In the bright sunshine, Exeter Cathedral was the picturesque setting as 800 Devonshire Freemasons, dressed in regalia, made their way to the Tercentenary Service of Thanksgiving with their families to celebrate 300 years since the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge
The Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire RW Bro Ian Kingsbury and his Executive were accompanied by the Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton and the Grand Chancellor Derek Dinsmore, as well as the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, the Lord Mayor of Exeter and Vice Chairman of the County Council.
The Tercentenary Service of Thanksgiving was held on the anniversary date of the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England on June 24th 1717.
Masonic bell ringers led by James Kirkcaldy heralded the service, as 32 lodges displayed their beautiful banners while the full choir of Exeter Cathedral took them through a truly masonic service of Thanksgiving.
There were many highlights including the readings by the PGM and Executive and the Tercentenary Oration given by W Bro Reuben Ayres which detailed the exciting journey Freemasonry has made in the last 300 years.
Please scroll through the gallery at the top to view all the photos from the service
Devonshire PGM Ian Kingsbury met Disabled Sailing Association (DSA) chairman David Musgrove to present a £2,000 grant from the Masonic Charitable Foundation
The DSA was formed in 2005 and sails out of Torquay. In 2007, the charity won National Lottery funding through The People’s Millions, with the money enabling it to buy Freedom, an ocean-sailing Hanse 350, and adapt her for wheelchair users and other disabilities.
In 2014, a second People’s Millions win led to the purchase of Free Spirit, a Hanse 345 with improved stern access.
Charles Yelland, APGM of the Province of Devonshire, presented a cheque for £2,002 on behalf of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) to Barnstaple’s North Devon Hospice
The Province has donated nearly £50,000 to the hospice since 1984, through individual donations from Devonshire’s 138 lodges and grants from the MCF and its predecessor charities.
The hospice provides expert palliative and family-centred care for patients within the community, including day care, in-home care, and bereavement and carers’ support groups.
Devonshire Provincial Grand Stewards’ Chapter, No. 3924, has been consecrated at the Langstone Cliff Hotel in Dawlish Warren, led by Grand Superintendent Simon Rowe
Among more than 220 guests present were the Grand Superintendents of 11 Provinces, who witnessed Brian Meldon installed as First Principal, Tony Moore as Second Principal and Jeff Bailey as Third Principal.
Growing together in Devon
Local Freemasons have donated £7,500 to Devon Community Foundation (DCF) to help support people in need across the county. DCF chief executive Martha Wilkinson was delighted to be presented with the cheque by Ian Kingsbury, the Provincial Grand Master for Devonshire.
The generous gift brings the total donated over the past three years to £19,500 and will be allocated to the DCF’s community grants, supporting hundreds of voluntary and community groups working within the region. Not-for-profit group Growing Together, for example, has received £1,000 for its gardening project to improve the physical and psychological wellbeing of older people in East Devon.
‘Over the past 12 months we’ve given £369,842 to 183 local projects helping 53,460 local people in need. We could not do this without the support of individuals, families, and organisations such as the Devon Freemasons,’ said Wilkinson. ‘I cannot thank them enough for their continued generosity; their contribution really will make a significant difference to local people’s lives.’
Keeping on side with new soccer kit for Sidmouth
Devonshire Freemasons have purchased new match day kit for the Sidmouth Raiders Under 14s football team. Manager Wade Monaghan commented, ‘We are absolutely delighted with our new kit. The boys are growing and the old kit was getting a little tight on them.’
Simon James, parent and member of Old Helean Lodge, No. 6797, which meets at Exmouth, said, ‘They are a hard-working successful team under the guidance of coach Tony West and assistant Trevor Lorkin and it is lovely that the Devonshire Freemasons were happy to help our team.’
Local community first aid in Devon
As part of their Tercentenary celebrations, Devonshire masons have combined with Devon Communities Together (DCT) to provide 300 first aid boxes to community buildings at a cost of over £7,000. DCT offers support to local people (often volunteers) who run Devon’s 500-plus community buildings.
Fresh boost for Devon Air Ambulance
This brings the total presented to the service by the Grand Charity since 2007 to £47,000, and more than £105,000 when adding presentations made by individual lodges throughout Devonshire in the same period.
Tracy Owen from Devon Air Ambulance said that the service costs around £5.5 million each year to maintain. From this autumn, the air ambulance will be extending its operational hours to midnight.
Devonshire proud to help
Established in 1944, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity last year gave over 5,000 grants and funded another 72 charities to provide vital services to soldiers in need, giving veterans and their families the support they need through times of crisis.
The Devon Soldiers’ Charity Fundraising Committee is equally active, raising more than £63,000 last year and giving grants of over £70,000 to assist 109 individuals in need of help.
When presenting the cheques, Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, said: ‘To be able to support the soldiers who have served the citizens of this country so selflessly is very humbling.’
Upon receiving the cheques Col Robert Jordan MBE said: ‘We are deeply grateful for this generous donation.’
Gala night success in Bideford
Freemasons and members of the public from all over the Devonshire Province packed the Devon Hall, Bideford, for a sell-out gala charity concert organised by local masons. Guests were welcomed by a parade of pipers from the Bideford Youth Pipe Band and the local Sea Cadets.
The audience enjoyed an evening of musical entertainment provided by the original Military Wives Choir, the Torridge Male Voice Choir and professional soprano Tamsin Ball. The evening finished with the Appledore Silver Band leading a rousing, flag-waving, ‘Last Night of the Proms’ finale.
The evening raised £8,000, which is to be shared between the Devon Mark Charity Association, the North Devon District Hospital chemotherapy unit appeal and the Military Wives Choirs Foundation.