The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, has asked Freemasons to adopt a policy of openness and transparency in their contact with the public and the media, particularly in view of the tercentenary celebrations of the formation of Grand Lodge. In rising to the challenge Wiltshire Freemasons threw open the doors and welcomed over 260 members of press and public to an open day at the masonic hall situated in the very heart of the Cathedral City of Salisbury.
Making people feel welcome is very important and this was achieved with great success by Freemasons and their wives who greeted every visitor young and old with a smile as bright as the sunshine which flooded the streets bringing Salisbury to life as shoppers thronged the nearby shops and cafes.
To help explain the role of Freemasonry in society, its history and work, the lodges meeting at Salisbury compiled a series of ‘story boards’ outlining what Freemasonry is, what it does and, equally importantly, how a person can become a part of this amazing organisation.
This latter point was taken up in response to the Pro Grand Master’s comment that it is a matter of paramount importance we recruit and enthuse new members and ensure we go from strength to strength in the future, in both numbers and our usefulness to the society.
Areas were allocated to the charities supported by Salisbury Freemasons and featured representatives of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, The Scouting Association, Salisbury Hospice, Hope for Tomorrow, The Stars Scanner Appeal, Carer Support Wiltshire, Army Benevolent Fund, Children's Chance, Reading for the Blind, and the Province's very own Teddies for Loving Care.
One of the most sought after viewing locations with visitors was the lodge room with its impressive architecture and decoration. To bring the room to life, RW Bro Sir Ron Stuart-Paul provided an explanation of its many features to very attentive audiences, many of whom have been resident in Salisbury for decades and who expressed delight at having the opportunity to ‘see behind the scenes’ and have their questions answered.
The Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro Francis Wakem, whose enthusiastic support for the open day was welcomed by the Salisbury Lodges, has asked the Provincial Communications Team to use the success of this event as a pilot for the programme of activities being planned for the 2017 tercentenary celebrations of the formation of Grand Lodge. Discussions on the planning, marketing and implementation of the Open Day together with an assessment of the overall value of the event will help the Provincial Communications Team in its quest to establish a credible series of Province wide promotions including more open days, leading up to and beyond the actual tercentenary celebrations.
It seems that it is not only Britain’s athletes who have attained gold in recent times.
The Province of Wiltshire may be small in terms of lodge representation, but it has an active and vibrant membership which embodies the oft-quoted sentiment of the Provincial Grand Master that it possesses a large heart, lives well, laughs often and loves much.
Last year three of its members have been presented with 50 years service certificates.
On Wednesday 21 November, Gooch Lodge No. 1295 was honoured with a visit from the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Peter Winton who presented a 50 years service certificate to W Bro Dennis Bull.
A few days before, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, W Bro Philip Bullock ‘did a double’ when he presented certificates to W Bro Keith Newton and W Bro Stuart Brown, both members of the Lodge of Friendship and Unity No. 1271, which meets in the lovely market town of Bradford on Avon, famed for its history as a wool centre.
Not forgotten was W Bro Dennis Simmons a member of St Edmund Lodge No. 4714 meeting in Calne, who has also received a well merited certificate recognising and celebrating his 50 years service to Antient Freemasonry.
To round off a very happy few months the Province also recognised W Bro John English who has completed 60 years of service as a Wiltshire Freemason. Initiated into Gooch Lodge No. 1295 on the 15 October 1952, John was installed as Master of the Lodge in 1967. He was promoted to Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 1982, and was made an honorary member of the Lodge in 2008. He has now completed 60 years service as a Wiltshire Freemason.
This remarkable achievement was marked by a visit to John's home in Devizes by the Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire, RW Bro Francis Wakem, together with members of Gooch Lodge.
With each presentation there is invariably a story to be told about the recipient of the honour, and it is these stories which bring alive the various ‘honours boards’ which are to be found in lodge rooms. For in achieving such a milestone as 50 years of service it must be acknowledged that the brethren will have known many of the names of those who have served in the capacity of Master and will remember with a mixture of awe and affection the part they played in the life of the lodge.
We are reminded that for our ancient brethren it was ‘the hope of reward which sweetened labour’. While a certificate may not be strictly termed a reward, it is hoped that brethren who have laboured in the cause of Freemasonry for so many years will accept the grateful thanks of the Province and their lodge for their selfless service.
Our lives consist of periods of searching – looking back in history, contemplating the present and considering the future. Imagine how interesting it would be if you could examine a masonic dynasty of a hundred years or more. W Bro David Affleck of the Lansdowne Lodge of Unity No 626 meeting in Chippenham, Wiltshire, can do just that, and on a frosty December night he was joined in the Lodge by members and visitors to celebrate a remarkable achievement.
The photo shows VW Bro Peter Winton, DepProvGM, congratulating W Bro David Affleck, PProvJGW, with newly installed Master, W Bro Michael Howson, in the background.
On Tuesday 11 December the brethren of the Lansdowne Lodge of Unity met to witness the Installation of Bro Michael Howson into the Master's chair and to honour W Bro David Affleck who was initiated into the Lodge in 1949 by his father.
Having previously been honoured for achieving 60 wonderful years of service to the Craft, it was, said VW Bro Peter Winton, a real privilege to present David with a memento signifying the high esteem in which he is held within the Lodge and on the 50th anniversary of his being installed as Master of the Lodge.
In paying a moving tribute to W Bro Affleck, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master reflected on how he was always willing to undertake any duties required of him and that during the installation of the new Master, W Bro Michael Howson, he had presented the working tools of an Entered Apprentice. His contribution was not only word perfect but the sincerity of his delivery enhanced the presentation and will have formed a lasting impression on the newly installed Master.
The reading of the Ancient Minutes were themselves full of history and special meaning, as on Tuesday 10 December 1912, exactly 100 years ago, David's father was balloted for as an Initiate into the Lodge. One can only imagine David's thoughts as he heard those minutes being read in open Lodge, recollecting the commencement of his own journey into Freemasonry.
In responding to the presentation W Bro Affleck thanked the Lodge and in his typically understated manner expressed the hope that he might have the opportunity to 'treasure' the memento for a few more years – David is 94 years of age but looks considerably younger.
The Lansdowne Lodge of Unity No 626 and Freemasonry within the Province of Wiltshire is justly proud of David.
RW Bro Francis Wakem, Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire said, 'David Affleck is an amazing man and Freemason; in the register of Past Masters of and in the Lodge his name heads the list on two counts, first in terms of the date he was initiated – 1949 and secondly the date he occupied the Chair – 1962. He is held in high estimation among his brethren and fellows, and this is probably the highest personal honour any man can be afforded. I am delighted to offer my congratulations to David for what is quite exemplary service to Freemasonry in general and to the Lansdowne Lodge of Unity No 626 in particular.'
At an emotionally charged 125th anniversary meeting the White Horse Lodge No. 2227 installed W Bro John Moorehouse as Master.
RW Bro Francis Wakem, Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire, presided at the special meeting held by special dispensation on the very day on which the White Horse Lodge No. 2227 was consecrated in October 1887. The same year, in which Queen Victoria celebrated the fiftieth year of her reign, the Prince of Wales was Grand Master and the second Lord Methuen was Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire.
The meeting, held in the Laverton Hall, was attended by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, who is a subscribing member of the Lodge and by RW Bro Byron Carron, Past Provincial Grand Master.
The meeting was conducted in an excellent manner by the Installing Master, W Bro Mike Allen.
To universal acclaim two stalwarts of the Lodge received the special attention of the Provincial Grand Master. W Bro Bob Aitkenhead, PJGD, was presented with a Masonic Samaritan Fund 2017 festival jewel, and W Bro Bruce Chisholm was promoted to the rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden.
There were two presentations made to the Provincial Grand Master, with cheques for the Masonic Samaritan Fund 2017 festival being presented by the Lodge and the Westbury OSM Conclave.
At the celebration lunch held in Warminster Civic Hall the Provincial Grand Master related how 'The Lodge is still a vibrant and living part of Westbury life and community which is testament to the tenacity and energy of the founding members and their successors'.
Not that it has been an easy journey; in terms of members the Lodge was quite small but always well supported and in the first hundred years of its history the minutes were recorded by only eleven Secretaries.
It was said that on production of the summons, Freemasons could purchase return tickets on the Great Western Railway for the price of a single fare.
It is interesting to note that between 1915 and 1935 one past Master initiated 20 candidates – a task never likely to face the new Master.
The Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire, RW Bro Francis Wakem, concluded his short address by reminding everyone present that while 'The White Horse Lodge is a small Lodge it has a big heart which beats strongly through the tenacity and interest of like-minded men. Since the first meeting of the Lodge it has served to unite, maintain and uphold the three great but simple ideals of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, or rather in the words which I much prefer to use, and which accurately describe what we are all about: Live Well; Laugh Often; and Love Much. The White Horse Lodge and pure antient masonry in general will continue to give future generations the pleasure that we and those who have gone before us have found in it.'
The Lodge of Rectitude, No. 335, has celebrated its bicentenary. The lodge by-laws state that membership is limited to 60, and as far as practicable be recruited equally from among lodges meeting in Wiltshire and Somerset.
In addition, at the June installation, the new Master must also provide the strawberries and cream at the Festive Board. During the meeting a cheque was presented to Wiltshire PGM Francis Wakem for £1,500 towards the 2017 Festival for the Masonic Samaritan Fund.
Wiltshire Lodge of Agriculture No. 9090 has again organised the local Voices for Hospices event in support of the Dorothy House Hospice near Bath. The Concert raised £2,500 to which Provincial Grand Master Francis Wakem added a further £2,000 from the Provincial Charity Fund.
The concert was hosted by ITV West Country presenter Peter Rowell and featured the City of Bath Male Choir. The concert included specialist items by local young soprano Rhiannon Lambert and violinist Lizz Lipscombe
Voices for Hospices is a series of simultaneous concerts around the globe which takes place on World Hospice and Palliative Care Day every two years.