The grand principles on which Freemasonry is founded are Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. To both women and men Freemasons, a brother refers not only to the members of their respective Orders but to the ‘Whole of Society’
As W Bro Elaine Malone, the Deputy Grand Secretary of the Order of Women’s Freemasons (OWF), explains 'It is right that Freemasonry is there to help those less fortunate in society who have suffered more than we have, especially during the pandemic'.
Elaine saw on Twitter the Essex Provincial tweet about the Shoebox 500 Challenge and contacted Chris Hicks of Thomas Ralling Lodge No 2508 who is responsible for events, PR and communications at Loughton Masonic Centre, where her own OWF Lodge Diligence No 179 meets, to see if they could join in to help the homeless.
Elaine received a reply from the Deputy Provincial Grand Master In-Charge, Paul Reeves, who thanked Elaine for her interest and said that he was more than happy for her Lodge to get involved. To co-ordinate, Peter Low, the Provincial Communications Officer asked Ian Graham to be the linkman and he arranged for Lodge Diligence to support his Chafford Lodge No 5510 Shoebox 500 Team.
The lady Brethren of Lodge Diligence raised £150 which Elaine used to buy drinks, shampoos, body lotion, deodorants, tissues, wet wipes and female hygiene products. Another member, Eileen Colls, is also in Lodge Diligence. Margaret Gibson, a Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies and the lady Brethren of her two Lodges also joined in, Colchester Priory No 155 collected a number of items and Obedience No 346, which meets at Witham Masonic Hall, raised £90 to add to the items they had collected. The picture shows Elaine, Eileen and Margaret delivering their Shoebox items to Ian Graham for the Chafford Lodge Team entry.
Lady Freemasons are an intrinsic part of modern-day Freemasonry. The OWF was formed in 1908. The ladies wear regalia the same as the men and buy from the same shops. Their ritual is identical and, like the men, there are a number of different workings. Lodge Diligence No 179 supports events at Loughton Masonic Centre and the OWF supports County shows, Freshers’ Fairs and had a stand at the Open House event at UGLE, 'It’s all about getting involved' said Elaine who also works hard to encourage new and young members to join the OWF stating 'They are the future of Freemasonry'.
The Most Worshipful Brother Zuzanka Daniella Penn is the Grand Master of the OWF which explains that Freemasons are taught to be tolerant towards all people and behave with kindness and understanding towards all. This should resonate with all Essex Freemasons, as her namesake and former pupil of Chigwell School, although not a mason himself, founded a city named from the Greek words for love and brother, phileo and adelphos. William Penn chose the name to embrace the ’whole of society’. It is, of course, Philadelphia, meaning the city of 'Brotherly Love'.