From the Grand Secretary & Grand Scribe E

At the September Quarterly Communications, the Pro Grand Master’s address spoke of the importance of teamwork in governing and managing Freemasonry. UGLE has traditionally been a federal amalgamation of ‘city states’, each ruled by a Provincial or District Grand Master, whose patents were granted by the Most Worshipful Grand Master. It was not uncommon, in decades past, for those chosen few to be given their patent and told to ‘get on with it’, but with very little instruction or guidance as to what the ‘it’ either was or entailed. 

We like to think that we are more enlightened now, and take some time and effort to explain what we think a Provincial or District Ruler might want to consider, and what the Rulers and Board/Committee of General Purposes think their priorities should be when taking up their important office. 

It will not surprise you to learn that membership and communications are very high up on that list, and as UGLE evolves to meet the challenges of our very different world, so this old system must evolve to ensure consistency of message and image across our organisation as a whole. 

We have also come to realise that the ‘Bright Ideas Club’ at the centre may not have all of the answers, and initiatives rolled out with little or no consultation with our membership or their leaders are unlikely to be successful in the longer term, if at all. 

Lord Northampton, as Pro Grand Master, set up a system of Regional Communication Groups which divided the Provinces into nine geographical clusters, and which provided a means for Provincial Rulers in each group to meet regularly and exchange ideas on matters of import. Under Sir David Wootton, these assumed a greater sense of purpose, with the representation of each integrated into the Improvement Delivery Group, with its remit to deliver the 2020 strategy conceived five years ago. Now, under Geoffrey Dearing, they form the backbone of our ability to consult with the Provinces and to set the agenda and direction of the organisation with strong representation on both the Membership Working Party and the Communications Working Party of the Board. 

Both groups have a wide remit to shape the direction the organisation will take, and their influence will be wide ranging. They are no paper tigers, and are considering questions which will affect each and every one of us as Freemasonry evolves into a more transparent, accountable and respected organisation within the public consciousness.

The representatives on these various committees can, of course, accomplish nothing without the hard work and dedication of the teams that support them – making it vital that those team members have the ability, enthusiasm and professional capabilities and knowledge to deliver what is needed. Professional expertise is by no means short in an organisation such as ours, and Provincial leaders are well used to tapping into the potential of their membership to fulfil important roles within the Province. What perhaps is changing is the willingness to recognise that many individuals are much busier in their family and work lives than perhaps their predecessors were. As such, those who are less senior within Freemasonry and less experienced are finding themselves working on major Provincial portfolios while balancing very busy lives. 

We should not shy away from using the talent that we have within our ranks. Neither should we shy away from altering the way ‘things have always been done’ to allow those individuals to flourish and to serve. It is inconceivable that the Provincial Grand Masters and Grand Superintendents of the future will be able to dedicate the time and effort to Freemasonry that perhaps some of their predecessors have managed, without detriment to their family or personal connections. Their teams around them become of paramount importance if the organisation as a whole is to grow and develop. Similarly, if we want leaders who are truly exceptional and able to carry the organisation forward, we must be willing to accommodate the many other things that will call on their time – not least their greater involvement in the running of the ‘Centre’.

We will do our bit here at UGLE to listen to those ideas coming out of the Provinces, and to ensure that others can benefit from them; to ensure that ‘best practice’ is shared, such as the membership initiatives in Bristol and the communications strategies of Buckinghamshire and Cheshire. 

We will also continue to listen to you, our members, paying heed to what you think is important, and what our priorities should be for the years ahead.

Dr David Staples
Grand Secretary and Grand Scribe E

‘If we want leaders who are truly exceptional and able to carry the organisation forward, we must be willing to accommodate the many other things that will call on their time’

Published in UGLE

The Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF) have awarded a grant £2,500 to the Milton Keynes Hospital Radio to purchase a second mixing desk

This is part of a new studio is being created in the hospital at a total cost of £30,500. There is a need to expand the service offered in the hospital and currently, there are restrictions training new members and providing patients with a variety of programmes. The new studio will also enable live broadcasting to allow interaction with patients.

Buckinghamshire Freemason Alan Clarke of Grenville Lodge No. 1787 not only presents an evening programme but is also secretary of the station. 

Grenville Lodge and its members have supported the station with donations over the past few years of over £1,000.

Allan commented: ‘Both Hospital Radio and Freemasonry have similar missions, to make life better for everybody which is something I admire and enjoy.’

The Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF) have donated £4,000 to the Puzzle Centre in Middle Claydon to enable them to purchase desks and seating for their Outreach Team, as well as nursery furniture and materials for their Picture Exchange Communications System (PECS)

The Puzzle Centre is a charity which promotes and delivers early intervention for young children with Autism or communication difficulties and provides training and outreach to families and practitioners across the UK.

Materials purchased with the grant will help to make picture cards and emotion fobs which allow non-verbal children to express themselves and for parents and teachers to give simple instructions.

Sarah Dolder, from The Puzzle Centre, thanked the BMCF for the donation and included comments from parents whose child had benefitted and progressed due to the use of the PECS system and the interventions of the centre.

The amazing amount of £1,904 was raised when Grand Union Lodge No. 9641 in Buckinghamshire held a Memorial Golf Day in memory of the late Colin Cruse, a Past Master of the Lodge

The event was hosted by Peter Critchley at The Three Locks Golf Club in Stoke Hammond and the winning team 'The Capitanos were from Brickhill Lodge No. 6968. Money raised from the event, which will now be held annually, was sent to support Colin’s favoured charity, Medical Detection Dogs.

Colin’s widow Trisher presented the cheque to Joy Rooks from Medical Detection Dogs.

On 8th September 2019, Buckinghamshire Freemason Andy Barr arranged for 12 autistic train enthusiasts plus their carers and parents to take a trip on a vintage train on the London Underground between Amersham and Harrow on the Hill

The group travelled in 1950's carriages pulled by a vintage Metropolitan Line Electric Locomotive Sarah Siddons, which is the oldest working electric locomotive in the world still owned by the original company. The trip, which was courtesy of the London Transport Museum who donated the tickets, was part of the Old Amersham Heritage Day.

Andy is a member of Frederick Lawson Lodge No, as well as the Treasurer of the Beaconsfield ‘Freemasonry in the Community’ initiative.

Sarah Snow of the charity Engine Shed wrote a letter saying: ‘We had a wonderful day out on the Sarah Siddons trip from Amersham. Members from both our adult group and our children's group came along with parents and carers and enjoyed a vintage journey.

‘Most of us also took the vintage bus into Amersham town where a fair was taking place on the high street. Thank you to the Freemasons of Buckinghamshire for this memorable day out!'

Padbury Village Hall has received a grant of £3,480 from the Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF), which enabled the installation of new secondary double glazing to the Victorian building

Mike Long, a Buckinghamshire Freemason, proposed the grant as the hall is on a road which is experiencing much-increased traffic and noise due to new housing developments nearby. In addition, the windows were large and draughty, and with this being a listed building it would be difficult and very costly to replace them entirely. 

The hall is much used by community groups of all ages for a variety of purposes ranging from art and dancing classes, social clubs for the elderly as well as weddings and funerals.

In thanking the BMCF, the Hall’s Committee pointed out the threefold advantages of the secondary glazing in that the hall would be quieter, warmer and heating costs would be reduced. These benefits would be experienced by all hall users who they were sure will also be most appreciative.

Buckinghamshire Freemasons have supported the Head2Head Theatre Charity with a grant of £500 to allow them to put on a performance of ‘Toad on the Road’ in Aylesbury

Head2Head Theatre is a volunteer-led charity which was founded in 2006 to provide multi-sensory theatre for children with disabilities that can be enjoyed with their parents and siblings. During performances, the audience move around with the actors discovering scenes and characters from the story.

The shows are full of songs, signing, and sensory moments allowing participants to enjoy, assimilate and comprehend at their own levels.

During the two day visit to Aylesbury, Rebecca Bailey, a pupil at Pebble Brook School, was able to rehearse and perform with the cast in front of a packed audience, many of whom appreciated the opportunity for their disabled child and other siblings to have a stimulating experience together.

The £500 grant comes from the Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund.

Having seen Buckinghamshire’s Provincial Grand Master John Clark put through 26 miles of intense rowing along the River Thames to raise £7,000 for charity back in June 2019, two double kayaks used for the challenge have now been donated

John Clark completed the challenge alongside Assistant Provincial Grand Master Gary Brodie to raise the money in aid of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The kayaks they used on the day have now been handed over to the Jubilee River Riverside Centre to help people with disabilities get on the water.

As a result of the initial donation from the Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund, in conjunction with the Slough Masonic Centre, the Jubilee River Riverside Centre have applied for further funding for additional Kayaks designed specifically for people with disabilities.

Moving forwards, the Slough Masonic Centre plan to work closely with the Riverside Centre to help with its work in sports, youth work and for tackling environmental issues.

If you would like to support The Paddle Challenge you can donate by clicking here.

Buckinghamshire Freemasons have donated £15,000 to help Carers Milton Keynes to both extend and continue to provide vital support to unpaid carers in the area

The grant comes via the Masonic Charitable Foundation and will help them to increase and improve the support given to older carers, specifically carers aged 50 or over.

Carers Milton Keynes is a charity which supports the health and wellbeing of unpaid carers looking after a family member, friend or neighbour who cannot manage without them due to illness, physical or learning disability, frailty, mental health issues or additional needs.

The support available from Carers Milton Keynes includes advice, information and guidance, emotional support and counselling, young carers and young adult carers support, carers support groups and training courses.

Carers Milton Keynes commented: 'This generous award will enable us to grow the service to its full potential.'

The Pace Centre has received a grant from the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF) for £3,980, enabling them to buy materials to construct a set of bespoke Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display (PODD) books for 10 of its students

PODD books take 24 man-hours to compile and are used by children with complex communication needs, consisting of selected and organised sets of symbols.

Many of the students at the Pace Centre have movement problems in addition to their communication difficulties (such as cerebral palsy) and can select the symbols by eye movement allowing communication with their communication partner.

The advantage of this low-tech system is that it is portable and can be with the student at all times, allowing their essential needs to be understood as well as allowing communication with teachers, parents and peers. This can alleviate discomfort, frustration and unhappiness both in the school environment and in and out of the home.

They recently received a visit from two Buckinghamshire Freemasons, Phil Blacklaw, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, and Andrew Hough, Secretary of the BMCF. Phil and Andrew were keen to see how the donation was helping children at the school.

The Pace Centre has two sites in the Aylesbury area and serves children from the whole of Buckinghamshire as well as some from adjoining counties. The school has 34 students on the roll, but supports over 300 children.

The centre commented that the books will have very heavy use and will need to be expanded as each child’s vocabulary increases allowing them to maintain academic progress.

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