A diamond occasion
We offer our warmest congratulations to W Bro Stan McCoy and his wife Audrey as they celebrate 60 happy years of marriage on 10 January 2006. Stan, a Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden, is a Past Master of the Lodge of Amity and is in great demand as a Lodge organist. An accomplished musician, in his early years he played in dance bands with such all-time greats as Joe Loss.
We wish Stan and Audrey many more happy years together.posted 23/12/2005
The Freemasons' Grand Charity reflects on extensive support for the wider community
As 2005 draws to a close, The Grand Charity is reflecting on another successful year in which it delivered charitable support to the wider community, on behalf of Freemasons throughout England and Wales.
* Grants totalling over £1.2 million were approved at General Meetings, attended by hundreds of Freemasons. The money will be used by national charities for many charitable purposes, in projects relating to medical research, vulnerable people and youth opportunities.
* Cheques of up to £9,000 each were sent to the Provinces for presentation to 216 local hospices as part of a £1/2 million scheme.
* The President of the Grand Charity approved an unprecedented total of more than £375,000 of emergency grants to assist relief efforts following events including the Asian Tsunami, flooding in Carlisle, Hurricane Katrina, the London Bombings, and the South Asia Earthquake.
* The rapid and extensive response to the Tsunami helped secure coverage for the Grand Charity in national newspapers, including The Times and The Independent.
* The generous donations of Freemasons to Special Relief Chests established following the Tsunami and the Asian Earthquake, helped deliver vital supplies to survivors, as well as ongoing support for longer-term regeneration projects.
Speaking about the non-Masonic grants made during the course of the year Raymond Lye, President of the Grand Charity, said "The Grand Charity's first priority is Masonic Relief Grants, but thanks to the generosity of Freemasons, we have once again been able to support a wide range of non-Masonic causes. I am delighted that Freemasons, through the Grand Charity, are able, collectively, to help operating charities involved in so many worthy projects. I wish to thank Freemasons for their generosity - for they have made our support possible."posted 20/12/2005
Changes to Lifelites
The President of the RMTGB made this announcement at the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge on 14 December 2005:
"As from the 1st January, Lifelites is to be established as a separate charity with an endowment of £4million from the Trust, which represents the balance of the funds that we set aside in 1999. In order to maintain the programme of funding installations at all new hospices - 6 new hospices are due to open by 2008 - and the continuing maintenance and upgrading of the equipment at existing hospices, we project that Lifelites will need to raise approximately £500,000 per annum. As a non-Masonic charitable cause we believe that it can do so from personal donations and commercial sponsorship, which it could not achieve whilst it was part of the Trust. The Trust will of course continue to assist the new trust with practical help and support as well as resources and we believe that it will continue to be supported as part of Masons' support for non-Masonic causes both financially and through the many volunteers throughout the country who have done so since its inception and to whom we are particularly grateful. I commend the new Charity to you for your non Masonic giving."posted 19/12/2005
Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
The President and the Chief Executive of the RMTGB both addressed Grand Lodge at the Quarterly Communication held on 14 December 2005 about the work of the Trust. This is a short extract from the address by Clive Andrews the Chief Executive:
"Day in, day out at the Trust we come face to face with the tragedies of human life.
Kimberley was only five when her father murdered her mother and then shot himself. Kimberley found their bodies. Robert was a teenager when his father died suddenly, the day after returning from a happy family holiday in France. And Georgina's mother turned to drugs when her husband left her; and later she was gang-raped. Georgina has been in the care of her grandmother, a Masonic widow, ever since, as her mother has now had to 'disappear' under the witness protection scheme.
We know that the grants we give to children like Kimberley, Robert and Georgina, we know that the visits made by our Welfare Advisers can never, ever, restore their young lives to the way they were before. But, to quote Martin Luther, 'it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness'. Our grants and our pastoral care do bring some light into these damaged lives."
The full text of the addresses can be found by visiting:
http://www.ugle.org.uk/news/rmtgb-141205.htm (Link no longer works.)
Address of the Pro Grand Master to Grand Lodge - 14 December 2005
Brethren, I said in my article for the Cornerstone Society which was published in the last edition of MQ that I thought our members should be encouraged to talk about the good things they are taught in our rituals to prove to the world the happy and beneficial effects of our Antient Institution. There are many virtues in Freemasonry but one which I think we should use to promote our Order is tolerance. There can be few other organisations in the world today who practice the degree of tolerance that we find in the Craft - accepting all men of good faith.
Freemasonry is a system founded on morality which aims to make the individual a better person, and thereby able to lead a more fulfilling life and be of more use to his fellow man. We are not concerned with a candidate's nationality, colour or class, nor with his religious or political persuasion; we care only that he has a belief in a Supreme Being, has a general desire for knowledge and wants to be of service to others. Furthermore masonry requires of him a perfect freedom of inclination - an open mind is a prerequisite for joining an Order which develops an open heart.
The second Masonic characteristic I think we should be emphasising to potential candidates and others is trust. It is linked to our first Grand Principle, Brotherly love, is one of the lessons of our third degree story and is the mortar with which the trowel binds us together. You do not have to be a mason for very long before you learn first hand the importance of trusting and being trusted. As we climb symbolically Jacob's ladder our perception of truth changes in proportion to our capacity for discrimination.
Developing qualities of tolerance, trust and discrimination leads us eventually to wisdom and Truth. Truth, our third Grand Principle is at once the first rung on the Masonic ladder when it is solely concerned with morality, and the last rung when it is considered as an aspect of Divinity. Truth depends on our sense of what is true for us personally and for that we must listen to our conscience, the voice of nature. The principles and virtues of Freemasonry as taught in our rituals have much to offer a society in need of tolerance and trust
Provincial Wardens and Director of Ceremonies announced
The Provincial Grand Master for Warwickshire, RW Bro Michael J Price CBE, has been pleased to appoint W Bro Michael Morris of Solihull Lodge as Provincial Senior Grand Warden and W Bro Eric Rymer of the Lodge of Loyalty as Provincial Junior Grand Warden for the Masonic year 2006/2007. The new Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies will be W Bro John Emms. Michael and Eric will be invested at the Annual Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge in May 2006. John will be invested at the meeting of the Warwickshire Installed Masters Lodge on 31 March 2006
Relief Chest donations buy tents for earthquake victims
Money given by Freemasons to the Asian Earthquake Relief Chest established by the Grand Charity has been donated to the British Red Cross to fund the purchase of urgently needed winterised tents for homeless survivors. The donation, in combination with emergency grants, takes the total amount given through The Grand Charity to £150,000 and will ensure that over 280 families enjoy better protection from freezing winter temperatures.
This support is made in direct response to the statement by UN Relief Co-ordinator Jan Vandemoortele that just one in four of the homeless survivors have a tent suitable for the winter conditions they now face.
The Grand Charity is working to foster greater public awareness and understanding of Freemasons' charitable support for victims of devastating disasters. The establishment of a dedicated Relief Chest for the survivors of October’s earthquake has helped build a clearer picture of the true scale of these generous Masonic donations.
Supreme Grand Chapter of England
The Supreme Grand Chapter of England is the governing body of Royal Arch Masons in England, Wales and the Channel Islands. Its headquarters are at:
Great Queen Street
London WC2B 5AZ
Tel:020 7831 9811
Fax:020 7831 6021
Convocations of Supreme Grand Chapter are held each year on the second Wednesday in November and on the day following the Grand Festival of Grand Lodge.
The Supreme Grand Chapter of England has some 107,167 members grouped in 3,484 chapters. Chapters in London (an area within a 10 mile radius of Freemasons' Hall), are organised into groups administered by the Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London. Chapters outside London and within England, Wales and the Channel Islands are grouped into 47 Provinces, based on the old Counties, each headed by a Provincial Grand Superintendent. Chapters meeting abroad are grouped in 32 Districts each headed by a District Grand Superintendent, 7 Groups each headed by a Grand Inspector, with 7 chapters being administered from Freemasons' Hall.
Supreme Grand Chapter now has a most informative web site atwww.grandchapter.org.uk which is well worth a visit.posted 10/12/2005
A Warwickshire Lodge had just been opened recently when the Senior Warden suddenly sprang to his feet. He told the Master that he made a very serious error -he had forgotten to collect a very senior Past Master on his way to the meeting! He asked to be excused for a short while and left the lodge. Soon afterwards there was a report at the door of the Lodge and the very senior Past Master was admitted but without his driver. He had become fed up with waiting so came by taxi. In due course there was another report and the Senior Warden was admitted with much humility and very many humble apologies. This was met with much amusement from the members and some amazement from the visitors.
It would be embarrassing to name this Lodge which meets in Coventry but W Bro Peter Turnbull is considering alternative transport arrangements!
Help for the hospices
The Grand Charity has continued with its help to hospices in England and Wales again this year with donations totalling £500,000. In the Province of Warwickshire grants have been made by the Grand Charity as follows:
Acorns Children's Hospice Trust - £3,000
Marie Curie Centre Warren Pearl - £3,000
Mary Ann Evans Hospice - £1,000
Myton Hamlet Hospice - £4,000
Shakespeare Hospice - £750 and
St Mary's Hospice - £4,000.posted 6/12/2005
A splendid Masonic celebration
In the presence of RW Bro David Williamson, Assistant Grand Master, and some 260 Brethren including some who had travelled from Scotland, the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro Michael Price, was Installed as the Master of Trinity Lodge No 254 as it celebrated its 250th Anniversary on 3 December 2005. The ceremony of Installation was undertaken by Bro David Joyce in an exemplary manner. The crowning moment came when the Provincial Grand Master called forward four members of the Lodge and there and then either appointed or promoted them to or in Provincial Grand Rank. Neither the recipients nor the assembled company knew anything of this beforehand. Stuart Leist, Peter Amery and Walter Hope were promoted to Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden. Bro Ian King was appointed to the rank of Past Provincial Grand Standard Bearer and the Provincial Grand Master presented him with the regalia of that rank together with a case.
The Festive Board rounded off a delightful afternoon and evening with all Brethren departing in a very happy mood.posted 5/12/2005
At the meeting of Ipsley Lodge on 1 December 2005 representatives of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Worcestershire and the Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Worcestershire made donations respectively of £1,000 each which took members of the Lodge and their guests by surprise since they had no prior knowledge of these acts of generosity. The money is to go towards the purchase and installation of a lift for Brethren with walking disabilities to enable them to reach the first floor Lodge Room in the Redditch Masonic Hall with ease and comfort.posted 2/12/2005
Changes at the top in the Royal Arch
At the Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter held on 9 November 2005 at Freemasons' Hall, London, E Comp George Francis was installed as ME Second Grand Principal, in succession to ME Comp Iain Ross Bryce, who has served in that office since 1991 and who retired on 7 November 2005.posted 15/11/2005
Freemasons help the homeless in Birmingham
The Grand Charity has just approved a grant to the Depaul Trust of £50,000 payable in two equal instalments to fund a community centre and hostel for homeless young people in Birmingham. Depaul runs 40 projects across the country helping 3,000 homeless young people. This integrated project caters for the local community and for young offenders making the transition back into society.posted 15/11/2005
Heavy rain caused severe flooding in Molong New South Wales Australia recently. Among the properties affected was the Freemasons Hotel where water levels reached the height of the bar.posted 15/11/2005
Freemasons aid for storm victims
The President of the Grand Charity has approved an emergency grant of £10,000 to the Grand Lodge of Guatemala to assist with relief efforts following Tropical Storm Stan. The Guatemalan Government estimates that more than 130,000 people have been impacted by the Storm and thousands are now living in shelters. In one of the worst incidents, torrential rainfall triggered a mudslide that killed around 400 people. The Grand Lodge of Guatemala is working to provide aid and assistance to those affected by the disaster.posted 4/11/2005
New home for Australian Freemasons
MELBOURNE'S Dallas Brooks Hall, the scene of many rock concerts and political rallies, is to be demolished for a $100 million commercial and residential development. A developer has formed a partnership with the hall's owner, Freemasons Victoria, to build a lavish apartment block of 10 to 12 storeys on the East Melbourne site. The redevelopment, expected to be completed by 2009, will include the Victorian masonic headquarters as well as offices and medical suites.
Freemasons Victoria says Dallas Brooks Hall is too costly to run and no longer commercially viable.posted31/10/2005
English Freemasons bid for a new home
West Cumbrian Freemasons have made a bid to buy Cleator Moor Civic Hall, it has been revealed, from its owners Copeland Council. Billy Morley, for West Cumbrian Freemasons, said the hall would remain available to the community when it was not in use for Masonic purposes.posted31/10/2005
Masonic Hall destroyed
The Masonic Hall in Bellaire Michigan USA was destroyed by fire on Thursday 20 October 2005. Local masons had been using the premises since they acquired them in 1941.posted 24/10/2005
Further aid from Freemasons
The President of the Grand Charity, Raymond Lye, has approved a second emergency grant of £50,000 to the British Red Cross, to support the ongoing relief for victims of the South Asia Earthquake. This brings the total donation made to the British Red Cross to £100,000.posted 22/10/2005
At 17 October 2005 Freemasons of England and Wales had contributed the sum of £796,106.85 to the Relief Chest specially established by the Grand Charity. The Masonic Services Association of North America has approved a motion to deposit the money it has raised for victims of the tsunami into this Relief Chest.posted 20/10/2005
Public awareness of Freemasonry - What our Brethren are doing in the USA
This is an extract from a report which appeared in the Boston Globe recently:
"The Masonic fraternity is an organization shrouded in secrecy. Secret words, secret symbols, secret rituals, even a secret handshake. Often referred to by members as ''the craft," there is a cipher -- a secret code -- that must be memorized, and tasks to be completed as part of initiation. It's no wonder that outsiders unfamiliar with the group often question its motives. Indeed, the mystery of the Freemasons can cast a seemingly sinister shadow, which has hurt membership over the years. But there are no dark doings here, say local lodge leaders, and in a new attempt to make that clear they are starting to lift the veil of secrecy.
Take Daniel ''Butch" Machado, the newly installed master of the Plymouth Masonic Lodge. Machado opened his inauguration ceremony last month to the public. It's typically a private event where tuxedo-clad officers read from the ancient scroll, and recite vows of commitment to the craft while laying their hands on the Bible, a square, and a compass -- the three symbols of truth, harmony, and the ruling line of living respectfully. This time, the occasion was viewed by about 250 people.
''My purpose as master of the lodge is to have a positive impact on society in general and the community in which I live," Machado said. ''The biggest secret of all is that there really are no secrets," he said, echoing a statement once made by Benjamin Franklin, also a Freemason.
In Massachusetts there are 250 lodges, about three dozen of them south of Boston, including Cape Cod. Membership at the Plymouth lodge, about 225, is shrinking, with the average member near retirement age. Plymouth's situation is typical of Masonic lodges across the country. To offset this trend, Jeffrey Black Hodgdon, the grand master of Masons in Massachusetts, organized a statewide open house last month. ''It's the first time that we've ever made a concerted effort to expose Masonry to men to try to install a spark in their minds," Hodgdon said."posted 17/10/2005
Freemasons help for victims of earthquake
The President of the Grand Charity has approved an emergency grant of £50,000 to the British Red Cross, to aid relief efforts following the earthquake in South Asia. This is accompanied by a decision to open a Special Relief Chest to receive donations for victims of this natural disaster.
At least 20,000 people are thought to have been killed by the earthquake and tens of thousands have been left without shelter.
The Red Cross is working to provide immediate relief for 30,000 families in the affected areas. The Grand Charity’s emergency grant will help to fund the £30,000 cost of deploying an Emergency Response Unit and supplying essential items like blankets, tents and kitchen sets to the survivors.
Any Freemason wishing to make a donation in support of victims of the Earthquake via The Grand Charity can do so by sending a cheque payable to The Grand Charity to 60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ and noting that it is to be paid into the Special Relief Chest established by the Grand Charity under the name ‘Asian Earthquake 2005 Chest No. ‘E0099’.
Eligible tax payers wishing The Grand Charity to claim tax relief on their donation, must complete a Gift Aid Donation Form available via www.grandcharity.org or from the Relief Chest Department on 0207 395 9246/9361. The Gift Aid Donation form should be completed, including a note of the Relief Chest number, and returned with your donation. Gift Aid increases the value of a donation by 28p for every £1.posted 11/10/2005
Royal Arch web site - new address
The Warwickshire Royal Arch web site has a slightly different address now - it iswww.royal-arch.org.uk
A Royal Arch record?
E Comp Rodney Fox PAGDC of the Province of Berkshire between February 1990 and April 2005 has occupied the First Principal's Chair in no less than six Chapters. What is more interesting is the fact the two Chapters practise Aldersgate Working, two Domatic Working and two Warwickshire Working. A virtuoso by the sound of it! posted 2/10/200
President and Chief Executive of the New Masonic Samaritan Fund address Grand Lodge - 14 September 2005
VW Bro Captain Lloyd Edwards (President)
It is nearly three years since I last addressed Grand Lodge to update you on the New Masonic Samaritan Fund and I am delighted to have this opportunity of further informing you of the Fund and of the hospital Charity. After I have given you the overall view our Chief Executive Richard Douglas will provide further detail on the work of the Fund.
Whilst it will not be possible within this forum to take questions, I can advise that Richard, and some of the staff from the Fund, will be available in the foyer at the conclusion of Grand Lodge. They will be located by the display stand and will be very happy to answer any questions that you may have.
When I last reported to you I advised that the Receiver and Manager appointed by the Charity Commission to oversee the Royal Masonic Hospital had finally been discharged. I can confirm that the assets of the former hospital remain under the control of the Board of Management of the RMH Charity and that legacy income continues to accrue. I can also confirm that it remains Board policy to transfer funds equivalent to the investment income earnt by the Charity to the NMSF each year. In the last three years this has seen a total transfer of funds of nearly £800,000.
In November this year the NMSF will celebrate its 15th birthday. In this relatively short space of time it has established itself as a well respected element of the Craft. Having taken over the role of the Hospital Samaritan Fund it has supported over 6,000 applicants at over 300 hospitals across the length and breadth of the country, and several overseas as well.
This has involved the allocation of in excess of £30 million and not once has it had to turn down an application through lack of available resources. A fantastic achievement that has only been possible thanks to the hard work, dedication and generosity of so many.
In each of the last 3 years the Fund has allocated over £3 million in support of over 500 applicants. Support has been provided to applicants varying in age from 18 months old to 104 years young. Approximately 50% of the grants made are to the wives, widows and dependants of Freemasons.
I firmly believe that the NMSF continues to do exactly what it was established to achieve.
The Fund is now fully established within the Provincial Festival matrix and continues to benefit from the generosity and ingenuity of so many brethren. South Wales (ED), Staffordshire, Lincolnshire, Monmouthshire, Bedfordshire and Hampshire and Isle of Wight have produced magnificent Festival totals on our behalf already and we are looking forward to equally successful results with Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire in the next two years.
As recently as last Saturday I attended the launch of the 2012 Provincial Festival which is being hosted on our behalf by the Province of Warwickshire. Even with the prospect of seven years of hard work ahead of them I was impressed by the obvious enthusiasm that was evident amongst all those present at the launch in Birmingham.
Throughout its early years the NMSF has benefited from co-operation with its sister Charities and from the staff within Freemasons Hall. Since my last report to Grand Lodge we have benefited from a grant from Grand Charity which enabled us to fund drug treatment for cancer and degenerative diseases. At the time the availability of such drugs via the NHS appeared to depend more on where you lived than on the seriousness of your condition. After a two year pilot scheme generously funded by the Grand Charity the NMSF continues to fund applications in this area.
Hopefully you will all have noticed that the last two editions of the Fund's newsletter have been direct mailed via MQ. We are extremely grateful to the members of the Board of MQ publications for enabling us to spread the word about the work of the Fund in this highly effective manner.
Much more recently I can report that we have now established a partnership with the RMBI to provide Respite Care. Initially this will involve provision being made to utilise spare capacity within the RMBI care homes for those in need who have no local authority funding and are unable to meet the cost themselves.
Finally in this area we are actively involved with the other Craft Charities in considering the potential benefits of co-location within this building. We continue, as always, to look for ways to work more closely with them both for the benefit of potential applicants and to keep costs under control.
I remain profoundly grateful to all the Lodge Almoners and Charity Stewards who continue to work so hard on our behalf. Without their continuing support the Fund could achieve nothing. Rather than taking my word for it I offer a quote from one of the many letters of thanks recently received at the Fund:
"I am pleased to tell you that the replacement of my right knee has been a total success. Prior to the operation I was unable to walk more than a few yards, and even then only with the aid of a stick. The constant pain and lack of sleep were making me unpleasant to live and feeling very ill. Until the successful operation I had forgotten what it was like to live without pain. Without the help of the NMSF I would still be languishing in pain, waiting for an NHS operation. I am most grateful to you all for giving me back my active life".
Lt. Col. Richard Douglas (Chief Executive)
In preparing what I wanted to say today I found it very difficult to know where to start. In the three years since I last addressed this meeting very little has changed within the work of the NMSF. The President of the Fund has already updated you on all the latest statistics. There is therefore a very real danger that I will either repeat things you have heard or leave you with the impression that I have done nothing for the last three years. Even if that were true this is neither the time nor the place to declare that publicly.
The NMSF continues, as it has for 15 years, to provide support for Freemasons, their wives, widows and dependants who have an identified medical need but, faced with a long wait for treatment via the NHS, are unable to afford to fund their own private medical care.
The demand for this support continues to be high as does the cost of meeting that demand. In its last financial year the Fund allocated £3.3 million in support of over 524 individuals. This is the highest amount allocated in any given year so far. I must at this point add a word of caution. As we approach the end of our current financial year it is clear that we will have supported fewer applicants this year than in any of the previous three years. I believe this is partly due to the general election in May which saw a considerable amount of effort put into reducing NHS waiting list times. However, some 4 or 5 months later we are already noticing a significant increase in the waiting list times of applicants now applying to us. It is also worth noting that demand for support from the Fund has increased in the year following both of the two previous general elections. It is therefore far too early to suggest that this apparent reduction in demand is anything other than a temporary situation, however there is a need to confirm that the NMSF is still meeting the needs of the membership and that the membership knows about and understands the support that is available.
We continue to spread the word about the support that is available from the Fund. Our efforts have included contributing to each edition of MQ and, more recently, the direct mailing of our own newsletter with MQ. This has proved a popular and effective move. We are now able to make regular contact with more people than ever before and no longer have to ask Lodge Secretaries to act as postmen on our behalf. The only concern is that previously we had a significant number of spare copies available within Lodges which could be made available to widows. We are continuing to develop effective means of distribution to ensure that this important group of potential applicants is not overlooked.
We have also made full use of our involvement in the Provincial Festival matrix. In addition to the obvious benefits every Festival has a second aim of ensuring that the work of the Fund, and the support available from it, is understood across the length and breadth of the Province. Hopefully this will ensure that I will never again be congratulated on the work of "those wonderful people the Samaritans" as I am about to walk in to the Celebration Dinner at the end of a Festival campaign that has run for many years.
It is equally important to remember that the majority of applicants in any one year come from Provinces that are not currently in Festival to the Fund. Most members of the Board of Management of the Fund are appointed to represent a specific geographic area. Rather than simply attending a few committee meetings each year they are now being encouraged to become increasingly involved in either giving presentations about the Fund themselves or training others to deliver information locally.
However, despite all this effort a letter recently received at the Fund contains an all too familiar request. I quote "I hope you don't mind me asking for some more details on the Masonic Samaritan Fund which I know very little about. My father is a senior mason and I am also a mason but know very little of the working of the masonic charities." That quote is not from an applicant or an almoner but a consultant surgeon who wrote to us because one of his patients was being funded by the NMSF. Although it is unusual to get correspondence from such a source the sentiment expressed is, unfortunately, not unusual.
The majority of the support we provide is for treatment associated with advancing years. Hips, knees and hearts continue to be our major areas of expenditure. Today 20% of the national population is over 65. By the year 2025 it is estimated that there will be 1.9m people in Britain over the age of 90. If an accurate age profile of the masonic population was available I am sure that a similar trend would be visible. So why is demand for support from the Fund not continuing to increase?
I have already laboured at length on the need for improved communications but it would be wrong for me to lay the blame entirely beyond the doors of the Fund itself.
Throughout the life of the Fund medical science has continued to advance at an incredible rate. New and better drugs are now available with an increased emphasis on preventative medicine often reducing or removing the need for surgery. Surgical techniques have improved to the extent that many procedures previously considered major surgery are now almost routine. Against this background of progress the NMSF has evolved from a young and financially immature charity into a robust fund that can afford to consider the changing needs of those it seeks to support.
All aspects of the process of applying to the Fund have recently been reviewed. The application form itself has been revised in order to make it easier to complete and to make the requirement to review the applicant's financial status less intrusive. I do fully appreciate that it can be extremely difficult for an applicant to declare his or her financial state to an Almoner or other member of the Lodge. Our allowances are based on, but more generous than State allowances and we do not expect an applicant to have to be destitute in order to qualify for support. However, the charitable objects under which we are required to operate make it essential that a financial assessment is undertaken.
We have reviewed our waiting list criteria. If someone is faced with a three month wait for general surgery or a two month wait for cardiac surgery then they should consider an approach to the Fund.
We have also relaxed our stance on supporting retrospective applications. Although the majority of applications submitted after treatment has taken place will still not be funded, it is accepted that there will be a few cases where exceptional circumstances have made it impractical to apply for support first. However, the much used response of 'I didn't know about the Fund' is no longer a valid plea in mitigation.
We have also expanded the areas where we are able to provide support. With support available to the entire masonic family of all ages the potential demand is endless. Within the last year we have taken over the funding of drug treatment for cancer and degenerative diseases following an earlier trial using funds from the Grand Charity. We have funded a number of individuals who have been identified as being morbidly obese and in urgent need of surgical intervention to assist with weight loss. As recently as last week we funded the acquisition of an exercise machine to assist the 17 year old son of a mason. The son is tetra-plegic and only able to use one arm. It is hoped that this machine will enable him to make better use of his one remaining usable limb.
All applications for support are treated according to their individual merits. Some are clearly more straightforward than others but each and every one is subjected to the combined opinions of the medical and lay members of the Petitions Committee. This process itself has been opened up with every Provincial Grand Almoner and London Group Almoner being invited to attend to see for themselves how the application process works.
With an ever increasing number of elderly people and a lack of appropriate care facilities it is inevitable that an increasing number are being cared for, at home, by family - usually their spouse. These carers do a fantastic job often on a 24 hours a day 7 days a week basis. Their life can be almost as restricted as the person they are caring for and are in desperate need of some respite. That is why we are now embarking on another initiative to provide funding for respite care. This is in conjunction with the RMBI and will initially make use of spare capacity within their care homes across the country. It will also enable us to determine the long term need for this type of support in order to determine if the provision of support needs to be expanded further.
This year the Fund will celebrate its 15th birthday. Had this been a marriage it would be celebrating its crystal wedding anniversary. We at the Fund do not have the benefit of a crystal ball to look into the future. We therefore continue to rely on people like you across the length and breadth of the country to ensure that the support that we can provide is made available to all those who need it.
I trust that my remarks have shown that there has been quite a lot going on at the NMSF over the last three years as we seek to ensure that the donors who continue to generously support our work understand how their support is put to good use. Whilst at the same time trying to ensure that the Fund is meeting the needs of the individuals that it was established to support. Evolution rather than revolution remains the key as the New Masonic Samaritan Fund looks to meet the medical needs of the full masonic family for many years to come.
At the end of the day whilst statistics and fundraising efforts are essential it is important not to lose sight of the individual men, women and children who continue to benefit from the work of the Fund.
To finish I offer you one more incentive to maintain your support for the ongoing work of the Fund. A letter received recently at the Fund tells the story of a 73 year old mason who had been a long term Angina sufferer. He was unable to walk more than 100 yards without pausing for breath. Having recently undergone a quadruple heart by-pass, paid for by the Fund, he is now a tri-athlete. This involves walking 2 miles a day, swimming at least ¼ of a mile at least once a week and doing 2,000 meters on the rowing machine at his local gym. In his own words: "I am a man reborn". To everyone of you who has played a part in restoring that mans health I offer my sincere thanks.posted 16/9/2005
Lord Northampton addresses Brethren at Grand Lodge - 14 September 2005
Brethren, I welcome you all to Grand Lodge today at the start of another masonic season and thank you for attending. I hope you have all had a good summer even though, like me, you may be feeling that Shakespeare was right when he said that 'summer's lease hath all too short a date'.
Towards the end of August it was England's turn to host the Tripartite meeting with Ireland and Scotland. It was, once again, a harmonious and productive meeting as we discussed our relations with other Grand Lodges around the world. A week later, accompanied by the Grand Secretary, I attended the Installation of the new Grand Master of Denmark, MW Bro Hans Martin Jepsen, in their magnificent masonic building in Copenhagen. It was a most impressive and happy meeting. At the end of this month I will be travelling to Skopje with a large delegation of Grand Officers to constitute the new Grand Lodge of Macedonia. The Assistant Grand Master and his wife, Margaret, have been visiting lodges in our two Districts in New Zealand and are now in Fiji. The Deputy Grand Master is unable to be with us as he is on other business, but it is good to see RW Bro Iain Bryce filling the Deputy's chair once again.
Brethren, I am sure you will have been as saddened as I was when the Grand Secretary read out the reasons why eleven of our brethren have been expelled from the Craft. While we are reminded by the ritual to drop a tear of sympathy over the failings of a brother nevertheless we must be determined in our resolve to rid the Order of those who fail to live up to our high standards. They bring the whole of Freemasonry and all its members into disrepute.
Freemasonry is not some antiquated organisation frozen in time: it is a way of life which is as relevant today as it has always been. As Grand Officers, one of our duties should be to encourage brethren to practice out of the lodge what they are taught in it. In that way, the moral and spiritual values in our rituals can guide us in the 'paths of rectitude'. Making a daily advancement in masonic knowledge is not just a matter of learning something new about masonry, it is as much about discovering something new about yourself. By following its precepts we become better people and, therefore, are able to play a more responsible role for the good of society as a whole. Maybe we have to accept that there will always be rotten apples in our membership but, thankfully, they are few in number. We must strive to ensure that only quality candidates are admitted into the Order. Our aim should always be to make good men better through the practice of our Grand Principles - Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
Brethren I am pleased to tell you that the Grand Charity 20th annual festival was held by the province of Wiltshire on 18 June and raised just under £1 million pounds I'm sure you will join me in congratulating the province on the great success of this festival and in particular those masons who were instrumental in helping to make so much money for the Grand Charity
Freemasons give $50,000 to victims of Hurricane Katrina
The President of the Freemasons' Grand Charity has approved emergency grants totalling $50,000 in support of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The Hurricane, which struck the US Gulf Coast on Monday 30 August, caused widespread damage and has left thousands homeless, with hundreds feared dead.
A donation of $35,000 has been approved in support of the relief efforts being undertaken by the American Red Cross. Up to 3,000 American Red Cross staff and thousands of volunteers are currently bringing lifesaving aid to people in the worst affected states.
A separate donation of $15,000 has been approved for the Masonic Service Association of North America. The Masonic Service Association of North America is co-ordinating the disaster relief effort on behalf of Grand Lodges in the region and money collected will be used to support longer-term relief efforts within Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.
The Freemasons' Grand Charity is funded exclusively by the Freemasons of England Wales. No appeals for funds are made to the general public.posted 15/9/05
Jews and Freemasons controlled war on Iraq claims barrister
Tony Blair decided to wage war on Iraq after coming under the influence of a "sinister" group of Jews and Freemasons, a Muslim barrister who advises the Prime Minister has claimed. Ahmad Thomson, from the Association of Muslim Lawyers, says Mr Blair was the latest in a long line of politicians to have been influenced by the group which saw the attack on Saddam Hussein as a way to control the Middle East.
Mr Thomson wrote a book in 1994 in which he said Freemasons and Jews controlled the governments of Europe and America.posted 13/9/2005
New Masonic Samaritan Fund Festival 2012
£3.5 million is the target for the Warwickshire 2012 Festival for the New Masonic Samaritan Fund. This was the figure revealed at the launch of the Festival on Saturday 10 September 2005 at the headquarters of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Warwickshire in Edgbaston Birmingham to the large assembly of Masters, Almoners and Charity Stewards of the Lodges in the Province. The President and Chief Executive of the NMSF took part in the launch. The President was delighted to receive the first donations amounting to £25,000 from the Provincial Grand Master on behalf of the Craft Masons of Warwickshire, the Deputy Grand Superintendent on behalf of the Royal Arch Masons, and the Deputy Provincial Grand Master of the Mark Province on behalf of all the Mark Master Masons in the Province.
Information about the Festival and its progress together with relevant forms for donations can be found on a web site dedicated to the Festival atwww.warwickshire2012.org.uk
Freemasons help research
£1,250 was handed over to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital recently to help fund research into the treatment of kidney stones. The money was raised by Mancroft Lodge in the Province of Norfolk as part of a local charity campaign.
The Master, Robin Watkeys, presented the cheque to urology consultant Neil Burgess on behalf of the Lodge, explaining that he had suffered from kidney stones himself and any research that would improve treatment of this condition was very welcome. "Only people who have suffered from kidney stones themselves know how painful they can be," said Robin. Mr Burgess said the money would help support clinical research projects such as those that compare the relative benefits of minimal access surgery with other forms of kidney stone treatment.
"We have performed some useful research locally but now want to extend this to include patients from two or three other centres, both here and abroad. The money kindly donated by the Mancroft Lodge will help us in this regard," he said.
Royal Arch Ritual
Warwickshire Royal Arch Ritual Books incorporating recent changes are now available for distribution to all Companions. The cost of each book remains at £7.50. They can be obtained from Peter H. James, 55 Walsall Road, Four Oaks, Sutton Coldfield, B74 4NH.
Cheque should be made payable to 'Provincial Grand Chapter of Warwickshire'. Peter will post the number of copies required together with an invoice for postage.
Companions attending the Warwickshire First Principals' Chapter on Saturday 17th September 2005 can collect their pre-ordered books or can purchase them on the day. If you intend to buy on the day it would be most helpful if you had your cheque already made out to the 'Provincial Grand Chapter of Warwickshire'. If you intend to pay by cash please have the correct amount of £7.50 per copy ready. A stall will be set up for this purpose staffed by members of the Provincial Grand Stewards Chapter of Warwickshire.
Jens Sauer of Kenilworth Lodge was among a number of visitors from Warwickshire Lodges recently to Robert Burns Initiated Lodge No 1781 meeting at Leith in the Province of Edinburgh. Jens volunteered to be the candidate in the demonstration of a ceremony. As a result he has to be the only German who is an English Freemason who has ever taken part in a Scottish ceremony!posted 4/9/2005
On 2 October 2000 Skopje Lodge was consecrated in Skopje, Macedonia. It was followed by the consecration of Unity Lodge and White Dawns Lodge in 2001 and 2003 respectively. These Lodges were established under the Grand Lodge of England but with the intention of eventually forming them into a Sovereign Grand Lodge. At the request of these three Lodges the Pro Grand Master, Lord Northampton, will inaugurate the Grand Lodge of Macedonia on Friday 30 September.posted 2/9/2005
Freemasonry and the media
There has recently been a revival of interest in Freemasonry on the part of the broadcast media. Whilst it has no desire to prevent Brethren from voicing their views, the Board of General Purposes of Grand Lodge believes that participation at both the national and local levels in broadcast debates on Freemasonry is best left to spokesmen who have the background knowledge and experience to participate in such events. Any Brother in the Province of Warwickshire who is approached to take part in a broadcast should make it plain that the official spokesmen for the Province are the Provincial Grand Master, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master and the Provincial Information Officer and contact can be made with them through the offices of the Provincial Grand Secretary.posted 2/9/2005
Brethren are reminded that whilst there is no objection to the taking of group photographs in a Lodge Room in connection with a special meeting, the taking of photographs during meetings (including any procession immediately before or after a meeting) is prohibited by Grand Lodge. The prohibition extends to any purported reconstruction after a Lodge has been closed of any part of the proceedings while the Lodge was open.posted 2/9/2005
Freemasons asked to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina
Following the devastation caused to parts of the US Gulf coast by Hurricane Katrina, and in consultation with the Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana, the Grand Charity has decided to open a relief chest to receive donations for victims of the disaster.
The hurricane and ensuing flooding has caused widespread damage. An area equivalent in size to the United Kingdom has been affected and hundreds of people are feared dead. Parts of the region are expected to remain uninhabitable for many months.
The US government has declared a public health emergency along the entire Gulf Coast, as one of the biggest relief operations in the history of the US gets underway. The worst affected areas are currently without clean water, food or sanitation and thousands of survivors are awaiting evacuation.
The President of the Grand Charity continues to liaise with the Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana on any requirement for emergency support.
Any Freemason wishing to make a donation to the victims of Hurricane Katrina via The Grand Charity can do so by sending a cheque payable to The Grand Charity to 60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ and noting that it is to be paid into the Special Relief Chest established by the Grand Charity under the name The Hurricane Katrina 2005 Disaster Fund Relief Chest No. E0098.
Eligible tax payers wishing The Grand Charity to claim tax relief on their donation, must complete a Gift Aid Donation Form available from the Relief Chest Department on 0207 395 9246/9361. The Gift Aid Donation form should be completed, including a note of the Relief Chest number, and returned with your donation. Gift Aid increases the value of a donation by 28p for every £1.posted 2/9/2005
A Freemason for 75 years
John Vanderzyl, now 98 years of age, was raised to the degree of Master Mason on 30 May 1930 and was Master of Evergreen Lodge in California in 1947. He has now achieved the distinction of being the third member of Evergreen Lodge to have ever reached the milestone of being a member for 75 years. posted 21/8/05
Helping the elderly
This is an appeal to Freemasons and their partners in the Province of Warwickshire but volunteers from elsewhere would be welcome as well.
Contact the Elderly is a national charity that has been bringing older, isolated people together for ‘cakes and company’ for 40 years. The Charity offers a lifeline for people who often spend days at a time without seeing anyone: ‘You have no idea how much it means to me. I’m beginning to feel human again…. it’s easily the best organisation I know of for lonely people such as myself’. (Peggy, aged 81 years).
Contact the Elderly helps to relieve the loneliness of frail older people who live alone by arranging small group outings one Sunday afternoon a month. Volunteers with cars each collect one or two elderly members every month and the group of 6 to 8 members plus volunteers meet for Afternoon Tea in the house of a volunteer host. They visit a different home each month and over the months friendships develop.
Freemasons' professor leads the way in diagnosis and management of prostate cancer
Medical researchers have developed a technique that could save thousands of men from impotence by predicting how aggressive prostate cancer is before surgery. At present needle biopsies, blood and urine samples are unable to predict accurately how dangerous prostate cancer is and whether it is likely to progress. This means that thousands of men may be having unnecessary preventive surgery, with serious side effects such as impotence. Now a study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, has outlined a simple and reliable technique which can be carried out on needle biopsy samples.
The Checkerboard Tissue Microarray (TMA) method, developed by scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research, looks for the multiple markers of various genes associated with prostate cancer - including the E2F3 gene. "Overexpression" of E2F3 - first identified by the Institute - is a marker of how aggressive cancer will be. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer to affect men in the UK, with more than 30,000 diagnosed every year. Almost 10,000 men die from the disease each year.
Researchers said the new technique would allow them to investigate an enormous untapped resource of clinical specimens which were obtained at the time of cancer diagnosis. This would allow them to identify markers of the cancer's aggressiveness.
The technique will be pivotal in developing a test for prostate cancer aggressiveness which may ultimately prevent thousands of men undergoing surgery. The tissues in the prostate gland are either surgically removed or destroyed through radiotherapy as a way to treat the cancer. This radical surgery can have serious side effects such as incontinence and impotence.
Professor Colin Cooper, the Grand Charity of Freemasons' Chair of Molecular Biology at the institute, hopes to have a reliable test in place within two years. He said: "This represents a real advance for the future management of prostate cancer." Professor Cooper's Chair is being funded by the Grand Charity for ten years with a grant of £1,000,000. posted 13/8/2005
Grand Chaplain is a Roman Catholic priest
This is an extract (translated from Italian) from the address by the Grand Master of the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy the MW Bro Fabio Venzi at a recent Communication:
"I would like to finish my address appointing a Grand Officer who will probably remain not only in the history of Italian Freemasonry but also in the history of the world's Freemasonry and I do not think I am wrong. The Grand Officer I am appointing as Grand Chaplain is a priest of the Roman Catholic Church and once again I say of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Regular Grand Lodge of Italy and its Grand Master make, with this act, a gesture of opening. Never has a Masonic Body made such a significant act towards the Roman Catholic Church, dissociating itself from the other irregular Masonic Bodies who, with their anticlericalism, have caused so much damage and harm to the image of world-wide Freemasonry." posted 13/8/2005
Freemasons set the wheels in motion!
During a recent assembly members of Corinthian-Hammonton Lodge No. 9 in Marysville, California, handed over 16 bicycles to students at Arboga School and Far West School at Barksdale Air Force Base. The bicycle rewards are given for citizenship, improvement, and scholastic achievements. posted 28/7/05
Bringing a smile to children in hospital
Children and families enjoyed fun and games at a teddy bears' picnic fundraiser recently in the grounds of Bromley Masonic Hall. It raised cash for Teddies with Loving Care (TLC), a scheme run by the West Kent Freemasons which supplies teddy bears to children in hospital A&E departments. It delivers 7,000 furry friends to seven hospitals in the area each year. Local TLC chairman Dave Butcher said: "This is a worthwhile cause. No-one likes being in hospital and it's even worse for children." posted 28/7/05
Freemasons help the children of Niger
The Freemasons' Grand Charity has made a grant of £10,000 to Save the Children. The donation is in response to a request for funds to support the emergency appeal issued by Save the Children to support its work in Niger.
A humanitarian crisis on a massive scale has arisen in the Sahel region of West Africa following a devastating combination of a poor harvest caused by drought conditions and the worst locust infestation in 20 years. Niger, the world’s second poorest country, has been worst affected. The United Nations estimate around 2.5 million people have been affected by the crisis, including 800,000 children.
Save the Children has launched an emergency response to provide life-saving supplementary and therapeutic feeding and related healthcare activities for approximately 43,000 children under five in the Maradi and Zinder regions of Niger.
Save the Children’s main priority is to get clean food and water to children and their families in the affected area. The Grand Charity donation of £10,000 will provide lifesaving therapeutic food for 250 severely malnourished children for 30 days, the average time spent in the feeding programme and water purification tablets ensuring 10,000 children have clean water for 4 days.posted 28/7/05
Magnificent toy horse is gift to children's hospice
A giant rocking horse was presented to the Demelza House children's hospice on Friday 15 July 2005 at the Kent County Show. Michael Bailey, Provincial Grand Master for the East Kent Freemasons, handed over the toy to be used as a fund-raising prize at a forthcoming raffle or auction. The horse called Charlie was made by a retired fire officer, George Dean, and was handed over to Albert Pascall, one of Demelza's longest serving fund-raisers. The East Kent Freemasons had a stand at the three-day County Show. posted 23/7/2005
Freemasons help victims of the London terrorist attack
The President of the Grand Charity has approved payment of an emergency grant of £50,000 from The Grand Charity to assist the victims of the London bombings.
Following the four explosions caused by bombs in London on Thursday 7 July, the Mayor of London has established the London Bombings Relief Charitable Fund, in association with the British Red Cross to raise money for the victims and their families. The British Red Cross has donated £50,000 to the Fund.
The money will be held in a trust and will be distributed by trustees who will be appointed by the Greater London Authority. It will be used to relieve disability or physical and mental sickness caused by the attacks and to help with financial needs. The money may also be used to support other appropriate projects as funds allow.posted 12/7/2005
Organ or piano wanted for Severn Street Masonic Hall
who would be most happy to arrange collection.posted 11/7/2005
Freemasonry in public
The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Tasmania has just installed the new Master of the Tasmanian Union Lodge in Hobart in the presence of family and friends of Tasmanian Freemasons.posted 11/7/2005
New Masonic Samaritan Fund Festival Appeal
The culmination of a highly successful Festival Appeal was celebrated in style at the Brighton Centre earlier in the year in the presence of Lord Northampton, the Pro Grand Master. The Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight raised the magnificent sum of £6,942,720 for the NMSF.
Grand Charity Festivals
The twentieth annual Festival for the Grand Charity was held on Saturday, 18 June 2005, at the Salisbury Racecourse, under the Presidency of RW Bro Francis Wakem, QPM, Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire. A total of £980,650 was announced.
Severn Street Masonic Hall
Major refurbishment of the front of the Severn Street Masonic Hall in Birmingham took place during the summer of 2004. Other work has now been undertaken to the premises which includes the complete replacement of the outside rendering of the dining room, replacement and repair of the roof and guttering and the waterproofing of the remainder of the cladding on the outside wall of the Lodge Room. In addition the Dining Room, Committee Room, Front Stairs and Porch have been redecorated and repairs carried out to some areas of the rehearsal rooms. The total cost was in excess of £35,000. posted 5/7/2005
Charity begins at home
A number of members of Athol Lodge and their wives attended the recent Open Day and fete at Reading Court in Stratford on Avon. They were pleased to hand over a cheque in the sum of £250 from the Lodge for the benefit of the residents.
Air Ambulance helped by Warwickshire Royal Arch Masons
The Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance, the UK's leading helicopter Emergency Medical Service, based at Coventry Airport, has been delighted to announce that on 30 June 2005 the Royal Arch Masons of Warwickshire presented a donation of £25,000 to the Charity.
Representatives from the Charity, the Coventry and Warwickshire Ambulance Service, the Chairman of the Warwickshire County Council, the Chairman of the Warwick District Council and guests from the Freemasons were in attendance. The special guest was Richard Wallis, the Grand Superintendent of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Warwickshire.
At the presentation Richard said:
"I am delighted to be able to hand over this donation of £25,000 from the Royal Arch Freemasons of Warwickshire to support this worthwhile and live saving cause and to enable it to continue to serve the communities of Warwickshire and Northamptonshire in such a vital, caring and dedicated manner. We are extremely grateful for all that they do and are conscious of the many lives that they save when even minutes are critical for each patient. This donation has been achieved in just two short years thanks to the generosity of the 1650 Royal Arch Masons in my Province and I am pleased to acknowledge their unstinting support for this and many other non-Masonic causes."
Mrs Jo Payne, the Fundraising Manager for the Charity said: "We are entirely reliant upon donations. We are extremely grateful to the Freemasons for their generosity especially acknowledging that this sum represents many individual contributions."
The Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance is the busiest in the UK. It currently operates 8am to 6pm winter and 8am to 8pm summer. £1.2 million per annum is required to maintain present levels of service. £2.5 million will see a 24 hour operation.
The picture shows Richard Wallis handing over the cheque for £25,000 to the pilot and paramedics of the Air Ambulance.posted 1/7/2005
A first for Rugby
The Masonic Hall at Rugby on Saturday 25 June 2005 was the venue for the marriage of Andrew Clarke and Rachel Hughes, the first time that a wedding ceremony has taken place there since the premises became licensed for the purpose by the local authority. The happy couple and their families and friends also enjoyed the wedding reception at the Hall.posted 27/6/2005
An "Old" Master
Orville C Sims is the Master of Oakdale Lodge in California and has brought four new members into the Lodge this year. Orville is 99 years and 7 months old! posted 19/6/2005
Disclosure of MPs' Interests and Freemasonry
Roger Williams, the Liberal Democrat MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, has recently tabled the following Early Day Motion in the House of Commons:-
"That this House calls on the Standards and Privileges Committee to review the Register of Members' Interests to include organisations with a closed membership; reiterates its endorsement of the supremacy of the parliamentary oath; notes that following the recommendations of the 1997 Home Affairs Select Committee report into Freemasonry in the police and the judiciary, police officers, probation officers, legally qualified staff in the Crown Prosecution Service, judges and members of the tribunals overseen by the Department for Constitutional Affairs are required since 1999 and upon accepting appointment, to state whether they are members of such organisations; believes that those who are responsible for making the law should be subject to the same levels of transparency as those who are responsible for exercising the law; recognises the vital importance of maintaining public confidence in the impartiality of those in public office; and believes that at a time of growing mistrust in political institutions, it is in the interests of the public and parliamentary democracy for those holding the offices of power to be accountable and transparent about their interests and affiliations."
'Early Day Motion' is an informal term for a request, or notice of motion, by an MP in the House of Commons for a debate 'on an early day' but for which no date has been fixed. Very few EDMs are actually debated and it is generally used as a way for MPs to put on record their opinion on a subject and canvass support for it from fellow Members. (posted 14/6/2005)
Tsunami Relief update presentation to Grand Lodge on 8 June 2005 by Laura Chapman, Chief Executive, The Grand Charity
Pro Grand Master, President, Gentlemen. I am very pleased to be able to speak to you today about the Grand Charity's proposals for supporting the victims of the tsunami disaster.
The Craft has been overwhelmingly generous in donating to the Relief Chest set up by the Grand Charity. This has grown to virtually three-quarters of a million pounds, which is a huge sum and, thereby, has placed on us a most significant responsibility to ensure that that money is used to the best of purposes.
As I reported in April at the Grand Charity's AGM, over the winter we have met here in London with a number of international charities who are involved in the relief efforts and who have a particular focus on support for children. We have been trying to gain an understanding of where the needs actually are and which charities are best placed to deliver. The Council has decided to spread its support across the region hit by the tsunami and intends to fund projects in four of the countries affected: India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand.
Of the charities that we met, we consider Plan to be the best suited to be our partner, to manage projects at the local level. It is an international charity, active in 45 developing countries, whose mission is to achieve lasting improvements in the quality of life of deprived children. We had been very impressed by our meetings in London with Plan, with their approach to sustainable community redevelopment, their safeguards to prevent corruption and mismanagement at local level and their sophisticated approach for evaluating the impacts of their projects.
It became clear to me, however, that an essential part of our due diligence process must be to see the delivery capability of the charity on the ground and to meet those personnel who would actually be managing the project we supported. With that as our objective, I set off to southern India and to Thailand, accompanied by my chaperones from the Council, Michael Turnbull, Chairman of the Appeals and Donations Committee and Bakul Vyas, to meet with Plan India. We also wanted to visit the Light of Siam Lodge in Phuket who had approached the Grand Charity for support for a project that they had developed.
In India we went to see the work of Plan India, who has had an office in Chennai for a number of years, and who was on the spot within hours of the tsunami disaster to help with the very first relief efforts. In the subsequent months, it has been working with local charities to build temporary housing, provide food and clothing for survivors and ensure basic sanitation and medical facilities are available. It is one of the international charities that has been allocated villages by the Indian government and will be responsible for managing the redevelopment of all aspects of housing, social and economic life in each village.
In southern India, the evidence of the devastation of the tsunami, even four months after the tidal wave engulfed the coast, was still overwhelming. The chaotic debris that has been left in its immediate aftermath had been tidied, but we didn't need to look very far for evidence of the disaster. The once green, productive fields are now barren, brown soil, covered by a layer of sand. All that remained of the cashew nut crop, the mainstay of the farming community's livelihood, were a few tangled tree trunks. Acres of farmland, inundated by salt-water, remain unusable until the salt and the sand can be removed. Damaged boats still littered the coastline and once busy ports were deserted, awaiting the return of the fishermen.
Most of the houses hit by the water have been destroyed and the few that are left are so badly damaged, they are uninhabitable. Although temporary accommodation has been built, these are far from satisfactory-constructed from corrugated tin sheeting over timber frames, one 10' by 10' room for the entire family. With daytime temperatures of 37 or 38 degrees celsius, the temperatures inside the shelters are unbearable. The rebuilding of the housing has been delayed, whilst the government debates crucial decisions on the allocation of land. In the meantime, families are left to swelter as the summer approaches.
Homes and livelihoods will, in time, be repaired. But the impact on the minds and spirits of those who lost loved ones, especially for the children who lost parents, will never be erased. Plan is providing counselling for children, as well as adults, to help them come to terms with their grief. This support is beginning to help many, like Chandru, a boy of eight who lost his mother in the disaster, and who did not speak for days thereafter.
When the Council of the Grand Charity initially decided to direct its funding for projects for children affected by the tsunami, it had assumed that that would mean support for an orphanage or for schools. In Southeast Asia, however, children who have lost their parents are usually taken in by their extended family. Hence, in that culture, it is difficult to target the support specifically on the children and, in fact, the best way of helping the children is to help the entire family-by providing housing, livelihood support, general community rebuilding and counselling, especially for women and for the children themselves.
As a result, the Grand Charity intends, subject to confirming a few final issues in its due diligence review, to support an initial project with Plan India in the order of £300,000 to help families living in ten fishing villages in the area of Villapuram, Tamil Nadu. This project will provide livelihood support-boats and nets for fishermen, income-generating projects for women-it will establish child-care and healthcare centres and offer counselling for women and children. The funding would be given over a three-year period, with each instalment paid only on satisfactory completion of the prior phase of work.
The Grand Charity group also visited Phuket, Thailand to meet with the Light of Siam Lodge. The men from this Lodge, who are residents of Phuket and very much part of the local community, were there on the day of the disaster, helping to pull survivors from the rubble and providing shelter in their own homes for those made homeless. It is with the deepest sense of conviction and commitment that they seek to help those who have suffered in the disaster. They have created a project to help the most vulnerable-the children of the poor. Working with ChildWatch, a local Thai charity, their goal is to house fifty orphans and to provide support for an additional 200 children in a daycare centre.
Although the scale of destruction in Phuket is less than in other areas, help is still needed. The presence and commitment of the Lodge members ensure on the spot monitoring and good governance for the project, as well as access to the considerable professional skills of Lodge members. The project also offers a unique opportunity for Craft awareness and involvement. The Lodge is seeking funding for the on-going running costs of the centre and the Grand Charity intends to offer support of approximately £100,000 over an initial three-year period, subject to satisfactory completion of the construction phase.
The Grand Charity also intends to support two other countries that were devastated by the tsunami: Sri Lanka and Indonesia and we are continuing discussions to identify suitable projects. Given the political and social difficulties in Indonesia and the press reports emphasizing corruption and mismanagement in the allocation of relief funding, we recognise that great care must be taken and we are, therefore, not in any hurry to despatch funds without ensuring proper safeguards.
The Grand Charity remains committed to ensuring that the trust that the Craft has placed in us to decide how the money in the Tsunami Relief Chest will be used is not misplaced. Our task will not end with the initial decisions on support, but will continue with the monitoring of the projects to ensure that milestones are achieved before second or third instalments of the grants are released.
Based on our first-hand evidence, the need for relief and longer-term redevelopment funding is undeniable. We are working with Plan to identify the specific projects in the countries that we have targeted. Plan and the local charities who are delivering the projects for them and Childwatch, for the Light of Siam Lodge, are well established, experienced and professional in their work. We have every confidence that your generous donations will make a real difference to the lives of children whose world was shattered on 26th December last.(posted 13/6/2005)
The following announcement was made by Lord Northampton at Grand Lodge on 8 June 2005 about three Charity Festivals held so far this year:
"The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution, held by the Province of South Wales, Western Division on the 6 May which raised over a million pounds;
The Masonic Samaritan Fund, held by the Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight on 10 May which raised nearly seven million pounds;
and the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, held by the Province of Cheshire on 13 May which raised over five and a half million pounds." posted 13/6/2005
Reorganisation of the Grand Council
The Strategic Working Party set up by the Pro Grand Master to review the administration and governance of the Craft has recently considered the reorganisation of the General Council which was set up in 1999, but which unfortunately has not functioned successfully. Recommendations have now been made which it is hoped, if implemented, will make the General Council more effective as a representative and consultative body, available to the Rulers, the Board of General Purposes and others who are responsible for the guidance and administration of the Craft and the Royal Arch. These recommendations are now being circulated to Provincial Grand Masters and Grand Superintendents for their views following which proposals will be brought before Grand Lodge.(posted 13/6/2005)
Freemasons pull a bus for charity
The tough got going in Harlow on Saturday 4 June 2005 when teams of Essex Freemasons pulled a bus across Westgate Square in the town and raised £4,000 towards buying a new 'D' Class inflatable lifeboat for Southend RNLI.
There follows the texts of the reports given at the meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge, May 2005. Click the link to read the relevant report.
Address of the Provincial Grand Master
Address of the Provincial Information Officer
It is good to see so many of you here today at this Annual Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge and particularly to have the support of our visitors.
To those Brethren who have today been appointed to or promoted in Provincial Grand Rank, I extend my warmest congratulations and remind them that their preferment is not only a recognition of their past service to Freemasonry but also, very importantly, as an incentive for further service.
I do hope that those Brethren who have accepted an acting rank will use this once in a lifetime opportunity to go out and visit Lodges across the Province particularly those who are small in number. I can assure you that you will receive a very warm welcome.
To my team for the past year may I thank each of you for the wonderful support you have given to me. I have had the pleasure of your company on so many occasions throughout the year. I do hope you will use the experience you have gained for the benefit of your Lodges in particular and the craft in general.
I should like to commiserate with W.Bro. Joe Tildesley, one of our A.D.C.’s, who was unsuccessful in the recent Parliamentary election. Unlike our colleagues in Northants and Huntingdonshire we cannot boast a Brother who actually stood for the Monster Raving Lunatic Party. We may, however, have some well qualified to do so!
Since I have had the honour to be your Provincial Grand Master I have encouraged you to be proactive in seeking new members, of the right calibre, in sufficient numbers to at least maintain overall levels of membership. Currently there is an annual net loss of about 2.5%. The annual intake of Initiates across the Province hovers around the 190 to 205 mark. Some of the other Provinces are managing to attract an average of two Initiates per Lodge per year. If that were achieved in this Province it would equate to an annual intake of 400 and a net gain in membership.
There is a printer’s error in the annual report on page 13. The number of Initiates quoted should read 179 and not 79.
Brethren, again I appeal to all of you to do all that you can to encourage a pro-active approach to seeking out suitable Candidates.
With this in mind I have set up a strategic working group to closely examine recruitment and retention under the chairmanship of W.Bro. John Emms. I now have the statistics showing the movement in membership for each Lodge over the past few years. It is now a question of closely examining the trends and to establish the underlying reasons. If any brother would wish to make a written submission then it will be most welcome by W.Bro. Emms through the Provincial office.
We have to continue to promote openness within the Craft so that as many people as possible have an opportunity to learn about Freemasonry. We also need to examine the procedures within our meetings so that, without detracting from the decorum, we may be able to shorten the time taken.
Brethren, our Masonic family has many members beyond Craft Masonry and I do urge those of you wishing to explore further to join those of the additional orders which interest you. That said I want all of you who are not members of the Holy Royal Arch to visit their web site or to look at the excellent cd which has been produced. There is an indissoluble link between the Craft and the Royal Arch.
Last year I announced that we were introducing the Tender Loving Care Teddy Bear Scheme. I am pleased to be able to report that, under the leadership of W.Bro. Chris Groves, it is now operating in all the accident and emergency units in the Province totalling eleven, and so far 1200 Teddies have been given away. We have received several letters of appreciation from parents and the scheme has been enthusiastically received by the nursing staff in these units.
We are now about to embark upon another festival. This time it will be for the New Masonic Samaritan fund in 2012. You will remember Brethren, that over a year ago your Lodges were canvassed as to whether you preferred a seven or five year festival. Over 85% of the Lodges responded and by more than two to one you decided upon a seven year festival.
The festival will be officially launched at a special meeting to be held here on the morning of Saturday the 10th September when we shall have R.W.Bro. Norman Lloyd-Edwards, President, and Richard Douglas, Secretary of the fund as our guests. I have asked W.Bro Michael Baker to be the director of the fund. The details of the target will be announced on that day. I am now issuing a three line whip for every Master, Almoner and Charity Steward, or their representatives, to be at the launch.
A consequence of the start of the festival is that the heritage fund will now be wound down but not closed. Through your generosity we have amassed the magnificent sum of nearly £400,000 which is ring fenced for use by future generations. I do hope that you will from time to time remember the fund and certainly encourage new initiates to make their contribution to our heritage.
I should like to thank the chairman of the fund, W.Bro. Roger Mac, for his sterling efforts. The management committee will remain in place. I should also like to thank W.Bro. Harry Owen not only for his admin work with the fund but also for his magnificent efforts in selling ties and memorabilia which has resulted in gross sales in excess of £92,000 since August 2001. I do hope that Brethren will continue to support the Province by proudly wearing the blue Provincial tie and that every Initiate is given one on his Initiation to wear when he re-enters the Lodge room to receive the Charge.
I now wish to say a few words about this building. Although many Lodges, Chapters and other orders meet here it is also our Provincial Headquarters. If you meet elsewhere in the Province do not think this is nothing to do with you. It is, because every Freemason in the Province has an interest in the building as you are all members of the company.
This building is one of the finest Masonic facilities in the country and we should all do our utmost to preserve it. For the past eighteen years or so we have employed a general manager who has now retired. I, and my fellow directors, are taking this opportunity to become more involved in the day to day management of the building through our team of managers. We have only been at the helm for a little more than a month although it seems longer. If we are to succeed we have to take cost out of the company. As examples, even in this short period we have been successful, particularly in the wet stock. We have re-sourced our supply which, for example, has allowed us to reduce the price of a pint of bitter to £2.15 and at the same time increase the amount of profit the company makes on the pint. Last years beer purchases at today’s prices would result in an annual saving of £6000. Similarly we hope to take several thousands of pounds out of our linen hire costs.
I have been calling on the assistance of Brethren whose expertise ranges from health and safety to hotel management. Some Brethren have assumed responsibility for particular aspects of the company which is very demanding on their time. I wish to record my great appreciation to all those Brethren who have given their advice and services so generously in helping us to examine and reorganise the management of the company.
If any Brother feels he has expertise, and commitment, which can help us I shall be delighted to hear from him.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Brethren and Lodges who have donated items of Lodge furniture to the Province in the form of columns, square and compasses, and gavels. Only the other evening a Brother came up to me offering to pay, anonymously, for the new columns we have put in each Lodge room here. I am most grateful to you all.
Many of you know that I am a very keen fly fisherman and have been lucky enough to pursue my interest all over the world from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. I have learned that, centred on the Provinces of Middlesex and Hertfordshire there is a scheme in existence where Freemasons take disabled children to a trout lake for a days fishing. I should very much like the Brethren in Warwickshire to start such a scheme and, as a first step, I should like all interested Brethren who are fly fishermen, and your fishing friends, who are prepared to give up a day, to register with the Provincial office. We can then form an organising committee. I want us to be able to widen the experience of these disadvantaged children in a direction that would not normally be open to them.
We have had a busy though enjoyable year throughout the Province and I should like to thank you Brethren for the very warm welcome and generous hospitality which you have extended to me and to the members of my team when we have had the great pleasure of visiting your Lodges.
From time to time Brethren write to me and to the Provincial Secretary. Last week I received a letter from one of our retiring Provincial Stewards thanking me for his appointment, saying how much he had enjoyed visiting Lodges around the Province and outlining some of his experiences one of which concerned his visit to Knowle. He was changing into his Provincial Grand Stewards regalia when a very concerned Brother came up to him to ask him if he was at the right meeting!
Meetings such as today take much thought and planning. I wish to thank all who have been involved in the organisation of today’s meeting particularly my Provincial Secretary, W.Bro. Nigel Bister, who has been a tower of strength to me throughout the year, and his staff in the Provincial office. To the Provincial Grand Registrar, W.Bro. Trevor Cavill and his team and my fellow members of the Provincial Grand Stewards’ Lodge.
Brethren, this Province is in extremely good heart and long may that continue. You all know my philosophy about Freemasonry – it is there to be enjoyed. I urge all of you to extend that philosophy into your Lodges so that the Brethren go home after the meeting with smiles on their faces looking forward to their next merry meeting.
Back to Reports
R W Provincial Grand Master, this is my second report as Provincial Grand Secretary and you are completing your fourth year as Provincial Grand Master. The year has been again one of steady progress for the Province.
The highlight of the year for the Province was undoubtedly the Consecration of the Lodge of the East and West, which was carried out by you and your Provincial team in an exemplary manner at Stirling Road on Tuesday 6th July 2004. A total of 105 Brethren attended including 24 Founders, RWBro. Stanley A Lates OSM. being their founding Master.
Trinity Lodge No.254 Dedication of a new set of Tracing Boards.
A set of magnificent Tracing Boards which had been hand painted by W Bro Bill Podmore were dedicated by the Provincial Grand Master at the Coventry Masonic Centre on Thursday 7th October 2004.
Banner Dedication of the Lodge of Security No.5650 at Severn Street on 5th October 2004
Anniversaries of a number of Lodges were celebrated throughout the year.
Long Service Certificates
During the year the following Brethren were presented with the R W Provincial Grand Master’s Certificate marking 50, and 60 years service to Freemasonry. We congratulate them all for their dedication and achievements.
Sixty Years Service to Freemasonry
W Bro P G Davis, PProvSGW.
W Bro J R Rishworth, PProvGReg.
W Bro J G Blandford, PProvGSwdB.
Bro R W Hobbins, PProvJGD.
W Bro A N Penman, PProvGReg.
Fifty Years Service to Freemasonry
W Bro S R Lukeman, PProvGSuptWks.
W Bro D E Allinson, PProvJGW.
W Bro V Hemus, PProvJGW.
W Bro A N Weaver, PProvJGW.
W Bro E B Clark, PProvJGW.
W Bro A Bonsor, PProvJGW.
W Bro K J P Bowyer, PProvGSuptWks.
W Bro T L Davies, PProvJGW.
W Bro F J Clarke, PProvAGDC.
Bro P D Lilly
W Bro J W Adams, PProvSGW.
W Bro N T Padmore, PProvSGW.
W Bro W H Oldershaw, PProvSGW.
W Bro M C Feinstein, PProvJGW.
W Bro A Leese, PProvSGW.
W Bro J L Clifford, PProvJGW.
W Bro R J Clifford, PProvSGD.
W Bro W Selwyn, PProvJGW.
W Bro D Yetman, PProvSGW.
During the year ended 30th April 2005, the annual returns received from Lodges recorded the following statistical analysis:
46 Ceased Membership
26 Elected Honorary Members
6414 Active Members
It is great regret that I have to report the deaths of 97 members of the Province during the year ended 30th April 2005. These include the following Grand Officers:-
W Bro William Mark Hartley, MBE PGStB
W Bro Frederick Reginald Marshall, PAGDC
W Bro Edward Norman Hands, PJGD
W Bro George Edward Faulkes, PAGDC
We send to all their families our very deepest sympathy. They will be sadly missed.
Promotions in and Appointments to Grand Rank
Subscribing members of Lodges in this Province were honoured by Promotion and Appointment at the Annual Investiture of Grand Lodge on 27th April 2005 as follows:
W Bro Michael Anthony Adler PAGDC
W Bro Peter Andrew Bennett PAGDC
W Bro Philip Major Collins PAGDC
W Bro Michael Leonard Ward PAGDC
W Bro Christopher John Grove MBE PGStB
W Bro David Harold Liddington PGStB
W Bro Derek Nigel Broderick PAGDC to PJGD
W Bro Malcolm Robert Seymour Thomas PAGDC to PJGD
The report of the Provincial Grand Treasurer is included in the paper of business and I would like to take this opportunity of thanking W Bro Michael Squires PAGDC for his support and wish him well in his retirement. My sincere thanks also to W Bro Harry Owen PAGDC for all his hard work and dedication in selling Masonic merchandise and in particular the considerable amount of time that he has give in support of the Heritage Fund
Masonic Church Service
The Annual Masonic Service will be held on Sunday 19th June 2005 at St Mary’s Collegiate Church Warwick. The Address will be given by the Provincial Grand Chaplain W Bro Rev. Cannon Denis Claringbull, the theme being ‘The House of God’. All those who attend will enjoy the beautiful music, singing, and inspiring service. Masters of Lodges are urged to ensure a proper representation by their Lodge for what is after all their own service.
Education and Training and Information Technology
Grand Lodge’s Database
The Adelphi Database is now up and running and is nearing final completion. The Provincial Office now has total responsibility for Pre Registering all candidates that are initiated into Lodges or have joined, or re-joined. It is therefore most important that all Registration Forms together with any fee payable must be sent to the Provincial Office. During the next twelve months it is anticipated all information held on our own Provincial Database will be checked for accuracy and updated as necessary.
Lodge DC’s and ADC’s Seminar
Following the success of last year it is again proposed to continue with this event which is organised by W Bro Roger Parker PAGDC Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies with the help of his Deputies and Assistants. Lodge DC’s and ADC’s are encouraged to attend.
Once again my sincere thanks to Barbara Powell to whom I am extremely indebted, and to Bridget Parr who is recovering from a serious operation, to W Bro Malcolm Thomas PJGD for all the support they continue to give. To W Bro Trevor Cavill Provincial Grand Registrar and his team for their assistance in the organisation for the annual meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge.
I would also like to thank all Lodge Secretaries and Treasurers of the various Lodges in the Province for their work in administration and co-operation with the Province.
Finally to you R W Provincial Grand Master for you help and guidance throughout the year.
W Bro Nigel C Bister, PAGDC, PProvSGW
Provincial Grand Secretary
Back to Reports
The year under review has been as eventful as previous years with a number of instances of changes of attitudes towards Freemasonry although some anti-Masonic views managed to surface again. The critics and detractors are still out there so we cannot afford to be complacent.
I am delighted with the continuing success of the Provincial web site and with the plaudits that I receive from Brethren who find it a useful and current source of information. The site attracts visits from all over the world and the annual average of hits is now in the region of 435,000. The month of January 2005 saw the site receive 52,000 hits, a record. (The monthly average for visits to the site is 2,350.) The website has again been responsible for the introduction of candidates to Freemasonry in Warwickshire.
I have approved and welcomed five new Lodge websites during the year, for Old Veseyan, Tudor and Athol Lodges, the Lodge of Perception and the Lodge of Academe, and two more, for Prudence and Loyalty, are in the process of approval. I am indebted to W Bro Stuart Thorpe for his untiring work in supporting me with the Provincial web site as the Webmaster and helping me understand the technical issues.
Despite the recommendation in my previous report, there are still a substantial number of Lodges which do not have the addresses of the two Warwickshire websites set out on their summonses – www.warwickshirepgl.org.uk and www.royalarch.org.uk I urge them to remedy this at the earliest opportunity. They guide members of the Lodge and their visitors, especially from other Provinces, to invaluable sources of Masonic information and the excellence of both sites.
Freemasonry and discrimination
Former Flying Squad Commander John O’Connor claimed in December 2004 that Freemasons still wield massive power within high ranks and that black people who do not join the “secretive groups” (sic) lose out in the power struggle. Mr O’Connor was speaking after the launch of an inquiry report led by retired union leader Sir Bill Morris into alleged Metropolitan Police racism. He also claimed that white people who did not join the Masons were at a disadvantage. As only one of the last six Metropolitan Police Commissioners has had any Masonic connection (and he resigned before he joined the Metropolitan force) and none of the Deputies or Assistants in the last 15 years has been a Freemason, the evidence does not appear to support Mr O’Connor’s offensive assertions. The Morris Report makes no mention of Freemasonry.
A Member of the Ukrainian Parliament towards the end of 2004 sought to promote a Bill which would have rendered membership of our Order in the Ukraine a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment!
Amongst the most bizarre attacks on the Institution that I have ever seen was one levelled at the MW Grand Master at the end of 2004 from a (non-Masonic!) resident of Warwickshire who wrote to him as follows:
“I read your recent BBC4 Radio poll (on your website) with interest as I have read all your pathetic statements over the last 15 years. I admire your decision in 2003 not to "cut the throats" of your members who disclose the Masonic secrets. Although this did not help Martin Short (author of ‘Inside the Brotherhood’) who unfortunately died of a brain tumour as reported in the press, even though we both know "you" authorised his murder as well as 100's of other innocent people. Why kill innocents? Very shortly, you and I are going to meet in public in front of the British and World Media not to mention the British people and International community. I have received your messages to leave the country or I could be kidnapped. Thank you for those messages. Here is my address and contact details: (please note I have no bodyguards)…………..”
The Scottish Parliament’s Standards Committee has announced its proposal to introduce a Bill to replace current regulations governing registration of financial and other interests. The Committee is proposing that Members of the Scottish Parliament should be required to register those interests which the public might reasonably think could influence an MSP’s actions, using an objective "influence" test. On registering non-financial interests, the Committee proposed: "It will be for each member to ask themselves, not whether they would or might be influenced by the interest but, whether a fair-minded and informed observer would conclude that their impartiality would be or appear to be prejudiced by the interest." Commentators have suggested that this might require Members to declare membership of “organisations such as the Freemasons”.
In an otherwise excellent article in The Times on 17 July 2004 about Freemasons’ Hall in London, the author claimed that "A more recent expression of Masonic principles came in 1982, when Roberto Calvi, a member of the P2 Lodge, was found hanging from the symbolic Blackfriars Bridge with stones in his pockets". It is a grave insult to the integrity of British Freemasons to suggest, even in a poor attempt at humour, that corruption and murder are "a more recent expression of Masonic principles". The P2 Lodge was a clandestine organisation whose existence was unknown to the body it claimed to be working under, the Grand Orient of Italy, and had no connections or contact whatsoever with British Freemasonry. Blackfriars Bridge has no symbolic meaning for Freemasons, nor do stones in pockets.
Aubrey Tarbuck, elected as Deputy Mayor of Worcester for 2004/2005, told the Council that he is a Freemason. He will be the Mayor in 2005/2006. Leader of the opposition Labour Group on the Council, Adrian Gregson, was reported in August 2004 as saying that Aubrey has the opportunity "to consider where his allegiances and priorities lie", since [Freemasons] have connections and there are always questions about how much influence they have in public bodies and democratic organisations, which they shouldn't have."
Freemasonry and Christianity
During the year under review the Bishop of Ripon suspended the Dean of Ripon over allegations of unbecoming conduct. Among the complaints made against the Dean was one that he conducted a Freemasons’ service in the cathedral which is said to have caused “particular resentment”. A vicar in the Isle of Man banned ministers and readers who are Freemasons serving in his parishes. Following discussions between the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro George Peake, and the Bishop of Sodor and Man, the vicar withdrew his objections.
A dispute about Freemasonry has split one of Kenya’s largest churches, the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, leading to the removal of priceless historical fittings from its prayer houses, said to be symbols of Freemasonry and “anti-Christ”. It is alleged that Freemasons worship an alien God and hold un-Christian principles. Following one of its Sunday morning religious broadcasts in December 2004 the BBC conducted an Internet poll on the issue of the compatibility of Freemasonry and Christianity. By 13,520 votes to 1,175 the poll concluded that they were compatible.
There is still no news when the proposed meeting between the Archbishop of Canterbury will take place with the Pro Grand Master to discuss the Archbishop’s “concerns” about Freemasonry.
Coventry City Council
Unexpectedly, and without notice to the Masonic authorities, Coventry City Council's Standards Committee, headed by a retired judge, in August 2004 removed all overt references to Freemasonry in the staff Code of Conduct and the Council adopted the change in September 2004. I was delighted with the outcome following the months of correspondence (and frustration) with the Council and letters to the local press. Common-sense and the human rights legislation have prevailed.
The Standards Board for England
As I indicated in my last report the Code of Conduct for Councillors requires them to register membership of charities and of bodies directed to charitable purposes. Freemasons in England and Wales are members of The Grand Charity in accordance with its Trust Deed. In these circumstances a Councillor who is a Freemason must register his membership of The Grand Charity with the local authority of which he is a member. Unfortunately, the guidance issued by the Standards Board early in 2004 was misleading and it had also been interpreted wrongly by some local authorities who believed that they had power to require disclosure of Freemasonry and membership of Masonic Lodges. I wrote to all local authorities in or touching the Province to tell them the correct position. A number of Monitoring Officers submitted my letter to their Standards Committees and one included it on his Council’s web site. Following my strong representations to the Standards Board to have the guidance changed to reflect the true position I am pleased to say that new guidance has been issued which brings the matter to a satisfactory conclusion. An item about the issue appeared in a recent edition of Freemasonry Today. The new guidance can be found at http://www.standardsboard.co.uk/code_of_conduct/questions.php#qu22
There are signs that that these events continue to be popular, often giving rise to new candidates. Some Lodges are even holding their second and third Gentlemen’s Evenings. Members of the Provincial Executive are always happy to speak on these occasions.
Freemasons in the Police Service
In April 2004 the Police Service of Northern Ireland commenced a process for the registration of “notifiable memberships” as a result of the introduction of the requirement by legislation. A police officer has a notifiable membership if membership of an organisation might reasonably be regarded as affecting the officer’s ability to discharge his duties effectively and impartially. The Chief Constable issued guidance which mentioned a number of organisations, including Freemasonry, which in his view were the type of organisations at which the legislation was aimed. A legal challenge was mounted in June 2004 and the trial was expected to take place in November in the High Court in Belfast. In the light of legal advice that he received the Chief Constable withdrew the guidance and the action was halted. As a consequence there is no longer any specific reference to Freemasonry but the requirement to register a notifiable membership remains.
The Grand Charity
The Province was honoured to host a General Meeting of the Grand Charity at Stirling Road on 16 October 2004, presided over by the Pro Grand Master, Lord Northampton. This was only the sixth such meeting to be held outside London since the inception of the Grand Charity in 1981. Amongst the 600 or so who attended were the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, the Mayor of Worcester and the Chairman of Warwickshire County Council. Eleven of the Masonic Provinces were represented. Grants amounting to some £916,000 were approved for 18 non-Masonic charities. A collection taken at the meeting for the Acorn’s Children’s Hospice raised the sum of £3,230.
Councillor Allah Ditta, the Mayor of Worcester, said on his Council’s web site after he had returned from the meeting: “A heavy day on Saturday. First the General Meeting of the Grand Charity in Birmingham – and yes, before anybody gets uptight, I know it was a Masonic affair. I’m not a Mason, I know very little about them, but an organisation that gives millions – yes, millions - to charities including my own Acorns can’t be all bad.”
I was pleased to have been able to arrange for the President of the Grand Charity, RW Bro Raymond Lye, to be interviewed by Ed Doolan on his radio programme on BBC WM the day before the meeting. The interview, which lasted for more than five minutes, was a great success. The programme has about 250,000 listeners.
I was delighted and honoured to accept an invitation in March 2005 from the Grand President to be one of his representatives on the Council of the Grand Charity initially for three years from 2005 to 2008.
Bro Peter Bailey was initiated, by dispensation, into the Lodge of Impartiality in November at the age of 18, only the second one in the Province as far as we are aware. Bro Alan and Bro David Harwood, twin brothers, were initiated together in St Barbara Lodge in January this year. We now have five sets of twins in the Province, the others being W Bro David and W Bro Chris Boston who are members of the Aston Old Edwardian Lodge, W Bro John and W Bro James Ashmore of Holte Lodge, Bro Kevin and Bro Michael Marston of Etone Lodge, and Bro Brij and Bro Jog Dhody of the Lodge of Fellowship.
The Lodge of the East and West, the newest Warwickshire Lodge, consecrated on 6 July 2004, welcomed its first Initiate, Rajesh Sethi, on 6 October 2004. His father Ramesh, one of our Provincial Grand Stewards for 2004/2005, who was delighted to take part in the initiation, and his brother Ashwin, are both Founder Members of the Lodge.
Bro Barrie Hawkins was raised to the Third Degree in Etone Lodge in December 2004, his oldest son Anthony was initiated in January 2005 and his youngest son Timothy was made a Mason in February.
RW Bro Stanley Lates OSM was honoured by the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Switzerland by being appointed to the rank of Past Grand Senior Warden. RW Bro Michael Price and VW Bro Victor Keene were both promoted to the rank of Past Provincial Grand Senior Warden in the Mark Province of Warwickshire at the Annual Meeting in November 2004.
There was a delightful Masonic flower festival at the Masonic Hall in Stratford in September 2004 which attracted considerable publicity and attendances and also raised some £4,000 for the Stratford Kidney Unit Appeal.
Freemasonry in the sun
In an afternoon of sunshine on Sunday 20 June 2004 some 60 senior Warwickshire Freemasons, along with the Provincial Grand Master for Worcestershire and the Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Staffordshire, again walked in public procession in full regalia to St Mary’s Church from the Masonic Rooms in the High Street of Warwick for the Annual Service. The theme of the service was ‘Behold the Lord passed by’ and the sermon was preached by Bro Rev Canon Dr Denis Claringbull, Provincial Grand Chaplain. The Masonic links with the church go back to the early part of the 18th century. Records show that when a Lodge was constituted in Warwick on 22 April 1728 the first Master was the Reverend Greenwood, the Vicar of the Church. I am pleased to say that Freemasonry Today published an article and photograph about the occasion.
A visitor from the sun
Fraternity Lodge had a surprise visit from RW Bro Eric O’Hara, the Assistant Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Spain, at their meeting in March. Eric was on personal business in Birmingham and had expressed a wish to attend an English Lodge. Other Spanish Brethren were also present.
Changes in the Royal Arch
At the Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter on 10 November 2004 significant changes to the working and administration of the Royal Arch were agreed. The principal mandatory ritual changes are the removal of all references to the Royal Arch being the completion of the Master Mason’s Degree, and the removal from the Historical Lecture of the traditional dates attributed to the three Original Grand Lodges. The major administrative change is the removal of the requirement that a candidate for the Third Principal’s Chair must be an Installed Master in the Craft. Variations to the changes were agreed for those workings, where the revisions could not be easily assimilated or integrated, for example, Bristol and Warwickshire.
A protocol for Lodge Newsletters
A small number of Lodges produce Newsletters and I am keen to see more Lodges adopting such an effective means of communication. However, as a result of one such newsletter containing many mistakes of fact and Masonic policy, I decided to introduce guidance for their preparation and publication along the lines of the guidance for Lodge web sites. A copy of the protocol containing the guidance is attached as an Appendix to this report. It can also be seen on the Provincial web site.
Assisting the Mark
I was privileged to be invited by RW Bro David Hooker, the Provincial Grand Master for the Mark Province of Warwickshire, to assist him with the arrangements and publicity for a presentation to the Urology Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on behalf of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons. That Grand Lodge had set aside the sum of £2 million for the treatment of prostate cancer in hospitals across the country. The Royal College of Surgeons sought bids from consultants and Urology Departments for funds from this grant, assessed the bids and made recommendations to the Mark Grand Lodge which accepted them without hesitation. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital was successful with their bid for the purchase of 3D camera equipment. RW Bro David Hooker on 29 October 2004 handed Alan Doherty, the Consultant Surgeon, a cheque for £83,659 to enable the purchase to go forward. An article and photograph appeared in Freemasonry Today and in the hospital’s own newspaper.
The new procedure for the election of the Master and Treasurer of private Lodges, in respect of which the Provincial Grand Secretary produced guidance, appears to have been adopted by Lodges in increasing numbers.
I have experienced in the last year three occasions at Installation Meetings when the new Master has sought to appoint a member of the Lodge to more than one Regular Office which of course contravenes the provisions of Rule 104 of the Book of Constitutions. Care should be observed in this respect and if there any doubts about the regularity of an appointment advice should be taken well in advance of the Installation Meeting from the Provincial Grand Secretary.
I have recently discovered the existence of a so-called “Masonic High Council for England and Wales” complete with a web site and a person who calls himself the Secretary General. He appears to be the only member! Brethren should not attempt to make any contact since it is an irregular Masonic body and is not recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England.
Grand Lodge reviewed the guidance on demonstrations of ritual in June 2004. Among other things, Grand Lodge confirmed that reconstructions of historical forms of Craft ritual can only be undertaken when Master Masons are present, the Lodge has been called off or closed, and the Lodge room remains fully tyled throughout.
Rule 144 of the Book of Constitutions requires every Lodge to keep a Minute Book. Grand Lodge has said that care should be taken to ensure the permanence of Minutes or other records. The Provincial Grand Master is not convinced that these requirements are satisfied by minutes being kept on sheets of paper which are then inserted into ring binder files. Lodges that have adopted this practice must cease to do so.
The policy of openness and public awareness appears to be reasonably successful although I continue to be frustrated by newspapers that refuse to publish the good news about Freemasonry which I distribute to them in large measure, especially about our contributions to charity. I am however optimistic that we are seeing signs of Freemasonry being recognised as being part of the community rather than apart from the community.
My thanks go to my colleagues for their never-failing support and to the Provincial Grand Secretary and his staff for theirs. I am indebted as always to Brethren who kindly tell me what is going on in their part of the Province so that I may share it with others. Long may this continue.
Rodney Pitham PSGD
Assistant Provincial Grand Master
Provincial Information Officer
Lodge Newsletters - A Protocol
Lodge Newsletters are a valuable means of communication for all members of a Lodge but particularly for those who are not able to attend meetings on a regular basis such as country and honorary members. The Provincial Grand Master is keen to encourage and support the publication of such Newsletters and wishes to see more and more Lodges in the Province adopting the idea.
There are a variety of styles of newsletter circulating in the Province and all are to be highly commended for content, imaginative use of typefaces, photographs, colour and their regularity of publication. The Provincial Grand Master has no wish to stifle creativity or style but, like the rules for Lodge web sites, he does believe that Lodges would welcome guidance of a broad nature to ensure compliance with the principles of Freemasonry and the policies of both Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge.
This is the guidance:
The principle of the publication of a newsletter should be agreed by the Lodge following discussion in, and recommendation by, the Lodge Committee.
It might be beneficial to have a small editorial committee, of no more than, say, three members of the Lodge, to oversee publication and to approve the content with perhaps one member of the Lodge having responsibility for drafting the items for inclusion in the publication. That member, the editor, would need to have the necessary facilities for preparing and printing the newsletter, but its distribution might usefully be left to the Lodge Secretary to coincide, where practicable, with the sending of a Lodge summons to all members of the Lodge.
Lodge Newsletters should not be regarded as private or secret but editors will need to ensure that any of those Brethren named in the newsletter for whatever reason or whose photographs might be included are aware of the public nature of the document and are given the opportunity to have their name and/or photograph withdrawn prior to publication.
Lodges should feel free to send copies of Lodge Newsletters, for example, to the press and to members of local authorities, deposited in local libraries, doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries, provided that the Lodge has agreed and that all members are aware that this will be done.
Lodge Newsletters should not comment on political or religious issues arising in the locality.
At all times Lodge Newsletters should comply with the policies and edicts of the United Grand Lodge of England and the Provincial Grand Lodge of Warwickshire.
No material may be published which is subject to copyright and no material in a Newsletter should be made the subject of copyright since the press, among others, should be able to have the freedom to publish the Newsletter or extracts from it.
At least one copy of each edition of every Lodge newsletter should be sent to the Provincial Grand Secretary immediately following publication.
Rodney Pitham PSGD
Assistant Provincial Grand Master
Provincial Information Officer