Braham Djidjelli

Prince Philip: A True English Gentleman

The Freemasons are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Prince Philip this morning and we extend our sincere condolences to Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family.

His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh started his life in Freemasonry in 1952, at the age of 31. He was initiated into Navy Lodge, No 2612, on 5 December.

On 6 March 1953, HRH Prince Philip progressed to the Second Degree of Freemasonry, before advancing to the Third Degree on 4 May 1953. The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) issued his Grand Lodge Certificate on 7 May that same year and he has remained a member to this day.

The Duke of Edinburgh was born in Corfu on 10 June 1921, the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. He therefore also held the title Prince of Greece and Denmark.

Prince Philip joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Prince Louis, who was Admiral of the Fleet and First Sea Lord. He had a long and successful career in the Navy and rose to the rank of Commander.

Prince Philip was also a qualified pilot and was the first member of the Royal Family ever to fly out of Buckingham Palace in a helicopter.

The Duke of Edinburgh was known to drop into meetings at his Freemasons Lodge almost unannounced. Navy Lodge has a storied past and an amazing roster of luminaries appear upon its membership roll. The Lodge prides itself on being the premier Naval Lodge in the world, with an unparalleled history that includes four monarchs as past members – King Edward VII, King Edward VIII, King George VI and King George II of the Hellenes.

The Duke of Edinburgh was patron or president of some 800 organisations, with special interests in scientific and technological research and development, the encouragement of sport, the welfare of young people, and conservation and the environment.

Freemasons can also count other members of the Royal Family among their number, including HRH the Duke of Kent, who is the longest-serving Grand Master of the UGLE.

As well as members of the Royal Family, Navy Lodge can proudly name three winners of the Victoria Cross among its past and present members; numerous Admirals, Generals, Vice-Admirals and Senior Officers; as well as other notables such as Sir Ernest Shackleton, Robert Scott – known as ‘Scott of the Antarctic’ – and many more.

Elsewhere, there is also a Duke of Edinburgh Lodge, No 1182, Liverpool, which was issued a warrant on 2 July 1867 and was consecrated on 1 August 1867. The Lodge was named after Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, who was then Duke of Edinburgh. He was born on 6 August 1844, the second son of Queen Victoria.

In addition, there is a Duke of Edinburgh Lodge in London, No 1259, which was consecrated on 4 May 1869. The Lodge was also named after Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, who became Duke of Edinburgh in 1866.

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How we have helped to support our heroes in the NHS

In February, the WM of Stedfast Unity Lodge identified an opportunity for the members to be of service to those heroes working tirelessly to help everyone.

Jim proposed we help the nurses and support staff in the hospitals suffering from dry skin, due to the volume of hand washing and astringent effects of the alcohol gels, by providing them with moisturisers and balms.

Thanks to donations we exceeded the initial target of £250, achieving £600. Last week Jim & Tony used this to deliver a total of 236 lip balms and 299 moisturisers to Addenbrookes and Papworth hospitals.

Jess Hughes, Community Fundraiser at Papworth wrote to thanks the lodge on behalf of Royal Papworth Hospital Charity.

He said: “Your generosity allows us to support our staff at Royal Papworth Hospital during the coronavirus pandemic. As a specialist lung hospital and one of only five national ECMO centres, our Critical Care Unit has been the busiest in the East of England.

“We are acutely aware of the strain that working on the frontline places on our staff and we are doing all we can to support their emotional and physical wellbeing at this time. Your donation to Royal Papworth Hospital Charity has provided additional support for staff as they work tirelessly caring for patients with coronavirus.

“By providing pick-up stations across the hospital with essentials, treats and overnight packs, we have been able to give something back to our staff, keep them going during these challenging times and show them how much they mean to us all.

“On behalf of our patients, their families and the staff at Royal Papworth Hospital thank you once again for your generosity.”

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Teddies for Loving Care celebrates 20 years

On 12th March 2001 an extraordinary, and unique, scheme was launched by Essex Freemasons: it was a simple idea – to raise funds to provide Essex A&E departments with Teddies for the medical staff to give to children brought into their care to help relieve their distress.

Back in October 1999, Freemason Ian Simpson took his wife, Angela, to Southend Hospital’s A&E unit after an allergic reaction caused her windpipe to swell and block. After finding themselves so anxious and frightened, Ian proposed to his Lodge that a donation be sent to say thank you to the A&E staff. The thought of helping the A&E inspired another Lodge member, Neil Beverley, who was already involved in donating Trauma Teddies to Essex Fire and Rescue Services, to come up with the idea of supplying teddies to A&E units across Essex and the Teddies For Loving Care appeal was born.

And, ten years after what started so successfully as a purely local scheme and which been extended to all the A&E units in Essex, Ian, then the TLC Chairman, marked the gift of the
one-millionth teddy bear.

However, where that happened, nobody is entirely sure, because TLC had been so successful that it had been taken up not only by masonic provinces all over England, but had gone global.

Now, two decades after its launch, TLC is still going strong. Three million teddies have been cuddled by children in hospitals in every country under the Grand Lodge of England’s banners.

 Medical practitioners everywhere agree on the benefits the teddies bring.

“It means so much to the nurses,’ one says. ‘It makes our lives easier and the children feel safer, and it’s not so traumatic for them. The teddy system works so well because it’s such a simple idea. It’s something the children love and makes them feel special. The parents see that you really value their child, they’re not just another number and they’re being seen as an individual.”

And the teddy bears aren’t just employed to comfort the child either; nurses will quite often use them as a diversion technique as they work, like using the teddy to mimic the injuries the child has, perhaps putting a sticky plaster on the teddy’s arm if the child has hurt theirs.

And now the scheme has taken another step forward. Current Chairman Robert Whittingham explained: “Last year, the fund presented a grant of £10,000 to the Child Death Review Team.

 “The team is based in Harlow, Essex and is made up of former nurses and other medical practitioners.  They respond to all child deaths reported in Essex, ranging from cot death to teenage suicide, support the families at the time of death and after, and make introductions to other support agencies. They also attend Coroners’ inquests to give evidence and further support the families, and liaiase with other agencies such as the Police in any formal investigations.”

Robert added: “The donation is being made to enable them to purchase books and other specialist materials given to bereaved parents and siblings at an awful time. The literature enables parents to explain to surviving siblings what has happened and help them to understand.”

Today there are 47 regional TLC programmes across England and Wales that provide teddies for their local A&E departments. Once a hospital joins the scheme they can replenish teddies on request through their local TLC representative. Some TLC programmes also donate a portion of their TLC funds towards teddies for minor injuries units, children’s wards and hospices; there are even teddies flying on air ambulances!  

Recent months have seen the introduction of a new model of teddy and Essex, as the founder of the scheme, is proud to have been the first Province to receive supplies for its hospitals, medical units and air ambulances.

Pictured above is Laura Ryan, the play team lead at Basildon Hospital, holding some of the new teddies. Laura is responsible for ensuring the teddies are given out to the children.

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