Wiltshire Freemasons found themselves in the wonderful surroundings of The Grange at Winterbourne Daunstey where they held a Teddy Bears Picnic

Entry to the event was free on the condition you brought a teddy bear and there was lots of entertainment on display for all the family including three bouncy castles games with a teddy bear hunt, a duck race and a thrilling birds of prey flying display.

There was also the opportunity to enjoy music on the lawn before adjounring to the magnificent recently converted Tithe Barn for afternoon tea.

The superb grounds of The Grange were bathed in glorious sunshine and the sound of happy children filled the air as they explored the woodland searching for hidden teddy bears and watched as rubber yellow ducks washed down the stream, cheered on by anxious owners desperate to win a bag of sweets.

The Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire Philip Bullock was thrilled with the day, commenting: 'I know that members of the Salisbury Lodges put a great deal of effort into making this day a success - they can be very proud of their achievement.'

The real winners though were Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) and the assisted living bungalow at nearby Alderbury, who between them shared almost £2,000 from the fundraising.

Rosie Greer, a senior sister at Salisbury Hospital enjoyed her day helping man the Teddies for Loving Care stand and display. She said: 'I have been especially pleased to be able to tell lots of people how a little TLC bear makes such a big difference to a child's time in our Accident and Emergency department.'

On the right track at High Wycombe

Bucks masons have created an oasis of peace outside a transport hub with a £4,000 garden funded as part of the Freemasonry in the Community scheme.

Members of the 21 lodges and nine chapters who meet in Beaconsfield are contributing to the plot outside High Wycombe railway station.

A team of green-fingered masons will tend the garden in the future. They include Tony Dyckes, Master of Hall Barn Lodge, No. 8480, in Beaconsfield. He said: ‘The aim was to create a garden which emphasised Freemasonry’s core aims of friendship, decency and charity.’

High Wycombe station manager Rob Munday added: ‘It has made a real difference to the station approach – the garden is now so appealing that even bumble bees want to live there!’

The Freemasonry in the Community diesel 12-seat Renault Master minibus has been handed over to the Weston and District Community Transport group. It has air conditioning and a power-operated wheelchair lift located at its rear. The minibus was acquired by Somerset Freemasons in 2010 and has since completed 130 respite day trips, carrying about 1,250 people in total.

The handover was made by Somerset Provincial Grand Master Stuart Hadler to Weston and District Community Transport trustees chairman David Ray in the presence of the Mayor and Mayoress of Weston, Cllr David Hitchins and Mrs Carol Hitchins. Somerset lodges have contributed to the running costs and the vehicle will be driven by a team of masonic volunteer drivers.

Friday, 14 December 2012 00:00

Saying it with flowers

Saying it with flowers

Freemasonry in the Community was at work when Harpenden Lodge and St Nicholas Lodge (named after the parish church) sponsored one of the many flowerbeds that adorn this attractive Hertfordshire town. The continued contribution of the local lodges is acknowledged in the plaque within the display.

A few months ago the Freemasons of Dorset determined to install automated external defibrillator (AED) machines outside or near to all of the places where they meet as part of their Freemasonry in the Community initiative, and as a tribute to the Her Majesty the Queen in her Diamond Jubilee year. There are 17 such masonic meeting places throughout Dorset.

It was intended that this life-saving equipment would be readily available for members of the public to use in cases of emergency, as well as for their own members. The equipment is conveniently located at points accessible to the public in a highly visible green cabinet, with notices high up on a nearby wall, and with a bright green light displayed during the hours of darkness. Emergency access is obtained by calling the ambulance service using the emergency 999 number and receiving the access code to the equipment. The AED is then easily portable and can be used by untrained people under instruction from ambulance control over the telephone or, if necessary, by automated instruction from the machine itself.

One such device is located outside the Heritage Suite in Bell Street, Shaftesbury, and one morning recently a lady collapsed with a suspected cardiac arrest in the nearby county library. As the emergency call was made, ambulance control advised where the equipment was located and provided the caller with its release code. A member of staff was dispatched to collect the device, which was then speedily released from its storage box, transported to the scene of the emergency and unpacked ready for use.

The rapid arrival of the emergency services and their successful resuscitation of the patient meant that the AED was not required to administer a shock on this occasion, and the equipment was returned unused to await the next emergency. A man who viewed the whole incident was glowing in his praise for the availability of the equipment, saying: 'This is going to save a life one of these days, what a good job someone thinks about these things.'

On hearing about the incident the Provincial Grand Master for Dorset, Richard Merritt, said 'This is an example of how our Province-wide initiative was intended to work and it is gratifying to learn that the Shaftesbury machine, installed less than 6 weeks ago, has already been seen to be available as a most valuable and timely service to the community at large.'

For further information please contact Ken Howes via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. mob: 07850 79000 tel: 01202 897480


Dorset's bighearted lifesaving initiative

On Wednesday 18th July, the official unveiling of the first of the planned 17 automated external defibrillators (AED’s) to be provided outside each of the 17 masonic meeting halls throughout Dorset over the next two months, took place at the Masonic Hall in Howard’s Lane, Wareham.

With a valued contribution from the Grand Charity, and substantially through the auspices of the Province of Dorset’s own charity Dorset Masonic Care, and in conjunction with Arrhythmia Alliance, Dorset has now financed the purchase and installation of these publicly available and easily accessible life-saving pieces of equipment in commemoration of Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and as part of their Freemasonry in the Community initiative.

Pictured here with the Mayor of Wareham, Councillor Keith Green, at the official unveiling of the AED outside the Wareham Masonic Hall, the Provincial Grand Master for Dorset, RW Bro Richard Merritt, said 'We are very conscious of the fact that we are providing a facility for our local communities which, in a bizarre way, we would hope would never need to be used'.

'They can and do, however, save lives, and should the need ever arise it is our profound hope that this equipment will do just that'. After the official unveiling, speaking on behalf of the people of Wareham, the Mayor said 'We are indebted to the Freemasons of Dorset for providing this equipment and I have great pleasure in declaring this facility open and readily available to the people of Wareham'.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) strikes without warning, killing 100,000 people in the UK every year – that’s 250 people a day. In the UK, less than 5% of victims survive SCA out of hospital and it kills more people than lung cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined. SCA can happen to anyone, regardless of age or fitness. SCA could happen in a shopping centre, on a football field, whilst out walking the dog; it can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere. Combined with CPR, defibrillation is the only effective treatment.

The 40 or so guests at the launch held in the masonic meeting room - which included the Lady Mayoress, Mrs Vera Green, the Town Clerk, Mr Rod Curtis, a number of Council dignitaries, Dorset Masonic Care executive members and local Freemasons and their wives - heard a very informative talk accompanied with video presentations from Peter Wray-Cook, Clinical Support Officer with the NHS, SW Ambulance Service. He stressed the need for the public to 'have a go' in the event that someone needs urgent, first intervention before the emergency service arrived on the scene.

'Every minute is vital and the use of this equipment, which gives clear verbal instructions through its built-in, fully automated monitoring system, actually talks the user through the vital CPR [chest compressions] and advises when and if and how to apply a shock to the patient’s heart, providing the emergency services with a huge advantage and far greater chance of saving a life when we arrive on the scene'.

This installation, now fully operational, requires a 999 call to be made to access the equipment. It is to be rapidly followed by similar installations at the masonic halls in Beaminster, Blandford, Branksome, Bridport, Dorchester, Gillingham, Kinson, Lyme Regis, Poole, Portland, Shaftesbury, Sherborne, Sturminster Newton, Swanage, Weymouth and Wimborne.

Speaking on behalf of Arrhythmia Alliance, Trudie Lobban said, 'This is the largest single donation of this life-saving equipment by any organisation in the UK'.

'The extremely generous donation to A-A made by the Freemasons of Dorset will ensure life-saving equipment is available in the Dorset area'.

'In the event of an SCA the first few minutes are vital – for every minute without defibrillation, chances of survival decrease by 10%. With all the best intentions, it is often impossible for emergency services to reach a patient within the required timeframe (due to location, distance and/or traffic congestion). It is paramount that emergency life-saving equipment is made available and accessible for public use until emergency services arrive on scene'.

Bournemouth mayor Cllr Phil Stanley-Watts said: ‘We are truly indebted to the Freemasons of Dorset for this magnificent gift to the local community.’

Wednesday, 14 December 2011 09:24

Clarabelle the Tuk-Tuk

An unusual method of advertising Freemasonry in the community has been organised by the Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight – a runaround tuk-tuk vehicle affectionately known as Clarabelle.

The vehicle was found wasting away in a builder’s yard and after some negotiations and a good clean-up, it was fitted with a ‘Freemasonry in
the Community’ sign and driven around local shopping centres to advertise a masonic presence at the annual Bournemouth Air Festival.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight linked up with the Province of Dorset at the festival – although Bournemouth is officially in Dorset, it masonically remains in Hampshire. The two Provinces promoted Freemasonry through the Hampshire and Isle of Wight exhibition unit.

Clarabelle can look forward to future outings following the decision by Hampshire and Isle of Wight to work with the Jubilee Sailing Trust charity to help disabled sailors put on their annual pumpkin festival. The aim is to set a world record of the greatest number of scarecrows in one field.
Published in Freemasonry Cares
HRH The Duke of Kent, Grand Master, paid an official visit in July to the Province of Buckinghamshire, accompanied by the Grand Secretary, Nigel Brown, and the Grand Director of Ceremonies, Oliver Lodge.
     The Duke spoke to everyone present and saw the work of the province in its ‘Freemasonry in the Community’ projects, particularly the iHelp youth competition and the Rock Ride 1,500-mile charity bicycle ride from Gibraltar to Stowe School.
     The former project has involved heats of young groups in Buckinghamshire competing for prize-money worth £13,500 to show the positive side of young people, while the latter project has raised around £70,000 so far, including funds for several non-masonic charities - the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA), the Royal British Legion, Air Ambulance and the Pace Centre, Aylesbury, who provide an education for life through programmes which incorporate all daily living activities and address the needs of the whole child. In addition, the Rock Ride also raised £22,000 for the province’s RMTGB 2010 festival.

Michael Baigent speaks with John Hamill and Christopher Connop

The masonic "Week of Action" next summer which will highlight the benefits Freemasonry brings to the community, is drawing ever closer.

Provincial organising committees have been formed, ideas for events are being compiled, masonic websites around the country are flagging local events, and a central "Command Centre" at Freemasons’ Hall in London has been set up to coordinate efforts, answer queries, send out information, compile a database, and deal with the Press. Remember the date: 26th June to 2nd July 2002. Once the idea for the "Week of Action" was approved, a group was formed at Freemasons’ Hall, London, to plan and inspire events: the Central Steering Committee. Chairman is John Hamill, Director of Communications, and secretary is Christopher Connop, Media Manager. Other members are the Grand Secretary, Jim Daniel; London representative, David Wilkinson, member of the General Council; Provincial representative Keith Madeley, Chairman of the Yorkshire West Riding media committee; Ben White, Information Officer Province of Somerset; Jane Reynolds, former Chief Executive of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution together with MDA Public Relations chief, Col. Mike Dewar and his colleague, Liz Sokoski. The function of the Central Steering Committee is, in the words of John Hamill, "to facilitate, offer advice, and to make sure that the central programme happens…". This central programme is the heart of "Week of Action" and opens, on Wednesday 26th June, with a concert in the Grand Temple at Freemasons’ Hall, London, centred around nineteen cathedral choristers, all of whom receive bursary assistance from the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. On Saturday 29th June there will be an "open house" at various masonic meeting places in London, all will have displays and other events. The week will finish on Tuesday, 2nd July when Freemasons’ Hall is hosting the Annual General Meeting of the London Topographical Society; a demonstration to them of how the building is part of the London community. On every other day there will be a free lunch-time public lecture on an aspect of Freemasonry held in one of the lodge rooms. There will be two exhibitions at Freemasons’ Hall, the Library and Museum plans a display showing the community aspects of Freemasonry, while, in conjunction with the Royal Photographic Society and George Eastman House in New York, there will be a display of the extraordinary photographs of Freemason, Alvin Langdon Coburn. Outside London, events are being prepared by provincial committees and all have nominated local coordinators. John Hamill explained that, "We are not asking for anything new but for all to draw together, in this one week, events which would normally be done during the course of a year. This week is not a fund-raiser". 

Planned events 
Many masonic Provinces plan open days and local thanksgiving services. Some will be held not only in Churchs, but also in Synagogues, Mosques and Hindu Temples with multi-faith services based around hymns and readings from the Holy Books of several faiths, in the presence of leaders of those faiths. Every Province will hold events involving local charities to show the general public how often Freemasonry contributes to their general benefit and how often masonic buildings are used by the public. Masonic Centres will be inviting local civic and business leaders to a lunch or dinner so that they will have the opportunity to meet Brethren and learn more about Freemasonry and its contribution to the community. Concerts and theatrical events are planned – one Province will have an "evening" with actress Prunella Scales. Many original ideas are being mooted: a masonic centre in the west country is sponsoring a photographic and art competition among school children on the theme of the local community. There will be twelve winners; each winner will have his or her art-work published in a masonic calendar which will be sold for charity. Freemasons in another Province have the agreement of all local public libraries to mount an exhibition in each during this week. Media coverage is another avenue to be explored: the Provincial Grand Master or Information Officer could do a "phone-in" on local radio or interviews with local Press. Charitable events, usually spread across summer, could be drawn together in this week: days out for disadvantaged children, or a funfair set up in the grounds of a Masonic Centre. A lunch could be held for the elderly, for war veterans, a variety show might be performed, evening concerts arranged, even a disco for the young teens at a Masonic hall! Sports events can be arranged, especially at secondary schools – a "Masonic Cup" could be donated for the winner. Masonic exhibitions might be arranged in the local museums – how many Brethren and Lodges have antique regalia and jewels which could very easily and effectively be loaned for an interesting display? 

The profile of Freemasonry 
The purpose of this week is to raise the profile of Freemasonry. Both John Hamill and Christopher Connop stressed that they did not believe that there is a public opposition to Freemasonry, rather, they felt, the general public know very little about us. The aim then, is to demonstrate to the public that we are not only an interesting organisation but that we make a very positive contribution to the local community. One major change observed over the last year or two is the increasing amount of favourable coverage which Freemasonry is getting from local newspapers. Many are running supportive articles and many Provincial Information Officers are now forging good relationships with the regional Press. Christopher Connop noted that, "We are beginning to be seen as interesting local news in provincial newspapers". Building upon this evident goodwill, Information Officers need to ensure that the newspapers to know about the events planned for this week, and for them to be well briefed so that they might cover them sympathetically and with interest.

Published in Initiatives & Clubs
Wednesday, 11 June 2003 01:00

Pro Grand Master's address - June 2003

11 June 2003


At this time last year we were preparing for our Freemasonry in the Community week. This involved opening the doors of our meeting places to the general public and taking the opportunity of explaining what we do. Although it is too soon to repeat the exercise again this year, nevertheless I hope that Brethren will continue to hold open days as they undoubtedly have a positive effect and add greatly to our public relations.

There is some confusion among Brethren that this alternative tie [indicated the Craft tie] can only be worn in Grand Lodge and not on other occasions. This is not the case; the tie can be worn by any member of a Lodge under the United Grand Lodge of England on any Masonic or non-Masonic occasion.

I am told that the tickets for the Constitution by the Grand Master of the new Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London on October 1st in the Royal Albert Hall are going very well, and a good number of Brethren and Lodges are becoming founder members. This will be a truly historic occasion, and if you wish to be present I recommend you apply for tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Finally, Brethren, I wish you all a very happy summer break with your families and I look forward to seeing you again in September at the start of another busy Masonic year.

Published in Speeches
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