13 September 2017
Order of Service to Masonry citation for W Bro Edward Arnold Ford, PJGD
Bro Eddie Ford was made a Mason in December 1978, at the age of 36, in Andresey Lodge No. 6408, in Burton-on-Trent in the Province of Staffordshire, serving as its Master in 1988 (and again in 2011). In 2001 he joined Foster Gough Lodge No. 2706 (the Installed Masters’ Lodge for Staffordshire). He was exalted into the Royal Arch in Abbey Chapter No. 624 in 1995, becoming its First Principal in 2010 (having already served on two occasions as First Principal of Mercia Chapter No. 3995, which he had joined in 2001). He is also a member of Staffordshire First Principals Chapter No. 2706.
Bro Ford served a year as a Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1994 on his first appointment as a Provincial Grand Officer and was appointed the Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 2001. Subsequently he also served some years as Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies in the Royal Arch before becoming the Third Provincial Grand Principal in 2015. Bro Ford holds the rank of Past Junior Grand Deacon in the Craft, and in April of this year received the Rank of Past Grand Standard Bearer in the Royal Arch.
Bro Ford’s outstanding claim to masonic distinction, however, lies in his work over the past fifteen years as the driving force behind the Masonic Memorial Garden at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. Soon after the establishment of the Arboretum, the Freemasons of that Province created a masonic garden on a prime site on the “Millennium Avenue”, near to the visitor centre.
The Garden was originally dedicated in June 2002, as part of that summer’s celebration of “Freemasonry in the Community”. It was always the intention that the Garden should be provided with a suitable entrance and in April of this year the imposing symbolic gateway of which the most striking feature is two great pillars, each some nine cubits high, supporting two globes, was formally dedicated.
The whole project was overseen by Bro Ford and involved the bringing together of various disciplines in the planning as well as the execution. Not only were the skills of two separate architects required, but also those of a structural engineer in order to give the site a sure foundation where before there had been a sand and gravel quarry; and finally an arboriculturist was needed to advise on the right trees to plant round the perimeter of the garden to have a chance of surviving in the poor soil, because the yew trees originally chosen had proved unsuitable.
Bro Ford devoted many hours to ensuring the successful completion of the project, and it is undoubtedly due to his hard work, determination and persistence that not only Staffordshire masons, but those throughout the English Constitution now have a significant stake in the National Memorial Arboretum.
As part of the Tercentenary celebrations, 300 masons and civic dignitaries came together for the dedication of the Masonic Memorial Garden in Staffordshire
In late 2001, Lichfield mason Roger Manning suggested the creation of a masonic memorial to be sited at the newly created National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Burton-on-Trent.
It was agreed that the masonic garden should serve in the remembrance of all Freemasons, whether they had died in the service of their country or through sickness, accident or old age. There would be no reference on the site to specific lodges, groups or individuals.
Over the next 16 years, following four different Provincial Grand Masters, two architects, more than a dozen designs, planting failures, floods, dozens of detailed reports and many meetings, the Masonic Memorial Garden was finally unveiled on 18 April 2017 to over 300 brethren and civic dignitaries.
The service was witnessed by Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes, Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence, Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton, President of the Board of General Purposes Anthony Wilson and Grand Secretary Willie Shackell.
A welcome to all in attendance was given by local builder and brother Eddie Ford, who had been responsible for the garden’s development over the entire 16-year period. The dedication service was undertaken by the Provincial Grand Chaplain, the Reverend Bernard Buttery.
Civic leaders at the event included the Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Ian Dudson; the Mayor of East Staffordshire, Cllr Beryl Toon; and the Mayor of Tamworth, Cllr Ken Norchi. Provincial Grand Masters from many neighbouring Provinces, together with representatives from all of the 96 Staffordshire lodges, were also present.
The Masonic Memorial Garden at the National Memorial Arboretum was dedicated by the Pro Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England Peter Lowndes on Tuesday 18th April
He was assisted by the Provincial Grand Chaplain, the Reverend Bernard Buttery, in the presence of over 200 invited guests, who included the Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire Ian Dudson, the Mayor of the Borough of East Staffordshire Beryl Toon and the Mayor of Tamworth Ken Norchi, as well as the Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence, the Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton and the Provincial Grand Master of Staffordshire John Lockley.
The garden in Staffordshire commemorates Freemasons who have served their country and made the ultimate sacrifice in helping to defend their country in two World Wars and other conflicts.
Many people have been involved in the work to design and build the garden and one freemason Eddie Ford from Burton-upon-Trent has worked tirelessly to see the project to fruition.
Supporting Staffordshire hospices
Staffordshire Provincial Grand Master Sandy Stewart paid a visit to Katharine House Hospice in Stafford recently, and presented cheques totalling £2,443 to representatives of three of the hospices within the Province, all seven of which received grants.
The funds were distributed by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity as part of its annual grants to hospices. A total of £600,000 has been distributed to the 239 hospices in England and Wales, £23,000 of which has been given to the hospices in Staffordshire.
Katharine House Hospice chief executive Dr Richard Soulsby said, ‘This donation will make a real difference to the support we can provide to our patients.’
Staffordshire support: In challenging conditions, Staffordshire masons have raised £1,675,000 for The Freemasons’ Grand Charity
Staffordshire’s five-year Festival culminated in a dinner held at Keele University in September, during which Dr Alexander Stewart, Provincial Grand Master, announced the £1,675,000 total. The five hundred members and guests at the event included David Williamson, Assistant Grand Master. Richard Hone QC, President of the Grand Charity, thanked the Provincial Grand Master and Staffordshire masons for raising such a wonderful amount.
Alexander said, ‘It has been our intention to raise as much as we could to further the marvellous work of the Grand Charity. It has been a difficult time financially for many of our members and our numbers have fallen in the past ten years. We set no target and I am so proud of all our members and their families for their generous support and the enormous efforts they have all made.’
The money raised will be used to assist the Grand Charity’s important work helping people in need.
Since 2005 Michael Hampson of Brewood Rotary Club, Staffordshire, has been organising the collection of abandoned tents after the annual V-Festival held at Weston Park. He is aided by members of Round Table, the Lions, and by Staffordshire Freemasons.
The masonic contribution has come mainly from Royal Arch masons, some of whom are also Rotarians, but there is an increasing input from from other members of the Craft to this very worthwhile activity.
The tents, along with camping chairs and beds, are sent to International Aid at Preston, where they are cleaned and repaired. They are then stored, ready for use in the case of international disasters and other emergencies, including providing holiday accommodation on the Black Sea for orphans of the Chernobyl disaster.
After the most recent V-Festival in August 2012, more than 3000 tents, along with other useful discarded items, were collected over the course of two days by more than three hundred helpers.
Repairs to the windows at the eastern end of the cathedral, known as the Lady Chapel, are costing more than £4 million. The medieval stained glass has been taken away for restoration, the stone work repaired and an outer layer of isothermal glass has been installed, but the costs still have to be covered. On the cathedral’s south side is a statue of Godfroi de Bouillon, erected by masons in 1890 for £35.
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has also donated £5,000 each to Exeter and Salisbury cathedrals.
Planting an idea: how Staffordshire masons planted a special garden at the National Memorial Arboretum is outlined by Peter Atkins
The simple, yet symbolic Masonic Garden at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire is a permanent memorial to all brethren who gave their lives for peace and freedom.
Masonic involvement in the Arboretum started when Staffordshire’s former Information Officer, Roger Manning, realised the significance of Freemasonry supporting the concept and talked to members of his Lodge, St John’s of Lichfield No. 1039.
The Masonic Garden was adopted by the Lodge, which made the initial financial contribution and introduced the concept to the leaders in the Province. The then Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Thomas D C Lloyd, now Provincial Grand Master, committed his support and it was soon adopted.
By early 2002 sufficient money had been contributed by Lodges across the Province for a substantial plot to be bought. The site was dedicated in June that year, during Freemasonry in the Community week.
The Assistant Grand Master, David Williamson, assisted by the then Provincial Grand Master, Kevin Chawner, cut and turned the first sod in the presence of some 400 Freemasons, their families and friends together with local civic leaders and the Lord Lieutenant of the County.
Six months later a yew tree hedge was planted around the plot. Sadly it did not survive, and a second planting took place the following winter.
Around £20,000 has been spent so far and Staffordshire Masons gratefully acknowledge the contributions from the neighbouring Provinces of Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Cheshire.
More funding is needed to complete the garden which, in plans drawn up by retired architect and Deputy Provincial Grand Master John E Griffiths, includes a stone arch at the entrance.
Bro Griffiths, explaining his thoughts on the design, said: “It is a very open and exposed site and I wanted the ashlars to be protected as if they were in a forest glade, enclosed by a hedge, with one entrance.
When the hedge is fully grown, and we have the arch in place at the entrance, it will beckon people, draw them in, to see what I call the pearl within.”
The costs of the garden have been kept down by the contribution of Eddie Ford, a builder by trade from nearby Burton and a truly operative Mason, who laid the chequered paving and supervised the positioning of the two ashlars, each weighing three and half tons.
Bro Lloyd was on hand to welcome the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, when he made a detour to see the garden during an official engagement at another area of the Arboretum last October.
Peter Atkins is Information Officer for the Province of Staffordshire
National Memorial Arboretum
The National Memorial Arboretum was conceived by the founder director, David Childs, after visiting the USA and seeing the Arlington Cemetery and the National Arboretum in Washington DC. He thought the concepts could be merged into a meaningful living tribute in the UK, which would acknowledge the sacrifice made by the whole nation so that people could live in peace and freedom. Today, it pays tribute to those who died in war and also reminds people of the 80 million lives lost in conflicts in the 20th and 21st centuries. Warwickshire Royal Air Force Lodge No. 9456 created Masonic history when they held the first Lodge meeting at the National Memorial Arboretum on November 1, last year (2006). More than 40 members spent the day at the Arboretum, which began with a visit to the Masonic Garden and included a Lodge meeting in the Visitor Centre during which the Master, W Bro Paul Brennan, initiated his son Gary Stephen. The day ended with a Festive Board provided by catering staff at the Arboretum. The National Memorial Arboretum is open every day, except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, from 10am. Admission is free, and a visit is highly recommended.