South Wales Freemasons have provided support to Llanishen Fach Primary School, with a grant towards their Special Resource Base (Dosbarth Enfys)
The school is specifically for children who have been diagnosed with a broad spectrum of physical, medical and learning difficulties. The grant will assist the school in adapting the classroom as well as their resources to suit the children’s varying conditions.
The continuation of this class relies on the support of the council, but the success of the class is greatly enhanced by the generosity of the community. The school has a wide and varied list of ideas to improve the facility, which includes improving the access to the outdoor area for wheel chairs, providing some new equipment for this outdoor area and lastly developing their new sensory room.
Head Teacher Sarah Coombes thanked South Wales Freemasons for their generosity and support and looks forward to updating them on the improvements to Dosbarth Enfys shortly.
Robert Payne, South Wales Freemason Charity Officer, added: ‘I was delighted to visit the school and see first-hand the great environment created by the school staff and the fun and enjoyment the pupils were experiencing.
'I am so pleased South Wales Freemasons have been able to provide this grant.’
A new, specialist bereavement service for families who are dealing with the grief of losing a child is being launched at Tŷ Hafan, the children’s hospice in Wales, thanks to a £20,000 grant from South Wales Freemasons
Tŷ Hafan, based in Sully, Vale of Glamorgan, offers comfort, support and care to life limited children, young people and their families throughout Wales. Care in the hospice focuses on making the most of the time families have together. The charity provides support and care for many years, from admission to bereavement and beyond, and ensures the child’s siblings, parents, carers and extended family are considered.
The grant comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation and will allow Tŷ Hafan to create a dedicated bereavement support service, which will be based in a specially designed summer house near the hospice’s memorial garden. It will give families and individuals the support they need in their darkest hours, as they come to terms with the death of a child or with the knowledge that in the future, their child will die. The funding will also allow Tŷ Hafan to recruit a pool of bereavement therapists with specialist expertise who are the very best in their field.
Hannah Williams, Partnerships, Projects and Research Lead at Tŷ Hafan, said: ‘We’re very grateful to South Wales Freemasons for their generous grant. It will allow us to extend the care and support that families so desperately need, by creating an appropriate dedicated therapy space and recruiting a pool of experienced, specialist therapists to ensure we can offer a bespoke service based on individual need.’
Robert Payne, Charity Officer of South Wales Freemasons, said: ‘We’re very pleased to be able to help Ty Hafan, who are doing wonderful work helping families cope with the grief of losing a child. This is a hugely important project that will support people at their most vulnerable time.’
Brad Watson’s son Archie was referred to Tŷ Hafan in 2013 and sadly died when he was just two and a half. But Brad and his wife and children are still very much part of the Tŷ Hafan family.
Brad was pleased at the news of the grant from South Wales Freemasons: ‘As a father who has lost a child, it’s not easy. Coupling a visit to the garden to remember, plus having the opportunity to talk in an environment where there is total comfort will be incredible for the well-being of those who need this.’
Brad added: ‘With this funding, Tŷ Hafan can now provide an even greater support facility to ensure that we have a place to go to honour the memories we have of our children, cherish what we still have and make new memories with them. And if we need to open up, we can do so in dignity and privacy.’
South Wales Freemasons have donated £4,000 to Wales Air Ambulance, which operates right across South Wales and has made many lifesaving flights so far this year, transporting seriously injured people to hospital and treating patients on the ground
The grant comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation and brings the total masonic support give to air ambulances across the country to over £4 million since 2007. During 2018, Freemasons from around the country will be presenting 20 regional air ambulances with grants totalling £192,000.
Steffan Anderson-Thomas at Wales Air Ambulance said: ‘We are very grateful to South Wales Freemasons for their continuing generosity. Without support like this the Wales Air Ambulance would not be able to carry on flying and our life-saving work could not continue.’
Roy Woodward, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of South Wales Freemasons, said: ‘We are proud to be able to support the Wales Air Ambulance. Thanks to the tireless efforts of their doctors and aircrew, many lives of local people are saved every year.'
Roy Woodward, accompanied by South Wales Freemasons Charity Steward Robert Payne, presented the cheque to Steffan Anderson-Thomas of Wales Air Ambulance, at a recent visit to their Llanelli air base.
A Blue Plaque has been unveiled in Treorchy in Wales to commemorate the involvement of Freemasonry in the community
Locla Freemason Phil Hanney was invited to join South Wales Provincial Grand Master Gareth Jones OBE in the task of unveiling the Blue Plaque.
The plaque is now secured proudly on the RAFA Pub in Bute Street for all to see, as a long standing reminder to the community of the fine Masonic heritage and contribution established in the valley.
Cwm Rhondda Lodge No. 9692, which meets at the the RAFA Pub, was established in February 1999 and meets on the third Monday in September and March, and the first Monday in December and June.
Phil Hanney, who is a member of Cwm Rhondda Lodge, said: 'Our Blue Plaque will be a constant reminder to us of our heritage and our future. We are very proud to be a part of our local community and providing charitable assistance where we can.
'We welcome any enquiries from the public and from anyone interested in becoming a Freemason.'
South Wales Freemasons have been celebrating the Tercentenary to mark 300 years since four London Lodges met to establish the world’s first Grand Lodge for Freemasons, and are affixing Blue Plaques to many of its Masonic Halls across South Wales. Early records exist of Freemasonry within the current South Wales region being established in Cardiff & Cowbridge in 1754.
Wales Children's Air Ambulance's are now carrying teddy bears thanks to a wonderful scheme operated by South Wales Freemasons
The Wales Children's Air Ambulance work with NHS teams across Wales to care for children and babies who need urgent medical care, or to be flown home from a children’s centre – saving vulnerable young patients a long journey by road.
In July, South Wales Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) Committee Members Colin Grey and Peter Williams visited the Heliport base of the Wales Children’s Air Ambulance in Cardiff Docks to present an initial batch of 66 bears. The TLC Scheme is supported through the generosity of South Wales Freemasons donations which fund the purchase of teddy bears to supply NHS-related services and help alleviate distressed children.
South Wales TLC currently supplies five Accident & Emergency Departments & Minor Injury Units, as well as Noah’s Ark National Children’s Hospital For Wales, and has donated over 4,500 Teddy Bears to date.
Through charitable donations, Wales Air Ambulance (WAA) introduced a fourth aircraft in 2016, dedicated to inter-hospital transfer work of children. This made WAA the largest air ambulance operation in the UK. The EC135 T2e helicopter operates from the charity’s airbase in Cardiff and covers the whole of Wales.
The transfer helicopter is an important part of their work with children, who often need to travel to specialist paediatric and neonatal centres across the UK. Every single patient is different, and CWAA will take each child to the hospital unit that is needed for the illness or injury.
A place for missing men
With bereaved men often finding it difficult to seek emotional support, hands-on initiatives like DIY workshops are providing sanctuaries where they can open up. Steven Short finds out how the MCF is helping in the hospice care sector
When a partner or family member dies, those looking after them not only have to say goodbye to the person they’ve lost, but also to their own identity as a caregiver. Many people have made great sacrifices to look after a loved one, often over months or years, and as this responsibility ends it can bring a sense of ‘Who am I now?’ as well as questions about the future.
At the same time, the bereaved can often feel cut adrift from those around them – and the support they experienced leading up to the death – at a time when they perhaps need it most, facing the practicalities of sorting out funeral and financial arrangements.
Hospices across the UK have, for many years, been accompanying people on this difficult journey. And the masonic community has long supported the incredible work they do – more than £12 million has been donated towards the operating costs of hospices throughout the country. Over time, it has become apparent that women are much more likely than men to seek out care and support, and that there is a need for programmes tailored to men who are bereaved, caregivers or coming to terms with their own illness. In response, a number of unique initiatives – such as ‘man sheds’ – have been developed to help these ‘missing men’.
A NEW WAY OF FUNDING
Historically, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF)’s support for hospices has been via small grants across all Provinces. However, the MCF has determined that funds should be directed to where they’re needed most, helping to plug gaps in service provision and make the biggest impact. Working with Hospice UK, some of this year’s MCF grants will focus on bereavement support services.
‘We are constantly looking to improve our grant-making,’ says Katrina Kerr, head of charity grants at the MCF. ‘Our hospice grants in recent years undoubtedly made a tremendous difference in the palliative care sector, but over time it became apparent that we could direct the funds so generously donated to us by the masonic community in a more effective, strategic way.’
Due to the spike in births after the end of the Second World War, a generation of baby boomers is entering its seventies, meaning that now is a good time for Hospice UK and the MCF to be thinking about palliative care and bereavement support.
Karl Benn, head of grants at Hospice UK, agrees. ‘In the past year, hospices have supported around 46,000 people – adults and children – in coping with the death of a loved one,’ Benn says. ‘So there is clearly a need for bereavement care. We also talked to our members, who agreed that this was an area we should be focussing on.’
Benn and his team have worked with the MCF to develop and oversee the application process as well as the awarding of the first £150,000 allocated for grants through the new programme. ‘It was heavily oversubscribed,’ he notes. ‘We received applications for £1.5 million, so making our final allocations was really difficult.’
Grants were ultimately awarded to innovative bereavement support projects at hospices in seven Provinces, namely Staffordshire, East Kent, Sussex, Warwickshire, Essex, South Wales and West Lancashire, and in London. These focussed grants were in addition to £450,000 awarded in small grants last year to support 245 hospices under the former programme. Later this year, a further £300,000 will be available to fund the bereavement and support programme, with an additional £300,000 awarded in the form of small general grants as the new programme is introduced gradually over the coming years.
‘Terminally ill and bereaved men are very often reluctant to access traditional support’ Kathy Birch, Princess Alice Hospice
REACHING OUT TO MEN
Among the initiatives are several focussed on supporting men through the bereavement process. These will be hands-on, practical initiatives, where men can, in Benn’s words, ‘do some DIY, or work on renovating furniture – something they can get involved in rather than sitting around a table talking about feelings, which isn’t right for everybody.’
Martlets Hospice in Hove, for example, will run a men’s allotment project, while St Mary’s Hospice in Ulverston will introduce a ‘Make Do and Mend’ initiative. At the Princess Alice Hospice in Esher, Surrey, a Man Shed project is underway. The Man Shed, which will also be trialled at other hospices, offers the opportunity to engage in practical activities and learn skills while receiving ‘shoulder to shoulder’ support.
‘We had noticed at the hospice that the number of bereaved women who were coming forward to us for care and support outnumbered men by three to one, and so we sought to identify a new way to address this unmet need that was right on our doorstep,’ says Kathy Birch, day service programme lead at Princess Alice. ‘We wanted to reach out to the missing men within our communities, including bereaved husbands who have lost their sense of purpose, men who are caring for their partner and need someone to talk to, and men coming to terms with their own terminal illness.
‘Terminally ill and bereaved men are very often reluctant to access the traditional family-support offering, such as formal counselling or listening. Our data on those who seek care and support within a “traditional setting” certainly backed that up,’ Birch continues.
Kerr from the MCF agrees. ‘Men can find it more difficult to build social connections than women. It’s an unfortunate reality that men are less likely to share concerns about health and personal worries.’
The knowledge that men can find it hard to open up, especially in a formal face-to-face setting, inspired the team at Princess Alice to create the Man Shed programme. Birch says, ‘Our missing men can come together and put their skills and energy to use with a high degree of autonomy while talking to others who may be in the same situation and getting the support they need to face the future.’
A SPOT FOR SHEDDERS
The Man Shed idea originated in Australia, and Princess Alice is one of only a few hospice-based Man Sheds in the UK. As the name indicates, the shed at Princess Alice is a building consisting of a DIY workshop and a communal lounge. It was officially opened in June 2016, and within a month the hospice had 13 ‘shedders’ (patients, carers and bereaved relatives) involved in the project. By January of this year, that figure had risen to 112. Of those, 85.7 per cent are men, reflecting the need for spaces where they are able to cope in their own way.
At the Man Shed, shedders produce everything from bird boxes and chopping boards to bespoke memory boxes, which are then sold to raise yet more invaluable funds for the hospice. Shedders and project leaders also have come up with innovative ideas to help patients of the hospice, including a special raised cupholder that allows people who use a wheelchair to take a drink without having to bend over. They have also made a mobile trolley for the hospice library and benches for the garden.
‘I have cancer and I am a regular at the Day Hospice’s weekly social group,’ says one shedder. ‘I’ve recently started to visit the Man Shed and have made some smashing friends. When you walk in it feels like the sun has come out and the heaviness is lifted from your shoulders. Talking to people who know what you are going through really helps.’
Two teenage boys recently attended the Man Shed when their father was terminally ill, as he wanted them to learn vital skills while he could still be there. ‘Freemasons are fortunate to have a network of brethren around them for support during difficult times,’ Kerr says, ‘but not everyone is so lucky. Our grants will help to improve provisions for members of wider society.’
Lifelites Chief Executive Simone Enefer-Doy has left Freemasons' Hall to kick-start her 2,500 mile journey to 47 famous landmarks to raise awareness of Lifelites and £50,000 for the charity
Dubbed 'A Lift for Lifelites', Simone will see Freemasons in nearly every Province in England and Wales and will be stopping at landmarks such as Hadrian’s Wall, Angel of the North and Bletchley Park in vehicles including a classic Rolls Royce, a camper van, a four seater plane, an E Type Jaguar and even a zip wire.
Simone said: 'With the help of Freemasons and their vehicles around the country, I’m on a mission to raise the profile of our work and raise more funds to reach more children whose lives could be transformed by the technology we can provide.'
We'll be updating this page regularly, including images, as Simone continues on her epic quest.
Day 14 – Thursday 7 June
That's a wrap! Simone completed her 14 day challenge and finished in style on ThamesJet speedboat with guests including United Grand Lodge of England Chief Executive Dr David Staples. Her fundraising currently stands at over £103,000.
Day 13 – Wednesday 6 June
It's the penultimate day, starting with a trip to Bedfordshire at the Shuttleworth Collection. The next stop was Silverstone racetrack in Northamptonshire, which included completing a lap in a Jaguar, before driving this to Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire. The last trip was to the home, studios and gardens of former artist Henry Moore in Hertfordshire.
Day 12 – Tuesday 5 June
Day 12 took in journeys across Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. The first stop was Gordon Boswell Romany Museum in Lincolnshire before using two vehicles, a Hudson Straight Six Touring Sedan and a Range Rover, to Bressington Steam and Gardens in Norfolk. There was still time to grab lunch at Bury St Edmunds Abbey in Suffolk before a BMW took Simone to her final stop in Cambridgeshire, which included a punt on the River Cam.
Day 11 – Monday 4 June
Simone crammed in four locations to start the week, with a wide variety of vehicles used. The day started in Yorkshire Sculpture Park before driving a 1977 Bentley to the National Tramway Museum in Derbyshire. It was from here that Simone then picked up a DeLorean to take her to Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire before completing the day by driving a gold Rolls-Royce to Victoria Park in Leicestershire.
Day 10 – Sunday 3 June
The week concludes with trips to Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire and East Riding, as well as the news that Simone had already hit her £50,000 target. Trips included the Millennium Bridge in Northumberland, the Angel of the North and a scenic drive across the Yorkshire Moors to Bolton Castle.
Day 9 – Saturday 2 June
Day nine saw visits to the Provinces of West Lancashire and Cumberland and Westmorland, with landmarks including Hadrian’s Wall in Cumbria and transport provided by a horse and cart.
Day 8 – Friday 1 June
Two Rolls-Royces helped provide the transport on day nine, with Simone starting at the Avoncroft Museum in Worcestershire, driving down to New Place in Warwickshire and then to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. There was still time to conclude the day by visiting Manchester Cathedral in East Lancashire.
Day 7 – Thursday 31 May
At the halfway point, Simone made trips to Cheshire, Shropshire and Herefordshire – starting out at the Georgian Hall Dunham Massey, then heading to the RAF Museum Cosford in a custom built Rewaco Bike and finally, to Arthur’s Stone.
Day 6 – Wednesday 30 May
Day six was solely focused in North Wales where Simone took on the challenge of the fastest zip wire in the world. This was then followed by making the journey to Chester in a six month old blue McLaren Spider and flanked by the Widows’ Sons motorcyclists and Blood Bike volunteers.
Day 5 – Tuesday 29 May
Day five was a journey across the borders for Simone as she ventured to Oxfordshire before heading west to Monmouthshire and continued to South Wales and West Wales. Landmarks included Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, Caerleon Amphitheatre in Newport, the Donald Gordon theatre in Cardiff and ending the day in the county town of Carmarthen to meet the Provincial Grand Lodge of West Wales.
Day 4 – Monday 28 May
Simone began day four by driving an Aston Martin DB9 to the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare with help from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Somerset. A 1928 MG Riley saloon then took Simone to her next port of call, Clifton Suspension Bridge where the Provincial Grand Lodge of Bristol had a 1966 Austin Mini Cooper waiting to take her to Caen Hill Locks. It was here that Simone met representatives from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Wiltshire, before the final stop of the day saw her clock up the miles to Shaw House in Berkshire to be greeted by members of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Berkshire.
Day 3 – Sunday 27 May
Day three involved journeys to Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. It started with a visit to Lulworth Cove in Dorset to be met by members from the Provincial Grand Lodge in a yellow camper van and to receive a donation of £2,000. Simone then ventured to Buckfast Abbey to receive a donation of £5,000 from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire before departing in a classic Rover to head to Lanhydrock House and Garden in Cornwall, where she received another donation of £1,750.
Day 2 – Saturday 26 May
Simone took to the sky for day two, meeting a representative from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Hampshire and Isle of Wight who drove her to Southampton to board a flight to Jersey, to meet members of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Guernsey and Alderney.
Day 1 – Friday 25 May
Simone has begun her challenge, leaving in a taxi escorted by a fleet of Widows Sons motorcyclists. This is the start of her 14 day road trip with a difference, using a variety of unusual and extraordinary forms of transport.
The next destination for Friday was Richmond Park where Simone was met by representatives from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Middlesex after arriving in a Porsche 550 Spyder. Further destinations included Guildford Cathedral, where Simone was met by a Noddy car, and Brighton Royal Pavilion, where the Provincial Grand Lodge of Sussex made a donation of £5,000.
Lifelites has a package of their magical technology at every children’s hospice across the British Isles and their work is entirely funded by donations. Through the journey they are seeking to raise £50,000 – that’s the cost of one of their projects for four years.
You can sponsor Simone by clicking here
People facing homelessness in the Western Bay area of South Wales will have greater support fighting through legal and administrative bureaucracy, thanks to a grant from South Wales Freemasons
Shelter Cymru, the Welsh people and homes charity, has been awarded £20,000 to help deliver a unique project entitled 'Housing Support Plus' working across the Western Bay covering Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.
The grant from South Wales Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
This grant will support a vital personal service for people facing homelessness, supporting them at a very difficult time and giving them reassurance. It will see a new Housing Advocacy Volunteer Coordinator recruiting and training volunteers who will themselves directly support more than 200 people or families every year.
The service is aimed at people who are not sufficiently aware of their rights around housing and benefit issues and who need additional support to engage with caseworkers. There is also a special focus on practical issues such as arranging pre-meetings to ensure paperwork is completed, taking notes and providing individuals with a meeting record and information on next steps and actions.
Michelle Wales, Campaigns Manager at Shelter Cymru, said: 'We greatly welcome this grant from South Wales Freemasons. It will help us to provide essential support to people who often do not have a roof over their heads and who are struggling with bureaucracy.'
Speaking at a presentation in Cardiff, Provincial Grand Master of South Wales Freemasons, Gareth Jones OBE, said: 'We are very pleased to be able to support Shelter Cymru, who carry out excellent work with some of the most vulnerable people in our community.'
Local communities are set to benefit following a surprise £50,000 donation to Brecon Hospital from Brecon Freemasons, in the Province of South Wales
The generous donation was made at the Brecon Freemasons’ Festive Board, which took place at the Castle Hotel in Brecon, to mark 300 years since the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge.
Professor Vivienne Harpwood, Chair of Powys Teaching Health Board, receiving the donation on behalf of the hospital, said: 'I am so grateful and humbled by this generous donation from Brecon Freemasons. We knew in advance that the Freemasons wished to make a donation to Brecon War Memorial Hospital, but the size of the donation was very much under wraps until the cheque was presented to us.
'This will make an amazing difference, and we look forward to working with the Brecon Freemasons to use this donation for the benefit of local communities.'
Graham Richards, Charity Steward of Brecknock Lodge No. 651, presented the cheque saying: 'The highlight of our Tercentenary celebrations was the presentation of a cheque for £50,000 for the benefit of the Brecon War Memorial Hospital in appreciation and a recognition of the services and care given to Freemasons and their families and indeed to the whole community of Brecon & District.'
The Tercentenary has been an opportunity for fundraising and charitable works across the UK. John Ingham, Worshipful Master of the Brecknock Lodge, said: 'The first lodge in the UK was established in 1717, and here in Brecon our first recorded meeting was in 1764 with the Brecknock Lodge meeting in its current form since 1855. What better way to mark this momentous occasion than by upholding one of the main tenets of our organisation, the support of charity.
'Over £70,000 was donated to good causes and I would like to thank all Lodge members for their support.'
- The Salvation Army Homeless Christmas Appeal
- Feed the Homeless Cardiff
- Feed the Homeless Swansea
- St John Ambulance Brecon
- Macmillan (Mid Wales)
- Usk House Brecon
- Brecon Mountain Rescue
- Brecon Scouts
- Brecon Guides
- The Mark 150th Anniversary 2020 Appeal
- The 2021 Craft Festival Appeal
- TLC Teddies for Loving Care Appeal
- Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court Dementia Support
- Noahs Ark Appeal
- Lotus Orphanage Appeal in Sri Lanka
A club for everyone
With the New and Young Masons Clubs Conference 2017 seeking to build on Freemasonry’s foundations, Matthew Bowen meets the organiser, Dan Thomas, to see why the future is in safe hands
On 14 October 2017, the walls of the Severn Street Masonic Hall in Birmingham echoed with the sounds of progress. Within the ancient building, 100 new and young Freemasons from across the country gathered to discuss ways of ensuring the Craft’s relevance in the 21st century. They were there for the annual New and Young Masons Clubs Conference (NYMCC).With more than 30 new and young masons clubs operating in Metropolitan and the Provinces, the annual conference – now in its third year – plays a vital role in inspiring change. This change can occur within clubs themselves by offering ideas and advice on best practice. It can also happen across Freemasonry as a whole by bringing new brethren face-to-face with some of the most senior masons in the country.
The responsibility of hosting the event this year fell to The Five of Nine Club and its chairman, Dan Thomas. Dan joined St Peter’s Lodge, No. 7334, in Warwickshire eight years ago, aged 27. As a young policeman, Dan finds that Freemasonry complements his life and he enjoys every challenge it brings. Attending the NYMCC in 2015 inspired him to share his enjoyment among his peers and launch The Five of Nine Club for new and young masons.
‘I went to that conference just wanting to have a look at what was going on, and came away with so much information that, when we launched the club, it was like we had been given a two-year head start,’ says Dan. ‘These clubs are all about bringing young masons together. There may only be one young brother in a lodge within the Province, but by getting them involved in the club, they feel a wider sense of community.’
Aside from pulling together to organise the NYMCC, The Five of Nine Club also arranges regular social activities that have so far included go-karting, paintballing and a brewery tour. ‘The focus is on enjoyment,’ explains Dan, with the hope being, he adds, that ‘enjoyment translates into higher retention rates among junior masons.’
Recruitment and retention are equally important goals for masonic clubs, as reflected by the theme of this year’s conference – ‘Building and Maintaining the Foundations’. According to Five of Nine Club patron and Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire David Macey, Dan and the club have excelled at both. ‘We set Dan some fairly optimistic targets to hit within 18 months, and he smashed them in six,’ he says.
Though new and young masons clubs champion the views of a specific group of masons, the benefits they bring are being felt across the board. As David says, ‘The club’s energy and vitality is brilliantly infectious, not just within the youngsters they’re influencing, but on us senior masons as well.’
One of the senior masons present, Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence, delivered a keynote speech on how new and young masons clubs and the UGLE can work together. Dan was honoured when the Deputy Grand Master announced he’d like to attend. ‘The fact that he wanted to give a talk shows how important new and young masons clubs are to Freemasonry, and recognises the phenomenal work being carried out by every club,’ he says.
Provincial Grand Master for South Wales and Deputy Chairman of the Improvement Delivery Group Gareth Jones also took the stage. He joined Freemasonry as a 26-year-old in the 1980s, and believes it is as relevant today as it has ever been. For Gareth, Freemasonry is ‘a place away from the pressures of everyday life to sit quietly, reflect, learn and make daily advancements’. He spoke on the need for masonry to become more intertwined in communities, about the Improvement Delivery Group and on how Freemasonry must improve its reputation. ‘Let’s be frank – our image has traditionally been stuffy, middle-class and only for older people who can afford to join. It’s these ways of thinking that we need to get away from,’ he said, praising efforts being made by the clubs to revitalise the Craft.
‘We talk about [the] reduction [of] membership over last two years,’ Gareth adds, ‘but this is a symptom rather than a problem in itself. The problem has been, to a growing extent, one of quality in how we have engaged with communities and the media, and the way we’ve brought people in and looked after them once they’ve joined. We’ve put in a lot of effort in the last few years to address those problems, and these clubs are proving to be an effective way of arresting the decline we’ve seen since the mid-nineties.’
With the buzz around the new and young masons clubs, it would be easy to get carried away in the excitement. A key theme of the conference, however, was the importance of installing proper governance and setting clear objectives. David stressed at the conference that ‘structure is imperative to channel enthusiasm and pass it on to others’.
David led the conference into a breakout session on how to launch, manage and grow successful new and young masons clubs. Reflecting on the event and on his role as patron of The Five of Nine Club, David says, ‘It sounds as if I’m being condescending when I say, from the bottom up, that we’re learning so much from an age group we were in danger of neglecting.’
With buy-in at such senior levels, Dan is confident this is just the start for new and young masons clubs, and expects to be attending conferences for years to come. ‘Since last year’s conference, there’s been an unbelievable increase in numbers of clubs across the country,’ he says. ‘We’ve seen more recognition in Quarterly Communications and more senior support coming forward in support of the clubs.’
Find out more about clubs in your area - click here.