On 12th March 2016, W Bro David Hughes (Rothley Temple Lodge No. 7801), ably assisted by W Bro Donald Salt (Guthlaxton Lodge No. 7717) and Bro Carl Heslop (Highcross Lodge No. 4835), welcomed the Leicester and District Organists' Association (LDOA) to the Holmes Lodge Room in Freemasons' Hall, Leicester to experience the rebuilt organ
LDOA is very proud of the local organ building tradition established by the firm started by Stephen Taylor and who built the magnificent concert organ in the De Montfort Hall. Taylors, a firm with strong masonic connections, also created the organ which initially stood in the old Halford Street Masonic Hall, and which still forms the core of the Holmes Temple organ following its rebuild by Bro Carl Heslop.
The first thing to strike the notice of the members of LDOA was the Edwardian Baroque splendour of the Holmes Lodge Room and to say they were impressed by its beauty and fine acoustic property is to put it mildly. W Bro David Hughes, who is himself an LDOA member and organist of Newton Harcourt and Wistow churches, gave a short history of the lodge room and how it came to be built, and then handed over to Bro Carl Heslop to talk about his work and how he been drawn to both Freemasonry and the task of undertaking the rebuilding of the instrument.
Bro Carl demonstrated the various stops on the organ and how they can work either in solo form or in combined patterns. He put the organ through its paces from delicately mild to ferociously magnificent. The members of the association, many of whom are local church organists, were then invited to try their hands on the organ and quite a number responded to the challenge. What impressed all those present was the way in which the rebuild has combined traditional organ pipe work with current digital technology to produce an instrument of astounding versatility. And, yes, Bro. Carl did end the afternoon by sending everyone off to Blackpool in Theatre organ style with 'I do like to be beside the seaside!'
The members of the association were entertained for two hours and went on their way having declared themselves more than happy with what they had heard and also highly delighted to have been given the chance to see inside our fine Provincial Headquarters.
Over the festive period a band of determined and enthusiastic brethren from the Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blue Club undertook a unique and historic feat, visiting 12 different lodges across 12 different evenings in December
The lodges visited were:
1st December - Jason Lodge No. 7716 (Leicester)
4th December - Highcross Lodge No. 4835 (Leicester)
5th December - Edward Sherrier Lodge No. 6757 (Lutterworth)
9th December - Castle of Leicester Lodge No. 7767 (Leicester)
11th December - Beacon Lodge No. 5208 (Loughborough)
12th December - Rothley Temple Lodge No. 7801 (Leicester)
13th December - Old Oakhamians No. 8033 (Oakham)
15th December - Lodge of the Golden Fleece No. 2081 (Leicester)
16th December - Temperantia Lodge No. 4088 (Leicester)
17th December - Reynard Lodge No. 9285 (Loughborough)
18th December - St Peter's Lodge No. 1330 (Market Harborough)
19th December - Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448 (Leicester)
The event was organised by Samuel Harris (Lodge of the Golden Fleece), and was conceived not only as an enjoyable test of endurance (and waistlines), but also to achieve three specific aims:
- To introduce brethren to the joys of visiting and meet other masons across the Province, by providing a unique opportunity to attend any of the 12 lodges during this period knowing there were a group of likeminded individuals also attending
- To raise awareness of the Light Blue Club and its aims across the Province and
- To raise a significant amount of money for LOROS Hospice as one of the designated charities
Over the course of the event, over two dozen individual brethren took part at various stages, including a few who had only been in the Craft for a matter of weeks but were keen to take part. Indeed, one brother who was initiated at one of the meeting, then came to visit another first degree ceremony the day immediately after his own!
In total, visits under the guise of the 12 lodges accounted for over 60 individual visits during the period, with the Light Blue Club attended meetings across the Province, from Leicester to Loughborough and Lutterworth, from Oakham to Market Harborough.
The brethren were overwhelmed with the warm welcome and hospitality they received at every lodge, and enjoyed seeing a wide variety of ceremonies performed, as well as the peculiarities and traditions unique to each Lodge either in the meeting or at the Festive Boards.
Every degree was witnessed at least one, as well as an Installation, although due to the time of the year, Christmas dinner was more often than not the menu of choice! The brethren enjoyed being able to explain to other junior Freemasons the aims of the Light Blue Club, the events put on, and how much they enjoy meeting and socialising with others across the Province. As a result, many more are now aware of the club and intend to get involved in the future.
Samuel Harris was supported in organisation of the event by Karl Coles (Edward Sherrier Lodge), and both deserve full credit for their commitment being the only members who managed to attend all 12 lodges. By the end of the final visit, both stated they would be happy if they never had to see turkey on the menu again!
Over £800 has been raised so far for LOROS, with contributions still coming in.