In honour of all English Freemasons awarded the prestigious Victoria Cross (VC), the United Grand Lodge of England’s (UGLE) Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, unveiled a unique Victoria Cross Remembrance Stone at Freemasons’ Hall on 27th June 2019

The Remembrance Stone was commissioned in 2016 by Granville Angell to commemorate all English Freemasons who were awarded the Victoria Cross. The VC is the highest award for gallantry that can be conferred on a member of the British Armed Forces and since its introduction in 1856, more than 200 Freemasons have been awarded the Victoria Cross – making up an astonishing 14% of all recipients.

The Remembrance Stone was carved by Emily Draper, who was Worcester Cathedral’s first female Stonemason apprentice, having been sponsored by local Freemasons. During the preparation stage of the stone, Emily also found out that her Great Uncle was a Freemason VC recipient.

The event was opened by Dr David Staples, UGLE’s Chief Executive and Grand Secretary, followed by readings from Robert Vaughan, Provincial Grand Master of Worcestershire (My Boy Jack by Rudyard Kipling) and Brigadier Peter Sharpe, President of the Circuit of Service Lodges (The Soldier by Rupert Chawner Brooke).

Over 130 guests were in attendance including serving military personnel, a group of Chelsea Pensioners and Sea Cadets, as well as Sergeant Johnson Beharry, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for saving the lives of his unit – Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment – while serving in Iraq in 2004. Johnson is also a Freemason and a member of Queensman Lodge No. 2694 in London.

Music was provided by Jon Yates from the Royal Marines Association Concert Band, who performed the ‘Last Post’, a minute’s silence and the ‘Reveille’.

This was proceeded by the grand Unveiling and Dedication of the Remembrance Stone by The Duke of Kent, as a fitting tribute to the service and sacrifice of those Freemasons awarded the VC. The Duke of Kent also presented Emily with a stone carving toolset to aid her future projects.

The event was concluded with a speech by Brigadier Willie Shackell CBE, Past Grand Secretary of UGLE and Past President of the Masonic Samaritan Fund.

Dr David Staples, UGLE’s Chief Executive and Grand Secretary, said: “It’s been a huge honour to mark the dedication of this wonderful Victoria Cross Remembrance Stone and another significant milestone in our longstanding history.

“It is even more remarkable in the context that 14% of all recipients of the Victoria Cross have been Freemasons and I can think of no more fitting home than for it to be placed here at Freemasons’ Hall – a memorial to the thousands of English Freemasons who lost their lives during the Great War.”

Read Dr David Staples' speech here

Read the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent's, speech here

Read Willie Shackell's speech here

Published in UGLE

Victoria Cross Remembrance Stone

27 June 2019 
Conclusion, Brigadier Willie Shackell CBE, Past Grand Secretary of UGLE and Past President of the Masonic Samaritan Fund

Your Royal Highness, my Lords, Ladies, Gentlemen and Brethren.

Sir may I thank you for unveiling this superb memorial dedicated to all those English Freemasons who have been recognised with this country’s highest award for courage and valour in the face of the enemy and also to say how privileged we are that it has been dedicated and unveiled in the presence of one of those valiant men, Brother Sergeant Johnson Beharry VC.

Sir, two years ago you unveiled our splendid memorial to those 65 English Freemasons who received the award during WW1, which was part of our Country’s remembrance that it was 100 years since the Great War. At the time I did receive mail from the odd “Brother Angry and disgusted” saying what about the rest! Today we recognise them all. Also at this time Brother Granville Angell told me he was having a stone made in the form of a VC for our memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum, a garden that had been opened earlier in the year. I politely told him that I thought it would be inappropriate and I thought that was that but I had reckoned without the determination and persistence of Brother Granville who then waited for the new Grand Secretary.

How wise he was and I can think of no more fitting place for it to be than here in Freemason’s Hall, the Masonic Peace Memorial Building, where I suspect far more Masons will see it and which is the spiritual home of Freemasonry.

May I thank you again, Sir, for graciously unveiling this fine memorial, thank you Brother Johnson for being here to represent all those brave men who have been awarded the VC, congratulate you Brother Granville on your persistence and generosity, our thanks to Emily Draper the splendid stone mason who produced it, to all those who have taken part in or helped to organise today’s dedication and finally to all of you for attending and witnessing another milestone in our proud history.

Published in Speeches

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) welcomed members from across the globe to join the Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Kent, and Pro Grand Master, Peter Lowndes, for this year’s Craft and Royal Arch Annual Investitures at Freemasons' Hall

Investiture week saw the District Support Team of Lister Park and Louise Watts taking the opportunity to organise a number of District-centric events. On 24th April 2019, new District Grand Masters and Provincial Grand Masters were given a guided tour of Freemasons’ Hall, followed by a presentation and luncheon with the Chief Operating Officer of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, Les Hutchinson, and Senior Grant Officers.

A Workshop for District Grand Secretaries filled the afternoon before the day was concluded by a Fellowship Gathering for all District members, with their wives and significant others, in the Vestibules area outside the Grand Temple. It was a relaxed and informal evening hosted by Dr Jim Daniel, UGLE’s Past Grand Secretary, who gave a short and amusing welcome speech, alongside Willie Shackell CBE, another Past Grand Secretary, the Rt Hon Lord Wigram, Past Senior Grand Warden, and Bruce Clitherow, Past Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies.

Following the Royal Arch festivities on 25th April 2019, District Grand Masters and their guests were then invited to join the Grand Secretary, Dr David Staples, for a relaxed drinks evening.

As a result of an organisational restructure at UGLE in January 2019, the department for Member Services, under the Directorship of Prity Lad, has a renewed focus on attracting new members and engaging with its existing membership.

Comprised of three key functions, the Registration Department, District Support and External Relations, they are committed to a common goal of making UGLE an organisation that is fit for purpose and an efficient headquarters for its members.

Prity Lad, UGLE’s Director of Member Services, said: ‘Being our first opportunity this year to welcome and entertain our District guests, these events were hugely important to us. It is our commitment to work in partnership with the Districts more closely than ever by creating a function of expertise, training and events and to support and raise the profile of the charitable work which our Districts are engaged in.

‘It was a huge honour for me to meet with many of those who attended and I look forward to working together over the next coming months. I would also like to give grateful thanks to Jim, Willie, Lord Wigram and Bruce for supporting this inaugural event, which we intend to be the first of many.’

Published in UGLE
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.

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