Celebrating 300 years

Durham Freemasons have handed out a milestone 80,000 teddy bears to children who face emergency treatment in hospital

For more than a decade, Durham Freemasons have been supplying TLC teddies to A&E departments and walk in centres throughout the boundaries of the Province to help alleviate the distress of children attending hospital following what is normally a traumatic experience.

It also acts as a distraction and allows the person treating the child valuable time to carry out what they need to do, sometimes even treating the teddy first to show the child that everything will be OK. Children are also able to take the cuddly teddies home with them after they leave.

At a recent visit to North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s A&E Paediatric Department, the Provincial Grand Master for Durham, Eric Heaviside, accompanied by local Freemasons, met up with some of the nurses who use these bears on a daily basis. During the visit, they had the honour and privilege of presenting the 80,000th TLC teddy to a young girl admitted to the A&E at the time of the visit.

Freemason Duncan Maw, who has recently taken over the management of the initiative, said: 'All the A&E staff love the teddies as they can really help them carry out their vital work and all kids love teddies. It’s a simple and effective way to distract children from their illness and something we as a Province are extremely proud of being part of.'

Debbie Hall, Paediatrics Lead Nurse, Accident and Emergency at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: 'The children we see in our department are often very distressed and upset – these teddy bears really help us to calm them down and assess their needs as soon as possible.

'We are really grateful to Freemasons of Durham for donating so many of these toys bears over the last decade. It makes a real difference to all of the children who visit us, as well as the staff on the department.'

Friday, 26 January 2018 00:00

Remembering Bruce Graham Clarke DSC

Dorset Freemason Bruce Graham Clarke DSC, one of the last surviving crew members of the Second World War XE midget submarines, has passed to the Grand Lodge above aged 95 years

A public servant and talented artist, Bruce was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his role in the mission to cut the undersea telephone cables connecting Singapore, Saigon, Hong Kong and Tokyo. The success of this operation forced the Japanese to use radio which left their messages open to interception.

Born in Edinburgh on 9 September 1922 into a military family, his father was a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Educated at the Tower House School and University College School in London, Bruce volunteered for the Royal Navy in 1941. He initially served aboard destroyers, escorting convoys in the North Sea and the Mediterranean and witnessed the sinking of the French fleet. He later took part in Operation Torch – the invasion of Northwest Africa.

In 1943, Bruce volunteered for service aboard the Royal Navy’s midget submarines and after training in Scotland was commissioned. In July and August of 1945 Bruce was one of the crew of midget submarine XE5 which took part in Operation Foil to cut the Hong Kong to Singapore telegraph cable west of Lamma Island, running under Hong Kong harbour. In the book “Above us the waves” by Charles Warren and James Benson the mission is recalled ‘... Hong Kong was supposed to be blessed with clear water. It was most galling, therefore, for the crew of XE5 to arrive in the defended waters of Hong Kong after a very rough trip… and for the best part of four days ... the two divers, Clarke and Jarvis, were working up to their waists in mud…’

In his report of the operation, the commanding officer Lieutenant H.P. Westmacott wrote: ‘Whilst trying to clear the grapnel, S/Lt Clarke had caught his finger in the cutter, cut it very deeply and fractured the bone. It is impossible to praise too highly the courage and fortitude which enabled him to make his entry into the craft in this condition. Had he not done so, apart from becoming a prisoner, it is probable that the operation would have had to be abandoned for fear of being compromised.’ A month later the war ended and Bruce was posted to Minden in East Germany and put in command as Physical and Recreational Training Officer of Allied troops. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his part in Operation Foil on 17 November 1945 and subsequently demobilised in 1946.

After brief spells working in India and Africa, Bruce joined the Overseas Civil Service and through a series of promotions and secondments formed a successful career in Kenya. In 1955, Bruce married Joan in Nakuru, Kenya. The family moved to Aden in 1957; this posting for Bruce included a period as Labour Commissioner.

In 1962, Bruce retired from Her Majesty’s Overseas Civil Service and after a three year contract as Personnel Manager for the East African Power & Light Company in Tanganyika, Bruce returned to the UK, settling in Boscombe in Dorset in 1967. For a brief period, he and his wife Joan bought and let property but latterly restored antique china, porcelain and furniture, until Joan’s death in 1982 at the age of 60. In retirement, he returned to his hobby of oil painting; he was a very talented painter and produced some fine copies of the old masters.

He was initiated into United Studholme Alliance Lodge No. 1591 in 1979 and in 1986 joined Lodge of Meridian No. 6582 in Dorset, where he was Chaplain of for many years. Bruce was a holder of London Grand Rank and a Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in Dorset. He was exalted into St Aldhelm's Chapter No. 2559 in Dorset in 1996.

Richard Merritt, Provincial Grand Master for Dorset, said: 'Brother Clarke was typical of so many unsung heroes within the Masonic Order. His military career, extreme bravery in the face of the enemy, personal charm and life-long modesty exemplify the principles observed and practised by Freemasons throughout their lives.' 

Members of the oldest Masonic Lodge in Dorset have given £2,000 to help fund local charity Diverse Abilities

The donation was the result of money raised by members of the Lodge of Amity No. 137 in Poole at social events during Martin Barker’s year as Master of the Lodge in 2017. Martin was delighted to nominate Diverse Abilities as his chosen charity for the year.

Diverse Abilities work to enable children and adults with disabilities to achieve their full potential by providing a lifetime of sustainable support and educational services since 1955. Diverse Abilities supports 700 children and adults in the local community, at a cost of £18,000 per day to run the charity.

Mark Powell, Chief Executive of Diverse Abilities, commented: 'We had a lovely surprise when Martin came into the office with a £2,000 donation from the Lodge of Amity.'

Richard Merritt, Provincial Grand Master of Dorset, said: 'As Masons, we believe in playing a key role in our communities and give time and money to charitable ventures regularly; it’s wonderful that the Lodge of Amity have been able to help this local charity.'

There were smiles all round when 400 children were treated to a visit to Derby theatre

Prior to the show, the day was made extra special when the children were entertained by the cast of the Derby Theatre's production of Peter Pan on 4th January 2017.

Provincial Grand Master for Derbyshire Steven Varley, accompanied by members of Derbyshire Freemasons, were also on hand to help, even distributing 400 ice creams to the children, all of whom have special needs and might not otherwise have had a chance to visit the theatre.

The event was organised and funded by Derbyshire Freemasons as part of their commitment to contribute to the community and to offer care and support for those in need.

If smiling happy faces were anything to go by, this day was certainly one to be remembered for the children.

Dorset Freemasons have given over £4,300 to save a historic photo collection at the Dorset History Centre

The Dorset Archive Trust have been trying to save the “Herbert Collection” – thousands of images which show 20th century life in Dorset. When Richard Merritt, Provincial Grand Master of Dorset, heard about the project to save the pictures, he stepped in to help.

The collection is suffering from “Vinegar Syndrome”, an irreversible breakdown of the acetate, which has been destroying the negatives. To save this fascinating insight into the county’s history, the Dorset Archive Trust needed to act quickly.

Dorset Freemasons visited the archives on 20th December 2017 and presented a cheque for £4,370 to allow the charitable foundation to complete the digitisation of all the images. Richard Merritt said: 'We are privileged to provide some extra funding for this project. As Freemasons, we believe in playing a key role in our communities and give time and money to charitable ventures regularly.

'Allowing the photographs to become digitalised will allow them to live on forever for future generations – the benefit is so valuable.'

Sam Johnson, the County Archivist, commented: 'I wanted to thank the Freemasons for the very generous support offered to the Herbert photographic project. The donation has made all the difference and means that we can now finish the job.'

The Herbert Collection is the work of Graham Herbert, a professional Weymouth photographer. He captured many aspects of local life from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Wiltshire Freemasons have donated £5,000 to Swindon Foodbank to help the charity cover their operational expenses

Provincial Grand Master Philip Bullock presented the cheque from the Masonic Charitable Foundation to manager Cher Smith MBE, one of only two paid employees at the central warehouse located in Westlea. 

Every day, seven days a week, the Swindon Foodbank central warehouse is receiving, sorting and despatching food parcels to the seven town-wide outlets for collection by people in real need.

Philip Bullock said: 'It’s such a deserving cause. It helps people who are in need, which is what Freemasons are all about.'

Wiltshire Freemasons have been real supporters of Foodbanks throughout the Province, particularly at Christmas when demand often exceeds available supplies.

This year Philip Bullock and Charity Steward Ian Priest visited the Swindon warehouse where they were shown around the facility which had just received a huge delivery of grocery product.

Cher Smith commented: 'We are very grateful to Wiltshire Freemasons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation for all their help; it wouldn't be wrong to say that £5,000 really will make a huge difference to what we are able to do.'

Salisbury Hospice has a very special place in the hearts of Wiltshire Freemasons which explains why the Hospice receives such tremendous support from many of the Lodges in the county

The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) also provides regular funding to Salisbury Hospice and this year Provincial Grand Master Philip Bullock visited the Hospice to meet Corporate Fundraiser Celia Scott and present a certificate acknowledging an MCF donation of £1,900. 

After presenting the donation, Philip Bullock commented: 'I am delighted to once again be here at Salisbury to not only give the Hospice this donation, but to also thank every member of staff for the incredible work they undertake in making this facility one of the very best in the region.'

Having received the cheque, Celia Scott thanked Philip and the MCF for their continued support and also provided a detailed update on the work of the Hospice and how the donation would help to make a difference.

During recent work on the heating system at the Masonic Hall in Loughborough, the removal of a panel has revealed a plethora of masonic artefacts and memorabilia

The items were found in two locked chests belonging to Howe and Charnwood Lodge No. 1007, in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, and a small metal box, which had belonged to Henry Deane, one of the early members of Howe and Charnwood. How long they had been behind the panel is not known, nor why they were there, but other documents recovered included the Minute Books of Howe and Charnwood Lodge from 1864 to 1979, Attendance Registers to 1965 and early Declaration Books.

Within the items is an early photograph album containing a picture of Earl Howe. There is also a photograph of the Master and officers of the lodge for 1895-96.

RW Bro Richard William Penn, 1st Earl Howe was Provincial Grand Master of the then Leicestershire Province from 1856 and became the first Provincial Grand Master of the combined Province of Leicestershire and Rutland until 1869. He was also the Deputy Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England from 1844 to 1866.

Among the other items discovered are the Grand Lodge certificates of many early brethren, including Charles F. Oliver, who became Provincial Grand Master in 1928. In addition, there is Grand Chapter certificate issued to William Grimes Palmer, who joined the Chapter of Fortitude, No. 348 (now 279), on 27th November 1843.

All the certificates have been professionally scanned and have been housed in the Museum at Freemasons Hall in Leicester. Prints have been made and are being held at Loughborough along with digital copies.

David Sharpe, a member of Howe and Charnwood Lodge No. 1007, commented: 'It seems that a number of these items were sent to Loughborough when it was proposed to set up a museum in the early 1970s. It was felt that as they were Loughborough Masons, they should be kept locally.'

Quarterly Communication

13 December 2017 
RW Bro Geoffrey Dearing to be appointed President of the Board of General Purposes

At today's Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge, the Pro Grand Master, MW Bro Peter Lowndes, announced that the Grand Master has appointed RW Bro Geoffrey Dearing as President of the Board of General Purposes in succession to RW Bro Anthony Wilson.

RW Bro Geoffrey Dearing is the Provincial Grand Master of East Kent.

Published in Speeches

Quarterly Communication

13 December 2017 
Announcement regarding the President of the Board of General Purposes

Brethren,

I now have to announce that, at his request, the President of the Board of General Purposes will retire at the end of December this year.

It is with great regret that I have accepted this, and the Grand Master is pleased to appoint Geoffrey Dearing, PGM of East Kent, as President in his place.

Anthony has been President of the Board for the last 13 years and as President of the Committee of General Purposes for three years before that.

He was instrumental in reducing the Board to a more manageable size and making it more effective, efficient and fit for the purpose. At our Quarterly Communication meetings, he always manages to ensure that the Board’s Report is succinct, yet comprehensive, and his presentations cover all the salient points.

Anthony, we will miss your charm, easy manner of address and your wise counsel. On behalf of the Craft we owe you our most sincere and grateful thanks. Enjoy your retirement.

Pro Grand Master
Peter Lowndes

Published in Speeches
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