It was a very special evening in Norfolk at Thorpe St Andrew Lodge No. 8010, where Laurence Corbett Whitbread, aged 95 years, received a certificate to mark his 75 years in Freemasonry
It's 75 years since his initiation into Freemasonry back in November 1942 when Laurence was initiated at the age of 20 by his Father, Edward Corbett Whitbread, who was the Master of the United Lodge of Prudent Brethren No. 145 in Colchester, Essex.
Laurence was appointed to London Grand Rank in 1972 and then promoted to Senior London Grand Rank in 1990. He joined Thorpe St Andrew in 1992 and was appointed to Past Provincial Grand Registrar in Norfolk in 2012.
His son Jonathon is also a member of Thorpe St Andrew and was proudly present to see the ceremony.
The Lodge then held a Past Master's night, with ceremonial of the highest quality as they performed a Raising. The highlight of the evening though was when Laurence Whitbread returned to the floor and delivered the Exhortation faultlessly.
A charity which helps people with disabilities take part in sport has received a £4,500 donation from a group of Norfolk Freemasons
Members of the Wroxham-based Boileau Lodge No. 6862 have completed a triathlon to raise funds for WheelPower, which offers opportunities for disabled people to get active.
As part of the celebrations to mark the United Grand Lodge of England's 300th anniversary, Lodge Charity Steward W Bro Robin Rush cycled 300km in Norfolk whilst Worshipful Master Steve Kemp ran 20km and his wife Michelle completed a 3km swim, one for each century.
Chris Rattenbury, an ambassador for WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport, said: 'I was delighted to receive the cheque and meet those who have made this very generous donation possible. The money will go towards a second Primary Sports Camp to be held in Norfolk. The first, held in 2016, introduced 69 children to cricket, wheelchair basketball, boccia, table games and golf.'
W Bro Robin Rush, who is 76 years old but still very active, commented: 'There are so many youngsters with disabilities wanting to join in with activities, so this has been my charity focus in our Tercentenary year.'
W Bro Steve Kemp, who is also a keen sportsman, added: 'I have been involved with WheelPower helping to organise events and have seen how much support is given to help people with disabilities participate in sport. Robin and I have experienced so much pleasure from sport and wanted to help others do the same.'
Almost all of Norfolk’s 76 lodges had joined in fundraising activities following a call from Provincial Grand Master Stephen Allen to give extra support to local charities during the Tercentenary year.
Members of the public had a behind the scenes look inside Wroxham Masonic Centre, as Norfolk Freemasons opened their doors
Over 100 visitors filled the temple and had the opportunity to see a demonstration by the Norfolk Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge No. 9266 and a talk by senior Norfolk Freemason Stewart Middleton.
Mysteries were dispelled with Lodge Officers explaining their roles and questions answered about the different regalia worn, the formation of the first Grand Lodge 300 years ago and the relevance of Freemasonry today.
The work of Freemasons in the community was also highlighted with donations totalling £5,500 presented to local charities. These included £1,060 to Home Start, £1,000 to the James Paget Hospital Stroke Unit plus £500 each to Norfolk & Norwich Association of the Blind, Priscilla Bacon Lodge, 1st Mattishall Scouts, Allstars Community Complex, Cromer Community & Hospital Friends, Hoveton Wherrymen Football Club and Norfolk Family Mediation.
Fred Bruce, organiser and member of Boileau Lodge No. 6862, commented: ‘We play our part in the local community and we welcomed so many members of the public who wanted to find out about Freemasonry in Wroxham. A lot of people didn’t realise 10 lodges meet here and were impressed by the amount of information available.'
Martin Russell, of Norfolk Broads Lodge No. 8368, said: ‘We are celebrating our Tercentenary this year with events and open days all over the county. Charity is a big part of Freemasonry and we invite those receiving donations to come along and tell us how the money will be spent. The donation to Home Start was raised at our Ladies Night by a raffle, auction and donations from members.’
Richard Pryor, a member of Maid’s Head Lodge No. 8558, added: ‘Some of the charities here today are small and not very well known, so our donations are appreciated and really make a difference.’
Jeannette Wright, whose husband Michael is also a member of Norfolk Broads Lodge, said: ‘It was interesting to see what happens at lodge meetings, which sound strange until I saw the demonstration and talk today.’
There will be displays on masonic history, the role of the craft in society and the path of a Freemason through his masonic career. There will also be a vast collection of masonic artefacts and items including the Provincial Grand Masters Chair and the Irish Apron.
A trail map is also available from the museum via the historic meeting places of Norwich Lodges from 1750 to 1879 (mainly sites of former public houses) to the Provincial Mason Hall and Office in St Giles Street, Norwich, where there is a further display of masonic history.
A preview evening was recently held, which was attended by the Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor Marion Maxwell and the Sheriff of Norwich, Richard Marks.
The exhibition runs Tuesday to Saturday, 10am – 4:30pm, at the Museum of Norwich until 22nd July. Entry for the whole museum is priced at £5.50 Adults, £4.40 children and £5.20 concession to Freemasons wearing a Tercentenary lapel badge.
Fun day for Norfolk
Norfolk masons had a successful Family Fun Day at North Walsham Rugby Club in Scottow in aid of the Grand Charity 2016 Festival. The main attractions were the running performances and exhibits of the Norwich and Norfolk Re-enactment Society.
Bob the Builder made a personal appearance and both Norfolk’s society magazines turned up to cover the event.
Lift for Norfolk lifeboats
Norfolk Provincial Grand Master John Rushmer has presented match-funded cheques for £2,500 to the RNLI Happisburgh Lifeboat Station. Under the Matched Funding Scheme, the Grand Charity matches grants made by local lodges to national non-masonic charities in 12 selected Provinces, up to £5,000. The scheme aims to raise awareness of the charitable help available from masons at a local level.
Maurice King, from Diss in Norfolk, celebrated his 80th birthday with a parachute jump to raise money for the Norfolk 2016 Festival on behalf of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity
His friend, Jim Carter, immediately signed up to join him, and Deputy Provincial Grand Master Stephen Allen gave permission to see if anyone else in the Province was interested, and it soon became a group jump with several lodges raising money for the festival.
Between them they managed to convince 44 people, including Nigel Riley, 84, to take part. Younger Freemasons, wives and family members all joined them for the 10,000 ft parachute jump, raising more than £20,000. Some 250 spectators turned up to watch the sponsored jumpers take to the sky at Ellough Airfield near Beccles, Suffolk, in April. Jim Carter raised more than £2,000 in sponsorship for his jump – mostly from members of Great Yarmouth lodges.