At a recent meeting in County Hall Exeter, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Devonshire David Fursdon was invited to sign the 'Armed Forces Covenant' together with Ian Kingsbury JP Head of the Devonshire Freemasons
The partnership aims to support members of the Armed Forces community and ensure they have the same access to government as well as commercial services and products as any other citizen.
By signing the Armed Forces Covenant, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire like the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) will be able to demonstrate its support to members of the Armed Forces in a number of areas, including education, family wellbeing, getting a home, starting a new career, access to healthcare and financial assistance.
Devonshire Freemasonry like the UGLE has a strong Armed Forces background throughout its 130 Lodges. This partnership therefore represents an important step in further supporting both active and retired military personnel. Important Armed Forces personnel such as Admiral Sir Peter Parker, Francis Rawden-Hastings, 1st Marquess of Hastings, Captain Robert Falcon Scott, General Viscount Kitchener of Khartoum, Lieutenant Elias Henry Jones, Marshal of the Royal Air Force Cyril Louis Norton Newall, Commodore Wilfred Henderson and Thomas William Gould VC were all well-known Freemasons.
The office of Lord Lieutenant was created in the 1520s by King Henry V111. David Fursdon first served as High Sheriff of Devon in 2010 and then Lord Lieutenant from 2015. He was commissioned into the 6th Gurkha Rifles, serving in Brunei and Hong Kong, before winning a Scholarship to Oxford where he won two cricket blues. He then joined the fast stream entry to the Civil Service, working in Arms Control in the MOD and on a UK delegation at a UN Conference in Geneva. After further education at the Royal Agricultural University, where he is now an honorary Fellow, he then became a rural surveyor and has worked in agriculture and rural property across Devon and elsewhere for over 30 years.
Now as Lord Lieutenant he has an interest in all Devon charities and how they can work together more effectively.
Ian Kingsbury JP. said: 'It is my great pleasure to sign the Armed Forces Covenant on behalf of the Devonshire Freemasons and the United Grand Lodge of England. This document represents part of our ongoing commitment to support active and retired military personnel. We are proud of our long-standing relationship with the Armed Forces and we will continue to promote their welfare, support, and respect amongst all our members.'
By signing the Armed Forces Covenant, Devonshire Freemasons together with UGLE demonstrate their intention to support the Armed Forces community which, in turn, allows UGLE to be recognised by the UK government’s Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS). An ERS award shows that the recipient is delivering tangible support for the Armed Forces community.
Lord Lieutenant David Fursdon said: 'The Armed Forces Covenant is a commitment to support those who have served and their families. The support of employers and making a public pledge of support to the Armed Forces community that they are valued by society is vital. This year we celebrate the Armed Forces Covenant's 10th anniversary, and for centuries the United Grand Lodge of England has a solid connection to the Armed Forces, and it makes perfect sense for us to have the Freemasons signing up to Armed Forces Covenant this year. I'd like to thank Ian Kingsbury from the Province of Devonshire Freemasons for supporting the Armed Forces community.'