Tuesday, 12 June 2018 00:00

Grand Secretary's column - Summer 2018

From the Grand Secretary

The first words in this new Grand Secretary’s column pay tribute to my predecessor, Brigadier Willie Shackell, whose steadying hand, gentle humour and humility have steered the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) through the tumultuously successful Tercentenary year.

Our handover period has unusually been a full six months, and I have thoroughly enjoyed his company, wise words and kind introduction to a very different world to the one I had left. I wish him a happy retirement and will miss him. Freemasonry owes him a great debt for stepping into, but more importantly filling, a vacancy in such a professional manner.

My appointment signals a change in direction by the Board – a move to a more outward-looking and proactive organisation. One that is not content to be misrepresented by the popular press, or tolerate the slurs of the uninformed, but will stand up for itself, its members and the principles that guide it.  

Similarly, I am charged with developing a professional, fit for purpose and efficient central headquarters, which is held in high esteem by you, our members; which engenders pride and a desire to perform to an excellent standard in its staff; and which communicates an appealing, confident, relevant and consistent message to the outside world. That’s quite a mouthful, and quite a task, but one I very much look forward to taking on.

One of the most important tasks we face is to turn around the tide of public perception and negativity about who we are and what we do. Communication has become ever more important; it is the lifeblood of any membership organisation – whether that be listening to our members, keeping them in touch with the latest developments in and around the masonic world, or addressing the concerns of our critics and detractors head on.

You will have noticed a more robust approach to the one we have traditionally taken, and we will be continuing in this vein. We are holding meetings up and down the country to let people know that we are a proud part of the communities from which we are drawn, that we have nothing to be ashamed of, and that we are confident enough to tell people who we are, what we do, why we enjoy Freemasonry and why we are proud to be part of it.

In this issue we meet Freemason Mark Ormrod, who defied medical opinion to walk again after losing both his legs and one arm while serving in Afghanistan; discover whether the world’s first Grand Lodge did in fact originate in 1717; and bid a fond farewell to John Hamill as he retires from UGLE as Director of Special Projects.

David Staples
Grand Secretary

‘Communication is the lifeblood of any membership organisation’

Published in UGLE

Our public position

Following the Annual Investiture of Supreme Grand Chapter, Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes hails the progress made in converting members in the Craft to Royal Arch

Grand Rank in the Royal Arch is both a senior and, in many cases, a public position within the organisation. I would hope that you all feel willing to communicate the pride you now feel to those you meet, and to act as ambassadors for the Royal Arch not only to those within your lodges and chapters, but also to the general public at large. I do appreciate that the general public might not understand the relevance of the Royal Arch, but it clearly demonstrates your seniority within Freemasonry as a whole.

I have heard it said that the Royal Arch might have been somewhat eclipsed by the Tercentenary celebrations in the Craft, but far from it. The Royal Arch completes the Craft degrees, and increased interest and membership in the Craft can only be to the good of our Order. 

A new injection of pride and confidence in Freemasonry – in what we do, and in our relevance to the wider community from which we herald – can only result in a strong, confident and successful future.

WE ARE WINNING

We must be careful to maximise the momentum, energy and enthusiasm that surrounds Freemasonry at the moment as well as ensure that it is neither wasted nor neglected. We must make the effort and spare the time to explain who we are and what we do, and also ask ourselves why some of those brethren in our lodges have not taken that extra step to become our companions. We must listen to them and think hard on the answers they give. 

I believe we are winning. If we turn the clock back 10 years, we were experiencing a 30 per cent conversion rate from Craft to Royal Arch. Now there are very few Provinces or Districts where the ratio is under 40 per cent, and some are considerably higher.

May I take this opportunity to bid a fond farewell to Excellent Companion Willie Shackell, Grand Scribe Ezra, who has served in a number of senior appointments over the last 11 years. We all wish him well in his fourth, and what I am sure he hopes will be his final, retirement. 

Companions, I look forward to hearing of and reading about your exploits over the summer, and also to welcoming you back in the autumn.

‘A new injection of pride and confidence in Freemasonry can only result in a strong, confident and successful future’

Published in SGC

Do not hide the light

Following the Craft Annual Investiture, the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, is heartened by the enthusiasm shown by new Provincial and District Grand Masters

I congratulate all those whom I have invested. It is both a reward for past endeavours but also a clear indicator that we expect more from you in the future. An award of Grand Rank signifies the United Grand Lodge of England’s pride in you and recognises your efforts on our behalf. It denotes a senior and, in most cases, a public position within our brotherhood, and I would hope that you all feel willing to communicate the pride you now feel to those you meet, to those who might not understand us and to those who know little of us.

AN EXCITING TIME FOR FREEMASONRY

Your Rulers, I know, have been very busy already this year promoting Freemasonry across the world and installing new Provincial and District Grand Masters. I welcome those recently appointed and am greatly heartened by this youthful enthusiasm, for this is where our future lies. I welcome our new Grand Secretary, David Staples, while at the same time bidding farewell to Willie Shackell, who has served in a number of senior appointments for the last 11 years. We wish him well in retirement.

Many of those I have invested will go on to be leaders in the Craft, and I believe it is a very exciting time for Freemasonry in general. For 300 years men from all different backgrounds, faiths, ages and races have met as equals to make themselves better people. Such sentiments have never been more relevant, or more needed, than they are today. Be sure that we do not hide that light as we look forward to our next 300 years.

‘I welcome those recently appointed and am greatly heartened by this youthful enthusiasm, for this is where our future lies’

Published in UGLE

Grand Lodge regularly receives special visitors, and none were more welcome than a group of Chelsea Pensioners who were greeted by then-Grand Secretary Willie Shackell and Junior Grand Warden Sir Tony Baldry

On their tour of Freemasons’ Hall, the Chelsea Pensioners were taken around the Grand Temple, saw Winston Churchill’s masonic apron in The Library and Museum of Freemasonry and visited several lodge rooms.

Each was given the latest copy of Freemasonry Today, with some taking the opportunity to have a look around Letchworth’s, the masonic shop within the hall.

Published in More News

Annual Investiture of Supreme Grand Chapter

26 April 2018 
An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes

Companions, this meeting is always a very happy occasion and I do congratulate all those of you whom I have invested today. It both recognises your past endeavours but is also a clear indicator that we expect more from you in the future. Grand Rank in the Royal Arch is both a senior, and in many cases, a public position within the organisation, and I would hope that you all feel willing to communicate the pride you now feel to those you meet, and to act as ambassadors for the Royal Arch not only to those within your lodges and chapters, but also to the general public at large. However, I do appreciate that the general public would not understand the relevance of the Royal Arch, but it clearly demonstrates your seniority within Freemasonry as a whole.

I have heard it said that the Royal Arch might have been somewhat eclipsed by the Tercentenary celebrations this year in the Craft, but far from it. The Royal Arch completes the craft degrees and increased interest and membership for the Craft can only be to the good for our Order. A new injection of pride and confidence in Freemasonry – in what we do, and in our relevance to the wider community from which we herald can only result in a strong, confident and successful future.

We must be careful to maximise the momentum, energy and enthusiasm that surrounds Freemasonry at the moment and ensure that it is neither wasted nor neglected. We must make the effort, and spare the time to explain who we are and what we do, and also ask ourselves why some of those brethren in our lodges have not taken that extra step to become our companions. We must listen to, and think hard on the answers they give. I believe we are winning. If we turn the clock back 10 years we were experiencing a 30% conversion rate from Craft to Royal Arch, now there are very few Provinces or Districts where the ratio is under 40% and some are considerably higher.

May I take this opportunity to bid a fond farewell to Excellent Companion Willie Shackell, Grand Scribe Ezra, who has served in a number of senior appointments over the last 11 years. We all wish him well in his fourth, and what I am sure he hopes will be his final retirement.

Companions, events like this do not just happen and I would like, on your behalf, to congratulate the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for once again arranging such an impressive ceremony and the Grand Scribe Ezra and his team for ensuring all the other arrangements have gone so smoothly.

Companions, I look forward to hearing of, and reading about your exploits over the summer, and also to welcoming you back in the autumn.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 25 April 2018 00:00

Grand Master's address - April 2018

Craft Annual Investiture

25 April 2018 
An address by the MW The Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent, KG

Brethren, this meeting is always a very happy occasion and I do congratulate all those whom I have invested today. It is both a reward for past endeavours but also a clear indicator that we expect more from you in the future. An award of Grand Rank signifies UGLE’s pride in you, and recognises your efforts on our behalf. It denotes a senior, and in most cases, a public position within our brotherhood, and I would hope that you all feel willing to communicate the pride you now feel to those you meet, to those who might not understand us, and to those who know little of us.

Your Rulers, I know, have been very busy already this year promoting Freemasonry across the world and installing new Provincial and District Grand Masters. I welcome those recently appointed and am greatly heartened by this youthful enthusiasm, for this brethren is where our future lies. I welcome our new Grand Secretary – David Staples whilst at the same time bidding farewell to Willie Shackell who has served in a number of senior appointments for the last 11 years. We wish him well in retirement.

Many of those I have invested today will go on to be leaders in the Craft and I believe it is a very exciting time for Freemasonry in general. For 300 years men from all different backgrounds, faiths, ages and races have met as equals to make themselves ‘better men’. Such sentiments have never been more relevant, or more needed, than they are today. Be sure that we do not hide that light as we look forward to our next 300 years.

Brethren, events like this do not just happen and I would like, on your behalf, to congratulate the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for once again arranging such an impressive ceremony and the Grand Secretary and his team for ensuring all the other arrangements have gone so smoothly.

Enjoy the rest of our celebrations.

Published in Speeches

Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes enjoyed a special visit to the Bahamas for the Consecration of Chapter of Unity No. 8760

Companions in Nassau petitioned to Supreme Grand Chapter to form a new Royal Arch Chapter to be attached to Lodge of Unity No. 8760 and were granted a Warrant in November 2017. The Consecration was scheduled to be part of the visit of the Pro Grand Master to the Bahamas for the Regional District Grand Masters’ Conference and the Installation of the new District Grand Master and Grand Superintendent for Bahamas & Turks.

Before the Chapter was opened, the Grand Director of Ceremonies, E Comp Oliver Lodge, announced to the Companions assembled that it was a special event that had not happened for almost 15 years. The Companions were also informed that this would be the first Royal Arch Consecration that ME Comp Peter Lowndes, Pro First Grand Principal, had performed as the Consecrating Officer.

The Consecrating Team included:

  • ME Comp Peter Geoffrey Lowndes, Pro1stGPrincipal - Zerubbabel
  • E Comp James R. Bain, BEM, JP, GSupt (Bahamas & Turks) - Haggai
  • E Comp Walter H. Scott, QC, GSupt (Jamaica & Cayman Islands) - Joshua
  • E Comp William E. Shackell, CBE, GSE - Grand Scribe Ezra
  • E Comp Robert W. Rego, GInsp (Bermuda) - Grand Scribe Nehemiah
  • E Comp Oliver A. W. Lodge, TD, PGSN, GDC - Grand Director of Ceremonies
  • E Comp Sebastian C. E. A. Madden, PDepGDC - Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies
  • E Comp Peter D. Cole, PGSupt (Bahamas & Turks) - Grand Janitor

The Founding Principals are E Comp Carl W. Z. Bethel, QC, PGStB – MEZ; E Comp Duane H. E. Murray, PGStB, DistGDC – H, and E Comp Gerald A. Sawyer – J. This was also the last official function for E Comp James R. Bain before retiring as Grand Superintendent in and over Bahamas & Turks, as his successor, E Comp Robert C. Deal, was installed two days thereafter on 24 March 2018.

This was the third new Chapter consecrated during his term as Grand Superintendent – one each in Abaco, Providenciales and Nassau, thereby increasing the number to seven overall.

The Consecration and Festive Board were joyous, seeing over 100 Companions from England, Bahamas, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Guyana, Barbados, Anguilla, Canada and more – celebrating the consecration of a new Royal Arch Chapter.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 00:00

Grand Secretary's column - Spring 2018

From the Grand Secretary

Welcome to this Tercentenary souvenir edition of Freemasonry Today, which celebrates the achievements of 2017 while looking to the future with a quiet confidence. I say that in the knowledge that I will retire at the April Investiture and hand over to David Staples, our current dynamic CEO, which will bring back together all of the departments within Freemasons’ Hall under one head.

Clearly the Sky TV programme and the many events organised across the Provinces and Districts last year, which are commemorated in this special edition, considerably raised the profile of Freemasonry. It is now important that we maintain that momentum by promoting our values and relevance to society at every appropriate opportunity.

In this unique issue, we feature the events that helped make the Tercentenary so remarkable – from the especial meeting at the Royal Albert Hall to the teddy bears’ picnics, cathedral services and masonic parades held. These celebrations not only show what Freemasonry has achieved in its long history, but also demonstrate its ongoing commitment to communities and causes, both at home and overseas.

With this in mind, we draw from the masons we’ve interviewed in Freemasonry Today whom we feel represent the core values of Freemasonry. From Wayne Ingram, the mason who has been raising money in order to fund facial reconstructive surgery for a child he met in Bosnia, through to Sean Gaffney, who lost his leg in an accident only to win gold at the Invictus Games – these are the type of individuals taking Freemasonry forward for the next 300 years.

FATHERS OF FREEMASONRY

We also feature inspirational masons from history who have helped make the Tercentenary an anniversary worth celebrating. These are masons who worked tirelessly in their local communities, broke down social barriers and challenged the status quo in order to improve the lives of those about them – from the Duke of Sussex, who helped shape modern Freemasonry, through to Augustus John Smith, who brought education and hope to the residents of the Isles of Scilly. Reflecting the spirit of the Tercentenary as an ongoing journey, we call this issue Past, Present & Future.

Brethren, it has been a great privilege and pleasure to have been your Grand Secretary for the last two years, and I wish you well for what I know will be a bright future.

Willie Shackell
Grand Secretary

‘It is important that we maintain momentum by promoting our values and relevance to society’

Published in UGLE

Memorial paving stones commemorating the 64 English Freemasons who were awarded the Victoria Cross during World War I were unveiled outside Freemasons’ Hall

Roughly one in six of the 633 VC recipients during World War I were Freemasons. Of these, 64 were under UGLE and 43 were under Grand Lodges in the British Empire. 

The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, attended the ceremony for the stones’ unveiling and blessing, together with General Lord Dannatt representing the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, the Mayor of Camden, senior officers from the military services, a group of Chelsea Pensioners and representatives from the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association, as well as representatives from the regiments in which the VC holders had served. Specially invited were the families of those being commemorated.

The event was open to the public, with Great Queen Street and Wild Street closed to traffic. The crowd included representatives from many of the service lodges. Music was by the Band of the Grenadier Guards and the North London Military Wives Choir. 

Radio and television presenter Katie Derham narrated the first part of the ceremony, which opened with Chelsea Pensioner Ray Pearson reading an extract from AE Housman’s A Shropshire Lad, followed by the then President of the Board of General Purposes Anthony Wilson warmly welcoming those attending.

‘The horrors of war were brought vividly to life by Sebastian Cator, who read from the diaries of Major Richard Willis’

Simon Dean OBE paid tribute to his grandfather Donald John Dean, who, at the age of 21, was awarded the VC in 1918. Col Brian Lees LVO OBE, chairman of the Rifles, Light Infantry and KOYLI Regimental Association, and Lt Col Matt Baker, Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion, The Rifles, paid tribute to Oliver Watson, who was posthumously awarded the VC in 1918.

The horrors of the war were brought vividly to life by Sebastian Cator, a pupil at Harrow School. He read from the diaries of Major Richard Willis, who had also been a pupil at Harrow, in which he described the carnage resulting from landing his men on W Beach at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. For his part in that action he was one of the famous ‘six VCs before breakfast’ of the Gallipoli landings.

The Grand Secretary, Brigadier Willie Shackell CBE, gave an exhortation that was followed by the last post, a one-minute silence and reveille. The stones were then unveiled and blessed by the Grand Chaplain the Rev Canon Michael Wilson.

Published in UGLE

In late 2001, Lichfield mason Roger Manning suggested the creation of a masonic memorial to be sited at the new National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Burton-on-Trent

It was agreed by all that the masonic garden should serve in the remembrance of all Freemasons, whether they had died in the service of their country or through sickness, accident or old age. There would be no reference on the site to specific lodges, groups or individuals.

Sixteen years later, following four different Provincial Grand Masters, two architects, more than a dozen designs, planting failures, floods, dozens of detailed reports and many meetings, The Masonic Memorial Garden was finally unveiled on 18 April 2017 to more than 300 brethren and civic dignitaries.

The service was witnessed by Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes, Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence, Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton, then President of the Board of General Purposes Anthony Wilson and Grand Secretary Willie Shackell.

A welcome to all in attendance was given by local builder and mason Eddie Ford, who had been responsible for the garden’s development over the entire 16-year period. The dedication service was then undertaken by the Provincial Grand Chaplain the Reverend Bernard Buttery.

Published in UGLE
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