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The Official Journal of the United Grand Lodge of England


Number 24 ~ Winter 2013


Number 24 ~ Winter 2013


How the Universities Scheme is introducing a new generation to the Craft




Support for the homeless, p34

United celebrations, p39

Improving digital access, p54





am delighted to report that the bicentenary celebrations of the Royal Arch in October were a major success. His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, in his capacity as First Grand Principal, announced that the donated and pledged amount to the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons had reached £2 million. The members were congratulated by His Royal Highness for this superb effort and the president of the College, Professor Norman Williams, was also present to add his profuse thanks. I believe this milestone event in the history of the Royal Arch has been a wonderful boost to the Order. At the beginning of the appeal I wrote that we were justly proud to be the major benefactor to the Royal College of Surgeons. The Royal Arch Masons Appeal will further help the College’s successful research fellowship scheme, which supports surgeons in undertaking a research project. The reality is that our contributions will help to save lives and improve the quality of life for us, our children and our grandchildren. Freemasonry maintains strong relationships across the medical profession. In this issue of

Freemasonry Today, we explore how the Masonic Samaritan Fund has been funding groundbreaking research into the genetics of MELAS syndrome, a devastating hereditary condition. And on a more personal note, we chart the life of Dr George Penn, a regimental captain, much-loved country doctor and committed lodge member who was educated at the Royal Masonic School for Boys. Elsewhere, we report on how Freemasonry and karate are coming together at the Shotokan Karate Lodge, with the humility and respect needed in Freemasonry equally at home in the dojo. David Williamson reflects on a career as an airline pilot and his role in driving the Universities Scheme as he approaches retirement from the position of Assistant Grand Master. And we find out how the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution is helping the older generation cross the digital divide by giving them access to online technology. I wish you and your family an enjoyable festive season as we look forward to 2014. Nigel Brown Grand Secretary


‘The reality is that our contributions will help to save lives and improve the quality of life for us, our children and our grandchildren.’




The Board of Grand Lodge Publications Ray Reed, Robin Furber, Graham Rudd


Publishing Director Nigel Brown Editorial Panel Karen Haigh, John Hamill, Susan Henderson, John Jackson, Siobhan McCarthy Editor Luke Turton


Published by August Media Ltd for The United Grand Lodge of England, Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ




Editorial Freemasonry Today, Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ editor@ugle.org.uk Advertising contact Square7 Media Ltd, 3 More London Riverside, London SE1 2RE Mark Toland 020 3283 4056 mark@square7media.co.uk Circulation 0844 879 4961 fmt@ugle.org.uk Masonic enquiries editor@ugle.org.uk www.ugle.org.uk 020 7831 9811 Printed by Artisan Press © Grand Lodge Publications Ltd 2013. The opinions herein are those of the authors or persons interviewed only and do not reflect the views of Grand Lodge Publications Ltd, the United Grand Lodge of England or August Media Ltd.







Andrew Gimson finds out how the MSF is helping to fund groundbreaking research into muscular dystrophy, for which there is currently no cure

Nigel Brown welcomes you to the winter issue

NEWS AND VIEWS The latest masonic news from around the country








Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes visits masonic lodges as far-reaching as Zimbabwe and considers the pressing topic of Freemasonry recruitment

THE NEXT GENERATION In the past few years, Leicester's Wyggeston Lodge has initiated twelve university students. Sophie Radice finds out why Freemasonry appeals to this younger set


Cover image: Laurie Fletcher This page: Paul Calver, Helen Friel, Chris O’Donovan/ Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, Matt Thomas, Laurie Fletcher, Greg Funnell


The Lilies are the ‘Ladies of Internet Lodge’, a group that is using the web to forge lifelong friendships. Jaqui Porter explains the masonic connection


In RMBI care homes across England and Wales, residents are becoming increasingly comfortable with surfing the web. Tabby Kinder finds out why


David Williamson looks back at his career as an airline pilot, his instrumental role driving the Universities Scheme and thirteen years as Assistant Grand Master

Reflecting on the life of Dr George Penn, from his days as a student at the Royal Masonic School for Boys, to his time as a revered doctor and dedicated lodge member




Tabby Kinder finds out how The Freemasons’ Grand Charity is helping leading charity Centrepoint to offer shelter and a new future to the young and homeless This magazine is printed on paper produced from sustainable managed forests accredited by the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes, pefc.org)




John Hamill looks at the dramatic events that preceded the union of the Antients Grand Lodge and the premier Grand Lodge two hundred years ago

MEET THE MASTERS Caitlin Davies profiles Shotokan Karate Lodge, where martial arts meets masonry



How Freemasons are helping out around the UK


A look at what the Sussex Plate silver candelabrum reveals about the union of the Grand Lodges in 1813



Your opinions on the world of Freemasonry




John Hamill breaks down two masonic myths that came into being after World War II



You can now keep up to date with all the latest news from around the country on our Twitter and Facebook pages @freemasonry2day @ugle_grandlodge @grandchapter FreemasonryToday UnitedGrandLodgeofEngland SupremeGrandChapter

CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL CELEBRATES ROYAL ARCH MILESTONE The nave of Canterbury Cathedral welcomed around 1,000 masons, their families and friends for a service to celebrate the bicentenary of Royal Arch Masonry On Saturday 21 September, a unique event was held at Canterbury Cathedral that not only marked a special milestone in masonic history but also demonstrated a great affinity between Freemasonry and the cathedral’s stonemasons. Freemasonry has its roots in the lodges of medieval stonemasons and to this day supports the training of apprentice stonemasons at the cathedral. The occasion was a combined celebration for the Provinces of East Kent, West Kent, Sussex and Surrey, each led by their respective Grand Superintendents, Geoffrey Dearing, Jonathan Winpenny, Kenneth Thomas and Eric Stuart-Bamford. The significance of the event was acknowledged by the presence of the Second and Third Grand Principals, George Francis and David Williamson, respectively. Russell Race, the Metropolitan Grand Superintendent, and David Boswell, the Grand Superintendent of Suffolk, were also in attendance, as was the Sheriff of Canterbury, Cllr Ann Taylor, who represented the city and people of Canterbury. The Archdeacon of Canterbury, the Venerable Sheila Watson, conducted the service, with the grand setting and the superb King’s School Crypt Choir adding to the memorable ambience. The Archdeacon referred to the long connection between the cathedral and Freemasons, in particular the gifts of the Chapter House east window and the Coronation window. She paid tribute to the masonic principles of unity, fellowship and service to the community, and spoke of ‘service beyond ourselves’, a virtue embraced by the Church and Freemasonry alike.


The service was held in the magnificent surroundings of Canterbury Cathedral

NEWS AND VIEWS VITRUVIAN’S 200TH BIRTHDAY MARKED Bicentenary celebrations have been held for Vitruvian Lodge, No. 338, of Ross-onWye, Herefordshire. The original 1813 minute book and by-laws still exist, but records indicate that an earlier, short-lived lodge was active in the area from 1764 to 1783. At the celebrations, Provincial Grand Master the Rev David Bowen dedicated and presented a new banner to the lodge. To commemorate the anniversary, the lodge has donated more than £16,000 to local charities, to assist young people in particular.


GRAND MASTER OPENS REFURBISHED RMBI HOME The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, has opened the RMBI’s fully refurbished, state-of-the-art care home at James Terry Court in Croydon. Also at the ceremony were the Mayor, Cllr Yvette Hopley, residents of the home, and guests and volunteers from the masonic community. The Duke toured the home, joined by Surrey Provincial Grand Master Eric Stuart-Bamford and Deputy PGM Derek Barr. Also present were RMBI President James Newman, former President Willie Shackell, who presided during the rebuild, and Chief Executive David Innes. Following the £10 million refurbishment, James Terry Court can now house 76 residents and has 13 apartments for independent living. Surrey masons have generously supported the redevelopment: Springfield Lodge, No. 6052, donated £75,000; a local ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign raised more than £25,000; and The Grand Stewards’ Lodge donated £20,000. The Association of Friends of James Terry Court also provides substantial support each year.

Kidderminster masons have built their new lodge rooms attached to the Chester Road Sports and Social Club. The arrangement is proving a success, with goodwill and mutual support that sees the cricketers busy in summer and the masons fully occupied in winter. Strengthening this relationship, Robert Vaughan, Worcestershire Provincial Grand Master (shown above, left, with club chairman Norman Broadfield), presented a cheque for £3,000 towards a new electronic cricket scoreboard.

FLYING THE FLAG IN THE SOLENT It was a fair wind for the four-day sailing extravaganza of North Harrow Lodge, No. 6557, which has taken place around the Isle of Wight after the chartering of Reunion, a 46-foot Bavaria class yacht. The crew who sailed around the Solent comprised seven members of North Harrow Lodge and one member of Gradation Lodge, No. 6368, from London. The boat hoisted two flags: the Household Division ensign (one of the crew is a former Guardsman) and the newly obtained and designed Middlesex Provincial flag. Special thanks went to skipper Vaughan Coleridge-Matthews for getting the crew back to port safely, and to Ian Ferguson for designing and sourcing the Middlesex Provincial flag.


Crew members display the Middlesex Provincial flag



ARCTIC CONVOY VETERAN HONOURED The first Arctic convoy from the UK to Russia, carrying Hurricane aircraft, took place in August 1941


MIDDLESEX SUPPORT FOR FOOD BANK There has been a growth in food banks being set up around the country to aid those in most need during the economic downturn. Conscious of this trend, members of Spelthorne Lodge, No. 4516, and Staines Lodge, No. 2536, in Middlesex met representatives of Manna – the local food bank – and presented them with a cheque for £1,000. Manna thanked both lodges for their generosity and explained how they provided food parcels to those in need living in the borough of Spelthorne.

At the annual convocation of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, Grand Superintendent Wayne Williams had a surprise for the eldest companion present. Frederick (Vic) Bashford, 92, was presented with a Certificate of Meritorious Service for many years of unstinting dedication to the Holy Royal Arch. Vic is one of the few surviving WWII veterans awarded the Arctic Star medal. An RAF electrical fitter, he was involved in Force Benedict, a secret mission to protect the Russian naval base of Murmansk.


Dressing up Regency-style


The Royal Masonic School for Girls held a Regency day in honour of Chevalier Ruspini, the founder of the school and the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB). The organisations date back to 1788, when Ruspini established a small orphanage school in London, supporting just 15 girls. Today, his legacy continues with a flourishing independent school and a national masonic charity, which last year supported more than 12,000 children and young people. The 225th anniversary celebrations saw staff and pupils dress up in Regency-style clothing, enjoy an 18th-century lunch menu and take part in period activities. RMTGB staff joined in the festivities. To find out more about the work of the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, turn to page 68



HELP FOR BEREAVED CHILDREN Winston’s Wish, a leading childhood bereavement charity, has received a grant of £25,000 from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. The grant will assist the national suicide programme, which provides specialist support for children and families affected by a suicide, through one-to-one counselling, support groups, telephone and email contacts, and residential weekends. Catherine Ind, Winston’s Wish acting chief executive, said: ‘This generous grant will help us reach children who desperately need our support this year.’

LODGE GENEROSITY LAUNCHES LIFEBOAT An inshore lifeboat is now patrolling off Littlehampton in West Sussex, made possible by the fundraising activities of Mandalay Lodge, No. 9383, which meets in Bromley in West Kent. In just 18 months, the lodge raised £9,500 for the Arancia boat and trailer. Called Mandalay in honour of the lodge, the boat was officially named by Rene Jeffs in memory of her late husband, Eric, who was a member of the lodge.

The fundraising was led by Jeff Baylie, who commented: ‘This has been a wonderful effort. The outboard boat, which has a brass plaque proudly bearing our name, can have a two- or three-man crew.’ Lifeboat manager Rory Smith said: ‘The inshore rescue boat is the workhorse of the lifeguard fleet. Thanks to your generous donations, the boat will help the RNLI continue in its mission to save lives at sea.’


Rene Jeffs names the boat watched by lodge members and supporters


The Kingsbridge Show in Devon was a focal point for the provincial recruitment display sponsored by Lord Roborough Lodge, No. 5789, and Duncombe Lodge, No. 1486. It was at this show last year that John Pritchard first met Larry Lewis, a former US marine who had moved to the area with his family. Larry was initiated into Duncombe Lodge this year and helped to man the stand. There was a warm welcome from show chairman John Woodley and show president Pat Brooks, who thanked Devon masons for all they do for local charities and for attending the event again.



Shown (l to r): Federation Chairman Nigel Malden, Digby Woods, Cllr Viv Wilder, APGM Harry Cox and North Fylde Group chairman Duncan Smith

It was horses for courses when Cambridgeshire masons attended a banquet to mark the bicentenary of the Holy Royal Arch in the Millennium Suite overlooking the Rowley Mile at Newmarket racecourse. The climax of the evening was when Grand Superintendent Rodney Wolverson presented a £40,000 cheque to Helen Fernandes, consultant neurosurgeon at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, representing the Royal College of Surgeons. Fernandes talked of the work of the Royal College of Surgeons, specifically the support for the young surgeons with ideas for research that had the potential to lead to major advances in medicine. She expressed her delight and thanks for the magnificent sum raised by Cambridgeshire Royal Arch Masons.

SCHOOLS LODGES MEET BY THE SEASIDE St Anne’s-on-the-Sea hosted this year’s annual Festival of the Federation of School Lodges, arranged by South Shore Lodge, No. 4672. Province of West Lancashire Assistant Provincial Grand Master Harry Cox was joined by the Mayor, Cllr Viv Wilder, and John Topping, acting head teacher of Blackpool Collegiate High School, who received a donation of books from Federation Past President Digby Woods. The Federation comprises 173 lodges and chapters, including one in Ghana. It was founded with the aim of providing an easy way for lodges associated with schools and universities to connect, and to promote an annual festival where members can meet together.

EXPLORING SUNDERLAND’S MASONIC HISTORY Grand Superintendent Simon Rowe, his wife Lin, and winners Angela and John Smerdon


HARTLEPOOL CYCLES FOR CHARITY Six members of a Hartlepool lodge in the Province of Durham have cycled in a 60-mile round trip and raised more than £2,200 for masonic and local charities. Ian Burton, Laurie Leck, Martin Green, Paul Pearson, Ian Lister and Steve Legg from Heortnesse Lodge, No. 4639, with Kevin Godfrey in the support vehicle, set out from the masonic hall in Raby Street, Hartlepool (pictured above) to cycle to Raby Castle and back. The money raised will go to Hartlepool & District Hospice, South Cleveland Heart Fund and various Durham masonic charities.


SUPREME SUPPORT FOR 2013 APPEAL Devonshire Provincial Grand Chapter members attended an annual summer dinner in Dawlish, featuring a raffle in aid of the 2013 Supreme Grand Chapter Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons. The top prize was a huge bear dressed in Royal Arch regalia, with three other main prizes of silver jewels from the Order dating from the early 1900s. The event raised £2,500.

Sunderland Heritage Quarter is one of the first groups in the UK to receive a Sharing Heritage grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Heritage Quarter’s Georgian Treasures of Sunderland project, taking place in the city’s East End, has received £10,000 to explore the story of 18th-century Freemasonry in the area and its contribution to the city. A programme of events will allow people to visit Freemasons’ Hall at Queen Street East (below) – the city’s oldest non-religious building and the world’s oldest purpose-built masonic meeting place in continuous use. There will be history surgeries and an exploration of the building’s masonic archives, which stretch back almost 300 years.



The Royal Arch Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight has taken an innovative approach to its fundraising for the Bicentenary Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons Research Fellowship. The Province invited chapters to nominate an individual who has undergone major surgery, showing exceptional fortitude and bravery, to qualify for a Badge of Courage Award (BOCA). Chapters were invited to sponsor individuals by pledging a donation of £1,000, of which £500 would be donated to the appeal with the £500 balance going to a non-masonic charity nominated by the award recipient. A gala BOCA ball was held at HMS Collingwood in Gosport, at which Grand Superintendent Alan Berman presented Second Grand Principal George Francis (pictured left) with a cheque for £80,000 for the appeal. Eight donations of £500 each were also made to the charities nominated by the BOCA winners.

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Tony Dyckes tends the garden at High Wycombe station

ON THE RIGHT TRACK AT HIGH WYCOMBE Bucks masons have created an oasis of peace outside a transport hub with a £4,000 garden funded as part of the Freemasonry in the Community scheme. Members of the 21 lodges and nine chapters who meet in Beaconsfield are contributing to the plot outside High Wycombe railway station. A team of green-fingered masons will tend the garden in the future. They include Tony Dyckes, Master of Hall Barn Lodge, No. 8480, in Beaconsfield. He said: ‘The aim was to create a garden which emphasised Freemasonry’s core aims of friendship, decency and charity.’ High Wycombe station manager Rob Munday added: ‘It has made a real difference to the station approach – the garden is now so appealing that even bumble bees want to live there!’

CORNWALL DIGS DEEP FOR SAMARITAN FUND There has been a magnificent effort by the Province of Cornwall in raising £1,876,879 in its Festival on behalf of the Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF). Provincial Grand Master Peter George commented, ‘This amount greatly exceeded the target I set when I became Provincial Grand Master, and


STEP CHANGE FOR CHELSEA Hertfordshire Freemasons have helped put a smile on the face of 10-year-old Chelsea, from Hatfield, who was born with cerebral palsy and has limited movement. Her grandfather had raised enough money to buy a frame to enable her to learn to walk, but despite the aid for her legs, Chelsea was unable to control the position of her head and upper body, making it awkward and painful to move. Specialist charity DEMAND sought help from Hertfordshire masons, whose £1,000 donation enabled a bespoke head rest and shoulder brace to feature in the frame’s design, meaning Chelsea is now able to walk more easily.

demonstrated yet again that one of the core principles of our Order is very much alive within our membership.’ The guest of honour at the Atlantic Hotel, Newquay, was Assistant Grand Master David Williamson. To find out more about the work of the MSF, turn to page 66

Chelsea and her walking frame

Two lodges have celebrated 40 years of fraternal visits – Mercurius Lodge, No. 7507, in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and Saint Kew Lodge, No. 1222, in Weston-superMare, Somerset. Visits between the lodges began when Tony Hiram, then of Cheltenham, was initiated into Mercurius before retiring to Weston-super-Mare and joining Saint Kew. They took place until 1973, when the fraternal visits began. At the 40th anniversary, Saint Kew was presented with an inscribed statuette of Mercury, winged messenger of the gods.

HISTORIC OPEN DAY AT BERWICK St David’s Lodge, No. 393, of Berwickupon-Tweed, Northumberland, has had its best ever open day, with 165 people visiting the hall. The event was full of surprises as certificates, medals and other masonic artefacts were brought into the lodge by the public. Ian Fair (pictured) saw the name of his great, great grandfather Robert appear twice on the Past Masters board, having been in the chair in 1865 and 1868. Thanks go to Lady Zoreen Hill, the Berwick Civic Society and Jim Herbert of Berwick Time Lines.



Gareth with his father Bill

The North Wales Masonic Benevolent Fund has helped Gareth Pritchard, 31, of Gwynedd, with a grant for a powered wheelchair and ramps. Gareth, whose father Bill is a member of Beaumaris Lodge, No. 5347, suffered a severe brain haemorrhage in February 2010. After 10 months in hospital, he made a slow recovery but remained considerably disabled. The local health board was unable to provide a motorised wheelchair and Gareth could not propel himself in a manual chair. The new powered chair has made a huge difference to Gareth and his wife, with increased independence and improved quality of life.


Widow Rachael Phillips with (l to r) Kow Abaka Quansah, the Most Rev Prof Emmanuel Asante and Rev Prof Samuel Kwasi Adjepong

Working with the District Grand Lodge of Ghana (English Constitution), the Phillips family has presented GH¢20,000 to the Methodist University College Ghana to create a Chair in mathematics. It will be known as the JVL Phillips Chair of Mathematics, after the former District Grand Master of Ghana. Presenting the cheque at the university campus in Dansoman, Accra, District Grand Master Kow Abaka Quansah said the doctor had served Freemasonry by establishing masonic charities such as the Samaritan Fund to cater for the poor and needy in society. ‘The late Dr James Villers Legge Phillips, affectionately known as “Uncle Jimmy”, was an icon who was eminently admired and respected.’

LEAVING OLD SESSIONS FOR PASTURES NEW London masons are vacating their 18th-century Clerkenwell home at the Old Sessions House and moving to another local site. Four years ago, when the current Board of the London Masonic Centre became responsible for the Old Sessions House, it made an early decision that the cost of maintaining and running the 250-year-old Grade II*-listed building was too great. After much discussion it was agreed to sell the Old Sessions House and acquire a new centre nearby. In a statement, the Board said: ‘Such a new venue, to be called the Clerkenwell Centre, would be, and will be, the most


A VOLUNTEER WITH CALIBRE Over 50 years, Richard Simpson has volunteered 4,500 hours to record 150 books for the national charity Calibre Audio Library. Calibre provides audio books for people unable to read due to sight loss, dyslexia or physical disability. A member of Lumley Lodge, No. 1893, Province of Lincolnshire, Richard is an actor whose appearances include being on Broadway with the Royal Shakespeare Company. In recognition of his contribution, Richard received a Silver Centurion accolade from the 1992 Whitbread Children’s Novel winner, Gillian Cross, at a special party. Christine Ronaldson, head of literature and audio book production at Calibre, said, ‘We were given the wonderful news that Calibre was one of only 60 charities to receive the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award. This is a fabulous recognition of all the time our readers, book reviewers and audio book checkers give to our charity.’

Masons are vacating the Old Sessions House

modern centre in the country.’ Not only is it designed for masonic use, but is also capable of attracting commercial business, which will be of long-term advantage to the lodges, chapters and other masonic units. ‘The Board’s planned aim is to make the Clerkenwell Centre the best value masonic venue in the London area.’

Shown (l to r): Richard Simpson, novelist Gillian Cross and Calibre Audio Library chairman Ian Yeoman




Davis, Trevor Sinclair and Simi Yiannakaris



Warwickshire Freemasons participated in an unusual and symbolic service when the foundation stone laid in 1937 in the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital was resited in the Faith Centre garden at the new University Hospital. It had originally been laid with full masonic ceremony by the then Provincial Grand Master, Col Sir William Wyley, a former Coventry Mayor and JP, and was recovered when the old hospital was knocked down. The stone was symbolically relaid by the present PGM, David Macey, accompanied by a procession of Warwickshire masons in full regalia. The PGM applied a silver trowel to the stone during his address, followed by a blessing from the Provincial Grand Chaplain. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the PGM presented a cheque for £1,000 for the Faith Centre and garden.

Members of Rokeby Lodge, No. 6301, who meet in Halifax, Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, gave a big helping hand to local musicians by putting forward a request to the Provincial Grand Master’s Fund. As a result, Queensbury Scout Band and Revolution Show Corps found themselves £20,000 better off, and able to buy instruments as well as transport, so they can get their equipment to competitions. Oliver Richardson, band director, expressed his ‘sincere thanks’ to the Freemasons.

PGM David Macey applies the silver trowel


FUN AND GAMES AT CADOGAN COURT Elderly masons and their dependants residing at RMBI care home Cadogan Court in Exeter were joined by Exeter University staff for a 1950s themed fun day. Every year, the university looks for local community projects that may benefit from support, and university staff then volunteer their time for a Community Challenge day. Exeter University has teamed up with Cadogan Court in the past to help with gardening and DIY tasks, so the home was delighted to be the focus for its Community Challenge. The 1950s theme was ‘games from years gone by’, and included activities such as Hoopla, Hooka-Duck and Roll-a-Penny. The day was filled with classic 1950s songs and memorabilia. Local mason John Hooper from Lodge of Semper Fidelis, No. 529, Worcester, brought in his 1951 Ford Pilot, while residents, relatives and staff dressed up in their best 1950s garb to compete for the ‘best dressed’ prize.

APGM John Gledhill (left) is seen with Master Neill Smith, Secretary Andy Brown and band members


David King at the wheel of his cab with Spencer

This year’s annual trip to Disneyland Paris organised by the Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers saw more than 100 London cabs leave Canary Wharf. This was the 20th time the livery company has taken sick and terminally ill children, together with their siblings and a parent, on the magical trip. It is also the sixth year that Amicus Lodge, No. 3772, has sponsored a cab. Master David King and lodge members Spencer Davis, Trevor Sinclair and Simi Yiannakaris drove sponsored taxis, while Alan Garner was a member of the organising committee. Some £1,250 in sponsorship per taxi is required and sponsors for other cabs include many lodges, livery companies, businesses and organisations. Among the distinguished guests were Alderman Roger Gifford, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Sir David Howard and Graham Woodhouse, Master of the livery company. In the initiative’s 20 years, almost 4,000 children have travelled in the convoy.


From left to right: HRH The Duke of Kent with Professor Norman Williams and Anthony West, Chairman of the Grand Lodge 250th Anniversary Fund



HRH The Duke of Kent reflects on the bicentenary of the Royal Arch as it raises more than £2 million for the Royal College of Surgeons


his October we marked a major milestone in the distinguished history of the Holy Royal Arch. While celebrating this landmark I particularly wish to mention the success of the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons. I am impressed to hear of the tremendous support the companions have given to the appeal. In my speech at the Supreme Grand Chapter meeting in April this year I mentioned that the appeal would remain open until the end of the year. However, I am pleased to announce that the amount donated and pledged so far is £2 million. This exceeds expectations and I congratulate you. I also know that the College president, Professor Norman Williams, is extremely grateful to companions for helping to fund the College’s successful Research Fellowship scheme at the same time as maintaining their clinical leadership. To mark this special celebration I intend to make additional first appointments to past Grand Rank on the scale of one for every Province or District. It is my hope that Grand Superintendents, upon whom I shall rely for advice in the selection of suitable companions, will ensure that so far as is possible the companions so honoured will be those who have carried out significant work for the Royal Arch Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons or have made a significant contribution in some other way to this year’s celebrations. I know we all wish the Order continued success for the next two hundred years!

The First Grand Principal, HRH The Duke of Kent presided over the Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter on 16 October 2013 in the Grand Temple to mark the bicentenary of the formal recognition of the Holy Royal Arch as part of pure ancient masonry. With lunch held at the Grand Connaught Rooms, the day included a Convocation of Metropolitan Grand Stewards Chapter, No. 9812, in which a demonstration of the Ceremony of Exaltation using the changes authorised in 2004 was given.




STRONG CONSTITUTION Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes explains how UGLE has been supporting Districts across the world and looks closer to home at the recommendations of the Universities Scheme Committee

‘We are united in recognising the importance of recruiting and retaining younger Freemasons.’




ne of my pleasurable duties is, along with the other Rulers, visiting our Districts. In June I was in Trinidad and Tobago and, more recently, I visited Zimbabwe to install our new District Grand Master. We were given a very warm welcome and I was somewhat surprised that the last visit there from Grand Lodge was in 1989. I was even more surprised to find that two of our lodges are in Malawi, where seventy members ensure masonry thrives. Apart from meeting many of the local brethren and their wives, we were driven to a school in a township seventeen miles west of Harare, where we were entertained by some very moving African dancing and singing. The education support programme that started here in 1992 now has four hundred and seven orphaned children. A trust fund has been set up for these children to provide school fees, books, uniforms, a daily hot meal, healthcare and sports activities. It was most impressive and exactly the type of charity the District should support. On a different theme, following the presentation at the Quarterly Communication last year on assuring the future of Freemasonry, I challenged the Universities Scheme Committee to consider how the principles expressed in the address could be implemented across the whole Craft. I have now had first sight of their report, which covers a series of recommendations and examples of good practice from lodges around the English Constitution. This is an excellent document and I will be discussing the proposals through the Provinces and Districts to lodge level. Brethren, how often do we hear that changes and progress in masonry take an eternity? This report has been put together with admirable speed and it is incumbent on the Rulers to ensure that there is no delay in passing them on. We are united in recognising the importance of recruiting and retaining younger Freemasons and these recommendations will give a better chance of strengthening all lodges, however successful, while not alienating established brethren.


THE FIRST DEGREES Through the Universities Scheme, Freemasonry is reaching a young, community-minded generation. Sophie Radice finds out what attracted five university recruits to Leicester’s Wyggeston Lodge



g freemasonrytoday.com



‘It’s very exciting to see the lodge filling up with the younger generation, all of whom seem to have great ideas about the future of the lodge.’ Dr Andy Green


niversity is a place that encourages self-expression and personal discovery. Surely not a time when you would consider joining Freemasonry, with all its traditions and structures? Dr Andy Green of Wyggeston Lodge, No. 3448, disagrees: ‘Freemasonry is a sociable and supportive fraternity. This works very well with those just starting out on their adult lives and looking to meet a range of people with a solid moral code – it’s also a lot of fun.’ The first university lodge, Apollo University Lodge, No. 357, was founded at Oxford almost two hundred years ago, with Isaac Newton University Lodge, No. 859, following some years later at Cambridge. Since then, many thousands of young men have been introduced to Freemasonry through these two lodges, and they provided the inspiration for the Universities Scheme. Set up in 2005, the scheme establishes opportunities for undergraduates and other university members to learn about Freemasonry and to bring fresh minds and ideas into the organisation. There are now more than fifty lodges pursuing a similar course. Their membership consists of undergraduates, postgraduates, senior members of the university and alumni, ranging in age from eighteen upwards. Wyggeston Lodge in Leicester joined the Universities Scheme in 2011 to try to revive membership numbers – in the 1950s the lodge had one hundred and twenty members and in 2010 it had dwindled to thirty-two. In the past few years, however, the lodge has initiated twelve students. Last summer, four students from the University of Leicester were part of a special meeting of the lodge, when it carried out its first ever quadruple initiation ceremony. This saw Valentin-George Tartacuta, Yusif Nelson, Peter Clarke and Peter Shandley joining the Craft. ‘It’s very exciting to see the lodge filling up with the younger generation, all of whom seem to have great ideas about the future of the lodge and what might make Freemasonry more attractive to their age group,’ says Andy, Universities Scheme Subcommitee Chairman at Wyggeston. ‘We have already made good use of social networking sites – we have a strong Facebook and Twitter presence, as well as a website with film clips of our new members talking about why they joined, and a blog. I realised that it was essential to be able to contact and attract young members through these forums. It has made the lodge communications more dynamic, because we have all had to up our game in a way.’

Provincial Assistant Grand Master Peter Kinder, who is also the Provincial Universities Scheme Liaison Officer, says: ‘We are very lucky in this area with potential next-generation Freemasons because we have three very good universities – Loughborough (with the Lodge of Science & Art), De Montfort (with Castle of Leicester Lodge) and Leicester itself. When we first went to the University of Leicester freshers’ fair three years ago, we were really surprised at the interest. So many people wanted to talk to us and asked us to explain what we were doing there. We spoke about the history of Freemasonry and if they seemed interested, we suggested that they came and had a tour of the lodge.’ Peter recalls how, at the end of the freshers’ day, the floor was filled with flyers. ‘But you couldn’t see any of the Freemasonry ones chucked away. I suppose we were a little bit more unusual than the pizza and taxi firms. We gave out seven hundred leaflets that first year and one thousand this year. We seem to be going from strength to strength.’

LEARNING THE ROPES Peter Clarke is in his third year studying history and knew very little about the Freemasons when he came across the stand at the freshers’ fair. ‘It took me a year to think about it and by the time my second freshers’ came up, I had done a bit of research and found out about the history of the Freemasons. I thought it would be something a bit different to join and take me out of my normal social circles. I like the feeling of being part of something bigger and, as a history student, I was fascinated by tracing back the roots of Freemasonry.’ Business and finance student Jeff Zhu also came across Freemasonry for the first time at a freshers’ fair. ‘It was my second year at university; I had just split up with my girlfriend and was feeling a bit down, so I went to the freshers’ day. I come from China and I have to say that I liked the historical look of the Freemasons’ stall, but I had never heard of them before. Many Chinese students just stick together but I really wanted the chance to branch out. I also like the values of integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness. It fits in with the way I want to live my life.’ Peter Shandley, who reads law and has just finished a year studying in Germany, was taken aback when he made his first visit to Wyggeston Lodge, which holds its meeting in Leicester’s Freemasons’ Hall – a Georgian building with

‘I like the feeling of being part of something bigger and, as a history student, I was fascinated by tracing back the roots of Freemasonry.’ Peter Clarke





From left to right: Peter Clarke, Andrew Slater, Jeff Zhu, Peter Shandley and Alex Pohl of Wyggeston Lodge, Leicester




From lecture halls to Freemasons’ Hall, a new generation is embracing the Craft

stunning interiors. ‘From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but when I came inside and saw the main hall I was really interested in the heritage. The hall was built in 1910, when this area was really booming from the textile trade, and is one of the most impressive in the country. I feel really privileged to have been initiated into this lodge because it is such a distinguished one. I have so enjoyed my experience here that I have brought someone else into the lodge. He was initiated in December.’ While initially surprised by the decision to join, friends of university lodge members have been receptive to hearing about the general ethos of Freemasonry. Andrew Slater, who is in his third year reading medical biochemistry, says that he was attracted by the international aspect of Freemasonry and the fact that ‘pretty much anywhere you end up in the world you could find a Freemasons’ lodge and be welcomed there’. He also goes to other lodges in the UK and enjoys being part of the events that they hold. ‘It’s a good feeling to know you have people who will welcome you everywhere.’

For Andrew, joining a brotherhood that brings him together with new people is important. ‘Andy Green is so great at promoting the values of decency, charity and brotherhood that it is hard not to be enthused by him. There is also the feeling that as well as having a great deal to teach us, the Freemasons here are very receptive to what we have to say about the way forward to keep membership alive. I have also become friends with students from different departments that I would never have met if I hadn’t become a Freemason.’ Alex Pohl is twenty-two and has enjoyed acting in the ceremonies. ‘I’m often nervous and things never go exactly to plan but it really helps with a sense of belonging and fraternity. I am really committed to the Freemasons – it is a lifetime thing – and I joined because I knew about the huge amount Freemasons do for charity. I also really like the modesty behind the charitable giving. It’s not something that the Freemasons make a big deal of but so much of what we are about is the desire to help others as much as we can. I really respect that, and I am excited about being a part of a new generation of Freemasons.’

‘As well as having a great deal to teach us, the Freemasons here are very receptive to what we have to say about the way forward to keep membership alive.’ Andrew Slater






AIRCRAFT CONTROL As he approaches retirement from the position of Assistant Grand Master, David Williamson reflects on a career as an airline pilot, becoming President of the Universities Scheme and why Freemasonry is not about a ‘blinding light’ g




David Williamson will retire from the position of Assistant Grand Master in 2014, having taken on the role in 2001

When did you become interested in flying? I’ve had a fascination with aeroplanes since I was a boy. I won a flying scholarship when I was seventeen and my first passenger was my wife – my girlfriend at the time. It was one of my biggest disappointments; there I was thinking she’d be impressed, but she hated every minute of it! I joined British Overseas Airways Corporation in 1968, and eventually became assistant flight training manager on the 737 at Heathrow. Later, I worked as assistant flight training manager on the 747-400 fleet until I retired in 1998. How did you come to Freemasonry? It was the early 1970s and I was approaching thirty. I knew that my father was a Freemason, but I had little idea what it was about. After my mother died I would go and spend time with him and it was then that he spoke to me about Freemasonry. He was Junior Warden and his lodge wanted him to become Master the next year. He asked me what I thought, so I asked him what was involved and whether he thought it was something that would interest me. He said it might. What attracted you to join? I did a lot of reading. There was no internet then but I found out that notable people such as Mozart had been Freemasons. It struck me that there was something special about Freemasonry. On the night I was going to be initiated I was excited because I felt there was going to be some kind of revelation. And it wasn’t like that at all. The night was amazing, the atmosphere incredible and I can’t remember if the ritual was good or bad. I read the Book of Constitutions I had been given later that night. In retrospect, I was a little disappointed, but it taught me a valuable lesson: Freemasonry is a journey – not a blinding light but a series of learning events.

‘Freemasonry has an appeal for young people... It has a set of values, it has structure and it combines many aspects of life that you don’t always get elsewhere.’

How did you become Assistant Grand Master? I became the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, both in the Craft and the Royal Arch in Middlesex, before becoming Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1998. In March 2001, Lord Northampton took over from Lord Farnham as Pro Grand Master. The chatter within Grand Lodge was about who the next Assistant Grand Master was going to be. I certainly didn’t think it would be me as I had been appointed to take over as Pro Provincial Grand Master of Middlesex, so it came as a bolt out of the blue. But I took on the role in March 2001. What was your first duty? London Freemasonry was not like it is now – it didn’t have a Metropolitan Grand Master




David Williamson began the Universities Scheme in 2005

‘We have learned to communicate at a different level... We’ve got to sell our message at a personal level and lead by example.’

and the Assistant Grand Master would carry out most of the ceremonial functions. But around the same time as I was appointed, there was a push for London to be self-governing, as it is now. Lord Northampton asked me to chair the committee to make this happen. It was a very exciting time.

they will have a positive view of Freemasonry that they can take out into the world, although of course we hope they will stay. While the goal of the scheme is to ‘attract undergraduates and other university members to join and enjoy Freemasonry’, we also want to keep them; retention is our biggest challenge.

What kicked off the Universities Scheme? Around nine years ago I visited Apollo University Lodge in Oxford. I had been extremely impressed; the members were very young and the ritual was excellent. I spoke about it to Lord Northampton, saying it was fantastic and that we should have lodges like this all around the country. He said, ‘Why don’t you do it?’ From that was born the Universities Scheme. I formed a committee with Oliver Lodge, now the Grand Director of Ceremonies, as Chairman and we used Apollo University Lodge and Isaac Newton University Lodge, Cambridge, as a pattern. We now have fifty-nine lodges.

What about recruiting masons from elsewhere? The principles of recruitment and retention in the scheme don’t just apply to universities. It’s about approaching membership in a different way. You’ve got to think about how things are different now from fifty years ago. The scheme is a good way of saying ‘if it works here, why can’t it work there?’ It certainly does not address the membership issue but it points to how things could be done elsewhere.

What do you feel appeals to young people? Freemasonry has an appeal for young people, which we’ve perhaps overlooked. It has a set of values, it has structure and it combines many aspects of life that you don’t always get elsewhere. The motivation for me is that these are bright people who are going to make their way in society with a knowledge of Freemasonry. Even if they were to leave, hopefully


Is Freemasonry changing? Rulers used to come from the nobility, with Provincial Grand Masters often local landowners, whom you might see once or twice a year. That has all changed. I am the first Assistant Grand Master for several years without a title and Peter Lowndes is the first ever Pro Grand Master not to have one. We have learned to communicate at a different level. You can stand on a stage or you can stand on the floor and we appreciate that we need to put ourselves about. We’ve got to sell our message at a personal level and lead by example. That’s a big change.






While the number of homeless young people in the UK is on the rise, their predicament remains a hidden problem. A grant from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity is helping to give young people a roof over their heads as well as the strength to find a better future g





mily Phillips’s vivid pink hair adds some colour to the white walls and worn black sofas of the night shelter in Blackburn she once called home. It would be easy to mistake the boldness of the colour as an indicator of a brash personality, but she has a quiet confidence that has allowed her to overcome becoming homeless at the age of eighteen. More than seventy-five thousand people aged sixteen to twenty-four in the UK will experience homelessness this year, and, like Emily, struggle to find a place to sleep each night. They will do this while trying to hold down a job or keep studying at college. Emily was beginning a qualification in childcare when she split up with her boyfriend, whom she had been living with. A family breakdown at a young age meant that without relatives to turn to, she spent the next three months sleeping on couches. ‘People don’t think that sleeping on sofas is as serious as sleeping rough, but it’s scary. You’ve got a roof over your head for that night but you have no idea where you’ll be tomorrow,’ recalls Emily. Eventually she sought the help of her college liaison officer who put her in touch with Chris Egan, a support worker at Nightsafe. ‘It was a huge burden off my shoulders knowing that there was someone out there who wanted me to be safe.’ Nightsafe runs a shelter in Blackburn, housing homeless young people for up to nine nights before they are moved to longer term accommodation at one of its housing projects (Cornfield Cliffe, where Emily has lived for more than a year, and the Witton Project), helped into social housing or given emergency support. Five other young people live alongside Emily in Cornfield, where they will stay for up to two years, provided they continue with work, training or education. The stability has enabled Emily to finish her childcare qualification and she has been offered a job as a nursery nurse, which she will start after she returns from a trip to Uganda, where she is volunteering at a school. Excited by the opportunities ahead, Emily has been raising money for the Ugandan trip for the past six months. ‘If it wasn’t for Nightsafe I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have now. I don’t know what I would have done. I would have been stuck.’

NATIONAL REACH Thousands of young people across the country find themselves ‘stuck’ every day without a stable home address, hoping that it will be a temporary predicament and that they can avoid the lasting stigma of homelessness. These young adults are the new face of a national population, one that poverty experts and case workers say is growing. Yet the problem is mostly invisible. Centrepoint is a leading charity providing a safe place to live for more than one thousand young people each year in London and the North East. It is now reaching out to help regional shelters, and grants totalling £220,000 from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity have funded its national Partnering Project. By providing a free consultancy to voluntary organisations, it enables them to build their capacity to support more youngsters.

‘We try and build up the self-esteem of people who come through our doors. It’s easy to feel rejected when you’re made homeless aged sixteen.’ Linda Sharratt 36

‘People don’t think that sleeping on sofas is as serious as sleeping rough, but it’s scary. You’ve a roof over your head for a night but no idea where you’ll be tomorrow.’ Emily Phillips Laura Chapman, Chief Executive of the Grand Charity, recognises the importance of pooled resources and a collective effort: ‘The project enables Centrepoint to help many more young people than would otherwise be possible. Having been closely involved from the pilot stage, we are delighted the programme has been successful and is being rolled out further.’ Part of Centrepoint’s offering to Nightsafe is LifeWise, a scheme developed to offer the young people living at the shelter the opportunity to gain an AQA-accredited qualification in life skills. Jim Sexton, development manager for Centrepoint, trains managers, carers and volunteers to deliver the qualification. ‘Most of the young people have missed out on the basic skills that the rest of us take for granted. We aim to get them to a point where they can re-enter education, find work, and live independently.’

LAYING FOUNDATIONS Simple things like teaching people how to open a bank account, write a CV or cook a healthy meal are all included in the qualification. ‘Even if the content isn’t life-changing for some people, for many it will be the first time in their lives they’ve become qualified in anything,’ says Sexton. ‘It’s about getting people interested in learning and used to having a goal in mind.’ The need to focus on the long-term future of homeless people is a sentiment echoed by the chief executive of Nightsafe, Linda Sharratt: ‘One of our goals is to try and build up the confidence and self-esteem of the people who come through our doors. It’s easy to feel rejected when you’re made homeless aged sixteen.’ Sharratt and her team helped two hundred and fifty-three young people last year, about half of whom had slept rough during that time. When it comes to judging success, Sharratt does so on a case-by-case basis: ‘Emily’s done amazingly well, but for others, just making small steps forward is a huge deal.’ The LifeWise programme is just one facet of support that Centrepoint is able to provide to Nightsafe and thirty-seven other charities, located everywhere from Kent to Carlisle, thanks to the Grand Charity’s grant. ‘We bring these small organisations a level of support that allows them to continue to provide their services locally,’ says Sexton. ‘Our partners are a diverse group – some provide accommodation, others provide guidance – but what they all have in common is the aspiration to support homeless and vulnerable young people, just like Centrepoint.’ The partnerships also benefit Centrepoint, which can tap into local expertise in order to align its national strategy with changing government policy. ‘It’s not just about putting a roof over someone’s head, we need to think longer term about how to support young people so they can go on to live independently,’ says Sexton. ‘If it wasn’t for the funding from Freemasons, Centrepoint partnering wouldn’t exist, and these partnerships have the power to provide a route out of homelessness.’



Emily Phillips received life-changing support from Nightsafe

Freemasons have a long tradition of trying to help people affected by homelessness, through support given by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. National charity Crisis, for example, has received £705,000 in total – including a significant donation in 2000, which assisted almost four hundred people out of homelessness. Emmaus, Shelter, Depaul UK and Centrepoint have also received donations (together totalling almost £740,000), all of which have aimed to help people find accommodation and also to provide them with opportunities to rebuild their lives in safe and secure environments. In total, the Grand Charity has donated nearly £1.5 million towards supporting homeless people since it was established more than thirty years ago.

Centrepoint development manager Jim Sexton and Nightsafe chief executive Linda Sharratt hope that the LifeWise qualification will help vulnerable young people regain confidence





The final page of the Articles of Union with the signatures and seals of the two Grand Masters

WORKING AS ONE With December marking the bicentenary of the union of the Grand Lodges, John Hamill explores the people and planning behind the creation of the United Grand Lodge of England



he formation of the Antients Grand Lodge in 1751 – instigated mainly by Irish brethren in London who had been unable to gain entry to lodges under the premier Grand Lodge – marked the start of a period in which two Grand Lodges existed side by side. Initially there was great enmity between the two, and both sides threatened dire consequences against any members who became involved with their rival. But as time went on, except at the centre, relations relaxed, particularly in the Provinces where the beady eyes of the respective Grand Secretaries did not extend. Even in London, a number of prominent brethren had a foot in both camps.




Indeed, it was because of two such brethren that the first serious attempt, in 1801, to start negotiations towards a union foundered. When it was announced that talks might begin, there were groups within both Grand Lodges who did not wish to see it happen and sought to wreck it. Charges were brought in the Antients Grand Lodge against Francis Columbine Daniel for being active in both Grand Lodges, resulting in his expulsion. Daniel was a doctor and apothecary, best remembered today as having invented the inflatable life vest and for receiving an ‘accidental knighthood’. Daniel believed that the new Deputy Grand Master of the Antients, Thomas Harper, had engineered his expulsion and sought his revenge.

ROOTED IN RIVALRY Harper had been very active in both Grand Lodges, being a Grand Steward in the premier Grand Lodge in 1796 when he was also Deputy Grand Secretary of the Antients. He was a jeweller and printer, making masonic jewels that are now highly prized and collected. Quite how someone so prominent had got away with being so publicly active in both Grand Lodges is the subject of another article, but Daniel forced the premier Grand lodge to recognise the fact and they expelled Harper in 1803, bringing any talk of a union to a halt. In 1806, the Prince of Wales (later King George IV), Grand Master of the premier Grand Lodge since 1791, was elected Grand Master Mason of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. As he had done in England, he appointed the Earl of Moira as his Acting Grand Master. Moira seems to have seen the Prince’s election as an opportunity to bring the premier Grand Lodge and Scotland closer together. However, the Scots saw the election as simply allowing for a closer relationship between the two Grand Lodges, rather than an actual joining together. Nevertheless, talk of union seems to have turned the minds of the Prince and Moira to the situation in England. In 1809 they approached the Antients with the idea of setting up a joint committee to explore a possible ‘equable union’. A stumbling block was the fact that Harper was still Deputy Grand Master of the Antients and was very much in charge in the extended absences of the Grand Master John Murray, 4th Duke of Atholl. The negotiators were appointed and in 1810 Harper was welcomed back into the premier Grand Lodge. Apart from the formal Grand Lodge Minutes and odd bits of correspondence, little evidence survives about the negotiations, which dragged on for nearly four years. Part of the problem was that while the premier Grand Lodge


team had been given authority to make decisions, those representing the Antients had to have any decisions agreed within a quarterly meeting of their Grand Lodge.

A GRAND ACHIEVEMENT Matters were not helped by the fact that the Antients’ Grand Secretary, Robert Leslie, was firmly against the project. A somewhat prickly character, he had been Grand Secretary since 1790 and, unlike his counterparts in the premier Grand Lodge, was a salaried official, earning £100 a year. Indeed, so much was he against the union that even when it was accomplished he refused to hand over the records of the Antients Grand Lodge. Proceedings might have ground to a halt in 1813 had it not been for major changes at the head of both Grand Lodges. The Prince of Wales resigned as Grand Master and was succeeded by his younger brother the Duke of Sussex. In November 1813 the Duke of Atholl resigned as Grand Master of the Antients, who elected another royal brother, the Duke of Kent, as their Grand Master. It says a great deal about the authority of princes in those days that within six weeks they had knocked heads together, and agreed and drawn up Articles of Union. They also planned the great ceremony, which took place at Freemasons’ Hall on 27 December 1813, when the union was declared and the Duke of Sussex was installed as Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England.

The Duke of Kent, a driving force in the union, was elected Grand Master of the Antients in 1813


‘Even in London, a number of prominent brethren had a foot in both camps.’


From left to right: Michael Billman, Michael Dinsdale, Christopher Thompson, Michael Randall, Anthony Kirby, Lee Taylor, Sacha Orzo-Manzonetta and John De Bono



What connects Freemasonry and martial arts? Caitlin Davies discovers how the masonic values of humility and respect have found a home in the Shotokan Karate Lodge


itting round a table in the corner of an Enfield pub, a group of smartly dressed Freemasons are enjoying coffee and a chat. Conversation ranges from the state of the weather to the date of the next lodge meeting. When mention is made of sweeping low blocks and rising punches, it becomes apparent that some of these masons are also black belt karate masters. Founded more than ten years ago, the Shotokan Karate Lodge, No. 9752, is the only martial arts lodge in the world. Brothers wear a white karate suit and white belt during initiation, with the belt signifying the beginning of two journeys: Freemasonry and Shotokan karate. Shotokan, translated as ‘hall of shoto’ (kan meaning ‘hall’ and shoto, ‘pine waves’), was introduced to Japan by Gichin Funakoshi in 1922. Lodge members believe that this martial art and the Craft are a perfect match, as both teach brotherly love, humility and respect for others, as well as tolerance and understanding. Some of the men here this afternoon are senior in the lodge, while others are senior in karate. Michael Randall, the lodge’s Worshipful Master, is both. He studied under Dr Vernon Bell, who brought karate to Britain in 1956, and at ninth Dan, he is Europe’s top non-Japanese Shotokan karate sensei, or master. Michael first discovered karate when he was a young carpenter apprentice. ‘An older colleague had been


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Members of Shotokan Karate Lodge believe Freemasonry and karate are the perfect match

in the army and he’d heard about karate abroad. He asked me if I fancied doing it. I thought, wow, that looks really good.’ Michael went to the Japanese embassy to ask about karate clubs, and joined the only one in London. A Freemason for thirty years, Michael was to meet others in the karate world who were masons. He realised that members who shared an interest often formed their own lodges, so the idea for Shotokan Karate Lodge was born. ‘Both teach the same moral lessons in life,’ he says. ‘To work hard, to train and to be a better person.’

Christopher Thompson in stance

THE PATH TO DISCOVERY Michael picks up a copy of the lodge’s crest. In the middle is the Shotokan tiger, overlaid with the masonic square and compasses. He points to the white belt at the bottom, ‘This equals the start of the journey. It means, you come with nothing. You are innocent, a beginner.’ For Michael, karate has been a way to learn about himself, something that lodge Secretary Anthony Kirby agrees with. Anthony, also a Shotokan master, believes that karate ‘is about self-discovery’. He joined a class held at Winchmore Hill School of Karate when he was fourteen. ‘I would see Michael reading from this little blue book and I thought it was very religious. I didn’t realise then that he was a Freemason learning the ritual.’ Anthony was invited to become a mason when he was twenty-nine and joined Michael’s mother lodge, Sackville Lodge, No. 7063. ‘I knew nothing about it, I was one of the biggest cynics, and…’ he smiles, ‘I’d been brought up a Catholic and my parents were very uneasy. But then we found there are plenty of Catholics who are masons and that it’s nothing to do with religion.’ When Michael suggested forming the Shotokan lodge, Anthony became one of the founders. It started with around forty-five members, the same number it has today.


‘Karate changes your perception about life. You become calmer, it brings you a greater humility and teaches you to understand other people’s issues.’ Michael Dinsdale


A recent recruit to the lodge, Sacha Orzo-Manzonetta

‘Some we have lost, some we have gained. We’ve had a lot of applications recently so it’s a very exciting phase,’ explains Anthony, who is proud of his lodge’s global appeal, attracting brothers from Greece, Brazil, Bermuda, Lebanon, Barbados and the US. As members are spread across the world, the lodge meets four times a year at Freemasons’ Hall, London. But brothers bump into each other in the world of karate all the time and frequently meet socially too. ‘Karate changes your perception about life,’ says Michael Dinsdale, Treasurer both of the English Karate Federation and Shotokan Karate Lodge. ‘You become calmer, you react differently to situations in life, it brings you a greater humility and teaches you to understand other people’s issues.’



Worshipful Master Michael Randall, left, and Anthony Kirby


Back in 1966, when Michael Dinsdale took up karate, he was eighteen and remembers being more inspired by James Bond than finding an inner balance. He vividly remembers one day, when he was working in a meat market, being on the London Underground: ‘I was sitting there watching the houses go by and I thought, that’s my life and I’m not doing anything with it. Then someone invited me to karate.’ Denis Dixon, a Junior Warden, discovered karate fifteen years ago when he arrived in the UK from Canada and took his two sons to a lesson. ‘I needed them to learn an art that had some discipline to it. They were new to England, had had some physical tussles, and I didn’t want them to be bullied. It gave them confidence to stand up and diffuse situations.’ Until then, Denis’s knowledge of karate came from Bruce Lee movies, but one day his boys’ instructor asked if he’d like to join in. He now runs a karate club in Colchester. Denis became a mason in 2005, after being encouraged by an old school friend and one of the lodge’s original members: ‘The principles are similar – how you carry yourself with family, with colleagues and the people you train with.’ As for how Freemasonry has changed, Anthony says things have moved on significantly. ‘It’s more relaxed and open now. When I became a mason there was still an element of being approached. Just this morning a man who wants to join phoned me and we’re going to meet for coffee.’ Sacha Orzo-Manzonetta is one of the lodge’s newest members. As Anthony notes, ‘It’s the start of his journey,’ although Sacha actually began Shotokan karate when he was six in his native Italy. ‘The principles of Freemasonry and karate are similar – brotherhood, honesty, believing in yourself and others, and giving,’ Sacha says. And with that, the group gets ready to go to Winchmore Hill. It’s where it all started for Anthony and is one of the oldest karate clubs in the south of England, offering classes for juniors and adults. The members change into white karate suits to begin practising preparatory positions as well as blocking and striking techniques. The physical mastery is impressive but so is the sense of camaraderie and shared values.



A GENETIC DISPOSITION Dr Shamima Rahman is pioneering a new means of diagnosis that is opening up astonishing prospects in understanding a devastating hereditary condition. Andrew Gimson finds out how the Masonic Samaritan Fund became involved


ged just thirty-nine, Jason Brincle fell ill in March 2010. ‘He’d been perfectly healthy up to that point. He lived with his partner, and apparently had an epileptic fit in the middle of the night. It initially looked like a stroke. His speech and mobility were affected: the usual signs for a stroke,’ recalls his father Geoff. ‘A month after that, some tests gave us the devastating news that he had MELAS syndrome, which is one of the most severe variants of mitochondrial disease. You can imagine how difficult it is when you’re told there is no treatment and no cure.’ The mitochondrion is the part of a cell that converts food into energy. Its failure is like a power cut, with devastating effects for organs that need large supplies of energy, such as the brain, eyes, ears, kidneys, liver, heart and other muscles. The disease is hereditary. Jason recovered enough to return to work as a manager with a charity in October of that year, but had a second attack in November. ‘The final blow was in early 2011: a particularly bad attack that took his sight. Obviously I was visiting every day,’ says Geoff. ‘He was in Salford Royal Hospital, about ten miles away. His sight came back to a degree, but was replaced by hallucinations and nightmares to the point where he had to be sectioned at one time.’ In April, Jason died. ‘As a parent, you feel guilty: could I have done more? This mitochondrial disease, we’d never heard of it. It’s horrendous. It’s so cruel. It affects about


one in six thousand five hundred people. When we knew Jason had MELAS, it was obvious his mother had died from it twelve years before. On her death certificate it said “stroke”. She suffered for eight years – she couldn’t walk, talk, eat or hear.’

A LIFE EBBING AWAY Like most people with first-hand experience of the disease, Geoff is a strong supporter of research: ‘When nature goes wrong, science has to correct it.’ Rachel Kean, who is twenty-four, has been diagnosed with MELAS, but has few symptoms. She inherited the disease from her mother, who has no symptoms. But her mother’s sister suffered and died from the condition, with ‘truly brutal’ effects including heart and kidney failure, severe hearing impairment and ‘very many miscarriages’. She too is an ardent supporter of research and says that UK charity the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign ‘are incredibly supportive of patients – truly wonderful’. Val Wintle, who is fifty-three, began noticing the symptoms of mitochondrial disease when she was thirty-two and was diagnosed at the age of thirty-six. It affects her mobility and her eyesight, and she feels constantly tired: ‘I would say I haven’t got a life. I can’t travel – I’d get too tired. I don’t really feel that I’m part of this world. I had plans and hopes and aspirations. My husband took early retirement to look after me. I wouldn’t be able to cope on my own. I’ve just seen




The MSF has given £30,000 to the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign to help fund research by Dr Shamima Rahman

Julia Young is one of the five welfare advisers who visit families applying for RMTGB grants




‘We have seen families struggling with... muscular dystrophy and related neuromuscular conditions [such as mitochondrial disease], so we wanted to see if there was any good research out there.’ John McCrohan

my life ebb away from me, if you see what I mean. Slowly it gets worse and worse and worse.’ John McCrohan is Grants Director of the Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF), which has given £30,000 to the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign to help fund research by Dr Shamima Rahman of University College London (UCL). For the past twenty-two years, the MSF has helped individuals with the cost of their medical treatment, but three years ago it decided to also support research into the conditions from which they suffer. ‘We have seen families struggling with the effects of muscular dystrophy and related neuromuscular conditions [such as mitochondrial disease], so we wanted to see if there was any good research out there. When Dr Rahman’s application came through, the research committee was very keen. Dr Rahman is herself a very talented researcher and is supported by a network at University College Hospital,’ says McCrohan.



ABOVE: Dr Rahman believes that a thousand different genes can cause mitochondrial disease LEFT: A view of healthy muscle fibres down a microscope. Skeletal muscles are one of the tissues affected by mitochondrial diseases

Dr Rahman is grateful for the support and hopes it will be possible to form a long-term relationship with the MSF. ‘This is an orphan group of disorders,’ she says. ‘It’s very difficult to get funding for rare diseases. These are devastating diseases, almost invariably life-threatening, very difficult to diagnose, and very, very difficult to treat.’ About one in five thousand babies is affected by mitochondrial disease. But the condition presents itself in many different ways, and has most often gone undiagnosed. ‘Next generation’ gene sequencing technology is changing that. It can identify the many different nuclear gene defects that underlie mitochondrial disease in childhood. But it is a very complex technology, requiring advanced computing, so Dr Rahman and her team have outsourced the actual sequence alignment to computer experts at UCL with whom they have a very close relationship. In Dr Rahman’s experience, a different gene is responsible for mitochondrial disease in each family that she sees. It is likely that more than a thousand different genes cause the disease, so finding the exact causative gene in any family is akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. The ‘next generation’ sequencing, which





‘The challenges [of mitochondrial disorders] are to provide accurate and prompt diagnoses, and to develop effective treatments.’ Dr Shamima Rahman

sequences all twenty thousand genes simultaneously in an individual, typically shows an average of twenty thousand changes in each person, and the real challenge is to determine which two of these changes are causing the disease in that person. Having once been able to diagnose five per cent of cases of mitochondrial disease in babies and young children, Dr Rahman and her team can now detect fifty per cent. Because generating energy is so important, at least seven per cent of genetic function is devoted to supporting our mitochondrial function. She does not expect to be able to trace the myriad forms of mitochondrial disease back to only a few underlying causes, predicting that eventually more than a thousand genes will be linked to mitochondrial disease. After reading medicine at Oxford, Dr Rahman soon discovered the subject that has dominated her work: ‘My interest in mitochondrial disorders was kindled just over twenty years ago when I first joined the metabolic team at Great Ormond Street Hospital. The challenges both then and now are to provide accurate and prompt diagnoses, and to develop effective treatments.’ The past few years have witnessed great advances in genetic diagnosis for mitochondrial diseases, with the discovery of more than one hundred disease genes. ‘But it is likely that several hundred more genes will be linked to mitochondrial disease in the future,’ says Dr Rahman. ‘Our long-term goal is to translate this genetic knowledge into curative treatments for children with these challenging diseases.’ In one astonishing recent case, the detection by Dr Rahman and her colleagues of the rare mitochondrial disorder from which a fifteen-year-old girl was suffering enabled the patient to be treated with the B vitamins biotin and thiamine, with an immediate and dramatic improvement in symptoms. This early treatment was essential to avert permanent brain damage or death. The patient is currently doing well at school. The more one learns about mitochondrial disease, the more worthwhile Dr Rahman’s research appears, and the more deserving of long-term support.


MSF Grants Director John McCrohan with Dr Shamima Rahman

ABOUT THE MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY CAMPAIGN The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign has pioneered the search for treatments and cures for fifty years, and is dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults affected by muscle-wasting conditions. Statutory income accounts for just five per cent of the charity’s funds, so its work relies on voluntary donations from individuals, groups and grant-making bodies. To find out more, visit www.muscular-dystrophy.org




Proud to be a Lily, one of the Ladies of Internet Lodge, Jaqui Porter explains how a group of masonic partners and friends came together from across the world to build a website, organise events and forge lifelong relationships



unique lodge was consecrated in the Province of East Lancashire in 1998. Internet Lodge, No. 9659, was founded with the aim of using the internet to bring brethren together from all over the world. With fifty-two founding members, the lodge has evolved over the past fifteen years into a thriving, global community of Freemasons. Meetings are not held in an internet chat room or on a Facebook page, but in person in the UK. However, not everyone in this international lodge can afford the time or money to travel halfway across the world to attend. A tradition has therefore developed whereby, if we have an overseas master, a fraternal visit is organised to his home country, the brethren being accompanied by their female partners and guests. So far there have been nine foreign excursions. We have visited the US, Portugal, Slovenia, Canada, Holland, Romania and, last year, Malta, where I hosted eighty-six Freemasons and their partners for a week of historical exploration and masonry. Most masonic meetings take place in an evening or afternoon, local to a brother’s home. However, the distances travelled for Internet Lodge meetings, even in the UK, make it more reasonable to overnight – which is where the Lilies come in.

SHARED EXPERIENCES The Lilies are the ‘Ladies of Internet Lodge’. From travelling around the UK and the world with our partners, we came to realise that we had an opportunity to explore the wonderful areas, both British and foreign, in which we found ourselves. In the first few years we got together in groups and took part in a range of activities, coming together in the evening to discuss our experiences. Then, on our Canadian trip to Niagara, we

decided that this would no longer suffice. Our group had grown, so we decided to get organised and created the Lilypond – our own website and internet mailing list. We research venues and activities, plan programmes and book guides, transport and restaurants. While the lodge members are participating in masonic meetings, we are off finding out about the local culture, customs and cuisine. The group has a membership symbol, a trillium lily pin, which was chosen in our founding year. Every new Lily has to apply to us independently of her partner’s membership of the lodge, and our ladies include doctors, florists, magistrates, mums, artists, teachers, a carriage driver, voluntary workers, grandmothers, nursing officers… the list goes on. What we all share is a sense of belonging, which is founded in the commonality of the lodge. When I asked our members what they would like me to stress in this article, everyone I approached said the same thing: they wanted me to emphasise how glad they are to have met each other. The group uses the mailing list as a source of social interaction, particularly for the organisation of future events, but in times of trouble, the comfort and sympathy afforded by our members to one in need is extraordinary. In the case of bereavements, the Lily who has lost her partner continues to belong to the group and will always be welcome at future lodge events, should she choose to go. She will know that she will be met by friends and perhaps take that first scary step out on her own in a safe environment. It’s different from being a lodge widow as she maintains her own role in our group, in her own right. I have never belonged to an organisation where so many women with such strong personalities and diverse interests have become such firm friends in so short a time.

‘When I asked our members what they would like me to stress in this article, everyone said the same thing: they wanted me to emphasise how glad they are to have met each other.’ 52

FAMILY AND FRIENDS CLOCKWISE, FROM RIGHT: Relaxing in the Florida sunshine; taking a breather on Hengistbury Head, England; taking to the water in the US; performing for brethren at the Wells Festival; on tour in Chester; a temple visit in Portugal

JOINING UP Application to become a member of Internet Lodge is open to master masons of UGLE and other recognised Grand Lodges. Applicants must provide the usual certificates and proof of good standing. The lodge boasts more than three hundred and thirty members, who come from thirty-five countries of residence and no fewer than seventy-two Grand Lodges, with every continent represented. The average age is fifty-seven, with the youngest member being twenty-nine and the oldest, eighty-seven. Only one hundred and forty-one are from the UK. The lodge is held in high esteem abroad and there is no shortage of masons wishing to join. As one member commented: ‘You get more Freemasonry here in a week than you get in a year anywhere else.’ To find out more, visit www.internet.lodge.org.uk






OPEN SESAME We live in a technology-driven society that takes instant access and interaction with the rest of the world for granted. Tabby Kinder finds out how the RMBI is helping the older generation cross the digital divide



ate one morning in a sleepy cul-de-sac in Chislehurst, the residents of the RMBI Prince George Duke of Kent Court care home relax in armchairs and sip from mugs of tea. It seems a typical state of affairs that you might find in any UK care home – until you see that the residents are also selecting their favourite songs from a touch-screen computer. The new Dementia Life computer provides interactive games and entertainment, with photos, TV shows, music and film clips from the 1930s onwards. The touch-screen device is just one of a collection of digital machines installed in all RMBI care homes this year to help get elderly residents interacting with new technologies. Research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that the number of people over the age of sixtyfive using the internet is on the up. And with more older people getting used to new technologies, the RMBI is welcoming the opportunity to make sure its care home residents are seeing both the social and mental benefits of using computers. ‘Some of the residents are scared of the computer at first because they’ve never used one before,’ says Sue Goodrich, Activity Coordinator at the Prince George care home. ‘It’s a generational thing. But when I show them how to play their favourite song or look up photos of the place they grew up in, suddenly they’re fascinated.’ A paper presented at the International Conference for Universal Design claimed that using a computer can help older people live a fuller life, as it allows them to engage, communicate and create. Scientific journal Plos One

suggests that using a computer, smartphone or tablet and regularly using the internet can even decrease the risk of cognitive impairments such as dementia. While technology has revolutionised communication, entertainment and shopping, until recently it has remained almost exclusively the preserve of the young. In the UK, while ninety-nine per cent of adults aged sixteen to twenty-four have used the internet, according to the ONS, just thirty-three per cent of people over seventy-five have ever spent time online. But computer use by the older generation is growing and the benefits of online access for older people are being recognised as a necessity, rather than a luxury. The RMBI offers computer facilities and informal support with IT tasks at all of its care homes in England and Wales, often accompanied by scanners, projection screens, games consoles, and enlarged keyboards and computer mice for improved accessibility. In addition, a few homes are now leading the way with the launch of regular IT training sessions and internet cafes. Every week, Diane Vowles, a volunteer from Age UK, gathers up a folder of printouts and heads to the Chislehurst care home where she holds workshops to demonstrate the use of personal computers (PCs) using the Dementia Life machine and a shared PC in the home’s dedicated computer room. ‘The residents who are interested surf the net with me and enjoy researching and investigating various subjects. We chat about our personal histories and experiences while searching for images and information on the web.’




Vowles’s workshops are part of a national campaign by Age UK to promote digital inclusion among elderly people. ‘Some residents can be a bit resistant to new technology but others are relishing it,’ Vowles says. ‘The ones who get into it are amazed by what they can do.’ One such resident is David Giles, a ninety-one-year-old former lodge Secretary of St Mary’s, Gillingham Green Lodge, No. 6499, and Rainham Lodge, No. 3079, at which he is now an honorary member. ‘When I first met David he was one of the only residents here to have his own computer,’ says Vowles. ‘It was filled with a lifetime of documents – minutes from lodge meetings, agendas, letters, banking – plus he had begun putting together his father’s memoirs.’ Vowles and David now sit down together twice a week at David’s computer and type up pages of memories from his father’s life spent in the steam, seaplane and tractor industries. ‘Hopefully it will make an interesting book for the enthusiasts,’ David says. Although using the computer is a challenge in his advanced years, David puts his ease around the technology down to his daughter and his career spent working as an engineer in the aircraft industry. ‘I started using computers in the 1970s and then I started to get better at using them when my daughter Mary was doing an Open University degree.’ At Prince George, other residents are beginning to follow David’s lead and some have brought their own computers to use in their rooms. ‘One resident wanted to be able to look online to see if she had won on the Premium Bonds and to see where the larger winners lived,’ says Vowles. ‘Another wanted to see images of his previously owned, now vintage, cars and motorcycles. We even checked if an old Birmingham Small Arms Company motorbike was still in circulation – it was!’ Google Earth and Skype software, which allows residents to communicate with relatives around the world, are also proving popular. ‘One resident was able to look up the new home of her daughter in Perth, Australia – the swimming pool was a big surprise,’ laughs Vowles. ‘One former resident used his PC extensively to keep in

‘Some residents can be a bit resistant to new technology but others are relishing it. The ones who get into it are amazed by what they can do.’ Diane Vowles


‘When I show [residents] how to play their favourite song or look up photos of the place they grew up in, suddenly they’re fascinated.’ Sue Goodrich contact with his wide circle of friends via email and Skype. He had led a very interesting life and I learned a great deal from him, all about his career in everything from wartime flight navigation to optical lenses.’ Susan Barnes, eighty, has been a resident of RMBI Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court in Mid Glamorgan for ten months and uses the library computer for sending emails, writing letters and research. ‘When I first arrived here I was quite lonely and missed my bungalow,’ she says. ‘The computer provided a welcome distraction and allowed me to keep in touch with friends and family. I now have my own laptop and internet in my room. I’m delighted to have learned a new skill and all the staff are great if I have a problem doing something on the laptop.’ ‘It’s essential that older people are supported to learn and access the internet if they want to,’ says Charles Knowles, who has been a resident at James Terry Court in Croydon for almost two years. Charles uses a digital camera to send photos of him and his friends during outings to his family, uses the internet to read and listen to the news, and will soon be installing a webcam so he can see his grandchildren. ‘The internet can take you back down memory lane as well as let you see new places and meet new people. It can also make managing day-to-day tasks much easier.’ A new computer cafe, currently in planning stage at the home, will encourage more residents to get online. ‘We are very lucky here at James Terry Court to have access to computers and the internet whenever we like and to have helpful staff around every day who can help with computing tasks,’ adds Charles. ‘It’s all about independence,’ says Rosie Bower, Marketing Manager for the RMBI. ‘We’re committed to offering person-centred care across all of our care homes, allowing our residents to remain in control of their own lives, long after they have moved into one of our homes. Internet and computer access is integral to maintaining a person’s independence in the modern world. The more external interaction our residents have, the more able they are to keep making their own choices.’







The Royal Masonic School for Boys

Educated at the Royal Masonic School for Boys, George Penn became a regimental captain, much-loved country doctor, tireless local campaigner and committed lodge member. His son, Roger Penn, considers how Freemasonry complemented his father’s unique life



r Penn, why do you like stitching so much?’ asked Samantha Rosie of the BBC while filming the family practitioner as he carried out a routine operation at his country surgery in Whitland, south-west Wales. Dolycwrt surgery is where Dr George Penn served his patients dutifully and lovingly for forty-two years. He had no wish to retire until it became necessary the day before his seventieth birthday in 1997. By then he had led the people of his community in a successful victory campaign to keep open his beloved practice at a time when purpose-built health centres were appearing nationwide. Rosie and her team were capturing a precious moment in the history of the one-hundred-year-old surgery before turning her footage into an award-winning documentary. She was also giving George the retirement send-off he richly deserved, not only for the excellence of his patient care but also for devoting his life to the needs of others. Unmistakably identified by his fleet of Morris Minor cars, George served all manner of local committees for the good


of the parish council, rugby club, town hall, carnival events, and was even chairman of the local Farmers’ Union of Wales. But none of these non-medical pursuits compared with his resolute crusade in keeping rural railways running during a twenty-year term following the network cutbacks of the early 1960s. Dr Malcolm Holding, a partner at Dolycwrt, says of his former colleague: ‘He tried to fit so many things into one day. He was on call from all sorts of places – and, if he had a few minutes, he’d be dipping into his masonic book to read a few more lines. He was heavily involved in so many committees. I’m sure George attended more meetings per week than there were nights in the week.’ There is a perfectly good reason for the little masonic book to which Dr Holding refers – and it is best explained in the 1974 Fiftieth Anniversary Booklet of Teifi Lodge, Cardigan: ‘Worshipful Brother Penn is singularly proud of the fact that he is a product of the Royal Masonic School for Boys.’ Life was no picnic for the young George when he was separated from his village friends, aged eight, and




‘As a servant of the community, George left his mark. And although he was gentle and unassuming in manner and speech, he was strong, resolute and ambitious.’

relocated to ‘H House’ alongside the stately corridors of the masonic school buildings. Despite the magnificent premises and open green fields, this could be a tough and lonely early existence for boys missing their families. But the Freemasonry movement instilled a sense of leadership and individualism in this young man, and George overcame all ordeals to present himself ready and determined to make a difference with his life. And indeed he did, going on to have a medical career spanning almost fifty years, including national service in Nigeria in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

A SPIRITED EDUCATION George’s individualism was recognised early on by his housemaster, Mr Riches. Disregarding school rules one evening, George gave the boys of his house a late party to bid farewell to a friend who was leaving the school. ‘Dear Penn, I am severely annoyed,’ began a letter from Riches, who, while reprimanding him, could not conceal his respect: ‘I treasure you too high, Penn, to quarrel with you unreasonably.’ Stephen Thomas, editor of the Old Masonians Gazette, enjoyed reading about this ‘unique philosophical exchange’, describing George as ‘a pillar of Welsh society’, who delivered ‘the very best his profession brought to Whitland’ during times of significant social change. Brother Jestyn Edwards recalls this commitment to his profession, citing an instance when George travelled up for a lodge meeting in Cardigan – a round trip of about sixty miles. After dining with his lodge, George got up to go. When asked why he was off a bit early, he said: ‘On the way I called with an old lady, who was quite frail. I promised I would pop in on the way home.’ Brother Cecil Williams was impressed by the efforts George made to attend meetings. ‘No one tried harder to put in an appearance. And how can I forget George bringing buckets of coal for the fire. Nothing pleased him more than the sight of flames in our open hearth. George was a one-off.’ As a doctor, husband, father and servant of the community, George left his unique mark. And although he was gentle and unassuming in manner and speech, he was strong, resolute and ambitious. A free spirit and a Freemason, he is best remembered by the words of a devoted patient: ‘There was never anyone like him. He was uniquely different from anyone else; he was a gem of a man.’ Beyond the Call of Duty: A Biography of Whitland’s Dr Penn, published by Gomer Press, is available online, in bookshops and direct from the publisher on 01559 363092.


FROM TOP: George became Master of Teifi Lodge, Cardigan, in 1973; with his wife, Peggy, circa 1985; in Nigeria as a regimental captain with the Royal Army Medical Corps



STAFFORDSHIRE SUPPORT In challenging conditions, Staffordshire masons have raised £1,675,000 for The Freemasons’ Grand Charity


taffordshire’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.

ABOVE: The grand total is proudly displayed by (l to r) Assistant Grand Master David Williamson, Staffordshire PGM Dr Alexander Stewart, Staffordshire Deputy PGM Gary Read and Richard Hone QC, President of the Grand Charity LEFT: David Williamson receiving a gift of Staffordshire pottery


The Grand Charity is helping the Royal Voluntary Service support older people through its Good Neighbours scheme

The Royal Voluntary Service organisation (formerly WRVS) has received £50,000 from the Grand Charity to fund the establishment of a Good Neighbours scheme for older, vulnerable people in Herefordshire


he Good Neighbours project supports older people at home, through trained volunteers who provide help and companionship. The scheme aims to support people like Mari. ‘I was very low at one time. The doctor said it was because I was sat here alone with no one popping in and out, and I wasn’t used to it,’ she explained. ‘But now Jo’s here, at the end of the phone if I need her. I call her my guardian angel.’ A Royal Voluntary Service volunteer, Jo has visited Mari regularly for more than two years, taking her to the shops, the doctor and anywhere else she would like to go, providing company and an invaluable link to the community. Tim Riggott of the Royal Voluntary Service said, ‘Knowing that there is a friendly face willing to help has a real impact on the well-being of older people.’

60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ Tel: 020 7395 9261 Fax: 020 7395 9295 Email: info@the-grand-charity.org Facebook: TheFreemasonsGrandCharity Twitter: @TheGrandCharity www.the-grand-charity.org





ELIGIBILITY GOES ONLINE The Masonic Samaritan Fund has launched online tools to help Freemasons and their dependants


he MSF’s new online Eligibility Calculator has been created to help potential applicants to the Fund understand its eligibility criteria. The simple tool enables anyone considering applying for a health or care grant to receive a quick and confidential assessment of whether they are likely to be eligible. Answering ten questions could be the first step to stopping the frustration and worry of a long wait or huge expense to receive the health and care support you or a loved one needs. The calculator asks applicants about their masonic connection, the type of grant required and their household finances. It also explains what steps are necessary in order to make an application. The calculator offers an additional route for Freemasons and their dependants to make an approach to the Fund. However, potential applicants are still encouraged to make direct contact with the grants team at any stage for advice. There’s nothing to lose by consulting the Eligibility Calculator; even those who don’t need assistance right now will benefit from knowing whether the MSF can help, should they or their loved ones need support in the future.

Grace with her tricycle, mother Elaine and Almoner Ted Wallis

Using the online calculator is simple

STAYING IN TOUCH BY EMAIL The Eligibility Calculator isn’t the only digital tool developed by the MSF. Each month, the MSF circulates an e-newsletter that links to news from the Fund and stories of the people and medical research projects that have received help. Stay in touch by signing up today at www.msfund.org.uk

GRACE GETS ON HER BIKE The daughter of Adrian Ferrell, of Lodge of Fortitude, No. 131, Province of Cornwall, has received funding for a specialist tricycle to aid her mobility and enable her to cycle with friends Thanks to the commitment of lodge Almoner Ted Wallis and his understanding of who is eligible for support from the MSF, the charity has been able to provide a mobility grant

to fund a custom-built bike for seven-year-old Grace. Grace was born with cardiac problems and following a stroke her doctor recommended the use of a specialist tricycle to help strengthen her legs and assist with her walking. Her mother, Elaine Ferrell, said, ‘Grace is so much happier now that she can join in racing around with her friends. She loves her cycle, which was even supplied in red, her favourite colour.’

60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ Tel: 020 7404 1550 Fax: 020 7404 1544 Email: info@msfund.org.uk Facebook: msfund.org Twitter: @MS_Fund www.msfund.org.uk




CARE HOME CELEBRATES TWO SPECIAL BIRTHDAYS In September, an RMBI care home in Mid Glamorgan celebrated its fortieth anniversary and the one-hundredth birthday of resident Lina Joshua

RECIPES AND REMINISCENCES The RMBI is delighted to announce a special promotion of its unique recipe book, Recipes and Reminiscences

I Gala dinner festivities to celebrate the anniversary


o mark the anniversary, Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court care home and its Association of Friends planned a weekend of parties and activities. Lina’s birthday in September means she has joined a growing number of centenarians in RMBI care homes. Mayor of Porthcawl, Cllr Michael Clarke, spent the day at the home and read Lina’s birthday cards to her, and the Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court choir entertained residents and guests. Later, residents enjoyed an afternoon tea dance with music from the Jeff Guppy Band. Residents and staff took turns around the dance floor and the home’s choirmaster brought everyone together for a singalong.

A JOYFUL OCCASION In the evening, a gala dinner was held in honour of the anniversary, attended by the new Provincial Grand Master of South Wales, Gareth Jones. RMBI Chief Executive David Innes and his wife Annemarie; Deputy President

Chris Caine; and trustee Dr John Reuther and his wife Maggie also attended. The dinner raised more than £1,000 and the RMBI is grateful to all those who supported the event. Phil Dando and his band provided the entertainment for the evening. Father Dowland Owen held a special church service the following day. Residents and many of the home’s supporters enjoyed a lunch followed by a performance by the Garw Valley Male Voice Choir, organised by the Association of Friends of Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court. The care home was purpose-built in 1973 and refurbished in 2000. Set in landscaped grounds, it caters for seventy-two residents, providing residential, nursing and dementia care.

A celebratory cake for the occasion

n time for the festive season, the RMBI has published a limited-edition Christmas recipe card to complement its Recipes and Reminiscences cookbook launched earlier this year. In addition, an online payment facility has been introduced, enabling customers to purchase the book quickly and easily via the website. Created from recipes contributed by residents, staff and their families at RMBI care homes, Recipes and Reminiscences explores how food is linked to memory and can bring people together through shared history and experiences. Spanning the 1940s to the present day, it provides a fascinating insight into the way food has changed in Britain over the decades. Published in hardback with a foreword by Mary Berry, food writer and co-presenter of the BBC’s The Great British Bake Off, the book features fifty much-loved recipes alongside beautiful illustrations and nostalgic photographs. All proceeds from the book will go to the RMBI care homes’ Amenity Funds, to pay for activities and events for RMBI residents.

CHRISTMAS OFFER Recipes and Reminiscences costs £12.50, which includes postage and packaging and a limitededition Christmas recipe card. Buy online at www.rmbi.org.uk, call 020 7596 2400 and pay with debit or credit card, visit your nearest RMBI care home, or send a cheque (made payable to RMBI) with a completed order form to: Recipes & Reminiscences, RMBI, 60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ

60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ Tel: 020 7596 2400 Fax: 020 7404 0742 Email: enquiries@rmbi.org.uk www.rmbi.org.uk




ROYAL MASONIC TRUST FOR GIRLS AND BOYS MADDIE’S STORY A moving new video highlights the work of the RMTGB


he Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys has produced its first video case study, ‘Maddie’s story’, to highlight its work. Each year the RMTGB supports around two thousand children and young people from masonic families. Each of these children has experienced a life-changing event that has led to financial hardship for their family. This new video features Nottinghamshire Freemason Howard Mace and his wife Alex, who explain the difference that the RMTGB’s support has made to their seven-year-old daughter, Maddie. In the video, Howard describes being diagnosed with kidney cancer and secondary cancer of the spine, a condition that means that he is unable to work. Alex goes on to explain how the RMTGB has helped by providing a regular maintenance allowance, which enables them to give Maddie the essential items that she needs. RMTGB Chief Executive Les Hutchinson said, ‘This video has been a great success, really demonstrating the value of our work. I encourage all Freemasons and their families to visit our website and watch it.’ More than one thousand people viewed the video within the first week of its release at www.rmtgb.org/maddie and the RMTGB has plans to produce further videos.

PGM the Rev Malcolm Lane congratulates the Province on a tremendous Festival total of £1,219,414

ENTHUSIASM AND COMMITMENT IN MONMOUTHSHIRE In September, Monmouthshire Freemasons celebrated the conclusion of their 2013 Festival Appeal and a magnificent total of £1,219,414 for the RMTGB

T The video tells the story of Howard and Alex Mace, pictured here with daughter Maddie

he Provincial Grand Master and Festival President, the Rev Malcolm Lane of the Welsh Province, launched the appeal just over five years ago. Malcolm, who also serves as a trustee of the RMTGB, congratulated his Province for their generosity and hard work. ‘I commend to you all the work of the RMTGB and in doing so I express on behalf of the Province my grateful thanks, bless you for your enthusiasm and commitment.’ After the total sum was revealed by RMTGB Chief Executive Les Hutchinson, the charity’s President Mike Woodcock

expressed his heartfelt thanks to the one thousand three hundred members of the Province and their families during a passionate address in which he recalled his own childhood holidays in Monmouthshire. The brethren of Monmouthshire and their families raised £1,002,013 towards the appeal – a remarkable achievement for a Province of only thirty lodges. Metropolitan Grand Lodge and other Provinces and Districts added a further £200,000. The Festival event, held at the Celtic Manor Resort, was attended by Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes. More than four hundred guests enjoyed an evening of entertainment including Welsh harpist Sian Williams, the Only Boys Aloud choir (finalists of Britain’s Got Talent), Abertillery Orpheus Male Choir and soloist Robert Knight. Also in attendance was David Davies, Conservative MP for Monmouth.

‘Bless you for your enthusiasm and commitment.’ Rev Malcolm Lane

60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ Tel: 020 7405 2644 Fax: 020 7831 4094 Email: info@rmtgb.org Facebook: rmtgb Twitter: @rmtgb www.rmtgb.org



SHEDDING LIGHT On show at the Library and Museum, the Sussex Plate silver candelabrum reveals details about the union of the Grand Lodges in 1813


ne of the Library and Museum’s greatest treasures has a prominent role in its latest exhibition. The Sussex Plate is a large silver candelabrum, which was presented to the Duke of Sussex in 1838 to mark his twenty-five years as Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England. At the centre of the Sussex Plate, set within a circular temple, is a six-sided plinth supporting a cushion, on which is a Volume of the Sacred Law, a set square and a compass. The figure of Apollo is mounted on the top of the temple dome, around which is a frieze featuring the twelve signs of the zodiac. Outside sit four figures: Astronomy, Geometry, Sculpture and Architecture. The temple is mounted on a four-panel base decorated with pomegranates, olives and corn. Two of the panels depict biblical scenes and the third, an inscription. The fourth is unusual in representing the union between the premier and the Atholl Grand Lodges in December 1813, two hundred years ago, showing the two Grand Masters – the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Kent – with their Grand Officers. Although this image is much later than the event, there are no other depictions of the union. The depiction is best seen in one of a series of reproductions published in the Freemasons’ Quarterly Review in 1838. The two Royal Dukes can be identified from their portraits – the Duke of Sussex shown facing out.

Excellent Companions: Celebrating the Royal Arch is open from 14 October 2013 to 2 May 2014, Monday-Friday. Admission is free.

Library and Museum of Freemasonry Freemasons’ Hall 60 Great Queen Street London WC2B 5AZ Tel: 020 7395 9257 Email: libmus@freemasonry.london.museum www.freemasonry.london.museum Shop: www.letchworthshop.co.uk FROM TOP: The magnificent silver Sussex Plate; a reproduction of its depiction of the union; the Duke of Kent; and the Duke of Sussex





Write to: The Editor, Freemasonry Today, Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ Email: editor@ugle.org.uk


World War. The Freemasons’ Garden, which forms an important part of the National Memorial Arboretum, was conceived and established in 2002. It is now in line for a makeover and upgrade during the coming months as part of the multi-million-pound redesign of the Arboretum Visitor Centre.

Sir, I should like, through Freemasonry Today, to thank the owners of the dodgems featured in the article ‘More Than Fair’ in the last issue. The reason for my thanks is that my brotherin-law, Philip Mosley, was physically and mentally handicapped and used to love the fair coming to Buxton. He would get very excited when he saw it. The dodgems was his favourite ride and they allowed him to go on it at any time without paying. After I married my wife, Philip lived with us because of his parents’ death. This thank you has been a long time in coming – Philip passed on in 1987 – but I hope it’s better late than never. He must have enjoyed those dodgems for about forty-five years, some of that before my time. On behalf of my wife Brenda and the Mosley family I thank the owners of that dodgems ride and wish that they prosper long. Thank you also for your interesting magazine, which I pass along as far as Malta. David Storer, High Peak Lodge, No. 1952, Buxton, Derbyshire

IN REMEMBRANCE Sir, On Saturday 5 October over twenty thousand bikers from across the country made their annual pilgrimage to the National Memorial Arboretum near Burton upon Trent to pay their respects to members of the armed forces who have lost their lives in the service of their country. Amongst these were more than sixty brethren, most being members of the Widows Sons Masonic Bikers Association, all from lodges across the country. They travelled from the north, south, east and west and at 1pm gathered in the Freemasons’ Garden to stand together for a few moments to remember lost friends, relations and brothers who have been lost in the various armed conflicts since the Second


Letters emailed to the editor should not be sent as attachments. Please include a home address and telephone number. An S.A.E. should accompany any photographs to be returned. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Grand Lodge of England.

John Perridge, Compass Lodge, No. 8765, Syston, Leicestershire and Rutland

Sir, I read with interest the letter of Denis Baker (Autumn 2013) regarding the dilapidated state of the Freemasons’ memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. I am a Warwickshire Freemason residing in Staffordshire and have visited the Arboretum on several occasions since it was first formed, including a visit just recently. I concur entirely with the comments made by Denis Baker and consider that the state of the Freemasons’ memorial reflects badly on Freemasonry in general and it needs improvement work carried out immediately. A notice board at the Freemasons’ memorial plot informs visitors that work is ongoing but this information is over five years old and there is no sign of any such work being carried out. The whole area occupied by the Freemasons’ memorial, together with the information notices, give it an abandoned and uncared for appearance. John Wileman, Goldieslie Lodge, No. 6174, Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire

Sir, May I assure all your readers that the concerns expressed about the Masonic Garden at the National Memorial Arboretum are shared by every member of the Staffordshire Province. For the past ten years we have not been allowed to do anything because it was expected that the new Visitor Centre would be extended over our garden and we would

be relocated. The plans for the new Centre have now been agreed and we can now make some progress. Our first plan was accepted this summer by the Arboretum but the cost of the project, £170,000, was too great and we are now finding out whether our second proposal is affordable. It is all complicated by the ground conditions: the site is a former sand and gravel quarry on a river flood plain with a high water table, and it is essential to build a concrete raft supported by piles. That alone will cost about £18,000. Plans are already in hand to replace the yew trees with a field maple hedge. When we have an affordable plan we hope that the United Grand Lodge of England will lead our fundraising efforts, supported by all the Provinces in the country, for a National Masonic Memorial in the National Memorial Arboretum to those Freemasons who have died in the service of their country. It would also be fortuitous if we can celebrate its completion and opening early in 2017 as part of our national celebration of three hundred years of Freemasonry in England. We are working hard to make this project a success and a credit to all concerned.

Sandy Stewart, Provincial Grand Master, Staffordshire

Sir, It was with great sadness I read of the passing of Reverend Neville Barker Cryer. His passing is a great loss to the Craft. I only once had the good fortune to meet him and listen to his thoughts. When an entered apprentice, I attended the ‘Let’s talk Freemasonry’ conference at Hemsley House in Salford. It was here that I was able to hear the Reverend speak; impart wisdom, knowledge and his own brand of acerbic wit. Indeed, when I read in the last issue the description of him as one of the last great modern ‘characters’, it raised more than a wry smile to my lips. Personally,

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LETTERS I found him enlightening, amusing and uncommonly direct. Despite him being in great demand for attention whilst at the conference, he took the time out to speak directly to me for a few moments. The encouragement and bolstering belief he kindly gave me in those moments will live with me always. Worlds, as they say, are turned on the smallest of thoughts and deeds. He had a clear opinion, and had the courage of his convictions and stuck with them. Richard Bardsley, Kitchener Lodge, No. 3788, Bolton, East Lancashire

LEFT: The showmen and their funfair found a warm welcome in Buxton


Andrew McWhirter, Luxborough Lodge, No. 4700, Loughton, Essex

Sir, Hear, Hear! I read with great interest John Hamill’s article ‘The Language of Mystery’ in the autumn issue, concerning the debate surrounding the call to modernise our ritual and language. To many brethren, this has all the hallmarks of ‘dumbing down’ – and to what end?

‘There are a complex number of issues that one has to consider with regards to recruitment within masonry. Quality is undoubtedly the major influencer in sustaining good numbers...’ Robin Norris


ABOVE: Members of the Widows Sons Masonic Bikers Association are among the bikers who make an annual pilgrimage to the National Memorial Arboretum LEFT: Social events are proving a successful means of boosting recruitment


Sir, I always enjoy reading John Hamill’s articles and found ‘The Language of Mystery’ in the last issue particularly interesting. I have, myself, what some might call an obsession with the origins, history and development of the English language and have, from time to time, presented a paper entitled ‘Language and Freemasonry’. In that paper, I make mention of the word ‘mystery’, with reference to Peter Ackroyd’s excellent book London: The Biography (Chatto & Windus, 2000). In chapter seven, where he discusses the medieval guilds, Ackroyd says that the word ‘mystery’ in this context derives from the French ‘metier’, meaning, of course, ‘trade’ or ‘profession’. It doubtless suits us in both meanings!


‘The way the members have supported me has helped me to understand that I am not defined by my disability but by who I am.’ Tony Baker

If the goal is to put ‘bums on seats’ we would do well to remember that in recent history, our larger churches went through this process of modernising their respective services in order to make them more accessible to a wider congregation. The result? A near collapse in church attendances bordering on seventy per cent. As John Hamill asks, do we really want to risk the current green shoots of growth just because some of our language may appear a bit ‘fuddy-duddy’ at times? Martin Day, Cyngesburie Lodge, No. 5607, London

GETTING TO KNOW YOU Sir, I was interested to read in your most recent edition of the concerns that many members have with regards to recruitment policies, and the quality and speed in which a member advances through the offices. All views expressed seem to have merit but there are a complex number of issues that one has to consider with regards to recruitment within masonry. Quality is undoubtedly the major influencer in sustaining good numbers years after many others have come and gone. Our lodge, White Eagle, adopted a policy some years back, which has some extremely encouraging results. The basis of recruitment had been to identify a character that a member could recommend, and put it to him on the first occasion whether or not he wished to be a mason – this often without any real knowledge of the organisation or any of the people within the particular lodge he might be joining. We identified this as being a policy which failed to produce the right quantity and quality of prospective masons. We therefore embarked on creating some ‘fringe events’, which include a dinner between 6pm and 7.30pm on Thursdays (as our Lodge of Instruction meets later that evening). Members are encouraged to invite anybody,


without the slightest notion of recruiting them into Freemasonry. This provides a way by which, through regular attendance, a prospective member could consider the characters involved in Freemasonry before making the enquiry to join himself. It is only once that person has proved themselves as somebody who would attend each Thursday for dinner, drinks and a social occasion (for say a year) do we begin to enquire if there is a deeper interest in them joining the organisation. By encouraging these dinners, the potential candidate also has the chance to introduce other friends with the possibility of them becoming interested. We have found it a most useful and successful recruitment policy. Because it is not an obvious recruitment event, it attracts more enquiries. It should also be noted that by creating an event on our regular Lodge of Instruction evenings, it maintains the interest and attendance of existing members which, in my own opinion, is the primary challenge that lodges face. On that point, we are purposefully delaying progress through the ranks, as rapid advancement has a tendency to put too much pressure on some, and they have a tendency to fall by the wayside, so to speak. I hope some other lodges find these ideas helpful. Robin Norris, White Eagle Lodge, No. 4384, London

MASONIC BACKING Sir, I have had an on-off relationship with oral and throat cancer since early 2000. During the latter part of 2010 it became obvious that the demon had returned in a big way and eventually the only course of action open to me was to undergo a complete laryngectomy procedure (removal of voice box). So, in the following January, I went full of trepidation to the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea. There were lots of messages of goodwill from the brethren at Malvern

Hills and regular enquiries from them to my wife Melanie. The operation was deemed a success in as much as it was thought I was cancer-free, albeit also voiceless. During the five weeks I spent in the hospital there was plenty of time to consider how my life going forward was going to be. Among my concerns was how I would be able to continue my masonic career: after all, there are no silent offices in the lodge. I returned to the lodge towards the end of the season and sat out the next couple of meetings wondering if I would now always be a ‘backbencher’. I need not have worried. The brethren invited me to take up my seat as Junior Deacon with the aid of a volunteer brother to stand with me and voice my words. This continued through my time in the Senior Deacon’s chair and now, in my role as Junior Warden, I perform my duties with the aid of an iPad and a text-to-speech app. I know it sounds a bit mechanical and lacks human emotion, but the brethren are constantly encouraging me and striving to reassure me that they are fine with the situation and that my path to the Master’s chair is in no way compromised. The way the members have supported me – from the Masters to the caterers (who cope admirably with my restrictive diet) – has helped me to understand that I am not defined by my disability but by who I am; and that has helped me in coping with my situation in all walks of life. At my initiation I said that I had heard that brotherly love was an integral part of Freemasonry, and that during that evening I already had a sense of that being present. My situation typifies that brotherly love and the general principles of Freemasonry, and makes me so pleased that I took that first step back in 2006.

Tony Baker, Malvern Hills Lodge, No. 6896, Malvern, Worcestershire



MYTHS AND LEGENDS Director of Special Projects John Hamill puts paid to some intriguing rumours that began circulating about Freemasonry after World War II


ver the past thirty years a great deal has been done by Grand Lodge, Provinces and Districts to dispel some of the myths that grew up about Freemasonry after World War II, when our organisation lost the habit of communicating with the non-masonic world. It is necessary work as there is little doubt that the repetition of those myths in the media and other areas has deterred candidates from joining the Craft. But members themselves have also been guilty of propounding stories that have little, if any, basis in reality, two examples being public access to membership registers and the role of the black tie. In the 1980s and 1990s, when politicians and public bodies were beginning to demand public registers of Freemasons, many brethren asked: ‘Why do they need them? Grand Lodge already has to send lists of members to the police.’ Not so, but there was a kernel of distorted truth at the centre of this one. In the 1790s, in the wake of the French Revolution, the government began to pass legislation to control radical political clubs, trade combinations and societies. This culminated in the Unlawful Societies Act of 1799, which made illegal any association or society that required its members to take an oath or obligation. Had it gone through in its original form, Freemasonry would have become illegal.

FIGHTING FICTION Timely intervention by Lord Moira and the Duke of Atholl, explaining Freemasonry’s apolitical nature and that the only ‘secrets’ were the traditional signs, tokens and words used as a test of membership, led to clauses in the Act exempting Freemasonry, with one major proviso. Once a year, every lodge had to send to its local clerk of the peace a return of all the members of the lodge with their names, ages, addresses and occupations. Those returns were available only to the

magistrates. The provision continued in force until 1966, when the Criminal Law Amendment Act removed a huge raft of what was considered obsolete legislation, including the Unlawful Societies Act. When the Craft tie was introduced as an alternative to a black tie there was an outcry among members. When questioned as to why they thought we wore black ties, the usual response was because the Craft was in mourning, for a multiplicity of personalities – from Hiram Abiff to Queen Victoria. The most prevalent claim, however, was that they were adopted in memory of those who lost their lives during World War I. Not true! The central memorial to those brethren is Freemasons’ Hall itself in London. Fortunately, Freemasons have never been averse to being photographed and there is a wealth of evidence to show how they dressed for meetings. From late Victorian times up to the 1930s, lodge dress was white tie and tails. Towards the end of World War I, with cloth becoming scarce, brethren began to wear dinner jackets with black bow ties. It was not until World War II that long black ties began to appear, for two reasons. In the face of clothing rationing, Grand Lodge relaxed the dress code, and in areas that were subject to the attentions of the Luftwaffe, meetings began to take place in daylight so that the brethren could get home before the air raids started. Normal professional day wear at that time was a short black jacket, white shirt and club or regimental tie. On leaving their workplace to go to lodge, brethren simply changed their tie for a long black tie, instead of the usual bow – and so began the habit of wearing morning dress for masonic meetings. We learnt a valuable lesson about communication after the war. Nature abhors a vacuum and in the absence of fact, it appears that a half-heard story could fill that space when it came to Freemasonry.

‘Freemasons have never been averse to being photographed and there is a wealth of evidence to show how they dressed for meetings.’


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Freemasonry Today - Winter 2013 - Issue 24  

Freemasonry Today - Winter 2013 - Issue 24