Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons in the Royal Arch degree raised more than £60,000 for Prostate Cancer UK in a single year

The final amount of £60,375 was announced at the provincial meeting in June 2019 – but since then the total has risen to £63,770. Among the fundraising events was a charity walk leaving from Botley Masonic Centre and around River Hamble Country Park. Those involved raised just over £4,000.

Alan Berman, who heads the Royal Arch Freemasons in the Province, said: 'We decided to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK because we had raised money for every hospice in the Province and wanted another charity. We had hoped to raise £40,000, but the response was phenomenal. We didn’t have to twist any arms, the donations just came in as most men relate to it.

'Prostate cancer is something that one in eight men will get at some point in their lives and the charity is working hard to find a cure.'

THANKSGIVING

Another hugely successful event that highlighted the fellowship of Freemasons was a thanksgiving service organised by Alan Berman at Portsmouth Synagogue.

It was attended by around 250 people and included the heads and representatives of other orders and those from many faiths. Readings were given by Alan Berman, David Gosney and Steven Allum.

Alan said: 'We had events at the synagogue in 2000 and 2008 and it was time for another one. It was wonderful to see those from all denominations there for the common purpose of thanksgiving.

'I was also able to present a 40 year certificate to George Deacon for his service in the Mark Degree.'

Dozens of local charities and good causes were presented with cheques totalling just under £30,000 by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Freemasons

Lodges that meet in Lymington, New Milton, Ringwood and Brockenhurst raised the money throughout the year. It is on top of their regular donations and is designed to boost those in the community who do such valuable work.

The Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Mike Wilks, attended with his wife Kay. Also at the event held at the masonic centre in the high street were Mike Wilks’ assistant Leon Whitfield and Cllr David Rice-Mundy, Mayor of New Milton, Cllr Anne Corbridge, Mayor of Lymington and Cllr Tony Ring, Mayor of Ringwood.

The Freemasonry in the community event is designed not only to give the donations but for representatives of the organisations receiving the money to explain who they are and what they do.

Andrew Ferguson was the organiser of the evening, and on behalf of Freemasonry in the community he welcomed all those present – well over 100 - and acted as MC for the evening.

Money totalling £29,473 was presented to 44 local charities and good causes, which was 10 more than last year.

Andrew said: ‘It’s amazing how much money is raised by the local lodges and how many small charities benefit as a result. Each year I am humbled by hearing about the work these lesser known charities carry out. Freemasonry has always been about giving and we are proud to continue the tradition of helping within the local community.’

Mike Wilks said: ‘It is always enlightening to meet those who work within our communities and hear what their charities and good causes do.

‘Our members are committed to charity and it is important for us as Freemasons to help our local areas. In the South West area of the province we have centres in Bournemouth and Christchurch and they will be holding their own, similar event.’

Those receiving donations included the Friends of Lymington Scanner Appeal, New Forest Young Carers, Macmillan Caring Locally, The Acorns Project and Cruise Bereavement Care.

Suffolk’s Provincial Grand Master Ian Yeldham made a dramatic entrance by helicopter, as he arrived for the 2019 National Masonic Clay Shooting Championships at High Lodge Shooting School in Darsham, Suffolk

The event was hosted by the Suffolk Masonic Clay Shooting Society of which Ian is the President. Many months of careful planning had resulted in a new national record of 205 clay shooting sportsmen and women entering for the event.

Suffolk knew they had a challenge on their hands if this huge number of entrants were to get round the 100 Bird Competition set over 15 different stands in a safe and timely manner, so Provincial Stewards were enrolled to accompany each of the 15 squads on their journey around the shooting ground to ensure everything ran smoothly.

A fantastic day ensued and after a welcome lunchtime meal and refreshments the prize giving revealed that the Masonic High Gun and the Jonathan Spence Challenge Cup had been won by Dan Bishop from the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight with a fantastic score of 93 out of a 100.

The top Masonic Team of Three came from the Province of West Lancashire, with Province of Middlesex a close runner up. The winning Team of Three Ladies was won by Suffolk Ladies with a score of 70 out of 100.

Roger Wilkes, Secretary of the National Association of Masonic Clay Shooting Societies (NAMCSS), commented: ‘I have to say that all of the officers of NAMCSS are in awe. The whole event was created, managed and run with such smoothness you have created a very hard act to follow.’

Nearly 30 charities and good causes were presented with cheques totalling £57,292 from Southampton Freemasons at a special community event attended by the Mayor of Southampton, Cllr Peter Baillie

The money was raised by Freemasons in Southampton who invited the recipients of the cheques to address the hall and explain what their charity does.

Also at the Freemasonry in the Community event was the Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Jon Whitaker and Assistant Provincial Grand Master Jonathan Stainton-Ellis.

Among those charitable organisation represented were Southampton Hospital Charity, Countess Mountbatten Hospice, Hampshire and IOW Air Ambulance, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Friday Night Charity, Honeypot Children’s Charity and Newlands Primary School.

Jon Whitaker said: 'It is always humbling to listen to the representatives of the charities and good causes. They are often small organisations run by incredibly dedicated people who are able to inspire others.

'As well as donating on a regular basis to charities through their subscriptions, our members and their lodges raise money for their own charities, and it is this money that was donated. As Freemasons we are committed to raising money and helping our communities.'

After the event at the Masonic Hall at Albion Place, the Mayor tweeted: 'Went to the Southampton Masonic Hall to see a lot of charities receive cheques from the various lodges.

'Some very impressive charities doing great work received over £57,000. Well done to the Freemasons for your fundraising.'

Charities and good causes received almost £30,000 from Freemasons at a celebration evening in Bournemouth

The town’s mayor, Cllr Susan Phillips, and her escort Mrs Rae Stollard, attended the event at Freemasons’ Hall in Knole Road.

Leon Whitfield, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight – which includes Bournemouth and Christchurch – was also in attendance.

Representatives of dozens of charities and good causes were presented with cheques and were able to tell the audience what they do in the community.

Leon said: ‘It is always humbling to hear from the charities and learn about what they do. As Freemasons we are committed to supporting charities through our subscriptions, and individual lodges raise funds for local groups, and this was the money presented.

‘It was lovely to have the town’s new mayor attending our Freemasonry in the Community evening which has been running for several years.'

After the cheques were presented, visitors enjoyed a buffet and a tour of the grand Victorian property.

The mayor received donations to her two charities, Street Scene and CALM, and other recipients included Bournemouth Blind Society, Bournemouth Heart Club, Oakhaven Hospice, Wessex Cancer Trust, NHS groups, Lifelites and the British Heart Foundation.

The final total raised was £29,688.

Shifting gears

The success of the Classic 300, a nationwide series of classic car runs supporting UGLE’s Tercentenary celebrations in 2017, has given rise to Square Wheels Lodge, No. 9966, consecrated in the British Motor Museum in Warwickshire. Edwin Smith meets the lodge that’s making a lot of noise

You have to be a certain sort of person to have a love for classic cars,’ says Peter Manning, Primus Master of Square Wheels Lodge. ‘And there’s an affinity between classic cars and Freemasonry.’

If the early days of the lodge are anything to go by, he’s not wrong. The lodge was only consecrated a few months ago, but already it has 90 members and a calendar brimming with events. 

The genesis of the lodge, Peter explains, can be traced back to the Classic 300 – a series of 17 classic car rallies that took place across the country during the Tercentenary year, under the auspices of what was then the Masonic Classic Vehicle Club. When chairman John Cole chose to retire, the decision was taken to move the club from its base in Reading. ‘We settled on Warwick,’ says founding Secretary, now Senior Warden Peter Hughes, ‘because it’s at the centre of the country, it’s close to a lot of motor production, and it’s got a lovely masonic hall.’

The name of the classic car club was also changed to Square Wheels. It’s not necessary to be a Freemason in order to be a member of the car club but, Peter says, ‘the consensus was that the club could easily give birth to a lodge. We created a petition and David Macey, the Warwickshire Provincial Grand Master, who’s a petrolhead himself, supported it wholeheartedly.’ 

With the two Peters on the case, along with Lodge Secretary Bernard Foad tinkering under the bonnet, preparations accelerated. The warrant was secured in July last year and the consecration took place in October at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon – a ‘brilliant venue, full of classic cars,’ says Peter Manning. Some 253 people attended, including three Provincial Grand Masters: David Macey was the Consecrating Officer, Mike Wilkes of Hampshire & the Isle of Wight was the Consecrating Senior Warden, and Bob Vaughan of Worcestershire was the Consecrating Junior Warden. 

The oil used during the ceremony was, appropriately, ‘Castrol R’ motor oil. ‘I wanted to burn it by putting a few drops in the censer,’ says Peter. ‘You really get the smell when it’s burning, but our Provincial Grand Chaplain suffers from asthma, so it wasn’t a good idea.’

'We'll take our wives and partners with us. They'll have the morning off while we have our meeting and then we'll go for a run around the Cotswolds and head home.’

The lodge has 75 founding members, 20 honorary members and welcomed a further 15 members early this year. It will primarily be based at Alderson House, a handsome Grade-II-listed Georgian building on the High Street in Warwick. Some of the lodge’s meetings in 2019, however, will take place elsewhere. 

‘We’ll have four meetings a year,’ says Peter Manning. ‘Two in Warwick and the other two will be peripatetic – we’re taking the lodge to the members around the country.’ On 4 May, the lodge will meet in Bristol. ‘We will be taking wives and partners down with us. They can have the morning off while we have our meeting. After lunch, we will go for a run around the Cotswolds, have afternoon tea, and then head home.’ 

Another meeting is planned for Burton-on-Trent in July. ‘We want to spread the word around the country,’ says Peter Manning. ‘That’s one of the principal aims: for the lodge to visit its members rather than waiting for them to come to us.

‘I hope it’s going to be an extremely active lodge,’ he adds, ‘both masonically and socially. We want to make sure that partners get involved. At a lot of lodges, I think a problem can be that wives occasionally feel alienated, or at least not a part of it. But, clearly, we don’t want that to be the case.’ To that end, Peter Manning and others have also planned to organise an informal picnic every six weeks at a beauty spot or a National Trust venue. 

There’s a need to keep ‘clear water’ between the car club and the lodge itself, but it is hoped that by touring around the country and remaining open to non-Freemasons, the club will fuel the future of the lodge. ‘The idea is to promote Freemasonry to the public through the club,’ he says. ‘We’re hoping it will be a feeder for initiates into the lodge.’ 

The cars themselves may prove to be a draw as well, with a huge range of vehicles in the club, from legendary marques to cute vintage runabouts. ‘There are some fairly heavy motors in the club,’ says Peter Hughes, but it’s his 1970 Fiat 500 that he describes as his ‘pride and joy’. ‘The biggest problem with my Fiat is keeping it away from my daughters,’ he says. It’s a far cry from the challenges he came up against in his early motoring life. He raced in Formula 3, and even shared a grid with the late, great Ayrton Senna. ‘I emphasise “shared a grid with”,’ he says, laughing. ‘It wasn’t “racing”. He went one way while I seemed to go backwards by comparison.’

Peter Manning is also very keen to emphasise that the club isn’t all about luxury or high-powered sports cars. On the contrary, ‘there’s a huge cross-section of vehicles,’ he says. ‘We’ve got loads of members who have MGBs and Austin 7s and goodness knows what. We’ve also got some beautiful pre-war Bentleys, but the nice thing is that it’s reflective of Freemasonry.’ What does he mean by that? ‘It might sound a bit poetic,’ Peter says, ‘but I mean it in the sense that everybody here has got the same passions: motoring and Freemasonry. It doesn’t really matter what you drive – we all enjoy it for what it is. It’s a great atmosphere we’ve created.’

Looking to the future, Peter Hughes is adamant that Square Wheels Lodge has the pulling power needed for further growth. Some of his back-of-the-envelope calculations based on research carried out by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs suggest that there might be as many as 10,000 Freemasons who own classic cars. ‘It’s predominantly a hobby for males over the age of 40,’ he says. ‘Which sounds a bit like Freemasonry.’ 

Other specialist motoring lodges are also beginning to spring up. ‘There’s a new one at the Mini factory in Oxfordshire, as well as Derbyshire, Cheshire and West Wales. I think a lot of Provinces are looking at this.’ He points to the Widows Sons, the association of Freemason motorcyclists, as an example of a community that can be built around a special interest. ‘They are huge on the charity side of things and everybody knows them – they have done very well. I think it’s a pattern we could follow.’ 

In fact, Peter Hughes sees no reason why there couldn’t be a national Freemasons’ association for classic vehicle enthusiasts. ‘I’d quite like us to take a lead; it would encourage people to visit other Provinces and build ties through meetings and cross-visiting. That’s got to be the next project.’

Motorcycling Freemasons in Hampshire, many dressed as Santa, delivered 1,500 presents to the local charity SCRATCH, which will distribute them to youngsters this Christmas

The Widows’ Sons Masonic Bikers Association (Southern Chapter) also presented a cheque for £2,153 for the charity’s Christmas Complete project.

Boxes were placed in Masonic centres across the county where toys were donated by Freemasons, whilst some lodges also raised money through raffles. The bikers, led by the Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Mike Wilks, then set off from the Province’s HQ to Southampton where the donations were handed over.

SCRATCH (Southampton City Region Action to Combat Hardship) was formed in 1999 to relieve the effects of poverty in the area. Last Christmas the charity gave parcels of toys to almost 2,000 children and young people across Hampshire.

A spokesman from SCRATCH said the support from the Freemasons was ‘amazing’ and added: ‘Donations of over £2,000 will allow us to purchase items when we have shortages for particular age groups.’

Mike Wilks said: ‘As Freemasons we are committed to helping our communities. Our members raise money for many charities and good causes but it is especially at this time of year we think of those less fortunate than ourselves.

‘It’s an honour to support SCRATCH and assist them with the wonderful work they do in our communities. We hope our donations will make Christmas a little easier for children and young people.’

Friday, 07 December 2018 00:00

The football lodge playing for keeps

The perfect match

Whether it’s a World Cup final or Sunday morning kickabout, football permeates our culture. Matthew Bowen finds out how the founders of Football Lodge want to harness this power to breathe new life into Freemasonry

Looking out over the pitch from the hospitality box in a football stadium, you can feel the theatre of what happens on the pitch and in the stands. There won’t be another match until next weekend, but echoes of last Saturday’s chants still linger in the air. The empty ground exudes a sense of limitless potential, much like Football Lodge, No. 9921, which is engaging at a grass-roots level to bring Freemasonry into their community.

Surveying the ground, Lodge founder and Primus Master, David Lallana (Liverpool and England player Adam Lallana’s father), explains the thinking behind forming the lodge. ‘The ‘F’ word was very important to us when we launched the lodge,’ he says. He’s not talking about Freemasonry, or football, but ‘fun’. 

Football Lodge’s quirky take on masonic ritual made headlines after featuring in Sky’s Inside the Freemasons documentary. Members enter the lodge to the sound of the Match of the Day theme tune and can receive a card (yellow or red, depending on severity) for social faux pas. But there’s method to the madness. 

‘We stick to the tenets, but see no point in suffering through meetings,’ says Lodge Secretary Bill Starkey, who’s joined David in the hospitality box. ‘Visitors to the lodge enjoy themselves, and the word is spreading.’ More than 280 guests attended the lodge’s consecration, and meetings regularly attract 100-plus members, who travel to Botley in Hampshire from as far away as Devon.

FOSTERING A TEAM SPIRIT

The popularity of the lodge is no doubt helped by its high-profile members, among whom is former England player and current Birmingham City coach James Beattie. Stars such as this may make the headlines, but the lodge uses its popularity to support the Province’s football community from the ground up. In its first year, Football Lodge granted £100-£150 to each club in the Mid-Solent Youth League to assist with forming under-nine’s teams. They also provided a new kit for Hamble United FC – with a square and compass logo on the breast – after a fire devastated their ground. 

‘We’re proud of our community work and it’s a two-way street,’ says Worshipful Master Leon Whitfield. ‘Some people still see Freemasonry as elitist, but at Football Lodge, we’re just another team.’

To strengthen its presence within the community, the members understand that they now have a responsibility to convert the initial excitement into a lifelong commitment to Freemasonry as they guide the light blues through the ranks. David Lallana is on a mission to take Freemasonry into the 21st century – but he knows he can’t do this without bringing on the next generation.

‘We stick to the tenets, but see no point in suffering through meetings. Visitors to the lodge enjoy themselves, and the word is spreading’

MORE MEMBERS WITH EVERY MEETING

Ahead of each Installation meeting, the Loos Football, which was kicked across no man’s land by British soldiers towards German trenches in 1915 during the Battle of Loos, is transported down to the masonic hall by the Royal Irish Regiment. It sits on a pedestal on one side of the Worshipful Master. On the other side sits an identical football to the one used in the current Premier League season. 

‘As experienced masons, we have a responsibility to create a pathway for junior brethren to take the Chair of King Solomon,’ says David. ‘We hope people aspire to our position, but it’s not about looking up to us, it’s about the future of Freemasonry.’ The lodge has initiated new members at every meeting so far as it looks to build the perfect team who can take it to the next level.

Newly initiated members include referees, semi-professional managers and ex-players, including Richard Appleton, who is an Academy scout for Portsmouth FC. For Richard, Freemasonry has echoes of the team environment he enjoyed when playing high-level football, but it goes beyond that. ‘Football Lodge has changed my perspective on Freemasonry,’ he says. ‘I thought it was a bit stuffy to begin with, but I enjoy the history. I like to get involved in all the parts in the Temple, and think it’s making me a better person’. 

In order to achieve their goals, the founding members know they have to be sympathetic to the time limitations of younger men. ‘We’re very careful to not impinge on anyone’s lives,’ says Leon. ‘If you’ve got time, let us know. If you don’t, sit back, enjoy the meetings and relax. Not every member can make the same commitment, and we fully respect that.’

In addition to being professionally involved with football, Richard also works 14-hour days in construction, commuting to London most days from his home in Portsmouth. ‘I don’t find it easy to commit, but I believe that if you love something you make it work. I’m excited by the challenge of taking on what these guys have started and, along with the other light blues, carrying on our traditions and maintaining the buzz that surrounds the lodge.’ 

NEW SET OF GOALS

It’s clear something special is going on at Football Lodge. Their formula works, but they’re not resting on their laurels. ‘We see the lodge like a football club,’ says Leon. ‘When a club finds success, the hardest thing to do is maintain it.’ He’s keen to form affinities with other lodges to sustain this momentum. Farming out passing and raising ceremonies to other lodges in the Province that are struggling with attendance creates a buzz and, more importantly, an ‘interaction between a wider circle of brethren’. 

If the growth continues, Football Lodge may become just the first in a line of football lodges around the country. ‘People are looking at what we’re doing here,’ says David, who is keen to share the lessons he’s learned, not only with others looking to set up similar lodges, but with Freemasonry as a whole. ‘We’ve adopted a young way of thinking to attract younger members. First and foremost, we want to create something that people enjoy.’

‘We’ve adopted a young way of thinking to attract younger members. First and foremost, we want to create something that people enjoy’

An impromptu meeting was held underwater between three lodges at the bottom of The National Diving & Activity Centre on 14th October 2018

Michael Wilson, Senior Warden and Master Elect of Ashley Lodge No. 6525 in Dorset, donned his diving gear to meet with Luke Sibley, Master of Arthurian Lodge No. 5658 in the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight, and John DeLara, Past Master of the Loyal Berkshire Lodge of Hope No. 574 in Berkshire, to help Michael celebrate his 70th Birthday at a depth of 70 metres for 70 minutes, whilst raising funds for the charity DDRC Healthcare, the Diving Diseases Research Centre in Plymouth.

In the event, the depth and duration were slightly exceeded with 71.2 metres for 78 minutes. The temperature at the bottom of the quarry was 6C and on the wind and rain swept surface it was a balmy 15C. Following the dive, refreshments comprised numerous mugs of hot chocolate and lashings of Old Jamaica ginger cake soaked in rum and cream. 

To date, over £400 has been donated to DDRC Healthcare by the British Sub-Aqua Lodge No. 8997, Ashley Lodge, Arthurian Lodge, Loyal Berkshire Lodge of Hope and Fins and Flippers Swim School in Poole, Dorset.

Four Hampshire Freemasons dressed as superheroes and battled 90 degree heat as they cycled around the Isle of Wight in a race against two colleagues in boats – all in the name of charity

Together they raised more than £1,300 for Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington and drew the 11 hour race with their opponents at sea.

Plucky pedalers Andy Wort, Robin, Joe Traykov, Batman, Lee Marsh, Superman, and Mark Jones, Wonder Woman, are from the New Forest Lodge No. 319 in Hampshire.

The race was 64 miles long and the superheroes consumed 40 litres of water as they roared ahead of fellow lodge members Paul Adams and Adam Fuller, who were taking part in the Round the Island Race – a one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight.

Later in the day the wind picked up and the yachts began to catch up and they all crossed the finishing line together.

Andy said: 'Our lodge meets in Lymington and Oakhaven Hospice does amazing work in the community.

'We’ve done various fundraisers in the past and when we decided to do this one we had no idea it would be so hot. It was exhausting and took several hours longer than we anticipated. At one point my chain broke, but luckily Wonder Woman came to my rescue.

'Incredibly, we all finished at the same time and we’re on the way to raising our target of £2,000.'

Oakhaven Hospice Trust provides specialist palliative care and support to those facing life-limiting illness and their loved ones in both a home and hospice setting.

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