Solomon and the Lodge Officers’ Jewels

A number of Brethren in Essex are part of the Solomon User Group (SUG) which is a module on Solomon where new items designed by the Learning and Development Team are tried by ‘lead users’ who give feedback before the material goes live for all users. The current item being reviewed is all about the Lodge Officers’ Jewels.

Imagine a busy Installation Meeting where the collars have got mixed up and as you are sitting the closest to them the Worshipful Master looks at you and asks you to put them in order so he can invest his Officers. Three well designed introductory quizzes cover matching the officer to the jewel, the jewel to the officer and a timed quiz to identify the jewels for all the officers of a lodge. Then comes the fourth quiz called ‘Precedence of Officers’ which is described as fiendishly difficult with only two minutes to sort all the collars. This quiz has only one question but if you get it wrong a brother may be invested with the wrong collar and jewel.

The concept of the tests is first class and practising this way will help any brother make a useful contribution to the smooth running of proceedings at a busy Installation meeting with the added bonus of becoming more familiar with the Book of Constitutions Rule 104(d). Do look out for this and other new modules as they are a good way of “fostering curiosity and developing understanding”.

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Freemasons' Hall lit up for Rememberance Day

FREEMASONS’ HALL LIT UP FOR REMEMBRANCE DAY 2020 IN HONOUR OF 3,000 MEMBERS WHO DIED DURING WW1

To mark three major anniversaries for Remembrance Day the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) has lit up Freemasons' Hall in London with the names of Freemasons who died in WW1 to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of VE and VJ Day, and the Centenary of the unveiling of the Cenotaph, London.

The projection on Freemasons’ Hall will be on display until 9pm on the evening of Armistice Day and has already been shared widely on social media. In addition, more than 500 poppies, donated by Staffordshire Freemasons, are on display in the vestibules inside the stunning Grade II listed building, which was built as a peace memorial after WW1. The names of the 3,000 Freemasons are immortalised in the Roll of Honour within the Hall.

Freemasons have always had a strong relationship with the armed services, and UGLE have worked with Remembrance Penny who have donated a bronze poppy, in a case, inscribed with the words “They shall not grow old. For those Freemasons who died for their country”. Funds raised from the sale of the pennies will go to support Combat Stress to help continue delivering life-changing specialist services to veterans across the UK.  The poppy will be permanently situated in the vestibules as a symbol of reflection and contemplation for those servicemen and women who have served their country.

On Weds 11 November at 11:00am UGLE will live stream on its Facebook channel the two-minute silence in front of the peace memorial at Freemasons’ Hall, with a bugler playing The Last Post in tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Dr David Staples, UGLE’s chief executive, said: “The history of Freemasons’ Hall is directly linked to the Great War. There were more than 3,000 Freemasons killed in action during WW1 and in honour of those members, Freemasons' Hall was rebuilt as a peace memorial to all Freemasons’ who gave their lives for their country. This year, even in a difficult period, we have found a way to remember their ultimate sacrifice.”

In addition UGLE Freemasons will also be taking part in Remembrance Day events across the country. In Guernsey, members will attend the Remembrance Day service at our war memorial and lay a wreath in remembrance of those who lost their lives during WW1. The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry (RGLI) was formed in 1917 and fought in France during the last 12 months of WW1. Of the 2,430 Guernsey men, 230 were killed or missing in action.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight, meanwhile, is home to some of the country's largest and most important army and naval bases, and strong links have been formed during many decades. Many of the Province’s 250 Lodges have a long military heritage, reflected in proudly held names including Fleet Air Arm, Pegasus Forces, Royal Marine, Comrades and Aldershot Camp Lodge. Indeed, three members received the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest award for gallantry, during the Great War. Jon Whitaker, the head of Freemasonry in Hampshire and Isle of Wight, and a senior volunteer with the Royal British Legion (RBL), will lay a wreath on behalf of both local Freemasons and the RBL from all over the Province.

Meanwhile, in Bedfordshire the six Masonic centres (Ampthill, Bedford, Biggleswade, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard and Luton), will each lay a wreath at local civic services to mark Remembrance Day.

In Middlesex, members will lay a wreath informally at each of 16 war memorials throughout the Province, in order to honour the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for this country’s freedom in various conflicts. The wreaths will be laid by one Freemason at each memorial.

In London, Freemasons are taking part in a parade past the Cenotaph. Others are acting as poetry readers for the London Underground. While in Staffordshire, six members will be attending the National Memorial Arboretum to lay wreaths at the Masonic Garden of Remembrance.

In Worcestershire, Freemason Karl Nicholson and his friend Luke Ford are marching 111 miles over 11 consecutive days with 11kg of dead weight, in aid of the Royal British Legions’ Poppy Appeal 2020. They aim to finish at Worcester Cathedral war memorial by 11:00am on 11 November 2020 and have so far raised £1111.11. They were previously members of RAF Air Cadets, serving adult volunteer staff at 187 (City of Worcester) Squadron.

Mr Nicholson said: "We reasoned that the RBL Poppy Appeal might struggle this year, and after the success of a similar walk we did during the lockdown in May (road marching 100 miles in 14 days with 10kg deadweight), raising £1,137 for the RAF Benevolent Fund, we thought we would do it again but upping the stakes to make the challenge more difficult, and of course this time in the cold and no doubt wet conditions.”

Meanwhile in Leicester and Rutland, with Freemasons’ support, a memorial stone commemorating those taken prisoner in the Far East during the Second World War has been installed. Elsewhere, Derbyshire Freemasons will be laying wreaths at a number of locations throughout the Province. While at Freemasons Hall in Derby, the Province will be holding a wreath-laying ceremony at its own monument, which was erected in 2018.

To find out more about the role Freemasons played during periods of national war members of the public can view the online Brothers In Alms website at https://brothersinalms.org.uk. This exhibition of rare photographs spans the period from the Second Boer War through to the end of the Second World War, and features those who led and those who served on land, sea and in the air. It portrays the great landscape of the conflict across all continents and the diversity of the participants.

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Better Lives at work in Essex

Brethren across Essex, especially the Trustees and Members of the Association of Friends of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent Court, along with the residents and all those who work at Stisted must be very pleased that the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) chose Nikki, a Team Leader, for the lead story ‘A day in the life’ in the Better Lives Autumn/Winter 2020 issue.

Nikki’s fascinating account gives Brethren a glimpse of the hard work and dedication that goes on behind the scenes in the RMBI’s 18 care homes looking after more than 1,000 residents. The main focus of the rest of this issue of the MCF’s bi-annual magazine is on the relief available for full time unpaid carers, childcare for parents and life after caring.

Ten hard copies have been mailed to all lodge Almoners but with the suspension of meetings the online version is available at: https://mcf.org.uk/resource/better-lives-issue-8-winter-2020/  and can be passed to anyone associated with each lodge including past and present members, widowed partners and the children and grandchildren of members so that the MCF can reach those who are in need of support to get Better Lives.

Between 1 April and 31 July 2020 the MCF supported 451 charities with £2,775,136 of funding and another £2,689,702 in 1,847 grants to 1,460 brethren and their families struggling as a result of Covid-19.

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We Will Remember Them

Many Brethren from Essex and throughout the UK have been notified that the Remembrance Day Parade at the Cenotaph in London on Sunday 8th November 2020 has been cancelled due to the pandemic. They would have taken part in the March Past as members of contingents from the Circuit of Service Lodges, the Royal British Legion or Veteran Service Associations.

The Brethren will be disappointed but we are all encouraged to watch the small service which will take place instead on BBC 1 or attend a local Remembrance event, subject to Covid restrictions, or pay our personal respects with the Two Minutes Silence.

It is at times like this when we reflect on the horrors of war or the destruction of pandemics that words fail us but on a clifftop in North Cornwall in September 1914, just a few weeks after the beginning of WW1, Laurence Binyon (1869-1943) composed his famous poem For The Fallen with its immortal final verse which helps us with humble gratitude preserve the memory of all those who have paid the Supreme Sacrifice.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

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Eight hospices receive nearly £14,000

Eight hospices across the county have been chosen to receive grants totaling nearly £14,000 from Essex Freemasons. The grants donated via the Freemasons own charity, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), are urgently needed to help make up shortfalls in funding caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The hospices are:

Fair Havens Hospice
£1,880
Farleigh Hospice
£1,550
Haven House Children's Hospice
£1,545
Little Havens Children's Hospice
£1,820
Saint Francis Hospice
£1,990
St Clare West Essex Hospice Care Trust
£1,440
St Helena Hospice
£1,880
St Luke's Hospice (Basildon & District)
£1,440

These are just eight of 203 grants to hospices around the country from Freemasons. In total £750,000 will be donated to hospices all over England and Wales this year.

This includes £300,000 which will be distributed to each hospice that receives less than 60 per cent funding from the NHS and a further £450,000 which will be provided to individual hospices across England and Wales via Hospice UK, the national charity for hospice care.

Contributions from Freemasons to hospices have exceeded £14 million in England and Wales since 1984.

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Helping Harrysson to move again

It has been a massive struggle for seven-year-old Harrysson Wright from the moment he was born, a battle he has been steadily losing to the point where he is no longer able to walk – but help is on the way thanks to a group of Maldon Freemasons and the larger Essex Community.

Harrysson’s Mum Karly who lives in Heybridge, desperate to help her son regain mobility, launched an appeal to raise £10,000 to buy a specially adapted motorised wheelchair. So far, she has collected £3,000 with £1,000 coming from the Beeleigh Abbey Masonic Lodge which meets at Maldon supported by the Essex Freemasons Community Fund.

Money from the Freemasons was channelled to Karly via another Maldon Charity, the Joseph Henry Unwin Fund which has been assisting local residents in need for more than 100 years - and it is now hoped that with further help from the local community, the £10,000 target will soon be reached.

“Harrysson was born with kidney problems, has suffered with sepsis and now has a form of cerebral palsy,” said Karly. “He has had to battle from the day he was born to the point where he can no longer put one of his feet onto the ground. This in turn is now causing problems with his hips which is why he desperately needs a motorised wheelchair.”

“One has been ordered but cannot be delivered until we have raised £10,000 and I so grateful to everyone who has contributed. Every day we get a little closer.”

Beeleigh Abbey Lodge was alerted to Karly’s Appeal by the Joseph Henry Unwin Fund. Lodge member Martin Harvey, commented: “Because our Lodge is very much part of the local community it has always been the wish of our members to support good causes in our area. When we heard about Karly we were happy to make a donation and hope that she will reach her target as soon as possible.”

The £1,000 donation was symbolically handed over to the fund in a short ceremony outside of the Maldon Masonic Centre attended by Peter Richardson and Martin Harvey, from Beeleigh Abbey, Martin Howse, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for Essex and Bryan Harker and Mark Heard from the Joseph Henry Unwin Fund.

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St George’s Lodge 100th Anniversary

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

ST GEORGE’S LODGE NO. 4117 REACHES ITS 100TH ANNIVERSARY

On Saturday 30th October 1920 at Freemasons Hall W Bro J H Salter, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Essex installed the Primus Master at the Consecration Ceremony of St George’s Lodge No 4117. The 19 Founder Members were all from its sponsor, St John’s Lodge No. 1343.

The Founders wanted a local lodge in Tilbury which was open to all.  With a membership of almost 200, St John’s Lodge had moved to the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras in London whilst Tilbury Lodge No 2006 was confined to those employed at Tilbury Docks.  The Founders were justified in forming a new lodge as membership had risen to 54 within 10 years. In the same decade following WW1, 40 new lodges were formed in Essex and membership in the Province had doubled to 8,800.

The United Grand Lodge of England had granted the Warrant for St George’s Lodge on 11th May 2020, just days after the last case of Spanish Flu – which did not come from Spain but being neutral in WW1 was the only country releasing official figures. The virus had caused the death of nearly one million people in four waves over two years.

We send our fraternal congratulations to all the St George’s Lodge Members and wish them well in organising their Centennial celebrations with guests and visitors when it is safe to do so.

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Supporting charities throughout lockdown

Here are some highlights as recorded at a recent Zoom meeting of the Essex Provincial Charity Stewards:

  • The total in the FEST222 as at the end of August is £3.95 Million
  • The target had been brought back to the original target of £5 Million
    • In light of the current situation with less meetings and opportunities it was considered appropriate by the Provincial Executive
  • Therefore we have 19 months to get the £1.05 Million to hit the target
    • £56,000 per month minimum
  • The MCF have agreed that any RPP that runs on past March 2022, the cut off for  FEST20222, will still be credited until they expire!
    • This means that any taken out now will be fully credited to FEST2022
    • The general consensus of those attending was that the reduction of the target was a good idea, and that the end result would be somewhere between £5 Million and £6 Million.
    • However there was a feeling that a number of units have yet to release their final funds
  • There were a number of initiatives currently being undertaken by the team:
    • Regular Quiz Nights
    • Emailing members with GAE slips
      • A PDF of the GAE slip which is accepted by the MCF is attached
    • Reminding members of RPPs and asking for individual donations
      • Few RPPs have been cancelled which was very good
    • Taking a softly softly approach so as to not come over as heavy handed
    • Donating the “Dining” part of all-in subscriptions to charity
    • Running regular 25, 50, 100 and 200 Clubs
    • In general all those attending were positive towards the Festival and were willing to encourage members to contribute where they were able to
  • There has been a large number of Matched Funding donations over the last few months, all have been publicised on social media and in Essex newspapers
  • There have also been donations from the MCF to a number of Essex projects including vulnerable children and women
  • Advance notice was given for a Race Day at Great Leas next year on Saturday 3rd July. This is to be a Masonic Race Day with proceeds going towards FEST2022
    • Sponsorship is being sought and it will also be used as a Masonic Awareness event with the Provincial Trailer and other stalls present
    • It is anticipated that there will be a charge for entrance and then additional options for Lunch and Dinner
    • Once this has all been agreed there will be plenty of publicity
    • Lodges and Chapters will be encouraged to have tables at the Lunch and Dinner and to have as many members and their families and friends attending
    • There will be a full racing program and a special “stakes” for Apprentices in memory of the late PGM, which has the full support of his widow Margaret, and family
    • This is planned to be a big event and once it is a success it could be repeated annually
    • Details of Costs and Events etc. will be circulated when available
  • The planned Charity Stewards Conference for next Spring is cancelled due to the current situation

At the end of the meeting the following points were emphasised:

  • As a Province we receive between £900,000 - £1 Million each year from the MCF to distribute to Brethren, their families and good causes. Currently we are raising just over £1 Million each year. We are one of the bigger Provinces under UGLE and it would be good if we could raise and send to the MCF more than we get back, so as to support the smaller Provinces as well as our own.
  • Remember that there should be no pressure on brethren to donate to Charity. All donations should be within a brother’s means and voluntary, no one should be made to feel that they have to contribute.  In the current situation we need to think of those brethren and their families who may be suffering due to loss of employment or being furloughed. Those of us who are not as affected should consider helping them and others in a positive way.

Keep up the good work all!

S&F

W Bro Chris Hicks PAGDC, PAGDC

DepProvGCharityStwd - Essex

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Essex Freemasons Take Heart

 

Essex Freemasons have donated £1,000 to Take Heart, a Southend based charity which, for over a quarter of a century, has been providing community support for those with heart health problems.

The money, £500 of which was donated by members of Rochford Kindred Daylight Lodge, matched by a further £500 from the Essex Freemasons Community Fund, will be used by the charity to help those recovering from or facing heart surgery or other related conditions.

There has been a close association between the Lodge and the Charity for some years which is why it attracted support from members.

Paul Halley, Chairman of Take Heart commented: “It is donations like these which have also helped us to raise in excess of £300,000 since we started. These proceeds have been used to purchase vital equipment for the local coronary care unit at Southend General Hospital along with Essex Cardiothoracic Centre (CTC) at Basildon alongside our community work.”

 The donation was handed over to Take Heart in a short ceremony at Saxon Hall attended from left to right: Paul Halley, committee member Angela Pyne, Martin Howse, Assistant Provincial Grand Master and Keith Holdsworth from the Lodge.

“We have set aside £120,000 in community funding to support our Lodges who in turn are supporting dozens of local charities such as Take Heart in every part of Essex,” said Martin Howse.

“Freemasonry like many organisations might be in shutdown at the moment, but our charitable work still continues and I delighted that we have been able to support Rochford Kindred Hundred Lodge and a charity that is close to their hearts in more ways than one.”

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A "Masonic Makeover" in Manningtree

Not many masonic lodges in England can claim to have met in their own masonic hall for over 100 years but local Freemasons have been meeting in the Mistley Masonic Hall since they purchased the building for £350 in 1906.  The Grade 2 property in South Street, Manningtree is the centre for two lodges which meet there, Mistley Lodge No 2339 formed in 1889 and Dedham Vale No 8901 formed in 1979.

Covid 19 restrictions have prevented recent regular lodge meetings but have not stopped a team of local Freemasons led by Tony Baalham, a Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden, from completing an internal makeover including new flooring for the temple in which the Masons hold their ceremonies.  In liaison with Heritage Officers further improvements are planned so that more local groups can make use of the new upgraded facilities. The Royal British Legion has already shown interest.

A quick look at https://essexfreemasons.org.uk/news/ gives many recent examples of how the Freemasons in Essex are helping in the local Community by supporting much needed projects and giving  generously to those in need.  If any local group is considering a new place to meet then the new look Mistley Masonic Hall in Manningtree with all its heritage could be the answer.

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Masonic Exhibition planned for Braintree

Braintree’s oldest Masonic Lodge is to celebrate more than 150 years of history and involvement with the community with a major exhibition about local Freemasonry planned for 2021 at the Town’s museum in Manor Street. 

It is believed that it will be the first such exhibition of its kind outside London and to allow as many people as possible to visit and see the display, the Lodge has donated £1,000 to the Friends of Braintree Museum to cover the cost of admission for all visitors for 12 months.

The Lodge of St Mary, which first met in 1870, gave the Museum £500 with a further £500 provided from the Essex Freemasons Community Fund. This will help cover the costs of the Museum which wants to encourage as many local residents to visit and find out more about their additional programmes of exhibitions covering local history, art, textiles and science.

It was originally intended that the Masonic exhibition would take place this year to coincide with the actual anniversary of The Lodge of St Mary, but will now be delayed until 2021 due to Covid-19. The proposal to fund the project was moved forward by the immediate past master of the Lodge John Adlam who is also a museum volunteer with his wife Sandra.

“The Lodge has played an enormous role in the local community for the last 150 years and during that period we have collated records and images of our history and also that of Braintree,” said John Adlam. “It was therefore a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our 150th anniversary and support the Braintree Museum at the same time.”

When allowed to go ahead, the Masonic exhibition will last for 10 days and will be open to the public with Lodge members taking in turns to be on duty to answer questions and to generally promote Freemasonry within the community.

Assistant Provincial Grand Master Lee Taylor who attended the cheque presentation ceremony, commented: “Lodge of St Mary has played an enormous role in the history of Braintree and it is good to see that the public will now be able to get a glimpse of what Freemasons do and how they contribute to the local community. I am also pleased to see that the money will help to encourage more visitors to come along to the Museum, and get a better idea of local history and some amazing exhibitions.”

The Lodge of St Mary meets at Howard Hall in Bocking End. It was Consecrated on 14th June 1870 at the White Hart Hotel and has met at several different locations over the years including the offices of Messrs Balls & Balls the auctioneers and Board School. Finally, in 1888 it was decided that the Lodge would meet at the White Hart Hotel on the second Monday from September to April and in 1933 moved to Howard Hall in 1933 where it has remained to this date.

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Gold Geese ready to take flight into Basildon

Leigh-on-Sea charity The Gold Geese, set up in 2014 to help families with young children suffering with rare blood cancers, has received a cash boost from Southend Freemasons, money that will help the organisation expand its services across south Essex into Basildon.

A £1,000 grant donated by members of Sweyn Lodge, which meets at Saxon hall in Aviation Way, supported by the Essex Freemasons Community Fund, will enable Gold Geese to work more closely with Basildon Hospital. The charity already provides extensive support in the Southend area offering a wide range of services such as bereavement counselling, help for families as well as direct support for children suffering from Childhood cancers.

Katie Southgate from Gold Geese commented: “The charity was formed after my daughter Hattie was diagnosed with Leukaemia. She received two years of treatment with more than 40 blood transfusions. She thankfully made a full recovery and we wanted to put something back into to the community to help other families going through the same thing as us and to thank all those who had given blood and registered as stem cell donors to make it all possible.”

As well as encouraging people to give blood the charity supports families with advice and arranges events and outings for those suffering with cancers. Siblings are also included to ensure that they do not feel left out. As it has grown the charity now intends to expand its services into the Basildon area and the long-term aim is to eventually work across all of Essex in conjunction with all of the main hospitals in the county.

“This is a local charity and it does so much good work in the community that our members wanted to do something in support,” said Ian Krise, Charity Steward for Sweyn Lodge. “We are especially pleased that this money will help the charity expand to help so many others.”

In tribute to Gold Geese and their ‘V’ shaped logo showing the birds in flight, Essex Masons staged a similar socially distanced shaped picture when the money was handed over.

Lee Taylor commented afterwards: “The Gold Geese represent everything that is special about community charities which is why we as Freemasons wanted to offer our support. It does some wonderful work and it is good to see that they have plans to expand their services into Basildon and hopefully in time across all of Essex.

Pictured from left to right is Lee Taylor, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for Essex; Ian Krise, Charity Steward from Sweyn; Katie Southgate from Gold Geese; Bob Milne and David Wilson from Sweyn Lodge.

 

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