As part of the Tercentenary celebrations back in 2017, Norfolk Freemasons decided to create a single source containing a definitive written historical record of all their lodges
To that end a small committee was formed with the aim of gathering together and compiling all available histories into a single document. The overriding brief being that the histories included must have been produced by and for the Lodges – their own histories, in their own words.
The resultant three-volume history of their individual lodges provides a comprehensive overview of Freemasonry in Norfolk and includes all available material to 31st December 2018.
Ahead of Grand Lodge Quarterly Communications in September, the Provincial Grand Master for Norfolk Stephen Allen, together with other members of the Norfolk Provincial Executive and two members of Norfolk Blues, their group for newly joined Norfolk Freemasons, were pleased to present a copy of the Compiled History of Norfolk Lodges to Martin Cherry, Librarian at the Museum of Freemasonry, at Freemasons' Hall.
Martin Cherry said: 'It was a real pleasure to meet Stephen and his team to receive this fantastic record of Norfolk Freemasonry into the Museum collection.'
11 September 2019
A talk by RW Bro Stephen Blank, Provincial Grand Master for Cheshire and Chairman of the Hermes ‘To Be’ working party
I am grateful to have the opportunity to say a few words about Project Hermes which will revolutionise the work of the Lodge Sec and Chapter Scribe Ezra. From now on I will just refer to the Lodge Sec but please understand this applies to Chapters as well. I will also lapse occasionally and only say ‘Provincial’ when I mean ‘Metropolitan’ and ‘District’ as well!
It is perhaps a little strange that I find myself involved with the workings of the Lodge Sec. In my 40+ years as a Freemason, I have been Lodge Treasurer, Lodge DC – actually I still am – Provincial DC, DepGDC, APGM, DGS and now Provincial Grand Master - but never Lodge Sec. However, all my various jobs have served to make it clear to me that the most important job is that of Lodge Secretary; it is very rare to find a good and successful Lodge that does not have a good Secretary.
After that flattery, and as a matter of interest, would those of you who are or have been Lodge Secretaries put their hands up? Okay, so for the benefit of those who are not, a little bit of explanation may be helpful.
UGLE maintains all of our details, including those of past members, on a database system called ADelphi, which is Greek for brother. This records our Lodges and Chapters, the offices we have held within them and, if relevant, our Provincial and grand rank. It records your passing and raising dates and the number of your grand Lodge certificate. Of course, it also records your contact details and your Lodge’s details, such as Lodge officers and where and when the Lodge meets.
It is a web-based system available to MetGL, Provinces and Districts. Typically, only the ProvGSec, PGM and designated Met / Prov / District leaders have access plus Prov office staff or volunteers.
ADelphi is ‘fed’ by all the various forms which the Lodge Secretary has to prepare; the form M/P/A for new candidates, the Annual Return, the Installation Return. The Annual Return is created by ADelphi and is the basis for the request for payment of dues that UGLE - and many Provs / Dists - make every year to every Lodge and Chapter. The Secretary also has to create the summons for each meeting.
In doing all of these tasks, the Sec has to ensure all of his work complies with the Book of Constitutions. And when it doesn’t, he gets an email from his Provincial office – or Prov office gets an email from Registrations dept here at GQS and then Prov office emails Lodge Sec telling him to put it right.
Two examples of problems that the Lodge Sec can encounter. Rule 158: if someone applies to join a Lodge but doesn’t live or work in that Province, the Lodge Sec has to make enquiries of that person’s local Province. How the other Province responds – and when – is out of his control.
Let’s look at rule 163 specifically rule 163(c). When an existing member wants to join a new Lodge, the joiner must obtain clearance certificates to show to the Lodge Sec that he doesn’t owe subs to another Lodge because, if he does, rule 163(d) says that the new Lodge is liable.
That means the Sec must be told all the Lodges of which he is and has been a member, whether within the same Province or not. Some of those Lodges may have closed. And for some of us, remembering all the Lodges we are and have been members of can be a problem. When I applied to join my first Cheshire Lodge, I forgot one and started life in trouble with my Prov office! But this information is all on ADelphi; the catch being that the Lodge Sec does not have access to ADelphi and, thanks to GDPR, even ProvGSecs don’t have access to other Provinces’ data.
Last year, the process whereby PGMs apply for grand ranks for their members was automated via ADelphi. There are, as you might imagine, rules as to who is eligible which are very convoluted. In the original system, emails and forms went in to GQS and if you transgressed, as I did - accidentally - in one year, I received a polite letter two weeks later suggesting that I rethink. Then I had to revisit my plans in a hurry. In the new system, the PGM does it online and his request to the mw the gm is validated as he enters it. This saved me and those who manage the process within UGLE a huge amount of time.
The GSec wants the same ability for Lodge Secs when it comes to creating their summons, at least for matters covered by the BoC. When the Sec enters a potential joining member, any decent modern computer system should instantly look him up and flag him as ‘clear’ i.e. not in arrears anywhere in the constitution. It should ‘talk’ the Sec through the application process. Rather than relying on the Prov office to key in a candidate’s name and address or date of birth from a handwritten form, the candidate himself should do it and have it validated by the Lodge Sec.
We should do the standard id checks to protect ourselves and our members and capture photos while we’re at it as well. Updating Lodge records should be made easy and flow straight from the summons – so if a resignation is on the summons, the resignation process is triggered – copy to Prov retrieval officer - and once confirmed after the meeting, the member doesn’t appear erroneously on the next annual return. So, the annual return will be accurate.
My Province’s reported exaltation numbers for 2018 changed only last month as a form relating to an exaltation in 2018 was finally submitted correctly by the se in July! This makes monitoring progress in anything like real time very hard. Hermes will make this virtually impossible and, perhaps more importantly, there will be no reason any more for the Lodge Sec to delay.
So, I hope you are all convinced this is worthwhile; how are we going about it?
The present version of ADelphi went live in the summer of 2015 which is more or less when I became PGM of Cheshire. It is fair to say that the launch did not go well. As I have been involved in trying to make computers work in organisations for over forty years – although always from the business perspective rather than the technical side – I found myself becoming very voluble about its shortcomings. When you do that in freemasonry you usually find yourself on a committee charged with sorting matters out and that is exactly what happened to me.
That committee, the ADelphi senior user group was set up at the end of 2016 by RWBro David Macey and is now chaired by RWBro Ian Chandler. It records and prioritises developments of new features and bug-fixes requested by Provinces or UGLE and has been bringing about improvements to ADelphi ever since.
In 2018, the GSec presented his proposal to the BGP, to extend ADelphi’s availability to Lodge Secs where, I am told, it was readily accepted. But we had learnt the lesson from the ADelphi launch and did not rush into coding. Instead UGLE formed a steering group and recruited two people to work exclusively on Hermes: tony Keating, a project manager, and Nigel Codron, a business analyst and senior Middx freemason.
One early decision was that we would not, in fact, extend ADelphi itself to Lodge Secs. ADelphi was designed as a tool for Provinces, aimed at people who would work with it all day every day. Instead we would commission a new web-based system designed to be intuitive for Lodge Secs, we call it the Hermes front-end or just Hermes.
We will provide on-line training, but the expectation is that this will be as easy to use as amazon or your on-line banking system. The two systems, Hermes and ADelphi, will talk to each other so updates by Lodge Secs will require validation by UGLE or Prov offices before they actually update ADelphi. But if we get the summons creation right, there won’t be a need for too much validation.
A second early decision was that, before we started creating new digital processes, we should make sure we understood the existing paper processes, especially who does what and where interactions with BoC take place.
Well, I said ‘paper processes’, but that implies they existed on paper. In fact, they exist in a bio-computer running on the oxford classics operating system – UGLE’s Deputy Grand Secretary Graham Redman! – so, we have spent many months carefully documenting the ‘as-is’ processes as we call them by talking at length to brother Redman himself, bro Andy Croci in registrations and a sample of Provincial, Lodge, and Chapter Secretaries.
A third early decision was that we could not engage simultaneously with every one of the forty-seven Provinces and MetGL not to mention the Districts overseas. So, we formed a small group termed the pilot Provinces consisting of MetGL, Hampshire and the isle of Wight, Cheshire and Bristol plus the Districts of Cyprus and eastern archipelago who in turn formed their own little consulting groups of selected Lodge Secretaries and Chapter Scribes E. These are the ones we consult on a regular basis to keep us ‘real’, as they say.
The results of documenting the ‘as-is’ processes can be viewed on flowcharts with swim-lanes for each relevant department.
The complexity of all of this meant that we were only ready to start thinking about the new way forward at the end of June at which point a working party was formed, known as the 2b working party and, since I was out of the room at the time, I was designated its chairman. As well as Tony, Nigel and myself, the members of the working party are: Richard Gardiner, Neil Tomkinson, Prity lad and David bell.
Richard fulfils a dual role; he is a pivotal member of the ADelphi senior user group, designated the Provincial and metropolitan user representative, but he is also a senior member of MetGL and an experienced met Lodge and Chapter Secretary. I will come back to the position of MetGL in a minute. Neil Tomkinson is the ADelphi guru from UGLE’s ICT department; Mrs Prity lad is director of member services and David Bell is the interim finance director of UGLE.
What became clear very quickly is that significant changes will also be required to ADelphi itself which is why Neil Tomkinson’s presence on the 2bwp is critical. He regards it as so important that he put on a tie especially for this photo – the first time he’s worn one in 20 years, he said. Many of the changes needed were already logged as feature requests with the ADelphi senior users’ group and have been passed over to form part of the Hermes requirements catalogue.
UGLE’s overall strategic imperative is to start our membership growing again and Hermes has to contribute to this, and more directly than just by making the Lodge Secretary’s life easier, important though that is. This is Prity’s department. More and more new members are finding us via the internet rather than traditional routes and we must be able to track what works and what doesn’t. We also have to retain them. We want to capture more information such as where the candidate heard about us, members’ attendance or, more significantly, non-attendances at meetings, a key indicator of problems building up.
Many Provinces send particular letters to candidates at certain stages of their masonic journey; the updated ADelphi system will be ‘told’ by Hermes when it has happened and then do this automatically or at least prompt the Province to action.
For the first time ADelphi will interface with UGLE finance by creating requests for payment for dues, registration fees and dispensations together with bacs references for each as they are generated.
On an opt-in basis, it will interface with Provinces’ finances as well. Mentioning that, can I give a big thankyou to my colleague PGMs up here? I sent out a questionnaire via bUGLE on 19 July with a series of questions about how they charge their Lodges, asking for a reply by 31 July. Every single craft Province responded within the time scale. This was greatly appreciated and enabled the 48 responses to be analysed by my office manager, Liz wright, so they could be discussed in detail at the 2bwp meeting on 6 august last.
When those of us in the Provinces consider the changes that Hermes will bring, it’s easy to overlook the effect on MetGL. Yes, it’s a lot bigger than any of us with 30,000 + members. But it is MetGL that will see the biggest change brought about by Hermes. Once upon a time, London’s Lodges were dealt with by UGLE itself and that of course included all their registration processes i.e. feeding ADelphi. When ‘London’ was devolved into MetGL these processes were left with UGLE – where they remain today. When Hermes is launched, MetGL will govern all of its own processes just like the Provinces – only bigger.
This working party has been tasked by our GSec and CEO with thinking outside of our current boxes. Our ideas and plans will of course be discussed with and validated by the DepGSec, the registrations department and the pilot Provinces before any coding starts. When we have obtained a consensus on the ways forward from that relatively small group, a process that is well under way, they will be exposed to all Provinces for their comments.
We anticipate that changes to the book of constitutions will be required and a separate committee has been set up to consider and draft them; I will leave you to guess who the chair of that committee is! Of course, the final decisions will rest with BGP and this, the grand Lodge
Let me finish with two examples of the new approach we are planning. Rule 158 may be tricky to administer but can flush out timewasters. There are people who start applying but then go radio silent. A few years later they decide to have another go and apply to a different Province. There are even people who are initiated in one Province, stop attending, then try and get initiated again somewhere else. GDPR prevents one Province from having access to the records of another Province.
We propose to have a database of enquiries available nationally, so anyone expressing interest via a website or open day will have his basic details captured and held for, say, 10 years. If the PMO assigns him to a Lodge those details form the basis of his application form. If it goes nowhere, it will be noted but he will remain on the database and if he approaches another Province or Lodge, those details will appear.
Clearance certificates are a little tricky because neither ADelphi nor Provinces record details of payments within Lodges; they only deal with payments by Lodges. So, we propose that as part of each attendance register that the Lodge Sec populates after each meeting – using a dropdown list of members – he also marks any members who are in arrears according to his Lodge’s bylaws. The existence of this flag will be picked up by any other Lodge he applies to join and the applicant invited to ‘check his records’.
The summer break may have seen many Freemasons relaxing and enjoying the fine weather, but David Macey, Provincial Grand Master for Warwickshire, had other ideas when he decided to jump out of a plane to raise £11,000 for charity
The Province of Warwickshire is in the early stages of its 2023 Festival and working hard to raise money to support the excellent work of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The Provincial Grand Master is always one to lead from the front, which led him to search for an opportunity to raise a healthy sum of money for the Festival whilst aiming to inspire the Province to hit and exceed the Festival target.
Jumping from a perefectly serviceable aircraft seemed a suitable way to raise the profile of the Festival to new heights, so early in 2019 the plans were laid and preparations for a summer skydive commenced. David set himself an ambitious target of £10,000, with confidence that the members of Warwickshire would rise to the occasion.
Finally the day came and David, with a band of supporters, fought through difficult driving conditions to Langar Airfield in Nottinghamshire hoping for a break in the weather to give enough time for the jump to happen.In spite of hopes and optimism, the wind and rain thwarted the first attempt and it was not safe to jump.
Several weeks went by with the excitement and trepidation growing, until in July 2019 a window in the weather was found and the team made their way to Nottinghamshire once again. This time conditions were perfect. David completed his training and his instructor chosen, much to the amusement of the assembled crowd, with the Provincial Grand Master being rather tall and his instructor much less so, once in tandem, the instructors feet would never touch the floor.
The jump was an experience of a lifetime, with David's first words on landing being, 'I've got to do that again', although his wife Sandra didn't seem so sure. The exhilaration of the skydive was only increased as the fundraising soared past the target, finishing with £11,000 going to the Festival and the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
The full video of the skydive can be seen here.
Having seen Buckinghamshire’s Provincial Grand Master John Clark put through 26 miles of intense rowing along the River Thames to raise £7,000 for charity back in June 2019, two double kayaks used for the challenge have now been donated
John Clark completed the challenge alongside Assistant Provincial Grand Master Gary Brodie to raise the money in aid of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The kayaks they used on the day have now been handed over to the Jubilee River Riverside Centre to help people with disabilities get on the water.
As a result of the initial donation from the Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund, in conjunction with the Slough Masonic Centre, the Jubilee River Riverside Centre have applied for further funding for additional Kayaks designed specifically for people with disabilities.
Moving forwards, the Slough Masonic Centre plan to work closely with the Riverside Centre to help with its work in sports, youth work and for tackling environmental issues.
If you would like to support The Paddle Challenge you can donate by clicking here.
Four Swansea Freemasons set out on a gruelling 175-mile one-day ‘Home from Home’ ride from Llandudno to Porthcawl to raise funds for the 2021 festival, in aid of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI)
Simon Francis, Derek Johnson, Jason Thomas and Richard Owen – all members of an informal cycling club – had come up with the idea of cycling between two RMBI homes during the planning of the upcoming festival events.
The day of the ‘Home from Home’ event on 22 June 2019 was sunny with a cooling breeze, and after a 4.30am start at the Queen Elizabeth Court RMBI nursing home in Llandudno, the team set off at a relatively gentle pace towards Blaenau Festiniog. There a respite from the energy-sapping gradients of Snowdonia was taken before a gentler run down to Machynlleth and then Aberystwyth.
However, the mid-Wales stage of the ride was more challenging than expected. Organiser and lead rider Simon Francis commented: ‘The combination of steady headwinds and relatively gentle but long climbs made this stage a real test of endurance and toughness for all the riders.”
Fortunately, the rest of the journey via Ammanford and Swansea was easier. The team was joined for the last 35 miles by Alison Aberdeen, the manager of the Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court Nursing Home in Porthcawl, which was also their ultimate destination.
Simon commented that: ‘Everyone had to dig deep to get the ride done in one day – it was very challenging, and it was an honour to have had such a team to do it with. Without exception everyone performed admirably and it was fantastic that we were able to raise £12,500 for such a good cause.’
The cheque for the money raised from the ride was presented by the group to the Provincial Grand Master of South Wales Gareth Jones and Chairman of the 2021 Festival Sir Paul Williams, at the PGM’s Summer Ball held in Brangwyn Hall on 29 June, where it was gratefully received.
Simon concluded: ‘Events like these, where members capitalise on a passion or a skill to raise much-needed funds, are really important.
'Not only do we set ourselves a challenging personal task, but in doing so we are able to raise a significant amount of money, in this case for the RMBI, and to support our Province in reaching its £5 million target during our festival period.’
The new Devonshire Provincial Grand Lodge Offices were officially opened with much pomp by their Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury on 9th August 2019, with the cutting of the Craft blue ribbon at the main entrance to the offices
The occasion was watched by their executive team and many Provincial Grand Secretaries both past and present and accompanied by champagne and a Provincial cake which had been made especially for the day.
The new offices which are located at 7 Harrier Court, Exeter Airport, Exeter, are a vast improvement on the previous office being bright, modern and spacious. They are located on two floors, an open office area and a meeting room on the first floor and a second meeting room and storage space on the ground floor.
It has taken a long time in the planning and the eventual purchase of the new premises will be seen as a major step forward for the future of the Province.
A lot of hard work has been undertaken in completing the move from Richmond Road by the Provincial Secretary Richard Ebrey and Assistant Secretary Tony Jordan, alongside considerable help from Rem Locton and Adrian Rogers.
Ian Kingsbury said that It had taken a lot of searching to find the new offices, but the wait had been worth it as these premises had everything needed to take the Province onwards into a bright new future.
Louth’s new Masonic Hall has come a step closer with the laying of a commemorative foundation stone by Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master Dave Wheeler
The next stage in the building’s history will be the addition of roof trusses, which is expected during September 2019 – writing the next chapter of a story which began in 2010.
Fund Secretary Ian Castledine said: ‘We first looked into moving premises in 2010 when it looked as though we might lose our car parking facilities in Queen Street due to re-development in the town.
‘We looked at several buildings around the town, but could find nothing suitable. Then, due to the ongoing costs of keeping the building in a good state of repair and seeing what the Skegness brethren had achieved we decided to look again.’
Early in 2017 a questionnaire was sent to members of both of Louth’s Craft lodges asking the question: ‘should we stay or should we go?’ The majority was in favour of going, if new premises could be built.
‘We found the current building site in Bolingbroke Road on the Fairfield Industrial Estate, and the owner allowed us to buy it when we had sold existing site and received planning permission,’ added Ian. ‘Our old premises went on the market in 2017 and permission was granted last September.’
Contracts on the old building were exchanged at the end of November, and members moved out. Everything except the lodges’ warrants are in storage and meetings have been taking place principally at Alford and Skegness Centre, but also Grimsby and Cleethorpes.
‘After some unforeseen delays, contracts were exchanged on the new site on 20th February this year, with building due to start on 8th April. In the event, a start wasn’t made until the second week in May, but the building is really taking shape now.’
Prostate cancer is now recognised as one of the greatest threats to the health of men in the United Kingdom and one in eight men will contract the disease at some time in their lives. Derbyshire Freemasons have been active in supporting Miss Jyoti Shah, consultant urologist at Burton hospital, in her initiative in getting men tested for the disease – an initiative which has undoubtedly saved lives
Derby Royal Infirmary were delighted when one Derbyshire Freemason, Mark Lee, who’s company manufactures plastic water bottles, made 5,000 re-usable bottles to be issued to men who are attending for testing.
Part of the test requires them to drink a measured amount of water and the bottle has been made to the exact size required. This is a great benefit to the nursing staff who no longer have to keep checking the amount the patient has drunk. The bottles proudly bear the square and compasses and are free for the patient to keep, take home and re-use.
A strong delegation of Derbyshire Freemasons were on hand to make the presentation including the Provincial Grand Master Steven Varley, who commented: ‘This is a fantastic initiative which continues our efforts to do all we can to help people to get tested for prostate cancer so treatment can be started as soon as possible where necessary.
‘We are always delighted to help Derby Royal Infirmary with their wonderful work in any way we can – it’s part of our ongoing commitment to support the community.’
Anthony Henderson, Bedfordshire’s Provincial Grand Master, announced the exciting news that work has now begun on a new Accommodation and Amenities Lodge for Bedfordshire Scouts – following a £500,000 donation from Bedfordshire Freemasons
The Lodge, which will accommodate 40 Scouts and eight Leaders – and even more during the day – has abled and disabled facilities, as well as a kitchen, drying room and a large activities area. It has a log cabin appearance and is designed to blend in with the 17-acre ancient woodland in which it will be built.
Following the arrival of the first delivery of logs, Bedfordshire Freemasons held a BBQ and log laying ceremony at the Leslie Sells Activity Centre on 4th August 2019, where all those present were able to see the size and footprint of the building, which is due to be complete by Spring 2020.
Anthony Henderson said: ‘To mark our Tercentenary – celebrating 300 years of Freemasonry in 2017 – we in Bedfordshire wanted to create a lasting legacy that would benefit our Province for many years to come. We discussed ideas with a number of Bedfordshire-based charities and decided to support the Scouts, because we felt we shared common values and the inscription I wrote on the First Log laid, ‘Freemasonry and Scouting – Sharing One Ethos’, reflects our shared aims and values.
‘The lodge we are providing for Bedfordshire Scouts should last for in excess of 100 years. We hope it will bring great joy to many hundreds of thousands of Scouts over the coming years. I would like to take this opportunity to place on record, my most sincere thanks to the members of Bedfordshire, for their truly amazing support and generosity. Without your support and enthusiasms, we could not have created this amazing building.
‘I would also like to thank all those companies and individuals who have donated goods and services – valued at just under £100,000 – to help us deliver this project. I look forward to next Spring, when the lodge should be echoing to the sound of Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts, Explorers Scouts and the Scout Network enjoying themselves.’
Scott Robert, County Chairman of Bedfordshire Scouts, said: ‘We were approached some four years ago by Bedfordshire Freemasons, to explore how we could work together for the benefit of Scouting in Bedfordshire. We had known for many years that our existing accommodation facilities were no longer fit for purpose, but just did not have the money to replace them.
‘When the Freemasons first approached us, we hoped they might make a donation towards replacing our accommodation facilities. We never imagined that they would design, construct and most importantly pay for a 48 Bed State of the Art Accommodation Lodge. On behalf of Bedfordshire Scouting and all the tens of thousands of Scouts, not just from Bedfordshire, but from across the whole of the UK and the world, who will use this facility, I would like to place on record, our most grateful thanks to Bedfordshire Freemasons for their most generous donation.’
Bedfordshire Freemason Terry Thurley undertook a sponsored Wing Walk to raise £10,000 for the Bedfordshire Provincial Grand Lodge Appeal to build a new Accommodation Lodge for Bedfordshire Scouts
When Bedfordshire’s Provincial Grand Master Anthony Henderson heard what Terry was planning to do he pronounced: ‘He must be bonkers.’
Terry, Master of Bedfordshire Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards No. 9577, proceeded to take on the feat of standing on the wings of a 75 year old Boeing Stearman bi plane, as it flew over the Cotswold countryside at 130mph.
Terry said: ‘To be Master of any lodge is a great honour, but to be Installed as Master of a Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge is very special privilege, so I wanted to do something to say thank you to the lodge for electing me as their Master.
‘In Bedfordshire we are building a new 48 bed state of the art Accommodation and Amenities Lodge for Bedfordshire Scouts. To help raise the £500,000 needed, I enlisted the assistance of members of the Bedfordshire Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards, to ask their Mother Lodges/Lodges they were associated with, whether they would consider sponsoring my wing walk.
‘We only asked them to consider sponsoring me for £1 plus Gift Aid, which would have raised around £2,000. We were surprised, but absolutely delighted, that many members and lodges and chapters dug deep into their pockets and raised over five times what we expected.
‘I was initially very apprehensive taking on the challenge, but once I was air born and travelling at 130mph over the beautiful Cotswold countryside, I started to relaxed and then I became exhilarated by the experience.’
When asked if he would do it again, Terry replied, ‘I may be bonkers, but I’m not totally mad!’