Moving together

An innovative competition run by Buckinghamshire Freemasons is confronting stereotypes by giving young people the chance to show why they care. Sophie Radice reports from the ihelp finals

The atmosphere in Beaconsfield Masonic Centre is buzzing with excitement. Five youth groups from Buckinghamshire have made it into the ihelp finals. Over the afternoon each team will make a presentation to a panel of judges to convince them that they deserve the top prize of £5,000 to fund their community project. 

Each team is different. There’s Misunderstood, a street dance group who have raised £4,000 to build a youth club. The Leon School team has been making beautiful bird feeders for a local old people’s home and 1st Stokenchurch Scout troop has been running respite camping weekends for young carers. 

Jan Smith from Leon School explains how much being a finalist means to the competitors: ‘Most of our kids have difficulties with learning, and presenting the project to the panel is particularly challenging for them. But being a finalist has been such a boost and the responsibility of putting their case forward has really increased their self-esteem.’

The ihelp project is the brainchild of Buckinghamshire Assistant Provincial Grand Master Mike Stimson and ihelp’s president Eugene Matthias. Three years ago, the two Freemasons found themselves talking over a pint about the mismatch between the young people they knew and the poor image the press gave them.

‘There were so many negative articles about the behaviour of youths and it just seemed so unhelpful. We thought about how great it would be if there was a Britain’s Got Talent-type contest to showcase the good things that young people do for their community,’ says Mike. The idea fitted in well with initiatives set up in 2006 by the then Provincial Grand Master Ray Reed to promote the work that Freemasons do in the community, as well as talk more freely and openly about their fraternity.

Turning an idea into ihelp

With approval from Ray and Deputy Provincial Grand Master Clifford Drake, Mike and Eugene worked together in conjunction with Provincial Information Officer John Poulter and Chris Coombs to roll ihelp out across the Province. ‘We thought up the slogan “Turn Hoodies into Goodies” and reached out to Scouts, Girl Guides, Air Cadets, Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme participants, youth clubs, church groups and schools. The response was amazing,’ remembers Eugene.

Mike explains how the ihelp idea fitted in with the concept of promoting Freemasonry within the community. ‘We already had a big display explaining the Craft, which goes round the local fêtes and community events. So ihelp was the next step,’ he explains. ‘We wanted ihelp to be different. We wanted to encourage youngsters to be the leaders of tomorrow and the successful projects were those led by the kids themselves, whether they’d been running for a while or just got off the ground. Overall, we wanted to ensure that each project embodied our values of friendship, decency and charity. That’s the modern way of explaining brotherly love, relief and truth.’

With the ihelp team constantly being asked to give talks about the project, there has been a great deal of interest in ihelp from local authorities, district councils and local businesses. Freemasons in other counties are now considering taking up the competition and there has been support from the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, who visited Buckinghamshire in the summer of 2010 to see Freemasonry in the Community projects.

Promoted around the Province through town and village shows, the ihelp project is now in the fabric of Freemasonry in Buckinghamshire. It was through these shows that John made contact with Sir David Jason, who agreed to back the scheme.

Competitive camaraderie

Back at the competition, the teams are waiting to make their presentations. Each team is cheered when they go to present in front of the panel and when they come back there is a feeling of real camaraderie rather than rivalry. In the hall where the presentations are being made, the judges do their best to put the young contestants at ease. One of the judges, Clifford, is asked to be part of the Misunderstood dance troop and he rises to the occasion. Donning a large gold chain and a backwards cap, he shows himself to be surprisingly good at following the street dance routine. 

With all the presentations making convincing cases for why they should win, the judges have a particularly hard job this year in deciding who should take first prize. In the end it goes to the 1st Stokenchurch Scouts, whose presentation, although perhaps lower key than some of the others, proves to be such a worthy cause that the judges felt they could best benefit from the top prize. Leon School and their temple-like bird feeders get the second prize of £1,000.

After a long day with a lot of laughter and some tears, each team comes away smiling with a generous cheque in their hands. As Emily and Chloe from the 4th Taplow and Hitcham Guides, who raised money to take children with severe joint problems skating, enthusiastically explain: ‘We got so much out of coming here today and being runners-up. It was a great experience learning how to speak to an audience and present our case. We loved it!’

 

 

 The atmosphere in Beaconsfield Masonic Centre is buzzing with excitement. Five youth groups from Buckinghamshire have made it into the ihelp finals. Over the afternoon each team will make 
a presentation to a panel of judges to convince them that they deserve the top prize of £5,000 to fund their community project. 
Each team is different. There’s Misunderstood, 
a street dance group who have raised £4,000 to build a youth club. The Leon School team has been making beautiful bird feeders for a local old people’s home and 1st Stokenchurch Scout troop has been running respite camping weekends for young carers. 
Jan Smith from Leon School explains how much being a finalist means to the competitors: ‘Most 
of our kids have difficulties with learning, and presenting the project to the panel is particularly challenging for them. But being a finalist has been such a boost and the responsibility of putting their case forward has really increased their self-esteem.’
The ihelp project is the brainchild of Buckinghamshire Assistant Provincial Grand Master Mike Stimson and ihelp’s president Eugene Matthias. Three years ago, the two Freemasons found themselves talking over a pint about the mismatch between the young people they knew 
and the poor image the press gave them.
‘There were so many negative articles about the behaviour of youths and it just seemed so unhelpful. We thought about how great it would be if there 
was a Britain’s Got Talent-type contest to showcase the good things that young people do for their community,’ says Mike. The idea fitted in well with initiatives set up in 2006 by the then Provincial Grand Master Ray Reed to promote the work that Freemasons do in the community, as well as talk more freely and openly about their fraternity.
 
TURNING AN IDEA INTO IHELP 
With approval from Ray and Deputy Provincial Grand Master Clifford Drake, Mike and Eugene worked together in conjunction with Provincial Information Officer John Poulter and Chris Coombs to roll ihelp out across the Province. ‘We thought up the slogan “Turn Hoodies into Goodies” and reached out to Scouts, Girl Guides, Air Cadets, Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme participants, youth clubs, church groups and schools. The response was amazing,’ remembers Eugene.
Mike explains how the ihelp idea fitted in with 
the concept of promoting Freemasonry within the community. ‘We already had a big display explaining the Craft, which goes round the local fêtes and community events. So ihelp was the next step,’ 
he explains. ‘We wanted ihelp to be different. We wanted to encourage youngsters to be the leaders 
of tomorrow and the successful projects were those led by the kids themselves, whether they’d been running for a while or just got off the ground. Overall, we wanted to ensure that each project embodied our values of friendship, decency and charity. That’s the modern way of explaining brotherly love, relief and truth.’
With the ihelp team constantly being asked to 
give talks about the project, there has been a great deal of interest in ihelp from local authorities, district councils and local businesses. Freemasons 
in other counties are now considering taking up the competition and there has been support from the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, who visited Buckinghamshire in the summer of 2010 to see Freemasonry in the Community projects.
Promoted around the Province through town and village shows, the ihelp project is now in the fabric 
of Freemasonry in Buckinghamshire. It was through these shows that John made contact with Sir David Jason, who agreed to back the scheme.
 
COMPETITIVE CAMARADERIE
Back at the competition, the teams are waiting to make their presentations. Each team is cheered 
when they go to present in front of the panel and when they come back there is a feeling of real camaraderie rather than rivalry. In the hall where 
the presentations are being made, the judges do 
their best to put the young contestants at ease. 
One of the judges, Clifford, is asked to be part of 
the Misunderstood dance troop and he rises to the occasion. Donning a large gold chain and a backwards cap, he shows himself to be surprisingly good at following the street dance routine. 
With all the presentations making convincing cases for why they should win, the judges have 
a particularly hard job this year in deciding who should take first prize. In the end it goes to the 
1st Stokenchurch Scouts, whose presentation, although perhaps lower key than some of the others, proves to be such a worthy cause that the judges 
felt they could best benefit from the top prize. 
Leon School and their temple-like bird feeders 
get the second prize of £1,000.
After a long day with a lot of laughter and some tears, each team comes away smiling with a generous cheque in their hands. As Emily and Chloe from the 4th Taplow and Hitcham Guides, who raised money to take children with severe joint problems skating, enthusiastically explain: ‘We got so much out of coming here today and being runners-up. It was 
a great experience learning how to speak to an audience and present our case. We loved it!’

 

Published in Features

At an emotionally charged 125th anniversary meeting the White Horse Lodge No. 2227 installed W Bro John Moorehouse as Master.

RW Bro Francis Wakem, Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire, presided at the special meeting held by special dispensation on the very day on which the White Horse Lodge No. 2227 was consecrated in October 1887. The same year, in which Queen Victoria celebrated the fiftieth year of her reign, the Prince of Wales was Grand Master and the second Lord Methuen was Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire.

The meeting, held in the Laverton Hall, was attended by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, who is a subscribing member of the Lodge and by RW Bro Byron Carron, Past Provincial Grand Master. 

The meeting was conducted in an excellent manner by the Installing Master, W Bro Mike Allen. 

To universal acclaim two stalwarts of the Lodge received the special attention of the Provincial Grand Master. W Bro Bob Aitkenhead, PJGD, was presented with a Masonic Samaritan Fund 2017 festival jewel, and W Bro Bruce Chisholm was promoted to the rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden. 

There were two presentations made to the Provincial Grand Master, with cheques for the Masonic Samaritan Fund 2017 festival being presented by the Lodge and the Westbury OSM Conclave.

At the celebration lunch held in Warminster Civic Hall the Provincial Grand Master related how 'The Lodge is still a vibrant and living part of Westbury life and community which is testament to the tenacity and energy of the founding members and their successors'. 

Not that it has been an easy journey; in terms of members the Lodge was quite small but always well supported and in the first hundred years of its history the minutes were recorded by only eleven Secretaries. 

It was said that on production of the summons, Freemasons could purchase return tickets on the Great Western Railway for the price of a single fare.   

It is interesting to note that between 1915 and 1935 one past Master initiated 20 candidates – a task never likely to face the new Master. 

The Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire, RW Bro Francis Wakem, concluded his short address by reminding everyone present that while 'The White Horse Lodge is a small Lodge it has a big heart which beats strongly through the tenacity and interest of like-minded men. Since the first meeting of the Lodge it has served to unite, maintain and uphold the three great but simple ideals of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, or rather in the words which I much prefer to use, and which accurately describe what we are all about: Live Well; Laugh Often; and Love Much. The White Horse Lodge and pure antient masonry in general will continue to give future generations the pleasure that we and those who have gone before us have found in it.'

Eight days after celebrating his 100th birthday Cyril McGibbon was installed as Worshipful Master of one of the oldest lodges in the Province of West Lancashire - the Lodge of Perseverance No.155.

This lodge, which meets in the Britannia Adelphi Hotel in the centre of Liverpool, dates from 1803 and has several unique traditions, one of which is that the only guests to the installation are invited by the new Worshipful Master. It was also the first time that any member has served as Worshipful Master on two occasions.

To mark this extraordinary occasion this tradition was broken and an open invitation issued for the first time in the lodge’s history. The membership of this venerable lodge is restricted to 25 brethren and the fact that there were 125 attendees, 23 members and 102 guests gives testimony to the high regard and affection felt by the Freemasons of West Lancashire for Cyril McGibbon.

An inspection of the Masonic year book will immediately show the calibre of the members, which includes a large number of Grand Officers many of whom have held high acting Provincial offices as well.

Indeed Cyril’s Masonic CV is very impressive. He was initiated in 1951 into his mother lodge University Lodge of Liverpool and was installed as its Master in 1964. In 1970 the then Provincial Grand Master, Sir Knowles Edge Bt recognised his qualities in appointing him as Provincial Senior Grand Warden  Barely had Cyril relinquished that position when he was appointed as Assistant Provincial Grand Master an appointment that he held from 1973 to 1987, a run of 15 years continuous service. Prior to this Cyril became a joining member in 1971 of Lathom Lodge No 2229 and Setentia Lodge of Installed Masters No 7755 and then in 1974 joined The Lodge of Perseverance, becoming Master of this lodge for the first time in 1976.

The calibre of the members of Lodge of Perseverance would eclipse most meetings but this evening the calibre of the guests has exceeded that of the members. Principal guest was Howard Jones (Deputy Provincial Grand Master) accompanied by Colin Wright (Past Provincial Grand Master), Brian Gillbanks and Michael Hill, both of whom are Past Deputy Provincial Grand Masters and four Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Phil Gunning ,Tony Bent, Tony Harrison and Roy Skidmore. It should also be pointed out that another tradition of the Lodge of Perseverance is that all members and guests, no matter what their rank, are clothed in Entered Apprentice aprons.

After opening the lodge the Worshipful Master Robert Hall greeted the principal guest and proffered the gavel which was immediately returned. The normal business of the lodge was conducted during this part of the ceremony the lodge was introducing a joining member. Once the business was transacted the only Entered Apprentice retired and the lodge was then opened in the Second Degree.

The Master elect, Cyril McGibbon, Past Senior Grand Deacon, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master of the Province of West Lancashire was the presented by Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Moore to the Installing Master Robert Hall who, after congratulating  Cyril on his election to Master elect proceeded with the installation ceremony. Having been installed in the chair of the worthy lodge in a very dignified manner by his predecessor Cyril was then invested with the Hall Stone Jewel of the lodge. As is customary an explanation of the origin and meaning of the jewel was delivered, on this occasion by John Price.

On completion of the ceremony of installation Howard then rose to deliver the congratulations and thanks of the Provincial Grand Master to Cyril which on this occasion took the form of a personal letter expressing his profound regret at being unable to attend the installation ceremony in person.

Before closing the lodge Cyril took the opportunity to thank the members for all their work and the multitude of guests for their support. He also informed the gathering that he had received 91 cards on his birthday which were decorating his dining room, at least until the end of the month! With such a large number he was unable to reply to them all but as a larger number of senders were present, he thanked them verbally.

The lodge was then duly closed and although there is no formal recession normally, all stood to allow the new master to retire first. The assembly were then transferred to the dining room where after the drinks were served an excellent meal was served by the hotel.

Another tradition of this lodge is that there are only three formal toasts and no others, yet another tradition  was a casualty of this special evening when the Installing Master then with a few short words proposed a toast to  the health of the newly Installed Worshipful Master. Cyril was then called upon to respond which he duly did. Citing some of the founding principles of the Lodge of Perseverance he concluded by thanking all the members of the lodge for their hard work, in particular the lodge's Director of Ceremonies, Sidney Ford, and his wife who had manufactured 70 extra white aprons for the occasion. He also thanked all the brethren for making a special day unforgettable. On taking his seat all those present rose and gave a prolonged acclamation to a very special man and Freemason.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 01:00

Terry Hudson celebrates his golden jubilee

Brethren came from all across the Province of West Lancashire, eager to share in the celebrations marking the 50 year landmark for Assistant Provincial Grand Master Terry Hudson. 

The Provincial Grand Master Peter Hosker, accompanied by the Provincial team and a procession of Terry’s APrGM colleagues, present and past, along with many other Grand and Provincial Grand Officers made this a night to remember for Terry and for all the members of Quadrant Lodge No 8044.

Worshipful Master Mike Wenham offered Peter the gavel of Quadrant Lodge, who accepted it on this particular and special occasion.

In his opening address Peter said: One of my great pleasures and privileges in Freemasonry is to take the chair and lead the celebrations for brethren who are celebrating 50 years, 60 and 70 years and, dare I say it, 80 years of service in and to Freemasonry. I feel that against these landmarks, my own service pales into insignificance at a mere 44 years!

As Provincial Grand Master, I had anticipated that my involvement in such celebrations would, sadly, become very few and far between. I say 'sadly' because such celebrations are always interesting and they have invariably enabled me to learn so much more about each celebrant than might otherwise be the case and, in so doing, appreciate more completely the rich and fulfilling lives that they have led.

As it has happened, during my first four years as PrGM, I have in fact continued to lead the celebrations for many distinguished Freemasons and I have greatly enjoyed all of them. Tonight, I have the pleasure and privilege of leading the celebrations for my - and our - good friend Terence 'Terry' Hudson Past Senior Grand Deacon, APrGM, a man who, like good wine, can be said to be elegant, well balanced and full of character.”

Peter then asked Keith Kemp (Provincial Grand Diector of Ceremonies to place Terry before him so that he  could address him.

Peter said that Terry was born on 14 August 1937 in Hednesford, Staffordshire, the only child of Alfred and Julie Hudson. From the 12th century, Hednesford was always a small agricultural village whose only claim to fame was the training of race horses.  However, in the late 19th century it suddenly mushroomed with the opening of coal mines and, as a young man, Terry’s father Alfred worked for some time as a coal miner as did everyone else in the community. After World War ǁ, during which he served as a leading instructor in morse code, he was demobilised and the family re-located to the bright lights of Blackpool.

Peter said that he felt that it is often true for us, that as we think back to our own father and  mother and our upbringing, we recall that often it was one of them in particular who had the more significant and  beneficial influence upon our lives. He commented that it was Terry’s mother Julie who had that significant and beneficial influence and said that from his own personal experience that the 'Julies' of the world are invariably wonderful people.

In 1945, in Blackpool, Terry attended Claremont Junior School, where he stayed until passing his 11 plus, to gain entry to Blackpool Grammar School. He proved to be certainly well balanced at school where he enjoyed and succeeded at rugby, cricket, music and amateur dramatics. In those formative years Blackpool Grammar School gave Terry a holistic education and grounding for life.

Peter added that Terry developed a love of music, which he himself has described as the greatest gift given to him by his father in those early years and has been ever present throughout his life. The playing of the piano and singing were encouraged and developed. In fact, as a boy soprano, Terry entered singing competitions with some conspicuous success.

On settling in Blackpool, Terry’s father established a wholesale business in house-ware and, after school he joined that business for two years before joining National Cash Register for some three years. He then returned to the family business, being appointed to the elevated position of sales director. After consideration, Peter said he rejected the unworthy thought that there was an element of nepotism in this appointment!

Sadly, a fire destroyed the business and Terry’s father retired. However, thanks to Terry’s determined efforts, and in conjunction with his sales personnel, he secured a merger of the business, such as it was, with another company. The business traded with many retail outlets throughout the North West, including Eddie Stobart in Wigton and Sherrington’s in Leigh. Peter mentioned Sherrington’s because another Alfred, who was Peter’s own father-in-law, was the owner of Sherrington’s in Leigh. The affectionate and apocryphal story about his father-in-law was that he regularly sold stair carpet to customers who lived in bungalows!

During the 1960’s Terry’s entrepreneurial talents led him to plan for the future. As a result of his foresight, he put together a property portfolio of 'buy to let' properties, which he eventually sold 25 years later to a development company. Peter added that he thought that even Lord Sugar would have been most impressed with this successful business venture.

Peter continued that one of the truly important parts of Terry’s life was his interest in wine, particularly the wines of Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Italy. This led to Terry investing in wine and the PrGM suggested there might have been the ‘occasional spare case’ for Terry to drink himself. This brought Terry into contact with the major houses in the wine industry and, in turn, proved very useful in helping to provide the Province with fine wines for Provincial meetings.

Terry has two sons by his first marriage, Nicholas and Mark. Although that marriage failed, some 17 years ago Terry happily met Sonja and it is she who has brought great joy and happiness into Terry’s life. They have done so much together and in particular have travelled widely, during which, art and music has figured prominently.

Peter then moved on to Freemasonry to which he said Terry has generously devoted so much of his life and energies.

It was on 16 May 1962 that Terry was initiated into Rectitude Lodge of Blackpool No. 4122. At this point, the Peter asked the Secretary of Rectitude Lodge of Blackpool, Gordon Ivett, to read out the minutes of that very important lodge meeting of 16 May 1962.

In 1966 Terry joined Quadrant Lodge No. 8044, becoming its Master in 1974 and in 1975. He is a joining member of Quingenti Lodge No. 8516, Setantia Lodge of Installed Masters No. 7755 and Senatores Lodge of Installed Masters No. 8966. Terry also joined Lathom Lodge No. 2229, becoming its Master in 2009 and he was also a Founder of Aemulantes Lodge No. 8827.

Terry’s first rank in Provincial Grand Lodge in 1977 was that of acting Provincial Grand Steward and, in 1981, he was promoted to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden (PPrJGW). Colin Wright appointed Terry in 2007 as one of his Assistant Provincial Grand Master’s (APrGM) and in 2008 he was re-appointed by Peter.

He was appointed in Grand Lodge in 1987 to the rank of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies (PAGDC) and promoted to Past Junior Grand Deacon (PJGD) in 1995; having become an APrGM, he was then promoted to Past Senior Grand Deacon (PSGD) in 2008.

In the Royal Arch Terry was exalted into St Anne's Chapter No. 2457, being installed as its first principal in 1978. In 1985, he became a founder of Senatores Chapter of Installed First Principals No. 8966 and, in 1996 he was installed as its first principal. He was a founder of Quadrant Chapter No. 8044 in 1987. Terry is a joining member of Semper Fidelis Chapter No. 4428, Setantia Chapter of Installed First Principals No. 7755 and Provincial Grand Stewards' Chapter No. 8516. He became first principal of Provincial Grand Stewards' Chapter in 1993.

As in the Craft, Terry’s first Provincial rank in 1983 was that of acting PrGStwd, and he was promoted to PPrGSN in 1987. In 1993 he was appointed by Peter’s predecessor Colin Wright as an Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals and then in 2004, he became Second Provincial Grand Principal.  Terry was appointed in Supreme Grand Chapter in 1991 to the rank of PGStdB and then promoted in 1999 to PAGSoj.

Peter spoke of Terry’s first senior appointment in 1993, namely Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals, with an elevation in 2004 to Second Provincial Grand Principal for three years. In 2007, he became an APrGM and Terry remains in that office to the present time. This means that Terry has held senior offices in the Province continuously for 19 years. Accordingly, his service to this Province has been continuous and outstanding.

On a personal note, Peter commented that since he had become Provincial Grand Master, Terry has given him unfailing loyalty and support and he had been a good friend. Additionally, Terry has been a most welcome visitor wherever he has attended in the Province.

Peter then asked South Fylde Group Chairman David Randerson to read out the Certificate marking Terry’s long service to the Province.

After the meeting 140 brethren retired to the dining room where they enjoyed a wonderful meal. During the festive board, Geoffrey Lee, Provincial Grand Secretary, gave a very moving and humorous address to Terry which illustrated the considerable friendship they have both enjoyed over many years.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012 01:00

A special night for Howard and Roy

The brethren of King’s Lodge No. 3101 and Bootle Pilgrim Lodge No. 1473 along with many visiting Grand and Provincial Grand officers and distinguished brethren packed the temple in Litherland Masonic Hall to capacity to witness a very special and rare investiture - of Deputy Provincial Grand Master Howard Jones and Assistant Provincial Grand Master Roy Skidmore.

After the lodge was opened in the third degree the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp entered the lodge and informed the Worshipful Master Gary Thornhill that the Provincial Grand Master stood outside and demanded admission. Gary informed Keith that he would be delighted to receive him.

Keith then announced the Provincial Grand Master who was proceeded by acting Provincial deacons George Skarratt and Jim Hardman (both of whom as long serving assistants for the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity) and accompanied by his Deputy, five of his Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, Paul Renton (PrSGW), Ian Sanderson (PrJGW), along with other Provincial Grand officers of the Provincial team.

After welcoming Peter, Gary offered him the gavel which Peter accepted. He then asked his Provincial team to take their places and opened Provincial Grand Lodge. Peter then opened in the first degree in order to admit the newest member of King’s Lodge, Christopher Liston who is due to be passed to the second degree.

Peter said that he was very pleased to invest Howard Jones as his Deputy Provincial Grand Master who he had appointed on 20 January following the decision by Michael Hedley Hill to retire due to poor health.

Peter then asked Keith to form a deputation and place Howard in front of him. Peter then said Howard was initiated into Freemasonry in October 1972 into King's Lodge No. 3101 and he was WM in 1983 and 1995. He was also WM of Lodge Of Peace and Unity No. 314 in 2008. He is also a member of Lathom Lodge No. 2229.

He received his first appointment in Provincial Grand Lodge in 1991 as Provincial Grand Superintendant of Works (ProvGSuptWks), and in 1996 he was promoted to Provincial Junior Grand Warden (ProvJGW). In 2000 he was appointed to Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies (PAGDC) and in 2008 he was invested as Assistant Provincial Grand Master with responsibility for the Bootle, Garston and Gladstone Groups. In 2009 he was promoted to the rank of Past Senior Grand Deacon.

He was exalted into King's Chapter No. 3101 on the 12 October 1981, became first principal of Chapter of Perseverance No. 155 in 1999 and of Vale Chapter No. 5256 in 2004. He is currently a member of Holy Royal Architect Chapter No. 314. He was appointed Past Provincial Grand Scribe N (PProvGSN) in 2006 and was appointed to Grand Chapter as Past Grand Standard Bearer (PGStB) in 2011.

Howard became honorary secretary of the West Lancashire Masonic Charities Fund in 1997 and was a member of the working party along with Peter Hosker that managed the amalgamation of the seven charities in the Province. He has been a trustee of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity since it was formed in 2008 and is now the chairman of the board of trustees.

Peter said that Howard was well qualified to take the position of Deputy Provincial Grand Master and he asked Howard to take his obligation. Peter then invested Howard with his chain of office and presented him with his patent of appointment.

Peter then asked Keith to form a deputation and place Roy Skidmore in front of him. Peter said he was pleased to invest Roy as one of his Assistant Provincial Grand Masters following his appointment on 20 January.

Roy was initiated into Freemasonry in May 1992 into Bootle Lodge No. 1473 and he was WM in 2000 he was also Master of Pilgrim Lodge No. 6207 in 2009 when, during his year in office both lodges merged forming Bootle Pilgrim Lodge No. 1473.

He was appointed as Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2004. He was appointed to Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies (PAGDC) in April 2008. He was exalted into Bootle Chapter No. 1473 on the 15 March 1996 and was first principal in 2006.

Roy’s career in banking and friendly societies well qualified him to join the team at the West Lancashire Masonic Charities Fund in 2004 as assistant secretary later becoming joint secretary alongside Howard Jones.  In 2008 Roy became the Chief Executive of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity when the seven Provincial charities serving Craft and Royal Arch merged.

Peter said Roy was therefore well qualified to take the position of Assistant Provincial Grand Master with responsibility for the Bootle, Garston and Gladstone Groups and he asked Roy to take his obligation. Peter then invested Roy with his chain of office and presented him with his patent of appointment.

Peter then closed Provincial Grand Lodge. A collection for the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity was taken and after the first rising Peter along with his Provincial Team paraded out of the temple. Gary then closed the lodge in due form.

Over 100 of the brethren then retired to the festive board for a very enjoyable meal.

The Senior Warden of the lodge, Richard Edmondson proposed the toast to Grand Officers, coupling it with the name of Howard Jones. In his response Howard said he was a great, though unexpected honour to be Deputy Provincial Grand Master of this great Province.

He remarked that brethren may not know that each of the chains of office were slightly different. His own was donated to the Province by John Hearn Burrell who was Deputy Provincial Grand Master (1920–22) and Provincial Grand Master (1922–29). As ProvGM he laid the final stone in the Chapter House of Liverpool Cathedral on 24 July 1924. Howard said he thought it was good to look at the support Freemasons gave to the Cathedral, as they not only assisted in the building they paid for the Chapter House to be built.

Howard continued that there were several links to the present, the first being that John Hearn Burrell lived in Fulwood Park, which is where Michael Hedley Hill lives today. Howard said he was humbled by a call from Michael earlier in the day, wishing him all the best for the future – a true mark of the man Michael is.

Another link to the present day is the work done by the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity and Roy Skidmore in particular as today there is a requirement to install a lift in the cathedral that will give disabled access to the Lady Chapel. Howard said he was delighted that the WLFC had agreed to fund the installation of the lift at some considerable cost and he hope a large number of Freemasons would be able to attend the opening of the lift later in the year.

Howard concluded by saying that the collection in the lodge for the WLFC and the raffle at the festive board in support of the Masonic hall which raised over £400. Both the WLFC and Masonic hall are vital to our organisation and we must ensure we continue to support them.

He then thanked Ray Barrow (group secretary) for helping Ray Eccles (lodge secretary) by organising the meeting and Mark Dimelow for acting as Director of Ceremonies for the festive board and all the brethren for taking the time to attend the meeting.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012 01:00

South Down Lodge’s helicopter hero

Sixteen members of the Heal family from Sussex are in the same lodge, including former RAF pilot Marc, who won the DFC in Afghanistan for evacuating 29 casualties in his Chinook helicopter while under fire. Marc, 31, flew eight combat missions in as many days. On one occasion his helicopter’s landing site was mortared by insurgents and some of the missions took place without an Apache escort.

Somerset mason James Heal began the family connection with South Down Lodge, No. 1797, in 1963 when he moved to Brighton, followed by his five sons – all of whom went through the chair – as well as three brothers-in-law and seven grandsons.

Four of the five sons were Directors of Ceremonies, while three of the family are Grand Officers and one, Keith Schofield, is the Provincial Grand Mentor for Sussex. His uncle John was Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and later an Assistant Provincial Grand Master, while his uncle Victor was Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, both of whom – with his father – have been his mentors.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012 01:00

Boxing for charity

A successful sporting evening at Carlisle was organised by the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland, Kendal Amateur Boxing Club and Custodes Copiae Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards

The boxing spectacular, now in its second year, raised £13,400 for masonic and non-masonic charities during an evening involving amateur boxers of all ages from clubs across the county, with The Edinburgh Woollen Mill as principle sponsor.

Meanwhile, the Furness & South Lakeland Group in conjunction with Kendal Boxing Club held one of its best boxing nights in 26 years for both masonic and non-masonic charities. The event at the Cumbria Grand Hotel in Grange appealed to boxing enthusiasts and the local business fraternity alike. More than 220 guests watched 10 entertaining rounds of fights. Female boxers were on the bill for the first time, with the event catching the interest of the local paper. More than £6,000 was raised through sponsorship, ticket sales, raffles and an auction which included a Toyota jacket signed by ex-Formula One driver Ralph Schumacher, younger brother of seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher.

Durham Cathedral’s campaign to install Automated External Defibrillators in the Cathedral Church and its precincts is well underway thanks to a grant from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham of £1,600.

A defibrillator is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses and treats Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  

In other situations, where defibrillators have been placed in the community, it has been shown to greatly improve survival rates, and with the Cathedral situated at the top of the Bailey, where access is sometimes restricted, we hope that the installation of defibrillators will allow for a quick and timely response should there ever be an emergency.  

The Dean of Durham Cathedral, The Very Rev Michael Sadgrove said, “The sanctuary knocker on Durham Cathedral’s north door reminds us of the Cathedral’s important role, throughout history, as a ‘safe place‘. Today, we extend our ministry of welcome to over 600,000 visitors every year, and their safety is of the utmost importance to us. As such, we are committed to equipping our building and preparing our staff and volunteers to deal with emergency situations, including the onset of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. We are so grateful to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham for their generosity, which could one day mean the difference between a life lost and a life saved.”

Malcolm Wilkinson, a Cathedral Guide and Steward, and member of the Benevolent Committee of the Province of Durham was the crucial link between the two organisations. He said, “I was delighted to take to the committee the request for the grant towards the cost of the defibrillator. There has been a long association between Freemasons and the Cathedral, both of which I am privileged to serve. In an emergency, I know how important this equipment might be and I’m so pleased the Freemasons of Durham have been able to help towards the cost of providing it.”

Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Webster said, “Freemasons have been supporting Durham Cathedral for many centuries and when we heard of the desire to make this lifesaving equipment available in the Cathedral, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham was very pleased to assist by supplying sufficient funds to buy a defibrillator for the benefit of all who worship and visit there”.

Key Account Coordinator for St John Ambulance Commercial Training Division, Tom Dawson said, “St John Ambulance are committed to promoting the installation of defibrillators in as wide a variety of locations as possible and providing training of both CPR and use of defibrillators, and we are delighted to work at a local level with Durham Cathedral to consider the installation of defibrillators and the training of staff.”

On Tuesday 8th May 2012, the Chairman of the Provincial Benevolent Committee, AsstPGM John Webster accompanied by WBro Malcolm Wilkinson, the Benevolent Representative of Lodge Stewart No4261 attended the Cathedral where they presented a defibrillator to The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove MA FRSA DL, Dean of Durham Cathedral.

Monday, 07 May 2012 01:00

Excelsior celebrates 100 years

The members of Excelsior Lodge No.3580 celebrated their centenary with a special meeting held at Hope Street Masonic Hall in Liverpool.

Excelsior Lodge was consecrated in Hope Street in 1912 and continued to meet there for their first 56 years. Following the ‘Great Fire’ in Hope Street in 1968, they moved to the Masonic Hall in Garston, but due to the large numbers wishing to attend the celebrations, they were given permission to hold the centenary meeting in Hope Street.   

The Worshipful Master of Excelsior Lodge, Gary Jones, opened the meeting and after confirming the minutes he opened the lodge in the second and third degrees. At this point, the Inner Guard announced that the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp sought admission to the lodge.

Gary, said he would be pleased to admit him into the lodge, upon his entry Keith announced the arrival of the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker. Peter was escorted into the lodge room by Neil MacSymons (PrDCDC) at the head of the Provincial team in full splendour with the Provincial Grand Sword Bearer, Brian Blanchfield, holding the sword upright and the Provincial Grand Standard Bearers, John Stansfield and Martin Lynton (deputising), with their standards making the procession even more majestic and colourful.

Peter was accompanied by two of his Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, Roy Skidmore and Philip Gunning, the Provincial Senior Grand Warden, Paul Renton, the Provincial Junior Grand Marden, Ian Sanderson, and the rest of the Provincial team, along with Howard Griffiths (Garston Group Chairman) and 13 other Grand Officers. With over 125 brethren attending the celebration, there was not a spare seat in the temple.

Keith introduced Peter to Gary, who gave him a very warm welcome and invited him to take the gavel and occupy the chair of King Solomon, which Peter said on this occasion he would be pleased to do. Peter then appointed his Provincial officers to their respective positions and proceeded to open Provincial Grand Lodge.

In his opening address to the lodge, Peter said he was delighted to be able to celebrate the 100 years of continuous meetings that the lodge had achieved. Peter then requested Geoffrey Lee (Provincial Grand Secretary), to read out the details on the centenary warrant, which he did in his usual articulate style. The warrant was then delivered into the hands of Peter who took great pleasure in presenting it to Gary Jones.

Peter then requested Rev Graham Halsall (Provincial Grand Chaplain) to deliver an oration. Graham started his  oration by taking the assembled brethren back to the mid 1800’s to a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow That was first published in the book ‘Ballads and Other Poems’ in 1841. Graham read the first verse: “The shades of night were falling fast, As through an Alpine village passed a youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice, A banner with the strange device, Excelsior!

Graham continued his oration with a translation of ‘Excelsior’ – ‘Onwards and Upwards’ he referred to the founding of New York City and the way ‘Excelsior’ defines the city ‘How far - How high’. During the final part of the oration Graham spoke of the way ‘Excelsior’ defines Freemasons, particularly the distinguished members of the lodge. He also congratulated the lodge on its support of the charities over the years, as he noted the lodge was a Gold Patron of the Samaritan Fund and the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. He also congratulated the lodge on the number of younger Masons who were filling all the progressive offices, which he said was a great indication of the lodges future.  

The oration was followed by a dedication prayer after which Peter closed Provincial Grand Lodge and invited Gary to resume his chair, with the lodge officers then resuming their positions.

Gary then asked David Atkinson to give a short talk on the history of the lodge.

David started by saying that the consecration of the lodge was carried out by the then Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Robert Wylie and other officers of the Provincial team on 18 April 1912.  The lodge consisted of many brethren from all walks of life, from the Liverpool and surrounding areas, many of whom were either business men, traders, labourers and service personnel, including sea fairing brethren. It was agreed that the lodge would meet on the third Saturday in the month and that all brethren must wear bow ties, unless they held Grand or Provincial Grand rank.

The first regular meeting of the lodge was held on 20 April 1912 with 13 members and five visitors present to witness a double initiation, which was not unusual for the lodge in its early years.

Throughout the periods of the First and Second World Wars, the members of Excelsior were undaunted and continued with their meetings, and at the meeting in May 1919 a motion to amend the bye laws in relation to the meeting of the lodge from the third to the first Saturday of the month was unanimously carried.

Unfortunately due to the great fire in 1968 much of the lodge history was destroyed, however, as a result of the remaining books of declaration it can be seen that the lodge continued to thrive between 1923 and 1968 with many initiations taking place with subsequent second and third degree ceremonies.

The first installation meeting to be held at Garston took place on 19 April 1969 and the lodge continues to meet at the Masonic hall at Island Road South, Garston on the first Saturday of the month, October to May. 

David has produced a history of the lodge which contains a dialogue of the distinguished members of the lodge throughout its100 years, which was presented to all the brethren present at the festive board.

Gary then thanked Peter and the Provincial team for a magnificent ceremony and he presented him with three cheques for £3,580 made out to West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity, The Friends of Tithebarn, The South Liverpool Foodbank and one for £800 made out to KIND. Peter said that he was delighted he had been able to attend with his team and he was pleased on behalf of the recipients to accept the magnificent sum of £11,540, which he was sure that the cheques would be gratefully received and faithfully applied.

With the centenary celebration complete, Peter retired from the lodge accompanied by Grand Officers and escorted by the Provincial team. The final lodge business was transacted by Gary, before he closed the lodge and all retired to a splendid meal at the festive board.

Roy Skidmore replied to the toast to the Grand Officers saying: “it is a great pleasure to be here and be part of this wonderful celebration.” He then proposed a toast to the Provincial Grand Master in which he gave a comprehensive summary of Peter’s career, his work in Freemasonry and his work in the community which Roy said he had drawn from the CV on the West Lancashire Provincial website entitled ‘Peter John Hosker OBE - The Man and the Mason’, which he recommended the brethren to read.

In his reply Peter said: “It was a pleasure to lead such a celebration, a centenary is a very special landmark and I enjoyed going back into the chair.” He thanked Roy for his proposition of the toast and the brethren for the way they had receivecd it. He then conveyed his warmest congratulations to the lodge members and said it was a privilege to come along and share the celebration. He then said he had found the history of the lodge very interesting and he named a few of the brethren that stood out, these included;  Brian Jackson, PJGD, William Roberts (Longest subscribing member) and Sam Robinson, PAGDC, a long serving Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, and now Deputy Chairman of the Liverpool Group of Lodges and Chapters.   

Peter then presented Gary with a past masters jewel that was returned to the lodge in 2005 by family members of Edward Dewar who had been installed as WM in 1928. Peter said the members of Excelsior had decided that the oldest known past masters jewel should be presented to the Worshipful Master of the day at the time of the lodge centenary.   

Proposing the toast to Excelsior Lodge, Peter said that he hoped the lodge would continue to prosper for very many more years to come.

Gary responded to this toast saying: “It is a privilege to respond to this toast, the lodge has a really good relationship and has lots of light blues coming up through the ranks. He thanked the brethren for their tireless work over a number of years in the planning of the centenary celebration. He then presented Peter with a set of cufflinks and a tie pin that had been commissioned to celebrate the centenary. He also presented Peter and Roy with flowers for them to take home to their wives.

Three prizes, a three litres of Jack Daniels, a £50 Tesco voucher and a bottle of whisky were up for grabs in the raffle; first prize went to Stephen Lyon from Royal Victoria Lodge No.1013. The sum of £585 was raised from the raffle and this will be donated to the Hope Street Masonic Hall Appeal Fund, in thanks for allowing the lodge to hold its centenary meeting in Hope Street.

 

The centenary meeting of Tower of Sir Francis Drake Lodge No.3583 was held in the magnificent Corinthian Suite at Liverpool in the presence of the Provincial Grand Master Peter Hosker, who opened a meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge for the purposes of the ceremony.

The lodge was formed in January 2004 following the amalgamation of Tower Lodge No.3583, which had been consecrated on 26 April 1912, with Sir Francis Drake Lodge No.8109, and there were 71 members and guests present to celebrate this special centenary meeting.

The Master of the lodge, Eric Wilson, had the pleasure of welcoming the Provincial Grand Master, who entered the lodge room accompanied by his full entourage of officers in a magnificent and colourful procession.

Eric ceded the gavel to Peter who took the Chair and nominated his Provincial officers for this special opening of Provincial Grand Lodge. These included Howard Jones, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Stanley Oldfield, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Paul Renton, Senior Warden, Ian Sanderson, Junior Warden, Rev Graham Halsall, Chaplain, Geoffrey Lee, Provincial Grand Secretary, Keith Kemp, DC, Neil McSymond, Deputy DC, Paul Rattigan, Sword Bearer, Eric Hart and James Cartledge, Deacons, John Stanfield and John Breakwell, Standard Bearers, Frank Kennedy, Pursuivant, and Alan Locke, Tyler. They were preceded by Stewards Geoff Cuthill and Robb Fitzsimmons and accompanied by other Grand officers.

The Liverpool Group was represented by chairman David Hawkes, deputy chairman Sam Robinson, vice chairman Roy Ashley and secretary Roy Cowley.

Peter said: “I am delighted to be here with my Provincial team. Lodge 3583 has prospered and it's members can be justly proud of what has been achieved.”  He then called upon the Provincial Grand Secretary to read the Centenary Warrant issued by the Grand Master. This warrant also gives lodge members permission to wear a special Centenary jewel. Peter then presented the Warrant to Eric who promised that it would be preserved, unsullied as he now received it.

Peter then called upon the Rev Graham Halsall to deliver an oration to the lodge. What followed was truly an oration of such quality, eloquence and erudition which held the assembled brethren spellbound. Graham commenced with a condensed history and origins of the lodge gleaned from the few lodge records which had survived the wartime blitz and other ravages of time. He went on to compare the physical properties of a tower being the image of strength, durability, security and fortitude; these being qualities to which Freemasons should aspire and to demonstrate. At the conclusion, Graham was congratulated by Peter for his well-researched and well-rehearsed oration. The assembled brethren concurred with extended applause.

The ceremony then took an unexpected turn when the Provincial Grand Master announced that he had decided to take advantage of this special Provincial Grand Lodge to confer a promotion on 85 years old member of the lodge, Bill Gallagher, to the high rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden. This surprise promotion is well deserved as Bill has been WM of the lodge on four occasions in 1996, 1999, 2009 and 2010. Previously a member of the now defunct Skelmersdale Lodge No 1380, Bill was WM on no less than seven occasions and was also that lodge’s almoner. He was appointed to the rank of PPrSGD in 2003. A strong Royal Arch Mason, Bill has also been the first principal of Skelmersdale Waterloo Chapter No.1380 five times and has been appointed to the rank of PPrGSoj. Peter directed Geoffrey Lee to read the patent before investing him with the collar and jewel of his office. Peter said: “I congratulate you on 25 years of outstanding Masonic service made more remarkable by virtue of your advanced years.” A surprised Bill replied that he was grateful to accept the honour on behalf of the lodge and thanked Peter accordingly.

Next followed a prayer of rededication, led by Rev Graham Halsall and the closure of Provincial Grand Lodge.  Peter returned the gavel to Eric who resumed the WM’s chair. It was remarked that Eric had conducted the proceedings in a most efficient and dignified manner despite medical problems.

Eric then rose and thanked the Provincial Grand Master for the wonderful and enjoyable ceremony. He then presented Peter with two cheques both for substantial donations to the West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity and to the Liverpool Masonic Hall Fund. Peter thanked the lodge members for their generous contributions to these most worthwhile causes.

The Provincial party then retired in an equally magnificent and colourful procession to a sumptuous festive board.

Nobody present could fail to be impressed by the dignified and stately manner in which this important and historic landmark had been celebrated by the Provincial Grand Master and his officers and by the officers and brethren of Tower of Sir Francis Lodge No 3583.

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