalgar is celebrated annually in true naval fashion.
Come late October 2019, not only was Trafalgar Day celebrated aboard HMS Victory, but White Ensigns were also adorning the walls of Derby Masonic Hall, headquarters of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Derbyshire. Celebrations of a masonic and naval nature were also afoot there.
The occasion was of dual importance, celebrating Derbyshire Freemasonry’s own considerable activity in the community and, of course, Trafalgar Day. What better than for the Province’s own Grand Charity to honour a Royal Navy connection by making a combined presentation of £5,000 to the five Sea Cadet organisations in Derbyshire – they were from Derby, Chesterfield, Burton-on-Trent, Long Eaton and Buxton.
In his opening warm welcoming words to guests at which the Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, the Lord Mayor of Derby and two distinguished retired naval officers: Admiral Sir Trevor Soar and Commander Jonty Powis were also present, the Provincial Grand Master Steven Varley paid particular tribute to the Sea Cadets present and to their organisation. He said there were parallels with Freemasonry whereby good people were helped to become even better and to develop self-reliance as part of a wider family.
In welcoming Admiral Soar, the Provincial Grand Master stated that the Admiral had spent 37 years in the Royal Navy, commencing as a junior Midshipman, eventually reaching the rank of Admiral. He finally commanded the entire Royal Navy and Royal Marines, a force of 36,000 men and women. In addition he was a NATO maritime commander, having operational command of all ships and submarines drawn from 27 countries.
Pointing out that Britain’s wealth, prosperity and status as a nation on the world stage still owes much to the courage and skill of the crews of our fleet at Trafalgar and the leadership of Admiral and Freemason Lord Nelson. Commander Powis also drew attention to other famous naval Freemasons – Admiral Sir Sidney Smith and Admiral of The Fleet, Earl Jellicoe.
‘These celebrations are echoed in communities across the country and in which the Sea Cadets play an important role,’ continued Commander Powis, a veteran officer from the Falklands Conflict. He echoed aspects of the Provincial Grand Master’s words, whereby the Sea Cadets helped transform people and made good people better, adding they also helped engender a spirit of support for each other.
‘They are parts of the rich traditions and historic roots found in the organisations that come together today to celebrate Trafalgar Day,’ he concluded.