From the Grand Secretary & Grand Scribe E
At the September Quarterly Communications, the Pro Grand Master’s address spoke of the importance of teamwork in governing and managing Freemasonry. UGLE has traditionally been a federal amalgamation of ‘city states’, each ruled by a Provincial or District Grand Master, whose patents were granted by the Most Worshipful Grand Master. It was not uncommon, in decades past, for those chosen few to be given their patent and told to ‘get on with it’, but with very little instruction or guidance as to what the ‘it’ either was or entailed.
We like to think that we are more enlightened now, and take some time and effort to explain what we think a Provincial or District Ruler might want to consider, and what the Rulers and Board/Committee of General Purposes think their priorities should be when taking up their important office.
It will not surprise you to learn that membership and communications are very high up on that list, and as UGLE evolves to meet the challenges of our very different world, so this old system must evolve to ensure consistency of message and image across our organisation as a whole.
We have also come to realise that the ‘Bright Ideas Club’ at the centre may not have all of the answers, and initiatives rolled out with little or no consultation with our membership or their leaders are unlikely to be successful in the longer term, if at all.
Lord Northampton, as Pro Grand Master, set up a system of Regional Communication Groups which divided the Provinces into nine geographical clusters, and which provided a means for Provincial Rulers in each group to meet regularly and exchange ideas on matters of import. Under Sir David Wootton, these assumed a greater sense of purpose, with the representation of each integrated into the Improvement Delivery Group, with its remit to deliver the 2020 strategy conceived five years ago. Now, under Geoffrey Dearing, they form the backbone of our ability to consult with the Provinces and to set the agenda and direction of the organisation with strong representation on both the Membership Working Party and the Communications Working Party of the Board.
Both groups have a wide remit to shape the direction the organisation will take, and their influence will be wide ranging. They are no paper tigers, and are considering questions which will affect each and every one of us as Freemasonry evolves into a more transparent, accountable and respected organisation within the public consciousness.
The representatives on these various committees can, of course, accomplish nothing without the hard work and dedication of the teams that support them – making it vital that those team members have the ability, enthusiasm and professional capabilities and knowledge to deliver what is needed. Professional expertise is by no means short in an organisation such as ours, and Provincial leaders are well used to tapping into the potential of their membership to fulfil important roles within the Province. What perhaps is changing is the willingness to recognise that many individuals are much busier in their family and work lives than perhaps their predecessors were. As such, those who are less senior within Freemasonry and less experienced are finding themselves working on major Provincial portfolios while balancing very busy lives.
We should not shy away from using the talent that we have within our ranks. Neither should we shy away from altering the way ‘things have always been done’ to allow those individuals to flourish and to serve. It is inconceivable that the Provincial Grand Masters and Grand Superintendents of the future will be able to dedicate the time and effort to Freemasonry that perhaps some of their predecessors have managed, without detriment to their family or personal connections. Their teams around them become of paramount importance if the organisation as a whole is to grow and develop. Similarly, if we want leaders who are truly exceptional and able to carry the organisation forward, we must be willing to accommodate the many other things that will call on their time – not least their greater involvement in the running of the ‘Centre’.
We will do our bit here at UGLE to listen to those ideas coming out of the Provinces, and to ensure that others can benefit from them; to ensure that ‘best practice’ is shared, such as the membership initiatives in Bristol and the communications strategies of Buckinghamshire and Cheshire.
We will also continue to listen to you, our members, paying heed to what you think is important, and what our priorities should be for the years ahead.
Dr David Staples
Grand Secretary and Grand Scribe E
‘If we want leaders who are truly exceptional and able to carry the organisation forward, we must be willing to accommodate the many other things that will call on their time’
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’.
Following months of meticulous planning, 6th July 2019 was an early start for many Cheshire members in anticipation of the first procession through the streets of Chester in regalia for many years. The reason – to celebrate 150 years of Royal Arch Freemasonry in Cheshire
The Provincial Grand Superintendent, Stephen Blank, led a procession of distinguished guests, partners, family, friends, uniformed organisations and well-wishers through the streets of Chester from the Town Hall to Chester famous 13th century Cathedral. More than 800 attendees sat together to recognise and celebrate the Province of Cheshire’s’ Royal Arch sesquicentenary. Remarkably, it was noted that the Town Hall at the heart of the City was also 150 years old this year, so it seems 1869 was a busy year for Chester all round.
Guests attending the event included the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire David Briggs, The Lord Mayor of Chester Mark Williams (himself a member of Cheshire Craft and Royal Arch) and from their own Supreme Grand Chapter they were delighted to welcome their Second Grand Principal, Russell Race, alongside their own Provincial VIP’s, including Deputy Provincial Grand Master David Dyson and Deputy Grand Superintendent for the Royal Arch in Cheshire J. Robert Bramley.
The service was informed, interesting, light hearted in parts and poignant in others – the preparation and execution was fabulous and congratulations were made to all those who had worked so hard to organise the celebratory event.
At the end of the service a small contingent visited the Chapel of St Erasmus to unveil a plaque detailing the work funded by Cheshire Freemasons to support the restoration of the famous mosaics originally produced by the prodigious railwayman Thomas Brassey – sadly water damaged over previous years, it will take an investment of almost £35,000 to secure these valuable works for future years, which Cheshire Freemasons have agreed to fund entirely.
Following the service, photos were taken of the brand new minibus provided by Cheshire Freemasons to local Scouts as well as an opportunity to meet the rider of the newly funded Blood Bike and his motorcycle proudly branded with the Square and Compasses.
Following a sumptuous lunch, it was announced that for the celebration of 150 years of the Royal Arch in Cheshire, Companions of the Province had committed a total in excess of £150,000 in order to support projects for the communities of Cheshire and beyond.
Later this year, on 26th October 2019, the Provincial Grand Chapter of Cheshire is 150 years old and will be celebrated at that time with the consecration of a brand new Royal Arch Chapter at Hulme Hall in Port Sunlight – the village created by none other than William Hesketh Lever, the First Viscount Leverhulme and himself a prominent Cheshire Freemason. 2019 will certainly be a year to remember and so far the celebrations are being thoroughly enjoyed by all concerned.
Last year, Cheshire’s Provincial Grand Master Stephen Blank set a challenge to members to organise an event promoting awareness and building support for the Cheshire Freemasons Charity
John Miller was first to step forward and so developed the idea of organising a sponsored bike ride from Chester to London, utilising only the intricate canal network and towpaths that weave between Cheshire’s’ county town and capital city.
The route was agreed from the Masonic Hall in Queen Street, Chester, to Freemasons’ Hall at Great Queen Street following the Shropshire Union Canal to Wolverhampton, then the routes through Birmingham, picking up the Grand Union Canal near Solihull and following that into the heart of London, some 230 miles and crossing several masonic Provinces.
The team consisted of 16 riders with a support team of two and given the rough terrain and general riding conditions it was agreed to limit each day to between 40 and 50 miles allowing the challenge to be completed within five or six days. Riders were tasked with raising sponsorship and several Cheshire businesses sponsored the exclusive team shirts produced in order to support logistical costs such as travel, accommodation and food.
A black tie benefit event was also held within the Province which greatly contributed to the costs of the task ahead. To make the most of the fine English weather, the departure date was set for 6th June and the Deputy Provincial Grand Master David Dyson was present to see the team off safely from the Chester start point, and the Provincial Grand Master put a date in his diary to meet the exhausted riders outside the doors of Great Queen Street on the 11th June, what could possibly go wrong? The answer is Storm Miguel – which for three days of the journey tested each and every rider for their tenacity, and for how waterproof their kit truly was.
In the main the team discovered that waterproofs aren’t that effective in the face of a tropical storm, and indeed for two of the riders who managed to fall in to the canal, and are now affectionately referred to as the ‘Cheshire Splash Masters’. Cheshire’s Provincial Office reached out to Provinces that the riders would pass through en route.
Shropshire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire were all kind enough to offer a warm welcome and kind words of encouragement, as well as contributions, a true reflection of communication, commitment and teamwork by Freemasons. It is noteworthy that during the ride, many conversations with members of the public took place, lifting the profile of Freemasonry in general, and additional contributions were made by many of these non-Masons met along the way in support of the rider’s objectives.
A joint effort between the riders and HQ meant the Communications team were able to promote the event on social media platforms, using the dynamic mapping of GPS, daily blogs and great pictures sent by the riders each day.
Followers loved watching the daily progress made by the cyclists. The event organiser, John Miller, was keen to ensure the fundraising aims were kept clearly in the spotlight throughout the event via the online donation link and ‘interviewed’ members of the team at each overnight stay so this could be broadcast. The ride ended with the entire team completing the journey.
The total fundraising was then announced that over £22,000, which this was increased at Quarterly Communications the following day when the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes made a donation to the Cheshire Freemasons Charity of a further £1,000.
Steve Holloway, County Commissioner was delighted to take ownership of the vehicle and on receipt of the keys said: ‘We are very grateful to the Cheshire Freemasons for providing us with the minibus which will be used to carry Scouts, Cubs and Beavers to Camps and other outdoor events and the fact it has a wheelchair ramp at the rear is a real bonus.’
In recognition and thanks of the £33,000 vehicle, Steve presented the Cheshire Freemasons with unique ‘neckers incorporating both Masonic and Scouting emblems. They were delighted to be informed that they could be worn at all Scouting events as they were presented by a County Commissioner.
After the official presentation, the delegation were given a tour of the ‘Join in Jamboree’ site which occurs every four years and were advised there were over 1,600 adults and young people taking part in the three day event.
They were encouraged to join in some of the activities and David Dyson, Cheshire's Deputy Provincial Grand Master, proved to have a talent for Tomahawk Throwing, which was just one of the many activities available to the attendees during the weekend.
At a Gala Dinner and fundraising event, a cheque for £25,000 was presented to the Neuromuscular Centre on behalf of the Cheshire Freemasons’ Charity
The centre is based in Winsford and support those in need from across the whole of Cheshire, the Wirral and beyond. The donation will enable the centre to purchase specialised equipment including two Thera Trainer Bikes, which will be used in the Neuromuscular Gym, and 27 pairs of specialist orthotics gloves, which give a range of positive outcomes. The benefit of using orthosis may be the difference between an individual being able to ‘drive’ a wheelchair independently or not. Separately, funds will also be used to purchase powered wheelchairs.
Matthew Lanham, the Neuromuscular Centre’s Chief Executive, said: ‘I want to say a huge thank you to Cheshire Freemasons, as well as the South Cheshire Masonic Golf Society (SCMGS) who organised the event. The bikes we will now purchase will make a life changing difference to so many. People with muscular dystrophy have very little muscle strength, but still need to exercise to stay healthy. This donation will make that possible for hundreds of people.’
Matthew also went on to thank the SCMGS for some other specialist orthotic equipment to enable people with muscular dystrophy to keep on using their hands and fingers to do everyday tasks for longer.
On the night, which was in memory of Chester Freemason Gil Auckland, one of the driving forces behind the success of the society’s charity fundraising, a wheelchair was donated to Lee Herbert.
Lee, who receives treatment at the Winsford Centre, was thrilled to receive the modern and sophisticated powered wheelchair saying: ‘I am very grateful to the SCMGS for my new power wheelchair. It has changed my life for the better and helps me a lot with my daily life. I can get out more and really enjoy life. I’m so appreciative of your kind generosity.’
The South Cheshire Masonic Golf Society was originally formed by golfing Freemasons from Upton and Chester Golf Clubs, with their prime aim to raise funds for good causes in Cheshire. However, after some years it was decided to support the Peter Alliss Wheelchair Appeal. The South Cheshire Masonic Golf Society provided the Peter Alliss Appeal with donations of many thousands of pounds from 1974 to 2016, resulting in the purchase of 55 powered wheelchairs for deserving recipients.
In 2018, a slight shift to provide disability aids to a wider range of beneficiaries has been made by the society members and they have selected the Neuromuscular Centre in Winsford as a major recipient for 2018/19.
When Alife, the 17-year-old son of a Suffolk Freemason, won a place on a course at the British School of Watch Making in Sale, Cheshire, there was a huge logistical problem
The course was full-time, 3,000 hours duration – the new student needed to put the weekly hours in – but living near Felixstowe some 225 miles away and needing accommodation his options were limited – and being a ‘minor’ of 17 compounded the problem.
That was when Mum, Bernadette and Dad, Nick Doncaster, of Gyppeswick Lodge No. 4254 in the Province of Suffolk, had the idea of contacting Cheshire Freemasons. A phone call was made in early 2018 to Provincial Office at Altrincham and answered by Graham Monaghan who was on duty at that time in the Almoners Office.
The predicament was explained to Graham who promised to see what he could do and enquire whether there were any members who might have a spare room to offer Alfie, the student watchmaker. Graham started to make enquiries using his local knowledge as a Sale Freemason himself.
Mike O’Brien, who lives in Sale and is a member of De Sala Lodge No. 5657, who lives in Sale, heard of the plight and went home to discuss it with his wife Liz and son Lewis, also 17. They got in touch and the two families met up in Sale. To quote Nick Doncaster ‘all the boxes were ticked’ and Alfie moved in with them on 2nd September 2018 and has thrived there ever since.
Alfie’s course is unique within the UK and there are students from Portugal and France also taking part, although Alfie is the youngest student that the school has ever had. He hopes to gain a work experience place with a leading Swiss watchmaker in early 2020.
An interest in watches and clocks and how they worked took him to visit the Birmingham Watch Fair a couple of years ago where he learnt about the British School of Watch Making. At Mike and Liz’s home in Sale, he has his own bedroom and the company of Lewis who is his own age, as elder daughters Danielle (26) and Lauren (28) no longer live at home.
Liz said: ‘Alfie has settled in very well. He uses his bike to get to and from the school and has recently joined a gym. He has been out with Mike and Lewis to some of the social functions of the Lodge and has met quite a few of the members.’
Alfie will be living with the O’Brien family until the end of his course in July 2020. In the meantime, the Sale family will be travelling to the Doncaster family home in July this year to visit Nick and Bernadette for a family social occasion.
A delegation of Cheshire Freemasons attended local charity Charles Thompson’s Mission to present them with cheque for £14,000 towards their work helping men and women who are homeless, poor and needy out of poverty
Mission Manager Bernie Frost was delighted to meet the volunteers who ‘chose’ to sleep out on a very cold night last year in an effort to raise awareness of homelessness and poverty, as well as help raise much-needed funds for the Mission.
Those sleeping out included 14 members of Bohemian Chapter No. 3294 and Combermere Lodge No. 605 plus two of their wives. Their collective efforts raised £12,600 through sponsorship, which was topped up by a donation of £1,400 from the Cheshire Freemasons Charity.
Cheshire’s Deputy Provincial Grand Master David Dyson said: 'What the members have done is incredible, not just in raising funds, but also to highlight the issue of homelessness and the human story that sits behind it. The men and women who slept out will be the first to say they ‘chose’ to do so, yet sadly many don’t have the ‘choice’, they sleep out all the time.
'The Charles Thompson’s Mission is a great charity doing an incredible job and one we have supported for some time. It is clear to see the positive effect the work they do has on those in need.’
On a snowbound and extremely foggy morning of January 30th 2019, members of three provinces came together to present a grant of £12,000 to North West Air Ambulance
David Walmsley, Assistant Provincial Grand Master in West Lancashire, Simon Palfreyman, Assistant Provincial Grand Master in Cheshire, and John Farrington, Deputy Provincial Grand Master in East Lancashire, ably assisted by provincial charity stewards from Cheshire and East Lancashire, all braved the snow to meet with staff from North West Air Ambulance to take a short tour of the facilities and learn a little more about what they do.
On this particular morning, the two impressive Eurocopter EC135 helicopters were grounded due to poor visibility. One of the pilots, Lee, took the opportunity of telling them that from the City Heliport (Barton Aerodrome) there is an easily referred to visual point which denotes the flying limit of 1500m; Barton Bridge.
North West Air Ambulance now have two rapid response cars which can take the place of the helicopters on days such as this should they be required, and are also able to carry blood supplies.
For the helicopters to operate it costs £9 per minute in fuel, while an average call out costs £2,500. The recent grant of £12,000 will go a fair way to providing fuel for one air ambulance for a month.
North West Air Ambulance operate three helicopters. two at City Heliport (Barton) and one over at Blackpool. A chart on the wall showed they can cover a fair proportion of the North West in 20-30 minutes travelling at up to 160mph, and 20 minutes to Lancaster and North Wales.
More than 210 men visited Wallasey Masonic Hall in Cheshire in January 2019 to undergo a simple blood test, which only takes a few minutes, and can help detect prostate cancer
The session, open to any man, is free, although most who attended are keen to leave a donation for the Prostate Screening Team who travel over from Leighton Hospital in Crewe to carry out the tests.
The donations raised almost £1,600 which will be put to good use by the screening team who are always in need of replacement items for the testing kits.
Cheshire Freemason Jeff Cunningham said: ‘It was wonderful to see so many men taking advantage of this life-saving service. This is another great example of Freemasonry supporting local communities and it was great to see so many non-masons as well as masons taking the test.
‘As always we extend our thanks to the volunteers from the Leighton Hospital Prostate Screening Team who give their spare time to run these sessions. At last year’s session three men were identified by the test as being in need of immediate treatment and this just goes to show how invaluable it is. The donations go some way to show our thanks and gratitude.’
Further testing sessions will be held across Cheshire throughout the year, with the next taking place at Cheshire View, the Masonic Hall in Christleton, Chester, on Saturday 30th March 2019.