The introduction of the Cheshire Master Masons Forum in August 2011 – the first forum of its kind under the banner of UGLE – encouraged a wave of new ideas from less experienced brethren around the Province. While there are several exciting projects in the pipeline, one particularly interesting initiative – The Rough Ashlar Club – has recently had its inauguration after many months of effort and planning.
The Rough Ashlar Club is a group of less experienced Freemasons from around the Province of Cheshire, who meet socially to share friendship and fellowship with other like-minded Freemasons from the Province. Offering Freemasons the opportunity to meet new friends and share their experiences, the Rough Ashlar Club aims to organise social events for Freemasons, and sometimes to organise events for their friends and families as well.
In the face of declining membership, for a host of reasons, the Cheshire Master Masons Forum hopes that the Rough Ashlar Club will encourage retention of less experienced members of our lodges, by being inclusive to all Freemasons and to their families, as well as generating some recruitment opportunities at events where non-masons are encouraged to attend.
Part of this process of appealing to younger and less experienced Freemasons, is the use of the internet and social media. The Rough Ashlar Club has its own website at www.roughashlarclub.org where information can be found about the club as well as future events, reviews of past events and an area for joining the club itself (which is of course, free). The Rough Ashlar Club also sports a Facebook page and a Twitter feed. The Twitter feed (@RoughAshlarClub) is very active and currently has over 200 followers. The Master Masons Forum is well aware of how important social networking is in modern day life and the Twitter feed keeps all of the Rough Ashlar Club’s followers up-to-date, with news, comments and even photographs.
On Wednesday 7th November 2012 the first event to be held by the Rough Ashlar Club was staged at Leicester-Warren Hall in Knutsford, Cheshire. This first event was well supported with around 40 brethren present for a Greek-themed evening, that was attended by the Provincial Grand Master, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master and two Assistant Provincial Grand Masters who gave the initiative their full support, and encouraged the club’s new members to make all they could of the opportunities that the Rough Ashlar Club would present to them over the coming years.
After a few drinks in the bar and some very badly posed photographs (just look at the website!), traditional Greek food was served, the members sat down to begin some serious networking, the topics of conversation naturally turned to what the first members of the Rough Ashlar Club wanted their club to do in the future. With a quick and simple questionnaire to fill in, it is maybe not surprising that amongst this group of Freemasons, anything involving food and drink seemed to rank very highly for them.
Taking note of the consensus, the Rough Ashlar Club is to host a number of informal meets in local pubs to wish everyone the best for the Christmas season, before the next large event which is a race night to be held on 2nd February 2013 at Sale Masonic Hall. Details of this and other events will be posted to the website and to Twitter as they become known. Other events that are currently in the planning phase include a beer festival, cheese and wine evenings and a Christmas Ball. The Rough Ashlar Club hopes to welcome many more new members over the coming months. The club may have be born out of the Cheshire Master Masons Forum, but it belongs to the Freemasons of Cheshire and Freemasonry in general, to help the Craft live, thrive and survive for many, many more years to come.