Life is good
After an attack left Clive Jones blind at the age of 26, he put the pieces of his life back together with the support of the community. Now, Freemasonry is helping him to give back
Eleven years ago, Clive Jones found himself freewheeling down a steep hill in High Wycombe on a tandem bike with an ex-Navy friend, praying the brakes would work. The four-day charity ride to mark the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War would last 252 miles, stretching from Buckingham Palace to Cardiff Castle.
It was Clive’s most challenging fundraising event, and not just because the tandem was laborious to ride. The journey was all the more remarkable because Clive was blinded in 2000 in an unprovoked assault while serving with the Welsh Guards. After losing his sight, he has spent the last 18 years rebuilding his life.
Today, Wales-born Clive is a busy father of three, optimistic and active within his local community in Shropshire, and keen to raise money for deserving charities or individuals in need. But the memories from December 2000 are never far away. ‘I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,’ he says now.
Clive was only 26 at the time of the incident, married with two young daughters. Joining the army had been his childhood dream, and he had planned to serve for many more years. The assault brought those dreams to an end.
‘After the assault, I was in a coma for a week. When I woke up, I soon realised there was something very drastically wrong with my eyes,’ he remembers. ‘I had been a highly capable soldier, and when I woke up, I was a scared child. I don’t feel embarrassed saying that now. I couldn’t even do the simplest things, like tying my own shoelaces.’
Clive’s initial fears related to his job and his family’s financial security, but he was also anxious about the future of his marriage. He need not have worried: Clive and Stephanie have now been married for 22 years. They have a 13-year-old son in addition to their two daughters, now aged 19 and 22. ‘The charity Blind Veterans UK (BVUK, formerly St Dunstan’s) taught me how to live again,’ he explains. ‘I’m now highly independent at home and within my local community, so life is good.’
KEEPING IT LIGHT
One of the most important skills Clive gained with BVUK’s help was learning how to use a computer: ‘That gave me a lifeline to the outside world again, and it has done a hell of a lot for my confidence.’ He also took up archery in 2001, becoming a British Blind Sport indoor and outdoor national champion. ‘To be fair, a blind man in charge of bows and arrows does sound a bit scary,’ Clive says, laughing.
In the past he has organised competitions on the grounds of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, and he has recently re-embraced the sport. But whatever the activity, a sense of humour is an essential part of Clive’s armoury – especially when fundraising. So far, he has raised in excess of £76,000; his efforts include sponsored walks, raffles, auctions and his legendary curry nights. One particular event took place on St David’s Day in 2016, when Clive decided that everyone attending should wear something Welsh.
‘I wore a full-length red dragon onesie and it was so blooming hot!’ he recalls. ‘Some people think I have a dry sense of humour; others reckon I have a rather sick sense of humour – maybe it’s a bit of both. But life is short, I say, so enjoy it.’
Jeremy Lund, Shropshire Deputy Provincial Grand Master, is a staunch admirer of Clive’s optimism. ‘The sacrifices Clive has made for charity are remarkable. There was even the wearing of the despised England shirt for every match during the Six Nations tournament in 2016,’ he says, with tongue firmly in cheek. ‘The effort nearly broke him.’
Keith Stokes, a long-time friend and a member of St Mary’s Lodge, No. 8373, describes Clive as ‘open and lovable’. He adds: ‘That’s why his charitable work is so well supported, because everyone wants to be there. He even organises charity darts nights and, let me tell you, trying to play darts with a blind man is a bit dangerous!’
‘If you can listen and guide, allowing yourself to be guided to a degree – and do all of that with a smile on your face – you’ll be a good Master’
A SENSE OF BELONGING
While Clive may laugh in the face of adversity, the one thing he’s very serious about is his commitment to Freemasonry. He was 30 when he became a Freemason, following a BVUK summer camp at HMS Sultan in Gosport.
‘Nineteen out of the 25 people attending were masons, and I’d always liked what the organisation represented,’ recalls Clive, who, after enquiring further, was proposed by another blind veteran and initiated on 25 April 2005.
‘The sense of belonging was immediate,’ he says. ‘It’s a very inclusive organisation, and being blind has never been an issue. In St Mary’s, my Mother Lodge in Market Drayton, I’m now in the Master’s chair for the third time [his previous tenures were 2011 and 2012]. I’m Worshipful Master of the Armed Forces Lodge, No. 9875, in Monmouthshire – which I was very proud to help found. I also run two masonic groups for blind veterans. One involves a phenomenal weekend every year in Brighton, and the other is a week in Llandudno. If anything, being blind has spurred me on.’
Acting as Worshipful Master three times has given Clive a very clear idea of what the role requires. ‘The ability to listen is really important. The Master is the head of the lodge, but he’s only as good as his officers and members. If you can listen and guide, allowing yourself to be guided to a degree – and do all of that with a smile on your face – you’ll be a good Master.’
Certainly, Clive has loved the opportunities to lead his lodge: ‘I actually quite like the strains and stresses of it, which is just as well. When I was assaulted, I also suffered some short-term memory loss, so it’s more difficult for me to learn the rituals and retain all the information.’
With Shropshire aiming to raise a total of £1 million during its five-year Festival Appeal, St Mary’s Lodge has already reached 150 per cent of its target – a phenomenal achievement a year ahead of schedule. Being part of an organisation with such strong values also makes Clive very proud.
‘It’s so rewarding to make a financial difference to people’s lives, or to be able to relieve everyday hardships. The “helping” aspect of our work is just wonderful.’
The desire to help others is part of Clive’s own personal mantra, but it’s something he plays down. ‘He’s very thoughtful, but he’s definitely not comfortable with being appreciated,’ Alex Knight, the manageress of Clive’s local pub, the Kings Arms, says. ‘He came to my wedding and gave us the most unique gift. I’m a big Petula Clark fan, and Clive arranged for her to send us a message of congratulations. It was mentioned in one of the speeches at the wedding, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone turn a brighter shade of red than Clive did that day!’
‘I have never wanted to be recognised for my charity work, but the past few years do seem to have involved a lot of awards,’ Clive acknowledges. ‘Being awarded Honorary Townsman of Market Drayton is really special. We moved here after my assault to get a fresh start, and it’s wonderful to be accepted by my adopted home town.
‘The community has been so supportive of my fundraising work. If I ask, they give. It’s not a wealthy town, but what we don’t have in money, we’ve got in heart.’
Looking ahead, Clive admits that the only downside of being so busy is that he doesn’t spend enough time with family and friends. ‘I would love an eighth day in the week. However, the sense of achievement within my life is fantastic. My happiness comes through helping others to be happy.’
‘The community has been so supportive of my fundraising work. If I ask, they give’
‘Clive’s blindness has not defined him – far from it. Instead, he has achieved his own victory over blindness and developed into a truly inspirational Freemason. His fundraising and caring for others is remarkable, and the Province of Shropshire is blessed and proud to be able to share and learn from his infectious enthusiasm for life. He is an ambassador for all that is good and true about Freemasonry.’ Peter Allan Taylor, Past Provincial Grand Master for Shropshire
‘Clive lost his sight in the service of his country but has not allowed this to hinder him in his masonry or in his other fundraising activities. If anything, he is energised by it. To his many masonic friends and acquaintances, he embodies the spirit of “Darkness Visible” – communicating light to those around him. He is truly an inspirational man and mason.’ Jeremy Lund, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Shropshire
‘I’ve known Clive as a friend for some 27 years. We served in the Welsh Guards together and now we’re both members of St Mary’s lodge. I admire Clive’s tenaciousness and his positivity, and the fact that he is so widely respected within the lodge and the community of Market Drayton. He is a brilliant Master because he likes everyone to be involved and to feel comfortable, and he brings such a sense of fun to every meeting he holds. He’s phenomenal, really.’ Keith Stokes, friend and fellow Freemason
Recent recognition for Clive
Honoured by Blind Veterans UK for his charitable work
Finalist in the Courage category in the Pride of Shropshire Awards
Finalist in the Inspiration category in the Soldiering On Awards
Finalist in the ITV Fundraiser of the Year, Midlands, category at the Pride of Britain Awards
Named Honorary Townsman of Market Drayton for his contributions to charity and community life
Clive Jones, a blind former soldier and Freemason, has been awarded Honorary Townsman of Market Drayton
Market Drayton, a small market town in north Shropshire, thrives on the contribution made to its community life by many of its citizens. The Town Council has the right to bestow the award of ‘Honorary Townsman’ upon those whose accomplishments are considered to be outstanding and therefore worthy of this prestigious accolade.
Due to his unselfish and constantly successful dedication to charity and the local community in which he lives, Clive was presented with the accolade of Honorary Townsman at the Town Hall reception on 8th March 2018. He received the honour from the Town Mayor counsellor M Erwin and enjoyed the evening with his wife Stephanie and their three children, as well as friends from St Mary’s Lodge No. 8373 in the Province of Shropshire.
Clive, originally from the village of Rogiet in South East Wales, was the founding Almoner at the concecration of Armed Forces Lodge No. 9875 in the Province of Monmouthshire on 18th January 2013. It was a very proud moment in his masonic career, and it's now that Clive finds himself as Worshipful Master of the lodge. Clive is also the current Worshipful Master of St Mary’s Lodge.
In July 2016, Clive was informed of his success in becoming a finalist in the Pride of Shropshire Awards in the Courage category. He was also informed that he had also been chosen as a finalist in the Soldiering On Awards in the Inspiration category, where he celebrated this achievement at a Champagne and Canopy reception at the House of Lords in February 2017.
In September 2017, Clive was informed of his nomination and success in becoming a finalist in the Fundraising category at the Pride of Britain awards, after raising more than £76,000 for charity.
Upon being award Honorary Townsman, Clive was presented with a medal which has a picture of a buttercross on it, which is a memorial to commemorate the great fire of Market Drayton which happened in 1651. It also has the spire of St Mary’s Church on it – which is a central point of the market town.
W Bro Kelvin 'The Cobbler' Reddicliffe records CD to raise funds for MONMOUTHSHIRE's RMTGB charity festival
Kelvin has many talents including writing and performing music. He has produced a CD titled '2013, A Celebration', and all tracks have been written by him and performed by local artists and groups.
The cost of the CD is £5 or £7.50 including postage and packing. To date, Kelvin has raised the magnificent sum of £1,715 for the Trust and is hoping to increase this sum as CDs are still available.
Kelvin is no stranger to writing music, his latest being 'Amor Patriae' to celebrate the consecration of the Armed Forces Lodge No. 9875.
The consecration of the Armed Forces Lodge No. 9875 was all set to take place the third week of January with many prominent masons booked in to attend. Unfortunately Mother Nature does what she often does, and completely disregards the preparation and organisation committed to the consecration of a new lodge with almost a foot of snow postponing the event.
After much consideration and consultation with Grand Lodge the meeting was rearranged for the 19th April. It was good to see such a full turnout from the founders and the consecrating team the second time around. The afternoon and evening was a resounding success and the event was enjoyed by all who attended. As charity is one of the main reasons for our existence, it was encouraging to see such a young lodge make a donation to the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (the charity currently being supported by the Province) by donating over £700 within five hours of their existence to this very worthwhile cause.
Hopefully the lodge will attract members from far and wide and become a valuable addition to the 29 lodges currently meeting in Monmouthshire. The picture above is the founders and the consecrating officers, which included two Provincial Grand Masters, the Grand Secretary and many prominent masons, along with the current Provincial team, several of which were active participants in the consecration.
Quarterly Communications of Grand Lodge
12 September 2012
Report of the Board of General Purposes
Meetings in 2013
The Board of General Purposes will meet in 2013 on 12 February, 19 March, 14 May, 16 July, 17 September and 12 November.
Attendance at Lodges under the English Constitution by Brethren from other Grand Lodges
The Board drew attention to Rule 125 (b), Book of Constitutions, and the list of Grand Lodges recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England, which is published in the Masonic Year Book, copies of which are sent to Secretaries of Lodges.
Attendance at Lodges Overseas
Brethren are reminded that it is part of their duty as members of the English Constitution not to associate Masonically with members of unrecognised constitutions, and should such a situation occur, they should tactfully withdraw, even though their visit may have been formally arranged.
Brethren should not attempt to make any Masonic contact overseas without having first checked (preferably in writing) with the Grand Secretary’s Office at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ, that there is recognised Freemasonry in the country concerned and, if so, whether there is any particular point which should be watched.
The Board recommends that the terms of this warning should be repeated verbally in open Lodge whenever a Grand Lodge Certificate is presented, and in print once a year in a Lodge’s summons. Brethren should also be aware of the Masonic convention that communications between Grand Lodges be conducted by Grand Secretaries.
Prestonian Lecture 2013
The Trustees of the Prestonian Fund have appointed W Bro P.R. Calderwood as Prestonian Lecturer for 2013. The title of his Lecture is "As we were seen – the Press and Freemasonry".
Arrangements for the delivery of the Lectures to selected Lodges will be considered by the Board in November and applications are now invited from Lodges.
Applications should be made to the Grand Secretary, through Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Secretaries. The Board desires to emphasise the importance of these, the only Lectures held under the authority of the Grand Lodge.
It is, therefore, hoped that applications for the privilege of having one of these official Lectures will be made only by Lodges which are prepared to afford facilities for all Freemasons in their area, as well as their own members, to participate and thus ensure an attendance worthy of the occasion.
Grand Loge Nationale Française
Statements made by the President of the Board of General Purposes and the Grand Chancellor are available here.
Grand Lodge subsequently voted to approve the motion that recognition be withdrawn from the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) with immediate effect.
Conditional Recognition of a Foreign Grand Lodge
The Grand Lodge of Ireland currently has 20 Lodges meeting under its Provincial Grand Lodge of Nigeria and the Grand Lodge of Scotland has 45 Lodges meeting there under its District Grand Lodge of Nigeria.
It is the intention of the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland, following consultation with this Grand Lodge, to constitute from their Province and District respectively a Grand Lodge of Nigeria on 3 November 2012.
To date none of the 33 Lodges under our own District of Nigeria has indicated a desire to participate in the formation of the new Grand Lodge, but nevertheless the Board of General Purposes has agreed that an English deputation should attend the Inauguration in order to lend support to the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland.
By the time this Grand Lodge meets in December, the Grand Lodge of Nigeria will already have been constituted. The Board would prefer that the new Grand Lodge be recognised from the moment of its creation, rather than after a delay, and accordingly recommended this course.
A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Installed Masters’ Lodges
Since 1 January 2006 Installed Masters’ Lodges have been exempt from paying dues to Grand Lodge and the contribution to the Grand Charity, except in respect of those members who belong to no other Lodge.
From time to time the Grand Secretary receives a request from a Lodge such as a Provincial Grand Stewards’ Lodge or a research Lodge, all of the Members of which are Installed Masters, to be considered an Installed Masters’ Lodge, and therefore entitled to the exemption.
The Board wishes to remind Brethren that the exemption was introduced to recognise the special role traditional Installed Masters’ Lodges play in education and communication, and to make it plain that the exemption will not be granted to Lodges which are merely de facto Installed Masters’ Lodges.
At the same time the Board recognises that there exist certain Installed Masters Lodges which operate as such but are open to the Masters and Past Masters of a particular category of Lodges only, such as the City of London Lodge of Installed Masters, No. 8220.
The Board has hitherto considered itself to be acting within the spirit and intent of Rule 269 and Rule 271 in determining such Lodges to fulfil the requirements of the proviso to those Rules. It considers, however, that the time has now come to regularise the situation by making such Lodges clearly the subject of the exemption.
Notice of Motion to amend the Book of Constitutions accordingly appeared on the Paper of Business.
The Board had received a report that Hiraeth Lodge, No. 8834 had resolved to surrender its Warrant in order to amalgamate with Wenallt Lodge, No. 9082 (South Wales).The Board accordingly recommended that the Lodge be removed from the register in order to effect the amalgamation.
A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Erasure of Lodges
The Board had received a report that 15 Lodges had closed and voted to surrender their Warrants. The Lodges are: Portland Lodge, No. 637 (Staffordshire), Dalhousie Lodge, No. 860 (London), Cosmopolitan Lodge, No. 917 (London), John Hervey Lodge, No. 1260 (London), Clapton Lodge, No. 1365 (London), Victoria Park Lodge, No. 1816 (London), Raymond Thrupp Lodge, No. 2024 (Middlesex), Sheraton Lodge, No. 3019 (London), Westminster Hospital Lodge, No. 5292 (London), Priory of Lambeth Lodge, No. 6252 (London), Caslon Lodge, No. 6303 (London), Nile Lodge, No. 6476 (West Lancashire), Phoenix Lodge of Hanwell, No. 7317 (London), Lodge of Felicity, No. 7509 (Middlesex) and Rivermead Lodge, No. 8444 (Nottinghamshire).
The Board recommended that they be erased. A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Report of Library and Museum Trust
Board had received a report from the Library and Museum Charitable Trust.
Assuring the Future of Freemasonry
Grand Lodge received a talk entitled 'Assuring the Future of Freemasonry: making the Craft relevant to all generations'.
List of new Lodges for which Warrants have been granted
26 April 2012: No. 9874 Terpsichore Lodge (Stamford, Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire).
13 June 2012: No. 9875 Armed Forces Lodge (Newport, Monmouthshire) and No. 9876 Cambria Meridian Lodge of Installed Masters (Rhyl, North Wales).
Meetings of Grand Lodge
Quarterly Communications of Grand Lodge will be held on 12 December 2012, 13 March 2013, 24 April 2013 (Annual Investiture), 12 June 2013, 11 September 2013 and 11 December 2013.
Meetings of Grand Chapter
Supreme Grand Chapter will meet 14 November 2012, 25 April 2013 and 16 October 2013.