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.
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.’
The Royal Marine Lodge in Devonshire – Per Mare Per Terram Lodge No. 9355 – has made a grant of £300 to the Royal Marines charity, based in the East Devon village of Lympstone, to go towards their planned new support hub
The donation will help both serving and retired Royal Marines and their families who are going through difficult times.
The cheque was presented by the Master of the lodge Tom Devin together with Charity Steward John Langford to Zan Whale, the Royal Marines Charity Events Coordination Manager.
John Devin said that it was seen by the members of his lodge, most of who are either active or retired Royal Marines, as being very important to support the men and their families while conflict is sadly continues to be a part of the lives of so many in the armed forces.
This donation is a part of £1,800 currently being distributed to local good causes by members of Per Mare Per Terram Lodge, who meet at the Masonic Hall in Exmouth.
This year, as part of their annual support of hospices throughout the country, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Chris Yard presented Kings House Day Hospice with a donation of £800
Chris handed over a certificate denoting the amount on behalf of Devonshire Freemasons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) to Toni Hiscocks and Angie Phillips at Hospiscare’s Kings House Day Hospice in Honiton.
Devonshire Freemasons have been long-term supporters of Hospiscare’s Kings House and, along with individual donations made by many of the 133 lodges that meet throughout the county and the MCF, together have donated nearly £105,000 to Hospiscare since 1994.
On receiving the certificate, Angie Phillips, Clinical Nurse Practitioner for Kings House Day Hospice, said: ‘I am delighted to receive the £800 donation from the Masonic Charitable Foundation on behalf of Hospiscare’s Kings House Day Hospice.
'This will go a long way in helping us support our patients in the East Devon area. We are reliant on 80% of our funding coming from voluntary sources and wouldn’t be able to deliver our care without the community’s support and organisations such as the Masonic Charitable Foundation.’
Hospiscare’s Kings House Day Hospice opened in 2015 with great support from the local community. Patients have access to specialist help and support, advice and treatment, and Hospiscare’s local team of Community Nurse Specialists that support patients in their own homes are also based there.
Assistant Provincial Grand Master Chris Yard said: ‘It is always a delight to be here with such dedicated and wonderful people, the Freemasons are very happy to be able to help by making this donation towards the on-going work of the Hospice.
'The dedication to the staff to the people of this area that need help is admirable – long may it continue.’
Up to 2,400 older people living in parts of Exeter and East Devon will receive help to live full and independent lives in their own homes for longer, thanks to a grant from Devonshire Freemasons
The £37,184 grant to the Estuary League of Friends, which comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, has funded a new Volunteer Coordinator Marilyn Spencer, who will be responsible for creating 75 new volunteering opportunities for local people. It will help Estuary reach out to 1,000 more people in need over the next two years.
This new project comes at a critical time for older people living in Devon, where so many older people live out their retirement far from family and friends and are at risk of experiencing extreme loneliness especially as their health, or that of their partner, deteriorates. Devon County Council estimates that up to 57,000 people aged 65 years or more and living in the county experience loneliness or intense loneliness.
Estuary’s new Volunteer Coordinator Marilyn will help combat loneliness experienced by older residents by creating meaningful volunteering opportunities, supporting local people to set up new activities that strengthen the community, and establishing new volunteer-led projects that reach out to the most vulnerable in our community.
The Estuary League of Friends was founded by volunteers in 1987, and today, its staff and 165 local volunteers provide a wide range of services and activities helping over 1,400 people resident in Exeter and East Devon to live full and independent lives. Last year, Estuary was granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of community volunteering excellence. Yet, the charity has never had a staff member dedicated to supporting its volunteers.
Devon is also one of the 13 project areas across England and Wales in which the Masonic Charitable Foundation is working with Age UK in a £1 million initiative to reduce loneliness among older people.
Rachel Gilpin, Estuary’s Chief Executive, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted that Devonshire Freemasons have agreed to make a game-changing investment in the way that we work. This new Volunteer Coordinator post will help us reach many more of the vulnerable older generation who are part of our community and yet whose daily existence is one of isolation and loneliness.
'We would encourage local people who are interested in volunteering their time to get in touch with us today, to find out more about how they can help neighbours in need.'
Dr Reuben Ayres, Devonshire’s Provincial Grand Charity Steward, said: ‘The Freemasons of Devonshire are very pleased to be able to help the Estuary League of Friends, which does truly outstanding work helping older people overcome the loneliness and isolation that can make life thoroughly miserable.
'By employing Marilyn Spencer as volunteer coordinator we will reach out and enhance the lives of many more vulnerable people and we can then feel we have had a small part in achieving something worthwhile here in Devon.’
Children’s Hospice South West’s Little Bridge House hospice has been chosen to receive a grant of £746 from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire
The grant comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), and will be used to help provide respite care and support for the children and their families at the hospice in Fremington, North Devon.
This is just one of 237 grants to hospices around the country from Freemasons. In total £600,000 will be donated to hospices all over England and Wales this year.
This includes £300,000 which will be distributed to each hospice that receives less than 60 per cent funding from the NHS. A further £300,000 will be provided to individual hospices across England and Wales via Hospice UK, the national charity for hospice care. MCF is partnering with Hospice UK to develop and extend bereavement support services in hospices.
Devonshire Freemasons have been long-term supporters of Children’s Hospice South West and, including individual donations made by the 131 Devonshire lodges, have given grants totalling over £103,000 since it opened in 1995.
Ann Juby, Children’s Hospice South West’s major gifts, trusts and grants Fundraiser, said: ‘We’re very grateful to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire for their generous grant, which will help us to provide respite for the whole family, including a sibling service for brothers and sisters, emergency support, end of life care, and a bereavement service for as long as it is needed.’
Charles Yelland, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, said: ‘I’m very pleased we’ve been able to assist Children’s Hospice South West. They do an outstanding job helping children with terminal or life limiting conditions, as well as supporting their families through very difficult times for which we are equally grateful.’
A number of Freemasons have been honoured in HM The Queen’s New Year Honours list 2019, which recognises the outstanding achievements of people across the United Kingdom
Charles Pearson was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to West Mercia Police.
Charles has been a special constable for 45 years, holding the rank of a Sergeant, serving his community in Shropshire with postings to Bridgnorth, Much Wenlock and presently, Church Stretton. In May 2014, he was awarded the Freedom of Much Wenlock for services to the local community, with 40 years police service in the town of Much Wenlock.
He was initiated into Caer Caradoc Lodge No. 6346 in Shropshire in 1997 and joined West Mercia Lodge No. 9719 three years later, where he is the current Master.
In 2012, Charles was named Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon for Shropshire and in 2017 was promoted to Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works.
Thomas Clive Johnson
Clive Johnson was awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal (QFSM) for Distinguished service to Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service.
Clive joined the Westmorland Fire Service as a Retained Firefighter in 1968 and was based at Staveley where he lives. In 1974, the Fire Services of the region amalgamated and then became the Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service.
Clive continued his service at Staveley until he retired on 31st May 2018, having achieved the high rank of Station Watch Manager. To mark his retirement having completed 50 years of exemplary service, he and his wife Julie were invited to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, hosted by Her Majesty.
He was initiated into Eversley Lodge No. 4228 in 2001 in the Province of Cumberland & Westmorland. In 2016, he received Provincial Honours when he was appointed Provincial Senior Grand Deacon.
Bill Edward Bowen
Bill Bowen was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community of Oswestry in Shropshire.
This included actively serving in The Lions Club of Oswestry for 44 years and being honoured in the Lions Clubs International organisation as District Governor which necessitated training in Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii.
Bill also served as Churchwarden at the Parish Church of St. Oswald for 25 years, followed by 14 years as a licensed local minister in the Church of England. He also organised a Christian Men's Fellowship Breakfast for 22 years and served as Chaplain to the RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital for 15 years. In fact, he is still serving in all these different organisations.
Bill was initiated in 1986 into the Lodge of St Oswald No. 1124 in Oswestry in the Province of Shropshire and was made Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 2014.
Michael Goldthorpe was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to Naval Personnel.
Michael served in the Royal Navy from 1978 until 2010, reaching the rank of Commander. His most recent activity has been as CEO of the Association of Royal Navy Officers and the Royal Navy Officers Charity.
He was initiated into Pinner Hill Lodge No. 6578 in Middlesex in 1989, although the lodge has since been erased. Michael is also a member of Fortitude Lodge No. 6503 in the Province, where he is their current Master, and was appointed Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 2018.
Francis Wakem QPM
Francis Wakem was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to victims of crime.
This involved working with the charity Victim Support, which provides emotional and practical support to victims of crime, since it was founded 30 years ago, originally as a serving police officer and later as a volunteer.
Francis remains an active volunteer in Wiltshire and in London where he serves on committees dealing with governance of the charity.
Francis was initiated into Corsham Lodge No. 6616 in Wiltshire in 1976 and went on to serve as Provincial Grand Master in the county for over 10 years (March 2004 - October 2014).
Frank Handscombe was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to Judo in the community in South Molton, North Devon.
Frank is a 4th black belt and has been involved with South Molton Judo Club for 38 years, where he has served as chief instructor and principal.
Frank was initiated into Temple Bar Lodge No. 5962 in Hertfordshire in 1961 and later joined Loyal Lodge of Industry No. 421 in Devonshire, where he gained Provincial honours including Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2005 and Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 2006.
In 2009, he was given Grand Lodge honours when he was named Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies.
Trevor (Tex) Calton
Army Cadet Force Major Tex Calton has been awarded an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen in the annual New Year Honours list.
Tex enjoyed a successful military career of 26 years with the last eight serving as the Bandmaster of the famous Black Watch Regiment. He retired from teaching music in schools at the end of 2013 and now serves in the Army Cadet Force in the rank of Major, as National Music Advisor.
Tex became a Freemason in 1988 when he joined Phoenix Lodge in Berlin. On being posted to Tern Hill, near Market Drayton, he joined St Mary’s Lodge No. 8373 in 1992. Tex was given Provincial honours in Shropshire when he was named Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon in 2014.
Cheshire Freemason Steven Leigh was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to local businesses and the economy in Yorkshire.
Steven has had an impressive business career, including the flotation of his company to a full listing on the London Stock Exchange in 1993, and running it as Chief Executive.
Steven will celebrate 50 years as a member of the Lodge of Harmony No. 4390 in November 2019, a month after taking the Chair of the Lodge as Master for the second time (previously in 1976). He was also Director of Ceremonies from 1978 – 1983, following in the footsteps of his father, George Leigh, who was Director of Ceremonies of the lodge for many years.
Reg Dunning was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to education and the community in Sandbach, Cheshire.
Reg has been a Governor of two local schools for over 40 years concurrently and has been the parade marshal for the Royal British Legion in Sandbach for over 60 years.
92-year-old Reg is an honorary member of Penda Lodge No. 7360 and Sanbec Lodge No. 8787 in Sandbach. He joined Freemasonry in April 1955 when he was initiated into Kinderton Lodge No. 5759 in Middlewich.
Tony Brian Arthur Rowland
Tony Rowland has been awarded an MBE for services to undertaking and the community in Surrey.
Tony is a Funeral Director who has supported bereaved families through their grief for 65 years and has done voluntary work for many local charities and community projects. He became an apprentice at the age of 15 in 1953 and is now, at the age of 80, still working full-time.
Tony is a member of Croydon Sincerity Lodge No. 7575 in Surrey, where he was made a Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer in 2016.
Every Spring and Autumn, Freemasons from all around Devon meet to support local organisations and charities who require financial assistance, amongst those included are schools, youth centres and locally based charities including hospices, hospital services and cancer charities
The money is raised through the ‘WAKE (William Alexander Kneel Endowment) 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 £725,000 has been given to over 760 worthy non-masonic organisations and charities throughout Devon, selected by members of the 133 masonic lodges based throughout the county.
On 23rd November 2018, Nicholas Ball, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, presented cheques to 25 deserving causes, held at Uffculme Masonic Hall.
The charity representatives accompanied by a member from their nominating lodge were able to enjoy a superb reception and buffet, a tour around the lodge building, ask any questions they wished and receive their cheques totalling £25,000.
Making the contributions, Nicholas Ball 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 to benefit this year are:
- The Care of the Next Infant, Plymouth
- Plymouth Hospital Ion Chef Appeal
- Lee Moor Village Hall
- Friends of Plympton St. Maurice Guildhall
- Friends of Erme Primary School
- Parkinson’s UK, Plymouth
- South Brent Brownies
- Hatherleigh Primary School PTFA
- D’Arts Exeter
- Woodbury Community Playing Fields
- Southwest Multiple Sclerosis Centre, Exeter
- Sense DeafBlind Group, Exeter
- Health & Local Food for Families, Axminster
- Devon Racqueteers Para Badminton Club, Exeter
- Raleigh Federation of Schools, Budleigh Salterton
- Force Cancer Care, Exeter
- Crediton RFU
- Cruse Bereavement Care, Newton Abbot & Torbay
- Torbay Holiday Helpers Network
- Forde Park Pavillion, Newton Abbot
- Torbay Sea Cadets
- Kingsbridge in Bloom
- Mid Devon Messenger
- South Molton Meddlers
Devonshire Freemasons have donated £1,000 to help with care for Frazer Wilton, an extremely brave boy who has a rare disease where five-six children are diagnosed with late-infantile Batten Disease each year in the UK
Five-year-old Frazer is one of the 30 to 50 affected children in the country. Eddie presented the donation and a teddy to Frazer alongside David and Yvonne Wilson.
Yvonne Wilson had a mission throughout 2018 to help the Wilton family and held a Sunday Luncheon at Jordan Lodge to raise some funding, which was matched on the day from the Jordan Lodge Benevolent funds to raise £1,000.
Eddie Bowcott, of Jordan Lodge No. 1402 in Torquay, said: ‘We hope that Frazer will have a wonderful Christmas with minimal suffering and this little help will assist his mum and dad to finance the ongoing burden of cost that has to be found for Frazer’s comfort and daily challenging welfare.’
Members of Blundell’s School Masonic Lodge have met at the school in Devon for the first time since the lodge was consecrated in 1934
The event in 2017 was arranged to coincide with the Tercentenary of the world's first Grand Lodge for Freemasons last year, and to mark the occasion members of Blundell's Lodge No. 5467 wanted to celebrate it in a unique way.
This led to the idea of approaching Blundell's School, and so with the help of the lodge's Senior Warden Craig Cox and his wife Sarah the permission of the Head of Blundell's Nicola Huggett was obtained and plans were set in motion.
The logistics of such an event was never going to be easy to arrange, but the outcome was a marvellous afternoon and evening culminating in 116 members and their partners sitting down for a gourmet dinner in the main dining room of the school.
Nicola Huggett and Richard Swarbrick, Chairman of the Old Blundellian Club, were guests of honour and both the Worshipful Master of the lodge John Shepherd and the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Ian Kingsbury were each delighted to present the Head with a cheque for £1,500 – making a total of £3,000 to mark the celebrations of the Tercentenary.
This donation enabled year 11 students at the school to assist with projects identified by Community Learning International, who currently operate five learning centres in district towns of rural Luang Prabang in Laos, where they provide opportunities for children to develop their skills and knowledge.
This aid has now reached the children in Laos and the delight on their faces and the knowledge that without this sort of help the education of the children would be much poorer has made the project worthwhile in the eyes of everyone who took part.