Excited interest and conversation filled the evening reception in Kings Heath on the 23rd May, as Worcestershire’s ‘Bring a Friend’ event attracted over 80 people – including 28 potential new members – many accompanied with their partners or sponsors

There were thoughtful presentations by Membership Officer Mike Dykes and his team who represented their experience since joining, whilst there were many questions and answers exchanged between guests and members.

The event was opened with a welcome by Worcestershire's Provincial Grand Master Robert Vaughan.

Local Freemason Alan Bolton, with restrained formality and good humour, added an introduction to the customary proceedings of the Festive Board, including an after dinner account of ‘The Masonic mumblings of a rural Rector’ by Rev Justin Parker.

Historic stained glass windows have been returned to Barnstaple in Devonshire after 30 years

When St Mary Magdalene Church in Devonshire – built in 1842 – was demolished in 1988, it was to make way for a new inner relief road. That was until the Honourable Glaziers Company stepped in to rescue a pair of stained glass windows which depicted the building and Dedication of King Solomon’s Temple.

Those stained glass windows have lain since then in the cellar of Glaziers Hall in London. However, through the offices of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton, who is also Worshipful Master of the Glaziers Company, the windows have been returned to members of Loyal Lodge No. 251 which meets in Barnstaple.

On 17th May 2019, Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, Ian Roome, Mayor of Barnstaple, Alison Mills, Manager of Barnstaple’s Museum, and Robert Patterson, specialist glass Restorer, together with Roger Moore, Worshipful Master of Loyal Lodge, and members of the lodge accompanied by their families, welcomed members of the Worshipful Company of Glaziers.

The windows are an outstanding historical artefact which commemorates the life of a prominent member of the Barnstaple community and Past Master of Loyal Lodge, John Thomas Britton (1790 to 1855), and is a small piece of local history.

Thomas Britton was an active member within the community and of St Mary Magdalene’s Church. It was in 1859 that the members of Loyal Lodge decided that as a permanent memorial they would commission the stained glass south window of the Church to be dedicated to his memory.

In 1843, John Britton took a leading role in the acquisition of what is known as the Bath Furniture consisting of some of the finest masonic chairs, pedestals and pillars still in existence anywhere in the masonic world.

During the meeting a resume of the history of the windows and St. Mary Magdalene Church was very ably given by Estcourt Miller. In presenting the windows, Sir David Wootton said how pleased they were to be able to return them to North Devon and to know that in due course they will be displayed so prominently for all to see.

The Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass are one of the ancient livery companies of the City of London, its origins dating back to the 14th century. Through its charity – The Glaziers Foundation – it supports education, the training of stained glass artists, together with the conservation of stained glass and are devoted to promoting the art and craft of stained glass.

Roger Moore formally accepted possession of the windows and thanked all those who had been involved in their return and eventual display in the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon when their refurbishment of the building is complete.

A special event took place in the Province of Monmouthshire at the meeting of the Albert Edward Prince of Wales Lodge No. 1429, with a presentation to  Colin Biggs on what was the 50th anniversary of his initiation into the Lodge – to the day

The ceremony for the evening was undertaken by the Worshipful Master Keri Phillips, who initiated Kenneth Coppard, able assisted by the officers of the lodge.

This was then followed by the presentation of a 50 year certificate to Colin Biggs by the Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Monmouthshire Robert Arundel. The certificate itself was also signed by the Provincial Grand Master of Monmouthshire Richard Davies.

Dorset Freemasons have donated £500 to support dementia care in the local community

Lodge of Friendship and Sincerity No. 472, who meet in Shaftesbury, were approached by a local care company asking for help to purchase a new piece of technology to help their clients. 

An interactive games machine has been designed to help numerous clients, but in particular those with early to mid-stage dementia. The lodge readily agreed to help and pledged £250.

A matching amount from the Provincial Grand Master’s discretionary fund was also pledged.  The care company, Tricuro, have now raised the necessary funds of nearly £10,000 and the lodge was delighted to present a cheque for £500 to them.

Graham Glazier, Provincial Grand Master for Dorset, said: This type of donation is typical of the care and attention Dorset Freemasons put into their communities. Kindness is at the core of our masonic values – we believe in playing a key role in our communities and give time and money to charitable ventures.’

Nottinghamshire Freemasons hosted a special evening at their headquarters on 5 April 2019, where they donated £8,000 in recognition and support of the life-saving work on prostate cancer carried out by Jyoti Shah and Sarah Minns

Jyoti Shah, Macmillan Consultant Urological Surgeon with University Hospitals of Derby & Burton NHS Foundation Trust, along with Sarah Minns, specialist Macmillan Nurse, operate an innovative health campaign designed to raise awareness of prostate cancer and alleviate the ‘fear factor’ of being screened.

The ‘Inspire Health: Fighting Prostate Cancer’ campaign, which has been running since early 2016, enables men to seek advice and get screened by visiting a ‘pop-up’ clinic in venues based within local communities across the region where they feel more comfortable and which are easily accessible. There is no charge to attend a screening event, with costs covered by donations and fundraising.

When it comes to prostate cancer, the numbers are damning. In this country, prostate cancer claims a new victim every 45 minutes. It is the number one cancer in men, with one in eight men over the age of 50 being diagnosed.

At the event, held at their headquarters in Goldsmith Street, Nottingham, both Jyoti Shah and Sarah Minns were in attendance, alongside Philip Marshall, the Provincial Grand Master of Nottinghamshire, his wife Ann, along with other masonic leaders, their spouses and partners. Other attendees includes VIPs from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, and local Freemasons and their spouses and partners, gathered in support of this life-saving campaign.

Whilst handing over a cheque for £8,000 to Jyoti and Sarah, Philip Marshall said: 'Nottinghamshire Freemasons are proud to be associated with this campaign which, though based in Derbyshire, benefits the male population of Nottinghamshire where several screening sessions have taken place.'

Jyoti and Sarah Minns were also presented with two other cheques, each for £1,000, from other masonic leaders.

Also in attendance at the event were volunteers from Derbyshire Blood Bikes, co-ordinator, Mark Vallis, and Nottinghamshire Blood Bikes, Jim McRury. The former being presented with a cheque for £1,000 and the latter £500. Mark personally delivers blood samples from the screening sessions, wherever in the UK), to the lab at Queens Hospital, Burton, on a twice-daily basis. The Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes provide a free transportation service to the National Health Service.

For more information on prostate cancer screening, please contact your GP.

Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire Freemasons have raised over £30,000 to help a local homeless charity purchase a much-needed new van, to enable it to expand its work within the community

The 3 Pillars Feeding The Homeless Trust in Peterborough were presented with the keys to a brand new van by Max Bayes, the Provincial Grand Master of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, on 11th April 2019, to be used across Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. This now allows the original van to be redeployed in Wellingborough to extend support to the homeless in that area.

The Trust has served the homeless community in Peterborough since 2016, offering a feeding station providing food, clothing, tents, sleeping bags and toiletries to those in need in the city. It can be found every Tuesday and Thursday at the rear of The Brewery Tap Pub, operating from the van in the car park.

Formed by local Freemasons Ged Dempsey and Mick Pescod, the charity has grown substantially with continued support from Freemasons, individuals and local businesses, and on any given night can be seen helping between 60 and 80 persons who have fallen on hard times.

It is so named `3 Pillars`, because like Freemasonry, it is built on the three principles of respect for others, charitable giving, and being true and honest to yourself and those in the community.

The work of the Trust epitomises these principles, as Co-Founder Ged Dempsey explains: ‘The charity illustrates the work of Freemasons within the community, with volunteers offering either their time as helpers or by making monetary or other donations of clothing, blankets or personal commodities that may be needed.

'Some of our volunteers are not Freemasons, but all work together for a common good and to benefit the wider public – the response has been overwhelming.’

However, the work of The Trust goes much further by liaising with other agencies such as the YMCA to help those who visit the feeding station to get off the streets and reintegrate again into society. Provincial Grand Master Max Bayes sees the work done here as vitally important, commenting: ‘You need to be able to `break the circle` from dependency, and to offer hope to people and a possible solution to their plight. It is vital any support must be a ‘hand up’ and not just a ‘hand out.’

The Trust have now helped to find accommodation for many distressed individuals, also providing bedding, kitchen utensils and equipment, and will make a donation to the YMCA to cover a short period of rent to help relieve the initial pressures associated with integration back into society.

More volunteers are always needed and The 3 Pillars Feeding the Homeless Trust can be contacted via their Facebook Page.

More than 200 disadvantaged children will experience life on a real working farm, thanks to a grant of £63,000 from Devonshire freemasons to Farms for City Children

The charity’s founders, acclaimed Warhorse author Sir Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare, Lady Morpurgo, were both at Nethercott to welcome members of the Devonshire Freemasons and also took time to read to the visiting children from an inner city Plymouth School a story from one of his latest books.

The charity welcomes over 3,000 primary school children and their teachers each year from disadvantaged urban areas to one of their three farms in Devonshire, Gloucestershire and Pembrokeshire.

During their seven day stay the children live and work on the farm, explore the countryside around them and find out where food really comes from. They also discover self-confidence as they conquer fears and grow in self-belief as they overcome challenges working as a team to get tasks done. They develop new friendships and learn to see a bigger, brighter future than they ever thought existed beyond their crowded city horizons.

For many of the visiting children the true cost of this fully immersive seven day stay is beyond their reach so the charity subsidises every single child’s visit by at least £300. 

The grant of £63,000 from Devonshire freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Tim Rose, Farm School Manager at the charity’s founding farm at Iddesleigh in Devon, said: 'We’re really grateful to Devonshire Freemasons for their generous grant. Each week we see children from inner cities blossom on the farm – they discover confidence, challenge themselves to achieve so much more than they think they could and revel in the great outdoors.'

Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, said: 'I’m delighted we were able to help Farms for City Children, who do outstanding work helping disadvantaged children from right across Devon and beyond. The experience they offer these children can be life-changing, including improved behaviour at school which can give them a chance to make the most of their education.

'Being a local resident it has often been my pleasure to be onsite when the children are there and have seen the benefit they gain from their time on the farm.'

Freemasonry hit a high note when Devonshire Freemasons became the first mixed male and female masonic choir in the country

Their first performance was held at the Annual Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in Torquay in April 2019.

Permission was sought from the Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury, who enthusiastically supported the formation of a choir which included women Freemasons.

The Devonshire Masonic Choir was formed in 2017 with male Freemasons only, although it was decided at their second AGM, by a majority, to include women Freemasons in their ranks.

The ladies have brought with them an extra dimension of sound, with their enthusiasm and ability adding to the total enjoyment of participation in song.

The aim of the Choir is to help raise much-needed funds for various masonic and non-masonic charities, whilst being able to entertain groups throughout Devon and also enjoying themselves.

Although still in their relative infancy, the Devonshire Masonic Choir has already performed at many charitable functions.

Published in Initiatives & Clubs

Hundreds of local children will be able to take part in the year-long Prince William Award experience, thanks to a £150,000 grant to the education charity SkillForce from Derbyshire Freemasons

Derbyshire Freemasons have committed to support SkillForce for the next three years, with a large part of the donation going towards supporting programmes for pupils in Derby.

The Prince William Award is currently being delivered in ten schools across Derbyshire to a total of 686 pupils, with SkillForce’s education programmes being predominantly delivered by former service personnel. SkillForce delivers the Prince William Award and its shorter SkillForce Prince’s Award in more than 300 schools nationwide, helping children and young people to boost their confidence, resilience, and self-esteem. 

The Prince William Award is the only one of its kind and the only Award in HRH The Duke of Cambridge’s name. It is a year-long experience for six to 14 year olds which was launched in 2017 and is now on track to be delivered to 13,000 children across the UK this academic year. 

Derbyshire Freemasons have previously supported SkillForce and made this latest grant as part of their commitment to encouraging opportunity, promoting independence and improving wellbeing. Representatives from the organisation visited pupils at Akaal Primary school in Derby on Friday 5th May to see the Award in action.

The grant from Derbyshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

SkillForce CEO, Ben Slade said: 'We’re extremely grateful to Derbyshire Freemasons for their very generous grant. They have supported us previously and this new donation means a great deal to us and the young people we work with around the UK, and especially in Derbyshire. We believe that every child deserves the chance to be the best that they can be and the money given by the Freemasons is helping us to continue to make sure that happens.'

Steven Varley, Provincial Grand Master of Derbyshire, said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support SkillForce in delivering the Prince William Award (PWA). It’s a great scheme that gives local children the chance to find out what they’re made of and to develop the confidence and resilience that will be hugely important for them as they grow into adulthood. It was so exciting to see out future interacting so well with the PWA and developing their confidence and abilities in what is a challenging world.'

Natalija, aged 6, said: 'I am really enjoying the PWA, it is helping me lots with my confidence. It was nice to meet the new people today and show them around my school.'

Rajvir, aged 7, said: 'It was interesting to hear about the freemasons and how they have different chains. The PWA has really helped me with my friendships and now I am able to get along with people better.'

At The Prince William Award inaugural graduation ceremony last year HRH The Duke of Cambridge Prince William said: 'At a young age, children need to learn the tools to deal with such challenges; the tools to develop their self-esteem, confidence and resilience to lead happy, healthy lives and to succeed and thrive.

'Good academic results are, of course important, but strength of character - the confidence to stand up and be counted and the ability to keep going in the face of adversity are essential if young people are to flourish.'

Yorkshire Freemasons have reaffirmed their longstanding commitment to Harrogate by continuing to stage their annual meeting in the spa town into the next decade

The Province of Yorkshire, West Riding has signed a five-year contract with Harrogate Borough Council to hold its Provincial Grand Lodge Meeting in the Royal Hall, whilst at the same time booking the Majestic Hotel for the next three years for its annual post-meeting celebration dinner. 

Whilst the first occasion the Royal Hall hosted the fraternity’s annual meeting was in 1937, its masonic links go back to the hall’s origins, including local benefactor, industrialist Samson Fox, and designers Robert Beale and Frank Matcham, who were all Freemasons. 

Additionally, Julian Clifford, the Royal Hall’s musical director for many years, and Alderman David Simpson, four times Mayor of Harrogate, who laid the foundation stone in 1902, were also members of the fraternity. 

Traditionally held on the first Tuesday in May, the annual meeting sees almost a thousand Freemasons from across the Province’s geographical area – south Yorkshire, west Yorkshire and parts of north and east Yorkshire - and further afield heading to Harrogate for the ceremony and dinner. 

Provincial Grand Master David Pratt said: 'Both the Royal Hall and The Majestic Hotel have become synonymous with our annual gatherings, and I’m delighted that this is set to continue. In previous years, Provincial Grand Lodge meeting were also held at the Majestic Hotel in addition to the Royal Hall. 

'The proximity of the pair to each other is another qualifying feature, as is the fact they are located in the town centre and can cater for the number of masons that attend each and every year.'

Matthew Hole, general manager of the Majestic Hotel – which is undergoing a major £15m refurbishment - said: 'For many years it’s been our pleasure to host the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding’s annual celebration dinner. Since first opening our doors more than 100 years ago, The Majestic Hotel has been the setting for many Masonic functions, in particular ‘ladies’ nights’. 

'We are very much looking forward to continuing our relationship with the Freemasons over the years to come.'

Harrogate Convention Centre director Paula Lorimer said: 'What fantastic news that the Freemasons are to continue their long and historic partnership with the Royal Hall. The new five-year contract is a huge vote of confidence in the venue’s facilities and team. We look forward to welcoming the Yorkshire Freemasons back to Harrogate next year.'

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