The new Devonshire Provincial Grand Lodge Offices were officially opened with much pomp by their Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury on 9th August 2019, with the cutting of the Craft blue ribbon at the main entrance to the offices

The occasion was watched by their executive team and many Provincial Grand Secretaries both past and present and accompanied by champagne and a Provincial cake which had been made especially for the day.

The new offices which are located at 7 Harrier Court, Exeter Airport, Exeter, are a vast improvement on the previous office being bright, modern and spacious. They are located on two floors, an open office area and a meeting room on the first floor and a second meeting room and storage space on the ground floor.

It has taken a long time in the planning and the eventual purchase of the new premises will be seen as a major step forward for the future of the Province. 

A lot of hard work has been undertaken in completing the move from Richmond Road by the Provincial Secretary Richard Ebrey and Assistant Secretary Tony Jordan, alongside considerable help from Rem Locton and Adrian Rogers.  

Ian Kingsbury said that It had taken a lot of searching to find the new offices, but the wait had been worth it as these premises had everything needed to take the Province onwards into a bright new future.

Devonshire Freemasons have given the Exeter based charity Balloons a grant of £10,500 over three years to help in the support of the very worthwhile work they undertake

Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Freemasons, and Dr. Reuben Ayres, Provincial Grand Charity Steward, visited the offices of Balloons to present them with a certificate denoting the grant which was funded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) where they met up with Sara Bennett Balloons CEO who kindly showed them round the offices while explaining the work they do with bereaved children and young people in Exeter, Mid and East Devon.

Balloons was first conceived by a small group of healthcare professionals who didn’t have anywhere to refer bereaved children for specialist support. They applied to the lottery who supplied start-up funding back in February 2007. Their services provide grief support to children and young people between the ages of 5 & 25 throughout Exeter, Mid and East Devon. They give one to one support sessions, activity days, family events together with a telephone helpline and training for professionals. They also provide support before an expected bereavement, helping the children to prepare for life without a loved one.    

When presenting the certificate denoting the £10,500 given by the Freemasons of Devonshire and the MCF Ian Kingsbury said that after listening to the stories of support and help that are given by the team at Balloons to so many young children he is more than gratified that this sum of money will in some small way enable the much needed work to continue long into the future.

Sara Bennett replied ‘We are absolutely delighted to have been granted funds from the Freemasons of Devonshire. We are a small and local charity and as such we rely heavily on the generosity of our donors to support our work, and are delighted that the freemasons have seen the value of what we do. In 2018 we provided one to one support to 161 children and young people, and with this injection of funds we know that we will be able to continue to support grieving children when they are at their most vulnerable going forwards. Thank you’

Some of the comments by the children who have received the help from the team at Balloons were:

‘Since Mummy died, talking to my Balloons lady is really good because she doesn’t mind if I get upset but Daddy really minds. He says he wants me to be happy’ – demonstrating the need for a neutral third person for the child to talk to
 
‘Since Dad died my feelings are all over the place. I feel like hurting people. I don’t hit anyone, but I say mean things…working with Balloons is helping me a lot. No one can bring Dad back but I can get my feelings out and look at them and understand them a bit better’

On Sunday 2nd June 2019, three intrepid Freemasons from Devon set out to conquer the beaches which formed the landing places of the Second World War Normandy Landings on 6th June 1944

Steve Robertson and Chris Wollacott, both members of St. Thomas Lodge No. 4198 in Exeter, and Ian Morton, of Lodge Virtue & Honour Lodge No. 494 in Axminster, met up before boarding the Poole ferry to Cherbourg. But even before they set sail disaster struck, when Steve’s bike wheel shed a spoke (possibly due to the weight of his baggage) – luckily they found a friendly repair shop owner who opened up on a Sunday evening just to help them. Chris then arrived on an electric bike advising them that he had left his charger at home and had to complete the journey without the aid of batteries.

The bad luck didn’t stop there either, for as they disembarked in Cherbourg Ian skidded on a slippery patch, he was badly bruised and suffered a dislocated finger. They spent five hours in the local French A&E department before eventually starting off, on the first leg of their journey to Sainte –Mere- Eglise some 35 miles away. They passed military vehicles of all descriptions, Jeeps, Tanks, Troop Carriers and Halftracks full of personnel dressed in uniforms from the 1940’s all waving to them.

First stop was Utah Beach where they laid a poppy cross on the memorial then on to Carentan where they met serving US Rangers who were re-enact the scaling of the cliffs at Pointe-Du-Hoc to attack the German gun emplacements, waving them goodbye they moved on to Omaha Beach having ridden 38 gruelling miles by the time they arrived.

The next morning 6th June, D-Day they visited the large German gun battery at Longues Sur Mer which was taken by the Devonshire Regiment back in June 1944, then onwards to Arromanches where they witnessed almost the whole population wearing period military uniforms, attended a memorial service and watched a flypast of Dakotas as well as marching bands and D-Day Darlings singing songs of the period before moving on to Gold Beach and Juno Beach where they also laid poppy crosses, only covering 22 miles that day. Juno Beach holds a very special place in Steve’s family history as his father was there on D-Day and the platoon he was with liberated the first house on French soil after landings took place. 

While at Juno Beach they met Steven Dean, Project Manager of the new British Memorial, and also chatted to some veterans of the invasion and afterwards carried on their journey to Sword and then the Pegasus bridge. This leg of the journey was in their words ‘brutal’ due to the very, very, strong headwinds and rain but became easier when they turned to cycle down the canal to Ouisterham and back to the ferry for the return journey.

After four days of cycling and not a lot of sleep they were all looking forward to a restful night as they journeyed back across the channel only to find the majority of the other travellers were returning troops who snored the whole way back!

Steve, Ian and Chris enjoyed their adventure cycling a total of 153 miles over the four days they were in France, but it was the opportunity of being a part of the commemorations of the D-Day landings which will live with them forever, while also raising nearly £1,500 which will be donated to the MacMillan Cancer Charity and the Devonshire Masonic Festival on behalf of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF).

Devonshire Freemasons have donated £7,500 to Devon Community Foundation to help support people in need across the county

Sarah Yelland, Deputy CEO of the foundation, was delighted to be presented with the cheque by Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Freemasons. The generous gift brings the total donated over the last four years to over £42,000 and will be allocated to the Foundation’s Community Grants, supporting hundreds of voluntary and community groups offering local people in need a helping hand.

Ian Kingsbury, who was accompanied by Dr Reuben Ayres, Devonshire’s Provincial Grand Charity Steward, said ‘It is a delight for us as Freemasons to be able to assist such a worthwhile and important local organisation, helping them to reach out to those most in need in our local communities.’

Some examples of the groups that receive grants from the Community Grant pot include:

  • Torbay - supporting a series of workshops for older women, empowering them to become involved in a range of activities, helping to build confidence and friendships.
  • East Devon - addressing social isolation of older people through a range of activities that will engage with people of all ages, encouraging inter-generational opportunities and access to services and support networks, increasing health and wellbeing.
  • North Devon - purchasing of reading manuals to assist those who are unable to read to improve their reading skills, enhancing their life and social opportunities and helping to raise confidence and self esteem.
  • Mid Devon - supporting general running costs for work which addresses homelessness in mid Devon, ensuring that those most at risk have somewhere warm and safe to live.
  • South Hams - contributing to the setting up of a new men's shed, encouraging men to get together to make items for the good of the community, promoting social inclusion and a sense of self worth

Sarah Yelland commented: ‘Thank you once again to Devonshire Freemasons for their generous and continued support. The donation further enables Devon Community Foundation to help fund local groups that may not otherwise receive the vital income they need to survive. 

‘These local community groups play an essential role in the lives of residents who are most in need and the bringing together of communities as a whole.’

Victoria Cross Remembrance Stone

27 June 2019 
Unveiling and Dedication, The Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent

Ladies, Gentlemen and Brethren, 

It is an enormous pleasure for me to be here today to unveil the Victoria Cross Remembrance Stone at Freemasons’ Hall.

One of the oldest social and charitable organisations in the world, Freemasonry’s roots lie in the traditions of the medieval stonemasons who built our castles and cathedrals. Which is why it is so fitting that this stone – commissioned by Granville Angell, Past Assistant Grand Sword Bearer – has been carved by Worcester Cathedral’s first female stonemason, Emily Draper. She beat forty-five other applicants to win this apprenticeship, which was jointly funded by the Worcestershire Freemasons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Emily’s grandfather was a Freemason at a Lodge in Devon, whilst her Great Uncle was one of the Freemason Victoria Cross recipients we are honouring here today. I would like to express our thanks to Emily for all her dedication and hard work that went into creating the Remembrance Stone.

We would also like to show our appreciation of the expertise that went into producing this work by presenting you with this set of stonemasons’ tools to aid you in your future projects.

I have recently returned from visiting my cousin, Princess Elisabeth, in Belgrade. Whilst there I attended the 100th Anniversary gala for the foundation of the Grand Lodge of Yugoslavia – a region whose troubled legacy extends back through the centuries, as well as our own military involvement in the recent past.

Serbs, Croats and Slovenians were well represented and this is just one example of how Freemasonry brings peoples together and provides a safe space for those with very different outlooks to support and learn from each other.

Having served in the Armed Forces for more than 20 years I understand the common values shared by Freemasonry and the Services – camaraderie, respect, integrity – and the ideals of service and tradition.

It is an extraordinary fact that 14% of all Victoria Cross recipients have been Freemasons.

It is now time to unveil this splendid stone. It will stand as a tangible reminder of those Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross. I am sure you will agree that this Remembrance Stone is a fitting tribute to their service and sacrifice.

Published in Speeches

Every spring and autumn, Freemasons from all across Devon meet to support local organisations and charities who require financial assistance – and this year was no exception with £26,000 donated to Schools, Youth Centres and locally-based charities including Hospices, Hospital Services and Cancer Charities

The money is raised through the ‘WAKE FUND’ a trust conceived by William Alexander Kneel, the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire from 1970 to 1984. Since the idea was initiated the fund has grown through the continued generosity of Devonshire Freemasons and wise investments which today stands at almost £2 million, from which the trustees distribute the income generated, currently £50,000 each year.

Since the first disbursement in 2001, almost £775,000 has been given to over 800 worthy non-masonic organisations and charities throughout Devon, selected by members of the 131 lodges based throughout the county.

On Friday 31st May 2019, Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master for Devonshire Freemasons, presented cheques to 23 deserving causes at a meeting held at the Masonic Hall in Plymouth. The charity representatives, accompanied by a member from their nominating lodge, were able to enjoy a superb reception and buffet, have a tour around the lodge building, ask any questions they wished and receive their cheques totalling the magnificent sum of £26,000.

Making the contributions, Ian Kingsbury said: ‘I am delighted that the Freemasons of Devon are able to continue to contribute to these important local causes many of which are totally run by volunteers and hopefully these donations will make a real difference to the lives of many people.’

Among the organisations that will benefit are:

  • Parkinsons Plymouth
  • Plymouth & District Guide Dogs
  • Friends of Woodland School Plymouth
  • Plympton & Plymstock Scout Troops
  • Trevi House Rehab Unit Plymouth
  • Hospital Radio Plymouth
  • ATC Squadron 2171 Plymouth
  • riends of Exeter Cathedral
  • Exmouth in Bloom
  • Ayrton’s Dream Exeter RDNE
  • Gateway Homeless Action Group Sidmouth
  • Devon & Cornwall Lupus Group
  • Axminster Medical Practice
  • Exmouth Sea Scouts
  • Hospiscare Exeter
  • HCPT the pilgrimage Trust Torbay
  • SAMS Totnes
  • PHABS Torquay
  • Teignbridge Citizens Advice
  • A.I.M.S Dawlish
  • Families for Children Buckfastleigh
  • St James Church Swimbridge
  • Bishop Tawton Playing Fields

Historic stained glass windows have been returned to Barnstaple in Devonshire after 30 years

When St Mary Magdalene Church in Devonshire – built in 1842 – was demolished in 1988, it was to make way for a new inner relief road. That was until the Honourable Glaziers Company stepped in to rescue a pair of stained glass windows which depicted the building and Dedication of King Solomon’s Temple.

Those stained glass windows have lain since then in the cellar of Glaziers Hall in London. However, through the offices of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton, who is also Worshipful Master of the Glaziers Company, the windows have been returned to members of Loyal Lodge No. 251 which meets in Barnstaple.

On 17th May 2019, Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, Ian Roome, Mayor of Barnstaple, Alison Mills, Manager of Barnstaple’s Museum, and Robert Patterson, specialist glass Restorer, together with Roger Moore, Worshipful Master of Loyal Lodge, and members of the lodge accompanied by their families, welcomed members of the Worshipful Company of Glaziers.

The windows are an outstanding historical artefact which commemorates the life of a prominent member of the Barnstaple community and Past Master of Loyal Lodge, John Thomas Britton (1790 to 1855), and is a small piece of local history.

Thomas Britton was an active member within the community and of St Mary Magdalene’s Church. It was in 1859 that the members of Loyal Lodge decided that as a permanent memorial they would commission the stained glass south window of the Church to be dedicated to his memory.

In 1843, John Britton took a leading role in the acquisition of what is known as the Bath Furniture consisting of some of the finest masonic chairs, pedestals and pillars still in existence anywhere in the masonic world.

During the meeting a resume of the history of the windows and St. Mary Magdalene Church was very ably given by Estcourt Miller. In presenting the windows, Sir David Wootton said how pleased they were to be able to return them to North Devon and to know that in due course they will be displayed so prominently for all to see.

The Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass are one of the ancient livery companies of the City of London, its origins dating back to the 14th century. Through its charity – The Glaziers Foundation – it supports education, the training of stained glass artists, together with the conservation of stained glass and are devoted to promoting the art and craft of stained glass.

Roger Moore formally accepted possession of the windows and thanked all those who had been involved in their return and eventual display in the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon when their refurbishment of the building is complete.

More than 200 disadvantaged children will experience life on a real working farm, thanks to a grant of £63,000 from Devonshire freemasons to Farms for City Children

The charity’s founders, acclaimed Warhorse author Sir Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare, Lady Morpurgo, were both at Nethercott to welcome members of the Devonshire Freemasons and also took time to read to the visiting children from an inner city Plymouth School a story from one of his latest books.

The charity welcomes over 3,000 primary school children and their teachers each year from disadvantaged urban areas to one of their three farms in Devonshire, Gloucestershire and Pembrokeshire.

During their seven day stay the children live and work on the farm, explore the countryside around them and find out where food really comes from. They also discover self-confidence as they conquer fears and grow in self-belief as they overcome challenges working as a team to get tasks done. They develop new friendships and learn to see a bigger, brighter future than they ever thought existed beyond their crowded city horizons.

For many of the visiting children the true cost of this fully immersive seven day stay is beyond their reach so the charity subsidises every single child’s visit by at least £300. 

The grant of £63,000 from Devonshire freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Tim Rose, Farm School Manager at the charity’s founding farm at Iddesleigh in Devon, said: 'We’re really grateful to Devonshire Freemasons for their generous grant. Each week we see children from inner cities blossom on the farm – they discover confidence, challenge themselves to achieve so much more than they think they could and revel in the great outdoors.'

Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, said: 'I’m delighted we were able to help Farms for City Children, who do outstanding work helping disadvantaged children from right across Devon and beyond. The experience they offer these children can be life-changing, including improved behaviour at school which can give them a chance to make the most of their education.

'Being a local resident it has often been my pleasure to be onsite when the children are there and have seen the benefit they gain from their time on the farm.'

Freemasonry hit a high note when Devonshire Freemasons became the first mixed male and female masonic choir in the country

Their first performance was held at the Annual Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in Torquay in April 2019.

Permission was sought from the Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury, who enthusiastically supported the formation of a choir which included women Freemasons.

The Devonshire Masonic Choir was formed in 2017 with male Freemasons only, although it was decided at their second AGM, by a majority, to include women Freemasons in their ranks.

The ladies have brought with them an extra dimension of sound, with their enthusiasm and ability adding to the total enjoyment of participation in song.

The aim of the Choir is to help raise much-needed funds for various masonic and non-masonic charities, whilst being able to entertain groups throughout Devon and also enjoying themselves.

Although still in their relative infancy, the Devonshire Masonic Choir has already performed at many charitable functions.

Published in Initiatives & Clubs

Devonshire Freemasons paid a visit to St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth to present them with a grant of £988

Nicholas Ball, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, presented Emily Paton, Fundraising Manager of St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth, with the certificate denoting the amount of money raised. This is part of the annual donation made by Devonshire Freemasons and the Masonic Charitable foundation (MCF) who have given nearly £7,000 to seven hospices in Devon this year.

St Luke’s has been caring for thousands of terminally ill patients, 24 hours, 7 days a week for over 30 years and their passion and dedication to offer dignity and choice has never dwindled. The hospices vision is a community, where no person has to die alone in pain or distress. Caring for local people, no matter where, at home, in hospital, or in the specialist unit at Turnchapel Plymouth.  

Nicholas Ball said: ‘The Freemasons of Devonshire are delighted that in conjunction with the Masonic Charitable Foundation they have been able to continue to provide vital funding for our local hospices, the care and support they provide for the community is amazing. We are delighted that we are able to show our dedication towards their ever growing need for support within the community.’

A total of 245 adult and children’s hospices throughout England and Wales receive donations totalling over £600,000 each year. Since 1984, the MCF have given nearly £12 million in support of hospices. This includes £300,000 which has been distributed to each hospice that receives less than 65% funding from the NHS. A further £300,000 will be provided to the national charity for hospice care, Hospice UK, in a partnership aimed at developing and extending bereavement support services in hospices.

Over the last 21 years, Devonshire Freemasons have combined with the MCF to give total donations to St Luke’s amounting to over £108,000.

Emily Paton, Fundraising Manager of St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth, said: ‘We are very grateful to the Freemasons for their donation and continued support year on year. This donation will help us continue to provide compassionate care and support to our patients and their families, keeping our nurses on the roads to reach out to people at home and providing the specialist care on the wards in Derriford Hospital and our specialist unit in Turnchapel.’

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