Henry de Gray, 75 Years and a Ladies Night to remember

Saturday 11th February 2023 was certainly a night to remember for the Brethren and Guests of Henry de Gray Lodge No. 6627

who meet on five Saturdays a year at the Cross Keys Masonic Centre in Chadwell St Mary.

An extravagant event was held at Ye Olde Plough House in Bulphan to celebrate both the Ladies Night of the Worshipful Master, Audrius Cecetas, and his lady, Ruta, and also the 75th Anniversary of Henry de Gray Lodge.

The Lodge which derived its name from that of the first Lord of the Manor of Thurroc (now known as Thurrock) was consecrated on 4th May 1948 at Freemasons’ Hall under the sponsorship of another well-established Lodge in the area and was formed in response to the success of the Thurrock Lodge and the wish to help young and enthusiastic Masons progress within the Craft. At the consecration of the Lodge there were 23 founder members, this number had risen to 71 by the celebration of the 10th anniversary and to this day maintains a healthy membership.

It is also pleasing to note from the records, that ladies nights, ceremonies and festive boards continue to be well attended and that there remains a steady progression of keen and able Masons who are moving forward to achieving the greatest honour that the Lodge can bestow on any of its members which is that of occupying the Master’s Chair.

Audrius Cecetas had the honour of occupying the Masters Chair during this Anniversary Year and of being the President of the Ladies Night for this special occasion, which was nothing less than the extravaganza that this dual celebration richly deserved.

A sumptuous four-course meal of traditional British Fayre was followed by Live Musical Entertainment. Rousing performances by “Razamataz” and “So Sinatra” ensured that over 120 Brethren and their guests continued singing, dancing and celebrating until late into the evening.

The chosen charity for the evening’s festivities was Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) which provides unique cuddly bears to Accident & Emergency departments for medical staff to give at their discretion to young children. The bears are used to calm children down, reward them for being brave or to demonstrate procedures. Often the bears distract children so nurses and doctors can get their jobs done quickly and efficiently. The TLC teddy has become an invaluable tool for medical professionals and a real comfort for children.

TLC is locally managed by Freemasons who also volunteer their time to run the scheme. Since its inception in 2001, 3.5 million teddies have been distributed to hospitals throughout England and Wales.

Henry de Gray Lodge, which achieved Platinum Patron status by donating £26,484 of the £5.4 million raised during the Province of Essex 2022 Festival for the Masonic Charitable Foundation, came up trumps once again by raising over £1,300 for the TLC charity on the evening by way of an extremely well received raffle.

In what was another charitable and certainly a new and local Community based twist, the bright and colourful table centres were provided by two local community groups.

The Art materials and support were provided by Get Started Art CIC and the table centres themselves were decorated by Footsteps Special Needs Youth Group.

Get Started Art CIC is a new Community Interest Company set up by Essex Freemason, Dave Barton, to help groups of aspiring artists that need help the most. The new community interest company provides much needed materials free of charge to charities and local community groups helping disadvantaged children, vulnerable adults, and those of all ages with learning difficulties to discover their inner van Gogh and improve their health and wellbeing. Several groups in the Basildon and Thurrock areas of Essex are already benefitting from this support.

Foot Steps – Special Needs Youth Group was established in 1992 and is a weekly youth group for people of all ages with learning disabilities encouraging them to socialise and interact with friends through activities including; puzzles, board games, arts and crafts, music, as well as many other indoor and outdoor activities.

All three charities and community groups were given a superb introduction to their individual causes by Master of Ceremonies Mark Harrison.

After all the speeches had ended and before the dancefloor became the focal point once more for the Live Entertainment, a real highlight was the cutting of the 75th Anniversary Cake.  A wonderful presentation was given by Doug Noon prior to the cutting, which encompassed all that is good and important in Freemasonry both past and present.

For Brethren and guests both young and old in attendance, this night of Celebration, Charity, Community and Brotherhood will certainly not be forgotten and will live long into the memory.

Here’s to the next 75 Years!


Left Top: Enjoying a sumptuous four-course meal!

Left below: President Audrius Cecetas and his Lady, Ruta

Right Top: L-R Mark Harrison and Doug Noon with the 75th Anniversary Cake

Right below:  Table Programme and Charity Centrepiece