A new team took the reins in Shropshire on 28th July 2018, with Roger Pemberton installed as the new Provincial Grand Master following the retirement of Peter Taylor

Two impressive ceremonies at Harper Adams University were separated by an equally impressive lunch. A full house of Shropshire Freemasons and most welcome guests saw Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes install Roger Pemberton as Shropshire's newest Grand Superintendent and Provincial Grand Master.

The work of the London team was expertly guided by Grand Director of Ceremonies Oliver Lodge, while any small questions on etiquette or protocol were instantly and authoritatively answered by Deputy Grand Secretary Graham Redman. Guests also included the Provincial Grand Masters of Cumberland & Westmorland Norman Thompson and Isle of Man Keith Dalrymple.

The Deputy Grand Superintendent will continue to be Dave Kettle, Past Provincial Scribe E/Grand Secretary of the Province, while the new Deputy Provincial Grand Master is Jeremy Lund.

Freemasons of the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland presented a brand new, fully liveried, BMW R1200 RT-P motorcycle, to the North West Blood Bikes Lancs and Lakes charity, in memory of the late Russell Curwen on 16th July 2018

The event took place at Kendal Masonic Hall where 190 guests gathered to witness a very moving and memorable occasion. Russell was a rider for the charity who died in a crash in May 2018 whilst on duty delivering vital medical supplies to hospitals in the area. 

Amongst those attending were Russell's parents, Pat Curwen and Ken Curwen, sister Susan Fiddler, brother Phil Curwen and uncle Terry Curwen. They were supported by members and friends of the North West Blood Bike Lancs and Lakes Charity, together with members from the Blood Bikes Cumbria Charity.

Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria, Claire Hensman, was also in attendance, together with former Lord Lieutenant Sir James Cropper and Lady Cropper. Following a short reception, during which the Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria was introduced to all present, the Provincial Grand Master of Cumberland and Westmorland Norman Thompson gave an address.

He said: 'On behalf of the Freemasons of Cumberland and Westmorland, I am delighted to be able to present this third fully equipped motorcycle to the North West Blood Bikes Lancs and Lakes charity. This third bike is named 'Russell', in memory of the Blood Bike Volunteer, Russell Curwen, who sadly lost his life whilst on duty with the charity.

'The Blood Bikers are unsung heroes, supporting the community at large and to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude. I am also delighted to announce that we will be funding the purchase of a fourth motor cycle, thus ensuring that the two Blood Bike charities covering the County of Cumbria, have both received two new bikes funded by members.'

The guests then gathered outside where the motorcycle received a blessing by Provincial Grand Chaplain Rev. Robert Friedrich Roeschlaub. The official presentation of the motorcycle was then carried out by Norman Thompson who handed over the keys to the Chairman of the North West Blood Bikes, Paul Brooks. One further presentation was made when Karen Carton, Assistant Area Manager - Central, presented Pat Curwen with a candle in memory of Russell, which had come all the way from the West Coast of Ireland, having been commissioned by the Blood Bikers fraternity. 

Although Russell was not a mason himself, he was very much liked and loved by all who knew him and this presentation was a very poignant occasion, whilst at the same time recognising his commitment to the Blood Bikes charity as a volunteer rider.

This was the third motorcycle presented to the Blood Bikes charities by the Freemasons of the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland, which cost in excess of £18,000. The first was presented in 2017 to the Blood Bikes Cumbria in the north of the county as part of their Tercentenary celebrations. The second was presented in May 2018 to the North West Blood Bikes Lancs and Lakes at an annual meeting in Carlisle, just a few days after the tragic death of Russell.

In a letter of thanks to the Provincial Grand Master, Simon Hanson Fleet Manager and Volunteer Rider for the North West Blood Bikes, said: 'Your hospitality was second to none with an array of distinguished guests which meant the night was even more special and one that the family has been able to take comfort from at this difficult time. 

'On behalf of the complete charity, I would again like to thank you for this superb donation and I can assure you it will make a tangible difference to the operation of our charity and enable us to provide the best support possible to the NHS and the 'local community' in South Cumbria who are the eventual recipients of our service.'

A group of intrepid Freemasons in the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland, supported by their family as well as their dogs, completed the Annual 'Cross Bay Walk', to raise money for the charity Northwest Blood Bikes

45 people signed up for the event, which was organised by Freemason Peter Caunce and his wife Debi. On an exceptionally hot and humid day on 8th July 2018, everyone completed the world famous trek across Morecambe Bay, led by The Queen's Guide to the Sands – the royally appointed guide to crossing the sands of Morecambe Bay – Cedric Robinson MBE. 

Leading from the front and one of the first to finish was the Provincial Grand Master Norman Thompson, who afterwards said: 'That was one of the toughest walks across the Bay I've done, but it's been very worthwhile, especially in the knowledge that the Blood Bikes charity will benefit.'

This is the sixth year that Peter and Debi have organised the walk for the Province, helping them to raise in excess of £12,000 during that period for various local charities.

This year over £1,500 has been pledged so far for Northwest Blood Bikes, which may be used towards purchasing a motorcycle.

Westmorland Youth Orchestra has received £1,000 from the Province of Cumberland & Westmorland

The cheque was presented to director of music Fredrik Holm by Provincial Grand Master Norman Thompson at a concert at Queen Elizabeth School in Kirkby Lonsdale.

The hall was full to hear the 60 gifted young musicians. Classical and contemporary pieces performed ranged from ‘Danse Macabre’ by Saint-Saëns to ‘Viva la Vida’ by Coldplay and George Gershwin’s ‘An American in Paris’.

Norman said the cheque was the first of five annual £1,000 gifts to help the orchestra’s players reach their fullest potential.

Cumberland and Westmorland Freemasons have donated a grant of £8,000 to help victims of the recent flooding in Millom and Haverigg

Heavy rain in these areas last weekend resulted in an estimated 300 homes being flooded. Many of these properties have no insurance, as a result of being flooded on previous occasions.

The Provincial Grand Master of Cumberland and Westmorland, RW Bro Norman Thompson DL, announced the grant during a meeting with the Mayor of Millom, Councillor Angela Dixon.

Of the £8,000 grant, £5,000 comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, with remaining £3,000 coming directly from Provincial funds.

Councillor Angela Dixon, Mayor of Millom, said: 'I’m very grateful to Cumberland and Westmorland Freemasons for their generous grant. The recent flooding in Millom and Haverigg hit us very hard and we need all the help we can get to get back on our feet.'

RW Bro Norman Thompson DL said: 'Having your home flooded is a terrible blow for anyone. In this case it’s even worse as these are homes that have flooded before and for which insurance was often unobtainable.

'I am pleased that we can offer a little help to our neighbours in Millom when they need it.'

As part of their Tercentenary celebrations, Cumberland and Westmorland Freemasons have donated a brand new fully equipped and liveried motorcycle to Blood Bikes Cumbria to support them in their vital work across Cumbrian communities

The bike carries the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland’s provincial emblem and the square and compasses symbol.

Since May 2014, Blood Bikes Cumbria have provided an out of hours, 365 days a year transport service for urgently needed blood, drugs, human tissue and other medical requirements between hospitals, medical centres and blood banks across Cumbria. The Great North Air Ambulance Service also receives supplies daily to keep their helicopters stocked.

Blood Bikes Cumbria is run entirely by volunteers, the drivers all undergo specialist advanced training to operate the bikes under ‘blue light’ conditions. There is also a specialist team of volunteer dispatchers who take calls and co-ordinate the deliveries.

At a special presentation evening in Kendal, the motorcycle was handed over to a team of drivers from Blood Bikes Cumbria by Past Pro Grand Master The Marquess of Northampton and Provincial Grand Master, Rt W Bro Norman James Thompson DL.

W Bro Thompson said: ‘The Freemasons of Cumberland and Westmorland are delighted to be able to support this relatively new charity who do vital work for our Cumbrian communities, often behind the scenes.

‘Our brethren and families will be pleased to see this motorcycle put to good work for the benefit of all who need emergency medical supplies in the county.’

Brethren from Whitwell Lodge No. 1390 held a memorial service for Freemason Bro Tom Fletcher Mayson VC on 31st July 2017 – 100 years to the day that he was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC)

The service was given by the Provincial Grand Chaplin for Cumberland and Westmorland and was attended by their Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Norman Thompson DL, members of Whitwell Lodge No. 1390, Huddleston Lodge No. 6041 and Bro Mayson’s family.

Bro Mayson was initiated into Whitwell Lodge No. 1390 on 23 June 1943.

He was a 23 year-old Lance-Sergeant in 1/4th Battalion, The King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) when his actions on 31 July 1917 led him to being awarded the Victoria Cross.

His citation is as follows: 'For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when with the leading wave of the attack his platoon was held up by machine gun fire from a flank.

'Without waiting for orders, L/Sjt. Mayson at once made for the gun, which he put out of action with bombs, wounding four of the team. The remaining three of the team fled, pursued by L/Sjt. Mayson to a dugout into which he followed them, and disposed of them with his bayonet.

'Later, when clearing up a strong point, this non-commissioned officer again tackled a machine gun single-handed, killing six of the team.

'Finally, during an enemy counter-attack, he took charge of an isolated post, and successfully held it till ordered to withdraw as his ammunition was exhausted. He displayed throughout the most remarkable valour and initiative.'

After the war, Bro Mayson worked at Sellafield Power Station and died aged 64 in Barrow-in-Furness in Lancashire on the 21st February 1958. His Victoria Cross medal is currently displayed at the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum in Lancashire.

The United Grand Lodge of England paid tribute to 64 English Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross in World War I earlier this year, including Bro Mayson, by unveiling a set of commemorative paving stones outside Freemasons’ Hall.

Thursday, 22 June 2017 16:00

Sun shines on the Morecambe Bay walkers

The beneficiary of this years sponsored ‘Cross Bay Walk’ was, not surprisingly, the West Lancashire MCF 2021 Festival

What was surprising though, was that the event was blessed with one of those very rare gifts that is sometimes granted by the fickle British climate, a hot summers day! West Lancashire Freemasons, partners, family members, friends and an assortment of four legged, tail wagging companions assembled on the promenade at Arnside in preparation for the ‘crossing of the sands’.

The Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison was there to ‘wave the walkers off on their way’, being unable to join them himself due to another charity event commitment later in the day. However, the group were not destined to be without top level Masonic leadership, as the PrGM for the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland Norman Thompson was accompanying the group, along with many brethren from his own area. Providing the essential guidance on this perilous trek was the man who undoubtedly understands the quixotic nature of the sands of Morecambe Bay better than anyone - Cedric Robinson MBE is the official ‘Queen’s Guide to the Sands’, a post which he has held since 1963.

He is the 25th guide, the first was appointed in 1548 and the guide is paid a nominal salary but the holder of the post also has the use of the 700-year-old Guide’s Cottage at Kents Bank, which is owned by the Crown and managed by the Duchy of Lancaster. In the period between late spring and early autumn, many groups, sometimes up to 500 in number are guided at weekends by Cedric and his assistants across this ancient thoroughfare which was used in medieval times by the monks of Furness Abbey.

Almost all the groups undertaking these ‘passages’ are motivated by raising sponsorship for their efforts to benefit charitable causes. It was in the company of walkers supporting other diverse charities that the Masonic contingent left the promenade at Arnside to complete the initial stage of their journey along the coastal footpath to a point just past New Barns Bay where they were met by Cedric and his team.

From this point, many experienced ‘sand grown un’s’ will tell you that the objective, Kents Bank railway station on the far shore, looks deceptively close. However, wiser council will relate that you now have a steady two to three-hour trudge to endure as you ‘zigzag’ your way across the literally shifting sands and wade sometimes in waist high water through the estuary of the River Kent.

The vagaries of the quicksand pools, migrating channels and rapid and variable tide courses in Morecambe Bay are the very dangerous elements that make the guidance and knowledge of Cedric and his team such an essential ingredient for any group or individual venturing into this environment. Having safely navigated this challenging ‘marine Sahara’ of the Lancashire – Cumbria border under the relentless glare of the burning noonday sun, it was with a mixture of relief and sense of achievement that the walkers crossed the last few yards over the muddy saltmarshes at Kents Bank before they were able to seek rest and refreshment at the Abbot Hall Hotel.

It was here, in the shade and tranquillity of the hotel grounds that the weary but elated pilgrims were enabled to reflect on a memorable and safe passage of the sands and compare blisters. Phil Preston, Provincial Grand Charity Steward for the Province of West Lancashire, paid tribute to all who had taken part in the fund-raising endeavour and expressed particular thanks to John Wrennall who had organised and coordinated the event. The total raised will be announced a little later, once all the sponsorship money has been collected.

It is rare that a candidate has one of his ceremonies carried out by the Provincial Grand Master

But such was the case for Gary Wright of St John’s Lodge, No. 8660, which meets at Workington in the Province of Cumberland & Westmorland.

After being initiated in his mother lodge, he was passed in St Bega Lodge, No. 8796, in St Bees and raised in Huddleston Lodge, No. 6041, in Millom.

It was at Millom that Gary’s ceremony was carried out by PGM Norman Thompson, who also presented the candidate with a Tercentenary Jewel.

Wednesday, 08 March 2017 00:00

Grand Secretary's column - Spring 2017

From the Grand Secretary

By the time you receive this issue, our Tercentenary year will be well under way and our Rulers will have already attended overseas events in Denmark, Mumbai, India, and Zakynthos, Greece, at our unattached Star of the East Lodge, No. 880. His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent has also attended a church service at Canterbury Cathedral for the Provinces of East and West Kent, Sussex and Surrey. We now await the broadcast in April of the long-anticipated Sky TV documentary Inside The Freemasons.

It is an exciting year as we build towards our showpiece event at the end of October. So far, it is likely that we will welcome around 160 Grand Lodges from around the world to celebrate with us at the Royal Albert Hall and look forward to our next 300 years. We now need to build on our successes and use this year to show ourselves as the vibrant and relevant organisation which is Freemasonry.

Looking forward to the Tercentenary in this issue of Freemasonry Today, Keith Gilbert highlights the planning and organisation of celebratory events taking place across not just the UK but the entire world. As Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes notes in his Senior Insights column, these are exciting times, so we should celebrate in style by showing our pride in being Freemasons.

When it comes to showing the best in Freemasonry, Spinnaker Lodge in the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight is a shining beacon. We find out how its members are encouraging younger Freemasons into the Craft with a shared interest in all things sailing. The sixth specialist lodge in the Province to be consecrated in the past four years, Spinnaker will be visiting new marinas and hosting social events at sailing clubs to raise both its own profile and that of Freemasonry in 2017.

Best foot forward

In the north-west of England, we meet a 54-strong group of Freemasons, their families and friends who trekked across Morecambe Bay. Cumberland & Westmorland Provincial Grand Master Norman Thompson and his intrepid travellers not only raised money to help victims of the Cumbria floods, but also showed how Freemasonry is connecting with local communities. The team joined some 1,000 walkers at Arnside Promenade to brave the wet and puddled sands for a memorable day that is now an annual event in the Provincial calendar.

The opportunities for Freemasonry are not just in the face we show the world, but are also in our governance, our leadership, our retention and our management of masonic halls. The Chairman of the Improvement Delivery Group, David Wootton, reports on how he and his team are leading the implementation and delivery of our agreed strategy for Freemasonry to 2020. As David notes, there is much to do but also much to enjoy.

Willie Shackell
Grand Secretary

‘We need to use this year to show ourselves as vibrant and relevant’

Published in UGLE
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