12 September 2018
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
Brethren, it is a pleasure to see you all back after the long, hot summer, and I would like to particularly welcome again those younger members of our Universities Scheme and, indeed, anyone else making their first visit to Quarterly Communications this September.
Brethren, this year we will see perhaps the greatest change in senior leadership within the Craft that there has ever been - and I'm not of course referring to the three of us! No fewer than 12 Provincial Grand Masters and seven District Grand Masters will have retired and their successors Installed by the end of this year. With each Installation ride the hopes of not just the members of that particular Province or District but, to a certain extent, the success and longevity of the Craft itself. More than ever before we expect so much from our leaders. We hold them accountable for the guardianship of a heritage stretching back centuries, and also for the future of the Craft, its growth and development and, dare I say, the innovation and change needed to allow it to flourish and grow.
If we are to attract and engage our membership, and those who might flourish as members, we need to be not only responsive to the society in which we live, but also mould and form the perceptions of that society. It is quite right and proper that I pay tribute and thank those who, often for a decade or more, steward and safeguard the Ideals of the Craft for future generations.
Historically we have been a melting pot for ideas, a Brotherhood where concepts at the forefront of science and social change could be debated. We have been fortunate to count amongst our members some of the greatest minds of any age, Alexander Fleming and Edward Jenner; Scott of the Antarctic and Ernest Shackleton; Pope, Trollope, Burns, Kipling, and, like Sir Winston Churchill, those who truly valued service above the external advantages of rank and fortune.
Then, as now, there was not a ‘Right’ way of thinking, but a respect for all ways of thinking - some orthodox, some challenging. If we, as an organisation have a ‘unique selling point’ ghastly expression, I know, we respect each other, irrespective of our beliefs.
I know that some of our members were uncomfortable with the direction the Law has taken on issues such as gender fluidity and the obligation that puts upon us as individuals who pay due obedience to the laws of any State which may for a time become our place of residence.
I know from the debates that have been held up and down the country that there are similarly a large number of you who feel that our response to recent changes in the Law is generous, decent and open minded and you applaud it.
Throughout our history our members have held vastly different views on many different subjects. It is one of our great strengths to encompass this breadth of views. Unlike the echo chambers of social media, we meet people who are different to us, who think differently, but that does not set us apart, or put us at variance; it binds us together as it did for those many freemasons who have gone before us.
Brethren, this is one of the many things that, in my view, we have to offer society, and that so many outside the Craft could learn and prosper from, and it is just one of the many reasons I am proud to be Pro Grand Master.
This winter witnessed the successful completion of the Scott-Amundsen Centenary Expedition to the South Pole comprising two teams, each team including three serving members of HM Forces.
One such serving member of the British Army was Warrant Officer Kevin Johnson. His team retraced the longer 900 mile plus route undertaken by Captain Robert Falcon Scott from Cape Evans.
Like the intrepid Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton before him, Kevin Johnson is a Freemason. He is a relatively new Master Mason of Cantilupe Lodge No.4083. On successfully completing the Antarctic expedition, Bro Kevin Johnson proudly unfurled the blue and gold Masonic Flag, given to him by the Brethren of his Lodge, at the Geographic South Pole – a true celebration of past heroic achievements. Bro Kevin is, at 43, the same age as Captain Scott in 1911.
All members of the Expedition attended a royal reception at Goldsmiths’ Hall, Foster Lane, London Friday 26th April. In attendance were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Prince William is patron of both the Expedition and the Royal British Legion – the expedition has raised vital funds for the Royal British Legion’s £30 million commitment to the Battle Back Centre in Lilleshall to help wounded, injured and sick Service personnel on their journey of recovery.
Race for posterity to the south pole
This November witnesses the Scott-Amundsen Centenary Race to the south pole. Two teams, each with three serving members of HM Forces, will retrace the legendary steps of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen
Master Mason Kevin Johnson of Cantilupe Lodge, No. 4083, will follow Scott’s route from Cape Evans in Antarctica. Scott, Amundsen and Ernest Shackleton were all Freemasons.
A square-and-compasses flag will be placed at the South Pole on the expedition’s completion. To date, Herefordshire lodges, Cantilupe and Arrow, together with Pegasus Forces Lodge, Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight, have donated £2,000 towards the race. The teams are supporting the Royal British Legion on its 90th anniversary. Each member will haul 140kg of supplies/equipment in a sled – against a wind chill of minus 50ºC.
The race is estimated to take 60 to 65 days with an average weight loss of two stone. Follow Johnson’s journey at http://scottamundsenrace.org where you can also make donations.