Tony Hales

Judges Reveal Secrets of Essex Freemasons

At the Pride of Essex Awards 2020 Presentation Ceremony on 24th November 2020 streamed by Anglia Ruskin University, the Judges gave the Essex Freemasons Community Fund (EFCF) a ‘First’ with the ultimate ‘Community Top Team Award’.

Chaired by Deputy Lieutenant Dave Dennison BEM, these annual Awards are for those who have shown exceptional courage, inspiration or community service in Essex. The top ten in each category were invited to the virtual presentation with the results kept a closely guarded secret.

The Freemasons were nominated for a new Award, ‘Heroes of Pandemic Essex’, set up for 2020 at the request of the Lord Lieutenant, Jennifer Tolhurst, and received a special mention for the thousands of visors, hand sanitiser and PPE they supplied to Care Homes, NHS Community Staff, Essex and Herts Air Ambulance and some East of England Ambulance Stations.

The Judges delved more deeply into the work of the Freemasons and found a number of other significant Community initiatives including six £10,000 grants to good causes and £20,000 towards boosting antibody testing. Totally unexpected, it came as a complete surprise when the Pride of Essex Awards 2020 Presenters detailed the finding of the Judges and announced the ‘Community Top Team in Essex’ was the Essex Freemasons Community Fund.

The Pride of Essex Award presenters explained that:

  • The EFCF was set up in 2019 with money from the charitable donations of Essex Freemasons to award grants to registered charities and organisations supporting communities. Six £10,000 grants were made this year
  • The Fund executive were also tasked with responding to PPE needs of groups across Essex (which received additional recognition in the new category of HOPE -‘Heroes of Pandemic Essex - Team Award)
  • Some of the initiatives and grants include £20,000 towards boosting antibody testing with a further £100,000 pledged to fight the virus in the East of England
  • 50 litres of hand sanitiser was given to the Essex Search and Rescue Team of 63 volunteers who find and help missing and vulnerable people in Essex
  • 50 litres of clinical grade sanitiser was donated to each of the seven hospices in Essex
  • A £10,000 grant was given to the Essex Child Death Review Team at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow to fill funding gap due to the COVID-19 outbreak
  • Hand sanitiser and face shields were provided to Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Service, face shields were supplied to all nurses in the Community Mental Health Teams in mid and south Essex and to District Nurses in the south of Essex
  • All 506 Registered Care Homes in Essex were offered face shields for all their staff. More than 320 care homes requested support and £10,000 worth of face shields has been supplied
  • Personal bottles of hand sanitiser were given to all Ambulance crews across Essex as a ‘Thank You’ from Essex Freemasons and that Freemason volunteers delivered all these items personally

In these unsettling and challenging times, this Award for the EFCF as the Community Top Team in Essex is also a first-class honour which further enhances the charitable reputation of Freemasonry in all the Provinces and Districts in UGLE.

The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW.Bro Paul Reeves, acknowledged this recognition by the Community for the good work of all the 9,000 Freemasons in Essex who donated money as well as those who volunteered to deliver the items across the County.

One of the unfortunate consequences of the lockdown was that the PoE Awards could not be presented as usual, so the various sponsors of the awards were asked to present them following the online presentation ceremony. Mr. Ian Watson of Watson & Co Accountants, the category sponsor, who has been a long-term sponsor of the PoE Awards, presented the award to W.Bro Colin Felton, the Chairman of the Essex Freemasons Community Fund and VW.Bro Paul Reeves.

VW.Bro Paul Reeves said “each one deserved a handshake as personal recognition and that it was also a tribute to the late Rodney Bass OBE, the Provincial Grand Master of Essex who died in July 2020, under whose leadership the EFCF was set up, together with many of the initiatives which had impressed the Judges.”

Assistant Provincial Grand Master, W.Bro Tony White, emphasised the true depth and continuity of support for the Community in Essex, in that the Judges had awarded the Freemasons the ‘Team of Pride’ Community Award, after learning about their ongoing support of local charities across Essex in 2014.

In these unsettling and challenging times, this Pride of Essex 2020 Award for the EFCF as the Community Top Team in Essex is well deserved and helps enhance the reputation of Freemasonry for charitable giving, not just in Essex but throughout the UK and overseas.


Pictured Left to Right:

W.Bro Lee Taylor - Assistant Provincial Grand Master (who led the PPE Initiative (which won us the HOPE Award)).

W.Bro Colin Felton - Chairman of the Essex Freemasons Community Fund

W.Bro Ian Watson - Watson Accounting

VW.Bro Paul Reeves – Deputy Provincial Grand Master


A Leap of Faith in Solomon

It was a leap of faith on behalf of the many who had worked hard when Sir David Wooton, the Assistant Grand Master, launched the new online platform ‘Solomon’ two years ago on Saturday 21st November 2018. Among the congratulatory tweets on Twitter last Saturday (21st) from various individuals, one was one sent by a Province which read:

“Happy Second Birthday Solomon. The Dep Grand Master and all the brethren of the Province of Essex send their Congrats to all the Team @SolomonUGLE. We give our best wishes to everyone involved with Solomon in continuing to Foster Curiosity and Deliver Understanding to us all.”

The original aim of Solomon was to provide material to deliver in Lodges from a platform linking authors with members and was initially a depository of PDFs. Two years on there is now a wide combination of blended learning from experts and peers or self-directed using not only PDFs in the form of nuggets, papers and leaflets but also sound files, HTML 5.0 files, SCORM (share content reference modules), discussion forums and webinars.

With a range of subject areas covering both Craft and Royal Arch, there is something for everyone which can be accessed through the Search Bar or through the entry modulse of: Seek & Learn: designed for everyone, Share & Encourage: for Mentors and Support and Promote: for Provinces and Districts.

Over 34,000 Members have justified the ‘leap of faith’ finding Solomon really is ‘Fostering Curiosity and Developing Understanding’ and is an excellent resource for Brethren who want to make a Daily (or weekly, or monthly) Advancement in the Craft and Royal Arch. Join them at Solomon (


Monkhams Centenary

We send our fraternal congratulations to all the Brethren of Monkhams Lodge No 4161 which was Consecrated at Freemasons Hall on 30th November 1920.  Named after Monkhams Hall, the family home of the Primus Master W Bro Sir Richard Beale Colvin who became the first APGM when the office was created in 1924 and PGM for Essex in 1929. 

A distinguished Army Officer, MP, DL and JP, W Bro Colvin also served Essex as a High Sheriff and Lord Lieutenant.  He was awarded the CB in 1901 and KCB in 1934.  In July 1929 one of the leading Masonic publications in the USA wrote about the 141st Anniversary Festival of the Royal Masonic Institution for Girls:

“It is interesting to note that over $350,000 was subscribed for the work of this enterprise. R.W. Bro. Brigadier-General Richard Beale Colvin, Provincial Grand Master of Essex, was chairman of this year's festival. His province outranked all others in contributions; the sum subscribed being over $150,000 [equivalent to over £1.75m today]” . . . What could not the Masons of this country do for charity if they showed as much real interest in regard to this basic tenet of the Fraternity?”

If the legendary ‘Master of Monkhams’ could be with us on the Centenary of the Consecration of Monkhams Lodge, he would no doubt encourage every Essex Mason to continue giving their support for the Essex 2022 Festival so that the Province can once more be acclaimed internationally for its charitable giving.

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