The Official Journal of the United Grand Lodge of England
Number 30 ~ Summer 2015
Number 30 ~ Summer 2015
PLAYING FOR KEEPS How the RMTGB is helping disadvantaged young people pursue their dreams and find employment p27
ALMONER A YEAR OF SUPPORT MASONIC FOR SENIORS SUCCESS
SIGNED SEALED DELIVERED
Pastoral care champions, p32
Notes from Letters Live, p57
Looking to the future, p36
UNITED GRAND LODGE of ENGLAND
FROM THE GRAND SECRETARY A
PHOTOGRAPHY: PAUL MITCHELL
s you read the summer edition of Freemasonry Today, you will see that we have a great deal to be proud of and many successes to celebrate. As well as the numerous examples of charity on home soil, the Grand Charity was, as usual, quick to send donations in emergency aid via the British Red Cross to Vanuatu following the severe tropical cyclone in March, and to Nepal following the devastating earthquake in April. The Pro Grand Master has stressed the importance of mentoring to retain members, not least to encourage initiates to talk openly about Freemasonry to their family, friends and acquaintances from the very outset of their membership. The Pro Grand Master also called upon lodges to work with their Provincial and District Grand Mentors. To further support our collaborative approach, the Pro Grand Master’s Annual Briefing Meeting was an outstanding success. Our report on the proceedings presents the highlights and reveals ‘an organisation that is embracing transparency and taking positive steps to ensure its long-term future’. While the future of Freemasonry involves modernisation, maintaining tradition is also important. Pastoral care has long been a key strand of our organisation, so we find out about the ongoing work of Ernie Greenhalgh
and his team of almoners in West Lancashire. We also talk to Dame Esther Rantzen about her Silver Line charity and the importance of offering support and comfort to older people. Dame Esther is not the only celebrity gracing the pages of this issue, however, with Benedict Cumberbatch visiting Freemasons’ Hall to read at Letters Live. Our feature on the star-studded event demonstrates a membership organisation that is happy to open its doors to the world. Transparency was one of the motivating factors in forming the Devonshire Masonic Art Group. We interview its members to discover how painting and raising money for good causes is taking the message of Freemasonry to local communities across the region. In our cover story, creativity is also being used as a way to connect with others; we learn how masonic funding is helping disadvantaged young people to take their first steps in the music industry. Whether the beneficiaries are old or young, masons or non-masons, there are many stories in this issue of Freemasonry Today that celebrate the support we give. I hope they will make you proud. Nigel Brown Grand Secretary
‘While the future of Freemasonry involves modernisation, maintaining tradition is also important, and pastoral care has long been a key strand of our organisation.’
The Board of Grand Lodge Publications Ray Reed, Robin Furber, Graham Rudd
Publishing Director Nigel Brown Editorial Panel Karen Haigh, John Hamill, Susan Henderson, John Jackson, Siobhan McCarthy Editor Luke Turton Published by August Media Ltd for The United Grand Lodge of England, Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ
Editorial Freemasonry Today, Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ email@example.com Advertising contact Square7 Media Ltd, 3 More London Riverside, London SE1 2RE Mark Toland 020 3283 4056 firstname.lastname@example.org Circulation 0844 879 4961 email@example.com Masonic enquiries firstname.lastname@example.org www.ugle.org.uk 020 7831 9811 Printed by Wyndeham Roche © Grand Lodge Publications Ltd 2015. The opinions herein are those of the authors or persons interviewed only and do not reflect the views of Grand Lodge Publications Ltd, the United Grand Lodge of England or August Media Ltd.
3 THE MELODY MAN
Nigel Brown welcomes you to the summer issue
NEWS AND VIEWS
Masonic news from the Provinces and Districts
HRH The Duke of Kent explains how Royal Arch donations have been used, while Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes highlights the role of the mentoring scheme
For Lister Park, working in the UGLE Registration Department is a window on the world
Results from a Membership Focus Group survey reveal the importance of making new initiates feel welcome RMTGB funding is giving disadvantaged young people the opportunity to fulfil their musical dreams through courses at London’s Roundhouse
PHOTOGRAPHY Cover: Sam Christmas This page: Laurie Fletcher, Mark McNulty, Remo Knecht for Letters Live, Robin Mellor, Martin Pope/The Daily Telegraph, Sam Christmas
THE BEST RESPONSE
Thanks to Grand Charity backing, the British Red Cross is providing valuable support to emergency services in the UK
Imogen Beecroft reports on research by Professor Keynes and his team that could help to cure spinal cord paralysis
When Benedict Cumberbatch came to the Grand Temple, Jessica Hopkins was in the Letters Live audience
How Freemasons are helping out around the UK
32 LIBRARY AND MUSEUM
The longstanding link with the entertainment industry
Your opinions on the world of Freemasonry
As masonic leaders gathered to celebrate the achievements of the past year, they also looked to Freemasonry’s future
Members of the Devonshire Masonic Art Group tell Peter Watts how they are using their pictures to promote Freemasonry to a wider community
A HALL OF LETTERS
Dame Esther Rantzen and Provincial Grand Almoner Ernie Greenhalgh talk to Aileen Scoular about how Freemasons are making a difference in West Lancashire
THINKING FOR TOMORROW
PAINTING WITH A MESSAGE
ONCE IN A LIFETIME
Northern Soul enthusiast and mason Dave Stubbs invites Sarah Holmes along to a night of music and dancing
John Hamill considers why diversity and inclusivity are essential parts of the masonic ethos
NEWS AND VIEWS
NEWS AND VIEWS
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The Grand Master is introduced to RCS research department secretary Martyn Coomer by FFSR Chairman Anthony West
Chapter support for surgical research Established with £587,629 in 1967, the Grand Lodge 250th Anniversary Fund is a registered charity supporting the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS). By the end of 2013, the fund’s capital was £3.7 million, despite providing more than £4.3 million in grants during the previous 45 years. However, with lower returns and the increased cost of financing Fellows to undertake surgical research, fulfilling the
fund’s aspirations was becoming difficult. Supreme Grand Chapter therefore decided to launch an appeal to support the RCS in recognition of the 200th anniversary of the Royal Arch, and £2.5 million was raised. From this year, two Royal Arch Fellows in every five fellowships will be supported. To reflect these changes, the fund was renamed The Freemasons’ Fund for Surgical Research (FFSR) on 1 January 2015.
NEWS AND VIEWS
Vanuatu disaster relief The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has donated £20,000 in emergency aid via the British Red Cross following the severe tropical cyclone that hit Vanuatu in the South Pacific in March. The donation helped to deliver emergency assistance in the areas of water, sanitation, healthcare and shelter. The cyclone caused widespread destruction to one of the world’s least developed countries. Vanuatu’s president, Baldwin Lonsdale, appealed for immediate help, saying the storm had wiped out all development of recent years. Thousands of people were made homeless and left in need of food and water, with infrastructure severely affected as buildings, roads and bridges were destroyed. Communications were seriously impacted, with power, telephone lines and internet affected across much of the country.
CHELSEA PENSIONER TAKES THE CHAIR Former Coldstream Guardsman John Gledhill added a dash of distinctive colour in his Chelsea Pensioner’s uniform at his installation as Worshipful Master of Symphony Lodge, No. 4924, which meets in Blackpool. Donations to charities on the night included £1,400 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, £200 each to Prostate Cancer and the Blackpool Group Sponsored Walk, and £100 each to Violet’s Light and the Children’s Hearing Service.
PHOTOGRAPHY: ALAMY, BRITISH RED CROSS, GETTY IMAGES
Helping the Hindu community
The Hindu Community Plymouth received a donation from the William Alexander Kneel Endowment (WAKE) Fund to purchase an effigy of the Lord Shiva, for use in the Plymouth crematoriums. The WAKE Fund was set up in memory of a former Devonshire Provincial Grand Master to deliver aid to local organisations. Members of Victory Lodge, No. 4189, were invited to attend and participate in the blessing of the effigy, which has a brass plaque stating that it has been donated by Devonshire Freemasons.
Thousands were left homeless by Cyclone Pam
KICK-OFF TO TACKLE MIDDLESBROUGH YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT This year Street League, whose mission is to change lives through football, has been awarded £25,000 by the Grand Charity to deliver three football and employability programmes over one year in Middlesbrough. Street League’s vision is to reduce youth unemployment in the UK through its award-winning 10-week scheme. The charity helps young unemployed people aged 16-25 to gain skills, confidence, work experience and qualifications, while supporting them to progress into employment, education or training.
Street League participants with charity ambassador Robin van Persie of Manchester United FC
NEWS AND VIEWS
Riding to the Somme
Charity focuses on the financial impact of cancer
Seven members of the Artificers Masonic Motorcycle Association and two of their partners undertook a sponsored ride to the Somme, where they laid a wreath at the Thiepval Memorial in memory of those who fell during World War I, and returned a bugle reportedly used in the Battle of Mons to sound the first retreat. The team included Jim Humphreys, a Zambian mason from Lusaka – the eldest of the group at 72 years old; Ray and Jacquie Sparks of the newly formed Sussex Motorcycling Lodge, No. 9871, who owned the 100-yearold bugle; Gary Dark from Chantry Lodge, No. 6454, East Kent; Mike Hogsden of Hamelesham Lodge, No. 8243, Sussex; Colin Wallington of White Horse of Kent Lodge, No. 8784, West Kent; Chris Ray of Pro Deo et Patria Lodge, No. 4425, London; and Dave Weedon from Hanslip Ward Lodge, No. 3399, Essex, and his partner Jeannette.
Breast cancer support charity The Haven has received £30,000 from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. The donation will help to maintain and expand its welfare, benefits and money advice service, which is currently available at the London Haven centre or via a telephone service. This centralised financial assistance from the Grand Charity is in keeping with the support given to the Hereford Haven centre in the past by Freemasons on a local level. Speaking about the donation, Laura Chapman, Chief Executive of the Grand Charity, said: ‘When people think about cancer, they don’t think about the financial impact it can have. This service will help patients focus on what really matters without the worry of how they will manage their money. We are so glad to be able to support those experiencing breast cancer in such an incredibly practical way.’ Herefordshire PGM the Rev David Bowen and Deputy PGM Mike Roff represented Freemasons county-wide at Hereford Haven, where they met centre manager Frankie Devereux.
LOOKING FORWARD AT MANCHESTER EYE HOSPITAL Manchester Royal Eye Hospital Charity has received a major donation from the Province of East Lancashire, supplemented by a grant from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. Totalling £125,000, the funds are for the Hospital’s Eye Bicentenary Charity Appeal to improve treatment, research and care at the Children’s Outpatient Clinic. The donation will contribute to the purchase of a state-of-the-art DNA sequencer, which will help improve diagnosis for inherited eye diseases and provide a vital tool for researchers seeking to better understand the genetic basis of eye disease. The donation will also enable a Children’s Eye Clinic liaison officer to be appointed, to provide support to patients and their families.
NEWS AND VIEWS
Grand organ rings out again The final part of the renovation of the Willis organ in the Grand Temple has been completed, with the front panel of the console now in place. The refurbished organ was played for the first time at the two Investiture meetings in April. The organ was renovated at the Harrison & Harrison workshop in Durham before being reinstalled in the Grand Temple in January 2015. In the meantime, the new case was built over the console on the east wall. Project Manager Charles Grace thanked the craftsmen who worked on the organ and said: ‘I hope it will be used for many recitals in the years ahead.’ The inaugural concert will be given by the celebrated organist Thomas Trotter on 30 September. To book tickets, go to https://event.bookitbee.com/3138/inaugural-refurbished-organ-recital
Charles Grace congratulates Harrison & Harrison team leader Michael Clough on completion of the project
Masonic history at Queens’ College June 2017 marks the 300th anniversary of the first meeting of the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster – the world’s first Grand Lodge. To celebrate this event, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, is hosting a conference at Queens’ College, Cambridge from 9 to 11 September 2016. It is open to all Freemasons and non-masons interested in masonic history. Delegates can attend on a residential or non-residential basis, and papers are invited on any aspect of the history and development of Freemasonry, and of Grand Lodge in particular. For general enquiries, contact Quatuor Coronati Lodge Secretary Richard Gan on +44 (0)1522 789491 or email@example.com. Synopses, abstracts and papers should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
VITAL HELP FOR VULNERABLE
For anyone interested in
The Devon Community Foundation has received £5,000 from local masons to help people in need across the county. Devon PGM Ian Kingsbury presented the cheque and the money will be split between the Surviving Winter Appeal, which assists older and vulnerable people affected by fuel poverty, and the Foundation’s Community Grants, which support frontline voluntary and community groups. The Foundation is on average three times oversubscribed for funding, so every donation can make a difference to people’s lives.
contributing, the timetable is: 1 July 2015 Synopsis and outline (500 words maximum) 1 August 2015 Authors advised if their outline has been accepted for delivery 1 April 2016 Abstract (1,200 words maximum) 1 November 2016 Paper for publication – 2,500 words, 10-minute presentation; 5,000 words, 20-minute presentation; and 10,000 words, 40-minute presentation.
PHOTOGRAPHY: ALAMY, GETTY IMAGES
WELSH MASONS TO THE RESCUE
APGM Roger Richmond and Henry Caylor with CBMRT members
South Wales Province Freemasons are continuing to help their local communities. Henry Caylor of Croeso Lodge, No. 8377, which meets in Cardiff, made the Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team (CBMRT) his chosen charity, raising £1,000 for the rescue unit through masonic and non-masonic functions. The funds will help CBMRT to purchase additional equipment for its vital service. Currently some 50 volunteers work within the unit, which operates from its base at Merthyr Tydfil.
NEWS AND VIEWS
HITTING A NEW PEAK IN CHARITY CLIMB Dale Murphy from Gorhambury Lodge, No. 8745, in Hertfordshire has reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, and raised more than £4,500 for Great Ormond Street Hospital and Cystic Fibrosis Research. Dale took up the challenge to climb the world’s highest freestanding mountain after hearing that a close friend’s daughter had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
Dale reaches the top of Mount Kilimanjaro
ON THE LEVEL IN PETERBOROUGH
Bob Beeton christens the boat, watched by the chairman of the rowing club, John Canton (far left)
At a ceremony at the Peterborough City Rowing Club, a single scull boat funded by Freemasons was christened On the Level. Fitzwilliam Lodge, No. 2533, Province of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, raised almost £2,500 for the boat, which was named by Bob Beeton on behalf of the lodge. The club relies heavily on donations and each boat costs around £2,000, with the balance being used to supply oars.
SOMERSET ROYAL ARCH ANNIVERSARY
Herefordshire Freemasons were invited to tour the extensive new £8 million build at St Michael’s Hospice in recognition of their continued support. Herefordshire PGM the Rev David Bowen, accompanied by fellow masons including Provincial Grand Charity Steward Nick Swan, heard how the new building will make the hospice the most advanced and highly specified in the country. An additional £3.2 million refurbishment of the 30-year-old part of the existing hospice building will take place during the coming 12 months, completing a challenging period of development. The Rev David Bowen handed over a £2,804 donation from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and David Hudson, Master of Coningsby Lodge, No. 6383, presented an additional £500.
George Francis (left) with John Bennett
JAMAICA GRAND LODGE FUNDS CHILDREN’S HOME
Shown (l to r): DGM Walter Scott; Leroy Anderson and Rev Bernice Cox of the Jamaica National Children’s Home; and District Grand Secretary Robert Forbes
The District Grand Lodge of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands makes annual donations to the Jamaica National Children’s Home. These are funded by lodges making yearly contributions to District Grand Master Walter Scott’s Child Care month. Further donations are provided by the District’s Freemasons’ Association, a company that generates income by renting out its building space.
PHOTOGRAPHY: DENNIS GILBERT/VIEW, STEVE FORD
Continued support for St Michael’s
To celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Royal Arch in Somerset, an especial convocation was held in Bath, where the original recorded meeting was held. The Grand Superintendent John Bennett attended and the guest of honour was Second Grand Principal George Francis. Presentations were made to the Bath Masonic Museum by the Grand Superintendent of the now retired Holy Royal Arch Banner and Past Grand Superintendent Denis Calderley.
NEWS AND VIEWS
A grand introduction in Ireland Coming from eight different lodges, members of the Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blue Club, including Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Kinder, visited the Grand Master’s Lodge in Dublin, Ireland. Prior to the meeting, the visitors were treated to a private tour of Freemasons’ Hall by the Grand Tyler of Ireland. The Light Blue Club’s visit (pictured below) took place when the Grand Master of Ireland, Douglas Grey, was attending his own lodge. The installation ceremony offered a fascinating insight into the differences between the English ritual and that practised in Ireland.
AID FOR NEPAL EARTHQUAKE The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has donated £50,000 to the British Red Cross following the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal earlier this year. The earthquake, the worst to have hit in 81 years, measured 7.9 on the Richter scale and struck the Kathmandu Valley in the early hours of 25 April. It has been reported that more than 8,000 people were killed, and many thousands more injured and left without access to clean water, health facilities and shelter. The Red Cross has publicly thanked Freemasons via its website and social media channels, as well as in a press release to the media. News of the emergency funding was also published by Charity Today. Donations can be sent as cheques made payable to ‘The Freemasons’ Grand Charity’ to: Relief Chest Scheme, 60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ
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NEWS AND VIEWS
Shropshire lift for air ambulances
LOCAL CHARITY RECOGNITION
The Midlands Air Ambulance Charity invited representatives of the Shropshire Masonic Charitable Association (SMCA) to view the new helicopter and crew centre at RAF Cosford, Albrighton. The air ambulance charity has received generous support in recent years from the nearby Provinces, The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, and the Mark Province of Staffordshire and Shropshire. SMCA President John Williamson presented Midlands Air Ambulance Charity fundraising director Jason Levy with a cheque for £2,000. Also in the masonic party were PGM Peter Taylor and Deputy PGM Roger Pemberton, who is also a trustee of the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity.
The Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association has given awards totalling £25,000 to 17 local charities. Among the recipients was Lady Gretton, Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire, who received £1,000 on behalf of the Award for Young People 2015, which celebrates the best examples of achievement by young people in the county. Lady Gretton (pictured) said: ‘It will make a colossal difference to the awards, which recognise young inspirational people in Leicestershire.’ Provincial Grand Master David Hagger congratulated the charities and their volunteers who give their time to such good causes. The visiting Shropshire masonic party with Midlands Air Ambulance Charity members and crew Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence (left) hands the bicentenary warrant to Ray Thompson
Windsor open day marches to success Beneath the imposing shadow of the magnificent 11th-century Windsor Castle, Berkshire Freemasons and their friends were a high-profile addition to the street scene to promote the Windsor masonic open day. The centrepiece of the promotions was the ‘Freemasonry – What’s it all about?’ gazebo. Nearly 100 people visited Windsor Masonic Hall during the day, with 27 expressing an interest in becoming a member. The local council provided a special dispensation to site the gazebo on the Guildhall concourse, giving a prime location for the display – with the unexpected benefit of seeing a Guards Band pass by during the event.
Lodge of Concord, No. 343, which meets at Preston in the Province of West Lancashire, has celebrated the bicentenary of its consecration in the presence of Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence. He was accompanied by other distinguished brethren, including Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison. With 130 members and visitors in attendance, the lodge presented the PGM with a cheque for £2,343 for the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. Over the past 10 years, the lodge has collected more than £31,000 for worthy causes.
A Guards Band marches past the Guildhall during the masonic event
DOUBLE CENTURY FOR PRESTON LODGE
NEWS AND VIEWS
Helping with sight loss in the UK
Oxfordshire masons on a visit to the centre to watch a training demonstration
Hampshire and Isle of Wight PGM Michael Wilks presented a cheque for £50,000 from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity to the Macular Society to roll out the Daily Living Champions volunteer scheme across the UK. Daily Living Champions demonstrate highand low-tech equipment that can help people affected by sight loss to complete tasks that others take for granted. Age-related macular degeneration affects central vision and is the most common cause of sight loss in the UK. The Macular Society helps anyone affected by central vision loss, and its 15,000 members make it the largest patient group in the sight loss sector.
TAKING THE LEAD IN AUTISM SUPPORT Oxfordshire masons gave their support to children with autism when they presented a cheque for £25,000 from the Grand Charity to Dogs for the Disabled. The grant will help to fund the charity’s PAWS Service, which runs workshops across the country teaching families how to train a pet dog to help a child with autism. The Provincial Grand Charity Steward for Oxfordshire, Roger Hampshire, said: ‘So many children and their families have already benefited enormously from the PAWS workshops and I hope that this donation will enable the charity to continue its fantastic work.’ Read more about the PAWS Service and the Grand Charity’s support of the programme on p63
Michael Wilks presents the cheque to the Macular Society’s acting CEO, Cathy Yelf
VARSITY SCHEME IS 10
Warrington masonic museum officially opened Tony Harrison, Provincial Grand Master for West Lancashire, has opened the Warrington Museum of Freemasonry at Warrington Masonic Hall. Vic Charlesworth started the collection in 2010 with just one cupboard in the hall, but over the past few years many more exhibits have been donated – including rare and unusual jewels that were unknown to the Library and Museum in London. There is now an impressive collection of jewels from every Warrington lodge on display, and volumes of masonic books and literature – which Vic is in the process of documenting – are available for research.
Universities Scheme President David Williamson, Chairman Edward Lord, and past and present members of the committee came together in January with Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes and many other senior Freemasons to celebrate the scheme’s first decade of existence and hard work. With the initiative having grown from two lodges to 62 since its inception, and currently expanding into the Royal Arch, it has achieved much, with some lodges now being specifically consecrated as Universities Scheme lodges. Its fifth National Conference will be held in Leicester in November.
David Williamson (centre) with Lord Northampton (right of centre), and Peter Lowndes, Edward Lord and Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence (left of centre), among many distinguished masons at the celebration
RECOGNISING OUR LEGACY HRH The Duke of Kent explains how funding from the Royal Arch is supporting the Royal College of Surgeons and has helped to restore the Willis organ in the Grand Temple
PHOTOGRAPHY: REX FEATURES
ou will remember the generous £2.5 million raised for the 200th anniversary appeal to support the research work of the Royal College of Surgeons. A fundamental decision was needed as to how this sum should be invested and administered. It was decided that this would best be done together with the existing Grand Lodge Fund, launched for the Royal College in 1967, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Grand Lodge. It has been agreed that the fellowships will be allocated to both the Craft and the Royal Arch in proportion to the contribution of funds. So, this will mean that there will be two Royal Arch Fellows in every five fellowships that are supported. As patron of the fund, I confirm that in order to reflect these important changes – notably that the funding for these fellowships has come from both the Craft and the Royal Arch – the name of the fund has been changed as of January 2015 to The Freemasons’ Fund for Surgical Research. On the east wall of the Grand Temple at Freemasons’ Hall, the Willis organ has been renovated and greatly improved during the past year. You will be aware that Supreme Grand Chapter has funded this initiative from its reserves as the Royal Arch’s contribution towards the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England. In recognition of this contribution, the organ’s new case bears a triple tau at its top as well as on the front of the renovated console. I am sure you would want me to congratulate all concerned with this project, which not only enhances this magnificent room, both audibly and visually, but also adds to the heritage of this building and the memory of those many Freemasons who died in World War I.
‘The renovation of the Willis organ is the Royal Arch’s contribution towards the Tercentenary of UGLE.’
INVOLVEMENT AND COOPERATION As we celebrate the efforts of those who have achieved Grand Rank, Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes reflects on the challenges ahead for every member
â€˜I take this opportunity to remind you that further great things are expected of you and you will be required to shoulder greater responsibilities, particularly with helping to implement initiatives for improving our Freemasonry.â€™
PHOTOGRAPHY: ROBIN MELLOR
congratulate those I had the pleasure of investing with their various ranks. Grand Rank has been awarded for your contribution to English Freemasonry, here and in our Districts. I take this opportunity to remind you that further great things are expected of you and you will be required to shoulder greater responsibilities, particularly with helping to implement initiatives for improving our Freemasonry, which may be brought in by the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters. At the Annual Briefing Meeting, the Metropolitan Grand Master, Provincial Grand Masters, District Grand Masters and Grand Superintendents were brought up to date on the various initiatives that have been undertaken to make Freemasonry fit to celebrate its Tercentenary with confidence in its future. This confidence will show that Freemasonry is as relevant today as it has been throughout the past 300 years. To achieve this, we will continue to work closely with Provincial and District hierarchy to develop a clear strategy on sound leadership and the involvement of the membership, with clear focus on future needs and backed up by sufficient factual information. I am determined that this level of involvement and cooperation, which is already showing great benefit, continues to succeed. It is essential that Grand Officers set good examples in their lodges and help to train the next generation. They should be expected to carry out any duties for which they may be called upon to support the strategy.
PRIDE IN MEMBERSHIP
he last issue of Freemasonry Today covered the results of a Membership Focus Group (MFG) survey seeking members’ views on many aspects of Freemasonry including friendship, masonic ceremony and charity work. With 5,265 members taking part in the survey, I will let you read the full results, but I wanted to highlight the following four areas that scored highly. Having respect for others came first, closely followed by being with people who respect others, then meeting people with integrity, followed by the ethical and moral ethos of Freemasonry. I have said often in the past that it is no surprise that Freemasonry is such a remarkable fundraiser for charity, because of our code of conduct. I suggest, brethren, that these responses simply endorse that view. This and future surveys support the MFG’s aim of ensuring that any decision about Freemasonry draws upon the views, talents and ideas of members at all levels – not least at lodge level. I take this opportunity to stress the continued importance of the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Mentors’ role. I know that the majority of lodges have now appointed a mentoring coordinator but I still remain concerned that, in many cases, no personal mentors have been selected. Here there is a skill in matching the right personal mentor – that is to say, with the best personality characteristics and appropriate knowledge – with each
‘Candidates should be told that it is perfectly acceptable to talk about Freemasonry.’
candidate. This relationship will be ever-changing as the candidate develops his understanding. There can be no doubt that the early days of a candidate’s membership are the most impressionable. It is therefore important that the right personal mentor is assigned as early as possible after the interview stage and, at any rate, from initiation onwards. Pastoral care will always be a vital part of this relationship and it is at this early stage that the candidate should be told that it is perfectly acceptable to talk about Freemasonry and, indeed, be encouraged to do so, particularly as he becomes more experienced. In addition, they should demonstrate pride in their membership to their family, friends and acquaintances. The Metropolitan, Provincial and District Mentors have played a significant role in the running of the mentoring scheme, and I look to the lodges to support them in their important task of helping develop and retain membership at lodge level.
PHOTOGRAPHY: LAURIE FLETCHER
When it comes to new candidates, first impressions count. Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes urges lodges to embrace the mentoring scheme
Whether itâ€™s a currency fluctuation in India, a typhoon in Vanuatu or an earthquake in New Zealand, Lister Park has made it his job in the UGLE Registration Department to understand whatâ€™s going on in all the masonic Districts around the world
Going the distance 20
Where were you before coming to UGLE? In my previous life, I was in the advertising industry for some 38 years where I worked in various agencies with responsibility for the media planning and buying aspect of our clients’ marketing budgets. In July 2006, a friend and exemployee suggested I come to UGLE to interview for a three-month temporary assignment in the Registration Department. I’d been doing some consultancy work, where everyone wanted everything yesterday but weren’t too keen on paying the bills, so my wife suggested I give the job a go. Nine years later, I’m still here. What was it like when you started? At first I dealt with the administration of lodges and chapters under Metropolitan Grand Lodge, but after a while it was suggested that I try my hand at the Districts. The old boardroom was being used for storage back then and when I opened the doors to one of its huge cupboards, I found it full of papers. My first job was to sort that into some sense of order, which took quite a while. That was my introduction to the Districts. The next task was to set up a chain of communication. Before I joined, various people at UGLE had been dealing with the Districts so there wasn’t a single point of contact; whenever
someone from a District got in touch with a query, they could come through to anyone. District queries tend to be more complex than those of the Provinces, so I created a niche for myself. When first dealing with the District personnel, I was addressing them as ‘Dear District Grand Secretary’, but as time went on, relationships flourished and it became more personalised – it became ‘Dear Bob’ or ‘Dear John’. What does your job now entail? My day-to-day responsibilities cover everything from receiving and processing amendments to lodge membership data on annual returns, through to processing registrations and recording incoming payments to ensure that all fees and dues are paid. I also advise the Districts on rules and regulations relating to their membership. Is it hard to stay in touch with all the Districts? Part of the challenge we have is distance, but the internet has helped so much. We used to post out UGLE and Grand Chapter stationery, and annual returns to such far-flung places as Nigeria, Malaysia, Australia and Argentina – and you’d never know when they were going to get there. They might take three months or even get lost in transit. Now documents can be emailed to each
‘I make myself available for the Districts, but it’s not a hardship… It is a job but it’s also a way of life.’
THE DISTRICT NETWORK Lodges meeting abroad are grouped in 33 Districts, each headed by a District Grand Master, with five groups headed by a Grand Inspector and 12 lodges administered from Freemasonsâ€™ Hall. There are about 20,000 members in this category. The largest District is South Africa, North with more than 100 lodges and the smallest is Namibia with just four. Currently, the Districts encompass around 720 lodges and 320 chapters in total. UGLE has lodges across the globe, taking in Africa, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Greece, Hong Kong and the Far East, India, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, St Helena, South America, the South West Pacific (including Fiji and Vanuatu) and Thailand. There are also foreign Grand Lodges not under UGLEâ€™s jurisdiction and it is estimated that there are about six million Freemasons worldwide.
‘It’s heart-warming how much the Districts and their lodges want to belong to UGLE.’ District office, where they will be transmitted in a similar fashion to the lodge secretaries. But even then, when we email papers to the District Grand Secretary in Buenos Aires, for example, they will need to find their way to our lodges in Uruguay and Chile. If documents need signatures, you can’t expect the District Grand Secretary to pop in the car and collect the papers from someone hundreds of miles away. You therefore need to give these lodges a certain amount of leeway. You’ve got to understand the geography of the country and the distances involved and be very aware of the vagaries of the local postal system.
PHOTOGRAPHY: LAURIE FLETCHER
Is it a challenge collecting the annual dues? It all relies on administration and making sure that the databases are up to date. But you do get problems, especially when faced with currency fluctuation. Look at India and the way the rupee has fallen against the pound over the past few years: the District Grand Lodge can collect the dues one month but by the time they come to pay UGLE, the rupee might have dropped further, so they are faced with a shortfall. A few years ago there was astronomical hyperinflation in Zimbabwe and the value of the local dollar could change from hour to hour. The South African rand is another currency that is volatile, so we constantly monitor the currency markets to preempt some of the problems and help the Districts find the most beneficial way of paying their dues. What do you enjoy about the job? It’s heart-warming how much the Districts and their lodges want to belong to UGLE. They might have only 10 members, hold their meetings hundreds of miles away from the District office and even have English as a second language, but there is such loyalty to the mother lodge. It’s part of the joy of working with the Districts. Although they are far away from our headquarters, they still want to be associated with UGLE; they’re proud to be part of us.
Does your job complement your Freemasonry? I was out of masonry for 12 years before I came to work at Freemasons’ Hall. I wasn’t a subscribing member of any lodge and felt that, as I dealt with so many different aspects of Freemasonry five days a week in my job, it was enough. Eventually, though, I took the decision to reactivate my membership and joined St Barnabas Lodge, No. 3771, a London lodge that meets on a Saturday. During the past couple of years, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel, as a guest of the Districts, to both Cyprus and Kuala Lumpur where I gave presentations to gatherings of local lodge secretaries on how to provide more accurate documentation and data to UGLE. I came away from these visits with a tremendous feeling of camaraderie, of belonging to something that is so strong and so far from home. How important has it been to build relationships with the Districts? I make myself available for the Districts, but it’s not a hardship. It’s not 24 hours a day, but I always have to be aware of the time differences and gauge when to send emails that elicit a quick response or when to make an urgent phone call. I joined Royal Arch Freemasonry recently and the District Grand Secretary from Hong Kong flew in especially for the meeting. I was knocked out – it was an amazing thing to do, but that’s the kind of rapport you build with people. I get visitors from the Districts dropping into the office throughout the year. It gets really busy during the week of the Annual Investiture, when you’ve got everyone travelling to Freemasons’ Hall – whether it’s from New Zealand, Singapore, Bombay or the Bahamas – all wanting to catch up. My diary gets pretty full for that period and it’s usually four days of intense meetings, which concentrates the mind as you tend to get a whole year’s worth of problems rolled into one week, as well as having new personnel to meet and old friends to catch up with. It is a job but it’s also a way of life.
MEMBERSHIP FOCUS GROUP
PROPERLY PREPARED When it comes to retaining members, results from the latest Membership Focus Group survey point to a need for the recruitment process to better communicate what Freemasonry is really about
ore than 8,000 members are now signed up to assist the Membership Focus Group (MFG) by completing its surveys, the latest of which looks at the challenges faced in retaining members. Gathering detailed input from 30 Provinces and one District, the survey concludes that there is a strong link between the way in which someone comes into Freemasonry and the enjoyment they get from it. Retention is considerably improved when the initial recruitment process is of a high standard. Conversely, if a lodge rushes the introduction process, the consequences can be disastrous. Going forward, the MFG recommends developing candidate interview procedures that ensure transparency about what Freemasonry is, its vision, mission and beliefs. Candidates should also be provided with an overview of all the costs involved, ensuring that they are aware of the need to support lodge social and charity activities. In addition, the lodge should only select members who maintain and raise quality standards. THE VALUE OF SUPPORT It was not surprising to learn that the single most important influencer in retaining new members and meeting their expectations is the quality of mentoring in lodges. The support of the Provincial or Metropolitan mentor and the provision of training for both lodge and personal mentors were found to be vital. An initiate’s guide was also seen as an essential resource for new members. Members need to feel welcome, with their personal and business time pressures understood. Lodge mentors and almoners also need to be proactive in noting attendance, following up on why members are not attending and looking out for early warning signs of a potential resignation. Whether it’s attracting new recruits or mentoring and retaining them, membership
is not a numbers game. An increase in the organisation’s membership will only be achieved by improving members’ overall experience of Freemasonry – helping them to embrace the way in which it adds value to their lives. When a candidate is presented for initiation the ceremony includes the words: ‘…a poor candidate in a state of darkness who has been well and worthily recommended, regularly proposed and approved in open lodge and now comes, of his own free will and accord, properly prepared’. The question that has to be satisfied is to what extent is he properly prepared?
RETENTION – Key findings • The support and involvement of a spouse/partner is crucial for all new prospective candidates • The questions asked at the interview, and the manner in which it is conducted, are of vital importance and should conform to a standard • There is a need to be open and honest about full membership costs at the interview stage • A personal mentor has an essential role to play and should be actively involved from the period leading up to the candidate’s initiation
The next MFG survey to be published in Freemasonry Today will look at how the United Grand Lodge of England attracts new members and their experiences in joining the organisation. By including more comments boxes in the survey it is hoped that members will have a greater opportunity to have their say on what worked for them, as well as what didn’t.
If you wish to have your say and are willing to help, then please register at www.ugle.org.uk/mfg
ITâ€™S SHOW TIME PHOTOGRAPHY: SAM CHRISTMAS
An initiative to give disadvantaged young people the chance to fulfil their musical dreams and find employment is being supported through masonic funding, as Imogen Beecroft discovers freemasonrytoday.com
NEWS AND VIEWS
‘For a young person to trust you, you’ve got to build a relationship, and once you have that they will want to come to you for advice.’ Angus Scott-Miller
Roundhouse youth support worker Angus Scott-Miller (left), whose role is part-funded by the RMTGB, attributes his love of the arts to his own time as a student at the venue, aged 16. Previous page: The OnTrack course at the Roundhouse has enabled Africa Krobo-Edusei to explore his passion for music
ver in one corner of a room two people are huddled together at a piano, perfecting a duet. Across the way, young men and women are memorising rap lyrics, strumming guitars and fiddling with DJ decks. Given the sheer array of musical ability, you would think you had stumbled into a professional West End rehearsal. In fact, these groups of young people are preparing for their final performance after just six weeks of training at the Roundhouse – a former railway engine shed in London’s Chalk Farm that is now a performing arts and concert venue, and a charitable trust. As soon as the first group goes on stage, the friendly, laid-back atmosphere gives way to a vibrant energy as everyone rises to their feet. One of the people singing along most enthusiastically is Africa Krobo-Edusei. He was working in a restaurant when he heard about the Roundhouse’s OnTrack project, a programme for young people aged 16-25 to learn about the music industry. ‘I hated waking up in the morning and going to work,’ Africa remembers. ‘I quit my job because I knew this would be the thing for me. I have such a passion for music, so I took a risk and have no regrets. Now I’ve found a course that has inspired me, I wake up every day feeling happy.’ The intensive course covers all aspects of music production, from songwriting to event management, culminating in a live performance at the Roundhouse. OnTrack is one of the venue’s many programmes and events for young people not in fulltime employment, education or training, some of whom have been homeless or in prison. The programmes are overseen by youth support worker (YSW) Angus Scott-Miller, whose
role is part-funded by Stepping Stones, a non-masonic giving scheme operated by the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB). The scheme, which aims to reduce child poverty by helping disadvantaged children and young people to access education, awarded a grant of £20,000 to The Roundhouse Trust in 2011, followed by a further £20,000 in 2014. Les Hutchinson, CEO of the RMTGB, says: ‘The Roundhouse Trust is one of a very small number of charities to have received a second grant from the scheme. The RMTGB decided to provide support on both these occasions due to the wide range of opportunities that the organisation offers for disadvantaged young people. Freemason’s Hall is also located within the same London Borough as the Roundhouse, so it was the perfect opportunity to support a charity on our doorstep.’ INSTRUMENTAL ROLE Angus coordinates the youth support team, visits schools and pupil referral units (for children who have been excluded from school), and provides pastoral support for 200 young people each year. Fran Pilcher, trusts and statutory manager at the Roundhouse, says: ‘The grant from the RMTGB has allowed Angus to continue to engage some of the most disadvantaged young people with creative opportunities. ‘Many of those who access our services are vulnerable and experiencing multiple difficulties. The YSW role helps to create a safe environment for any young person, many of whom have no other support networks to turn to. With the backing of the RMTGB, it has become an integral part of the Roundhouse.’
NEWS AND VIEWS
‘At the Roundhouse there are people who show an interest in you and teach you how to apply your skills to the real world.’ Africa Krobo-Edusei
The Roundhouse gives young people the chance to work with professional composers, songwriters, producers and engineers to create and stage a live performance
Angus, 30, has been a YSW for six years but has been involved with the Roundhouse since he was 16 years old, when he was a student on one of its programmes. ‘It was the first thing I did outside school,’ he says. ‘It was a big step for me and I fell in love with the arts thanks to the Roundhouse.’ A few years later, Angus was checking the Roundhouse website daily to see if there were any jobs available when he saw an advert for his current role. ‘At the time my mum was kicking me out and all I had were two job interviews,’ he says. ‘I got two offers but took the one at the Roundhouse because I just love it. It did a lot for me as a kid and I want to give something back.’ PLAYING TO STRENGTHS Angus’s background helps him in his role providing pastoral care for the young people in the programme, of which 60 per cent are classified as disadvantaged, and he speaks passionately about the difficulties facing young people in London. ‘It’s so easy to get lost in a big city and get mixed up with the wrong crowd.’ Oliver Carrington, who manages the RMTGB’s Stepping Stones scheme, says Angus ‘does a fantastic job in building trust with the most disadvantaged young people that access the Roundhouse’s services. He helps participants overcome any potential barriers that they may face and is very effective in developing their strengths and nurturing their talents.’ Angus is modest about his work, but has dealt with issues as diverse as someone liking a girl at school through to abuse and suicide. ‘For a young person to trust you, you’ve got to build a relationship, and once you have that they will want to come
to you for advice,’ he says, adding that he builds this trust by not putting on a persona. ‘I just listen, try to understand and help.’ Angus recalls one young person going through a particularly tough time. ‘He’d robbed a house and taken a lot of money. Some people found out, came to his house with guns and threatened his mum.’ Angus helped him get on a drama course at the Roundhouse. ‘After that he went to drama school. He now has his own place, a girlfriend and he’s acting professionally. I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world that helps young people like the Roundhouse. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but that’s what we do: we change lives.’ Africa believes the Roundhouse has turned his life around too. ‘There are people who show an interest in you and teach you how to apply your skills to the real world. They let you know that music isn’t just a hobby – it can be a career and you can excel if you put in the time.’ Africa has indeed excelled in his course, making strides in his musical ability as well as finding lifelong friends. ‘It feels like we’ve built a little family,’ he says. Once the course is over, the young emerging artists can return to the Roundhouse for various events, or book out one of the venue’s studio spaces from £1 an hour to start making their own music. As Angus says, ‘It won’t be goodbye. This is just a welcome to the Roundhouse.’ Africa is certain he’ll be back and already has big plans for his musical future: ‘I’m going to start an artist development programme that takes on young artists like myself and works to help give them some direction. I always had a passion but this place is making that dream into more of a reality.’
REACH OUT With 2.9 million older people feeling they have no one to turn to for help and support, Aileen Scoular meets Dame Esther Rantzen DBE and Provincial Grand Almoner Ernie Greenhalgh to find out how Freemasons are making a difference in West Lancashire 32
PHOTOGRAPHY: GETTY IMAGES
o one wants to feel alone. But for the 11 million people in the UK aged 65 and over, loneliness and isolation are all too familiar. A survey by Age UK has revealed that one in four older people feel that they have no one to go to for help and support. Contact the Elderly, another UK charity that aims to lessen the effects of isolation, echoes these views: other than visits from a carer, around 70 per cent of the elderly people who use its service receive visits just once a week or less. Yet loneliness and isolation can be avoided. A chat on the phone, a cup of tea or a shared joke with a neighbour takes just minutes, but the positive effects of human interaction last long after the conversation ends. The reassuring news is that there are organisations out there making that happen, one of which is the Freemasons. In West Lancashire, Provincial Grand Almoner Ernie Greenhalgh has spent his first two years in the job making positive changes that will allow his lodge almoners and care officers to spend more time on active care and less time on paperwork. And Ernie has found an equally compassionate ally in Dame Esther Rantzen DBE – founder of ChildLine in 1986 and, more recently, The Silver Line, a telephone helpline for older people. Invited by the Province of West Lancashire, Dame Esther visited Ecclesholme, a Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) care home in Manchester, at the end of last year to gain a better understanding of the needs of elderly RMBI residents. Both she and Ernie believe that effective pastoral care can transform people’s lives. ‘A core value among Freemasons has always been to help those less fortunate than yourself. We try to instil that in every single member,’ says Ernie. ‘The role of the almoner is a vital part of lodge life – not just to manage financial needs, but to deal with loneliness and isolation as well.’ FACING REALITY Isolation is a topic that also comes up in conversation with Dame Esther, and The Silver Line, which launched at the end of 2013, includes a befriending service to help combat loneliness. ‘The idea came to me when I was standing at a conference about the elderly, discussing an article I’d written about living alone for the first time, aged 71,’ she explains. ‘I got the most extraordinary flashback to the same situation 30 years before, when I had been talking about another problem with a stigma attached – namely, child abuse. Because no one wants to admit to loneliness, do they? Many older people are very proud and they don’t want to be a burden.’ Just 18 months on, The Silver Line is taking up to 1,000 calls a day. The befriending service
has a waiting list of 1,000 people, and the charity is training its volunteers (known as Silver Line Friends) at a rate of 100 a week. There’s no doubt in Dame Esther’s mind that her helpline is fulfilling an intrinsic need for many elderly people. ‘Most of our callers tell us they have no one else they can talk to,’ she says sadly. ‘One Christmas, I spoke to a caller and he said it was the first time in years that he had talked to someone on Christmas Day. Many elderly people can go for a couple of weeks without having a proper conversation. It can happen to anyone – there are a lot of intelligent, interesting people who find themselves isolated.’ ISOLATING THE PROBLEM Loneliness is normally caused by loss of some kind – a partner, a job, or someone’s sight, hearing or mobility, for example. Becoming a carer to a loved one can also bring on intense feelings of isolation. It’s a familiar topic for Ernie’s care team in the Province of West Lancashire, where the widows of the brethren are key beneficiaries, particularly in times of sickness and financial hardship. The support is there when it’s needed, and Ernie has a loyal group of almoners with a compassionate ear. Almoner Danny Parks, 76, and Regional Care Officer George Seddon, 73, have experienced personal loss themselves and can empathise with the feelings of despair that follow. ‘An almoner needs to be caring, considerate, diplomatic and sympathetic – all of that comes into it,’ says Danny. ‘I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping people. I lost my wife and there’s nothing worse than the loneliness. It’s a dreadful thing and some people can cope with it, and some can’t.’ Danny has great faith in face-to-face contact and he diligently visits the 15 widows in his care on a fortnightly basis. ‘You have to get out of the house and meet people – that’s when you find out what help they really need,’ he explains. ‘Their problems might only be small, but they’re still problems.’ George agrees: ‘There are many people in need but they’re too proud to ask. My mum was 99
‘The role of the almoner is a vital part of lodge life – not just to manage financial needs, but to deal with loneliness and isolation as well.’ Ernie Greenhalgh
‘No one wants to admit to loneliness, do they? Many older people are very proud and don’t want to be a burden.’ Dame Esther Rantzen when she died so I’ve been able to draw on my own experience. You need to be understanding and able to find solutions where you can. It’s all about gaining people’s confidence and developing trust.’ Almoner Alan Whitehouse, 70, believes talking is crucial: ‘Some of the people we visit have seen no one for weeks. They have probably outlived their friends and peers, which is very sad.’ Alan uses his homemade jams and chutneys as a ‘dooropener’ and makes sure he’s always available on the other end of the phone. All three men praise the changes that Ernie has made to the structure of the West Lancashire Provincial care team.
The Silver Line is a free, confidential service: 0800 4 70 80 90, www.thesilverline.org.uk
Dame Esther launched The Silver Line to offer information, friendship and advice to older people
FRIENDS FOR LIFE Mavis Johnson lost her husband 25 years ago, when her sons were aged just three, eight and 16. Since then, she has found the support from the West Lancashire care team invaluable. ‘The loss and grief were immense but the fact that my children had lost their father was the hardest thing to cope with. My husband and his father had both been Freemasons, so I was aware of the lodge members from social events. But I didn’t have to ask for help – they were there from the outset. Looking back it was quite wonderful. You can’t put a monetary value on that kind of emotional support. ‘The lodge helped my boys through school and university, and it has been reassuring to watch them progress and succeed in their lives despite that early loss. The pastoral care was like a safety net. Life would have been unimaginable without it. Today, I still get monthly visits from my almoner. It’s reassuring to know that you’ve not been forgotten about. The almoner is like a friend who never goes away.’
PHOTOGRAPHY: MARTIN POPE/THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
GETTING OUT AND ABOUT For Ernie, it’s vital that the members and widows of the Province are aware of the support available. ‘It’s not always easy to identify exactly who needs help – particularly when elderly people are reluctant to ask for it,’ he explains. ‘So I’m trying to enable the almoners to spend more time delivering pastoral care, and less time doing admin.’ Believing that there is still much work to be done when it comes to helping older people, some of Ernie’s team are also becoming Silver Line Friends. George was the first to sign up and is currently being trained by the charity. ‘It’s a good transfer of skills and experience, and the training they offer is excellent,’ he says. Dame Esther hopes that other Freemasons will consider volunteering, too. ‘Being a Silver Line Friend only takes an hour a week,’ she says. ‘You can do it from your own home and we provide all the training. If you enjoy having conversations with other people, do visit our website to apply.’ Thanks to Ernie, George, Alan and Danny, and all the other almoners across West Lancashire Province, the older community is in safe hands. According to George, ‘The role of the almoner is the most rewarding job in Freemasonry.’
The Pro Grand Masterâ€™s briefing for Provincial and District Grand Masters and Superintendents included Peter Lowndes (top right), Anthony Wilson (centre left), and George Francis and Malcolm Aish (centre right)
On 28 April, masonic leaders celebrated the achievements of the past year, revealing an organisation that is embracing transparency and taking positive steps to ensure its long-term future Words: Luke Turton
PHOTOGRAPHY: ROBIN MELLOR
eld in the Gallery Suite at Freemasons’ Hall, the Pro Grand Master’s Annual Briefing Meeting brought together Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters and Grand Superintendents to hear about the state of Freemasonry and why its future is in their hands. With Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes welcoming attendees to the meeting, the President of the Board of General Purposes (BGP), Anthony Wilson, ran through the accounts for 2014, showing United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) finances to be healthy. He also highlighted the increasing importance of hiring out Freemasons’ Hall to third parties as a source of income. Second Grand Principal George Francis and President of the Committee of General Purposes Malcolm Aish explained how the Royal Arch was faring. ‘The good news is that we had some magnificent figures on exaltations for 2014,’ said George, congratulating attendees for the results that return the Royal Arch to the level it was at six to eight years ago. ‘We’re now hitting the 50 per cent mark of initiations so the prospects for the Royal Arch really do look rather good. I think there’s still more to be done.’ Provincial Grand Master for Warwickshire David Macey looked at the progress being made with the membership database, ADelphi 2, which goes live at the end of July this year. Offering improved reporting capability and ease of use, ADelphi 2 will give Provincial Grand Masters and Grand Superintendents all the membership information they need, at their fingertips. David also stressed that a structured training plan is in place to offer support to everyone using the new system. TAKING VIRTUAL STEPS With the Papers of Business for Quarterly Communications circulated electronically for the first time in 2014, James Long from the Electronic Systems Committee explained why it was felt necessary to make this change. ‘We were prompted to some degree by looking to save money and make efficiency
enhancements,’ said James, ‘but there was something else that actuated our motive here: we thought it entirely appropriate for a modern membership organisation. We must be responsive and reactive to what our members want.’ Looking at the need to improve communication within UGLE, James congratulated the attendees for embracing new technology. ‘There are many Provinces and Districts that have well-constructed, thought-through and properly controlled communication strategies on social media. What we have to do is learn from all of those,’ he said. ‘We’re going to continue to ensure that UGLE is making the best use of all electronic media for communication, both internal and external.’ LANDMARK EVENTS Next on the agenda was the 2017 Tercentenary, which starts with events around the country in January 2017 and culminates with a celebration at the Royal Albert Hall on 31 October 2017. Anthony Wilson said that Grand Lodge expects to offer seats at the Royal Albert Hall to each Province and District on the basis of one place for every 80-90 members. Grand Lodge wants to widen the participation and is looking at ways to screen the event live in all the Districts and Provinces. Staying on the subject of the Tercentenary, Provincial Grand Master for Somerset Stuart Hadler announced the design of a new branding for UGLE, which will make its appearance in the run up to 2017. While the coat of arms has for generations been a mark of status and standing in society, Stuart said: ‘Society has changed over the past 50 years and a coat of arms no longer communicates the image and messages that a modern membership organisation needs to convey. One might also observe that we are seeking no longer to be silent.’ Stuart went on to discuss how the Membership Focus Group (MFG), the BGP and the Rulers believe that a positive and attractive image is vital. ‘To preserve the integrity of the brand and achieve a corporate image, there is to be a strict protocol for us all to follow that
‘A successful future for Freemasonry will only come through quality leadership, consultation and collaboration.’ Ray Reed will dictate how the symbol is to be used,’ he said, adding that Provinces and Districts will need to review and revise their existing paperwork by 24 June 2016. FUTURE-PROOFING Freemasonry’s image is just one of the areas being explored by the MFG. Tasked with assuring the longterm success of both the Craft and the Royal Arch, the MFG has been talking to Provinces about their experiences of recruitment and retention. Assistant Grand Secretary and MFG member Shawn Christie highlighted that many growing lodges hold vibrant meetings and regular social events that are open to nonmasons. These provide an opportunity for prospective candidates to ask questions in an informal environment, learn more about Freemasonry and possibly, in time, join if both sides feel the fit is right. Provincial Grand Master for Nottinghamshire Robin Wilson explained that the road to retention starts with proper preparation. ‘For that to happen, the prospective members must be made aware of the essence of Freemasonry, what it involves and how it involves them,’ he said. For this to succeed, expectations must be managed: ‘Otherwise they could feel ambushed or disappointed by what they find on joining.’ (See p25 for more details about the MFG’s conclusions on membership retention.) Next on the podium, Deputy Metropolitan Grand Master Michael Ward discussed how MFG research into leadership and education showed that many people, if not most, are motivated to join Freemasonry with an expectation of self-development. ‘The opportunity for specific leadership and management development tends to emerge as our brethren get into more senior roles,’ said Michael, adding that while there is a wealth of information available in all the Provinces, there has been limited sharing of best practices. ‘Provinces are consequently reinventing and duplicating.’ Michael believes that there is a window of opportunity to develop and deliver high-quality training material using some of the best practices from around the Provinces. ‘This creates a huge potential for us to enrich members’ experiences and demonstrate that
we have listened to and understood their needs. It also shows that we are committed to modernising while maintaining our traditions,’ he said. ‘The alternative is to ignore reality and ignore the needs of our members. Our future depends on inspiring and re-energising our membership. This can only be achieved with the full and active support of the Provincial Grand Masters and the Grand Superintendents.’ Malcolm Aish echoed Michael’s sentiments when he outlined the MFG’s proposed strategy for Freemasonry going forward, which had been circulated to the attendees prior to the meeting. ‘The MFG feels a coordinated approach will achieve greater success but it is each Province that should consider its participation and support – for it is you that will implement a large part of the agreed strategy.’ GRAND PLANS Chairman of the MFG and Deputy President of the BGP, Ray Reed discussed the results from the annual survey for Provincial Grand Masters. He noted that 54 per cent of Provinces are providing training for new masters and 34 per cent for communications officers. ‘These must be two of the most important areas because they can make such a massive difference in our Provinces,’ said Ray. ‘It’s essential that we encourage those who don’t have training for lodge masters to contemplate giving it.’ In a 30-minute address, Ray touched on the need to innovate and speed up communication, adding that there is broad agreement on what the key areas for development are. ‘We’re talking about training and educating people, about effective mentoring and about best practice in recruitment, retention and retrieval,’ he said. ‘The MFG has sought to better understand the problems we face in Freemasonry and we are now ready to move from analysis to implementation.’ Ray ended on a strong message, saying ‘a successful future for Freemasonry will only come through quality leadership, consultation and collaboration’. The presentations at the Pro Grand Master’s Annual Briefing Meeting finished with a fitting quote from Henry Ford: ‘Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.’
also a Freemason, are the picture of Northern Soul style
PHOTOGRAPHY: MARK MCNULTY
Dave Stubbs and his fiancĂŠe Polly,
LIFE & SOUL
With a bit of ritual, special outfits and a strong sense of camaraderie, Northern Soul is a music and dance passion for Dave Stubbs that perfectly complements his Freemasonry. Sarah Holmes finds out more
eafing through a red leather box of vinyl, Dave Stubbs suddenly jumps to his feet. ‘Ah! This one! This record is magic,’ he beams. Turning to an old-fashioned record player, he carefully places the unsheathed disc on the turntable and drops the needle. A crackled silence is followed by the stomping bass of John Leach’s 1963 track Put That Woman Down. The music rumbles through the two-up, two-down terrace in Shrewsbury as Dave bounces on the spot, face to the ceiling and arms open wide, crooning in time to the gravelly vocal. It’s the kind of passion usually reserved for the front row at a music festival, but here in the humble setting of his living room, Dave’s exuberance practically bursts through the walls. He is a music fan, quite obviously, but with a particular taste for the B-side American soul tracks of the 1960s. Unlike the populist songs of Motown, this music was harder, grittier and less palatable for mainstream audiences. Even so, it found a devoted fan base in the Mod-inspired subcultures of northern England. From 1970 onwards, journalists such as Dave Godin referred to it as Northern Soul, and underground clubs like Twisted Wheel in Manchester and The Golden Torch in Stoke-on-Trent began hosting Northern Soul all-nighters. Like so many, Dave Stubbs first came to the music as a teenager in his local youth club. ‘It was the older lads, the ones sneaking into the Northern Soul all-nighters, who introduced us to the music,’ remembers Dave. ‘That’s how we learned to dance; we just copied what they were doing. It was all experimental.’ Thanks to the genre’s athletic dance style, Northern Soul fashion was dictated by the need for practicality. Loose-fitting
clothes such as baggy Oxford trousers, Ben Sherman-style shirts and sports vests became the accepted uniform. Dave looks every inch the genuine article in Wrangler Bluebell jeans, a check shirt and a flat cap. ‘It’s not a costume for me. I walk around in these clothes every day,’ he says. Although vintage shops are the main source of his authentic 1970s wardrobe, his most prized possessions have been passed down to him by fellow ‘soulies’. The only incongruity in his outfit is the masonic ring on his right hand. As a member of Salopian Lodge of Charity, No. 117, Dave balances his time between Northern Soul and Freemasonry. ‘My great grandfather was a Freemason, so it was something that always interested me,’ he explains. SOUL BROTHERS A military man for most of his youth, Dave served in Iraq in the early 1990s and his living room is adorned with paraphernalia of his time there, including a framed certificate of commendation for his work with Operation Desert Storm. But it wasn’t until leaving the army that Dave became involved in the Craft. Having become a county standard bearer with The Royal British Legion, he got talking to a Freemason while on duty at the Shrewsbury Flower Show and was proposed as an initiate. ‘I know a lot of lads from the military who are involved in Freemasonry,’ says Dave. ‘It’s something that we look for after a military career – that sense of belonging.’ It didn’t take long for Dave to introduce his brethren to the belting world of Northern Soul. Every month, he organises a Northern Soul night at the masonic hall on Crewe Street,
‘Nobody will judge you for letting go and having a good time in Northern Soul.’ Dave Stubbs
DANCE RITUALS Watching Dave cut his way across a dance floor, it’s no surprise he was cast as an extra for Elaine Constantine’s 2014 film, Northern Soul. In celebration of the premiere, Dave hired out the local cinema, selling the tickets to family and friends, and giving the proceeds to the local Freemasons’ memorial. It was his involvement in this BAFTA-nominated documentary that won him the starring role in a national Shredded Wheat advert last year. A mini film showing the ritual leading up to a Northern Soul night out, it captured every moment of Dave’s meticulous routine as he got ready. ‘The ethos is all about turning out smart,’ explains Dave. ‘So from the moment you wake up
on a Saturday morning you’re ironing shirts, shining shoes and listening to records. It’s a whole-day ritual.’ For three days, a film crew camped out in Dave’s front room, interviewing his friends and family on his lifelong devotion to the Northern Soul scene, and the philosophy behind his passion. ‘They could have hired an actor,’ he says, ‘but I think they chose me because I actually live the lifestyle. It’s in me as a person, so there was no need for pretending.’ Luckily, Dave’s brush with stardom didn’t go to his head; he didn’t even keep the lifetime’s supply of Shredded Wheat that he received after the advert. ‘We tired of it pretty quickly, so we gave it to the homeless shelter down the road,’ he says, keen to add that money was never going to be a motivating factor: ‘Northern Soul is my passion and I wanted to show other people what it is like, and hopefully share the joy with them.’ While Northern Soul was predominantly the preserve of Suedeheads and Mods in the 1970s, over the years its following has diversified; nowadays you’re just as likely to find youngsters tearing across the dance floor as the original soulies. ‘Nobody will judge you for letting go and having a good time in Northern Soul,’ explains Dave. ‘It’s all about the shared love of the music. You can completely lose yourself in it, and it feels amazing.’ Such is the adrenaline rush of the Northern Soul all-nighter that often, Dave says, he’ll return home at 7.30am only to head back out to an all-dayer by noon. ‘It becomes a lifestyle, I suppose,’ says Dave. ‘Just like Freemasonry, it’s not about money, and it’s not about connections. It’s about camaraderie, and living in a way that makes you feel good.’
OUT ON THE FLOOR Starting off in venues such as Manchester’s Twisted Wheel in the late 1960s, Northern Soul’s unique brand of fashion and dance quickly spread to other UK dancehalls and nightclubs like Chateau Impney in Droitwich, The Catacombs in Wolverhampton, the Highland Room at Blackpool Mecca, The Golden Torch in Stoke-on-Trent and Wigan Casino. With the beat becoming more uptempo, Northern Soul dancing became more athletic and started to feature spins, flips, karate kicks and backdrops.
PHOTOGRAPHY: MARK MCNULTY, MIRRORPIX
the proceeds of which go towards maintaining a World War I memorial commemorating the Shrewsbury Freemasons. Simon Curden is a regular attendee and, like Dave, has a passion for the Northern Soul scene: ‘It’s fun, keeps you fit and is part of a fantastic social world. It’s not so different from Freemasonry.’ It’s not just members who benefit from Dave’s musical interest. This summer, his friends and family will get a glimpse into the Craft when he hosts his Northern Soul-themed wedding reception at the masonic hall in Shrewsbury. ‘My fiancée Polly is a Freemason and a Northern Soul fan too, so it’s a place that’s close to both of our hearts,’ says Dave. ‘It’s not surprising that so many people who enjoy Northern Soul are Freemasons too. I find the two interests very complementary. On the Northern Soul scene, we’re often called soul brothers and soul sisters, and just like a masonic lodge, we all stick together.’
Members of the Devonshire Masonic Art Group attended a display of their work at Exmouth Masonic Hall in April
D R AW N T O G E T H E R
On one level, the members of the Devonshire Masonic Art Group create works of art, put on exhibitions and raise money for good causes. But as Peter Watts discovers, they are also spreading the word about Freemasonry to the wider community
PHOTOGRAPHY: ADAM GASSON
lthough Devonshire’s Masonic Art Group was formed in 2013, the seed was planted three decades earlier. ‘It goes back 30 years,’ says the group’s founder, Cyril Reed from Lodge of Perseverance, No. 164, who is 81 years old and has been a mason for more than 50 years. ‘I was working in London where there was an exhibition of postmen’s art at the Barbican. Then about five years ago, an art teacher came to our village in Devon and started holding classes. I attended, remembered that exhibition and thought there must be a lot of masons – and relatives of masons – who were interested in art.’ Cyril asked the secretaries of local lodges to put the word out and by October 2013 had rustled up enough interested – and talented – bodies to hold an exhibition at the masonic hall in
Newton Abbot, which was opened by Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury. Money raised from sales was split between the Devon Air Ambulance Trust and the masonic charities, with the initial show followed by similar events at lodges in Crediton, Sidmouth, Totnes, Dartmouth, Exeter and Exmouth. A PICTURE OF SUCCESS To date, the art group has sold paintings and raised money for local causes such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and a children’s hospital, while also allowing members of the public to visit lodges and speak to masons about the Craft. ‘We’re all in it for the same aims,’ says Keith Eddiford, a member of the group and of Teign Lodge, No. 7018. ‘To further knowledge of
The Kestrel (acrylic)
Petrel (watercolour and pen)
‘We’re all in it to further knowledge of Freemasonry, make money for charity and show off our work.’ Keith Eddiford Freemasonry among the general public, to make a little bit of money for charities and to show off our work.’ The group has worked in various styles and disciplines that extend beyond traditional painting. Keith, for example, has made pens and snowmen in numerous types of wood. Mervyn James from Lodge of Perseverance, No. 164, who sadly passed away shortly after the group held an exhibition of their work at Exmouth Masonic Hall in April, built fairground organs. EXHIBITING TALENT ‘We try to have a certain standard – without upsetting anyone – and they must be affiliated with Freemasonry in some way,’ says Keith. Cyril, who trained as a draughtsman but had done little painting until he took it up in his 70s, focuses on animals and birds. Barbara Bird, who was instrumental in setting up the Masonic Art Group, specialises in cats, both large and small. Meanwhile, the current chairman, Phill Mitchell, calls upon his experiences in the Merchant Navy to depict seascapes and boats, having begun painting when home on leave. There’s even a professional artist in the ranks. Emma Childs, whose 2015 exhibitions include events in London and Monaco,
also displays her mysterious, colourful forest scenes with the Masonic Art Group. Her partner, Rob Potter, is a photographer and member of Devon Lodge, No. 1138. The pair supply much of the material required for staging an exhibition – the boards and large wooden A-frames that are used to display the artworks. ‘They are really good exhibitions,’ says Emma. ‘There’s a great deal of talent there. And the group are very proficient with the practicalities; they don’t need me to show them how to put on an exhibition, we all help equally.’ There are three or four Masonic Art Group meetings a year, and while it’s the chairman’s responsibility to identify and contact potential venues, Phill says that with several exhibitions under their belt, the group now moves as a ‘well-oiled machine’. For many of the members, one of the benefits of the group is that the exhibitions give the public a chance to visit lodges and learn about Freemasonry. ‘People who are walking past can come in,’ says Phill, who is a member of Unity Lodge, No. 1332. ‘They may have never been inside a lodge, they may not even know what one is, so we can tell them what we do and show them around the temple. People are very interested in the history of masons and the buildings.’
Stover Sunset (photograph)
Abre D’or (acrylic and ink)
‘We’re still a small group. We want to raise the profile, encouraging other people to do the same.’ Phill Mitchell Emma believes that the fact that each lodge is different attracts people. ‘The public gets to see a free exhibition and to look inside a lodge. Then the Freemasons are on hand to discuss what masonry is about and which charities we are raising money for, and people can also look at the art.’ For Cyril, showing the friendly face of Freemasonry was his principle motivation in forming the group. ‘It wasn’t just the money we’d raise, it was to show we are normal people, we like painting and we like showing it to everyone.’ Phill believes that the group broadens the masonic experience for members. ‘We get to meet other masons and see different sides of each other,’ he says. Keith agrees: ‘It’s wonderful seeing these old lodges. Parts of Gandy Street in Exeter go back to the 14th century.’ INTO THE GROOVE Many of the members are retired and find time for painting between their other activities, including volunteering and masonic responsibilities. The art group fits neatly into this groove, bringing together charity work and the promotion of Freemasonry. For Keith, the group allows him to combine masonry with his artistic skills. ‘I was in the ambulance
service for 32 years but before that I trained as a carpenter,’ he says. ‘I bought myself a wood-turning lathe and one of my first projects was turning pens, using all types of wood. I gave a lot away but I also sold some to masons after putting masonic clips on them – the square and compasses, things like that.’ Phill is also interested in the symbolism of masonry and plans to paint some of these elements. ‘I like the fact everything has an allegorical meaning,’ he says. ‘The way we attach meaning to working tools – trowels, squares, compasses. Each degree is represented by different symbols and I’ve painted a first degree tracing board. That’s something that interests me.’ Looking forward, the hope is that other areas of Devon will get their own groups together. ‘We can’t travel all over the county, but we think it’s a nice concept and it would be great to see others take it up,’ says Keith. Phill agrees, keen to expand into Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset: ‘We’re still a small, Provincial group and we want to raise the profile, hopefully encouraging other people to do the same. If they are interested we are more than happy to offer advice.’ And what about exhibiting in London? ‘We haven’t thought about that at all,’ laughs Phill. ‘We would need to get a lot more A-frames first!’
Picking up the pieces
After the smoke has cleared and the flood waters receded, teams of British Red Cross volunteers are now on hand across the UK to give victims vital emotional support. Sarah Holmes investigates how masonic funding has helped this service to roll out nationally
hen the Telford family home caught fire in September 2014, Michelle and her five children got out with nothing but the pyjamas on their backs. ‘It was awful watching the black smoke billow out of the house,’ remembers Michelle. ‘All I could think was “What am I going to do? Where are we going to live?” ’ A plug in a bedroom sparked the blaze, which quickly engulfed the house along with a lifetime’s worth of possessions. Nothing could be saved. Fortunately, the family didn’t have to deal with the consequences alone. Within minutes, a British Red Cross Fire and Emergency Support Service (FESS)
vehicle – one of a national fleet part-funded by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity – arrived on the scene to offer the family hot drinks, clean clothes and a safe place to sit away from public view. ‘The volunteers stayed with us for a good couple of hours until they knew we had somewhere to go,’ says Michelle. ‘I was so grateful for their help.’ Michelle is just one of the many people who have received support from the FESS, which has evolved over the years to help victims through such emergencies as fire, flood and road collisions. ‘In an emergency situation, very few of the blue light agencies have capacity to look after the
PHOTOGRAPHY: GETTY IMAGES, JASON BYE
‘The emergency services know they can rely on a Red Cross volunteer not to make silly mistakes or try to play the hero.’ Simon Lewis
emotional needs of survivors,’ says Simon Lewis, head of emergency planning and response at British Red Cross. ‘Quite often, families are left to deal with the consequences alone. That’s where the British Red Cross comes in.’ ON-CALL CARE Founded in 1993 in Berkshire, the British Red Cross FESS set out to provide emotional and practical support for victims in the wake of a fire. It worked in cooperation with the national fire service, with volunteers trained in first aid responding to call-outs from the incident officer.
The service relied on specially adapted vehicles that contained everything from a shower and toilet, to a telephone and household staples such as nappies. But at a cost of £50,000 per vehicle, most funders were reluctant to commit to the level of investment needed to help the service flourish. That’s where the Grand Charity stepped in. ‘We heard about a service the Red Cross was hoping to trial, which would provide much-needed assistance to people in the aftermath of personal tragedy. It sounded exactly like the type of thing we wanted to fund,’ says Katrina Baker, Head of Non-Masonic Grants at the Grand Charity.
Above: Thanks to the Grand Charity, a British Red Cross First Aid Unit in Cambridgeshire can provide the highest standard of care, with medical supplies, oxygen and a defibrillator on board
‘Rather than making do in a marquee, a Fire and Emergency Support Service vehicle acts as a fully equipped base for our volunteers to provide timely, high-quality care. It’s a fantastic presence at local events like the London to Cambridge Bike Ride, but crucially it allows the British Red Cross to respond to major incidents like the east coast storm surge in December 2013 when evacuees of the floods most needed our help.’ Simon Holmes, Cambridgeshire emergency response and resilience manager, British Red Cross
BRITISH RED CROSS IN THE UK While the foreign relief efforts of the British Red Cross are well advertised through its public appeals for funds, the charity actually spends more at home in the UK than it does abroad. In fact, in 2013 the Red Cross spent £28.1 million responding to UK emergencies compared to £25.7 million spent on overseas support during the same period. The relationship between the Red Cross and Freemasonry has always been a strong one, with Freemasons in the UK donating more than £2 million over the past 30 years – vital funds that have supported Red Cross services and relief efforts both at home and abroad.
The Grand Charity provided an initial grant of £300,000 in 2000, allowing the Red Cross to set up 10 support services across the UK. ‘We used the money to buy 13 new vehicles and train 800 volunteers, so it essentially kick-started the service,’ recalls James Hickman, senior trusts and statutory fundraiser at British Red Cross. SERVING CHANGING NEEDS It was a starting point, but as the occurrence of domestic fires almost halved by 2011, the role of the British Red Cross service needed to change. Diversifying its remit, the FESS began to support NHS ambulances, providing assistance at major incidents with its fully equipped First Aid Units. Today, the Grand Charity’s UK, non-emergency grants have exceeded £650,000, and the Red Cross has been able to deploy 20 new emergency vehicles. ‘We’ve reached over 90,000 people, and that’s as a direct result of the Grand Charity funding,’ says Hickman. ‘It’s their flexibility that makes the partnership so valuable. They are responsive to our needs and willing to work with us to establish which region will benefit most from their support.’ Cambridgeshire is one region that benefited from a new First Aid Unit in 2011. Peter Sutton, the Provincial Information Officer, says: ‘We have raised £1.2 million for the Grand Charity, so our local Freemasons can feel real pride that we have contributed to making this support possible.’ The Red Cross is playing an ever-more vital role in the emergency response sector. Just last year, volunteers assisted communities devastated by the UK winter floods, helping to evacuate people as well as delivering food, blankets and first aid. Lewis attributes the success of the service to its volunteers – who are trained in providing first aid and emotional support on joining the team – but also to the relationship between the Red Cross and the emergency services: ‘Trust is vital in any fast-moving situation. The emergency services know they can rely on a Red Cross volunteer not to make silly mistakes or try to play the hero.’
By identifying a protein that is vital in nerve development, Professor Roger Keynes and his team hope they might help to cure spinal cord paralysis. Imogen Beecroft reports on how Freemasons are supporting this groundbreaking research
PHOTOGRAPHY: GETTY IMAGES
A promising gymnast since the age of eight, Josh trained six days a week to fulfil his ultimate goal of competing in the London 2012 Olympic Games. When Josh was 16, a fall ended this dream and left him paralysed from the chest down. Of the 20 people a day who sustain a spinal injury in the UK, three are told they will never walk again. There is currently no effective medical treatment for the 50,000 people in the UK and Ireland living with spinal cord paralysis, meaning that people like Josh face a lifetime of round-the-clock care. The figures are so high because the nerves connecting the brain and the body are commonly damaged – or even severed – in a spinal cord injury, destroying this vital communication link. However, after decades of research, a spinal cord injury may no longer result in a life spent in a wheelchair. Two Cambridge academics, Professor Roger Keynes and Dr Geoffrey Cook, have identified a protein that has the potential to aid recovery after injury, possibly even helping nerves to regrow and self-repair. FUNDING BOOST In November 2014, The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) donated £42,000 to the International Spinal Research Trust (ISRT), which is supporting the project. Despite being the UK’s leading charity funding research into medical treatment for spinal cord paralysis, the ISRT team operates on just £2 million of donations a year.
‘The professors have worked for two decades to identify a protein that performs a vital function in the early stages of development.’
ISRT trust manager James Clark says: ‘Given the size of the charity, this is a really significant donation. The project costs about £90,000, so the MSF and The Freemasons’ Grand Charity are effectively funding about half of it.’ Specifically, the masonic donation has helped to fund one of the ISRT’s PhD studentships. These three-year projects will identify the researchers of tomorrow – those who will go on to play a central part in the development of treatments for spinal injury. Professor Keynes speaks highly of the studentship, emphasising that it not only provides his team with a PhD student, Julia Schaeffer, to assist them, but also gives her a great education. ‘It’s absolutely essential that we have a student to work with,’ he says. ‘Julia is learning lots of different techniques, and her input, ideas and skills at the bench are absolutely critical as these are very tricky experiments.’ PATTERNING PROTEINS Calling these experiments ‘tricky’ might be something of an understatement: the professors have been working for two decades to identify a crucial protein that performs a vital function in the early stages of development. It is an inhibitor, stopping the growth of nerves where necessary and controlling the pattern in which they develop. Humans are able to move and feel because they have a patterned system of nerves connecting the spinal cord with muscles and skin. In order to make this connection, nerves must navigate through the vertebrae that surround the spinal cord and it is this specific protein that allows them to do so. Professor Keynes now hypothesises that the body expresses more of this protein following a spinal cord or brain injury, which could inhibit nerve development and prevent recovery. ‘The protein’s normal function is to steer nerves out of the spinal cord,’ he explains, ‘but we believe that it is also expressed at an injury site, preventing the nerves within the spinal cord from regrowing.’ The idea is being tested at the Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair in collaboration with Professor James Fawcett. If it is possible to stop this protein from functioning in such a way after injury, the damaged nerves might be able to regrow. It might seem far-fetched, but, as Clark notes, ‘When we started the ISRT in 1980, people thought the things we were working on were a waste of time. They believed that once someone had been paralysed it was impossible to repair
their central nervous system. Work over the past 30 years has proved that wrong – you potentially can.’ Progress has only been possible because of donations like the one made by the masonic charities, as the ISRT receives no government funding. Ian Sabin, MSF trustee and research committee member, explains the decision to donate to this particular project: ‘This charity was thought to be well worth supporting. The research will provide another piece of the jigsaw and contribute towards the understanding of nervegrowth-blocking factors and spinal cord regeneration. It will hopefully help to show the way forward in the development of new treatments for spinal cord injury.’ BARRIERS TO RESEARCH As a consultant neurosurgeon, Sabin is well aware of the difficulties facing medical researchers in the UK. ‘Medical and scientific research in the UK is handicapped by a relative lack of funding. Doctors are choosing not to go into research posts for all sorts of reasons but the difficulty in obtaining research grants is certainly one of them. The fact that we [the MSF] can provide some funds is very important – it’s a shame that as a country we don’t take scientific research more seriously.’ Professor Keynes echoes Sabin’s point about the importance of research funding. ‘It has taken us a long time to get this far, and it’s not easy to keep funding going if you’re not producing vast amounts of publications. But we’re convinced by the potential importance of what we’re doing, so this sort of charity funding is critical.’ If their ideas are correct, and yield successful results, what will this mean for those suffering from spinal cord injuries? ‘If we are right,’ says Professor Keynes, ‘and this protein is blocking nerve growth in damaged areas, and we could stop this, then regeneration could take place.’ Professor Keynes notes that regeneration has always been possible in nerves of the arms and legs. ‘If they are damaged they can regrow, self-repair and wire up reasonably well. The problem is that nerves in the brain and spinal cord don’t do this, so the hope is that if we can identify the brakes on these nerves and what they’re due to, they too could self-repair.’ While perhaps still a long way off, this research could open up a whole world of hope and opportunity for those paralysed after a spinal cord injury. As Professor Keynes says, ‘It’s not impossible, put it that way.’
‘We’re convinced by the potential importance of what we’re doing, so charity funding is critical.’ Professor Roger Keynes
FREEMASONS’ HALL EVENTS
PHOTOGRAPHY: REMO KNECHT AND PHILIP VOLKERS FOR LETTERS LIVE
When Freemasons’ Hall welcomed actors Benedict Cumberbatch, Sir Ian McKellen and Tom Hiddleston into the Grand Temple, Jessica Hopkins was in the audience to listen to messages of love and anguish in Letters Live
ithout words we’d be forever fumbling in the dark; letters throw light wherever they are cast.’ And so opens a night of extraordinarily moving literary entertainment at Freemasons’ Hall. It began as a simple idea: a website dedicated to photos of remarkable letters from the past, accompanied by transcriptions and introductions. Letters of Note then became something of a Twitter sensation before becoming a hardback anthology and then morphing into Letters Live. This year’s five-night live performance spectacular at London’s Freemasons’ Hall in April saw a glittering line-up of performers read against the glorious Art Deco backdrop of the Grand Temple. While events at Freemasons’ Hall do tend to be bespoke, one-off occasions, Letters Live offered the chance to do something quite different. ‘It was unique and like nothing we had done before,’ explains Karen Haigh, Head of Events at the Hall. ‘Even though I knew we could do it, I also realised that we had never done anything on this scale.’ With 7,500 tickets sold, more than 40 performers treading the boards and some 100 letters read aloud – not to mention an unexpected fire blazing beneath the streets of nearby Holborn
– it was no small feat to pull off. When the Holborn fire forced Freemasons’ Hall to cancel the Wednesday performance, many of those scheduled to read that night came along to the Thursday show instead, creating a dream playbill: a who’s who of the stage and screen scene. STAR-STRUCK The audience didn’t know who was performing until the moment they appeared on stage, so whoops of surprise and delight were heard as Sir Ian McKellen, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Scott, Sir Ben Kingsley, Simon Callow, Sophie Hunter and Clarke Peters stepped up to the podium, to name but a few. With opening and closing music by newcomer and oneto-watch Kelvin Jones, as well as a passionate solo cello performance by Natalie Clein, the evening – like the whole run – had been thoughtfully curated to match performers to letters. Subjects spanned the arts and politics, love and loss, family and friendship, longing and rejection. There were letters filled with advice and encouragement, such as Kurt Vonnegut to Xavier High School, read with McKellen’s wise drawl: ‘Practice any art… no matter how well or badly,
FREEMASONS’ HALL EVENTS
‘The Grand Temple buzzed with energy from the performers, while the splendour of the venue was equally captivating.’ not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.’ There were letters filled with furious rejection, like Hunter S Thompson’s to Anthony Burgess on receipt of a ‘50,000 word novella about the condition humaine…’ instead of the Rolling Stone thinkpiece he had commissioned. Performed by Dominic West and full of language far too colourful to reproduce here, it was one of the more spirited readings of the evening. The Grand Temple buzzed with energy from the performers, while the splendour of the venue was equally captivating – visually beautiful and acoustically fantastic, it became an enhancer when it could have been a distractor. Those attending were left with the feeling of having witnessed something truly magical. It’s an effect Karen was keen to achieve: ‘We wanted people to enjoy the experience of going to the theatre but also be somewhere completely unique,’ she enthuses. It certainly didn’t disappoint. EVOCATIVE AND EMOTIONAL For Virginia Woolf’s suicide letter to her husband, Leonard, the Grand Temple turned to darkness with only a single spotlight on reader Greta Scacchi: ‘I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time… Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.’ A visceral, desolate performance. Benedict Cumberbatch drew on his best David Bowie impression to read a letter written from the musician to his first American fan in 1967, when he had no sense of how famous and renowned he would become, which added to its
innocent excitement and humility. In a duologue performance, Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey – facing one another across the Grand Temple and very much in-the-round – read letters from Chris and Bessie: two everyday British civilians who fell in love via ink and paper while separated during World War II. The collection showcased quite beautifully how letters written by ordinary people with passion and something to say can contain just as much poetry within their pages as those written by thinkers, artists and academics. PAST PERFECT Perhaps the performance of the evening came from 87-year-old actor Joss Ackland, who read a letter he’d written to his future wife Rosemary, who was engaged to another person at the time. Either side of the reading he performed the part he was rehearsing when he first met her: Act II, Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo’s soliloquy from the Capulet’s orchard, ‘But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?’ ‘I might be a trifle old, but I think this is the way I played it,’ he told the audience before reciting from memory a speech full of lust and longing. And then, after the letter: ‘This is how I would play it now, with Rosemary no longer with me.’ In a breathtaking performance, the longing remained, but it was cloaked in sorrow rather than driven by lust. With considerable media coverage, Letters Live has been one of the more high-profile events hosted at Freemasons’ Hall, generating only positive sentiment according to Karen. ‘Events such as this are a way of saying to people that we’re not what you think we are,’ she explains. ‘Because when we open our doors people’s preconceptions are completely blown away.’
FREEMASONS’ HALL EVENTS
Clockwise from top right: The atmospheric setting of Freemasons’ Hall; Tom Hiddleston reading a letter from US President Abraham Lincoln to 11-year-old Grace Bedell; Kylie Minogue, who read Nick Cave’s letter to MTV and Zelda Fitzgerald’s love letter to her husband; Toby Jones, who read physicist Richard Feynman’s letter to his wife Arline and Argentinian poet Juan Gelman’s letter to his grandchildren
THE FREEMASONS’ GRAND CHARITY
Thanks to support from the Grand Charity, Dogs for the Disabled was able to launch a groundbreaking scheme that has profoundly changed the lives of children with autism and their families
Left: Ben and Murphy Below: The PAWS team
hen Dogs for the Disabled first approached the Grand Charity in 2010, requesting support for a pilot scheme they had devised aimed at assisting children with autism, no one knew for certain if it would work. But the project has become so successful it is now a global export, with programmes operating in the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and Australia. Through the PAWS Service, families learn how to train a pet dog to support and help a child with autism, and receive advice on choosing the right dog for their child’s needs. To date, more than 600 UK families have benefited from PAWS, and its 2016 workshops, to be held countrywide, are already filling up fast. It has been observed that there is a special chemistry between dogs and children with autism. A dog can have an incredibly calming effect when a child becomes angry or anxious, enabling the parent or carer to take control of a situation. While for some there will always be a need for a fully trained assistance dog, a well-trained pet dog can also have a hugely beneficial impact. PAWS AND EFFECT Life was becoming difficult for Karen, mum to 10-year-old Ben, who has profound non-verbal autism: ‘When Ben had his total meltdowns he would hit and bite me, and he has pushed and pulled me into the road. Because of his size and strength, I struggled to keep him safe, and he was endangering me too.’ Thanks to PAWS, Karen and Ben have now welcomed a bright, friendly Labrador named Murphy into the family. It’s taking time, but already Murphy is helping Ben and his family immensely by providing assistance on trips outside the home, as well as comfort and reassurance. Ben reaches out to touch Murphy and also tries to say his name; both actions are considered big breakthroughs.
‘Everything about PAWS is fantastic,’ says Karen. ‘Murphy is gentle with Ben and is naturally interested in him. He often sleeps next to his bedroom door or waits at the foot of the trampoline while Ben has a bounce.’ The Freemasons’ Grand Charity provided £25,000 in 2010 and again in 2012 to support the PAWS Service through its initial three-year pilot phase. The scheme was deemed a success and another £25,000 donation from the Grand Charity was awarded in 2014. Peter Gorbing, chief executive of Dogs for the Disabled, said: ‘We are immensely grateful for this ongoing assistance. This latest grant will help us maintain and extend this vital service, making it even more accessible to children and their families.’ Through its grant-making, the Grand Charity seeks to support projects that provide valuable assistance to the people who need it most. In donating towards the PAWS Service, Freemasons have helped many autistic children to communicate better with their families, and to experience a safer, happier life thanks to the comfort and companionship of a pet dog.
60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ Tel: 020 7395 9261 Fax: 020 7395 9295 Email: email@example.com Facebook: TheFreemasonsGrandCharity Twitter: @TheGrandCharity www.grandcharity.org
MASONIC SAMARITAN FUND
The silver shortlist To mark the 25th anniversary of the MSF, the trustees are making available £1 million in support of medical and care research projects
he MSF is planning to award grants of up to £100,000 in 10 regions across England and Wales. Its Silver Jubilee Research Fund originally received 62 grant applications, seeking nearly £9 million in support. However, with only £1 million available through the fund, the charity will need to make some difficult decisions.
MSF CEO Richard Douglas with Dr Hayley Whitaker
A bionic arm developed by RAFT
Since 2011, the MSF has supported research projects that aim to improve the prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment and care available for illnesses and disabilities that affect masonic families and the wider community. Nearly £2 million has been awarded to large and small research organisations such as Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Carers UK and the A-T Society. Several research projects funded by the MSF have achieved significant success in their field. A £181,000 grant awarded to Alzheimer’s Research UK has helped to develop a new blood test that, it is hoped, will predict whether someone with early memory problems will develop Alzheimer’s within a year. Two grants totalling £75,000 awarded to RAFT (the Restoration of Appearance and Function Trust) have helped to develop a working prototype of a bionic arm fit for human trials, in a bid to compensate for the loss of a limb. A grant of £34,000, presented to Prostate Cancer UK, has helped Dr Hayley Whitaker and her team to identify that the presence of a specific protein can distinguish prostate cancers that are aggressive from those that may never seriously harm the patient. For further details about the Silver Jubilee Research Fund and the research studies shortlisted for a grant in your Province, please visit www.msfund.org.uk/research
CONSULTING FOR CONSOLIDATION The 2015 MSF members’ meeting was hosted at Freemasons’ Hall in March and marked the start of the formal process of consultation with the charity’s members regarding the proposal to consolidate the four central masonic charities. The proposed consolidation seeks to ensure that the full range of support currently provided by the central masonic charities will continue to be available to all eligible applicants and will be delivered in the most cost-effective manner.
Throughout the transition process and beyond, health and care grants will be accessible for eligible beneficiaries seeking treatment, care and support without undue delay or expense. Full details of the information provided by the MSF president and CEO are available at www.msfund.org.uk/news.php. The consultation will conclude at the next members’ meeting on 29 October 2015. For further information on the consolidation of the charities, see www.masoniccharities.org.uk/review
60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ Tel: 020 7404 1550 Fax: 020 7404 1544 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook: msfund.org Twitter: @MS_Fund www.msfund.org.uk
ROYAL MASONIC BENEVOLENT INSTITUTION
Beverley Niland, Home Manager at RMBI care home Ecclesholme in Manchester
An RMBI care home in Ecclesholme has received an award for its ongoing work to support students in the local community Each year for the past five years, the RMBI’s Ecclesholme care home in Manchester has enrolled two students from Salford City College onto its 12-month apprenticeship scheme. During this time the students, who are also completing their National Vocational Qualifications in care, work alongside RMBI staff to gain experience in the sector. They are encouraged to take part in the in-house training, which is mandatory for all RMBI staff, and tutors from the college visit the home to carry out assessments. The care home was selected for an award by Salford City College in recognition of its continued support and commitment to the apprenticeship programme. Speaking about the scheme, Beverley
Niland, Ecclesholme Home Manager, said: ‘We are delighted to have been selected as the winner of this award. We have found the programme very successful and in most cases the students take up permanent employment with us after completion of their course.’ Staff from Ecclesholme received the award at the Apprenticeship Awards Evening hosted by Mark Jenkins of Channel 4’s The Hotel. In addition to the scheme with Salford City College, the care home also works closely with two local schools to provide work experience for a couple of students on a weekly basis. The students support the home’s activities coordinator, helping to plan and implement engaging and stimulating activities for residents.
EASY AS PIE From classic steak and kidney to apple and blackberry, a pie is a symbol of British comfort food at its best. As the nation celebrated British Pie Week in March, RMBI care homes embraced the occasion Putting on the finishing touches at Prince Michael of Kent Court in Watford
‘Help yourself!’ time at Queen Elizabeth Court in Llandudno
RMBI residents across the UK took part in a variety of activities to mark British Pie Week, with tasting, baking and recipe-sharing sessions among the events. The RMBI places great importance on providing its residents with food that they grew up with and enjoy – as well as new dishes they have come to love – and its balanced, nutritious menus include classic pie dishes. Recipes and Reminiscences, the RMBI cookbook, contains 50 favourite recipes from residents and staff. Many in the book were national staples in their era, including Woolton Pie, named after one of Churchill’s Cabinet. A classic wartime dish, it encouraged people to use whatever vegetables were available to them during the rationing period to create family meals. Debra Keeling, RMBI Deputy Director of Care Operations, said: ‘We strive to deliver a high quality of life for our residents, and providing enjoyable food and drink is essential to this. Our residents are encouraged to put their menu ideas forward to ensure we cater to their individual tastes. British Pie Week is a great way of bringing residents together through their mutual love of food.’
60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ Tel: 020 7596 2400 Fax: 020 7596 2427 Email: email@example.com Facebook: thermbi Twitter: @thermbi www.rmbi.org.uk
ROYAL MASONIC TRUST FOR GIRLS AND BOYS
Skye pushes the limits with a smile
Skye shows off her medals in judo
Skye, the granddaughter of a Freemason, is 14 years old. She has Turner syndrome, a condition that affects growth and development, as well as mild autism and global development delay, which makes reading and writing difficult
kye’s parents introduced her to judo when she was seven years old as a positive channel for the frustration she experiences as a result of her condition. She has since become highly skilled in the sport, excelling in both mainstream competitions and those for people with disabilities. One of Skye’s ambitions is to compete in the Special Olympics. To qualify, she must compete internationally, but her family were struggling to meet the cost of travelling overseas. Through its TalentAid scheme, the RMTGB has contributed to Skye’s competition, accommodation and travel costs. In 2012, she was selected for the GB Special Needs International squad and has since achieved two gold and two silver medals in international competitions. For Skye, judo isn’t just about competing. She struggles to interact with other children, so the sport gives her the chance to socialise as well. Funding from the RMTGB scheme enables her to go on trips that are not only essential for the development of her talent, but also for her confidence and happiness.
MIDDLESEX 2020 FESTIVAL LAUNCH In March, the Province of Middlesex launched the 2020 Festival Appeal for the RMTGB. Alastair Mason, Pro Provincial Grand Master for Middlesex, said, ‘What better cause can there be than to make a difference to a young life that might otherwise have been deprived of opportunities?’ The Province raised more than £4 million in its 2009 Festival for the RMBI. All donations are being received via the Relief Chest. To support the appeal, visit www.the2020festival.co.uk
Graham’s daughters Anastazia and Katerina
IN APPRECIATION… The RMTGB has received the following letter from Graham, a Freemason from Surrey. The Trust has provided support for him and his family since January 2014: ‘I was made redundant in 2012, and then while looking for a new job I suffered a heart attack. It has been a long road back to health and it has been difficult to secure another job. To make matters worse, in January of this year my wife was also made redundant. We expected our misfortune to have a detrimental effect on the well-being of our daughters, but the immeasurable support of the RMTGB means both children have had access to everything that they would have if my wife and I were working. ‘We are so grateful for the RMTGB’s help. The Trust doesn’t just offer financial assistance; they are there to empathise, and to discuss possible solutions to problems. Without the RMTGB, our daughters’ story may have been rather different.’
60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ Tel: 020 7405 2644 Fax: 020 7831 4094 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook: rmtgb Twitter: @rmtgb www.rmtgb.org
LIBRARY AND MUSEUM
In the spotlight Opening in June, the Library and Museum’s latest exhibition looks at the longstanding links between Freemasonry and entertainment
he association between Freemasonry and the entertainment profession during the Victorian period is well known. The connection was embodied by men such as Sir Augustus Harris (1852-1896), actor and theatrical impresario, lodge founder and Grand Treasurer. He and his circle of theatrical figures feature in a revealing press cartoon from 1891 (right). Harris was particularly associated with the Drury Lane Theatre, where he staged elaborate pantomimes. He was a founder of Drury Lane Lodge, No. 2127, in 1885, which met in the theatre itself. After his death in 1896 at the age of 44, his wife married Edward O’Connor Terry, another actor, theatre proprietor and Freemason. Terry’s initials are shown entwined on the founder’s jewel for the lodge that was formed in 1898 and named after him. Terry was a Past Master of Lodge of Asaph, No. 1319, which formed in 1870 and met in the afternoons to permit its membership of musicians and actors to continue with their regular jobs in orchestras and theatre in the evenings.
Clockwise from above: An 1891 press cartoon about Drury Lane Lodge; the founder’s jewel for Edward Terry Lodge; a summons for Lodge of Asaph, showing an afternoon meeting time
Spotlight: Freemasons and Entertainment The exhibition runs from 8 June 2015 to 13 February 2016, Monday–Friday, 10am–5pm. Admission is free
Library and Museum of Freemasonry Freemasons’ Hall, 60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ
www.freemasonry.london.museum Tel: 020 7395 9257 Email: email@example.com Shop: www.letchworthshop.co.uk
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR CHARITABLE SUPPORT Sir, I was pleased to see the article in the spring issue of Freemasonry Today referring to the fantastic support from Freemasons for those affected by the floods in Somerset. Your article stated that some £200,000 was raised by local masons, but I should point out that more than £89,000 of that total came from Essex Freemasons in response to an appeal by our Provincial Grand Master, John Webb. This in no way detracts from the massive support given by Somerset for such an unparalleled disaster and I should emphasise that Essex masons were delighted to be part of such an incredible initiative, which has clearly made such a difference. Colin Felton, Leigh-on-Sea Lodge, No. 4708, Southend-on-Sea, Essex
Sir, I found the initiative [the proposal of a single masonic charity] of the presidents and chief executives of our four charities very encouraging. As a fumbling almoner, I have struggled from time to time deciding as to where I should be directing my enquiries. I have always found the staff very helpful, but I am sure that an efficient single enquiry channel must be of benefit, not only to us, but to the cause of efficiency within the organisation. We all love our charities and will, I am sure, continue to support them in whatever form they eventually finish up, but times change and we have to change with them. I wish the charities a happy and successful outcome to their deliberations. Peter Dodd, Old Epsomian Lodge, No. 3561, London
Write to: The Editor, Freemasonry Today, Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Letters emailed to the editor should not be sent as attachments. Please include a home address and telephone number. An S.A.E. should accompany any photographs to be returned. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Grand Lodge of England.
READING MATTERS Sir, I read with interest John Salisbury’s letter in the last issue of Freemasonry Today. I have to say I disagree with his view, in that over the past few years I have seen increasing numbers of masons reading ritual during ceremonies. I have to say on a number of these occasions they have been read extremely badly. I never like to see people read ritual. I have been through the chair and will do so again next year. I also hold down an extremely busy and complicated professional working career. However, I have adapted to find regular daily time to learn ritual, in the car to and from work. Even coming out of the chair I have continued to learn other new ritual pieces and am thus progressing my daily advancement in masonic knowledge. Freemasons need to be aware of the responsibility of taking on roles in the lodge and the responsibility to learn for these roles. If they struggle then maybe we should be assisting them to learn a small part well and getting other members of the lodge who don’t struggle to do the longer, more complicated pieces. We should resist a radical move to reading ritual and focus on ways to help those who struggle to undertake small pieces well. Rhys Maybrey, St Cuthbert Lodge, No. 3417, Darlington, Durham
Sir, As much as I enjoy the challenge of learning and delivering our ‘plays’ (for that is truly what they could be called), I have to bear in mind the time it takes to learn them. Though not an
actor, I apply many of their methods to line learning and also have the privilege of having access to a space where I can build a set when required. Despite having all these tools at my disposal, I still take several months – often involving 12-hour days – to learn my lines. And please too, dear reader, remember that while, for example, the Third Degree Master’s part is ‘only’ 163 lines long, many of those lines are 100 or more words long and form speeches that are over 1,000 words in length. Compare this to the longest individual speech in a Shakespeare play, which is only 495 words long, and one sees the task masons are up against. Small wonder, then, that many masons shy away from performing in them. Therefore, I see circumstances where reading would be the better option as there is nothing worse than some poor fellow who is stumbling over his lines and being corrected by several people at once, with at least half of those ‘corrections’ being wrong. Better to read them then, than to have that happen. Shaun Joynson, Torch Lodge, No. 7236, London
GRAND MUSIC Sir, I read the articles by both Charles Grace and Ian Bell regarding the Grand Temple Willis pipe organ restoration with great interest. I am a masonic organist in the South Wales Province, where most masonic centres are furnished with electronic or digital organs. Your articles reveal that there are two other Willis pipers in the Great Queen Street building but that they are not in working order. I visited Great Queen
Street last November to play the organ for the installation ceremony of the American Lodge. The ceremony was allocated to Lodge Room No. 8 where I was horrified to find that the organ was little more than a squawk box. I looked into several of the other lodge rooms to discover similar disappointing instruments. Whilst the Grand Temple organ restoration and necessary enhancement is to be applauded, I wish to have the Great Queen Street management reminded that if ceremony’s musical accompaniment and enhancement is really desirable, then it is absolutely necessary to encourage masonic brethren to aspire to be a lodge organist by furnishing the best tool for the purpose, and that a pillar of attainment as a lodge organist might be to eventually play the Grand Temple organ.
Inside the Gothic Revival Church of St Edmund in Rochdale
Michael Hayes, Venables Llewelyn Lodge, No. 3756, Porthcawl, South Wales Charles Grace, Project Manager for the Grand Temple organ restoration, responds: We have recently evaluated two one-manual organs and decided on the Viscount Cadet, 10 of which are being delivered in mid May and 10 in September, funded by UGLE from the normal charges made to lodges and chapters for room hire and storage. The organs, which are versatile enough to be played by all masonic organists, will be installed in most of the lodge/ chapter rooms. The choice of organ in No. 10, where a larger instrument is required, is under consideration.
FOR THE LADIES Sir, It is 223 years since the first recorded Ladies Festival took place. That was in Tiverton, Devon. The lodge minute book states that ‘...it was agreed to treat the sisters with a tea, a dance and supper, that the brethren do attend to invest and install at four o’clock; that tea be ready at half past five o’clock, that supper be on tables at nine o’clock’. Ten ladies attended: seven were sisters of members, two were daughters, and only one wife attended – but it’s a different world for Freemasons and their ladies these days. My grandfather, father, brother, husband and father-in-law are all
Freemasons, and my 86-year-old grandmother used to belong to a women’s lodge. Ladies Festivals are an important part of the calendar for Freemasons’ families. They open the doors to hopefully lay to rest all the hedonistic stories of masonic life, and moreover allow friends and families to feel included in an organisation that may take some of a family man’s precious time throughout the year. For the average lady, their own wedding day might be the only other day they can dress up for such pomp and ceremony. Lodges that struggle with the economic downturn or low numbers to get enough attendees for a good Ladies Festival should consider holding a joint event with other lodges. Make the effort, get together and hold on to this wonderful occasion. Gentlemen, do it for your ladies. Samantha Best, London
A TEMPLE TO FREEMASONRY Sir, Readers who enjoyed John Hamill’s article on St Edmund’s might be interested in some additional background. After long
conversations when The Churches Conservation Trust first took over St Edmund’s, we were able to visit it. At this time the trust was not aware of the depth of masonic overtones in the fabric and history of the building. When we pointed some of these out they were very interested and allowed us to take photographs. Dawn Lancaster from the trust was impressed with our work and paid for us to go to London to give a talk at one of their events. We later received a letter from Loyd Grossman, chairman of the trust, thanking us for our work. We decided to do an event for the church and after delivering our lecture four times in one day, we were amazed to note from the visitors’ book that all the locals, including many from the Muslim community of the area, had shown interest in what the church is about. The local interest, with the help of the parishioners, meant artefacts and banners that had been missing started to reappear and the church is now beautiful. We have since promoted the church throughout Cheshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Scotland and elsewhere
‘Ladies Festivals are an important part of the calendar, allowing Freemasons’ friends and family to feel included in an organisation that may take some of a family man’s precious time.’ Samantha Best
with the support of the Provincial Grand Master and Assistant Provincial Grand Master in both Craft and Mark Degrees. A Friends of St Edmund’s Church group has also been formed, attracting interest from around the world, and on open days we give our lecture. At Christmas we delivered our lecture to a full church with a 21-piece brass band.
PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY MARSHALL/THE CHURCHES CONSERVATION TRUST, CORBIS
Albert Blurton, Lodge of Peace, No. 322, Stockport, Cheshire; and Bernard Rourke, Lewis Lodge, No. 4371, Stockport, Cheshire
RUHLEBEN REMEMBERED Sir, I was interested to read the article in the spring issue of Freemasonry Today about Ruhleben camp. My grandfather, John Clegg Fergusson, was a master dyer. He left Batley in the West Riding of Yorkshire with his wife and son, Alex, in the mid 1890s and settled in Germany where he was manager of the dye house in a textile mill, and was joined by his apprentice from Batley, Clifford Leach. On the outbreak of war, my grandfather and Clifford Leach were detained in Ruhleben camp as ‘guests of the Kaiser’ – enemy aliens. It was decided to allow my grandmother and her two younger children to travel home. My grandfather was eventually repatriated in 1916 but the story did not stop there. Clifford Leach, my father and his brother were all to become members of Trafalgar Lodge, No. 971, in Batley. Clifford Leach’s son, Harry, followed his father into the textile industry and when he was a member of a lodge in Manchester I visited him there, and he made the journey across the Pennines to visit my mother lodge in Morley.
The camp at Ruhleben
Harry’s death a few years ago brought an end to a friendship between the Leach family and the Fergussons that had lasted for over a century, a friendship in which both Ruhleben camp and Freemasonry played a part.
him as Grand Organist. I had the honour of conducting the cathedral choir at the dedication of his memorial in the cathedral as well as the Herefordshire Orchestral Society, in which Lady Hull played.
James Fergusson, Lodge of Integrity, No. 380, Leeds, Yorkshire, West Riding
Robert Green, Cantilupe Lodge, No. 4083, Hereford, Herefordshire
Sir, I greatly enjoyed your article by Diane Clements, ‘Letter from Spandau’, in the spring issue. I wish that I had known it was to appear as I could have supplied a little more information. You may be interested to know that the Percy Hull mentioned went on to become Sir Percy, knighted for his efforts in resurrecting the Three Choirs Festival after World War II. During Hull’s internment, Dr George Robertson Sinclair (see ‘Elgar Connection’, p9 in the same issue), Grand Organist and Organist of Hereford Cathedral, died suddenly and Hull, at that time his assistant, was appointed in his place. Not only did Sir Percy follow Sinclair into the cathedral post, he also followed
Diane Clements, Director of The Library and Museum of Freemasonry, responds: Several people have mentioned Percy Hull’s later career. We have such limited space in Freemasonry Today that we are not able to develop articles as fully as possible but I appreciate all the information readers provide.
CORRECTION In the letters pages of the spring issue of Freemasonry Today, the picture caption on p75 said: ‘The idea of a tomb dedicated to the Unknown Warrior was conceived by Freemason and army chaplain David Railton.’ We would like to clarify that David Railton was not a Freemason.
THE HAPPY MEANS We hear a great deal about diversity and inclusivity these days but, as Director of Special Projects John Hamill explains, they are in the foundations of Freemasonry
here are many theories about the origins of Freemasonry. The one that I favour suggests that it was formed and developed by a group of men who, knowing what divided people, were looking for a means of bringing men of diverse backgrounds together. They wanted to discover what they had in common and find out how to build on that commonality for the good of the community. The period in which Freemasonry was developing – the late 1500s and 1600s – was one of great religious and political turmoil. Those differences split families, eventually leading to civil war; the execution of the king; a republic under Cromwell; the restoration of the monarchy; and the beginnings of our present system of constitutional monarchy. Religion continued to impact people’s lives long after the turmoil. Under the Test Acts, those who were not members of the established church could not take public office or public employment, or enter the universities or Parliament. Roman Catholics and Jews could not even move more than 10 miles from home without a licence from the magistrate. Once Grand Lodge was formed in 1717 and began keeping central records, evidence emerges of the diverse nature of lodge membership. In 1723, 1725 and 1728, Grand Lodge asked its lodges to submit returns of members, which were copied into the Grand Lodge’s first Minute Book. When the Premier and Antients Grand Lodges began to keep central registers, the horizon expands still further. In recent years, work has been done relating such membership lists to the poll and rate books, as well as the Huguenot and Jewish archives. It has shown that the London lodges were diverse and inclusive, with significant representation from the Huguenot, Jewish and non-conformist populations in London. Having worked at times on a daily basis with the 18th- and 19th-century membership registers during
my 28 years at the Library and Museum, I can state unequivocally that the membership of English Freemasonry has always been a microcosm of the society in which it exists. There is a myth that Premier Grand Lodge was mainly an aristocratic and upper-class organisation; while its Grand Masters were noblemen or Royal Princes, its registers show that lodge members were a cross section of the community in which the lodge met. Nor was race a bar. In 1784 a group led by Prince Hall and describing themselves as ‘free blacks’ from Boston, Massachusetts, applied to Premier Grand Lodge for a warrant, which was granted under the name of African Lodge, No. 459. Although the Slave Trade Act of 1807 had abolished the trade in slaves, it was not until the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 that owning a slave was made illegal in the colonies. In 1840 the English lodges in Barbados petitioned Grand Lodge for a change in its Book of Constitutions. The rules required each candidate to declare that he was ‘free born’. The lodges in Barbados stated that they had a number of educated blacks who would be good Freemasons but had not been born free. Without argument, Grand Lodge simply removed the word ‘born’ from the declaration to enable them to join. When lodges began to proliferate in India in the 19th century, as well as in Africa and Asia in the early 20th century, they were not expatriate lodges. Rather, they welcomed the local populations and, particularly in India, were the one place that Europeans, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Parsees could meet together and build bridges between their communities. By being diverse and inclusive, Freemasonry indeed became, in Dr James Anderson’s memorable phrase of 1723, ‘the happy means of conciliating friendship amongst those who must otherwise have stood at a perpetual distance’.
‘There is a myth that Premier Grand Lodge was an upper-class organisation; while its Grand Masters were noblemen, lodge members were a cross section of the community in which they met.’