Freemasonry Today Spring 2024

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Freemasonry Today Issue 65 ~ Spring 2024 The new UGLE narrative BUILDING TOGETHER Issue 65 ~ Spring 2024 Science Fiction and Fantasy Craftcast meets a unique Special Interest Lodge Following Archway A resource for Royal Arch Chapters

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The official journal of the United Grand Lodge of England Issue 65 – Spring 2024

Editor Donna Hardie

Editorial Panel Adrian Marsh, Shaun Butler, Marta Zandri, Robert Frankl, Paul Grier, Elliott Chevin, Roger Maber, Richard Barnett, Martin Cherry, Guy Roberts

Published by Sunday, 207 Union Street, London SE1 0LN, for the United Grand Lodge of England, Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ

Editorial Manager Marta Zandri

Freemasonry Today, Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ

Advertising contact Ethan Hall

020 3832 2879 Square7 Media Ltd, 3 More London Riverside, London SE1 2RE

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© United Grand Lodge of England 2024. The opinions herein are those of the authors or persons interviewed only and do not reflect the views of the United Grand Lodge of England or Sunday.


4 From the Grand Secretary and Grand Scribe E Adrian Marsh welcomes you to the spring issue

Out and About

6 Project Welcome and an updated digital membership system Archway, prostate cancer screening, the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons appoints a Grand Master, and news and events from UGLE’s Provinces and Districts

Grand Lodge

60 Quarterly Communication

The Pro Grand Master’s address

62 60 years a Freemason

Michael Herbert receives the Grand Master’s Order of Service to Masonry

64 Solomon

The Mentor’s Corner Module on UGLE’s online learning portal

66 Members’ Pathway

Implementing UGLE’s new Strategy in Cumberland & Westmorland

Contact us

@freemasonry2day @ugle_grandlodge

FreemasonryToday UnitedGrandLodgeofEngland

@unitedgrandlodgeofengland @freemasonrytoday @freemasonshall


48 Championing inclusivity Freemasons fund support for autism

50 Craftcast: to boldly go

Sounding out the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Lodge

Daily advancement

54 Museum of Freemasonry

The fascinating records of erased Lodges

56 Georgian splendour

Leicester’s London Road Freemasons’ Hall

In the community

69 MCF and Freemasons

Supporting members and their families

Fraternal world

75 Home and abroad UGLE Lodges around the world

81 Your social media posts

82 Thēsauros

The fascinating and unusual

3 FMT Spring 2024 Contents
12 6 50 40


From the Annual Investiture to a personal tour of Provincial Lodges, Adrian Marsh looks forward to a new year of key Masonic events and activities

Dear Brethren and Companions, it is heartening to think that winter is now behind us, the evenings are getting lighter, the weather a bit warmer and our Masonic season is in full swing. I had the great privilege to install my successor as Master of Lodge Sine Nomine, No. 10,000, in January. It is somewhat trite to refer to it as an historic event given the Lodge is only three years old. However, it did feel so, given the new Master, Daniel Yu, is a member of the District Grand Lodge of Hong Kong and the Far East and the first Light Blue to become its Master. There will be another first for the Lodge in October when Daniel will Chair an emergency meeting of

the Lodge in Hong Kong and any Brethren who may find themselves there during the second week of October will be more than welcome to join us! I’m sure there are many of you who will have shared my emotions on installing a successor, the sadness of the year coming to an end, the delight in the excitement of the new Master, and the relief that one can finally put the ritual book down and relax for a bit! I am sure there are many members of the public who have spotted this strange chap walking his dogs and constantly muttering to himself.

It has been an honour and a privilege to be Grand Secretary, and having been appointed in September 2022, I am now lapping events and actually getting accustomed to the rhythm of our Masonic calendar. This time last year, I was a nervous wreck trying to anticipate what could go wrong at the Annual Investiture of Craft and Royal Arch in April. I was extremely fortunate to have a great team around me, and in particular a young man, Harry Gregory, who under the guidance of the Deputy Grand Secretary, Graham Redman, and Assistant Grand Secretary Shawn Christie, stepped up and led the team with great skill and assiduity. So much so, he was rewarded with being given the responsibility to organise the Quarterly Communication in Monmouthshire six months later! As it was, I had nothing to worry about and the only incident at either of the Investitures was entirely down to me, for some reason known only to myself, forgetting to invest three Officers. Fortunately, all three are on the UGLE staff so they were all very understanding and there were no complaints. I am now looking forward with excitement to this year’s event knowing the risk of any snags lies entirely with me.

The Annual Investiture is for many attending the proudest moment in their Masonic career. The Grand Temple is packed and receiving office in the presence of The Most Worshipful Grand Master, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent KG, is an extremely memorable occasion. Last December, The Grand Master celebrated the 60th anniversary of his Initiation into Royal Alpha Lodge, No. 16. This coincided with the Installation of the new Master of the Lodge, the Earl of St Andrews, who was in the unique position of proposing the toast to his own father at dinner afterwards! The Lodge is also about to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Initiation of The Most Worshipful Grand Master’s brother, Prince Michael of Kent GCVO, in March, which also promises to be a very enjoyable evening.

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One aspect of Masonic life I know we all enjoy is visiting other Lodges. As I set out in my first article for Freemasonry Today, it is my intention to visit a Lodge in every Province if I am fortunate to be kept in office long enough. After a slow start whilst I was getting on top of my brief, I have been a little more active in the past few months and have managed to visit Lodges and Chapters in Berkshire, Middlesex, East Lancashire, Cheshire and Hertfordshire, where I have been made to feel very welcome and have thoroughly enjoyed the openness of members and the willingness to discuss how they are embracing the Strategy. I will shortly be visiting in Devon, South Wales, Yorkshire, North and East Ridings, and East Kent, so only have 38 to go.

‘Everyone who visits Freemasons’ Hall always comments on how impressive our unique asset is and is amazed at its splendour’

Obviously, being based in London I have visited a number of Metropolitan units and also unattached Time Immemorial Lodges. One of the great aspects of our Ancient institution is that whilst each experience can be similar, there are never two Lodges that are the same – other than the level of hospitality you receive as a visitor.

Everyone who visits Freemasons’ Hall always comments on how impressive our unique asset is and is amazed at its splendour. Our visitors are extremely varied, and in recent weeks we have been visited not only by a delegation of the Norfolk Blues and their Candidates in waiting, but also by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, who have all commented to me on the splendour of our building.

Keeping Freemasons’ Hall, which is nearly 100 years old, in such a beautiful state is neither easy nor cheap and we have been doing our very best to manage this as effectively as we can. To this extent, we seem to be a go-to place in central London for the film industry to either film scenes or to locate cast and film crews whilst filming elsewhere in London. This generates external income to support us in our quest to manage our cost base. My wife, Sheilagh, always takes great pleasure in spotting our building in a film or a programme before I do. I have not told her to keep her eye out for it in either season three or season four of the Apple TV production Slow Horses so I might finally get in first with my inside information!

I hope you enjoy this edition of Freemasonry Today and please do feel free to let me know if there is anything you would like to see featured in the future and we will do our best to accommodate it.

5 Welcome FMT Spring 2024
The landmark London HQ of UGLE, such is the splendour of Freemasons’ Hall that it’s regularly used as a filming location


We are delighted to share the new narrative for the United Grand Lodge of England – consisting of several elements but united under the headline of BUILDING TOGETHER, a clear reference to Freemasonry’s heritage

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Building Together is UGLE’s new narrative – a fundamental and useful blueprint for the text and language needed to communicate the benefits and core values of Freemasonry to new and existing members.

The tagline for the narrative reads: Enabling personal growth, building friendships, and supporting communities, through timeless tradition.

The explanation of Why Freemasonry? reads: Freemasonry offers the opportunity to engage with like-minded people from different backgrounds whom you wouldn’t usually meet.

Freemasons actively engage in charitable events and activities. They dedicate time, resources and skills to support communities by being part of something that makes a difference to the world.

It provides an opportunity to explore your potential through improved self-knowledge and confidence on an enduring foundation of ethical and moral values.

Those values, upheld by its members, offer a framework for making better choices in life and living a more fulfi lling and purposeful existence.

The core values of the organisation have also been updated and now read:


Honesty, trustworthiness, honour, reliability and conscientiousness form the foundation of a virtuous character. They foster trust, maintain integrity and demonstrate commitment, ultimately leading to a life of strong principles and dependable actions.


Freemasonry gives members many opportunities to make a wide circle of friends for life who share common interests and values.

It provides a bond of friendship and sense of belonging. This promotes a feeling of enjoyment and fulfi lment.


From its earliest days, Freemasonry has respected the beliefs of its members. It promotes an environment where diversity is valued. It is a space where different beliefs and backgrounds converge, fostering an atmosphere of inclusivity, tolerance and harmony.



Whether participating in events, fundraising for a charitable cause or volunteering for public or community organisations, service is at the very heart of Freemasonry. Our members make valuable contributions by donating time, resources and skills.

When the Pro Grand Master launched the Strategy for Freemasonry, 2022 and Beyond at the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge in December 2022, he announced that, ‘Over the next seven years, we will enhance our reputation as a thriving organisation that people aspire to join and broaden our membership among all age groups.’

It was with this important aim in mind that it was decided that attention needed to be given to how UGLE communicates about itself. What language do we use to describe those particular elements of our Craft that for so long has attracted members from across all levels of society –unrestricted by class, race or religion?

This project was of particular importance, as we continue to expand the number of ways through which we communicate with the public and embrace the ever-changing landscape of new technologies and communication methods.

It was decided that the Members’ Pathway Working Party would be responsible for taking on this challenge, and from that, a small group was chosen to lead on the project. Overseen by Assistant Grand Master Steven Varley and group

Chairman Ian Copestake (Provincial Grand Master, Derbyshire), the team was made up of a diverse group of Freemasons, with various backgrounds and levels of experience within the Craft.

Ian Copestake Provincial Grand Master for Derbyshire and Chairman of the Members’ Pathway Working Party

Shaun Butler Director of Membership and Communications at United Grand Lodge of England

Chris Hirst Project Manager of the Members’ Pathway and Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London Members’ Pathway Representative

Mark Costelloe – Assistant Provincial Grand Master of East Kent and Deputy Chair of the Members’ Pathway Working Party.

In addition, the group chose to invite John Roscoe to assist with the project. As a psychologist with a wealth of experience, John would play a vital role in the testing of the work with members, with the intention of judging reactions and advising amendments. The group was determined that this project would be properly surveyed and ‘road-tested’ with the right audiences – something that had been lacking from other iterations of the project. The group was also supported by Peter Rees, who shared his considerable expertise on marketing and communications.

Building Together

The Building Together headline has obvious historical links to stonemasons and it was particularly successful when used in the recent

8 Grand Lodge UGLE’s narrative FMT Spring 2024


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Grand Lodge UGLE’s narrative

UGLE National Digital Marketing Campaign. Knowing this, it made sense for this work to use this headline.


It is impossible for us to encompass every reason that a member could have for becoming a Freemason, but this tagline demonstrates some of the most popular reasons as discovered through extensive surveying of members – personal growth as an individual, the friendships and relationships you gain, the amazing work conducted within our communities to help those in need – all entwined with timeless traditions that we celebrate and enjoy.

Why Freemasonry?

As we continue to communicate about Freemasonry in new and interesting ways, the chances of being asked about being a Freemason will increase. As such, we encourage members to have some thoughts on this prepared for when the question is asked. To assist with this, we have created some text that you can use to describe why you enjoy your Freemasonry.

Core values

You may already be aware of the four core values of United Grand Lodge of England – namely Integrity, Friendship, Respect and Service. It was announced at the September 2023 Quarterly Communication that Charity would be replaced with Service as a core value, to better represent the amazing array of work undertaken by Freemasons, including the many million hours of volunteering every year. In addition to this change, we have also added in some short overviews of why these values are so closely matched to Freemasonry.

What will this narrative be used for?

This language and text will now be used across all UGLE external communication channels and on marketing materials. It is designed to present the best elements of Freemasonry and the most compelling reasons for someone to become a Freemason.

It is both an attraction and retention tool, created to provide an enticing and engaging narrative of Freemasonry to both those joining and to keep those who are already members.


Members are encouraged to use our Tagline and Values when talking about membership. In the autumn, The Members’ Pathway will be updated and resources will be added. In the meantime, guidance on talking about Freemasonry can be found through this link to: Explaining to others what your membership means to you.

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Two weeks before he started his job as Chief Information Officer of UGLE in November 2022, Hugh Douglas-Smith got an insight into the challenge that awaited. He had just been installed as Master of the Buckinghamshire Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge, No. 9222, and on the following day received an email from Hermes, the UGLE membership management database for Lodges and Chapters, congratulating him on becoming Master.

‘This was brilliant as it meant everything was working,’ says Hugh. ‘But as I read through the message, I spotted some of the new officers I had appointed were not shown.’ On joining UGLE a couple of weeks later, these teething problems were top of the agenda, as was dealing with the huge number of support tickets that had amassed from the roll-out of Hermes prior to it being halted.

With the assistance of a dedicated team, two new major releases of Hermes followed, as well as a large number of patches and fixes, which has led to Hermes again being rolled out, albeit at a much slower and more manageable pace and focusing on smaller Provinces where it is able to deliver real and immediate benefits.

Hugh’s experience as a seasoned IT professional as well as having served as Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Buckinghamshire enabled him to understand both the technical details as well as the Masonic requirements.

‘Hermes is an extension of ADelphi, the core UGLE membership database system, where it provides a better-looking front end interface designed for use by Lodge Secretaries or Chapter Scribes,’ continues Hugh. ‘Both are based on Oracle, one of the world’s leading databases. However, we were faced with part of that technology in use being set to go “end of life”, meaning that support would either cease or become prohibitively expensive.’ Hugh put in place a plan to

Embracing change

UGLE’s Chief Information Officer Hugh Douglas-Smith talks to Peter Watts about an online membership system that will enrich the Masonic experience

review alternatives and to learn from the knowledge and experience of both ADelphi and Hermes to build a new system fit for the modern age.

‘My experience of membership systems is that to ensure data is kept up to date, you need to put it in the hands of its owners, this means letting individual members see and update their own details,’ explains Hugh.

Early in 2023, a steering group was set up and work started on the design of what has become known as ‘Project 2023’. In the summer, with a specification written, work was agreed by the Board of General Purposes and development commenced. Phase 1 of that development is now nearing completion and plans for launch around Easter time are being advanced. The new system will comprise

both a website and a smartphone app to engage with and put members directly in control of their own data.

How will this system be rolled out?

Hugh Douglas-Smith: ‘Project 2023 (or whatever is chosen as its new name) will be rolled out in phases, the plan is for two major releases or phases each year and for the first few years it will coexist and communicate with ADelphi and Hermes. Gradually, we will see functionality transferred but contact data entered into one will be instantly updated in the other.’

Where does that leave Hermes and ADelphi?

HDS: ‘We have seen major benefits from the roll-out of Hermes now that the system is stable, this has provided significant

FMT Spring 2024 12
Lodge Modernising the membership

improvements in the flow of data and provides a much more up-to-date picture of membership numbers where Lodges and Chapters have control of that data. We are, however, aware that as the size of the Province grows, the complexity, training and support needs increase greatly. So, our focus is to introduce Hermes into the smaller Provinces and work on Project 2023 and its functionality, such that by the time we move to the larger ones, the Hermes functionality will already exist in Project 2023.’

How do we fi nd out more about ‘Project 2023’?

HDS: ‘Over the past few months, we have delivered a series of workshops where we invited senior members from all of our Provinces and Districts to see and question what we were doing. I am indebted to Ian Clark of Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Neil Beverley of Essex Provincial Grand Lodge for their huge efforts in bringing these workshops together and running them. We had over 250 attendees who then went on to join an online forum where discussions continued. The ideas and experiences have been reviewed by the steering group and development team and planned into the Strategy. I believe we truly have a system that will form a core part of our membership experience and will both promote and support our Strategy.’

What can we expect to see in this and future releases?

HDS: ‘We have had two primary goals in mind during the design phase: ensuring that membership numbers and contact

details are accurately maintained and up to date; and providing an intuitive system that engages with members and connects them more directly with the fraternity.’

Can you give any examples?

HDS: ‘One of the key elements we want to embrace is to promote engagement. Imagine you have proposed one of your friends to become a Freemason. You attend their Initiation ceremony with them and afterwards you are able to look at your phone and search for the next Lodge to be conducting an Initiation at that location, then you can make contact with the Secretary and book you both in as visitors. This won’t be in Phase 1, but it paints a picture of where we are heading.’

So, what is in Phase 1?

HDS: ‘Phase 1 will deliver the foundation of the whole system, it will enable members to register and, once accepted, be able to view and update their contact data. Additionally, they will be able to upload a headshot photo, as well as add details of their skills and interests. This will later be used to enable Provinces and Districts to seek out potential members to support local activities. The app will also know which Lodges and Chapters you belong to and remind you of the next meeting, and download those meetings into your calendar. From a Provincial and District perspective, the Membership Challenge data will be available with the ability to investigate data in a more comprehensive way.’

Will it be available on members’ phones?

HDS: ‘Yes, either a phone app or via

a website. Some features will only be available on the web, but they are aimed more towards the admin user. In general, we want to make this accessible to all.’

So if this is available to everyone, are there any security risks?

HDS: ‘We take our responsibilities to protect our members’ data very seriously and have designed this system to ensure that we meet all of our obligations under GDPR. There is, therefore, a process that each member will need to go through in order to create their account and be able to use the system. We have made this as intuitive as possible, but we have to ensure we keep data safe. There will therefore be occasions when an automatic match is not possible, and in these cases the local Provincial/District office will be notified to help verify your details. Ensuring your ADelphi email address matches the one you use to register will greatly assist.’

Do you have any advice for members to ensure that they can register and use the app as easily as possible?

HDS: ‘We will need to match the data they provide on registration with those we already hold, so if their Hermes/ADelphi data is up to date, they should be automatically recognised. I would urge all members to advise their Lodge Secretaries or Chapter Scribes E of their current email address and other contact details and for these to be either entered into Hermes or reported up to their local offices to be updated on ADelphi.’

It sounds an exciting future. What’s next?

HDS: ‘Phase 1 is just the start. We have plans for a great many new features and functions, each one seeking to improve our communications, further engage with our members, report accurate and up-to-date membership data to our regional offices and support our Strategy. I urge anyone who has ideas to let us know. We have a feature list that is constantly being updated and prioritised, we really need to know what our members think.’

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membership Grand Lodge
UGLE CIO Hugh Douglas-Smith heads up a project to create a more engaging database for members. The new app and website has useful tools and features

The following is adapted from the speech given by Paul Renton, Chair of the Royal Arch Membership and Communications Working Party, to Supreme Grand Chapter in November 2023. In this address, he introduces Archway, a new resource for Royal Arch Chapters to use.

‘Companions, my name is Paul Renton and I am Chair of the Royal Arch Membership and Communications Working Party, or MCWP as it is known for short.

MCWP was set up by the Committee of General Purposes early in 2021, around the same time as the Members’ Pathway was released. One of our initial aims was to examine whether a similar asset was needed for the Royal Arch.

‘Archway’ is a resource that has been specifically designed for use by Royal Arch Chapters. I would like to emphasise that our approach to Archway has been underpinned by two key factors: fi rst, a considerable amount of background research – including several national surveys; second, a wide range of consultation processes about what was actually wanted.

Our fi rst task was to explore the vastly differing array of narratives used across our Constitution to explain the Royal Arch. To address this and provide a more consistent narrative, the Discover More booklet was created, which I believe has been well received.

The two national surveys we conducted asked recently exalted Companions about their experiences of joining, and Freemasons who have yet to join about their perception of the Royal Arch.

We were also able to examine a range of national statistics, along with the results of extensive consultation by the Rulers, with Grand Superintendents about their views of what was needed.

The main fi ndings were:

• The percentage of Craft members in the Royal Arch varied from 30 to 54 per cent across Provinces.

• One-to-one personal contact was given as the main reason for joining, along with


Back in November, Paul Renton presented plans for the new resource tool Archway to Supreme Grand Chapter

14 FMT Spring 2024 Royal Arch Introducing Archway

a perceived fascination of the Royal Arch and a desire to complete the journey in Pure Antient Masonry.

• However, while new members were warmly welcomed into their Chapters, many found the ceremony difficult to understand and needed encouragement to become actively involved or they would drift away.

• The general declining membership and age profi le was also identified as a critical issue.

• Finally, the support and encouragement of Royal Arch Craft Representatives was clearly identified as a critical part of any solution.

In essence, our research higlighted more than ever the need to create Archway.

When E Comp Patrick Penny addressed Supreme Grand Chapter two years ago, he indicated that Archway would not be a top-down model and that we would gather ideas, suggestions and feedback. This is exactly what we have done.

We therefore consulted a number of sounding boards or focus groups of Grand Superintendents and of Deputy Grand Superintendents – and we hijacked, in the nicest possible way, the past two annual meetings of Deputy Grand Superintendents to seek their ideas and to share our developments. We have also shared our progress at every stage with all Grand Superintendents, and sought their feedback via their RCG Liaison Group.

As work progressed, the main messages from these groups was that a clear narrative about the Royal Arch and its relationship with the Craft was essential to move forward, and that we must keep Archway simple for Chapters to use.

Work to address the fi rst of these issues began several years ago and I hope you

‘Archway is a series of resources and case studies from around the country that illustrate the “art of the possible” with a “Yes, if” approach’

would agree that our efforts to improve our communications strategy has seen a massive improvement in the profi le of the Royal Arch and greater clarity provided by the Discover More narrative. This has also laid the groundwork for the new, integrated Strategy for Freemasonry, with its clear reinforcement of the Craft and Royal Arch being ‘One Organisation’.

The tools within Archway are, therefore, just the fi nal part of this puzzle – it provides Chapters with simple resources and examples of good practice in how to address the more practical challenges they face.

But here I wish to stress that this is not a replica of the Members’ Pathway for the Royal Arch; rather, Archway is a series of resources and case studies from around the country that illustrate the ‘art of the possible’ – with a ‘Yes, if’, and not a ‘No, because’ approach.

It shows how Chapters can adapt and evolve to secure their future. Specific advice for Royal Arch representatives is also contained within various areas.

Chair of the Royal Arch Membership and Communications Working Party

Paul Renton

You can read more about the resource and materials at membership/archway

15 Introducing Archway Royal Arch FMT Spring 2024

Blueprint for success

Freemasons across the UK share the positive outcomes of implementing key elements of UGLE’s Strategy to reinforce and revitalise the membership

Essex Chapters champion Archway

It is early days yet, but there are clear signs, supported by positive feedback, that Archway will indeed have a strong impact on the growth and development of Chapters across the Province of Essex. Following the Supreme Grand Chapter meeting in November 2023, the new Archway initiative was launched in Essex with each Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals (APGP) writing to their Chapters to introduce the new user-friendly tool.

With infectious enthusiasm, the longest-serving APGP in Essex, John Crudgington, who has 30 Chapters, said, ‘I am so excited about this new initiative and want all the Companions to be as well. Archway is not a Members’ Pathway equivalent, but is a resource all members can access. It will help with ideas from attraction to enhancing the enjoyment of meetings, and so much more.’

The APGP’s enthusiasm has every right to be infectious. At a time when some Chapters are struggling with membership and need a plan, the simplicity of Archway will formulate a structure for the way forward. It really is as easy as that, a simple tool with four stones to click on – Shape, Grow, Involve and Enjoy – each of which contains valuable advice and guidance.

Archway is being well received by Chapters in Essex. The Scribe E of Blackwater Chapter, No. 1977, Barry Woodrow, said, ‘With only three ceremonies a year, one of which is the Installation, Blackwater has had a good run of new candidates but is on the lookout to do something else. Archway has a mechanism behind it to support you. This is much better than referring to old guides and pamphlets that were designed to be helpful, but some are now over 25 years old.’

Barry said, ‘Archway is the ideal toolbox to help do this and the younger members can easily and quickly follow, which is important, especially as we are finding time is at a premium for them. We have plans to set up an informal group to look at the toolbox and find things the Chapter may use more than others. It is giving us a chance to draw breath. With Archway, support is more easily available which was often a difficulty in the past.’

Barry also pointed out that most Scribes E may find some Companions want to seek and find, while others want to be guided and may then read a little more. A big plus point for Archway is that everything is at each user’s fingertips, so Barry awards top marks for the idea and concept. ‘Archway gives us what we need for support now, but it needs to be kept up to date and current,’ he said.

The Scribe E of Abbeygate Chapter, No. 4219, Arthur Cooke, forwarded the email he received from his APGP about Archway, with its open-access link and an attached introductory booklet, to all his members, encouraging them to explore it with the message ‘Hot off the press’. Although Arthur feels pleased that Archway emphasises much of what Abbeygate Chapter is already doing to make it successful, he also said, ‘Archway should not be a problem to any Scribe E and I know a number that are already using it.’

In February 2024, when most Chapters had met at least once since the launch of Archway, the Provincial Executive held a Royal Arch engagement call via Zoom for all Companions of the 120 Chapters in Essex that meet at 26 centres, inviting them to share what they love about the Royal Arch and what the winning formula is for their Chapter.

The aim of the meeting was to help solve challenges that will make Chapters thrive. With Archway now at everybody’s fingertips, the outcome should be both meaningful and productive, especially as one member of the Royal Arch Membership and Communications Working Party (MCWP) who has had a large input, Elliott Chevin, is the Deputy Grand Superintendent of Essex.

16 FMT Spring 2024 Out and About Implementing the Strategy
John Crudgington (second left), the longest-serving APGP in Essex, is very enthusiastic about the new resource, Archway

The Province of Somerset leads from the front

Since the Pro Grand Master announced the Membership Challenge at the end of 2022, it has been actively promoted across the Province of Somerset by the Provincial Grand Master (ProvGM) and his officers.

Many Lodges were quick to rise to the Challenge by making themselves even more visible to their local communities, with some very encouraging results.

The Fidelity and Sincerity Lodge at Wellington secured four candidates through their involvement with the local 2023 summer fair. The Lodge of Agriculture at Yatton enjoyed similar success through its involvement with the local rugby club. The Lodge of Prudence and Industry at Chard now has 14 candidates as a result of monthly informal coffee mornings where members are encouraged to bring a friend. And there has been quite an amazing turnaround for these and other Lodges.

particularly through active consideration of the four core areas of the Members’ Pathway – to Plan, Attract, Engage and Retrieve.

MCVs have also been introduced to Royal Arch Chapters that have seen a decline in membership numbers during the same period. The issues faced by Somerset’s 29 Chapters are, of course, somewhat different to those faced by Lodges, but are known to be inextricably linked.

Somerset swiftly adopted a proactive implementation of the Members’ Pathway through numerous presentations to the membership throughout 2023.

The message continues to be upheld in Somerset Lodges through active support from the Membership and Mentoring Officers appointed to each of the five areas within the county.

The successes of UGLE’s National Digital Marketing Campaigns (NDMC) via Facebook were also recognised. Somerset funded two of their own and were responsible for nearly 70 applicants.

This year will see yet more Provincial activity, promoting the Challenge in Somerset with the introduction of Membership Challenge Visits (MCVs), where each of the 84 Lodges will be visited during the year by the ProvGM, his Deputy or one of the Assistant ProvGMs, together with a supporting team of Provincial Officers. The purpose of the visits is to explain the exact nature of the Challenge for Somerset in general and for their own Lodges, and why it is vitally important that every Brother should be involved in its implementation.

The ProvGM has requested that Lodges allow the attendant Provincial Ruler a half-hour slot at the beginning of the Lodge meeting to make the presentation. This will include:

a) An overview of the decline in individual membership numbers across the Province during the past 15 years, down from 4,000 to 3,000, and the possible reasons for it.

b) How the Lodge receiving the presentation has performed during that same period.

c) How the Lodge can increase its membership,

Encouragingly, Somerset’s Chapters have already demonstrated a positive response to the Membership Challenge, with the number of Companions in the Province actually rising by 1 per cent during 2023; the first time there has been an increase for many years.

The first Craft MCV presentation was made by the ProvGM Ray Guthrie to St Alphege Lodge, No. 4095, in Bath back in January. The evening also included the Lodge performing an excellent double Second Degree ceremony for Brothers Tin Ho Clarence Ng and Amit Paul Jathoul. The first of the Chapter MCV presentations was made a few days later, on Tuesday 9 January, again delivered by Ray, to Connaught Chapter, No. 3573, at Midsomer Norton, with a similar reception and response. That evening also included the Exaltation of Companion Richard Gilson into the Chapter.

The Province of Somerset looks forward to reporting sustainable future growth, through the dedication of those already involved in planning the delivery of the Strategy, supported by the wholehearted and pragmatic participation of all its members.

‘Archway has a mechanism behind it to support you. This is much better than referring to old guides and pamphlets that were designed to be helpful, but some are now over 25 years old’
17 Implementing the Strategy Out and About FMT Spring 2024
Above: Provincial Grand Master of Somerset Ray Guthrie at the Membership Challenge Visit. Above right: ceremony at St Alphege Lodge

The Cambridgeshire circuit

In 1628, Cambridge graduate Dr William Harvey proposed a new theory about the way in which blood circulates around the body. Some 400 years later, while he would have been appalled at the way in which his theories are illustrated in school textbooks, his intellectual curiosity would undoubtedly have been stimulated by the Claret and Blue network that exists throughout Cambridgeshire Freemasonry.

One of the smallest Provinces in the UK, Cambridgeshire has 33 Lodges and 14 Chapters distributed among seven Masonic centres. Long before the advent of Light Blues, the Cambridgeshire ‘circuit’ was born. Together with the Provincial Executive, the Worshipful Master of every Lodge is invited to every Craft Installation meeting. Likewise, a Principal from each Chapter is welcomed to every other Royal Arch Installation. It is customary to see a crowd of visiting Masters/Principals arrayed in the North East, watching the proceedings with interest and preparing to welcome the latest addition to their ranks, while simultaneously bidding a metaphorical farewell to the ‘former companion of their toils’.

David Moat of St Etheldreda Lodge and St Etheldreda Chapter tells of his Freemasonry journey in the Province. ‘I was installed as Worshipful Master of St Etheldreda Lodge for the second time in February 2023, having been originally installed in 2019. The Cambridgeshire circuit has now taken me throughout the whole Province, introduced me to variations in working practices, differing perspectives and has enabled me to make many new friends. I look forward to experiencing the same opportunities as a Principal of my Chapter. I have even been part of the Provincial pantomime cast, which has further expanded my Masonic horizons beyond my Mother Lodge and Chapter in Newmarket.’

Over the past 10 years, the Cambridgeshire Light Blues have contributed to the circuit, and the Clarets, unique to Cambridgeshire, are rapidly gaining strength as the Royal Arch equivalent. The Light Blues Buddies Scheme regularly coordinates visits by groups of recently

Companions from Cambridgeshire Chapters present a talk on the banners of the Twelve Tribes of Israel

Initiated, Passed or Raised Brethren to watch another, often subtly different iteration of the ceremony to reinforce its messages, develop friendships and build an awareness of the variety to be found Province-wide.

With the Province’s Past Deputy Grand Superintendent closely involved with the development of the Archway scheme, it’s not surprising that the Cambridgeshire Clarets were launched to great acclaim in 2023. Their core values of Companionship, Comprehension and Compassion have been crafted to address attraction, retention and retrieval. Meetings under the Clarets banner have included an explanation of the design of the Royal Arch jewel and presentations about the banners of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, shared by Companions from every Cambridgeshire Chapter.

Mark Shields, Deputy Grand Superintendent, said, ‘We’re very excited by the way in which the concept of the Clarets has been received throughout the Province. The first events generated a lot of interest, a great deal of discussion and plenty of suggestions for the future. Companions from all our Chapters are keen to get involved, with new partnerships, themed meetings and ideas for our Chapter of Instruction already identified as priorities for our Clarets Committee. The future is bright – the future is Claret!’

Cambridgeshire regularly punches above its weight, as the £1.2 million raised for the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF, the Freemasons’ charity) during its 2023 Festival demonstrated. The Masonic culture and working practices that have been augmented by the Cambridgeshire circuit have attracted interest beyond our borders. A team from Warwickshire visited the Chapter of Pythagoras in Cambridge to watch one of the 14 different Royal Arch rituals worked throughout the Province. More recently, a keen group of the Norfolk Blues visited Caldwell Lodge in the lovely Fenland town of March to meet a corresponding group of their Cambridgeshire counterparts.

Had William Harvey been a Freemason in the 21st century he would have been delighted to see how the Claret and Blue circuit is the life-blood of Cambridgeshire – ‘communicating light and imparting knowledge’ throughout the Province, widening participation, creating collaborations and building enduring friendships between Lodges, Chapters, Brethren and Companions.

‘With the Province’s Past Deputy Grand Superintendent closely involved with the development of the Archway scheme, it’s not surprising that the Cambridgeshire Clarets were launched to great acclaim’
18 FMT Spring 2024 Out and About Implementing the Strategy

West Lancashire Freemasons take strategic steps forward

The change in leadership in West Lancashire coincided with a major focus on the future and direction of Freemasonry under the UGLE banner and associated messaging around the Strategy and Archway project.

West Lancashire Freemasons were keen to align with the Strategy and one of the most significant actions taken was to follow the ‘One Organisation’ principle by creating closer links between the Craft and Royal Arch. Provincial Grand Master (ProvGM) Mark Matthews said, ‘If we are to truly embrace the principle of Craft and Royal Arch united as one organisation, then the structures within the Province need to fully reflect that principle.’

Prior to 2022, Craft and Royal Arch Feemasonry had separate Cabinets, with decision-making and organisation taking place independently of each other, but 2022 saw the introduction of one Cabinet for both, with rigorous governance consistent across the entire organisation. This change enables more consistent written, verbal and online messaging and creates a greater understanding among senior officers – each member of the Cabinet providing concise and in-depth reports on their particular portfolio and activities.

For senior officers, engaging with the membership is of paramount importance to ensure effective communications and messaging and to foster an inclusive and friendly environment. The Provincial Strategy requires that senior officers increase their visibility at regular meetings – especially Initiations and Exaltations and degree ceremonies, plus social events – and not restrict their activity to formal Installations, centenaries and celebrations.

In a Province with so many Lodges and Chapters, many senior officers, not members of the Cabinet, are called on to represent the ProvGM/Most Excellent Grand Superintendent (GSupt). Consistent messages regarding the Strategy from all senior officers representing the ProvGM/GSupt is achieved by written directions communicated to them along with the formal instructions for the event. This way, important messages are reinforced to the membership and delivered in a consistent and meaningful way.

The Membership Challenge has been addressed in the same manner, concentrating on new members for the Craft and the percentage of Craft Freemasons who are members of the Royal Arch. Increasing Royal Arch membership is a work in progress, with the Province looking to be far more proactive. Each Craft Lodge has a Royal Arch contact, whose role is to identify and assist Master Masons ready to take the next step.

Talks in Craft Lodges are taking place that explain the Royal Arch and encourage membership. Following the success of Special Interest Lodges in the Craft, similar Chapter initiatives have proved successful. For example, the Bikers’ Chapter has shown substantial

growth and has just held an emergency meeting to Exalt five candidates into the Royal Arch.

Yielding further positive results is an initiative where the GSupt personally wrote to members who have never joined the Royal Arch or are unattached, inviting them to join or consider rejoining. More than 3,000 members received such letters.

In terms of Craft membership and attraction, a number of initiatives are taking place. Central to this is the strong support given to Membership Officers. A robust structure is in place from Provincial to group and individual Lodge level, whose success is supported by a sturdy administrative process for new membership.

Retention in both Royal Arch and Craft should run alongside the recruitment process. Much emphasis is placed on what they consider ‘the new Mason experience’ where through the Mentor system, extra support is given in Lodge and Group. As a fledgling activity, it has already led to a significant reduction in the number of new members leaving within the first one or two years.

The Province is also keen to promote activities and events for Light Blues, both Province-wide with meetings, seminars and special events, and at Group level with participation in Light Blue clubs and events.

A final word from ProvGM/GSupt Mark Matthews: ‘The overall focus of the Province is achieving the delivery of the Strategy whilst maintaining the fun, enjoyment and friendship elements of Freemasonry. As a Province, we are working hard to achieve the best possible outcomes. We are up for it, and we are doing it, relying on the commitment, engagement and application of our Craft and Royal Arch members.’

Assistant ProvGM

Andy Whittle and Royal Arch

Assistant John Murphy attending the Initiation of Michael McGinnis by WM Gary Devlin, in line with the Strategy

19 Implementing the Strategy Out and About FMT Spring 2024

Brethren, in the absence of a national screening programme, the Chaps/Tackle/Masonic (CTM) project commenced in 2022 to provide a national response to the problem of how best to address the increasing numbers of men presenting with and dying from prostate cancer. Planned as a three-year project, it provides reliable access and proof that we can deliver screening on a large scale across England and Wales via the network of Masonic Provinces, supported by a parallel network of prostate cancer support groups (Tackle) and screening charities. To date, we have achieved the following:

• The PSA-based screening protocol has been adopted by major screening charities in England and Wales.

• Half of the Masonic Provinces in England and Wales are engaged in the project, eight directly with the men’s health charity CHAPS and the rest with our operational partner, the Graham Fulford Charitable Trust.


Clinical director Chris Booth and Masonic Liaison Frank Tiller explain the roll-out of a groundbreaking Masonic prostate cancer screening project, and invite you to join a conference at Freemasons’ Hall on 26 March 2024

FMT Spring 2024 Out and About Health check 20
In a successful take-up, half of the Provinces in England and Wales are already engaged in this groundbreaking project

• The project’s clinical director has been co-opted on to the advisory board of the European PRAISE-U prostate cancer screening programme.

• Through the kind support of UGLE, we are running the UK’s first comprehensive conference on prostate cancer screening with leading international and national expert speakers.

Members are invited to join a conference at Freemasons’ Hall on 26 March. The objective is to confirm that we can screen at scale, then listen and implement improvements. The second half will be devoted to discussion and implementation of best screening practice, with a view to recruiting more Provinces.

The timing of the conference comes at a critical point for early diagnosis in the UK. Our mortality rate is one of the worst in Europe due, in no small part, to half of new cases still presenting with advanced, incurable prostate cancer.

The National Screening Committee is shifting its position and seems amenable

to large-scale trials of ‘targeted’ screening aimed at the early diagnosis of prostate cancer in men at higher risk by virtue of a positive family history, or of Black African or Caribbean heritage.

Unfortunately, this will miss most men who have no such risk factors and in whom most cancers are diagnosed. Waiting for these trial results may delay the implementation of a comprehensive national screening programme. This is a key message for a national audience, so the importance of this conference needs no further emphasis.

The role of the participating Provinces has been fundamental to the development of this project and its wider benefits to society. Data collected since 2020, including screenings pre- and postcommencement of the project by Provinces within the UGLE umbrella, reveal that 6,600 men have been screened with 92 per cent clear of the disease and 8 per cent flagged as having the likelihood of an undiagnosed prostate condition. Of these men, 330 (5 per cent) were

recommended to see their GP with a view to being referred to a consultant urologist.

During 2023, CHAPS followed up with the 255 (8.7 per cent) men in the CTM project who had abnormal PSA tests in 2022. So far, 52 (1.8 per cent) have been diagnosed with cancer and most have had surgery or other medical interventions.

To put this into perspective, 1.8 per cent is twice the breast cancer screening detection rate of 0.9 per cent. We hope that those Provinces that are not already signed up will send delegates to the conference. For details of the provisional programme and invitation contact:

To understand how a PSA blood test can impact a life, listen to the Craftcast episode featuring Frank Tiller’s journey at uk/discover-freemasonry/resources/ podcasts/mens-health-franks-story

21 FMT Spring 2024 Health check Out and About

Women’s Freemasonry welcomes its new Grand Master

Members of the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons descended on Freemasons’ Hall to see their new Grand Master installed in a historic display of ritual and ceremony

On a Sunday afternoon in January, around 200 women from the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (HFAF) arrived at Freemasons’ Hall to attend the enthronement of their new Grand Master, Carol Cole.

Since the fraternity’s first Grand Master, Elizabeth Boswell-Reid, who founded the Grand Lodge in 1913, Grand Masters historically remained in office for life. The fraternity has come a long way since then, and under the reign of Grand Master Evelyne Barclay, a prominent visionary of the Order, the appointed succession was changed to the present voting system. In 1994, she installed Eileen Gray who was Grand Master by democratic vote for the nominated four-year period, a practice still in place today.

Following a democratic vote of the Board of General Purposes in September 2023, two Grand Lodge Officers receiving the most votes submitted themselves to a vote of those Brethren qualified to do so throughout the fraternity. These were Carol Cole, Grand Chaplain, and Chrissy West-Webbe, Grand Director of Ceremonies. In October’s HFAF Grand Lodge meeting, a packed Temple awaited the results to discover who would be declared the new Grand Master-elect. As the votes were counted, the Brethren witnessed their Grand Chaplain, Carol Cole, elected to be Grand Master.

Despite the customary eight-year reign (of two elected four-year periods), 10 years had passed since HFAF had seen a new Grand Master enthroned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, at 1.30pm on 28 January, the ceremony began at Freemasons’ Hall in Lodge No. 10, the Egyptian Room.

Once Enthroned, Carol Cole did not disappoint the attending Brethren. In a display of exquisite ritual, she became the 10th Grand Master of the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons.

Accompanied by her newly invested Deputy Grand Master, Helen Levene, and re-invested Assistant Grand Master, Maxine Sherman, Carol continued to invest her Grand Lodge officers in a packed Lodge room, with

Brethren from across the UK as well as those who had made the journey from Gibraltar, Spain, Romania, the US, India, Germany and Brazil.

Not shying away from wanting to put her plans into immediate action, the wheels are already in motion to find a new Grand Lodge headquarters. Carol’s main objective is to bring the fraternity closer together, reinforce the principles of the order of Community and Service, and to build on the seven Nolan Principles of Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty and Leadership.

Carol was first introduced to the concept of Freemasonry at a PTA meeting in 1990, when she was asked if she would like to be put forward as a potential candidate. Still working in her own international shipping business and balancing home life with four children, Carol researched and applied to join HFAF. With a long waiting list of candidates for initiation, she was eventually initiated in 1991 into Grace Bilantz Lodge, No. 34. Not wanting to keep the joy of Freemasonry from her husband, she encouraged him to consider joining, and with equal interest he soon followed suit, making it a family affair.

Interestingly, having gone through the chair in Craft, Chapter, Mark, RAM, Rose Croix, and about to take the chair in Knights Templar before the COVID-19 pandemic forced closure of the Order, the new Grand Master’s favourite office has in fact been in the Craft, as Director of Ceremonies for Installed Masters Lodge No. 12, which she held for 11 years.

Her love of Freemasonry and, in particular, her own Order is refreshing, and her Officers and Brethren are very much expecting great things from her appointment. With an exciting four-year plan pending publication, Brethren are equally looking forward to the changes ahead.

Her whole fraternity and UGLE wishes The Most Worshipful The Grand Master Carol Cole the very best of luck in her new adventure.

23 FMT Spring 2024 Fraternity & Freemasonry Out and About
HFAF and UGLE wish The Most Worshipful The Grand Master Carol Cole the best of luck in her new adventure Shop at Freemasons’ Hall


150 years of history

In May last year, The Great City Lodge, No. 1426, celebrated its 150-year anniversary, exactly to the date that it was Consecrated in 1873.

Dispensation was granted by Metropolitan Grand Lodge to hold an extra meeting to mark this special anniversary. This was held at the Lodge’s regular meeting place, the Wax Chandlers’ Hall in Gresham Street, London.

The Worshipful Master was Duncan Ward and his Wardens were Brian Townsend and Shantha Perera. There were nine honoured guests, including Christopher Hayward, Deputy Metropolitan Grand Master, and Scott Simpson, Metropolitan Grand Inspector. There were 23 other guests and 22 members of the Lodge present.

The Lodge was opened at 4.35pm and Christopher and Scott and their Escorts were admitted into the Lodge by the Metropolitan Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, James Skegg. Guests were welcomed by the Worshipful Master and special salutations were given to the Deputy Metropolitan Grand Master. The meeting continued with a presentation of the Lodge over the past 150 years given by the Secretary, Graham King.

The meeting then proceeded with John Rowe-Parr presenting to the Lodge the newly restored 1873 Bible. He explained that this was the original Bible presented to the Lodge by the first Worshipful Master James Stevens. It weighs 22lbs and due to previous continuous use was in poor condition. A significant number of pledges were made by the Brethren which have allowed this beautiful book to be restored. It has been agreed to only use this special but delicate Bible at the Installation ceremonies of new Worshipful Masters.

The meeting was then closed and, following a reception, guests moved to the Festive Board in the Main Hall and the Worshipful Master and the Guests of Honour were piped to their seats by the

Lodge piper Ralph Potter. There followed a special banquet, part-funded by the members of the Lodge through donations over several years.

After toasts, Dean O’Connell, Provincial Communications Officer, congratulated the members on their 150th anniversary. A Charity Column was passed, raffles and auctions were made, and several thousand pounds raised. The evening ended with the Tyler’s Toast.


Panto project

Across Berkshire, more than 700 children attended a pantomime over the festive season thanks to Berkshire Freemasons’ Panto Project. Started in 2005, the project aims to bring the joy of pantomime to children facing mental, physical or financial challenges. It is funded principally by Freemasons throughout Berkshire, together with a contribution from the Louis Baylis Charitable Trust.

On 5 December, Theatre Royal Windsor played host to Aladdin, with more than 360 seats funded by Berkshire’s Freemasons. Some of the leadership team were in attendance to oversee the ‘Oh no he isn’t’, alongside Freemason volunteers and their families, who helped make the event happen. Santa was also on hand during the interval, giving out ice creams generously funded by Beechdean Dairies.

To reach out to more children who find it hard to cope with a trip outside their familiar surroundings or are restricted by accessibility issues, a small touring pantomime called in at Addington School, Woodley, the next day.

In addition, the Freemasons’ Panto Project has contributed £1,500 to the Corn Exchange Newbury’s Pay-it-Forward appeal. This raises funds to let those most in need in their community enjoy a live pantomime performance.


Masonic aid to Ukraine

Last April, four Worshipful Masters from Bristol set out on a 3,500-mile round trip to deliver humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Pat Nagle (Saint Vincent Lodge, No. 1404), Andy Moore (Robert Thorne Lodge, No. 3663), Lee Botterill (Baily Lodge, No. 5239) and Simon Moss (Anchor Lodge, No. 6502) were inspired to support Bristol charity From Bristol With Love, by driving two

vans of aid across the continent to help those affected by the ongoing conflict.

The planned venture captured the hearts of the Bristol Masonic community and a fundraiser was launched to help support the costs of the rental vans and fuel. More than £8,200 was raised, far exceeding the baseline costs of the mission. The surplus funds allowed the transport team to purchase four pallets of emergency food supplies at the Ukraine border, in addition to the 2.6 tonnes of aid they had already shifted across Europe. This has allowed the Province of Bristol to have a tangible impact on the lives of Ukrainians, and has shone a light on the generosity of Freemasonry.


Enhanced experience

Last summer, John Clark, the ProvGM of Buckinghamshire, launched Project Transform, a drive to install cutting-edge sound and lighting systems in every Lodge Room throughout the Province.

Led by Tim Anders, Project Transform installed systems at the majority of centres thanks to contributions from Lodges that were then matched by the Province. The revolutionary effort has already improved the ambience and overall effect of Lodge ceremonies, making them more memorable and engaging.

Inspired by Project Transform, Slough Masonic Centre presented the makeover of their Lodge Room in January 2024, featuring a lit panel (above) depicting the four cardinal virtues from the Grand Temple at Freemasons’ Hall, London.

27 FMT Spring 2024 UGLE Provinces Out and About

Grae Laws, Provincial Communications Officer for Buckinghamshire, was allowed entry to the Grand Temple to take the photographs used in the panel’s design. The final artwork was printed on flameresistant material and stretched over an illuminated lightbox. Slough Masonic Centre Manager Gary Brodie oversaw the installation process. ‘This is exactly what I hoped for our Lodge Room – colour, drama, and spectacle, he said. ‘Project Transform has advanced to the next level.’

The unveiling coincided with the launch of Buckinghamshire Freemasons’ 2024 Strategy. This aims to further improve Project Transform by providing technical support staff, training manuals, implementation plans and access rights to licensed music.

John says, ‘By implementing these strategies, the “Transform Your Lodge” initiative aims to create a more engaging and immersive experience for ceremonies, fostering a sense of unity and pride.’

Back to school

Derbyshire Freemasons came to the rescue of pupils who were preparing for their GCSEs after their school, Mercia Academy, was closed without warning due to safety concerns.

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Derbyshire Freemasons opened its doors after a call from Alternative Education. The organisation specialises in children’s alternative education through small group learning, physical education and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It works with pupils’ behavioural needs at schools such as Mercia Academy, and had been talking to the Derbyshire Freemasons about using their hall for lessons.

Malcolm Prentice and Richard Clarke of Derbyshire Freemasons and the team from across East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire worked throughout the

weekend to make sure the building was ready to welcome the pupils on Monday. Space was cleared, desks were laid out and the building soon resembled a classroom. The hall is used as a school until 3.30pm, before being used for ceremonies.

Malcolm said, ‘I’m heartened that so many people within the Freemasons and the local community cared that much about the education of the youngsters to prepare this incredible facility. We are happy to have been able to help the teenagers of Mercia Academy and wish them the best of luck in their exams.’

Alternative Education’s Charles Underhill said, ‘We are inspired by the possibilities that arise when community organisations come together to support our youth. The partnership between Derbyshire Freemasons and Alternative Education Ltd serves as a testament to the strength of community bonds and the positive impact they can have on the lives of our students.’


In with the new

At an Emergency Meeting held in November under the banner of The Lodge of St Peter in Exeter, Devonshire’s new Deputy Provincial Grand Master was proclaimed and Invested.

The Lodge was opened by the Ruler Giles Lin who requested that the dispensation to hold an especial meeting was read. The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies was then admitted to the Lodge to notify all present that the Provincial Ruler, Nicholas Ball, was outside the door and demanded admission. He was led in by the Provincial Grand Sword Bearer and followed by an impressive procession with the two standard bearers passing through a guard of honour made up of four Assistant ProvGMs, two Past ProvGMs, the Past Deputy ProvGM, Grand Officers and Active Provincial Grand Officers.

The Lodge Director of Ceremonies saluted the ProvGM, who responded suitably. The Worshipful Master then proffered the gavel to the ProvGM, who accepted it on this special occasion and took the chair. Dr Richard Ebrey was then admitted to the Lodge, escorted by members of his Lodge and the cushion bearer carrying his new chain of office.

The Provincial Director of Ceremonies announced, ‘Be it known that Dr Richard John Ebrey, a Fellow of the Institute of

Biomedical Science, Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies and Past Provincial Grand Secretary for the County of Devonshire, has this day been Appointed, Obligated, Invested and Installed as Deputy Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Devonshire.’

The new Provincial Deputy Grand Master was then given the traditional salute of office by those present, and the Lodge was closed according to ancient custom.


On the frontline

The Fire and Rescue Service in Dover has a long-standing tradition of spreading Christmas cheer to children. This year, however, the sleigh used for the Santa tours needed repairs and upgrades. In a heart-warming act, the Military Jubilee Lodge, part of East Kent Freemasons, stepped up to donate £1,000 towards refurbishing the sleigh and to support the Fire Fighters Charity.

Dave White and Lewis Woodward, representatives from the Dover Fire and Rescue Service, were invited to the Lodge to receive the donation. During their visit, they were given an insight into the Freemasonry community and toured the Lodge’s facilities. They were then treated to Christmas dinner, a gesture that exemplified the warmth and generosity of the East Kent Freemasons.

Dave Prescott, President of the Military Jubilee Lodge, had the honour of presenting the firefighters with the donation. He expressed his unwavering support for the local firefighters and their efforts within the community. Support from organisations such as the East Kent Freemasons is crucial in maintaining the wellbeing of the firefighters and ensuring they can continue their invaluable service.

Dave White, representing the Dover firefighters, expressed gratitude for the generous gift. He emphasised the

Out and About UGLE Provinces 28 FMT Spring 2024

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significance of the Fire Fighters Charity, and how it had helped him personally after an accident and subsequent recovery at Harcombe House in Devon. This facility, funded by the Fire Fighters Charity, offers essential resources, such as a gym, a sports hall, an indoor swimming pool and specialised treatment rooms to aid injured firefighters in their recovery.

Through the kind support of organisations like the Military Jubilee Lodge and the Fire Fighters Charity, the physical and mental wellbeing of firefighters across the country is ensured. Their efforts are essential in providing critical support to those brave individuals who put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe.

Strategy in action

The Province of Essex is fortunate to have five exceptionally hardworking and capable Provincial teams spearheading the implementation of the Strategy. A year’s work was showcased in December at Upminster Masonic Hall when the Province held its first cluster Lodge meeting with a short presentation given by each of the team heads.

The Almoners have helped many throughout the year, as well as playing an important role in membership retention. The Charity Stewards are aware of the responsibility they have to all Essex Freemasons who have donated money to charities and communities where support with a grant will have the most effect.

They also encourage individual Lodges to support local good causes with fundraising activities that may sometimes be match-funded.

The Membership Officers are in the vanguard of the Members’ Pathway, attracting and encouraging new members to Freemasonry and helping Lodges create enjoyment and add value for members. Provincial Grand Mentors promote good practice to all Lodge Mentors so that

everyone can enjoy their Freemasonry, which in turn increases the likelihood of recommending their friends to join.

The Communications team helps raise the profile of the Province by supporting news publicity about Essex Freemasonry. The team also generates three monthly newsletters, has created a newly combined Provincial website and has a high-profile social media presence. With 59 press releases issued in 2023, Essex has done extremely well in showcasing a forwardlooking Province. Whether published or not, by listing the press releases on the Provincial website, the membership sees how active the Province is in public. This generates feelings of satisfaction and confidence all-round, resulting in more members and greater retention.

Colin Felton, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, said, ‘When the end-of-year figure is known, it may be that the Province of Essex will have been successful in achieving positive growth in 2023.’

Colin announced that the next cluster meeting for the Provincial teams and their Lodges will be hosted by Richard Clowes Lodge, No. 2936, the Almoners Lodge, whose next Worshipful Master is Johnson Beharry VC.


Above and beyond

Gloucestershire’s Project 21 Imaging Appeal was developed over two years with the aim of supplying essential mobile diagnostic equipment to hospitals across the Province. Despite the seemingly ambitious goal of raising £300,000 within a relatively short period, the appeal resonated widely. Thanks to the overwhelming support from individuals and Lodges, expectations were not only met but exceeded.

Tim Henderson-Ross, Gloucestershire’s ProvGM, explained why the Project 21 Appeal meant so much. ‘When I set Project 21 in motion, I had in mind an achievement like this to mark my 10 years

as Provincial Grand Master. More than anything else, I envisaged a campaign for the Freemasons of Gloucestershire to help as many of the citizens of our county as possible. The success of Project 21 has exceeded my expectations, leaving me both humbled and proud of the support the Brethren have given me. I have always given full credit to Peter Coles, our Provincial Charity Steward, and his team for running Project 21. The results speak volumes and fully repay the confidence I placed in his and their abilities.’

The amount donated by Gloucestershire Freemasons was £338,506, a sum achieved in just 18 months of the planned 24-month duration of the appeal. This enabled the purchase of 16 units of imaging equipment for the region’s Southmead, Cheltenham and Gloucester hospitals.

Karen Organ of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said, ‘It has been a fantastic and rewarding experience working with Gloucestershire Freemasons. The specialist equipment, such as the jet ventilator that assists in the treatment of liver cancer patients and the mobile digital X-ray machine with a specialist plate for neo-natal infants, has made an incredible difference in diagnosis within Gloucestershire – helping to save lives from the tiniest of babies to our oldest patients.’

Peter concluded, ‘We should all be very proud of our achievements in raising more than £330,000 to help improve patients’ experience and to help save lives through earlier diagnosis. We really have made a difference to the communities in Gloucestershire.’


Honouring 50 years

Past Grand Superintendent Alan Berman has received the certificate recognising his 50 years in Freemasonry from Jon Whitaker, head of Craft Freemasonry in Hampshire & Isle of Wight. Jon made the unusual visit to present Alan with

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his certificate during a Royal Arch Chapter meeting.

Alan, a member of Old Portmuthian Chapter, was delighted to share what he called an unforgettable occasion with his old friend and one-time colleague Lawrence Guyer who, as his proposer, introduced him to Freemasonry and the Old Portmuthian Lodge in 1973. The late ProvGM for Hampshire & Isle of Wight, Brian Bellinger was Alan’s seconder.

Pictured from left is Lawrence Guyer, Alan Berman, Jon Whitaker and Steve Allum who, as Grand Superintendent, is Alan’s successor as the head of Royal Arch in the Province. Brian Bellinger can be seen, with other Past Masters of Old Portmuthian Lodge, in the framed photograph hanging behind Alan.


On ceremony

Not for the first time, Herefordshire Province-based Coningsby Lodge has installed a Lodge Ruler with a severe visual impairment. The newly installed ruler, Basil Clement, has been through the chair once already back in 2017-18. It is believed he was the first one in Coningsby Lodge’s 71-year history to do so with a visual impairment, closely followed in 2019 by good friend Andy Bailey.

The twist on this occasion was that both the Wardens, Jason Payne and Andy Bailey, are also severely sight impaired. None of the three members have any functional vision. Basil and Jason have some light perception, while Andy has no sight at all, having two prosthetic eyes after having had his eyes removed.

Andy said, ‘The Lodge has always been very supportive to us, we’ve always managed to get the job done no matter what role we’ve been in. While there may have been one extra Deacon on occasions, it didn’t matter because we were involved and at the heart of the Lodge’s activities. Somebody was always ready to guide us around the floor and assist us to get to the right place at almost the right time.’

Basil was ably installed into the Chair of King Solomon by Dr Kevin Jones, who was acting as both Installing Master and Director of Ceremonies and picking up any other slack along the way. Dr Jones, who was reappointed as Director of Ceremonies, said, ‘I am honoured to be a member of Coningsby Lodge and watch and support the progress of these fine

gentlemen. I’m very humbled and honoured to know these guys.’

Basil then proceeded to install both Andy and Jason into the Senior and Junior Wardens’ chairs, respectively. ‘It is a privilege to serve as Master of a Lodge such as Coningsby and an honour to have been allowed to do so twice,’ he said. ‘I’m lucky to have such a supportive team, and it was a great pleasure to be able to appoint two old friends as Wardens.’

Basil, Andy and ‘J’ are supported in the progressive offices by a strong team of ‘light blue’ Brethren that should stand the Lodge in good stead for the year.


Future thinking

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Hertfordshire has launched a new initiative called ‘Herts Future’ that is designed to deliver the strategic vision set by the Pro Grand Master. This venture signals a commitment to adapt and thrive in the evolving landscape of Freemasonry.

By embracing change, emphasising compassion and community impact, ‘Herts Future’ positions itself as a dynamic force of Lodges ready to meet the ever-changing needs of our world.

Each Lodge in the Province met to discuss a variety of questions aimed to challenge and find the various points of differentiation and unique aspects of each Lodge. The responses will also act as a tool to assist the membership team in placing and attracting new recruits.

The initiative is a declaration of intent and road map, propelling Hertfordshire Freemasons into a new era of Integrity, Friendship, Respect and Service.


Marking 100 years

Lodge Saint Helier, No. 4449, celebrated its Centenary in 2022. It was decided to elect an experienced member of the Lodge to undertake the Centenary Mastership.

Colin Goss selected and was installed in the chair in November 2022.

Colin decided that the year should be a special one, so for every meeting of that year, they would celebrate the Centenary and enjoy a special meal. All the other

Lodges in Jersey were invited to attend one or more meetings during the year. As a result, every session was extremely well attended. Every meeting undertook a ceremony, with an experienced team supporting Colin.

In February, a Centenary Ladies Festival was held. A local hotel excelled in the facilities provided, which included entertainment by a local band and a member of the Lodge acting as toast master. It was estimated that the event needed 100 guests to break even, but thanks to the support from members of other Lodges, 156 people dined and danced the night away. This meant that £2,000 was transferred to the Lodge’s charity account.

The year ended in November 2023, when Colin installed his successor in a faultless ceremony in the presence of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Jersey, providing a great example for others to follow. To top the year off, the Centenary Master celebrated his 81st birthday.


Photo opportunity

The number of people viewing a Facebook post featuring a photo from Lincolnshire Freemasons has surpassed 90,000. Taken just outside the Grand Temple at the December Quarterly Communications meeting in Freemasons’ Hall, London, the picture has achieved Lincolnshire’s best-ever engagement on social media.

Provincial Communications Officer Stuart Pearcey said, ‘The numbers haven’t leapt into the millions that we’d need to claim it really had gone viral, but it nevertheless got close to six figures in half a dozen days – an unusually large

Out and About UGLE Provinces 32 FMT Spring 2024

audience reached very quickly. There must have been a significant number of potential new members among those who have seen the picture, and we hope it prompts them to come forward and talk to us about the benefits of membership.’

The picture features the Province’s round-Britain walker Chris Jones and his tent, supported by Lincolnshire Brethren who had travelled to the meeting, including ProvGM Dave Wheeler, his Deputy John Crutchley, and Assistant ProvGM David Bird.

Chris set himself the target of raising £100,000 to support the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF, the Freemasons’ charity), with a trek of at least 7,000 miles around the UK’s coastline.

Dave said the picture was important to highlight Chris’s charity endeavour. He said, ‘It’s not that we’re in any way competitive in Lincolnshire, but we were pleased that the Pro Grand Master was able to highlight to the meeting that ours was the best-represented Province on the day and that Chris was with us, seated in our Province’s now-traditional spot in the southwest corner of the Temple. And when was the last time you saw a tent outside the Grand Temple? The numbers achieved by this post undoubtedly make it the most-viewed one arising from the meeting.’


Strengthening bonds

December 2023 marked a memorable occasion in Monmouthshire as three distinguished Romanian Brethren –Claudiu Octavian Bocan, Mircea Gheordunescu and Stelian Tipa – were Exalted into the Homfray Chapter.

The Grand Lodge of Romania has a strong tradition of promoting fellowship and excellence within the Craft. Visiting Brethren were poised to take their journey in Freemasonry to new heights.

This was the third time the Homfray Chapter had the honour of exalting Romanian Brethren. Each time, the Chapter has embraced the opportunity to welcome these distinguished individuals into their ranks, fostering international unity within the community.

The Exaltation ceremony was excellent, characterised by the solemnity and grace defining the Royal Arch ritual. Among the distinguished attendees was Deputy Grand Superintendent Robert M Jones,

whose presence added to the significance of the evening. His second and third Grand Principals accompanied him.

Post-ceremony, a spirit of friendship prevailed as Companions from Romania and Monmouthshire gathered for the after-proceedings. During the toasts, the Romanian visitors presented the Chapter with a unique gift – a limited-edition stamp book, one of only 500 produced. This gesture symbolised the appreciation and gratitude of the newly made Companions for the warm hospitality extended to them.

The Provincial Grand Chapter of Monmouthshire played a pivotal role in facilitating this remarkable occasion. In a gesture of camaraderie, 25 additional Brethren from Romania are set to be Exalted in 2024, further strengthening the bond between the two communities.


Talent pool

The inaugural North Wales Freemasons’ Group 7 pool competition was held at the Constitutional Club in Ruabon in January. Congratulations go to Berwyn Lodge, No. 7361, as it became the first name on the Victory Shield trophy. Berwyn Lodge will celebrate its 70th anniversary in September 2024 – an opportunity to display the winner’s trophy.

Teams of six and more enjoyed a great day, raising more than £900. From the money raised, £400 will be donated to the 2028 Festival and £500 will go towards supporting local charities in the Group 7 communities.

The event looks certain to become an annual fixture. With 10 Groups in the Province, there is an opportunity for a Champions League-style event to establish the best team in North Wales.

Support service

North Wales Freemasons have donated £10,000 to Your Space, an organisation that supports young people with autism

and their families through social and fun after-school activities and holiday clubs. They provide a network of support for families through their outreach team and family support service and have a wide reach across Wrexham, Flintshire, Denbighshire, Shropshire and Powys.

A sum of £5,000 from North Wales Freemasons Charity (NWFC) was match-funded by £5,000 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF, the Freemasons’ charity).

Debbie Moody, head of finance and trustee director at Your Space said, ‘We are delighted to receive £10,000 from North Wales Freemasons. This donation will support our Positive Futures Project and enable us to help more young people with autism and their families. On behalf of everyone here, I would like to say a big thank you to North Wales Freemasons for their wonderful donation.’

Event management

The challenge to come up with ideas to kick-start 2024 was put to a social media audience across Northamptonshire & Huntingdonshire for their latest Discover Freemasonry campaign. Since hosting the new Members’ Pathway roadshows last June, the new Provincial Membership Team have hit the ground running, rebuilding their strategy, and striving to reinvigorate Lodges in their membership thinking.

The Roadshows, which saw excellent representation from all Lodges, explained how the Members’ Pathway could help them to assess their strengths and weaknesses and the tools available to help them. Five key objectives were established for all Lodges: to Enact, to Plan, Attract, Engage and Retrieve.

What followed was a wave of attraction activity with Discover Freemasonry stands and volunteering at numerous public events – beer festivals, town fairs,

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rugby club open days, village fetes, Armed Forces days and RBL Poppy Appeal collections, with Brethren sharing initiatives to showcase Freemasonry in the communities.

Centre open days have given the public a chance to fi nd out more about what goes on in Freemasonry. Information evenings held by a host Lodge and supported by others, allow members to invite friends, colleagues and those who have attended other events – with presentations made by the Provincial Team explaining what Freemasonry is, followed by newer members telling their powerful stories of why they joined and what it means to them.

These attraction strategies have yielded some amazing results with many candidates, but even more importantly, existing members feeling re-energised in their own membership.


Game on!

Freemasons from across the country are forming a new Special Interest Lodge for anyone interested in role play games, board games, table-top wargaming, collectible card games, and all things similar. Dragon Lodge is a gaming and hobbyist Lodge that will be consecrated within the Province of Nottinghamshire, but already has interest from members across the country.

shared the same hobby, alongside our love of Freemasonry. It is fantastic to have already heard from Brethren from across the country and beyond, who have an interest in joining the new Lodge. I hope we get many more. It’s a great honour to be asked to be the fi rst Master of the new Lodge, and I can’t wait to meet more interested Brethren from across the country.’

The Lodge will be peripatetic in nature, looking to hold Lodge meetings across the country, and on different dates as required, to coincide with major events in the gaming calendar.

Any Brethren interested in fi nding out more, or becoming members of the Lodge at its Consecration, can visit: or contact the Lodge organising committee at


Time for tea

Nottinghamshire has a long history and traditions tied to the gaming industry, with many major gaming companies located within the Province. Philip G Marshall, ProvGM for Nottinghamshire, said, ‘I am so pleased to see Brethren from within the Province and beyond coming together to combine their passions for Freemasonry and their hobbies. Nottinghamshire has a historic connection to these industries, and it felt like the natural home for such a Lodge. I am immensely proud to have given the Lodge my blessing, and I can’t wait to see it consecrated in due course.’

Robert Smith, the fi rst Worshipful Master Designate, said, ‘The idea for the Lodge came about when a group of Brethren were talking after a Lodge meeting and it became clear we all

Somerset’s Freemasons have been pleased to support a new community initiative in the village of Keinton Mandeville. Tea@3 meets every two weeks at the community hall, with alternate weeks hosted at the village hall with the help of Parish Council sponsorship. The community hall is located on the ground floor of the Grade II-listed Methodist chapel which was built in 1843 by volunteer quarrymen from the village. Members of the community, including school children and their parents, were invited to visit for a cup of tea and a slice of cake, or to chat and play board games as part of the after-school club in the warmth of the hall.

To support the local community, the chapel only requests that modest fi nancial contributions are made, enough to cover the running costs involved to host the events in question.

The fi rst sessions were well attended and hailed a resounding success. However, providing modern, user-friendly furnishings was a problem for the Tea@3 organisers if regular events were to continue. Somerset Freemasons stepped in to part-fund enough tables, chairs and beanbags for all of the various activities to take place.

Deputy ProvGM Ben Batley was pleased to attend a Tea@3 event, where the local school choir performed and guests enjoyed a host of other activities.

Methodist Chapel Minister Rev Colin Moore was on hand to thank Somerset’s Freemasons for their generous donation of £500 from the Somerset Masonic Charities, an amount which has since been matched by the Chapel trustees, and which is sufficient to enable events to continue for years to come.

Ben said, ‘It’s an honour and privilege to be able to actively engage in the local community in order to develop new diverse-background groups, supported through donations from our members, and to highlight the continuing relevance of Freemasonry as a positive part of our communities.’


Scout's honour

In November 2021, 300 cave rescue volunteers came together in the Brecon Beacons to assist a caver who had sustained severe, potentially lifethreatening injuries in a fall in the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu cave system. The team worked for 54 hours to safely extract the injured man from the cave. Freemason and police officer Piers Hallihan, a Past Master of both the Themis Lodge and Tennant Lodge in the Province of South Wales, was at the heart of the rescue.

Piers developed his skills as a caver as a Scout and a Scout leader, before working with local Scouting managers to form the Cardiff and Vale Scouts Active Support Unit (SASU) for Underground Activities –caving experiences for young people in South Wales. Already a member of the South & Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team, in 2015, Piers qualified as an advanced fi rst aider. He later added to this a fi rst aid training competence and now teaches fi rst aid to police recruits and Scouts.

On 6 November 2021, South Wales Caving Club was preparing to host its annual bonfi re and fi reworks party. Piers’ wife, Annie, and their then 17-yearold son, James, were at the club – James was on a caving trip with a group of his peers. Piers was in Bridgend with their younger child, Bailey, when his phone rang. It was Annie who said, ‘Whatever you’re doing, go home and pack your kit. There’s a shout on, and it’s going to be big. Serious injury in Cwm Dwr.’

The casualty had fallen 26 feet, sustaining significant injuries, and there was no way that he could be forced on a stretcher through the intricately winding

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entrance passages. There would be no option but to carry him deeper into the cave and then out to the surface via one of the larger entrances.

Piers was part of a team escorting a doctor to the scene as well as carrying and manning the communication equipment. He then switched to his role as a casualty carer, supporting the doctor as they moved through the cave. The caver made a full recovery and has returned to caving. In total, 15 of the rescuers were directly involved with Scout Caving and recognised for their efforts by Scouting’s Awards Panel. Piers himself received the Silver Cross for Gallantry – one of the highest awards.


Grand tour

In a remarkable initiative to raise funds for Suffolk Festival 2029, Freemason Rob Bamberger has embarked on a solo journey to visit at least one Lodge in every single Province across the country. Rob’s journey began in Oxfordshire on 19 January and the generosity he encountered there set a promising tone for the rest of his adventure.

Carfax Lodge, No. 5723, not only welcomed Rob warmly, but also made a substantial donation of £500 to support the Suffolk Festival. The generosity did not stop there, as the entire Province of Oxfordshire contributed a further £250 towards the cause, demonstrating the commitment and solidarity of the Masonic community towards the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF, the Freemasons’ Charity).

The fantastic donations have provided a strong foundation for Rob’s journey, providing him with motivation as he moves on to the next Province on his itinerary – Buckinghamshire.

The success of this fundraising tour will not only bring valuable financial support to the Suffolk Festival 2029 but will also further strengthen the bonds between Provinces.

Suffolk Festival Chairman Jon Neill commented, ‘The support we have received from Oxfordshire for the Suffolk 2029 Festival has been truly astounding. Rob’s dedication and willingness to travel the length and breadth of the UK to promote our Festival and the MCF is commendable. I wish him the best of luck.

If he receives the same warm reception from other Provinces, his journey will undoubtedly be a memorable one.’ WILTSHIRE


Support for sports

West Wales Freemasons were pleased to donate a bi-ski chariot worth £8,500 to the Pembrey branch of Ski4All Wales. The original request came via the Peter Drewett Daylight Lodge of Progress, which also supported the appeal financially.

Ski4All Wales enables children and adults with a physical, neurological or visual deficit to ski. They run adaptive ski sessions at the dry ski slope in Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, and hold adaptive alpine experiences at various locations across Europe. Glan Davies of Peter Drewett Lodge bravely tested the new chariot at a recent visit to the slopes, as did the Provincial Charity Steward Dirk den-Hartog.

The Ski4All Wales team consists of physiotherapists, ski instructors and volunteers, all committed to enabling people to experience the thrill of skiing. The volunteers give their time free of charge at their weekly sessions. Skiing down the artificial slopes in Pembrey, connected to an experienced skier, gives the children and adults an experience of exhilaration, enjoyment and laughter that they could not receive anywhere else.

Seasonal singing

Wiltshire ProvGM John Reid asked his team to think of an event that would embrace the concept of celebrating with the whole family, and it was decided that there’s no better event than a Christmas carol service. Planning was entrusted to a team of four.

The successful occasion saw more than 600 members, family and friends, including 100 children, attend the Provincial Christmas carol service in the beautiful Marlborough College Chapel. From the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City, which was sung by 18-year-old Alexandra Bamford, the festive atmosphere could be felt by everyone attending. Traditional carols and topical readings were led by the Rev John Railton PJGW and his wife, the Rev Sandy Railton.

Provincial organist Gary Cook enjoyed playing the wonderful Beckerath 62-stop four-manual organ, and its glorious sound encouraged some wonderful singing, not least from three members of local male choir The Wessex as they sung the parts of Melchior, Casper and Balthazar in Henry Hopkins Jr’s carol We Three Kings. The Province was honoured by the attendance of His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire Mrs Sarah Troughton who was accompanied by Mr Peter Troughton.

The carol service didn’t just bring people together, it also raised donations totalling £1,600 for Teddies For Loving Care (Wiltshire).

‘Wiltshire ProvGM John Reid asked his team to think of an event that would embrace the concept of celebrating with the whole family’
Out and About UGLE Provinces 38 FMT Spring 2024

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70 years of service

Worcestershire Freemasons attended an event to see RJ (Ray) Hollins Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies of the Lodge of St George, No. 5691, presented with a 70-year certificate for long service to Freemasonry. Members were also applauded for projects demonstrating commitment to the local community. The presentation of a 70-year certificate is a special event, so to have the opportunity to present one to such a revered Brother was a particular honour for the Province.

The presentation was made by Past ProvGM Robert Christopher Vaughan, supported by Provincial Officers and distinguished guests. It was only the third time in its history that the Province had presented such an honour, making it a wonderful experience and celebration for all.

The Province’s leading Freemasons were also wearing pink to support the nationwide campaign by Breast Cancer Now to raise money to support research during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The ProvGM Stephen J Wyer, along with Provincial Charity Steward David Dey and Provincial Almoner William FG Tucker, swapped their Masonic aprons to proudly wear pink in the form of pink shirts and ties during non-ceremonial duties.

Every 10 minutes, someone hears the unfortunate words ‘you have breast cancer’. That’s why Breast Cancer Now works with the brightest minds in research labs across the UK and Ireland to make lifesaving research happen. They are on a mission to make sure that by 2050, everyone diagnosed with breast cancer lives and is supported to live well. Wearing pink is a show of support to say you are actively helping to get there.

Praise also went to Stephen and William who personally organised a Prostate Screening Day at Rainbow Hill Lodge Rooms. One in eight men will get prostate

cancer, with South Birmingham being one of the UK’s hot spots.

Worcestershire members Mike King and Emerson Holder are among a growing number of men who have survived prostate cancer due to early screening and from taking action. The resonance of their stories saw a large participation in the screening day activities.


Momentous occasion

A meeting of the Leeds and District Lodge of Installed Masters, No.7918, in the Province of Yorkshire has helped advance UGLE’s strategic ambition to create ‘One journey, One organisation’ for Freemasonry. This was a joint and historic event in conjunction with women’s Freemasonry at Castle Grove, Leeds.

In a groundbreaking development, members of The Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (HFAF) and The Order of Women Freemasons (OWF) joined members of the Installed Masters’ Lodge in their full-dress regalia in the Lodge Room, and afterwards dined at a white table Festive Board. The Installed Masters Lodge extended an invitation to Christine Chapman, the Grand Master of the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons, to deliver a talk entitled ‘Women’s Freemasonry – Fact not Fiction.’ [In January 2024, Christine was succeeded as Grand Master by Carol Cole].

Following the closure of the Lodge’s regular meeting, the Lodge Room was opened to guests, including visiting ladies and women Freemasons. They were followed by senior members of the Province in full-dress regalia. James Newman OBE, ProvGM of Yorkshire, West Riding accompanied Christine who was supported by an eight-strong delegation from the Order of Women Freemasons.

The evening was hosted by the WM of the Lodge Steven Sheard and, besides the presence of the ProvGM, the Lodge was also supported by several other

Provincial present and past Rulers in both the Craft and Royal Arch.

Christine delivered a fascinating talk covering the history and development of women’s Freemasonry, and outlined the growing working relationship with the United Grand Lodge of England through the introduction of the Universities Scheme, which sees both female and male students offered a route into membership.

Brother to Brother

In November, Evripides Nicolas, the Master of St Paul’s – the oldest Lodge in Cyprus – visited Beneficentia Lodge for an Initiation in Room 17 of Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen Street, accompanied by 18 of his fellow members.

Having opened the Lodge, the Master of Beneficentia Lodge allowed the Master of St Paul’s to take the chair and initiate his older brother, Andreas Nicolas, with the assistance of St Paul’s Brethren.

The ceremony delivered an excellent ritual that gave the Candidate the best possible first impression of Freemasonry, and rewarded those present, including the Metropolitan Grand Inspector Keith Alexander, with what may well be a once-in-a-lifetime Masonic experience.

During the November regular meeting of St Paul’s Lodge, the District Grand Master of Cyprus, Michael C Hadjiconstantas, commended Nicolas for his initiative, as well as the Brethren who assisted in this ceremony. He pointed out this was only possible by the kind permission of the Metropolitan Grand Inspector and the brotherly love and understanding of the Master and Brethren of Beneficentia Lodge.

Out and About UGLE Provinces 40 FMT Spring 2024

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A key role for charity and Strategy

James Long has been elected by its Board of Trustees as Chairman of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF, the Freemasons’ charity).

James, who has also been President and a Trustee of the MCF since April 2022, began his term as Chairman on 1 January 2024, taking over from Sir Paul Williams, who had announced that he intends to retire as a Trustee in April 2024 following 12 years’ service to the MCF and previously the RMBI Care Co.

James has previously chaired two FTSE companies and has wide board level experience in international business and finance. He has also held senior positions within UGLE, including membership of the Board of General Purposes, of which he was Deputy President from 2016 to 2022. As President and Chairman of Trustees, James will also chair the MCF’s Strategy Committee, which will oversee development and implementation of the Charity’s vision and Strategy, ensuring that its activities are responsive to and wholly supportive of UGLE’s own long-term Strategy.

James commented, ‘It is an

honour to have been selected by the Trustees as their new Chairman. Succeeding Sir Paul Williams, who gave so many years of distinguished service, both to tvhe RMBI Care Co. and the MCF, is a humbling challenge and I thank him most

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James Long has held senior positions within UGLE and now takes up the role of Chairman of the MCF

sincerely for his guidance. This is a critical period for UGLE as it embarks upon its ambitious new Strategy, and I am determined that the MCF will continue to play a key role in its delivery, particularly in the “Third Pillar”, where we represent such a significant and highly visible aspect of UGLE’s engagement in our communities. Being fully engaged with UGLE, both centrally and at Provincial level, we will focus on efficiently delivering the maximum possible impact from deploying the generous donations of our members, present and past.’

‘Being fully engaged with UGLE, both centrally and at Provincial level, we will focus on efficiently delivering the maximum possible impact’
42 Out and About Charity FMT Spring 2022 Name Current address Postcode Lodge number GL membership number Distribution reference number New address Postcode
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New Chairman for The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF, the Freemasons’ charity)

Gibraltar’s rapid response

Following the earthquake that hit Marrakesh in Morocco last year, Gibraltar Freemasons acted swiftly to raise funds for humanitarian aid as well as deliver essential items

Stephen AJ Whatley reports on a rapid response to a humanitarian crisis. Service to the community is one of the four pillars on which Freemasonry rests. In the wake of the emergency caused by the earthquake in Morocco, Gibraltar Freemasons were quick to react, helping the relief effort and providing essential aid to those in need.

In September 2023, disaster struck in the heart of the Marrakesh-Safi region as a devastating earthquake hit the Atlas Mountains. More than 2,900 lives were lost with 5,500 people injured. There was also extensive damage to the country’s infrastructure and major displacement of Moroccan citizens, including thousands of children. Marrakesh and its surrounding villages are still in need of help to rebuild their schools, hospitals and homes.

The disaster was particularly heartfelt in Gibraltar. The British Overseas Territory is just nine miles from the coast of Morocco and has a vibrant Moroccan community. With family and friends displaced, the need for support was great and unprecedented in the area. Gibraltar Freemasonry didn’t hesitate.

Within eight days of the earthquake, the District Grand Lodge of Gibraltar formally began its campaign to raise money. On behalf of the District Grand Master Derek Tilbury, the District Grand Secretary Stephen Whatley Snr, wrote to all Lodges and units in Gibraltar

requesting donations to support the effort. This included the Scottish and Irish Constitutions, the District Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Gibraltar, and other Companion Orders.

Just four days later, Gibraltar Freemasons had donated £6,630 to the Straits of Gibraltar Association Trust. This money contributed to a joint humanitarian mission headed by the local charity, consisting of emergency medical response and disaster relief equipment and expertise.

The mission’s journey was marked by a challenging 23-hour drive to the epicentre of the disaster zone, where as well as distributing vital supplies, the expedition focused on and succeeded in returning many people to their homes, particularly those with disabilities.

Alongside this effort came another humanitarian project organised by 10 local motorhome owners, including two Gibraltarian Brethren – Steven Segui and Johnny Gonzalez of the English and Scottish Constitutions. Collectively, they began to assemble supplies, using their motorhomes to transport whatever they could take on the trip. At the start of October, the group set off on their journey by ferry from the port of Algeciras.

A Toyota 4x4 support vehicle sponsored by Bassadone Motors collected as much as it could from the group to drive into the remote mountains as the motorhomes

were unable to travel due to road conditions. The group then set off for the Merzouga desert, stopping at small villages along the way to hand out sleeping bags, blankets, food, clothing and other supplies to families in need.

Steven explained, ‘We started to give out clothes and other supplies to the people in small villages of Merzouga where they offered us the usual “tea Nana” [native Moroccan tea], as well as bread made for us upon arrival and peanuts. They gave us what they didn’t have for themselves. I had tears in my eyes seeing how they lived there with nothing but always with smiles on their faces. The whole experience was extremely touching. We look forward to our next trip.’

The response from Freemasons was a wonderful example of inter-constitutional and inter-order synergy that beautifully showcases the life-changing impact Freemasons have when working together.

FMT Spring 2024 Out and About UGLE Districts 44
Gibraltar Freemasons helped deliver aid and supplies to Marrakesh and its surrounding villages in a time of crisis. The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar is just nine miles from the coast of Morocco
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The hosts of Craftcast Stephen Whatley, Shaun Butler and James Dalton cover an intriguing new Lodge


People, places, history and


48 Resources for autism

Supporting a charity’s important work and raising awareness

50 May the force be with you

Craftcast meets the founders of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Lodge

FMT Spring 2024 47

Statistics suggest that 1.1 per cent of the population has an autism spectrum disorder. However, many experts believe this to be a considerable underestimate.

Let’s talk about autism

Generous funding from Warwickshire Freemasons has helped an autism charity’s great work. But it has also raised questions about whether autistic people within Freemasonry might need more support

Autism is more commonly diagnosed in boys than girls by a ratio of four to one (although girls’ experience of autism is being brought into the open more and more, with many being diagnosed later in life), while many more go undiagnosed. It’s no surprise then, that the services provided by charity Resources for Autism are oversubscribed, leading to long waiting lists. That’s why support for the charity from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Warwickshire through the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF, the Freemasons’ charity) is proving so vital.

Resources for Autism grew out of a playgroup established in 1997 by parents who were dismayed by the lack of services available for their autistic children. In the nearly 30 years since then, the charity has grown into a major provider of services for autistic people and their families in London and the West Midlands.

FMT Spring 2024 Stories Championing inclusivity 48

Funding from Warwickshire Freemasons will help towards increasing support for Resources for Autism’s already oversubscribed services

Some of the most popular services are its holiday play schemes and term-time clubs, providing friendship, fun, skills development and, most importantly, a place where autistic people are understood and accepted for who they are. Sometimes, though, families can reach crisis point when autistic behaviours become difficult or challenging for other members of the family – usually because of a lack of understanding of the behaviours or the triggers that cause them.

It’s for these times that Resources for Autism’s family support and behaviour professionals can really make a difference. They work with families to develop strategies for de-escalating situations and rebuilding relationships through behaviour management work, play therapy and family support. The charity also provides parents with valuable opportunities to come together and support each other, learn new approaches and to talk to specialists.

Thanks to generous funding from Warwickshire Freemasons, Resources for Autism has been able to continue and

grow these services in the West Midlands. This practical experience also informs Resources for Autism’s training function, which reaches out to other organisations to help them develop their knowledge of autism and move from accommodation and acceptance to genuine inclusion of people with autism.

In discussions around this grant with other Freemasons, it has become clear that little is known about the prevalence of autism within Freemasonry, or how autistic members experience the organisation. Given the distribution of autism within the population, there might be many Freemasons who are autistic, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed.

On the face of it, there is much about Freemasonry that could attract autistic people, such as a strong sense of order and tradition, a culture based on clearly defined ritual, a focus on acceptance and brotherhood, or opportunities to meet people and interact in a controlled environment. There are examples of autistic people rising to high office within Freemasonry – including becoming

Masters of their Lodges – but we have also heard anecdotal stories of others who feel that autism has held them back from achieving all that they could.

We are keen to explore the experiences of Freemasons who define as autistic or who have been diagnosed with autism, and to hear from anyone who wishes to share their experience.

Initial discussions have taken place with Resources for Autism around working with individual Lodges to discover ways in which their set-up and practices can be made more friendly to current and prospective autistic Freemasons.

If you would like to hear more about Resources for Autism and its work in London and the West Midlands with autistic people and those who love and care for them, or about how you can support their work, contact Nick Drew, head of fundraising:

To discuss autism within Freemasonry, please contact Geoffrey Walker at

49 FMT Spring 2024 Championing inclusivity Stories

Science fiction, fantasy and Freemasonry

The hosts of UGLE’s Craftcast sit down with Lodge Secretary David Leask to discuss the distinctive rituals and unique symbolism of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Lodge

FMT Spring 2024 50 Stories Craftcast

In the vast universe of Freemasonry, where traditions and rituals form the bedrock of each Lodge, something unique recently emerged – the Science Fiction and Fantasy Lodge, No. 10016. For an episode of Craftcast: The Freemasons Podcast season 2, our hosts sat down with Secretary David Leask to unravel the workings and origins of the Lodge.

The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Lodge took root in the playful minds of two members in Burton-on-Trent. These Freemasons were engaged in a whimsical exercise of fantasy Freemasonry, envisioning a Lodge where iconic characters from the sci-fi genre assumed the offices. This exercise sparked a realisation that there existed a vast community of science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts in the ranks of Freemasonry.

David explains, ‘We are a working Freemasons’ Lodge. We’re not a dining club; we’re not a social club – we are actually a Freemasons’ Lodge.’ The Lodge’s genesis dates back to 2018 when the wheels were set in motion to merge the worlds of science fiction, fantasy and Freemasonry.

You cannot visit the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Lodge without encountering its distinctive rituals and traditions. The Lodge uses the Emulation Ritual, adhering to the Blue Book, but its uniqueness lies in small adaptations: Deacons wield lightsabers, the Tyler brandishes a Klingon Bat’leth, and the gavels of the Worshipful Master and the Wardens are transformed into Thor’s hammer. The DCs, or Directors of Ceremonies, carry the staffs of Gandalf the Grey and Gandalf the White, creating a fusion of Lodge symbolism with elements from the realms of science fiction and fantasy.

The Lodge solidified its uniqueness when it was being Consecrated. David explains, ‘This was the one area that was the hardest because we had great ideas, but the Consecration is a very serious, absolute ceremony. However, when the two Provincial Grand Masters who were officiating were giving their opening welcome, there were a lot of Star Trek quotes, “Live long and prosper”, all of that. You suddenly realise that everybody, even the officiating officers, are all closet science fiction and fantasy fans.

‘Everyone’s watched the movies and read the books and so many people have a science fiction favourite. It covers such an expanse – just to name a few things, I’m a fan of Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and Star Trek . And I’m sure there are some even more niche than that.

‘However, the one thing that we didn’t want to do is alienate anyone – a lot of the things we talked about are what I would call popular culture.’

David affirms the Lodge’s commitment to preserving Masonic traditions, ‘Our ritual is probably Blue Book because we’ve got members from all over the UK. So we’re an Emulation Lodge. Going through the planning process, we had a lot of weird and wacky ideas and people wanted to change the ritual. Well, that’s a red line. We might get the odd “make it so” appear in there, but it’s as the book says.

The Festive Board, on the other hand, now that’s a different conversation.’

The Pro Grand Master’s philosophy of ‘Yes, if’ and not ‘No, because’ is evident as the Lodge embraces the traditional ritual while adding its own unique flair.

The Craftcast episode also delves into a light-hearted and intriguing discussion on selecting iconic characters for various Lodge offices. The hosts and David ponder choices for Master, Senior Warden, Junior Warden and Deacons, drawing parallels between sci-fi and fantasy characters and their Masonic counterparts.

One of the challenges faced by the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Lodge was navigating the turbulent space of social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. David shares the Lodge’s innovative approach of utilising Zoom calls and attracting potential founders from around the world. The members successfully gathered a diverse group of 31 founders, each contributing to the fusion of Freemasonry and science fiction.

As our fraternity navigates 2024, it’s essential to recognise the broader landscape of Freemasonry in England and Wales. Special Interest Lodges represent the dynamic nature of Freemasonry, adapting and evolving to stay relevant. These Lodges provide a space for Freemasons with shared interests to forge bonds that extend beyond traditional brotherhood. As the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Lodge boldly explores the uncharted territories of Freemasonry, we are reminded that the Craft continues to thrive by embracing diversity and the ever-expanding universe of human imagination.

In the words of David: ‘Our mailing list of invites for each meeting goes out to more than 400 Freemasons, and that list is constantly increasing.’

To listen to the episode, visit: uk/discover-freemasonry/resources/ podcasts/may-craftcast-be-youinterview-sci-fi-and-fantasy-lodge

51 FMT Spring 2024 Craftcast Stories
Above from left: Craftcast hosts Stephen, James and Shaun receive items gifted by the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Lodge

A daily advancement

Extending knowledge of Freemasonry

53 FMT Spring 2024
54 Museum of Freemasonry The fascinating records and items gathered from erased Lodges 56 Historic Masonic Halls The Holmes Lodge Room of Leicester Freemasons’ Hall The Grand Master’s throne, one of the many fascinating exhibits on display in the Museum of Freemasonry Image: Alamy

As the saying goes, ‘All good things must come to an end’. And as Lodges and Chapters open, it’s inevitable that others must close, or ‘erase’. This can happen for a number of different reasons. Although membership decline is a common reason for erasure, Lodges and Chapters also choose to close for reasons that are more positive.

For example, Ad Astra Lodge formed to bring together as comrades the men designing warplanes at Farnborough during World War I. When that institution dispersed, the Lodge felt its work was done and erased the Lodge rather than have it become generic.

Jeanne d’Arc Lodge formed after World War I, but had reached the end of the line by the time of its centenary. However, it was revived with a name change to Formula One Lodge and goes into the future celebrating both identities.

It’s also worth noting that erasure is by no means a new phenomenon. Of the four Lodges that met to form the first Grand Lodge in 1717, one of them was erased only 20 years later. It’s not all doom and gloom though; rest assured that these Lodges and Chapters leave quite a legacy with us in the Museum of Freemasonry.

Once a Lodge or Chapter is formally erased, the Book of Constitutions notes that the records (and the Warrant/Charter) be returned to Grand Lodge as they technically become the property of the Grand Master. When they arrive, the Warrants and Charters are cancelled by UGLE and the records are passed to the Archives team in the Museum, where archivists, and a team of dedicated volunteers, sort and list them.


The Museum of Freemasonry’s Archivist and Digital Lead Louise Pichel explains what happens to the records of erased Lodges

As part of the process, we remove old rusty pins and paperclips, and records occasionally need cleaning. Smoke sponges, unbleached lint-free cloths and soft brushes remove surface dirt before records are repacked in acid-free folders and boxes. This repacking prevents further deterioration of the records over time, as it stabilises the condition in which they are stored. This environment is further stabilised as we send the boxes offsite to a specialist storage facility.

Once records have been sorted and listed, the archivists add details on to our online catalogue, where we include a short history of the Lodge or Chapter, as well as an account of the information held in the records. These ensure that anyone interested in the history of an erased Lodge or Chapter can access the

Tercentenary wall plaque on the side of Freemasons’ Hall commemorating the surviving founding Lodges

FMT Spring 2024 Daily advancement Museum of Freemasonry 54

material for research. They can be used to explore past members and the history of Freemasonry in local areas, as well as proving information to living members about their membership of closed Lodges and Chapters.

As an archivist responsible for cataloguing this material, I’m always fascinated by the different things that turn up. As well as the usual minute books, signature books and declaration books, I’ve come across piles of correspondence, often about the formation of Lodges and Chapters and how they came into being.

These give a rare glimpse into the personalities who shaped the futures of the Lodges and Chapters, often so vividly that I can almost hear their voices. Sometimes, I get to put faces to names, too. I recently catalogued the records of Victoria Lodge, No. 2669, in Bradford, and discovered several large photograph albums,

complete with images of members in regalia, including some who were sporting impressive facial hair. Discoveries aren’t limited to books and written records either. The Victoria Lodge boxes included a carefully wrapped rectangular object, which was revealed to be a stained-glass window taken from the Masonic Hall where the majority of Bradford Lodges met. The window shows the Lodge emblem, the head of Queen Victoria, and the Lodge name and number. It’s

‘Rest assured that these Lodges and Chapters leave quite a legacy with us in the Museum of Freemasonry’

the fi rst stained-glass window I’ve come across in my archives career and I doubt I’ll come across another one for a while. The window is now safely in the museum’s collection, preserved for future generations to enjoy. If you’re interested in researching an erased Lodge or Chapter, you can search our online catalogue to see what we have and arrange a research visit to see the material in person. Older records are subject to restricted access and there is a charge for retrieving records from offsite storage. Contact us in advance so we can advise.

Links to the catalogue and information on arranging a research visit can be found at

55 FMT Spring 2024
Museum of Freemasonry Daily advancement Left: stainedglass window for Victoria Lodge, No. 2669. Above: sorting and listing erased Lodge records

Leicester’s Georgian gem

Freemasons’ Hall in Leicester is a perfectly preserved mix of Georgian architecture and classical design. Richard Barnett tells us more about this historic meeting place

Freemasonry in the Province of Leicestershire & Rutland has thrived since 1739, with today’s members enjoying 80 Lodges meeting in 11 different centres. Of those, the largest is Freemasons’ Hall in London Road –a short walk from Leicester railway station and a stone’s throw from the city centre and local sporting grounds. Home to 45 of the 80 Lodges that meet within the Province, the Hall was converted in 1910 and consecrated by Lord Ampthill.

During the 18th century, Freemasons had met in various public houses throughout the city, such as the Three Cranes. From the middle of the 19th century, meetings were held in a building in Halford Street, but with the number of Freemasons in the city increasing, it was necessary to move to larger premises.

Having investigated around 40 alternative locations, Freemasons purchased 80 London Road in 1909. The property was the former Georgian home of the late Miss Nedham and cost £2,500, including its outbuildings and garden.

A Special Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge was held on the site of the new Hall in July 1909, at which the ProvGM Earl Ferrers, assisted by Samuel Partridge, who was standing in as DepProvGM, laid the foundation stone of the building. A further Special Meeting was held in April 1910 to dedicate the new Hall. This was led by Pro Grand Master, Lord Ampthill. The architect chosen for the renovation was Hinckley Freemason Howard H Thomson FRIBA, of the Knights of Malta Lodge, whose architectural practice was at the Halford Chambers in Leicester.

‘Leicester’s Freemasons’ Hall fully deserves its Grade II-listed status, and is a precious legacy passed down by previous generations to those who enjoy it today’

The elegant Georgian façade of Leicester’s Freemasons’ Hall belies the opulence of the Temple within. The Holmes Lodge Room features a stunning ceiling decorated with constellations and Masonic symbolism

FMT Spring 2024 Daily advancement Historic Masonic Halls 56

Today, behind the elegant Georgian façade lies a series of beautifully preserved rooms with a fascinating history to tell. The enormity and splendour of the building become apparent as you enter. As well as being home to four magnificent but very different Lodge Rooms, Freemasons’ Hall Leicester also boasts two stunning ballrooms and multiple large banqueting halls and dining lounges – all of which are available for Freemasons and the public to hire. Events are managed by the commercial events business, Devonshire Place, who have a professional team of event managers together with kitchen, bar and waiting staff to cater for Masonic Festive Boards, weddings, conferences and other community events.

The first Lodge Room to be opened was the Holmes Lodge Room. It is one of the most impressive in the country and instantly wows visitors to Freemasons’ Hall. The room features the use of the Roman Ionic order of architecture, with a barrel-vaulted ceiling divided into three sections that shows the sun, moon, constellations and stars, representing the night sky. The two straps spanning the ceiling display the symbols associated with the various Officers of a Lodge, and the intricate plasterwork was carried out by Messrs Haddon and Sharp of Macclesfield. This was their last project in Leicester, having already worked on the fire station, the Grand Hotel and De Montfort Hall.

The Hall’s Temple was named in memory of Edward Holmes OBE, who was the ProvGM from 1906 to 1914. You can see his picture on the wall among the other ProvGMs of Leicestershire & Rutland. On the north side of the room, you’ll find the war memorial that was unveiled in 1921 to commemorate the fallen of World War I.

Freemasons’ Hall now plays an important role in the life of the wider community. It is not just a Masonic centre but serves as a noted dining space, a venue for weddings and receptions, a meeting place for business and commercial training, and a centre for the hosting of examinations. It has been featured on television and radio programmes, and a visit to the Holmes Lodge Room and Library and Museum is a highlight of any tour. Indeed, it can be argued that many new Freemasons have had their interest in Freemasonry piqued while attending an event there.

Freemasons’ Hall has often been described as a Tardis – it has a humble exterior, but an astonishing interior that’s much larger than it appears from the outside. There’s a wealth of features, antiquities and symbolism to be discovered within its fascinating rooms and corridors.

Leicester’s Freemasons’ Hall fully deserves its Grade II-listed status, and is a precious legacy passed down by previous generations to those who enjoy it today, and who are committed to its upkeep, enhancement and preservation.

57 FMT Spring 2024
Daily advancement
Historic Masonic Halls
ImperialHotel_autumn23.indd 1 08/08/2023 10:48

Grand Lodge

60 Quarterly Communication

The Pro Grand Master on how our values are embedded in the past

62 Honour and dedication

News from Great Queen Street

64 Support from Solomon

66 Members’ Pathway

How Freemasons are making a difference in their communities

Resources to help Lodge Mentors support individual members Michael Herbert on the privilege of receiving a rare award for service

59 FMT Spring 2024
Stained-glass window in Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street Image: Alamy

Rediscovering old habits

In his Quarterly Communication address to Grand Lodge in December 2023, Pro Grand Master Jonathan Spence reflected on how our values today are embedded in those established in 1723

Brethren, it is good to see so many of you here today. I hope that you are enjoying your visit to this meeting of Grand Lodge, whether it is your first or another one of many such visits. It is important we all remember that all our members, whether they be of longer standing and with great experience or are newer members of the Craft setting out on their journey in Freemasonry, are to be valued and treated with the respect we might reasonably hope to receive ourselves. I say this because we all have an active part to play in contributing to the future of UGLE and this begins with us all demonstrating the values instilled by the Craft in our everyday lives and behaviours.

We heard from Bro Grier about the soon-to-bereleased film giving guidance to Lodges on how to conduct ceremonies for a number of candidates at once, drawing on the valuable experience of Lodges that undertake such ceremonies as a matter of

60 FMT Spring 2024 Grand Lodge Quarterly Communication
Jonathan reflects on the values that capture the essence of being a Freemason in the 21st century

course. I will not repeat the many excellent points made by Bro Grier in his address and I am sure you will all have paid close attention to what he said. There is one point, however, that does deserve to be emphasised. In much of what has been said, we are rediscovering established ways of working from the past, not inventing new ones, and we should ensure that we re-establish them in as many Lodges and Chapters as we can and where there is an undoubted need we do so. I am sure, Brethren, I may rely on you all to take this forward!

You have heard me remark before that it is important that Grand Lodge not only says clearly what needs to be done, but is then seen itself to lead and to do what needs to be done. I suggest that the commissioning of this film is the latest tangible evidence of mine and my fellow Rulers’ determination that we shall pursue vigorous and tangible steps in support of our Strategy.

As we reach the close of 2023, we should reflect on some of the things that have occurred during the course of the year. In particular, the highly successful meeting of Grand Lodge in Wales and the celebrations of the Tercentenary of the publication of The 1723 Constitutions. As many of you will know, the publication of this important, even seminal, document was celebrated not only here in England but also by the Grande Loge Nationale Française and the Grand Lodge of Washington DC in our three capital cities. Our own Prestonian Lecturer this year, MW Bro Akram Elias (himself a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Washington DC) delighted and entertained people around the world by tracing the influence on and importance of those Constitutions, written here in London, to the very Founding Documents of the United States itself.

You may wonder why a document of such relative antiquity should be worth celebrating. The answer is simple and straightforward: The 1723 Constitutions encapsulate the Enlightenment values on which Freemasonry, as practised by the Regular Grand Lodges represented in this room, is founded. These values are centred on notions of human happiness, intellectual enquiry, selfimprovement and the pursuit of knowledge for itself based on reason, and with ideals including liberty,

‘One point does deserve to be emphasised. We are rediscovering established ways of working from the past, not inventing new ones’

religious tolerance, constitutional government, and a meritocratic society. These values are further underpinned in our Freemasonry by belief in God, according to our own faith: they are surely as relevant today in 2023 as they were in 1723.

Regrettably, many of those values are under constant threat in today’s world. We must constantly strive to ensure that the beacon of enlightenment that Freemasonry represents and the values of the Enlightenment thinkers and philosophers is not buried by intolerance, superstition and violence.

Brethren, we all have a duty to be faithful to our obligations and to conduct ourselves in this life according to Masonic principles. We try to articulate a modern statement of how we should live our lives with four words: ‘Integrity, Friendship, Respect, Service’. This is deliberately laconic, or, if you prefer, brief and easy to remember, but it captures the essence of what it is to be a Freemason in the 21st century. It is important we remember this, for all of us, whatever our rank or position is in society or indeed within Freemasonry, need to act accordingly.

As you saw last week, in our First Rising, we also find ourselves having to state publicly again that Freemasonry, as practised by this Grand Lodge and the others represented here, is secular, nonreligious and non-political. It is neither a religion nor a substitute for religion. Our members must profess a belief in God, a faith that remains personal to them. Our proud history of religious tolerance has nothing to do with the ‘indifferentism’ of which we are wrongly accused. As our members from every creed recognise, we are firm in supporting religious faith and the principles I have already stated, of Integrity, Friendship, Respect and Service, inspire our members to endeavour to be better people and better citizens proudly engaged in the communities in which we live.

Lest anybody say that this is an innovation in Freemasonry, I will conclude by quoting two distinguished Freemasons from the 18th century, the century of the Age of Enlightenment. George Washington commented, ‘The grand object of Masonry is to promote the happiness of the human race.’ While King Frederick II, or the Great, of Prussia said that his support of the Craft came from its objectives being, ‘the intellectual elevation of men as members of society and making them more virtuous and more charitable’. I do not think that those views can be bettered.

Brethren, thank you.

61 Quarterly Communication Grand Lodge FMT Spring 2024

It’s an unbelievable privilege, I still don’t believe it now,’ admits Michael Herbert, Leicestershire Freemason and recipient of the Grand Master’s Order of Service to Masonry. This rare honour has been bestowed on only 84 Freemasons since it was created after the end of World War II.

Michael received the award at a ceremony during the Quarterly Communication at Freemasons’ Hall in June 2023 and highlights the ‘unbelievable kindness’ of Pro Grand Master Jonathan Spence and other senior Freemasons, including his old friend Graham Redman, who read the citation.

‘The Grand Director of Ceremonies took me back to my seat amid deafening applause, which seemed to go on forever,’ says Michael. ‘At the end of the ceremony, so many Brethren came to congratulate me, it took many minutes before I could leave the Temple. I then enjoyed celebratory drinks with all our leaders. Everybody was so kind.’

The award is an acknowledgement of a long and dedicated service to Freemasonry, which has seen him active in the Craft and numerous other orders – including Deputy Grand Master of the Mark – on a Provincial, national and even international level for more than six decades.

Born in 1932, Michael wanted to join the Freemasons the moment he reached 21, having experienced it through his father, a publican and active Leicestershire Freemason. But his father had other ideas. ‘My dad so clearly enjoyed his Freemasonry and was utterly respected, and I wanted to be part of that,’ says Michael. ‘I knew a bit about the ceremony and was very interested in that. I really felt it was for me.’

However, his father recommended that Michael wait until he’d ‘settled down a bit’. That meant completing training as an accountant, performing National Service with the Royal Air Force, getting married and then starting his career. This was at a shoemaking company that his father had acquired


As Leicestershire Freemason Michael Herbert is awarded the Grand Master’s Order of Service to Masonry, Peter Watts talks to him about his 60 years of loyalty to the Craft

FMT Spring 2024 Grand Lodge Order of Service to Masonry
‘I have always tried my best to do as well as I can. I can’t see any other reason to bother otherwise. The more you put in, the more you get out of it’

in the 1930s so his son didn’t need to join him in the pub business. When his father eventually agreed it was time to put his son’s name forward, Michael expected to join his father’s Hinckley Lodge. This time, intervention came from even higher up the Masonic ladder – Leicestershire & Rutland’s redoubtable Provincial Grand Master Brigadier Morley, who had other plans for the Herbert family.

Known as the Brig, he was an energetic advocate for expansion and consecrated 15 Lodges during his leadership. One of these was Gartree Lodge, No. 7778, a Lodge based in Leicester but aimed at ‘country’ Freemasons who lived outside the city.

‘The Provincial GM appointed my father as the first Worshipful Master of Gartree Lodge and then directed him to withdraw my name from Hinckley so I could be the first candidate of the new Lodge,’ says Michael. ‘So that is what happened. Nobody dared cross Brigadier Morley. His Deputies were two Colonels and he ran the Province like a military operation. Oh no, nobody questioned the Brig!’

Michael eventually became a Freemason in November 1961 and still regularly attends meetings, making him one of the longest-serving active Freemasons in the country. Although he can no longer travel long distances by train, UGLE will occasionally send a car if he’s needed for business in London. When down at Great Queen Street or St James’s Street, he will invariably encounter old friends as well as the international Freemasons whom he met during a Masonic career that often took him overseas. That’s because, after retiring from the shoe business, Michael received an invitation from London, eventually becoming Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies of the Mark.

‘I’ve been very fortunate as Freemasonry has taken me all over the world,’ he says. ‘I have consecrated Lodges all over the place and made

friends all over the world. People still contact me when I am at UGLE or Mark Masons’ Hall to come and find me, people who are visiting from India, Kuala Lumpur, France or Holland. They want to say hello and that’s so rewarding.’

Michael’s accolades as a Freemason include being Past Grand Sword Bearer in Craft and Past Grand Sojourner in Royal Arch, while he was Deputy Grand Master in the Mark. Above all these now comes the Order of Service to Masonry, which is considered the highest honour the Grand Master can confer on any member of the Craft, with the letters OSM preceding any other rank they may have achieved. It takes the physical form of a blue collarette containing a medal that has the letters OSM in the centre of the jewel.

Although he was aware that fellow Leicestershire Freemason and eminent historian Aubrey Newman wore the OSM collarette, Michael knew little about the honour until he was informed the Grand Master wished to confer it upon him.

‘There are only ever allowed to be 12 holders at any one time,’ he says. ‘But they rarely have 12 holders at the same time and at the moment there are only eight or nine of us. Why me? I haven’t got a clue! The first I knew of it was when I got a letter from the Grand Master saying he intended to give me the honour.’

Although he is now in his 90s, Michael has only just started to slow his Masonic activities down –making him a perfect example of the advice he offers to aspiring Freemasons.

‘I was active until recently when I decided that was me finished with senior roles,’ he says. ‘I have had to cut things back, but I am still a member of many orders and I still attend meetings at Hinckley, Foxton, Lutterworth and Market Harborough. I occasionally go to a few over the border in nearby Provinces if it’s not a long drive. That’s because I am a big believer that if you are going to do something, you put your whole heart into it. I have always tried my best to do as well as I can. I can’t see any reason to bother otherwise. The more you put in, the more you get out of it.’

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Left: The OSM Jewel awarded to Michael Herbert with the motto In Solo Deo Salus - In God alone is our safety

The office of Lodge Mentor has been in formal existence since 2012. Mentoring has been conducted informally from time immemorial and certainly since the 1717 formation of the fi rst Grand Lodge. The word itself derives from a character in The Odyssey by Homer and is defi ned as ‘a person who gives a younger or less experienced person help and advice over a period of time’.

In the context of a Masonic Lodge, things are not quite so straightforward, as the Lodge Mentor is there predominantly to coordinate the (potentially many) personal mentors in the Lodge. It is those personal mentors who have the individual relationship with specific Lodge members.

The Lodge Mentor is appointed with the words: ‘I appoint you Mentor of the Lodge, and invest you with the jewel of your office, which is two chisels in saltire. It is your especial duty to promote and support the Masonic development of all members of this Lodge.’

How can a Lodge Mentor enhance engagement?

When a Lodge Mentor is appointed, they often wonder how they can enhance the Masonic development of the Lodge members, aside from allocating and monitoring the personal mentors within the Lodge. A good fi rst port of call would be the Mentor’s Corner module of Solomon.

Coach and counsel

Solomon has a wealth of advice on its Mentor’s Corner module to help Lodge Mentors support members and enhance engagement

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Above left: Lodge Mentor Jewel. Right: Provincial Grand Mentor Jewel Grand Lodge Solomon
‘I appoint you Mentor of the Lodge, and invest you with the jewel of your office, which is two chisels in saltire. It is your especial duty to promote and support the Masonic development of all members of this Lodge’

Mentor’s Corner contains material to assist a Lodge Mentor. One of the most popular is the ‘Within Hail’ section. It has long been considered good practice for the Lodge Mentor, or his nominee, to leave the Lodge with Entered Apprentices (and Fellow Crafts) during a Second (or Third) Degree ceremony. The ‘Within Hail’ module contains many short articles (around a five-minute read) that could be used to start a discussion with these members. The topics covered include:

• The Ceremony and the Ritual

• The Lodge room, tracing board and Lodge officers

• Famous Freemasons

• The Royal Arch

There are also presentations and quizzes that could be delivered to the junior Freemasons. These days, most Masonic centres have a projector that can be booked, which may assist in bringing these quizzes and presentations to life.

Alongside supporting these junior Freemasons, a Lodge Mentor could, during their report on the agenda, highlight a specific learning opportunity for any Freemason from the vast resources of Solomon, Provincial/Metropolitan/District training opportunities, or even highlight an article in Freemasonry Today

Lodge Mentors should remember that not everyone is interested in the same thing, or learns in the same way. So, even if a specific activity doesn’t ‘float their boat’ personally, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t encourage it. This applies to all senior Freemasons.

Lodge Mentors may also be able to access support from their Provincial/Metropolitan/ District Grand Mentor or his team, who can almost certainly be accessed via the Lodge’s Visiting Officer or Provincial/Metropolitan/District Secretariat.

Responsibilities of a personal mentor

A personal mentor has a very different role to the Lodge Mentor, as it is they who need to support individual Freemasons. It should be noted that personal mentoring need not be confined to junior Freemasons, as all members can benefit from

the relationship and from advice and guidance from a mentor.

Solomon contains a wealth of material useful to the personal mentor. It is suggested that at regular mentoring meetings, which could take place at home, a café or via a virtual platform, a section of Mentor’s Corner is worked through. There is material about each degree, ideal for a mentee who has recently experienced it, as well as material about other aspects of Masonic life. For example, ‘Grand Lodge Certificates’ could be discussed at the mentoring session following its presentation to the candidate. It would indeed be a nice touch to invite the personal mentor to present it in Lodge.

Final thoughts

This ‘Masonic development’ is a synonym of the Engage hub of the Members’ Pathway and aside from the specific ideas in this article, a Lodge Mentor or personal mentor would do well to study the resources there.

Freemasons at every level can benefit from a mentoring relationship

The first pillar of the UGLE Strategy is ‘Thriving Membership’, which reiterates three needs:

1. Constantly reinforce the concepts of our unique combination of fun/sociability and serious and timeless core values

2. Address the membership challenge at all levels by encouraging innovation, embracing change and spreading successful ideas

3. Further enhance our members’ understanding of our history and values.

The ideas shared in this article about the role of mentors and the Solomon Mentor’s Corner are also present in the Members’ Pathway Engage Hub. It’s worth concluding with the well-known quotation:

‘I therefore trust that we should have but one aim in view… to please each other and unite in the grand design of being happy and communicating happiness.’

For more information, visit the Engage Hub of the Members’ Pathway: members-pathway/documents-resources/engage Visit the Mentor’s Corner of Solomon for valuable advice:

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Solomon Grand Lodge

Cumberland & Westmorland Freemasons took their commendable charitable service out into their neighbourhoods in December, demonstrating excellent examples of UGLE’s good practice in community engagement.

Freemasonry shines bright at the Christmas lights switch-on

In a heart-warming display of community service, the Province joined the festive celebrations in Carlisle city centre by supporting the annual Christmas lights switch-on. This joyous occasion, organised by Cumberland Council, brought together more than 15,000 residents and visitors to witness the magical illumination of the city.

As part of the event, the Province saw an opportunity to demonstrate its presence and highlight its dedication to community efforts.

Seizing the chance, they utilised the 270 sq ft (25 sq m) outdoor LED screen to share their message with a thoughtfully crafted screen design. It seamlessly blended a Christmas message, showcased support for local charities and provided a contact email for further information.

This novel approach proved to be both cost-effective and efficient. The 30-second slots, strategically designed to capture attention, gave the Province a unique opportunity that resonated with many in the crowd.

The gamble on this unconventional advertising strategy may be new for the Province, but it aligns perfectly with the Strategy for Freemasonry, 2022 and Beyond. Even a modest budget can yield significant results. Through the screen advertising, Freemasonry got increased visibility and sparked conversations within the local community.

Mark Costelloe, Deputy Chairman of the Members’ Pathway Working Party, said, ‘This venture represents more than just an opportunity to attract new members – it is a testament to the Province’s “Yes, if” attitude and willingness to engage and serve the community in unexpected and impactful ways. Although the Christmas lights have now dimmed, Freemasonry continues to shine even brighter, leaving a lasting impression in the hearts and minds of those in attendance.’


In a display of successfully implementing UGLE’s Strategy, Freemasons in Cumberland & Westmorland connected with locals and spread the word about their work in the community

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Lodge Members’ Pathway

Freemasons prepared 160 meals at Cleator Moor Masonic Centre for people who may have spent the festive season alone

Spreading warmth and joy: a festive gift of meals and hampers

In the spirit of giving, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Cumberland & Westmorland Bill Morley BEM and his wife Jessie embraced the true meaning of Christmas by providing meals and hampers to people who may have otherwise spent the festive season alone. The heartfelt endeavour took place at the Cleator Moor Masonic Centre, where 160 meals and hampers were prepared and delivered to those in need. Jessie crafted a delightful spread that reflected the spirit of generosity and love that defines Christmas.

What made the event truly special was the personal touch added to each delivery. Alongside the meals were Christmas cards, turning a simple act of kindness into an emotional experience.

‘Whether it is by donating money, time or effort as Freemasons, we endeavour to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most’

The joy they witnessed when handing out these packages was testament to the impact that a small gesture can have on those who may have felt forgotten during the holiday season.

Bill said, ‘Being able to make a positive difference in the lives of others is a rewarding experience, and it brings us immense pleasure to see the smiles on faces that thought no one cared. Christmas is a time for spreading love and compassion, and we are grateful to have been part of brightening the holiday for people.’

Mark Costelloe added, ‘This example of community engagement sits well in Pillar 3 of UGLE’s Strategy for Freemasonry, 2022 and Beyond. As we reflect on this heart-warming initiative, we are reminded that the true spirit of Christmas lies in service to our communities. Whether it is by donating money, time or effort as Freemasons, we endeavour to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.’

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Members’ Pathway Grand Lodge
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Chief Executive Les Hutchinson

Looking back on a year of helping communities, charities, Freemasons and their families

The Masonic Charitable Foundation’s (MCF, the Freemasons’ charity) Impact Report shows that in the year 2022-2023, the charity awarded almost 4,300 grants to individuals or households, amounting to £12.8 million. Of this, £7.4 million helped with essential daily living costs, £4 million went towards healthcare and wellbeing needs and almost £1.3 million assisted children and young people with their education. Within these figures, almost £300,000 was awarded through 427 grants to support the mental health of Freemasons and their families; a need which seems to be increasing year on year.

We are fortunate to have the support of 340 trained volunteers who conducted more than 1,000 visits to those applying for support and we thank them for this invaluable service. Additionally, we received almost 14,000 enquiries via telephone, email or post.

Last year marked the beginning of a new approach to impact and evaluation. The evidence we are gathering will help us to understand how the MCF is creating positive change in society and within our membership.

It was reassuring that from the 708 responses to the beneficiary survey conducted last year, 58 per cent told us that MCF’s support had helped with their wellbeing, while 24 per cent had improved their independence. Others felt our support had enabled them to access an opportunity.

We were also delighted to hear that 99 per cent of those that applied for support felt that their experience engaging with Visiting Volunteers or Advice and Support Team members was a positive one and 98 per cent said that the MCF enquiry team’s knowledge and professionalism when responding to a query either met or exceeded their expectations.

We remain focused on providing support to charities and organisations that are helping to tackle some of society’s biggest challenges, such as the needs of children and young people and those experiencing isolation in later life. Last year, we awarded grants to 451 charities working on these issues. These amounted to almost £7 million.

In addition, we have continued to work closely with the Provinces through matched funding grants, Festival grants and the Freemasons’ Community fund, which works in partnership with Regional Communication Groups.

Our support for PhD research into degenerative illnesses carries on. We are also proud to be one of the first contributors to international appeals following major natural disasters or humanitarian crises. Last year, this included funds to aid appeals following earthquakes in Turkey, Syria and Morocco.

We commissioned independent research to evaluate three years’ work of progress reports for charities that we have supported. Some 300 charities were assessed, and the findings were extremely positive. Most charities referred to benefits such as increased engagement in physical and social activities, gaining access to physical, psychological and emotional support, increased knowledge about rights and enabling access to more opportunities to advance education. This is clear independent vindication of the difference we are making to society on behalf of Freemasonry.

We have been pleased to continue our association with Hospice UK. Funds amounting to £600,000 were awarded to support projects across the country to help people needing end-of-life care, particularly those suffering from the cost-of-living crisis and people experiencing homelessness. We also provided 72 bursaries for staff in 51 hospices. Hospice UK has created a short film highlighting our support (see p70).

None of this would be possible without the generous support of Freemasons, their families and friends. Since my last column, we have celebrated the Festival finales for the Provinces of Cambridgeshire and Warwickshire, which raised £1.2 million and £2.6 million respectively for the MCF. To these Provinces, and others currently fundraising for the MCF, we are incredibly grateful.

In 2022-2023, the MCF awarded £12.8 million in almost 4,300 grants

I would encourage all Freemasons to read our Impact Report, which can be found at It explains in detail how these donations, and the many more we received throughout the year, have been used.

We look forward to delivering another successful year as the Freemasons’ charity, demonstrating that we are a force for good. I thank you for your ongoing support.

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The support provided to hospices through the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF, the Freemasons’ charity) has been highlighted in a short film produced by Hospice UK.

After the death of one of her twins shortly after birth, Mariyam Akhtar needed the care and support of Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice in West Yorkshire, where she received ongoing help on her own terms.

The Hospice UK film shares Mariyam’s story and explains how the MCF grant enabled the hospice to expand its engagement with the wide and diverse communities in the local area.

Mariyam explains how Forget Me Not Hospice not only changed her perception

Mariyam’s story

Thanks to donations supporting the work of Hospice UK, we hear how the charity helped one woman with bereavement support

of what sort of places hospices are, but how its support transformed her experience of bereavement at a time when she needed it most.

Miriyam said, ‘When I thought about the word hospice, I thought it was quite hospitalised, somewhere that was clinical and not very personal to me. When I was referred and got to see the place and meet the people, my view completely changed.’

In the film, the hospice’s CEO, Gareth Pierce, describes how the grant from MCF helped the hospice deepen its reach into local communities by expanding on a project focusing on support for South Asian families. The funding helped employ a community engagement worker to build relationships with individuals,

organisations, schools and in religious settings in the local area.

This helps the hospice deliver on its promise to the whole community that no family in West Yorkshire will have to experience the loss of their child alone.

The grant to Forget Me Not Hospice is one of 13 projects supported during the past year as part of a £600,000 annual partnership with Hospice UK.

The programme has also supported 72 bursaries for staff at 51 hospices, funding that is helping to develop staff skills, capacity and resilience in the sector.

To watch the video and find out more about the MCF’s partnership with Hospice UK, please visit

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Mariyam felt supported by Hospice UK after the death of one of her twins

Bringing wild activities to children

Staffordshire Freemasons fund nature studies and wild play

More than 2,000 local children and young people from under-represented communities will be getting closer to nature thanks to a £57,000 grant to the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.

The funding, awarded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF, the Freemasons’ charity) in partnership with Staffordshire Freemasons, will support Wildplay sessions for children from urban communities in Staffordshire Moorlands and Stoke-on-Trent, including those in care, refugees and those with special educational needs.

The Wildplay sessions will feature creative play and crafting, exploring nature reserves and taking part in a wide range of activities – from pond dipping to natural crafts and wildlife identification.

The children will benefit from spending time outside and forming connections with nature. The funding will also provide personalised support, such as free transportation to nature reserves. In all, the grant will help families, providing potentially life-changing experiences.

The Trust believes everyone should be able to access and enjoy nature, no matter

where they live. Hundreds of children and young people will benefit over the course of the project, which started in January this year.

Louise Taylor, Wildchild officer at the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust (above), said, ‘We’re very grateful to Staffordshire Freemasons for their generous grant. This funding will allow us to bring the benefits and joy of nature to so many children who may otherwise not get to spend time exploring our country’s wild spaces. Spending time outside can boost mental health – one study found that 95 per cent of those that took part in outdoor play saw improvements in just six weeks.’

John Lockley, Provincial Grand Master of Staffordshire (above), said, ‘I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Staffordshire Wildlife Trust with this vital project. It’s a sad fact that many children grow up without regular access to nature and wild spaces. Outdoor activities, like those included in Wildplay sessions, have many benefits. They will help children and young people to feel happier and healthier. It’s hugely important for these families that this essential project is supported.’

Supporting breast cancer research

There will be hope for new treatments and better care for those battling breast cancer, as the Nottingham Breast Cancer Research Centre received a research grant of £95,996 from the MCF.

More than 50,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer every year and more than 10,000 die as a result. The research conducted by PhD student Sophie Williams, under the guidance of Dr Sarah Storr and Professor Stewart Martin at the University of Nottingham, will focus on calpains, a group of proteins that play a role in spreading breast cancer cells to other parts of the body. Sophie aims to find out more about them and how they alter the signalling pathways in the body. She hopes to understand more about the role of calpastatin, which can block the harmful effects of calpain. Through research, it is hoped that Sophie will be able to discover new and effective treatments for those with breast cancer.

Sophie said, ‘I’m very grateful for the support from the Nottinghamshire Freemasons for giving me the opportunity to work on and discover new treatments to bring relief to many around the world. I look forward to conducting my research.’

Representing the Provincial Grand Lodge of Nottinghamshire, Peter Gregory and Andrew Rainbow (above right and left with Sophie) said, ‘We are very pleased to be supporting Sophie’s studies and her vitally important work to develop new treatments for those suffering from breast cancer. Her work will improve the lives of many around the world.’

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Residents take to the road

Residents at Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court in Porthcawl have received a new minibus. The vehicle will allow residents to continue their trips and make new memories with support from the home’s staff.

The gift is a donation from the home’s Association of Friends, an independent charity made up of volunteers that has been supporting Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court since it first opened its doors 50 years ago.

The Association of Friends had already donated a minibus 12 years ago. However, they decided it was time the residents had a brand new vehicle to enjoy.

Gherold Davies, Vice Chairman of the Association of Friends of the RMBI’s Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court, said, ‘Our Chairman, Phillip Aubrey, felt it important to replace the old minibus, and after assiduous fundraising we were able to do so. It is very important for the residents to have access to the local seaside, shops, pubs and recreational areas, to keep them involved in their local community.’

The Association of Friends regularly supports the home through donations and fundraising events. In recent years, they have donated a conservatory, a greenhouse and a sensory table. Singers and performers often visit to entertain the residents and support their wellbeing.

£16m investment for new care home


Care Co. site to support up to 64 people in Suffolk

Planning permission has been granted for a new-build care home in Bury St Edmunds. Care provider RMBI Care Co. is investing £16 million to build a new care home on the site of its current home, Cornwallis Court, which received an ‘Outstanding’ rating by the Care Quality Commission in August 2023.

With a sustainable approach in mind, the new care home will be designed and created to meet the changing needs of older people. The latest technologies will be available to support up to 64 people with residential care, nursing and residential dementia care.

The layout of the site will include four house groups, to create a more homely environment. Each space will feature 16 bedrooms with full en suite wet rooms, varied communal spaces and an enclosed landscape garden to support residents’ health and wellbeing.

about supporting older people, so we’re always thinking about how we can support our residents’ needs now, and as they change in the future. We plan to create and build a new care home with modern spaces that evolve with our residents alongside assistive technologies and a personal approach to our care.’

RMBI Care Co. secured a sustainable retail charity bond in February 2023 to help develop, modernise and expand its support for older people. This will also be the charity’s second investment in a new-build care home, following the completion of Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh Court in Berkshire in 2022.

Tom Edwards and Ivor Pike with their new minibus, accompanied by Phil Aubrey and Gherold Davies, Chairman and Vice Chairman, respectively, of the Association of Friends of Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court

The build will commence in April 2024 in a series of phases to enable residents and staff to continue living and working in the existing building, before moving across to the new home as each phase is ready. Full completion is expected by 2027.

Mark LLoyd, Managing Director at RMBI Care Co., said, ‘We’re passionate

‘We plan to create and build a new care home with modern spaces that evolve with our residents’
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Artist’s impression of the proposed new-build care home in Bury St Edmunds
RCS_autumn23.indd 1 08/08/2023 10:33
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Fraternal World

The UGLE globe at a glance



Hertfordshire 163 Lodges 68 Chapters




83 Lodges 30 Chapters
84 Lodges 29 Chapters FMT Spring 2024 UGLE Provinces Fraternal world
Wales 27 Lodges 12 Chapters
76 Lodges 30 Chapters Guernsey & Alderney 11 Lodges 6 Chapters Jersey 11 Lodges 7 Chapters
Wales 99 Lodges 32 Chapters
Wales 161 Lodges 69 Chapters Isle of Man 19 Lodges 6 Chapters
Northumberland 119
& Westmorland 62 Lodges 28 Chapters
Kent 175 Lodges 64
Chapters Cumberland
154 Lodges 70
Monmouthshire 29 Lodges 14 Chapters
Isle of Wight 247 Lodges 83 Chapters
Hampshire &
Lodges 33 Chapters
Shropshire 36 Lodges 13 Chapters Bristol 37 Lodges 14 Chapters
44 Lodges 17 Chapters East Lancashire 171 Lodges 71 Chapters Cheshire 157 Lodges 74 Chapters Staffordshire 92 Lodges 37 Chapters Worcestershire 91 Lodges 37 Chapters Warwickshire 132 Lodges 45 Chapters
Yorkshire, North & East Ridings
Lodges 54 Chapters
57 Lodges
Derbyshire 76 Lodges 30 Chapters
Key Metropolitan Grand Lodge Provincial Grand Lodges Surrey
20 Chapters
Berkshire 99 Lodges 38 Chapters
228 Lodges 100 Chapters
289 Lodges 115 Chapters
London 1,155 Lodges
Chapters Buckinghamshire 117 Lodges 40 Chapters
165 Lodges
Chapters Essex
Herefordshire 15 Lodges 30 Chapters
78 Lodges 35 Chapters
West Kent 167 Lodges 65 Chapters
Huntingdonshire 97 Lodges 28 Chapters Dorset 49 Lodges 22 Chapters
& Rutland 80 Lodges 27 Chapters Yorkshire, West Riding 171 Lodges 69 Chapters
33 Lodges 14 Chapters Oxfordshire 53 Lodges 19 Chapters
Lancashire 301 Lodges 115 Chapters
125 Lodges 54 Chapters
Northamptonshire &
69 Lodges 32

Across the globe

The Districts and Groups of UGLE



The Group of Lodges in Montreal & Halifax (3 Lodges)

Kingston/George Town

District Grand Lodge of Jamaica & the Cayman Islands (26 Lodges)


Igualdad Lodge, No. 653

Port of Spain

District Grand Lodge of Trinidad & Tobago (8 Lodges)

St John’s, Antigua

District Grand Lodge of Barbados & The Eastern Caribbean (22 Lodges)


District Grand Lodge of Guyana (15 Lodges)



District Grand Lodge of Bahamas & Turks (13 Lodges)


District Grand Lodge of Bermuda (5 Lodges)


St Helena Lodge, No. 488

São Paulo/ Rio de Janeiro

District Grand Lodge of South America, Northern Division (24 Lodges)

Buenos Aires/ Santiago/Montevideo

District Grand Lodge of South America, Southern Division (14 Lodges)


The Group of Lodges in Portugal (4 Lodges)

Gibraltar District Grand Lodge of Gibraltar (9 Lodges)


The Group of Lodges in Malta (2 Lodges)


District Grand Lodge of Cyprus (19 Lodges)


Star of the East Lodge, No. 880

76 FMT Spring 2024 Fraternal world UGLE Districts and Groups
Montreal Halifax Port of Spain Willemstad Georgetown Rio de Janeiro Santiago Buenos Aires George Town St John’s, Antigua Kingston Montevideo São Paulo Cascais Zakynthos Gibraltar Vilamoura Lagos Valleta Nassau Hamilton Jamestown 1 2 3 4 8 7 6 9










Cape Town

New Delhi



Harare Mumbai Colombo

Port Elizabeth



District Grand Lodge of South Africa, North (80 Lodges)


District Grand Lodge of South Africa, Central Division (8 Lodges)


District Grand Lodge of Namibia (4 Lodges)

Cape Town

District Grand Lodge of South Africa, Western Division (16 Lodges)


District Grand Lodge of Zambia (11 Lodges)






District Grand Lodge of Bombay (23 Lodges)

New Delhi

District Grand Lodge of Northern India (5 Lodges)


District Grand Lodge of Bengal (23 Lodges)

Chennai District Grand Lodge of Madras (18 Lodges)


District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka (10 Lodges)

Hong Kong








Plantagenet Lodge, No. 1454

Melbourne Combermere Lodge, No. 752


Geraldton Lodge, No. 3544


Port Curtis Lodge, No. 2235

Freetown Accra Lagos



District Grand Lodge of Sierra Leone & The Gambia (21 Lodges)


District Grand Lodge of Ghana (59 Lodges)


District Grand Lodge of Nigeria (42 Lodges)





District Grand Lodge of East Africa (48 Lodges)

District Grand Lodge of Zimbabwe & Malawi (12 Lodges)


District Grand Lodge of Kwazulu-Natal (22 Lodges)


District Grand Lodge of Orange Free State (7 Lodges)

Port Elizabeth

District Grand Lodge of South Africa, Eastern Division (19 Lodges)

Kuala Lumpur



Kobe Fiji Vanuatu


Kuala Lumpur/ Singapore/Thailand

District Grand Lodge of Eastern Archipelago (40 Lodges)

Hong Kong/Kobe

District Grand Lodge of Hong Kong & The Far East (20 Lodges)


The Group of Lodges in the South West Pacific (3 Lodges)


Rabaul Lodge, No. 4468





District Grand Lodge of South Island, New Zealand (13 Lodges)


District Grand Lodge of North Island, New Zealand (24 Lodges)

FMT Spring 2024
UGLE Districts and Groups Fraternal world
Banjul Dar es Salaam

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LandResolutions_spring23.indd 1 25/01/2023 14:54
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27 September


New room to help dementia patients unveiled at #Bradford hospital. The facility at Lynfield Mount Hospital has been made possible by a donation of over £12,000 from the West Riding Masonic Community Fund.

12 October


The Brasilia Lodge 9985 had the honour of releasing the official postage stamp in its homage! The stamp, developed by the Brazilian Postal and Telegraph Company, features the Lodge’s badge, which was consecrated in 2019 #dglsand

29 October


Well done to the team of Masonic volunteers who helped to keep the Accrington 10k race safe this morning by marshalling. Well done to ALL the runners who took part! Thanks also goes to

Tell us what’s on your mind



The Walton Arms in Altham for their hospitality in acting as race HQ.

12 November


Had the honour and privilege to lay a wreath on behalf of all Cornish Freemasons at the Remembrance Day parade in Truro. Lovely ceremony

at the war memorial then a beautiful and poignant service in the cathedral, with poppies raining down. We will remember them!


25 November


Half yearly communication in Banjul, the Gambia on Saturday 25 November 2023

27 November


Centenary meetings are very special events in the life of a Lodge, and Coventry Foundation Lodge 4543



@freemasonsha ll

celebrated in style tonight at St Mary’s Guildhall, Coventry with the support of the Provincial team headed by our RW PGM @philhall43. A great occasion!

9 December


Local charities see Christmas come early thanks to @HantsMasonSC Freemasons. The huge number of toys handed out at today’s SCA Christmas Charity Toy Presentation will help the charities to give children a wonderful Christmas.

@HantsMason #Freemasonry



10 December


Christmas jumpers on parade this afternoon at the Provincial Carol Service at Pershore Abbey #worcsmasons

19 December


London Masons fundraising reaches £1m for London’s Air Ambulance ‘Up Against Time’ appeal #londonmasons

6 January


#Somerset Freemason Roddy Chambers from @backwell7964 recently had

an unforgettable experience visiting a #Freemasons Lodge in #Barbados on holiday, experiencing local traditions and the universal bond of friendship.

15 January


Just how many Masters in Office (they are not reigning Masters) can you get in a picture? It was good to see Masters from across the Province attending the @RoyalSussex355 Installation meeting, great support.

19 January


Lovely to see a plethora of Companions from @bedsfreemasons at the Chapter of Fidelity in Cambridge this evening. An excellent double Exaltation and an enthusiastic Festive Board!

81 Social media Fraternal world FMT Spring 2024


FMT’s pick of the unusual, striking or just plain fascinating

Royal Arch Alms Box, 1934

This pottery charity box, complete with a domed Royal Arch vault and miniature working tools, was produced as a limited edition by Royal Crown Derby. Several copies are known to exist, including three in the Museum of Freemasonry and one in the Royal Crown Derby Museum. This one was presented to St George’s Chapter, No. 5 by the company’s owner, Francis Paget, in 1934. Paget was a member of Campbell Lodge, No. 1415 in Middlesex.

82 FMT Spring 2024
Image: Museum of Freemasonry
SPLENDOR SA - EXCLUSIVE BRITISH AGENTS FOR THE SWISS OUTLET OF BRAND WATCHES Start Date Expiry Date Issue No. (Maestro only) Mr/Mrs NAME ADDRESS POST CODE TEL: E mail From time to time we would like to send you our latest catalogues, special offers and promotions by post that we think you’d appreciate as a valued customer. If you would prefer not to receive these, please tick this box . We normally deliver within 10-14 days but please allow up to 21 days for delivery during periods where the demand is very high. PHONE: 0330 008 0373 ONLINE: CARD No. Security Code (Last 3 digits on back of your card) Signature You can also pay by cheque or Postal Order made payable to: SPLENDOR SA Qty. Style Price Total Gentlemen’s 2064-G £198 £49 £ Ladies 2064-L £198 £49 £ Postage packaging and insurance £5.95 + £ 5.95 GRAND TOTAL £ We accept: MASTERCARD, VISA, MAESTRO CUT OUT & POST TO: SPLENDOR SA, 83 Ducie Street, Manchester M1 2JQ. A limited number of the model “Ocean Master” are being made available as an introductory offer to the readers of the Freemasonry Today Magazine at a greatly discounted price. This timepiece is expected to be released to the general public at the end of 2024 at a price of £198, but can be yours now for just £49, an astounding saving of £149! We are so confident of its endurance and quality that we offer a 5-Year manufacturer’s warranty. The number of watches available for this special offer is limited. To enable others to benefit from this offer we therefore request our customers not to order more than 3 watches. This offer is valid until 30th April 2024! Quartz movement calibre 132 rev 2 Day & Date display Deep black dial Scratch-proof mineral glass Waterproof 3 ATM 5 years manufacturer, s warranty Stainless steel incorporating 14ct real gold plating 10 Years warranty on gold-plating Ladies and Gentlemen,s models available 180 DAY MONEY BACK WARRANTY 5 YEAR WARRANTY Original Precision-Chronometer “Ocean Master” by ASTRON £198 - ONLY £ 49! Gentlemen,s 2064-G Ladies 2064-L Real 14 ct. gold plating FREEMASONRY TODAY SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY OFFER T&C’s
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