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.
Freemasons in Hampshire have formed a new lodge for those involved or interested in air travel as it attempts to attract members
It is the latest specialist lodge in the province following the creation of a Scouting lodge, football lodge, rugby lodge, sailing lodge and two motorsports lodges, which are proving highly popular.
The Samuel Cody Aviation Lodge No. 9953 – named after the early 19th century flying pioneer - meets in Bordon. Among its number are members and former members of the RAF, members and former members of civil aviation and ground crew, those from air traffic control as well as aeroplane enthusiasts.
It is run in the same way as any other lodge and its first master is Roger Bricknell who spent 25 years as a Concorde flight engineer – clocking up 14,000 flying hours.
Roger said: 'After the success of the other specialist lodges it became clear that there was enough interest to form a ‘flying’ lodge. There were many Freemasons from Hampshire and further afield who were keen to help.
'We do the same things as in other lodges, but just have a shared interest which makes meetings even more enjoyable.'
Mike Wilks, the Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight, consecrated the lodge. He said: 'We are using various methods to increase membership in the province and specialist lodges have proved a great way of doing it.
'Samuel Cody was a Wild West showman who became a flying pioneer and made the first ever flight in the UK in Farnborough in 1908. His name was a great choice and the lodge has got off to a flying start with interest from around the province and beyond.'
One of the new lodge’s members is Bernard Brown, well into his 90s, a world renowned air traffic controller who, amongst his achievements, is credited with the requirement that all pilots must be able to converse in English.
W Bro Barrie Hewitt, PAGDC, has been presented with the Badge of the Order of Mercy by Lord Lingfield, President of The League of Mercy at Mansion House, London
The presentation ceremony on Tuesday 11th July 2017 was followed by an informal tea with the Sheriff of the City of London Lord Lingfield and the Trustees of the League of Mercy. Also in attendance were Barrie’s wife Christine, Provincial Grand Master Mike Wilks and his wife Kay and W Bro Les Hutchinson, Chief Operating Officer of the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
Barrie Hewitt received the award in recognition of his outstanding contribution over the course of six years as Provincial Grand Charity Steward of Hampshire & Isle of Wight, towards their 2016 Festival which raised over £7.7 million for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. Barrie drove hundreds of miles around the Province to attend numerous Lodge meetings and deliver his presentation about the Festival in order to encourage Brethren to support it by making contributions and organising fundraising events.
At a national level, Barrie attended annual Festival Forums, giving advice and sharing his expertise with Provincial Grand Charity Stewards across the country. As well as working tirelessly for the Festival, Barrie also managed the Province’s ‘Teddies for Loving Care’ and carried out his other duties as Provincial Charity Steward.
Barrie has been a Freemason for over 30 years and was appointed to the Grand Rank of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2013.
Provincial Grand Master Mike Wilks commented: ‘I am so pleased that Barrie has been honoured in this way by a non-Masonic organisation which recognises distinguished voluntary work across the country. Barrie was one of just 25 to receive an award this year – a great accolade to a dedicated and committed Freemason.’
The League of Mercy was founded in 1899 by Royal Charter of Queen Victoria at the instigation of the then Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII. The object of the League was to establish a body of volunteers who would assist with the maintenance of voluntary hospitals and otherwise relieve sickness and suffering. Central to the activities of the League was an annual ceremony at which about 50 people were awarded a medal known as the Order of Mercy. When the 1948 National Health Act abolished these hospitals, the League was quietly wound up.
The League of Mercy was re-founded in 1999 as a registered charity, exactly 100 years to the day after it was first established. Central to its aims are “the encouragement and recognition of distinguished voluntary work within the areas of care, which include the sick, injured or disabled, young people at risk, the homeless, the elderly, the dying and those who are impaired in mind”.
Each year the League receives many nominations from charities and other recognised organisations from which the Trustees select about 25 outstanding volunteers, who are then invited to receive the Badge of the Order of Mercy. This is a hallmarked silver gilt representation of the original 1899 design.
Freemasons from the Bordon, Alton and Petersfield Masonic Centres held a charity presentation evening to celebrate the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary
Held at the Bordon Masonic Centre, the evening was well attended by local charity and community representatives and Freemasons including Chairman of East Hampshire District Council Lynn Evans, Mayor of Alton Dean-Paul Phillips and Mayor of Whitehill & Bordon Colin Leach.
Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight RW Bro Mike Wilks opened with a talk about Freemasonry and the values it represents and teaches its members. A total of 26 local charities and community organisations were supported and then given the opportunity to talk about the amazing support and services that they provide to the local communities.
Over £17,500 was presented to the below charities:
- Alton Cardiac Rehab - Provides exercise and health education for post-op rehabilitation
- Lifelites - Provides specialist technology for children in every children's hospices
- The Rosemary Foundation - Charity providing a 'Hospice at Home' service
- The Petersfield Society of Special Needs - Improving the quality of life of those who develop a disability in childhood
- Petersfield Counselling Service - Offers short and long term counselling to people 18 years and over
- Petersfield ShopMobility - Motorised scooters and wheelchairs for hire
- Petersfield Girl Guides - Run exciting activities for girls
- The Oaks Playscheme for Disabled Children - Run playschemes during the Easter and Summer holidays for 3-11 years
- Bisters Big Build - Raising funds to build a downstairs bedroom and wet room for Joseph, who has a range of serious medical conditions
- Alton MS Society - Offer help to people who are living with or affected by MS
- Holybourne Theatre Company - A not for profit amateur dramatics group run by volunteers which stages an energetic and diverse entertainment programme
- Kings Arms Young Carers - Charity set up to meet the needs of the young people of Petersfield and the surrounding villages
- The Murray Parish Trust - Charity dedicated to raising £2 million to build a new Children's A&E department at Southampton
- Friends Forever - A service set up to meet the leisure expectations of a group of disabled people who wanted to have the opportunity to rekindle old friendships and make new friends
- Homestart Weywater - Independent charity supporting families in need
- The Downs Syndrome Association - Charity focusing solely on all aspects of living successfully with Down’s syndrome
- Hounds for Heroes - Provides specially trained assistance dogs to injured and disabled men and women of both the UK Armed Forces and Emergency Services
- The Royal Marsden Hospital - A specialist cancer treatment hospital
- The Kevin Ackling Fund - Raising funds for The Brain Tumour Charity in memory of Kevin
- Headley Youth Football Club - Provides inclusive football for all ages from under 6 to under 18
- Headley Holme Primary School - A school for boys and girls aged from 4 to 11
- St Johns Ambulance - First aid charity
- Riding for the Disabled - Charity dedicated to improving the lives of thousands of people through education, therapy and fun
- Masonic Trout & Salmon Fishing Charity - Provides exhilarating fishing day experience for people with special needs
- Headley Sports Association - To provide facilities for recreation for the benefit of the Parish of Headley
- Kings Arms Young Carers - Raises awareness and money for children with cystic fibrosis
This money is achieved by Freemasons holding charity evenings or by regularly contributing to a Lodge charity fund, which is then used for the benefit of local causes.
Mike Wilks commented: ‘Listening to the charity representatives explain the work they do was very humbling. It provided even more motivation for us to keep raising funds for such worthy causes.
‘For 300 years we have been supporting charities and I hope we’ll still be doing it in another 300 years.’
The evening concluded with a social gathering in the dining hall of the centre. This provided a great opportunity for the charities to further explain what they do and to learn about Freemasonry from its members.
A Southampton charity, the Rose Road Association, has been given a major grant by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Freemasons to provide short breaks for severely disabled children and young people when their families are in crisis
The Rose Road Association is celebrating its 65th anniversary and by coincidence the grant from the Province and the Masonic Charitable Foundation totals £65,250. The funding will provide 150 short breaks over three years.
The short breaks give severely disabled children and young people the one-to-one care that they need, while allowing their families to spend dedicated time with their non-disabled children, or even just to get a good night’s sleep.
With a passion for sailing, the members of Spinnaker Lodge want to help younger Freemasons navigate their way through the Craft, as Matthew Bowen discovers
It’s not often that you hear the words ‘pontoon party’ and ‘Freemasonry’ together. Formal suits aren’t exactly de rigueur at the marina and aprons tend not to mix well with high winds. But the members of a new lodge see sailing and Freemasonry as perfect crew mates.
In November 2016, Spinnaker Lodge, No. 9932, became the sixth specialist lodge in the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight to be consecrated in the past four years under the leadership of Provincial Grand Master Mike Wilks. Like other specialist lodges, such as Football Lodge and Chequered Flag Lodge, Spinnaker centres its proceedings around a common interest; charitable giving will focus on supporting boating charities – and members will travel to meetings by boat.
So how to go about creating a specialist lodge? The first step, according to the lodge’s inaugural Master, Frank Milner, was to see how many of the Province’s 9,000 members were interested in sailing. As the proud owner of a Moody 27 yacht himself, Frank tested the water by issuing a circular, Calling All Yachtsmen.
One of the first to respond to Frank’s invitation was Adam Harvey, who is now the Junior Warden at Spinnaker Lodge. ‘I’ve been sailing since I was 12 or 13,’ he says, ‘so when I saw the invitation I couldn’t turn it down. It struck me as a good thing to have something else to bond over in addition to being brothers.’
Frank’s original intention had been to start a sailing club, rather than a masonic lodge, but encouraged by a 25-strong crew of the keenest boatmen in the Province, he decided to push his idea further. Together they took on the challenge of founding the new lodge.
‘It’s been a learning curve,’ says Frank. ‘If you join an established lodge, the traditions are already in place, but when you find yourself making on-the-spot decisions about how to run a double initiation ceremony, for example, you realise you have a task on your hands.’
Some of the decisions were easy to make: naturally, all members must have an interest in boating (though owning a boat is not a requirement) and they must all be prepared to learn the words to the official lodge song, What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor.
Navigating new waters
Deciding how to appeal to new, younger members, however, has proven to be a trickier affair. ‘We are working hard to bridge the gap between young, trendy sailing guys and our traditional formalities by developing our meetings to meet their expectations,’ says Frank, determinedly. In the face of declining membership, he believes that appealing to the younger generation is crucial for Freemasonry, and his greatest hope for the new lodge is to see younger masons coming up through the ranks.
To make ritualistic masonic life appeal to millennial males, Frank is aware that he must be flexible with the rules. As well as applying the principles of brevity, the lodge will operate in a somewhat nomadic fashion as it casts its net wider in the search for new members.
Meetings at the lodge’s official headquarters, the Royal Naval and Royal Albert Yacht Club in Southsea, will be limited to twice a year, with three more taking place at other masonic centres along the coast, where members will cast anchor for the weekend. By visiting new marinas and hosting social events at sailing clubs, it is hoped that the profile of Spinnaker Lodge will rise among those who could potentially make perfect new members.
Given that the modern man is likely to be time poor, what would convince him to join Spinnaker Lodge? ‘Aside from the personal development opportunities, younger members will be able to tap into the knowledge of more experienced sailors,’ says Frank. By joining older brethren on their boats, younger sailors will be shown the ropes on different crafts.
‘We are working hard to bridge the gap between young, trendy sailing guys and our traditional formalities by developing our meetings to meet their expectations’ Frank Milner
As far as Adam is concerned, special interest lodges are the way forward for Freemasonry, enhancing the appeal of joining as well as creating greater enthusiasm among masons. And when it comes to getting greater commitment from existing members, the founding members of Spinnaker Lodge know there’s nothing more powerful than family.
By holding lodge meetings at weekends, and setting up temporary bases in marinas within easy distance of a masonic hall, Spinnaker Lodge offers family members the chance to meet and socialise. Senior Warden Adrian Cleightonhills, who sails a Southerly 32, says, ‘I’m keen that Freemasonry shouldn’t just be for the man of the house. It can take a fair amount of his time and I feel that it should be done with the encouragement, and involvement, of his family.’
Women and non-masonic members of the family won’t take part in lodge meetings, but they’ll keep the party going while the meetings take place, which is proving to be a popular notion. ‘When we’ve spoken to potential new members, this is the thing they show most interest in alongside the sailing,’ says Adrian.
Anchored in tradition
But Spinnaker Lodge will not only apply itself to appealing to new members; moral and spiritual values will not be compromised, and the lodge will remain dedicated to being a force for good in the community. Spinnaker will choose a sailing charity to support each year – this year it’s the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust – and the personal progression of members will be enhanced by developing them as sailors as well as men. And while the lodge would like its membership to double over the next five years, it’s not its biggest priority and won’t be achieved at any cost.
At the lodge’s first meeting in January this year, Spinnaker initiated two new members, both in their 20s and both keen boatmen.
They are the future of the lodge, and their success within it will ultimately reflect the lodge’s success as a whole. The winds of change are certainly blowing in Spinnaker’s sails and, as Frank says, ‘it’s all up for grabs’.
Plain sailing for Jubilee Trust
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Provincial Grand Master Mike Wilks had a special mission when he boarded the sailing vessel Tenacious at Southampton Docks: to present the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s (JST) chief executive Duncan Souster with a cheque for £15,000 from the Grand Charity.
The donation will be used for the JST’s Buddy Bursary scheme, which funds sailing expeditions for both disabled and able-bodied people, promoting equality by teaching them how to crew a tall ship together, sharing challenges and celebrating their individual differences. Since the JST began in 1978, more than 40,000 people have set sail to destinations including Tenerife and Costa Rica.
Launched 15 years ago, the Tenacious is one of two tall ships used by the group – the only tall ships in the world designed so they can be sailed by a crew with widely varied sensory and physical abilities, including wheelchair users.