Opening the door to the public in Leicester
An open day has been held at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, where a total of 255 visitors were shown around the Georgian building housing the Provincial Grand Lodge of Leicestershire & Rutland.
The tours gave visitors staged presentations in various parts of the building, including the Library and Museum. These showed the principles, history and symbolism of Freemasonry; the charitable activities supported by masons; and lodge interiors, including banqueting and meeting facilities available for commercial letting. As a direct result of the experience, 25 people expressed an interest in joining the Craft.
Provincial Grand Master David Hagger said, ‘I felt very proud of the efforts made by so many brethren in making this event the most successful ever in engaging the public in what we are, aim to be and our place in the local community.’
Megan Baker House (MBH), a Herefordshire charity at Moreton Eye, near Leominster, is a centre of excellence in conductive education. It teaches problem-solving skills to people with physical disabilities and special educational needs. Many are from nearby counties, but some children – and more recently, adults – come from across the UK to attend classes.
As MBH does not receive any statutory funding, and does not charge for its services, local masons have maintained their support with donations from the Herefordshire Masonic Charity Association and Royal Edward Lodge. Julia Higgs, MBH volunteer organiser, emphasised that such sponsorship is essential to the charity and its outreach centres.
Raising the bar in Cambridgeshire
The twenty-seventh annual Festival for The Freemasons’ Grand Charity was held in September at Queens’ College, Cambridge, under the presidency of Rodney Wolverson, Provincial Grand Master of Cambridgeshire. Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes was in attendance, to acknowledge the impressive £1,283,164 raised by Freemasons in Cambridgeshire.
Grand Charity President Richard Hone was thrilled with the generosity shown, remarking: ‘It has been an honour to attend this wonderful event in Cambridge, showcasing the culmination of this festival on behalf of the Grand Charity. The total amount raised is truly inspirational, especially considering the many economic pressures of recent times. Thank you to all those who worked so hard to raise these funds, we will ensure they are put to good use helping people in need.’
SkillForce makes a difference
A team of students from Fareham worked tirelessly as part of the SkillForce 24 Hours to Make a Diﬀerence challenge, with the task of refurbishing North West Fareham Community Centre in readiness for a unique charity fête. SkillForce is an educational charity that works in partnership with 10,000 young people throughout 150 schools in England and Scotland.
Michael Wilks, Provincial Grand Master for Hampshire and Isle of Wight, represented The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and attended the opening together with representatives from Hampshire councils, schools and public services. ‘The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has, over the past six years, made grants of £240,000 to SkillForce, which is a national charity with a local presence, and the local team has received £90,000 of the £240,000,’ explained Michael. A selection of year 8, 9 and 10 students from The Henry Cort Community College also attended the charity fête and enjoyed a broad range of activities.
12 September 2012
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
I have recently finished the two yearly Regional Conferences that I have with Provincial Grand Masters. These are relatively informal affairs and cover a wide range of subjects. I find them extremely useful and they are kind enough to say the same – but, of course, what else could they say!
One theme that ran through them all was a determination to see our numbers on the increase by 2017. Indeed, in one or two cases, this has already started. This means that perhaps we are getting some things right.
I have said frequently that we must not be looking for new candidates simply for the sake of increasing numbers, but if we can start this increase with the right candidates there should be a knock on effect.
Enthusing new members is of paramount importance and we heard from Brothers Soper and Lord at the September Quarterly Communication about the work of the Universities Scheme. Following that talk I have asked the Universities Scheme Committee to think about how best we can implement some of the principles that were mentioned, across the whole Craft.
Recruiting and retaining young candidates is our most important task and I am confident that those who have made the Universities Scheme successful can help us with this important challenge. However this is not just down to them and we must all pull our weight in this respect.
Brethren, in November I visited my Great Grandfather’s mother Lodge in Hertfordshire and a splendid occasion it was, with an almost faultless 2nd Degree Ceremony being performed. I can almost hear you all thinking that they would have spent hours rehearsing. Not so, as they didn’t know that I was coming.
The reason for mentioning this today is that in the Reply for the Visitors the Brother speaking referred to the Craft as an altruistic society. Altruism is one of those words that I have often heard used and possibly even used myself without having been completely sure of its meaning. The dictionary definition is “regard for others as a principle of action”. Rather a good description for a lot of what Freemasonry is about.
If we can instil this ethos into our candidates, we won’t be going far wrong. Of course it is not all that we are about, but it is not a bad starting point, as it should naturally lead to a practice of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, which in itself leads on to our charitable giving, which seems to be second nature to us.
During this year the Festivals for our Charities in our Provinces have raised a total of nearly £10m, of which Leicestershire and Rutland raised £1.7m for the RMBI; Warwickshire raised £3.16m for the MSF; Cambridgeshire £1.285m for the Grand Charity and Devonshire £3.836m for the RMTGB. In these troubled economic times this, Brethren, is remarkable and I congratulate all those concerned.
I hope that our membership, as a whole, are far more familiar with the activities of all our Charities than might have been the case 20 or so years ago. The promotion of their activities by the Charities is excellent and the Freemasonry Cares campaign has enlightened many people at home and abroad about what support is available.
Whilst 3 of our Charities are Masonic in their giving, and there is nothing to be ashamed of in that - quite the contrary in my view, the Grand Charity, of course, has a wide brief for giving to non Masonic bodies, provided that they are also Charities. Not everyone appreciates this aspect, or how much money is involved and we should be quick to point it out.
Brethren, since 2007 we have had excellent and amusing talks on the past at the December Quarterly Communication from Brothers Hamill and Redman and we should be proud of our history, but it is of paramount importance that we look forward and ensure that we go from strength to strength in the future in both numbers and our usefulness to the society in which we live.
Brethren, I wish you all a very relaxing break over Christmas, particularly if, like me, you will be having your Grand Children to stay.
On Friday 30th November the RW the Rev Malcolm Lane presented 29 local charities and good causes with donations ranging from £500 to £2,000. In total over £30,000 was donated that evening. The funds were from the Monmouthshire Masonic Trust Fund and each recipient was selected by the lodges of the Province. The monies were raised in the late 90s by the brethren of the Province to enable them to donate to local charities in perpetuity. Each representatative of the various charities said a few words about their work and how difficult it was for them to source adequate funding. To listen to the endeavours of such hard working people is very humbling and emphasises the fact we need to continue our charitable work to the best of our ability.
A few months ago the Freemasons of Dorset determined to install automated external defibrillator (AED) machines outside or near to all of the places where they meet as part of their Freemasonry in the Community initiative, and as a tribute to the Her Majesty the Queen in her Diamond Jubilee year. There are 17 such masonic meeting places throughout Dorset.
It was intended that this life-saving equipment would be readily available for members of the public to use in cases of emergency, as well as for their own members. The equipment is conveniently located at points accessible to the public in a highly visible green cabinet, with notices high up on a nearby wall, and with a bright green light displayed during the hours of darkness. Emergency access is obtained by calling the ambulance service using the emergency 999 number and receiving the access code to the equipment. The AED is then easily portable and can be used by untrained people under instruction from ambulance control over the telephone or, if necessary, by automated instruction from the machine itself.
One such device is located outside the Heritage Suite in Bell Street, Shaftesbury, and one morning recently a lady collapsed with a suspected cardiac arrest in the nearby county library. As the emergency call was made, ambulance control advised where the equipment was located and provided the caller with its release code. A member of staff was dispatched to collect the device, which was then speedily released from its storage box, transported to the scene of the emergency and unpacked ready for use.
The rapid arrival of the emergency services and their successful resuscitation of the patient meant that the AED was not required to administer a shock on this occasion, and the equipment was returned unused to await the next emergency. A man who viewed the whole incident was glowing in his praise for the availability of the equipment, saying: 'This is going to save a life one of these days, what a good job someone thinks about these things.'
On hearing about the incident the Provincial Grand Master for Dorset, Richard Merritt, said 'This is an example of how our Province-wide initiative was intended to work and it is gratifying to learn that the Shaftesbury machine, installed less than 6 weeks ago, has already been seen to be available as a most valuable and timely service to the community at large.'
A grant of £5,000 from the Freemasons’ Grand Charity has been allocated to support HRH The Prince of Wales forestry scheme for unemployed youths in Herefordshire, representing part of a grand total of £250,000 made this year to The Prince’s Trust for England and Wales.
The donation was presented to Lisa Barea, The Prince’s Trust Fundraiser for the West Midlands, by Rodney Smallwood, Provincial Grand Master for Herefordshire.
The grant will specifically support the Get into Woodlands course proposed to take place during March-April 2013 on the Duchy of Cornwall’s Herefordshire estate. The aim of the course is to give young people who are work-ready, but lacking vocational skills, a mixture of practical training and hands-on experience, that will enable them to get qualifications and employment in the woodland forestry sector.
The course, to be run by a range of local partners including Duchy of Cornwall, Forestry Commission, and Herefordshire College of Technology jointly with Holme Lacy, will support twelve young people between the ages 16 to 25, developing their confidence, motivation and skills in forestry.
Lisa Barea sincerely thanked Rodney Smallwood for the generous support given by Freemasons, and invited local masons to the 2013 presentation to be held at the completion of the Get into Woodlands course.
At an emotionally charged 125th anniversary meeting the White Horse Lodge No. 2227 installed W Bro John Moorehouse as Master.
RW Bro Francis Wakem, Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire, presided at the special meeting held by special dispensation on the very day on which the White Horse Lodge No. 2227 was consecrated in October 1887. The same year, in which Queen Victoria celebrated the fiftieth year of her reign, the Prince of Wales was Grand Master and the second Lord Methuen was Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire.
The meeting, held in the Laverton Hall, was attended by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, who is a subscribing member of the Lodge and by RW Bro Byron Carron, Past Provincial Grand Master.
The meeting was conducted in an excellent manner by the Installing Master, W Bro Mike Allen.
To universal acclaim two stalwarts of the Lodge received the special attention of the Provincial Grand Master. W Bro Bob Aitkenhead, PJGD, was presented with a Masonic Samaritan Fund 2017 festival jewel, and W Bro Bruce Chisholm was promoted to the rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden.
There were two presentations made to the Provincial Grand Master, with cheques for the Masonic Samaritan Fund 2017 festival being presented by the Lodge and the Westbury OSM Conclave.
At the celebration lunch held in Warminster Civic Hall the Provincial Grand Master related how 'The Lodge is still a vibrant and living part of Westbury life and community which is testament to the tenacity and energy of the founding members and their successors'.
Not that it has been an easy journey; in terms of members the Lodge was quite small but always well supported and in the first hundred years of its history the minutes were recorded by only eleven Secretaries.
It was said that on production of the summons, Freemasons could purchase return tickets on the Great Western Railway for the price of a single fare.
It is interesting to note that between 1915 and 1935 one past Master initiated 20 candidates – a task never likely to face the new Master.
The Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire, RW Bro Francis Wakem, concluded his short address by reminding everyone present that while 'The White Horse Lodge is a small Lodge it has a big heart which beats strongly through the tenacity and interest of like-minded men. Since the first meeting of the Lodge it has served to unite, maintain and uphold the three great but simple ideals of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, or rather in the words which I much prefer to use, and which accurately describe what we are all about: Live Well; Laugh Often; and Love Much. The White Horse Lodge and pure antient masonry in general will continue to give future generations the pleasure that we and those who have gone before us have found in it.'
Every Essex jumper literally took a step into the unknown, a leap of faith: three words that can mean so much when stepping off a crane into thin air with only a cord as your lifeline. It puts a whole new meaning to the phrase 'of my own free will and a cord'.
Provincial Grand Charity Steward W Bro Colin Felton, coordinated a Masonic bungee jump on Saturday 29th September for 10 Essex brethren, the general manager of Saxon Hall Robert Potter, and Rachael Phillips, daughter of Cliff Phillips of St Laurence Lodge, No. 5511. They all took that leap of faith when stepping off the platform approximately 160ft up to bungee jump, all to raise money for Lifelites.
RW Bro John Michael Webb, Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Essex, has highlighted Lifelites as a 'Friend in Need', this being one of eight Essex-based charities that Essex lodges are supporting following the concentrated efforts in previous years to support the 2011 Festival for the Freemasons' Grand Charity. Lifelites started out as a pilot project in 1999 with the idea of providing education and entertainment technology for children in hospices. Since then, their work has expanded to meet growing demand, and now has 44 children’s hospices throughout the UK.
Through the power of technology and high tech entertainment, Lifelites is the only charity striving to give children in hospices the chance to spend quality time with their families, the means to keep in contact with their school and friends, and simply to enjoy themselves away from the constant reality of their illness. Despite recovering from poor health, Assistant Provincial Grand Master W Bro Nigel Catchpole, who was originally planning to jump but was unable to due to doctor's orders, was also in attendance to support the jumpers and give them that push - I mean support! - they all needed.
With over £3,000 donated online, and a further £4,000 from fringe events and lodges, this event was a huge success. Deri Jones of Lifelites, who is responsible for fundraising, was also there and was very pleased with the attendance and support from the Essex brethren, commenting that he would like to arrange another, and this time actually in Essex.
Lifelites needs £18,000 a year to provide the vital equipment needed for children's hospices in Essex, so our support to this local charity really is the heart of Essex Freemasonry.