Fleetwood Masonic Hall, in common with stately homes and other notable buildings in England, joined in the celebration of some of the country’s unseen architecture and culture during Heritage Open Days. Buildings which are usually closed to the public or normally charge a fee for admission offer members of the public free access to their properties during this annually-held weekend event.

Fleetwood Masonic Hall opened its doors to the public for two days of the event making it the fourth time the hall has participated in Heritage Open Days (HODs). Working closely with the town’s Civic Society buildings of every age, style and function in the town also threw open their doors to show off their unique place in Fleetwood’s past and present.

The hall has had a chequered history since the original property was first built in 1847. It was then a private house known locally as The Towers. In 1945 it became Fleetwood Orphanage and Children’s Home and remained as such until the orphanage closed in 1954 having given scores of Fleetwood children an especially fine start in life.

In 1955 lodges operating in Fleetwood, which up to that time had met in the town’s public houses, made enquiries about the cost of either a new building or one which could be adapted for masonic purposes. Hesketh Lodge No. 950, Fleetwood’s oldest lodge and which was formed in 1863, received approval to pay a deposit of £240 for the purchase of the former orphanage at No. 32, The Esplanade. Fortunately, by coincidence, the lodge had received a legacy of £300 from the estate of a former member and consequently another chapter in the building’s history was to open.

Massive structural alterations took place and the premises, initially spartan and without floor covering (or even a bar!) opened in 1956 with all due ceremony. Over the intervening years a multitude of improvements have been made to the hall to make it the comfortable environment it now is for members to meet.

During the HODs’ weekend, and despite gale force winds and heavy downpours on the Sunday, a steady flow of visitors from all parts of the country, together with local people, were welcomed by members of lodges which meet at Fleetwood Masonic Hall who acted as volunteer tour guides. Fleetwood Masonic Hall Ladies’ Committee also played a vital role in the day. The many comments recorded in the visitors’ book paid glowing tributes to what the members of the public who availed themselves of the tour of the hall thought of the experience.

It was to prove a two way street for the guides who, apart from the facts and figures they themselves were providing, heard snippets of information in return about connections some local people had with the hall over the years. One visitor, Gwyneth Priestley, the niece of a former North Fylde Group Chairman Harry Robson, now sadly gone to the Grand Lodge above, pointed out her uncle’s portrait in the foyer to her guide. Harry had been a member of both Onward Lodge No. 5540 and Wyre Lodge No. 7704 and his portrait was presented to the hall in 1986 to commemorate his 50 years of service to Freemasonry.

Another portrait in the foyer also caused some comment. This one only this week has been given pride of place at Fleetwood Masonic hall and is of new Assistant Provincial Grand Master and North Fylde’s own Harry Cox. Harry and his wife Carol saw the portrait for themselves for the first time when they paid a visit during the HODs’ weekend and admitted to being very pleasantly surprised.

Amongst the many other visitors to the hall which has panoramic views over Morecambe Bay was the grandson of a lighthouse keeper whose grandfather in days gone by trekked across the sands daily to light the historic Wyre Light lighthouse which in those days was illuminated using oil. The Wyre Light which indicated to generations of Fleetwood trawler men that they were nearing home can clearly be seen from the hall.

Also paying a nostalgic visit was Charles Linkison and his family. Charles’ father Bill, now sadly deceased, was a well known and much loved character at Fleetwood Masonic Hall and a member of several lodges. Bill, who hailed from the Scottish island of Millport, regularly took Fleetwood Masons to visit his mother lodge in Glasgow, was much involved in the King Solomon Building team which tours the country raising money for good causes and was responsible for organising traditional Burns’ supper evenings at Fleetwood, amongst a host of other things.

North Fylde Group Chairman Duncan Smith on his visit to Fleetwood praised the efforts of the volunteer tour guides and the Fleetwood Masonic Hall Ladies’ Committee for their efforts and congratulated the organisers on a job well done. Heritage Open Days are a good vehicle he said to show the involvement Freemasonry has with the communities in which we are involved and they also give the chance to dispel a few myths on what masonry is really about.

 

Following the amalgamation of Bridgewater Lodge No. 1213, Worsley Lodge No. 1814 and Egerton Lodge No. 2216 which took place at Elm Bank earlier this year a special dispensation was acquired to hold this event at Swinton Masonic Hall to accommodate numbers. There were 140 brethren who attended the Provincial amalgamation ceremony of Egerton Worsley Lodge No. 1213

After the lodge was opened in the third degree Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp announced the arrival of the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker who demanded admission to the lodge.

Peter was welcomed by Frank Woodcock (WM) who offered Peter the gavel, which he duly accepted. Assistant Provincial Grand Master Jon Clipsham addressed Peter requesting that he conduct the ceremony to which Peter then opened Provincial Grand Lodge.

Peter said that the ceremony would have three objectives, namely, to reflect on the joining of the three lodges, to express gratitude to the work of the three lodges and to accept the need of amalgamation of the three lodges and that this would be demonstrated by prayers, actions, music and words.

Peter then asked the Provincial Grand Secretary to read the certificate of amalgamation.

A wonderful oration delivered by Canon Godfrey Hirst who compared the ceremony of amalgamation to the analogy of that of a funeral and wedding service. He referred to the three lodges with the thread of the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater running through them and a proud history of 145, 134 and 126 years that has remained robustly healthy and stable.

He commended the glorious contribution that the lodges have given to this Province and Freemasonry as a whole. He gave thanks for the characters, personalities that have enlivened the ceremonies and enlightened individuals on their masonic journey, most moments of significance having been recorded in the minutes of each lodge. Also recorded will be the faithfulness, loyalty and service of distinguished brethren over many years for which there should be gratitude and rejoicing.

Godfrey concluded that in processions, the corn alone is carried in a golden pitcher, the wine and oil are placed in silver vessels, and this is to remind us that the first, as a necessity and the 'staff of life', is of more importance and more worthy of honour than the others, which are but comforts. This reference would become more apparent when the elements of re-consecration were explained.

Godfrey then stepped away from his rostrum and burst into song with Chris Knowles, Amos Millington and John Hindle, who in magnificent voice sang a fitting hymn for the occasion.

Peter requested that the brethren of the lodge faced the east on the pavement. He then presented the certificate to the worshipful master, proclaiming that they were now amalgamated.

Peter explained the elements of re-consecration and that the vessels containing that of corn symbolises food and nourishment, the wine as a symbol of joyful and cheerfulness, the oil as a symbol of peace and ingenuity, and the salt as a symbol of fidelity and friendship. He then went to each member of the lodge and sprinkled salt on them saying, 'May prosperity and peace attend on this lodge.'

Peter said that it was a great pleasure and honour for him and his Provincial team to attend this wonderful event and invited the worshipful master to return to his rightful place in the lodge.

The brethren were then addressed by Jon Clipsham. Peter entrusted the warrants of the three lodges and the warrant of amalgamation to the WM. He also entrusted the artefacts of the three lodges which included a special gavel that belonged to Bridgewater Lodge and a chalice that had been presented to Worsley Lodge on their golden anniversary.

The WM duly accepted and thanked Peter for entrusting the artefacts to him, stating that he would pass them on pure and unsullied to his successor, and expressed an open invitation for Peter to attend the lodge at any future time.

After the first rising Peter along with his team recessed from the lodge room. Following the second and third risings the lodge was closed and the brethren retired to the festive board to enjoy some liquid refreshment in anticipation of a seven course meal.

In response to the toast to grand officers at the festive banquet Jon Clipsham said it had been 'a privilege and a delight' to share in the lodge’s very special occasion. He compared Freemasonry to that of his second love, scouting, and how it has transformed over the last few years, stating that it was now cool to be a member of the scouts association. He went on to describe the familiarities with respect to mentoring, membership, care and development. Jon referred to the hard work that Peter had done over his years in office and that we should be proud of him as our Provincial Grand Master. He then went on to propose the toast to the health of the Provincial Grand Master.

In his response, Peter thanked Jon for his kind toast and referred back to when he was installed as the Provincial Grand Master in 2008, when Jon was the first Assistant Provincial Grand Master that he appointed. He said that Jon had progressed and is now the senior Assistant Provincial Grand Master.

Peter thanked his Provincial team for their hard work and support that they give him in his busy schedule. He commended the choir who sang in the lodge and thanked Canon Godfrey Hirst for his interesting oration. Referring to the history steeped within the three lodges, he said that they were made to be amalgamated and that should build wisely to be transmitted pure and unsullied. Peter thanked the lodge for their hospitality and expressed how he had enjoyed his visit. The brethren then rose and toasted the health of Egerton Worsley Lodge No. 1213.

In his response on behalf of the lodge, Frank Woodcock said that the lodge members are working well together and that they all get on indicating that the early signs are that the lodge will go from strength to strength.

Each September many Liverpool buildings open their doors to the general public as they take part in the annual Liverpool Heritage Open Days scheme. Members of the public, in organised groups, are allowed entry into many buildings throughout Liverpool which are normally closed to them throughout the year to see the magnificent architectural wonders with which the city is blessed

The Liverpool Masonic Hall in Hope Street is proudly included in the Heritage tours and was open to the public over a period of four separate days. Dozens of visitors to the Hall were given comprehensive tours by Liverpool group chairman Sam Robinson during morning and afternoon sessions. Sam was also able to give a special tour and interview to BBC Radio Merseyside presenter Graham Mack, which was broadcast on his morning show.

Commencing with a video presentation, Sam gave the visitors a comprehensive lecture on the history of Freemasonry as it began in Liverpool and details of the construction and developments of the Masonic Hall. The members of the public were then given a walking tour of the lodge rooms, dining rooms and other areas of interest inside the hall.

The visitors expressed particular interest in the Corinthian suite, the War Memorial and the Egyptian suite which is used for Royal Arch Masonry. They were also interested in the items of lodge furniture and their symbolic relevance. A number of them used the Victorian lift which is rumoured to have been used by Humphrey Bogart in one of his movies. Several visitors were surprised to be informed that the building is not solely used by Freemasons but that the enterprising directors of the hall lease time and space within the hall to outside organisations and individuals as additional sources of income.

Throughout the tours Sam answered and expanded upon numerous questions from the members of the public about Freemasonry in general, its rituals and procedures and about the benefits Freemasonry can give to its members. These open tours prove that there is a most gratifying there level of interest in the Craft from ordinary members of the public.

Further details and information regarding the Hall's facilities can be found on their website at: www.liverpoolmasonichall.co.uk 

Tuesday, 05 November 2013 00:00

Litherland Lodge No. 3676 celebrates 100 years

The centenary of Litherland Lodge No. 3676 was celebrated at Litherland Masonic Hall in the presence of the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker, who was supported by the majority of his Provincial team. It was a well-supported event with almost 80 members and guests present

The evening got off to a magnificent start with the Provincial team processing into the temple with other distinguished masons under the direction of the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Keith Kemp.

During the evening, the centenary warrant was read out and presented to the Worshipful Master, Steven Dean, along with a centenary jewel. The lodge members were then permitted to wear their centenary jewels. A splendid oration was delivered by the Provincial Deputy Grand Chaplain, Rev Canon Geoffrey Hirst, after which a short history of the lodge was read out by Derek Parkinson.

After the lodge was closed, the guests and members enjoyed pre-dinner drinks before sitting for sumptuous festive board, and everyone was given a booklet entitled A Brief History in Commemoration of 100 Years of Freemasonry.

Peter Hosker referred to the consecration meeting at the Litherland Town Hall offices 100 years earlier and suggested that while the names of the founders were known, little was known about them. He wondered about their appearance and dress, but thought that under their outward appearance they would have been pretty similar to the lodge's present day members.

Peter referred to the outbreak of the Great War only a year later and the misery of the Spanish Lady, the great flu pandemic, and that one lodge member had lost his life in the conflict. Only a generation later the lodge members would have been embroiled in the Second World War. It was at times like that and during other periods of grief that the lodge members and their families would have received comfort and support from their fellow brethren. He made the point that lodges were more than meeting places and groups of men operating under a franchise, they were more akin to extended families and that no doubt the calamities of life were balanced by the enjoyment of festive boards, ladies' nights and the pleasure of the ritual.

The lodge had endured several years of hardship with falling membership but with the support of senior members of the lodge who had occupied the master's chair on as many as three occasions, the lodge had weathered the storm of the lean periods and anticipated a long future ahead.

He referred to the continuation of the lodge's history which he said: 'Had seen many gentlemen introduced into our wonderful fraternity.' He also said he wondered if, when lodge members were meeting to celebrate the lodge's 200 years of existence - if the then brethren would wonder what the present brethren of the lodge were like.

Peter concluded by referring to the evening as being the 100th birthday party, an opportunity to congratulate the lodge on reaching this notable landmark, but also to wish it well for the future.

Tuesday, 05 November 2013 00:00

Southport Emulation Lodge celebrates 100 years

Southport Masonic Hall was the venue for a centenary celebration for Southport Emulation Lodge No. 3675, and on this occasion the lodge was honoured by presence of the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Hosker

Peter was accompanied by his Provincial team at this marvellous celebration. The team included the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Howard Jones, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning, Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor, Deputy Provincial Grand Chaplain Godfrey Hurst and Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp as well as many acting Provincial grand officers.

After accepting the gavel from the Worshipful Master, Neil Pacey, the Provincial Grand Master conducted a centenary ceremony.

The centenary warrant was read by Peter Taylor and then it was presented to the Worshipful Master by Peter Hosker, along with a centenary jewel.

The Rev Canon Godfrey Hurst then gave a splendid oration and re-dedication of the lodge which combined the lodge’s history with that of local history.

Neil Pacey then presented several cheques amounting to £10,100 to charities, which were accepted by Peter Hosker on behalf of the lodge. Peter thanked the lodge members and congratulated them on their charitable giving and of raising such a large sum of money.

After the ceremony, a centenary banquet was held. The dining room was full to capacity and a lovely seven course meal was enjoyed by all.

Several speeches of congratulations were given by Peter Hosker, Howard Jones and Philip Gunning, after which Neil thanked everybody for attending the celebration and he said he was looking forward to the lodge’s bicentenary!

Peter Hosker, Provincial Grand Master of West Lancashire, led an impressive and moving dedication ceremony of Kerneforde Hall, the new masonic home for the lodges and chapters of Warton and Carnforth in the Lancaster and District Group of lodges

Peter was accompanied by a glittering array of illustrious Freemasons from around the Province, including the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Howard Jones, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and Provincial Senior and Junior Wardens Mark Matthews and Joseph Hall.

The occasion began as a meeting of Carnforth Lodge No. 4951 which had been convened by dispensation. 

After admitting the Provincial team the Provincial Grand Master appointed his officers and convened a special meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge for the ceremony of dedication of the lodge room to Freemasonry, Virtue and Universal Benevolence.

This included an extremely erudite oration by the Provincial Grand Chaplain, Rev Graham Halsall, which drew attention to the difference between the act of dedication and the state of being dedicated – a theme that would be returned to by Peter Hosker later in the proceedings.

Following the ceremony Peter announced that he had another and very pleasurable duty to perform, that of making special promotions to Provincial office which. The promotions were being made for exceptional dedication to Freemasonry, and in particular to the work in transforming Kerneforde Hall from the dilapidated premises it once was, to the impressive new masonic home in which they now met.

He therefore called for Ian Birnie of Carnforth Lodge and Roger Nevinson of Warton Lodge No. 8411 to be brought forward and was delighted to award them the collar of PProvJGW, congratulating them both on their impressive achievement.

After closing Provincial Grand Lodge there remained just one duty left to perform – the unveiling of the commemorative plaque which will be proudly displayed in the Kerneforde Hall lodge room.

At the dedication banquet held in the excellent Kerneforde dining suite, the response to the toast to the health of the grand officers was given by Howard Jones who went on to propose the toast to the health of Peter Hosker in which he praised Peter for his highly effective leadership of the Province which has included many important and innovative initiatives to improve the recruitment and retention of members and in the areas of mentoring and ambassadors for Freemasonry.

In an inspirational and amusing reply Peter praised all who had dedicated themselves to what must have seemed a colossal task when they took over the old 'Cocked Hat Club' and set about establishing the premises they were now enjoying and which would be the envy of many lodges who were not so well blessed.

The 84th Southport Flower Show gets off to a fantastic start with some beautiful weather

The show runs between 15th-18th August and the organisers expect over 70,000 through the gate. Visitors who will see many varied and unusual garden designs and two designed by youngsters in a competition sponsored by the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity.

The Schools Design-a-Garden Garden Competition is a prestigious event and has been won this year by Natasha Croft, from Charles Saer Community Primary School in Fleetwood, and Sascha Swindells from Our Lady of Lourdes School in Farnworth. Their winning designs were chosen by a panel of judges from West Lancashire Freemasons and the gardening world, and then the designs were constructed into real gardens by a professional garden company so that the exceptional quality of the designs could be seen by the many thousands of visitors.

When asked how she felt about being a winning Natasha Croft said: 'I was gobsmacked, it’s amazing to see the garden.'

Anne Wilkinson, Natasha’s teacher who runs the art club at the school, said that this was the third time the school had entered the completion and the prize money would be used to put Natasha’s garden at the front of the new school when it opens in September.

Sascha Swindells commented about her win by saying: 'I was shocked and thrilled. It is really good to see the garden made up.' Hannah McMahon, Sascha’s teacher said that the prize money would be used to enhance the outdoor learning area and that the children will have a say in what is done.

Each year the competition is held in association with the Southport Flower Show and the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. It is open to all primary school children in years 5 and 6 from across the North West and gives a chance for the gardeners of the future to create a garden for the show each year. This year there were 681 entries from school children from 36 schools across Lancashire, Cheshire, Manchester and Merseyside.

The two winners, the 10 runners-up, their families and their teachers were all invited to the show to meet Carol Vorderman, the popular TV presenter and Peter Hosker, Provincial Grand Master of West Lancashire, and President of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity to be presented with their prizes.

Each of the winning schools received £500 to enhance their school grounds and £50 was awarded to each of the winners. The 10 runners-up received £50 for their schools. An extra prize was given this year, HMP Thorn Cross Prison presented the winners and runners-up with a set of reconditioned gardening tools.

Peter Hosker, said: 'We are delighted to have once again had the opportunity of sponsoring this very prestigious competition. As Freemasons we support many community projects and to get children involved to develop a love of gardening is very worthwhile. The theme this year has been pride and it’s been a fine achievement by all who took part.'

Monday, 05 August 2013 01:00

MV Arcadia's return trip

Having sailed all the way down to the southern hemisphere it was time for MV Arcadia to set sail from Sydney for the return journey back to Southampton

The three officers of the committee remained the same as the south bound journey, Mike Walker, a member of Gratitude Lodge No. 6514 in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, president, John Strange, a member of Three Kindred Lights Lodge No. 5066 in Metropolitan Grand Lodge, secretary and Frank Parle, a member of Victoria Lodge No 4629 in the Province of West Lancashire, treasurer.

16 members attended the first meeting on the return leg, and as on the south-bound journey there was a wide range of masonic ranks, with members from across England, Australia and New Zealand. As a number of brethren would be leaving the ship at San Francisco it was decided that we would have a coffee morning and a cocktail party for this leg and carry over the money raised for charity to be distributed at the cocktail party on the journey from San Francisco to Southampton. Chris Hamer, a member of Fitzwilliam Lodge No 3023 in the Province of Yorkshire West Riding volunteered to act as DC at the cocktail party on the journey to San Francisco.

Whilst heading in a north, north easterly direction from Auckland to the Samoan islands in the South Pacific the ship underwent three more time warp turbulences. The first occurred when it got stuck on a Sunday for two days, this was immediately followed by the ship jumping from Monday to Wednesday and then being stuck on Thursday for two days! Another strange time phenomenon kept on affecting the ship’s time, some of the days would be 25 hours while others would be 23 hours.

Again, there was no damage to the ship and no ill effects to the passengers, although some lucky passengers did enjoy a two day birthday while others never got theirs. But that wasn’t the end to it, on the second Thursday the passengers had King Neptune to contend with as he demanded the same procedure for crossing his equator north bound as when south bound.

Fortunately, all passengers complied with his demand and the ceremony and all the slimy pollywogs were changed to shell backs and awarded certificates.

After getting through the time warp turbulences unscathed and dealing with King Neptune, it was time for the coffee morning en route to San Francisco. This was held in the Orchid Bar and was felt as a great success by all who attended. One new member joined at this event.

The next event was a cocktail party in the Viceroy Room which was held before arriving at San Francisco, as some of the brethren would be leaving the ship. Guest of honour was Captain Sarah Breton, accompanied by Deputy Captain Derek Grey, Executive Purser Alisdair Ross and Cruise Director Neil Oliver. Again, the party was a great success and well attended with 17 masons and their wives, one lady mason and her husband, five masonic widows, six guests and four members of the ship’s company.

To formalise the program for the final leg of the journey, a meeting was held after completing the north-bound passage along the Panama Canal. 21 members attended this meeting. As more time was available, it was agreed that a coffee morning, lunch and a cocktail party would be arranged. Bob Taylor, a member of Royal Sovereign Light Lodge No. 6630 in the Province of Sussex, and Stanley Broderick, a member of National Westminster Lodge No. 3647 in the Province of London, volunteered to assist in coaxing prizes from the onboard shops. Michael Collins, a member of Liverpool Mercantile Lodge No. 4319 in the Province of West Lancashire, volunteered to act as DC.

It was agreed that the charity donations this time would go to the widow of Allan Lili, a member of the ship’s crew in his late 30’s, who was medevac’d off the ship towards the end of Arcadia’s previous cruise with heart problems and sadly passed away not long after the Arcadia left Southampton. Allan was an Electrical Technician from the Philippines, who was well liked and respected and won the Outstanding Performer award for November and was being put forward for the Outstanding Performer of the Year award. He leaves a wife and three children, the eldest of which is about to start university. Another donation would be made to the captain’s charity the RNLI.

The first event after leaving San Francisco was a coffee morning in the Orchid Bar and this was followed five days later with a lunch in the Meridian Restaurant. Both these events were very well attended by masons and their wives, along with five masonic widows and two lady masons.

The third event was the Cocktail Party reception in the Retreat. Over 70 masons and their wives, masonic widows, two lady masons and guests attended and enjoyed drinks and canopies in very good company. Guest of honour was Captain Sarah Breton, accompanied by Deputy Captain James Brown, Chief Engineer Paul Yeoman and Cruise Director Neil Oliver.

Mike Walker proposed the loyal toast and Michael Collins proposed the toast to the ladies and guests to which Yvonne Franklin gave the response. The toast to the health of the captain and ship's company was proposed by Don Lunn, a member of Isle of Thorney Lodge No. 6194 in the Province of London. Sarah Breton gave a very good response to this toast and mentioned that the donation to Allan Lili’s widow was a magnificent gesture and would by very much appreciated. Sarah also thanked everyone for the donation to the RNLI.

There was a very good response from the onboard shops and members to help raise money for the charities, with a good number of prizes donated. The prizes were a book about MV Arcadia, a meal for two in the Orchid and Ocean Grill Restaurants, two bottles of wine, three bottles of whisky and a box of chocolates. The captain made the draw for the lucky winners and the raffle raised £456 for the charities.

A big thank you was given to Bar Supervisor John Ribeiro for all his help in organising the locations for the events and making them such a success and to Neil Oliver for his help in getting raffle prises.

The last meeting of the cruise was arranged to report on the charity donations as the epic journey back to Southampton would soon be over. Everyone agreed that all the events had been a great success, as the total raised for charity for this part of the cruise was £921. John Strange made arrangements for the donations of £691 to the Allan Lili Fund and £230 for the RNLI to be handed over to the captain.

The following are extracts from an email sent by Allan’s daughter to the captain and forward to the treasurer: 'We, the Lili Family, would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the officials and crew of the MV Arcadia, its passengers and all of those who had offered help to our family during a crucial event in our lives.'

Comments from the captain: 'I would like to join her and his family in once again saying thank you to you all for raising so much money for them. The total the ship has now sent amounts to £5,263; this includes £691 which I received from passengers during the RWC for them.'

Letters to the editor - No. 26 Summer 2014

Sir,

While on a cruise from the UK to the Adriatic, my wife noticed an item in the ship’s daily bulletin, referring to a proposed meeting of Freemasons on board. Being between meals and excursions, I went along and found various groups of men chatting in the bar. 

Most of us had never experienced an informal meeting like this. To break the ice, we decided to introduce ourselves by name, rank and Province, and found that there were members from London, Devon, Dorset, Monmouthshire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Essex, East Kent, Cumberland, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Durham and Surrey. 

Someone suggested we could do something for our ladies. A meal was not really appropriate as we had food aplenty, so a light afternoon tea with some drinks was arranged for fifteen brethren and their partners, plus two widows. We had a raffle that raised £145 for the ship’s charity, and we gave a toast to the Queen.  

We are still in contact, which is great, considering it sprung from a mention in the ship’s bulletin. This is Freemasonry at its best – being happy and spreading happiness.

John Banks, The Friends’ Lodge, No. 9789, Surbiton, Surrey

Masonry across the globe

Provincial Grand Steward Frank Parle was one of 23 masons who attended the first meeting on board MV Arcadia on route to Australia from Southampton. Some of the brethren were from England, some from Australia and some from New Zealand.

Frank said it was great to see that masonry is thriving across the globe.

As quite a number of brethren would be leaving the ship in the southern hemisphere it was decided the three main officers should be selected from those who were going all the way back to Southampton.

After due process Mike Walker, a member of Gratitude Lodge No. 6514 in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, was elected president. John Strange, a member of Three Kindred Lights Lodge No. 5066 in Metropolitan Grand Lodge, was elected secretary and Frank Parle, a member of Victoria Lodge No. 4629, West Lancashire, was elected treasurer.

The second meeting saw three new members join the group and after a little discussion it was decided that during the cruise down to Australia two coffee mornings, a lunch and a cocktail party would be organised.

The first coffee morning in the Crow’s Nest, at which four new members attended, went well and gave the opportunity for masons and their wives to meet and get to know each other in a very informal get together.

At approximately 2 am one morning on the journey to Recife in Brazil, a bump could be felt as the ship crossed the equator. Permission had been previously sought from King Neptune, ruler of the seven seas, for Arcadia to cross the equator. Word came back that permission had been granted and that he would visit Arcadia at 3 pm to perform the ceremony of crossing, which officially changed all those who had not previously crossed the equator from slimy pollywogs to shell backs. All passengers were notified that they were required to attend.

It was agreed at the next meeting a charge of £20 per would be applied for the cocktail reception. Charity funds to be split 50% to the captain’s charity and 50% between English and Australian charities. The Flying Doctor Service in Australia was nominated to receive a donation along with the Grand Charity. It was also agreed that masonic widows would be invited to the next coffee morning and the cocktail party.

While in Montevideo the ship had a change of captain, Trevor Lane left the ship to go home on leave and Sarah Breton came on board and took over command.

The next coffee morning was held in the Orchid Bar and was well attended by masons and their wives along with four masonic widows and one lady mason. Two of the widows came from Wales, one from the Isle of Wight and one from Ilfracombe.

25 members were in attendance at our next meeting. This included one new member who joined the ship in Montevideo. The date for the cocktail reception had been agreed by the captain and would be held in the Retreat, from 4 pm onwards. In an effort to try and increase funds for charity donations a raffle was to be organised, Terry Mitchell and Pieter Swinge volunteered to assist in coaxing prizes from onboard shops. A date for the lunch get together to be arranged as soon as possible. Brian Rigby, a member of Preston Guild Lodge No. 4408, West Lancashire, agreed to act as director of ceremonies for the cocktail party.

Lunch in the Meridian Restaurant was well attended by a large number of masons and their wives who thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to have a meal and meet new friends. One more new member joined our group at this event.

The next event was the cocktail party reception in the Retreat. Over 70 masons and their wives, masonic widows, one lady mason and guests attended and enjoyed drinks and canapes in very good company. Mike Walker proposed the loyal toast and the toast to the ladies and guests. The toast to the health of the captain and ship's company was proposed by Brian Rigby to which Sarah Breton gave a very good response.

There was a very good response from the onboard shops to help raise money for the charities with good number prizes donated. The prizes were an English Cricket Board tie and a book about MV Arcadia from Sarah Breton, Thermal Suite and Hydro Pool day pass, back, neck and shoulder massage from Oasis Spa and a meal for two in the Orchid Restaurant. Prizes donated by members included three bottles of wine, a pendent and a box of chocolates. The captain made the draw for the lucky winners and the raffle raised £450 for the charities.

A big thank you was given to Bar Supervisor Mark Perreira for all his help in organising the locations for the events and making them such a success.

All the money raised will be distributed to the selected charities in the following proportions: 50% to RNLI, captains nominated charity, 25% to Flying Doctor Service in Australia and 25% to The Freemasons' Grand Charity. As the captain had to leave early for other duties Christine Noble, Cruise Director, deputised for her in the group picture.

During the night on the way from Bora Bora to Suva in the south pacific the ship encountered a strange phenomenon when it travelled through a time warp. Having gone to bed on a Tuesday we all arose next morning and it was Thursday. Fortunately no damage was done to the ship and no passengers suffered any ill effects, accept those who lost their birthday!

Our ninth and last meeting for this part of the trip saw 19 members attend the meeting which was arranged to report on the charity donations as many of our Australian brethren would be leaving the ship over the next couple of days. Everyone agreed that all the events had been a great success as the total raised for charity was £747. Mike Walker was handed £373 which is to go to the captain for her chosen charity. Terry Mitchell was handed £187 which he will deliver to the Flying Doctor Service in Australia and John Strange was handed £187 which he will deliver to the Grand Charity in London.

The Chairman of the Leyland and District Group of Freemasons, Stewart Seddon, welcomed the newly installed Mayor of South Ribble, Councillor Dorothy Gardner and her consort Cllr Melvyn Gardner together with representatives from 19 local charities to the group’s fourth annual Giving Day

After welcoming the guests to Leyland Masonic Hall, Stewart said he was amazed, although not altogether surprised, that the Giving Day has snowballed. He said at the first event in May 2010, presentations were made to just seven charities, with a further four having been assisted during the course of that year. The sum donated at that time amounted to £30,052 which included grants from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and funding was matched by the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity.

Stewart continued by saying: 'Even though we are in the midst of a recession, we are announcing donations amounting to over £154,000 to 31 non-masonic charities'.

Stewart then introduced some of his colleagues who were taking part in the event: 'Ray Martland (Assistant Provincial Grand Master), Paul Renton (Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals), Chris Blackwell (Leyland Group Vice Chairman), Mike Pinckard (group secretary), John Lucas (group treasurer), Eric Hart (Leyland Group Local Care Officer), Andy Sumner (group publicity officer) and Glynn Wrennall (Group Charity Steward) who, along with his wife Eunice and brother John, organised the day’s event and produced the brochures.'

He then introduced Derek Rooney (Publicity Officer - West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity) who explained the structure and the workings of the WLFC.

Ray next announced the names of the charities and the details of the donations they were to receive - and in some cases already had received.

Manchester Royal Eye Hospital £125, Alder Hey Family House Trust £450, Babybeat £200, St Catherine’s Hospice £4,146, Gurkha Welfare Trust £225, Galloway’s Society for the Blind £250 Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust Charitable Fund £250, Bowel Cancer UK at Rosemere £257, Bowland-Pennine Mountain Rescue Team £400, McMillan Nurses £650, Derian House Children’s Hospice £4,776, Rosemere Cancer Foundation, £2,294, Southport Offshore Rescue Trust £787.10, Leonard Cheshire Disability £1,000 plus Gift Aid, Lancashire and South Cumbria Kidney Patients Association £1093.50, The Legacy – Rainbow House £2,430, Diabetes UK £1,200, Teddies for Loving Care £2,060, North West Air Ambulance £15,187.10, Masonic Hall Appeal £300, West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity £12,864.84.

Each recipient gave a brief summary of the work they do in the community - some of which were quite heartbreaking to hear.

The Leonard Cheshire Disability homes in Garstang and Windermere cheques for £500 each plus Gift Aid was money raised from a sponsored walk along the 46 miles of the Preston to Kendal Canal by John Wrennall.

Other charities who have received donations prior to the Giving Day this year are: The Masonic Samaritan Fund £15, Medicine and Chernobyl £50, Eccleston Scouts £125, Eccleston Brownies £125, East Lancashire Hospice £200, St Saviours Church £250, Donna’s Dream House £250, Urology Dept RPH £250, East Lancashire Masonic Benevolent Fund £450, Space Centre £500, Hutton Grammar School £750, Royal College of Surgeons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal £2,790, Cancer Research UK £50,100.

Ray Martland then gave a cheque for £250 from the Leyland and District Group to the Mayor, Cllr Dorothy Gardner for her nominated charities which are Babybeat, St Catherine’s Hospice and Hope-4-Justice.

Dorothy then addressed the Leyland Freemasons present and thanking them for their generosity she made a specific mention of the many recipients of donations, how grateful they were for them and how contributions such as those made would have life changing results for many people. She then spoke about her chosen charities, giving the particular example of Hope-4-Justice which is a charity that helps to provide rescue, rehabilitation, education and public awareness with regard to child prostitution in Penwortham.

The Giving Day event was formerly closed with Chris Blackwell, vice chairman of the group thanking the representatives of the charities for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend. Many of the guests were given a tour of the Masonic hall.

The total donations to non-masonic charities during the past 12 months from the Leyland and District Group including The Grand Charity was £154,043.50

The total donations to masonic charities were £16,319.84 making a grand total of £170,363.34

Page 10 of 13

ugle logo          SGC logo