Revving up for the Tercentenary
Celebration of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary year will continue this Sunday when the Masonic Classic Vehicle Club launch the Classic 300 at Windsor Great Park – the first in a series of individual classic vehicle runs
A large gathering is expected as UGLE’s current Grand Master, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent will be in attendance and will be officially starting the event.
Fans of classic cars will certainly be in their element, with a vast array of vehicles set to be displayed on the Review Ground, a large grassed area, from 10 am before proceeding on a short symbolic run at 2:30 pm.
The Classic 300 has 18 national classic car runs taking place across England and Wales this year at famous venues including the Isle of Man’s TT, Brands Hatch and the Brooklands motor circuit in Surrey. The runs are open to Freemasons and those with an interest in Freemasonry and classic or future classic cars.
The Provincial Grand Lodge of Berkshire will also be holding a number of Tercentenary events on Sunday at Windsor Great Park including a 300 mile walk, which refers to 300 people walking one mile, and a teddy bears’ picnic. Everyone who takes part in the mile walk will receive a commemorative certificate to celebrate the Tercentenary.
Entrance to Windsor Great Park is free and parking is available for everyone.
You can find out more about the Classic 300 here
Stamps of approval
To commemorate the Tercentenary celebrations of United Grand Lodge of England and 300 years of English Freemasonry, we are delighted to present a set of six exclusive postage stamps
Printed in gold foil, each stamp is filled with discreet symbols and architectural elements from the lodges of England, as well as GPS references to places important to Freemasonry and a subtle ribbon honouring the 50th year of office of our current Grand Master, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent.
As an added touch, each of the stamps also contains a hidden logo only visible under UV light. Once placed under this light, the official logo of the United Grand Lodge of England Tercentenary will appear.
The main features of each stamp though are the badges of office of the senior officers within the lodge.
The first of these is the 20p stamp which bears the jewel of the Steward, a cornucopia on a background of geometric patterns containing a bright star and concentric rings. The first class stamp illustrates the jewel of the Inner Guard, with two swords in saltire against a backdrop of Art Deco lines.
The 50p stamp depicts a stylised version of the Junior and Senior Deacons’ jewel, a dove bearing an olive branch, with the design for these taken directly from the celling of the Great Hall at Grand Lodge.
The £1.30 stamp portrays the jewel of the Junior Warden, a plumb rule on an Art Deco-inspired pattern. This is then followed by the £1.74 stamp containing the jewel of the Senior Warden, a level, with a background inspired by the windows of the Freemasons' Hall in the Isle of Man.
The last stamp in the collection is the £3.40 stamp, showcasing the jewel of the Worshipful Master, which is a square represented by an overlaid tiled pattern of right angles.
Brig Willie Shackell, Grand Secretary of the UGLE, commented: 'United Grand Lodge of England is delighted to be celebrating its Tercentenary by working with Isle of Man Post and the Province of the Isle of Man to present this unique and very special set of commemorative stamps.
'Whilst rightly proud of its 300 years of history, the United Grand Lodge of England is now looking forward to the next three centuries, which is symbolically reflected in this innovative and creative stamp issue.'
You can order this innovative set of stamps here
Highlights of today's unveiling of the memorial to Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross during The Great War 1914 - 1918.
The tercentenary celebrations in West Lancashire were very much in the thoughts of the many members and guests attending the biennial Hall Directors’ Dinner of the St Helens and Prescot Group held at Prescot Masonic Hall
This event hosted by Colin Rowling, Group Chairman, was to celebrate the continued success of the membership of the group and also to acknowledge the excellent work undertaken by the board members of the St Helens and Prescot Masonic Halls.
Everyone attending the evening received a very warm welcome to the hall by master of ceremonies Graham Williams. The principal guest David Steer, QC, Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside, was accompanied by Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning and his wife Anne. Also in attendance were the Mayor of Knowsley, Councillor Frank Walsh, the Mayor and Mayoress of St Helens Council Councillor David and Councillor Jeanette Banks, the Deputy Leader of St Helens Council Councillor Andy Bowden, The Right Honourable, The Earl of Derby, Edward Stanley and Lady Kirsty Pilkington MBE, Ambassador for the Willowbrook Hospice.
The evening got underway with guests taking a comfortable seat in the Masonic Temple to witness a performance of ‘A Timeline Drama and Pageant’ presented by the members of the St Helens and Prescot Group of Lodges and Chapters.
The team announced their arrival with a hearty knock on the lodge door; then the Herald (Dave Burgess) followed by the team, dressed in authentic period costume with wigs, entered the room and announced the start of the pageant. The timeline began in 1646 with Elias Ashmole (played by Allen Yates) who becomes the first recorded speculative Freemason in England. This took place at Warrington, which was then in the County of Lancashire. While Elias Ashmole is conversing with the Herald, there can be heard the ring of a chisel working on stone in the hands of a more experienced workman, the operative mason John Stones. John (played by Norman Lay) represented those skilled tradesmen who, for hundreds of years, knew and kept the secrets of how to measure and build the iconic castles and cathedrals.
The pageant sees the introduction of the first ever worshipful master of the new Grand Lodge which was formed in 1717, which gives us the current tercentenary date of 2017. This was Anthony Sayer (played by Don Fraser). Events move on when five years later, the constitutions drafted by James Anderson are accepted and printed. This character is portrayed by John Roughley, who later also plays the part of the Duke of Kent. Only seven years later, we see the arrival of Samuel Pritchard, (Peter Hornby), who is ‘credited’ with exposing the secrets of Masonry in print.
Moving on over 20 years, we witness the arrival of Laurence Dermott, (Chris Maloney) a painter and decorator by trade, but obviously a man of some intellect, who arrived from Ireland and would later be instrumental in forming a rival Grand Lodge which became known as the ‘Ancients’. Chris also later played the character of the Duke of Sussex. In 1753, Lodge of Loyalty (now No 86) receives its Deputation to constitute a lodge in Prescot and so in later times becomes the oldest lodge in the Province of West Lancashire to this day.
When the Grand Lodge met to discuss a problem, two of the players mentioned above were joined by two more team members Alan Jones and Don Fraser.
The penultimate section focuses on William Preston (Frank Davies, the originator of the pageant,) twice expelled from Grand Lodge for his perceived misdemeanours, re-admitted and sets up a legacy to finance study and lectures, which is alive and well today with the annual Prestonian Lecture. The final scene in the pageant is the unification of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, when the Dukes of Sussex and Kent, heads of the respective Modern and Ancient Grand Lodges, join as one, with Sussex then taking his seat as the first Grand Master of United Grand Lodge. The performance was undertaken with dignity and interspersed with humour throughout.
The guests then made their way into the banqueting suite which was elegantly decorated in a blue and white theme. Following grace delivered by Chris Maloney (chairman of St Helens Masonic Hall Ltd), the guests enjoyed a four course meal of luxury pâté with Melba toast and salad for starters, a main course of roast sirloin of English beef, Yorkshire pudding accompanied by seasonal vegetables and for dessert Eton Mess, then a choice of English cheeses with biscuits.
Following dinner, the first toast of the evening, ‘The Queen’ was proposed by Graham Hughes (chairman of the Prescot Masonic Hall Ltd) which was then followed by Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning proposing the toast to ‘The Tercentenary of Masonry.’
Philip commenced by saying how delighted he was to be invited to propose the toast to 300 years of Freemasonry. He spoke about the foundation of Masonry and its origins, mentioning that its popularity grew following a succession of Royal Princes joining the fraternity, the first being in 1727 when HRH Frederick Lewis Prince of Wales was initiated. Others included George IV, Edward VII, Edward VIII and George VI all of whom went on to become Grand Masters, also acceding to the throne. Still today, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is a subscribing member of Navy Lodge and The Duke of Kent will be celebrating 50 years this year as Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England. Philip went on to mention the importance of the charitable side of Freemasonry and the vast amounts of money distributed over the years to assist in relief of national and man-made disasters and humanitarian crises throughout the world. In conclusion Philip said that the values that were established 300 years ago, honesty, truth, integrity and kindness are just as relevant today as they were all those years ago.
In response to Philip’s toast, Frank Davies (pageant leader) gave an overview of how the pageant was put together with members representing lodges and chapters within the group who were not known to each other, but over the last 12 months had joined together to become a very happy team. The members have given nine performances to date with a further nine booked for the future. Frank was delighted to announce that £1,000 had so far been raised for the 2021 Festival.
Colin Rowling proposed the toast to ‘Our Guests’ declaring how proud he was to be the group chairman. He then gave an interesting account of the background of each distinguished guest with poignant details of their many achievements. Colin then had the pleasure of presenting three cheques of £100 from the SHPG, the first to Lady Pilkington who accepted on behalf of her charity, Willowbrook Hospice; the next to the Mayor of Knowsley for the Big Health Project in Kirkby which is part of the Knowsley Food Bank; and thirdly to the Mayor of St Helens for his ‘Appeal Fund.’ Flowers were then presented by the hall chairmen to Lady Pilkington, Anne Gunning and Jeanette Banks.
To conclude the formalities, David Steer, QC, DL, gave an eloquent and witty response as befits a Queen’s Council, on behalf of the distinguished guests and brought warmest greetings from Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside Dame Lorna Muirhead and her congratulations on this special 300th anniversary celebration. He went on to congratulate the performers saying that the pageant was interesting and entertaining and felt very much at home with it, as having worn one of those wigs in court for the best part of 40 years, he felt very much in tune with the whole affair. David pointed out the many similarities between Freemasonry and the Judiciary - its traditions, customs, ritual and secrets, before revealing a judicial secret which had to remain within those four walls; bringing much hilarity to the proceedings. In concluding David commented: 'You are all to be congratulated upon your heritage and all your good charitable works and donations.' He then thanked everyone for the very warm and generous reception he and the guests had received and wished the group continued success in all they undertake.
As the evening came to a close, Colin thanked the two hall chairmen, Graham Hughes and Chris Maloney, and also John Roughley and John Whalley for their involvement in making the evening a great success.
8 March 2017
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
Brethren, it seems that we have been anticipating 2017 for longer than I care to remember and now we have arrived and I hope we have all been looking forward to our celebrations with great excitement and expectation. It is vital that these celebrations do not disappoint and, from what I have seen and heard so far and from what I know will be happening in the future, they most certainly will not disappoint.
From my point of view there was an early kick off in our District of East Africa who held a terrific celebration in Dar es Salaam last August. The District described the event as a Masonic Conference. That may well be the case, but to me it seemed like a 3-day party, superbly organised and attended by many of our Districts in Africa and elsewhere. I was also able to see the extraordinary charitable work that our brethren have carried out in that District which I am sure is mirrored elsewhere. Since then the Deputy Grand Master has been to Bombay. He can’t, of course, compare this event to Dar es Salaam, but he reports extremely favourably about it.
Between myself and the Deputy and Assistant Grand Masters we will be visiting most of our Districts or gatherings of our Districts during the year and I am quite certain that they will all make us proud that they are part of UGLE and that they will use every opportunity to advance the cause of Freemasonry in their parts of the world.
It is, of course, equally important that our Provinces take up the challenge in the same way and I am in absolutely no doubt that this will be the case. There are far too many events being organised around the country for me to start trying to highlight them. I hope it is true to say that all Provinces, who have asked for the Rulers to visit, are being visited either by the current Rulers or Past Rulers, no doubt I shall be told later if this is not the case, but we have tried very hard to ensure that we do get everywhere and I am most grateful to MW Bro Lord Northampton, PPGM and RW Bros David Williamson and George Francis PAstGMs for giving so readily of their time to help us out. We will be attending services in many of our great cathedrals and this started when the Grand Master visited Canterbury last month.
Our Provinces have been most original in their planning of events and I am sure they will all be a great success – they certainly deserve to be so with the amount of time and effort that numerous brethren have put in to the organisation. At the same time individual lodges and groups of lodges are really entering in to the spirit of the occasion.
It is not just at home that this milestone is being recognised and many of our sister Grand Lodges are celebrating with us. Indeed I was invited to the Grand Lodge of Denmark in January and they made our tercentenary very much the central theme. During their meeting they announced that our Grand Master was to become an Honorary Member of the Order of Danish Freemasons, Grand Lodge of Denmark and I had the privilege of receiving this honour on behalf of the Grand Master.
How are we going to know whether the year has been a success. It will be very easy to sit back and bask in reflected glory. This must not happen. The year is a tremendous opportunity to put all the great things that Freemasonry stands for in front of the public. We must not and will not waste this chance. The five programmes to be shown on Sky1 at 8.00pm on five consecutive Mondays commencing on April 17th, will, I believe, go a long way to displaying to the public at large what we stand for and the tremendous amount of work we put into the community both by way of financial charitable giving and by physical help to those who need it. I fear not everyone will be able to receive Sky1, but do tell all your friends about it – who knows they might ask you to come and watch it with them. Some will, no doubt, consider that we have taken a huge risk by opening ourselves up in this way, but I am in no doubt that, having been given the chance, we would have thrown away the biggest opportunity we have, perhaps, ever had for getting our story across, had we not proceeded.
In addition a further DVD has been prepared by the makers of the Documentaries for distribution – I should probably say sale – to our members and to the general public. I strongly recommend that you try to gain access to all the above.
In a perfect world at the end of the year we will see our numbers soaring and the press, printing story after story about how wonderful Freemasonry is. I am not naive enough to believe that this will be the case immediately, but I shall be very disappointed if we don’t see an increase in our membership, perhaps, just small to start with, but improving gradually as time goes on. In addition it will be fascinating to see what the press, as a whole, make of our opening our doors to such an extent.
These are exciting times brethren, let us all make the most of them.
8 March 2017
An address by VW Bro John Hamill, PGSwdB, Deputy Grand Chancellor and Diane Clements, Director of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Diane Clements: Ninety-nine years ago today, Charles Graham Robertson, a railway clerk from Dorking in Surrey, was fighting with the Royal Fusiliers on the Western Front. He realised that his position was being cut off so he sent two men to get reinforcements while he stayed at his post with one other man and a Lewis gun. He managed to kill 'large numbers of the enemy' but no reinforcements arrived and realising that he was now completely cut off he and his fellow soldier withdrew about ten yards. He stayed there for some considerable further time firing his Lewis gun but was again forced to withdraw. In this new position he climbed on top of a parapet with his comrade, mounted his gun in a shell hole and continued firing at the enemy who were pouring across the top of, and down, an adjacent trench. His comrade was killed and Robertson severely wounded but he managed to crawl back to the British line, bringing his gun with him. He could no longer fire it as he had exhausted all the ammunition. For his initiative and resource and magnificent fighting spirit which prevented the enemy making a more rapid advance, Robertson was awarded the Victoria Cross in April 1918. A few months later, after the end of the First World War, in February 1919, he was initiated in Deanery Lodge No. 3071 in London. He is one of over one hundred and seventy holders of the Victoria Cross who have been identified as freemasons, representing more than 13% of the total recipients.
John Hamill: The Victoria Cross was a product of the Crimea War. In many ways this was one of the first ‘modern wars’, reported from the battle field by newspaper journalists. The media, then as now, liked stories of heroes and villains, and it soon became apparent that there were many heroes but no award available to acknowledge the heroic actions of the ordinary British serviceman. Other European countries already had awards for their armed forces that did not discriminate according to class or rank. In 1856 with increasing public support, Queen Victoria ordered the War Office to strike a new medal which was made open to all ranks. The Victoria Cross is awarded for valour 'in the face of the enemy' to members of the British armed forces and to members of the armed forces of some Commonwealth countries and previous British Empire territories.
Many have been inspired by the stories of those such as Charles Graham Robertson but holders of the Victoria Cross were often modest men who didn’t make a fuss and many masonic researchers have worked hard to track down their masonic links, including the 2006 Prestonian lecturer, Granville Angell. Diane and I would like to acknowledge the efforts of all those researchers today.
The Victoria Cross was awarded 628 times for action in the First World War. Over 100 recipients have so far been identified as Freemasons of whom sixty-three were members of English Constitution lodges.
As many of you will know this building, now known as Freemasons’ Hall, was formally opened in 1933 as the Masonic Peace Memorial and it was, and is, a memorial to all those Freemasons who died in the First World War. Acknowledging this and as part of the Tercentenary celebrations, the United Grand Lodge is going to have a memorial pavement laid outside the Tower doors with details of all the English Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War. The date we have chosen for the ceremony is 25th April.
DC: On 25th April 1915 a battalion of over 1,000 men from the Lancashire Fusiliers landed on a beach at Gallipoli. During the landing, the men were met by very heavy and effective fire from the Ottoman Empire troops defending the beach and lost over half their number. The survivors, however, rushed up and cut the wire entanglements and managed to gain the cliffs above the beach. Amongst them were Major Cuthbert Bromley, Lance Corporal John Grimshaw, Private William Kenealy, Sergeant Alfred Richards, Sergeant Frank Stubbs and Captain Richard Willis. The courage of these six men was recognised by the award of the Victoria Cross to each of them and the event was hailed in the Press as '6 VCs before breakfast'. Three of these men were Freemasons.
Richard Willis had joined St John and St Paul Lodge No. 349 in Malta in 1901. He retired from the army in 1920 and took on an education role within the RAF before working as a teacher. Cuthbert Bromley, who had been a member of Invicta Lodge No. 2440 since 1909, was wounded during the landing and sustained further wounds over the next two months. He was evacuated to Egypt to recover and in August 1915, whilst returning to the Gallipoli peninsula aboard a troopship, he was killed when the ship was torpedoed. After the war John Grimshaw became a recruiting officer for the army. He joined Llangattock Lodge No. 2547 in 1928. Frank Stubbs died during the landing. William Kenealy was seriously wounded in a later battle on the Gallipoli peninsula and died in June 1915. As a result of a wound sustained in the action Alfred Richards had to have his leg amputated and was discharged from the army as unfit for further service. Despite this he served in the Home Guard during the Second World War.
JMH: Also as part of this year’s Tercentenary celebrations a Masonic Memorial Garden at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire will be unveiled next month on 18th April. Since planting began in 1997, the National Memorial Arboretum has become a special place honouring those who have served, and continue to serve, our nation in many different ways. It’s not a cemetery but covers 150 acres of trees and planting, a peaceful place of remembrance. There are more than 300 dedicated memorials on the site acknowledging the personal sacrifices made by the Armed Forces, the Police, and the Fire and Rescue and Ambulance services. The idea of a Masonic Memorial Garden was the millennium project of a group of Provinces led by Staffordshire. Realising the project was not without its difficulties but, assisted by additional finance from Grand Lodge, has now been fully realised. The garden is entered between two pillars, topped with globes, leading to a squared pavement on which are two large ashlars. The Province of Staffordshire held a service in the garden on Armistice Day last year.
DC: I am sure that many of those here today are familiar with the name of Toye, Kenning and Spencer, one of the country’s oldest companies still in operation and, of course, the manufacturer of masonic regalia and the Tercentenary Jewel. The company also has a long tradition of making military decorations although not the Victoria Cross. It may not be so widely known that the grandfather of W Bro Bryan Toye, Alfred Toye, was awarded the Victoria Cross, at the age of twenty for his actions on the Western Front in March 1918 when he established a post that had been captured by the enemy, fought his way through the enemy with one other officer and six men, led a counterattack and was able to re-establish the line. Continuing his military career after the war, Brigadier Toye, as he became, joined Freemasonry in Grecia Lodge No. 1105 in Egypt in 1930.
Following the Armistice on 11th November 1918 which ended most of the actual fighting, a series of peace treaties were negotiated between the two sides. The Treaty of Versailles with Germany was signed on 28th June 1919 and it was registered by the Secretariat of the newly formed League of Nations in October that year. The First World War had led to the fall of several empires in central and eastern Europe, the first of which was the Russian Empire overthrown in an internal revolution by Lenin and the Bolsheviks in 1917 and which led to civil war. Britain and her allies got caught up in this and were forced to send a Relief Force to North Russia in June 1919. Three men were awarded the Victoria Cross during this action. One of them was Royal Navy Commander Claude Dobson who led a motor boat flotilla to the entrance of Kronstadt harbour. In his 55 foot boat he passed through heavy machine gun fire to torpedo a Russian battleship. In 1925 Dobson joined Navy Lodge No. 2612. As the action in which he was involved falls within the period of the First World War and its treaties, he will be included on the memorial.
JMH: Armistice Day in November 1920 was a day of mellow sunshine. It was the second time that the Armistice had been marked but was to be especially significant as it was on that day that the King, George V, unveiled the cenotaph in Whitehall and also the day that the Unknown Warrior was interred in Westminster Abbey. The coffin carrying the Unknown Warrior was carried into the Abbey between two lines of men, who had been awarded the Victoria Cross during the war or otherwise distinguished themselves by special valour. They were known as the 'Bodyguard of Heroes'. Sixteen of this honour guard have been identified as Freemasons.
One of them was Captain Robert Gee who had been a member of Roll Call Lodge No. 2523 in London since 1907. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 30 November 1917 in France when an attack by the enemy captured his brigade headquarters and ammunition dump. Gee, finding himself a prisoner, managed to escape and organised a party of the brigade staff with which he attacked the enemy, closely followed by two companies of infantry. He cleared the locality and established a defensive flank, then finding an enemy machine-gun still in action, with a revolver in each hand he went forward and captured the gun, killing eight of the crew. He was wounded, but would not have his wound dressed until the defence was organised.
One of the names to be marked on a paving stone outside is Eric Archibald McNair, who was initiated in Apollo University Lodge No. 357 in 1913. He was awarded the Victoria Cross at the age of just 21 in 1916. On 14 February 1916 on the Western Front in Belgium, Lieutenant McNair and a number of men were flung into the air when the enemy exploded a mine, several of them were buried. Although much shaken, the Lieutenant at once organised a party with a machine gun to man the near edge of the crater and opened rapid fire on the enemy who were advancing. They were driven back. Lieutenant McNair then ran back for reinforcements, but as the communication trench was blocked he went across open ground under heavy fire. His action undoubtedly saved a critical situation. Sadly Lieutenant McNair did not survive the war but died in August 1918. His name is amongst those included on the Roll of Honour that is been displayed at the Shrine in the vestibule outside the Grand Temple.
It seems fitting that, in this Tercentenary year, the building is adding a further memorial to those that fought in the First World War. It would also be fitting, I believe, to stand for a moment in remembrance of those sixty-three men of valour whose names will be a part of this building for so long as it shall stand.
From the Grand Secretary
By the time you receive this issue, our Tercentenary year will be well under way and our Rulers will have already attended overseas events in Denmark, Mumbai, India, and Zakynthos, Greece, at our unattached Star of the East Lodge, No. 880. His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent has also attended a church service at Canterbury Cathedral for the Provinces of East and West Kent, Sussex and Surrey. We now await the broadcast in April of the long-anticipated Sky TV documentary Inside The Freemasons.
It is an exciting year as we build towards our showpiece event at the end of October. So far, it is likely that we will welcome around 160 Grand Lodges from around the world to celebrate with us at the Royal Albert Hall and look forward to our next 300 years. We now need to build on our successes and use this year to show ourselves as the vibrant and relevant organisation which is Freemasonry.
Looking forward to the Tercentenary in this issue of Freemasonry Today, Keith Gilbert highlights the planning and organisation of celebratory events taking place across not just the UK but the entire world. As Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes notes in his Senior Insights column, these are exciting times, so we should celebrate in style by showing our pride in being Freemasons.
When it comes to showing the best in Freemasonry, Spinnaker Lodge in the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight is a shining beacon. We find out how its members are encouraging younger Freemasons into the Craft with a shared interest in all things sailing. The sixth specialist lodge in the Province to be consecrated in the past four years, Spinnaker will be visiting new marinas and hosting social events at sailing clubs to raise both its own profile and that of Freemasonry in 2017.
Best foot forward
In the north-west of England, we meet a 54-strong group of Freemasons, their families and friends who trekked across Morecambe Bay. Cumberland & Westmorland Provincial Grand Master Norman Thompson and his intrepid travellers not only raised money to help victims of the Cumbria floods, but also showed how Freemasonry is connecting with local communities. The team joined some 1,000 walkers at Arnside Promenade to brave the wet and puddled sands for a memorable day that is now an annual event in the Provincial calendar.
The opportunities for Freemasonry are not just in the face we show the world, but are also in our governance, our leadership, our retention and our management of masonic halls. The Chairman of the Improvement Delivery Group, David Wootton, reports on how he and his team are leading the implementation and delivery of our agreed strategy for Freemasonry to 2020. As David notes, there is much to do but also much to enjoy.
‘We need to use this year to show ourselves as vibrant and relevant’
Brethren, 2017 is without doubt a landmark year in the history of our great organisation. It provides a wonderful opportunity both to celebrate past achievements and to ‘lay schemes and draw designs’ to ensure its future.
I am very conscious that we are already three months into the year and that a number of celebratory events have already taken place.
I was particularly pleased to be able to attend the service at Canterbury Cathedral on 18 February, which was a marvellous celebration of our achievements, and I look forward to taking part in other events during the year.
I am impressed by the number and variety of events that are taking place in the Metropolitan area and our Provinces and Districts. I know how you have all worked and are working tirelessly to ensure that our Tercentenary year is both memorable and enjoyable.
I wish you every success in 2017 and, above all, strength and stability in the future.
A year to be proud of
From fundraising to the formation of new masons clubs, Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes reflects on the reasons to celebrate Freemasonry in 2017
I have received a copy of the Report of the New and Young Masons Clubs’ Conference and was delighted to learn just how well the clubs are progressing with more than 30 established across London and the Provinces. This is a fantastic achievement and I would encourage those new Freemasons in Provinces without such a club to consider setting one up. You would have our full support and I am sure you would be greatly encouraged by your Provincial hierarchy.
I have asked Gareth Jones, Provincial Grand Master for South Wales and Third Grand Principal, to act as the focal point for the movement. It really is a splendid initiative and I congratulate all those involved.
I have frequently said how proud we should be of all our charities, and not just the big four. They all do tremendous work. The astonishing sum of £14.5 million was raised through the hard work of our brethren. The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Festival total of nearly £7.75 million is the highest total ever achieved.
Across the board, the money raised per capita by all four Provinces in Festival during 2016 was extraordinary and of a similar level. Your generosity is not taken for granted and is greatly appreciated.
The Masonic Charitable Foundation has launched a scheme to give £3 million to your local charities next year in recognition of both its own formation and, of course, our Tercentenary. This not only shows your generosity but is also aimed at promoting our involvement in the community.
Cause for celebration
I know that some of you have become frustrated at not being able to get hold of a Tercentenary Jewel. Please be assured that there are now plenty available in Letchworth’s Shop. Unfortunately, initial demand far outstripped supply. In spite of your frustration, may I ask you to beware of cheap imitations. Sadly, they do exist and are being offered at a very reduced price, but they are unauthorised and unlawful copies. We are working closely with the Provinces to get them all removed.
The forthcoming Sky documentary entitled Inside The Freemasons gives us a great opportunity to capitalise on the publicity being generated, and we anticipate that other high-profile events throughout the year will keep us in the public eye and produce some really positive results.
These are exciting times; let us celebrate in style by showing our pride in and talking about our membership. I am absolutely certain that we will all enjoy a splendid year in 2017.
‘Your generosity is not taken for granted and is greatly appreciated’
Best foot forward
When a group of Freemasons came together to make their way across Morecambe Bay, they not only enjoyed the stunning Cumbria views but also raised money for good causes on the way
On a warm clear day last year, a group of 54 people, made up of Freemasons, their families and friends, trekked across Morecambe Bay.
The intrepid team, which included Cumberland & Westmorland Provincial Grand Master, Norman Thompson, and Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Ian D’Arcy, joined 1,000 walkers at Arnside Promenade, where Cedric Robinson MBE, the Queen’s Guide to the Sands of Morecambe Bay, took charge.
Robinson led the group on to the beach following one of the most beautiful coastlines in Britain, cutting through Silverdale and out across the sands, heading down the bay towards Heysham. Many walkers, some barefoot, braved the wet and puddled sands as the expeditionary group followed the receding tide down the bay, taking in the glorious views across to Lancaster, the Lake District fells and Furness Peninsula.
‘Two hours into the journey, a race commenced across the thigh-deep water to the other side’
Two hours into the journey, walkers gathered in the middle of the bay alongside the River Kent. On Robinson’s command, a race commenced across the thigh-deep water to the other side. Fortunately, it was not too cold and, once everyone had safely crossed, the group changed direction, heading back up the bay towards Kents Bank, negotiating the wetlands and gullies along the way as they approached dry land at the railway station.
With gift aid, the masonic walkers and supporters raised in the region of £2,400 for the Provincial Grand Master’s charity, helping victims of the Cumbria floods, among other deserving causes.
The walk has become an annual event in the Provincial calendar, with the next one happening on Saturday, 17 June 2017 as part of the Tercentenary celebrations. Cumberland & Westmorland invites members and friends of all Provinces to come along for a thoroughly enjoyable day.