Tony Hales

"Simply the Best"

As Worshipful Master of North Essex Masters' Lodge No. 9831 (NEML), the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Nick Franklin, appropriately attired in his tartan trews, made sure that Friday 13th May 2022 was a lucky day for all the NEML brethren as they met on this occasion at the Braintree Masonic Centre, Howard Hall.

The regular business of the Lodge included the elections of Graham Poulter as the Worshipful Master and Brian Dack as Treasurer for the ensuing year, both brethren are Past Provincial Junior Grand Wardens (PPJGWs) and Brian is also the Lodge Organist.

The NEML Brethren were then most fortunate to receive an exceptional demonstration of a North East Scotland Third (NEST) Degree from ‘The Degree Team’ led by from o’er the Border. Although their degrees are the same, Scottish workings can be more dramatic and theatrical when compared to workings in England and this was no exception. In addition, it was also noted that the NEST Degree, as demonstrated, gave much more explanation than ours does.  

The NEML brethren enjoyed seeing the differences compared to our own workings as they watched the candidate being handled much more rigorously in a way which would be an unforgettable but meaningful experience.  Although essentially the same ceremony as ours, the NEST Degree is embellished with ‘fun’, is ‘louder’ as opposed to ours with its quieter demeaner but does not lose any of its gravitas and adds further to the meaning.

The journey south by the very experienced and committed ‘The Degree Team’, led by Steve Barker, was greatly appreciated by all the NEML brethren. It was performed to a packed house which added to the powerful effect on the audience who enjoyed something very different but equally connected. For those brethren who have seen many demonstrations over the years they could be forgiven for thinking of ‘The Degree Team’ as the ‘Tina Turner Team’ as it was ‘Simply the Best’.


The LODA Presentation Team in Action

What a superb evening was had on 3rd May 2022 at the Lodge of Daily Advancement No. 9979 (LODA), following on from Gerald Reilly’s thought-leadership oration in February. Both Graham Larke and David Badger, the co-leaders of the LODA Presentation Team made sure the Lodge lived up to its name and everyone made a ‘daily advancement’. 

For all those who have stood at Wembley Stadium and sung their hearts out, full of emotion, pride and with tears welling in their eyes, Graham Larke explained the story behind the hymn ‘Abide with Me’, the Anthem of the FA Cup.  The full oration is available from Lawrie Morrisson, the Secretary of the Lodge of Daily Advancement.  In bygone times, ‘abide’ had a similar meaning as ‘remain’ so the singer of the hymn is asking God to stay with them in times of trouble. 

David Badger, the Lodge ADC; Ian Simpson, WM and Peter Thomas, Lodge Mentor and Education Officer, all gave a splendid demonstration of a Lodge of Sorrow entitled ‘Roses and Evergreen - An Aspect of American Freemasonry.  It is convened at convocations of Grand Lodges working in the USA and is a marvellous way to recognise recently departed brethren. All those present were amazed by the poignancy of it all - you really could hear a pin drop! 

For their first time out as a team together, David said “It went very well and I was pleased with the end result” he continued “it was Patrick Wilkins, of the same mother lodge as Paul Tarrant and myself, Lodge of Fraternity No. 5916, who introduced the work to the UK about 15 years ago.”

Not on an official visit this time but as a guest, Trevor Darby PAGDC was seen enjoying the Meeting.  Although the future role of VGOs is still being considered, Trevor was pleased to be at LODA and said “I was impressed with the interesting and informative talk given by Graham Larke on the origin and use of the popular hymn ‘Abide with Me’. It was appropriate given what followed. I was equally impressed with the demonstration of a Lodge of Sorrow, as performed by Grand Lodges in the USA.”

You can book the LODA Presentation Team to visit your Lodge to present an oration or to give a demonstration of the Lodge of Sorrow ceremony. To book the team for either a special occasion or for a regular meeting, contact Lawrie Morrisson, whose details are in the Provincial Handbook on the Cube. Likewise, if you want to help others make a daily advancement as a member of the LODA Presentation Team, Lawrie will be pleased to hear from you.