More than 500 Freemasons, friends and family members attended a service in September celebrating the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England at Manchester Cathedral
The old medieval parish church of Manchester was a fitting venue for such a historic event.
The service encompassed everything that Freemasonry is about – openness, multi-faith and multiculturalism – all bound together by a common interest. The congregation received readings in both Hebrew and English, and heartfelt prayers were delivered by brethren of the Province.
During the service, there was a collection for the mission and aims of the cathedral, which was subsequently blessed by a Cathedral Canon.
May 2017 saw a tragic violent incident in Manchester that killed 22 and injured a further 250 people. The people in the city pulled together to do all that they could to help, this togetherness launched a number of appeals to provide aid, comfort and support for those affected by the bomb
The Manchester Tattoo Community launched its own appeal called the Manchester Bee Appeal, which centred around tattooer’s doing a stylised bee tattoo for £50 with all the proceeds going to the appeal fund. Many studios across Manchester decided to get involved. The involvement spread to the other big cities in the north west of England, including Liverpool.
Stephen Crane and Alexander Jorge Perez of Wavertree Gateacre Queensway Lodge No. 2294, based in the Province of West Lancashire, are both involved in the tattoo industry and have four tattoo studios and a tattoo equipment supply company, so when one of their tattooer’s approached them and said can they get involved and do their bit, they both jumped at the chance.
Tattoo crews from two of their studios - Alan’s Tattoo based in Moreton on the Wirral and 13 Ink Tattoo based in the centre of Liverpool, donated their time, including the reception staff wives and girlfriends, for free. Steve and Jorge funded all the materials that would be needed to perform the work, so that all proceeds could be donated.
The appeal was advertised through social media and the teams spent two days doing all the work. The general public were fantastic and eager to donate a patch of skin and £50 towards the appeal which raised a massive £5,480.
The cheque for £5,480 was handed over to Peter Hegarty, who travelled over from the Province of East Lancashire to attend the installation meeting of Wavertree Gateacre Queensway Lodge which meets in Hope Street, Liverpool.
Peter received the cheque in his capacity as Salford District Chairman. He commented: 'I give a big thank you to all those involved - a real team effort for a worthy cause.'
The following day Peter passed the cheque to the East Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, who are assisting with the coordination of donations as Manchester is in its geographical area.
A fund set up by East Lancashire Freemasons in response to the Manchester attack has currently raised over £100,000
With generous donations from both Provinces and individuals across the country, it will go towards helping those affected by the shocking terrorist attack which took place at the Manchester Arena on Monday May 22nd.
The fund was opened by the Provincial Grand Lodge of East Lancashire’s charity, who commented: 'Freemasons in East Lancashire will have woken up on the morning of the May 23rd to hear the tragic news of the terrorist attack on Manchester, the city which has and always will be, the heart and historic home of our Province. There will be a desire in the coming days and weeks to want to do something to demonstrate our support and contribute in some way.
'With that in mind, the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master Sir David Trippier has decided that our own East Lancashire Masonic Charity should be the focal point of any masonic giving, which in due course will then be directed to the most appropriate cause for those affected.'
The charity have been inundated with queries from Freemasons who wish to plead their support and if you would like to donate, please click here
County council honours local masons
The great work of Freemasons from the Provinces of East and West Lancashire has been praised by Lancashire County Council at a specially organised reception at County Hall, Preston.
Cllr Margaret Brindle, Lancashire County Council chairman, welcomed masonic representatives from across the county and thanked them ‘for the voluntary, charitable and fundraising work done throughout Lancashire to support a range of important and needy causes’.
East Lancashire festival triumph
East Lancashire masons held an end-of-Festival banquet at Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium to celebrate raising more than £2.6 million for the RMBI. Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes and Bolton’s mayor, Cllr Carole Swarbrick, attended.
PGM Sir David Trippier said that despite one of the worst economic depressions since the war, which had hit the region hard, the amount raised per capita was much higher than during the previous Festival. Entertainment on the night was provided by the Opera Boys, guitarist Neil Smith and the band of the Lancashire Fusiliers.
Festive appeals total tops £8m
The closing months of 2015 saw the conclusion of two successful Festival Appeals from Bedfordshire and East Lancashire Freemasons. Both Provinces held special events to celebrate raising more than £1.5 million for the RMTGB and over £2.5 million for the RMBI, respectively.
Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes attended both events along with the Presidents and Chief Executives of the charities, Mike Woodcock and Les Hutchinson for the RMTGB, and James Newman and David Innes for the RMBI.
The funds raised by Bedfordshire and East Lancashire bring the total raised for the central masonic charities through 2015 Festival Appeals to a staggering £8.2 million.
Forget-Me-Not charity set up by Freemason brothers to help the homeless
The adjective term of a ‘down and out’ person relates to a person being without money, a job, or a place to live, in fact quite destitute. This form of destitution is clearly apparent and seen on many of the UK city centre streets, under many highways and by-ways. The term ‘objective’ relates to ‘a thing aimed at or sought a goal’, conjoin these two terms and in this case is where the needy become quite literally, served by some good.
Ezra McGowan of Hand and Heart Lodge No. 4109 and his brother Nathan, a former Freemason in a London lodge but soon to be a joining member of a West Lancashire lodge, through their travels have seen many situations in our city streets and in particular Manchester, Peterborough and London where people were and clearly still are, just living in tents and makeshift cardboard box homes or just sleeping rough and in fact quite destitute and many through no fault of their own.
Two years ago, Ezra along with his brother took an objective decision to try to support these unfortunate individuals and to give some support by way of warm food, warm clothing and in the really destitute circumstances what Ezra refers to as crisis packs which contain, a hat, gloves, sandwich, drink and male or female specific toiletries. Ezra initially purchased what he refers to as a burger van which he had inspected and passed by the authorities for distribution of hot soup and other food.
Between the brothers, they then set up trailers for use in the Manchester, Peterborough and London areas which is where they distribute today. They proudly display the square and compass on their trailers and on their hats, of which they are frequently asked about their significance to which Ezra responds it’s about helping others and helping people to realise themselves.
When Ezra was asked for his reasons and his experiences for their work, he said: 'I have been blessed in life with family and business; I have also been privileged to have the total enjoyment of support from within Freemasonry.' Ezra refers to his lodge as a wonderful friendly experience and he said it’s time he and his brother gave something back into society and he saw the homeless and those very much less fortunate people as a way to do exactly that.
Ezra’s experiences transmit quite a stark vivid realisation of what it is actually like to be in such a social disposition that affects all are all faiths. He estimates in his own experience that there are less than five women to every 50 males. There can be threatening situations and sees people having to move from location to location. He said that in one recent scenario a man and wife had lost their home, business and everything associated with family and were living in a derelict shop doorway – this is why he helps.
The brothers also assist in supplying provisions to local shelter homes and an outreach men’s home in Salford, Manchester and more recently supported both the local Women’s Institute and PROBUS meetings at Urmston Masonic Hall in providing coffee, tea, biscuits and chocolates.
Currently self-funded, Ezra along with his brother have recently set up a registered charity, numbered 1164359 which is called The Forget-Me-Not Trust and hope that any further donations they can obtain will assist those who are in dire need. They have a website too which is: http://theforgetmenottrust.org.uk
At a recent Hand and Heart Lodge Christmas ladies to dine evening, a presentation of £50 was donated towards the charity and a forget-me-not raffle raised a further £110 with a further donation of £20 from a very moved lady, Ezra responded by thanking the lodge members and their ladies for such fine support saying he was most humbled and quite taken by the support and said that the donation will go such a long way in feeding a lot of people on these forthcoming, cold winter nights.
Hospitality with a capital ‘H’ started for the 46 visiting brethren from six Provinces (some of whom had their wives and partners with them), when they were picked up at the airport or ferry office and driven to their respective hotels where a welcome pack was waiting for them
The pack contained a welcome letter from Keith Dalrymple the Provincial Grand Master for the Isle of Man, which gave details of the plan for the ladies to go to Milntown House for a tour of the beautiful walled garden, followed by a buffet supper, while the brethren attended the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting.
Details were also given about the church service at St George’s Church on Sunday afternoon, followed by afternoon tea at Freemasons' Hall in Douglas. All of which had timings for the minibuses to pick up and drop off everyone at the venues and return to their hotels!
After settling in to their hotel Fred Wright, Mark Holloway, Tony (APrGM) and Linda Bent were picked up by two long-time friends of Fred’s: Alan Fielding and Hughie McCallon to go for lunch. After lunch they returned to their hotel to get ready for PrGL and the trip to Milntown House.
Provincial Grand Lodge was tyled and the parade consisting of a number of Provincial Grand Masters and their deputies and APrGMs from surrounding Provinces on the adjacent isle. (Not the mainland as any Manx man will tell you). On opening Provincial Grand Lodge, Keith thanked all the visiting brethren and asked each of the Provincial Grand Masters to stand with their officers and brethren. After everyone had been introduced, the brethren from the Isle of Man showed their appreciation of those attending the meeting with acclamation.
Keith then invited Fred Wright to stand as he said he and the brethren in the Isle of Man very much appreciated all the care and attention Fred has given to the brethren and their wives or partners on the island over many years when they need to come across for cancer treatment at Clatterbridge Hospital and heart treatment at Broadgreen Hospital. The Provincial Grand Almoner of the Isle of Man Laurie Henley readily contacts Fred when one of the brethren or wife or partner is due over for treatment and Fred is the welcoming smile that is always there to greet them and attend to the needs of the patient and his or her spouse in making sure that they are transported to and from hospital and if necessary to find accommodation. The brethren clearly agreed as they responded with prolonged acclamation.
After the investiture of his officers, Keith went on to appoint and promote the brethren and it was a delight to see them receive their honours.
The next day the visitors were invited by Alan Fielding to join him for a tour of the island and a private tour of the Manx Parliament by Alex Downey, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of the IOM and past member of the House of Keys.
The Tynwald is the oldest parliament in the world. The Manx Parliament, which meets regularly throughout the year, but most notably outdoors at St John's on 5 July, is a direct legacy from our Viking ancestors. Norsemen first came to Mann around the year 800 AD and ruled the island for four-and-a-half centuries before finally ceding it to the King of Scotland in 1266. By then they had firmly imposed their own administrative system, which continued even while the island's ownership passed between Scotland and England, to the Stanley family of Lancashire (Lords of Mann from 1405-1736) and to their kin the Dukes of Atholl, who held it until it was revested in the British Crown in 1765. King George VI was the first British Sovereign ever to preside at St John’s in July 1945 and Her Majesty The Queen is acknowledged as Lord of Mann, she presided in 1979 when the Millennium of Tynwald was celebrated.
After the tour, Alan took brethren from West Lancashire, Cumberland and Westmorland to Peel, a harbour town in the south of the IOM where they enjoyed eating ice creams on the pier and having a jolly good laugh, then it was back to the hotels for a quick change before being picked up by one of the minibuses driven by Alan Fielding and Martin Blackburn (PrGSecretary) to go the Keith’s house where his wife Hillary had prepared a wonderful buffet for the visitors, Hospitality with a capital ‘H’.
The following morning offered time for the visitors to enjoy a walk along the sea front before attending the church service, followed by afternoon tea at Freemasons Hall in Douglas.
For some, this was the time to say farewell and thank you to Keith and Hillary and the brethren on the Isle of Man for their Hospitality with a capital ‘H’.
Looking forward at Manchester Eye Hospital
Manchester Royal Eye Hospital Charity has received a major donation from the Province of East Lancashire, supplemented by a grant from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. Totalling £125,000, the funds are for the Hospital’s Eye Bicentenary Charity Appeal to improve treatment, research and care at the Children’s Outpatient Clinic.
The donation will contribute to the purchase of a state-of-the-art DNA sequencer, which will help improve diagnosis for inherited eye diseases and provide a vital tool for researchers seeking to better understand the genetic basis of eye disease. The donation will also enable a Children’s Eye Clinic liaison officer to be appointed, to provide support to patients and their families.
Specialist care for Parkinson’s
People living with Parkinson’s in East Lancashire now have access to a specialist nurse thanks to a £90,000 donation from the Grand Charity. Parkinson’s can make simple, everyday activities difficult for the 127,000 people in the UK living with the condition.
The main symptoms are tremors, rigidity and slowness of movement, but tiredness, pain and depression are also common. There is currently no cure; the main treatment is medication, but surgical options are available for some. Parkinson’s UK chief executive Steve Ford said, ‘Parkinson’s is a complex condition which affects each person differently, so it’s vital people have access to a specialist. This new post will make a huge difference.’
For information and support, contact Parkinson’s UK: 0808 800 0303, www.parkinsons.org.uk