After a car crash in 2007 left him paralysed from the waist down, Arthur Vaughan Williams’ military career came to an abrupt end
At 21 years old, Arthur had to rethink his entire life. ‘To go from peak physical fitness to somebody who can’t control two-thirds of their body – it’s unimaginable,’ he says.
Bedridden for six weeks, Arthur was incapable of showering, dressing or even sitting up without help. It took two months of painful rehabilitation before he was allowed to return to his parents’ house. Gradually, Arthur began to rebuild his life piece by piece, starting with his initiation into White Ensign Lodge, No. 9169, in 2008.
‘My dad was a Freemason, and his father before him, so it’s a path I’ve always been interested in,’ he says. ‘As a military lodge, it’s no coincidence that many of the Freemasons there are successful, but it’s not through greed or selfishness. It’s because we want to lead a good life, to raise a decent, good family and to play our role in society well.’
With this newfound positivity, Arthur threw himself into his sporting passions. But it was television that gave Arthur his big break. After submitting a video to a national talent search, he was chosen as one of six new disabled presenters to front Channel 4’s coverage of the 2012 Paralympic Games. Since then, his career in television has allowed Arthur to combine his passions for flying and presenting on the documentary series Flying To The Ends Of The Earth.
‘Obviously my accident completely changed my life,’ says Arthur. ‘Back then, the young boy in me wanted to blow everything up and burn it all to the ground. But now, as an adult, I want to create, to have something to show for my work that I can always be proud of. It’s the only direction my life could’ve gone if I wanted to survive.’
What does the Tercentenary mean to you?
‘In the 21st century, particularly in 2018, we are losing the basic human ability to share and love one another. Freemasonry, 300 years on, is helping keep that alive.’
‘I was hoping for three golds on the first day,’ deadpans Sean Gaffney, when asked if he was happy with the two golds, one silver and a bronze that he won in the 2016 Invictus Games, the international Paralympic-style event
During a practice run for a tournament while he was serving in the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm in 1999, there was ‘a bit of an accident’ when a 1,500lb field gun ended up on top of Sean’s foot, crushing it. Since suffering that life-changing injury, in which he lost the lower part of his left leg, Sean Gaffney has pushed his body to the limits of physical endurance.
He spent three months in hospital undergoing about 26 surgeries before contracting life-threatening septicaemia and having his leg amputated below the knee. Back at the gym within a month of being released from hospital, Sean started entering triathlons and began raising money for charities such as Help for Heroes, which led to him being asked to take part in the Invictus Games.
It’s his charity work that made Sean interested in Freemasonry. ‘Since 2006 I’ve done one or two physically challenging charity events a year,’ he says. ‘So when that side of Freemasonry was explained to me, I thought that was the best thing about it.’
Sean was initiated into the Royal Naval Lodge, No. 2761, in Yeovil in 2013, and feels that Freemasonry fits well into his life. ‘I can go off to a lodge meeting or a charity meal, or say that I’ll help out a fellow brother at the weekend lifting and shifting,’ he says. ‘It’s opened up a network of friends. Being a mason is not just about being a good man today, but having the desire to be a better man tomorrow.’
What does the Tercentenary mean to you?
‘How proud I am to be part of an organisation that for 300 years has sought to bring out the best in people. To be a member of a fraternity that does so much good in the world and asks for so little in return.’
Despite having raised money to give one boy life-changing facial surgery and more to build an orphanage in Africa, Wayne Ingram doesn’t spend much time considering his role in improving the quality of people’s lives. ‘I don’t really think about my involvement,’ he says. ‘I’m just glad it happened'
Wayne’s fundraising fervour began while stationed in Bosnia. He heard about Stefan Savic, a boy of four born with a facial cleft. Wayne organised a football match between the British Army and local nationals to raise more than €6,000 (£5,288).
Stefan’s first surgery in 2003 was a success but he has needed a series of lengthy operations since, all of which were funded with money raised by Wayne, which opened the door to other fundraising efforts.
When working in Nouadhibou, Africa, in 2012, Wayne was asked to conduct a health and safety audit on an orphanage. ‘There were 40 children sleeping on the floor, in a room with no lights, open sewage and rats running around. They had nothing at all.’
True to form, Wayne set about raising money for the children, intending to cycle 900km across the African countryside. When this was thwarted because of the potential of a kidnap threat, he altered the challenge to have expats and locals cycle in a gym for 24 hours under the banner ‘Ride a Mile and Make a Smile’, raising £67,000.
Wayne’s commitment and compassion sit well with his membership of the Craft. His father a mason, Wayne joined All Souls Lodge, No. 170, based in Dorset, in 2007. ‘At first, I enjoyed going to the events and didn’t want to seek progression. But it’s an amazing lodge: most of them are ex-servicemen and there’s a great family atmosphere.’
What does the Tercentenary mean to you?
‘It’s an amazing achievement for UGLE. I was extremely lucky to be part of the Tercentenary Interprovincial Banner relay, where the Provincial banner was relayed to every masonic hall in Dorset by masonic motorcyclists.’
Over the last five decades, Graham Hill's interest in animals has, he admits, somewhat taken over his life
‘I started exhibiting dogs in 1965 – Russian wolfhounds known as borzoi – and I’ve won breeding and showing achievements at championships for years: top dog, top breed,’ he beams proudly as his well-trained borzoi calmly gaze into the camera lens.
Graham is Secretary of Connaught Lodge, No. 3270. Set up for Freemasons with an interest in dog fancying, the lodge now has members from across Britain involved in all facets of the dog world, from showing at Crufts and other dog shows, through to field trials, agility, breeding, owning and judging.
The lodge has a history inextricably linked with The Kennel Club that goes back more than a hundred years. Connaught was founded by a group of six like-minded men in 1907 and named in honour of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught (son of Queen Victoria), who was, in the early 20th century, Most Worshipful Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England and also president of The Kennel Club.
The philosophy behind Connaught Lodge is simple. ‘It’s for Freemasons with a common interest in the canine world,’ he says. ‘All of us are associated with dogs, and Connaught members are involved in organising and taking part in all disciplines of canine activities.’
Though the lodge meets just four times a year, its members routinely meet informally. ‘We’re a whole cross-section of canine enthusiasts,’ Graham says of this niche interest lodge. ‘It’s a philosophy that truly espouses two key aspects of masonry: socialising and brotherhood. Many members are glad of the social aspect, counting Connaught as their mother lodge.’
What does the Tercentenary mean to you?
‘The celebrations have been an exciting, important milestone in the Connaught calendar, with each member bringing their ideas and enthusiasm to the table.’
Unlike many students, partying was the last thing on John Henry Phillips’ mind when he headed to the University of Leicester in 2013
After spending four years touring Europe as part of a rock band, John was eager to indulge in his archaeological passions.
It was the discovery of a World War I grenade during his first visit to the fields at Flanders in Belgium that inspired John to apply to study archaeology. After being accepted onto a course in Leicester (with the same university department that discovered Richard III’s remains in a local car park in 2012), John became interested in the Universities Scheme, which forges links between lodges and young people who are seeking to become involved in Freemasonry.
‘Student living can be quite intense,’ recalls John. ‘So Freemasonry was a great opportunity to step away from it all, to do something positive and unselfish rather than just going on a pub crawl.’ In December 2013, John was officially initiated into Wyggeston Lodge, No. 3448.
The overlap between the history of Freemasonry and the world wars had a strong appeal for John. ‘As a historical fraternity, it ties in with my interests. I particularly like masonic traditions that originate from those eras – such as raising a glass to absent brethren at lodge dinners, which stems from World War I,’ he says.
It is this sense of tradition, combined with the support of the fraternity, that John believes young people could benefit from most. ‘It’s an uncertain time for young people. Freemasonry could be a welcome constant for many,’ he says. ‘But it’s a two-way street. Young people have more diverse experiences and perspectives than they did 50 years ago. I think we have just as much to offer in the way of new ideas.’
What does the Tercentenary mean to you?
‘It’s a real honour to think back over 300 years of history and know that you’re a part of a long line of people who achieved great things. I try and work the morals of Freemasonry into all of the work I do.’
The Tercentenary celebrations reached their peak on 31 October, when more than 4,000 brethren attended an especial meeting of the Grand Lodge at London’s Royal Albert Hall
Those present will long remember this wonderful event.
Proceedings began when Grand Lodge was opened and called off in a side room. Following the fanfare, the Grand Master took his place in the Queen’s Box to huge applause, accompanied by HRH Prince Michael of Kent. The visiting Grand Masters were then introduced, while their location and Grand Lodge seals were gradually added to a map of the world projected on two large screens.
As it was an especial meeting, there was no formal business, and entertainment was provided by actors Sir Derek Jacobi, Samantha Bond and Sanjeev Bhaskar, with screen projections exemplifying the principles, tenets and values of Freemasonry. The play gave insight into Freemasonry’s history over the last 300 years with reference to the famous men who have graced it with their presence. Those who organised this memorable performance deserve great thanks.
'The 4,000 brethren present at the Royal Albert Hall will long remember this wonderful event'
At the end of the evening, the Grand Master was processed onto the stage. The Deputy Grand Master read out a message of loyal greeting sent to Her Majesty The Queen, and the response received. Then, with the assistance of the Grand Chaplain, the replica of Sir John Soane’s Ark of the Masonic Covenant was dedicated.
The Pro Grand Master congratulated the Grand Master on his 50th anniversary in that role and thanked him for his service. In response, the brethren rose and gave the Grand Master a prolonged standing ovation. He was clearly touched. The Grand Master was then processed out of Royal Albert Hall with his Grand Officers.
It was a remarkable occasion, and all who were involved in organising it are due our grateful thanks for such a fitting celebration of the Tercentenary of the first Grand Lodge in the world.
The Grand Temple at Freemasons’ Hall hosted the largest gathering ever of Grand Masters from all around the world
Grand Masters from more than 130 foreign Grand Lodges were welcomed by UGLE’s Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, who addressed all those present, ‘Ladies, gentlemen and brethren, I am delighted that so many of you have been able to come to London to celebrate our Tercentenary anniversary with us. Indeed, I am advised that this is the largest gathering of Grand Masters there has ever been.
‘I am so pleased to have this opportunity to greet you all this morning in the relative peace and tranquillity of our magnificent Temple within Freemasons’ Hall, and it is most important to me that I meet you all.’
Dressed in their formal regalia, the Grand Masters brought kind words and greetings to commemorate the Tercentenary. Many gifts were presented to the Grand Master, who then spent time inspecting the selection, which included Russian dolls depicting the Grand Master himself. The gifts have now been put on display in The Library and Museum of Freemasonry for everyone to see.
Events continued into the evening when the Grand Masters, along with their guests, attended a reception held at the Mansion House, with a welcome by the then Lord Mayor of London Andrew Parmley and Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes.
‘I am so pleased to have this opportunity to greet you all in our magnificent Temple' HRH, The Duke of Kent
The Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Kent, officially opened the Library and Museum of Freemasonry’s newest gallery
Part of UGLE’s Tercentenary celebrations, the ambitious project took several months to complete.
Among the beautiful treasures on show at the gallery are items belonging to such well-known masons as HRH Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex; Sir Winston Churchill; King Edward VIII; circus proprietor Billy Smart; and land speed record-holder Sir Malcolm Campbell.
Located at Freemasons’ Hall, the gallery includes the elaborate, monumental Grand Master’s gilded ceremonial throne, commissioned in 1790 for the Prince of Wales (later King George IV), the second royal prince to be a Grand Master.
The gallery opens up into a lodge room, where the Grand Master unveiled a new plaque renaming it the Kent Room.
‘The exhibition aims to explain Freemasonry’s values of sociability, inclusivity, charity and integrity, as well as its history and development to the general public,’ said Diane Clements, then director of the Library and Museum. ‘We hope it will also be an enjoyable way for members to explain to friends and potential new members what Freemasonry is all about.’
Escaping German capture many times, Sam Derry went on to aid the rescue of thousands of Allied soldiers from occupied Italy
Samuel Ironmonger Derry was born in Newark, Nottinghamshire on 10 April 1914. He embarked on his army career in 1936 at the age of 22. While serving in the Western Desert in 1942, he was captured by the Germans but managed to escape by hurling himself into a ravine. Ironically, some five months later and 800 miles away, Major Derry was recaptured near El Alamein by the same German unit. Alas, this time there would be no quick escape and he was transported to Italy to be interned with 1,200 officers at Chieti (Camp 21).
After the Italian armistice in September 1943, the camp was taken over by the Germans, with Derry put on a prison train for transportation to Germany. However, en route between Tivoli and Rome, he managed to escape for a second time when, in broad daylight, he evaded a German paratrooper guard and jumped off the moving train. Badly bruised, he headed for the hills and was taken in by an Italian family.
While hidden 120 miles behind enemy lines, Derry discovered there were another 50 Allied prisoners living in conditions of extreme hardship, and so, with winter setting in, he decided to obtain help from the neutral Vatican in Rome, some 15 miles away.
REFUGE IN THE VATICAN
Derry wrote a letter to the Vatican asking for money and clothing to ease the plight of his adopted men. The communication reached the desk of Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, who had toured prisoner of war (POW) camps during the early years of the conflict seeking news of prisoners who had been reported missing in action. If he found out that they were alive, he tried, through Vatican Radio, to reassure their families.
When Italy changed sides in 1943, thousands of POWs were released but remained in grave danger of recapture when Germany forced occupation. Some, remembering O’Flaherty’s visits, managed to reach Rome to ask for his help. Instead of waiting for permission from his superiors, O’Flaherty promptly set up an underground movement to assist them. Looking for someone to bring a little order to the growing number of escaped soldiers, the Monsignor decided that Derry should be brought into Rome.
On 19 November 1943, with the Germans established in the district, Derry journeyed to Rome at great personal risk. O’Flaherty requested that he stay in the city and assume control of the Rome Escape Line, which was helping Allied escapees but only operating in a small way at that time.
Under Derry’s leadership, the organisation grew, and the German authorities became aware of the existence of the Rome Escape Line as early as January 1944, which meant that there had been a great danger of infiltration. Yet by April 1944, a total of 3,975 escaped Allied POWs were under Derry’s care.
After the liberation of the city, Derry was granted an audience with Pope Pius XII, who had been totally unaware that the young officer had been his ‘guest’ in the Vatican for many months. In recognition of his work with the Rome Escape Line, the now Lieutenant Colonel Sam Derry was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.
Following demobilisation in 1946, Derry returned home to Newark. He was a prominent Freemason in Newark and was initiated into Corinthian Lodge, No. 5528, on 13 January 1949, remaining a member until his death on 3 December 1996. In June 1970, he was a founder member of Newark Lodge, No. 8332, resigning on 30 March 1993.
THIS IS YOUR LIFE
In 1963, Derry was surprised by Eamonn Andrews and his big red book outside the BBC Television Theatre, where he became the subject of This Is Your Life. While a national television audience watched, old colleagues and former POWs came forward and spoke about the occupation of Rome and the escape organisation to which most of them owed their lives.
As the tributes came to an end, a surprise guest was announced and O’Flaherty walked falteringly from the wings to embrace his old friend. This was to be the last time the two men would meet. Eight months later, O’Flaherty died peacefully at his home in County Kerry, Ireland.
Did you know?
Derry escaped from his German captors by leaping out of a moving prison train in broad daylight
Words: Tony Narroway
With the especial meeting at the Royal Albert Hall streamed online in the Grand Temple of Freemasons’ Hall, nearly 1,000 brethren and ladies – including the wives of official guests – were able to watch the ceremonies
After attending the screening, Ruth Wright from the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons commented, ‘I could feel that I was part of something very special. I cannot say how privileged I felt to be part of your special day. You could have heard a pin drop as everyone watched with great interest and when, spontaneously, most of the men joined in singing the hymns. It made you realise just how wonderful an organisation Freemasonry is.’
‘A wonderful meal – how on Earth could such splendid fare have been served to the thousands present with such style?’ David Pratt
The Grand Temple guests then attended a special dinner in the Grand Connaught Rooms, chaired by Earl Cadogan, who was assisted by senior members of the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London.
Meanwhile, nearly 2,000 of the attendees from the Royal Albert Hall meeting were being bussed through London’s rush-hour traffic to Battersea Evolution for a special reception and banquet. Yorkshire, West Riding Provincial Grand Master David Pratt commented, ‘A wonderful meal – how on Earth could such splendid fare have been served to the thousands present and with such style? We then floated back to our hotel with so many stories to share. What a day.’