Grants for flood-hit regions

The Freemasons’ Grand Charity donated £25,000 to the Cumbria Flood Recovery Appeal 2015 on direction from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cumberland and Westmorland. The grant will support those who suffered financial hardship as well as wider community relief and rebuilding projects. 

An additional £5,000 was donated directly to the Provincial Grand Master Benevolence Fund. This will go towards helping Freemasons and others affected by flooding in the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland. 

Published in The Grand Charity

£30,000 given to support those affected by Cumbria floods

The Freemasons' Grand Charity has donated £25,000 to the Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund 2015. The emergency grant will support individuals and families who suffer financial hardship as a result of flooding, as well as wider community relief and rebuilding projects. A further £5,000 has also been donated directly to the Provincial Grand Master Benevolence Fund. This will go towards helping masons and non-masons affected by the flooding in the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland.

Deputy Provincial Grand Master Keith Young said: 'This is an example of Freemasonry working in, and within, the community.

'The adverse weather in Cumbria has plunged individuals and families into particularly horrendous circumstances. It’s important that we do what we can to support these communities and minimise any potentially long term devastating effects.'

If individual Freemasons are affected by the recent events, an application for a Masonic Relief Grant can be made through their Provincial Grand Almoner. However, it should be remembered that the normal financial assessment will apply to such applications.

Published in The Grand Charity
Wednesday, 23 September 2015 11:41

Hospitality with a capital ‘H’ in Isle of Man

Hospitality with a capital ‘H’ started for the 46 visiting brethren from six Provinces (some of whom had their wives and partners with them), when they were picked up at the airport or ferry office and driven to their respective hotels where a welcome pack was waiting for them

The pack contained a welcome letter from Keith Dalrymple the Provincial Grand Master for the Isle of Man, which gave details of the plan for the ladies to go to Milntown House for a tour of the beautiful walled garden, followed by a buffet supper, while the brethren attended the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting.

Details were also given about the church service at St George’s Church on Sunday afternoon, followed by afternoon tea at Freemasons' Hall in Douglas. All of which had timings for the minibuses to pick up and drop off everyone at the venues and return to their hotels!

After settling in to their hotel Fred Wright, Mark Holloway, Tony (APrGM) and Linda Bent were picked up by two long-time friends of Fred’s: Alan Fielding and Hughie McCallon to go for lunch. After lunch they returned to their hotel to get ready for PrGL and the trip to Milntown House.

Provincial Grand Lodge was tyled and the parade consisting of a number of Provincial Grand Masters and their deputies and APrGMs from surrounding Provinces on the adjacent isle. (Not the mainland as any Manx man will tell you). On opening Provincial Grand Lodge, Keith thanked all the visiting brethren and asked each of the Provincial Grand Masters to stand with their officers and brethren. After everyone had been introduced, the brethren from the Isle of Man showed their appreciation of those attending the meeting with acclamation.

Keith then invited Fred Wright to stand as he said he and the brethren in the Isle of Man very much appreciated all the care and attention Fred has given to the brethren and their wives or partners on the island over many years when they need to come across for cancer treatment at Clatterbridge Hospital and heart treatment at Broadgreen Hospital. The Provincial Grand Almoner of the Isle of Man Laurie Henley readily contacts Fred when one of the brethren or wife or partner is due over for treatment and Fred is the welcoming smile that is always there to greet them and attend to the needs of the patient and his or her spouse in making sure that they are transported to and from hospital and if necessary to find accommodation. The brethren clearly agreed as they responded with prolonged acclamation.

After the investiture of his officers, Keith went on to appoint and promote the brethren and it was a delight to see them receive their honours.

The next day the visitors were invited by Alan Fielding to join him for a tour of the island and a private tour of the Manx Parliament by Alex Downey, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of the IOM and past member of the House of Keys.

The Tynwald is the oldest parliament in the world. The Manx Parliament, which meets regularly throughout the year, but most notably outdoors at St John's on 5 July, is a direct legacy from our Viking ancestors. Norsemen first came to Mann around the year 800 AD and ruled the island for four-and-a-half centuries before finally ceding it to the King of Scotland in 1266. By then they had firmly imposed their own administrative system, which continued even while the island's ownership passed between Scotland and England, to the Stanley family of Lancashire (Lords of Mann from 1405-1736) and to their kin the Dukes of Atholl, who held it until it was revested in the British Crown in 1765. King George VI was the first British Sovereign ever to preside at St John’s in July 1945 and Her Majesty The Queen is acknowledged as Lord of Mann, she presided in 1979 when the Millennium of Tynwald was celebrated.

After the tour, Alan took brethren from West Lancashire, Cumberland and Westmorland to Peel, a harbour town in the south of the IOM where they enjoyed eating ice creams on the pier and having a jolly good laugh, then it was back to the hotels for a quick change before being picked up by one of the minibuses driven by Alan Fielding and Martin Blackburn (PrGSecretary) to go the Keith’s house where his wife Hillary had prepared a wonderful buffet for the visitors, Hospitality with a capital ‘H’.

The following morning offered time for the visitors to enjoy a walk along the sea front before attending the church service, followed by afternoon tea at Freemasons Hall in Douglas.

For some, this was the time to say farewell and thank you to Keith and Hillary and the brethren on the Isle of Man for their Hospitality with a capital ‘H’.

250 Years of union

Union Lodge No. 129, which meets at the Masonic Hall, Station Road in Kendal, was 250 years old on the 31st July 2014

Records can trace their history back to when the lodge was formed and constituted on 31st July 1764. Last Thursday the lodge's current members and guests held a day of celebration to mark their 250 birthday. Union Lodge is the oldest surviving lodge in the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland which has approximately 3000 members across 80 lodges who meet in every town within the pre-1974 county boundaries. 

To mark this special occasion, today’s Union lodge members organised a special meeting at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal, followed by a banquet at the Castle Green Hotel. To start the celebrations, 40 lodge members and guests including the Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Norman James Thompson DL, gathered at the Black Swan public house, Allhallows Lane in Kendal, the original building where the Lodge was formed and first met. The W. Master of Union Lodge presented the current landlady of the Black Swan with a manuscript to mark their 250 year association. 

The lodge holds records which show that in 1762 eight 'worthy gentlemen' met at the Black Swan at the top of Allhallows Lane in Kendal and discussed the possibility of forming a Masonic lodge, their professions are not recorded but their names were: Thomas Swainson, his brother Gerrard Swainson, James Bellingham, Edmund Ridley, James Fell, Mathew Holme, John Tattersall and Thomas Foster, they originally named their lodge 'Swan Lodge', to be able to form a lodge they needed to communicate with the United Grand Lodge of Freemasons in London, which in those days during the Reign of George III was by either by stagecoach or pack horse.

They eventually received a reply from London which informed them that a Richard Webster of lodge No. 243 in Barnard Castle was to officiate at the forming of 'Swan Lodge' on 31st July 1764. At that meeting Thomas Swainson was appointed Master of the lodge, he in turn appointed his officers and the lodge by-laws were formulated, a joining fee of One Pound One Shilling was set, fines were also set 'for swearing, sixpence', 'tuppence' for being late for a meeting and for not attending 3 meetings the penalty was exclusion.

During 250 years, the lodge has met at 12 different public houses in the town and also at number 12 Kent Street, Albert Buildings, and 111 years at Blackhall Croft, adjacent to Saint Georges Hall, 5 years at Windermere and since 1996 at its current home at the Masonic Hall, Station Road in Kendal.

Union Lodge has over the years been responsible for sponsoring 10 new lodges, Underley Lodge in Kirkby Lonsdale was formed in 1865, Whitwell Lodge in Millom in 1872, Windermere Lodge in 1887, Ambleside Lodge in 1888, Eversley Lodge, Kendal in 1921, Trinity Lodge in 1948, Westmorland Lodge of Installed Masters in 1951 Brigantes Lodge, Kendal and Lakeland Lodge who meet in London both in 2001 and Kendalian Lodge in 2002; a very busy and successful lodge who’s survival for 250 years in the town of Kendal is a huge achievement and shows the commitment and dedication of the lodge’s members in Kendal over the years. 

The meeting at the Brewery Arts Centre was attended by roughly 200 brethren from across this and other Provinces, special guest of honour was RW Bro George Pipon Francis, Past Senior Grand Warden, The RW Provincial Grand Master Bro Norman James Thompson, the Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Warwickshire, RW Bro David Macey and other distinguished brethren. 

The brethren of Union Lodge entered the Brewery Theatre in procession and proceeded to open the lodge, The Provincial Grand Master and the officers of Provincial Grand Lodge then entered in procession, the gavel of the lodge was offered by the Worshipful Master to RW Bro Thompson who returned the gavel but hoped he would be offered it later as he had some business to carry out. The representative of United Grand Lodge RW Bro Francis then entered the lodge with an escort of Grand Officers.

The WM Bro C.P. Newhouse asked that the minutes of the consecration meeting held on the 31st July 1764 be read by the Provincial Secretary, W Bro W Douthwaite, who also read in great detail the lodge Warrant and all present stood in respect while the names of the Founders of Union Lodge were read.

W Bro Richard Parker PJGD gave a lecture on the history of Union Lodge 129 which included details of the preparations to consecrate the lodge, its by-laws including the fines for various breaches of those by-laws by the brethren and the contribution Union Lodge has made to local Freemasonry by the sponsorship of 10 daughter lodges. 

The lodge is also the proud custodians of a set of 1772 tracing cloths which have been authenticated by Grand Lodge Library and museum as being the oldest in existence.

Bro Newhouse then invited the RW Provincial Grand Master to take the lodge gavel, which he was pleased to accept, he spoke of the dedication of Union Lodge brethren over the years and his own experience as a young mason making his first ever visit to a lodge, Union Lodge in fact and the pleasure he had felt in his frequent visits over many subsequent years.

Before retiring from the chair, the Provincial Grand Master instructed the Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies to present W Bro David Poole OBE and W Bro Bill Kerr to him, The Provincial Grand Master thanked W Bros Poole and Kerr for all their hard work in planning and executing today’s celebratory meeting and to the applause of the assembled brethren appointed them both to the rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden with immediate effect.

The WM was invited to return to his rightful place and the meeting was closed just after 3 pm, the Union Lodge brethren and their guests were then bussed to the Castle Green Hotel for the celebration banquet.

All present enjoyed an excellent meal at The Castle Green Hotel, RW Bro George Pipon Francis congratulated Union Lodge for achieving their 250th year in existence and the Worshipful Master and brethren for the way they had conducted the day’s celebrations, and he presented the lodge with a gift from The United Grand Lodge of England to mark the occasion.

VW Bro Keith Young PGSwdB, Deputy Provincial Grand Master proposed the toast to Union Lodge No. 129, his mother lodge, he thanked W Bros Poole and Kerr who had been the driving force behind today’s celebrations for their dedication in bringing the day to fruition. VW Bro Young also informed the brethren that today had been subsidised by a legacy left to the lodge by W Bro Raymond Poole, he had left the lodge a sum of money to be used for the benefit of the lodge, and he felt sure that benefit had been achieved in an excellent day of celebration for Union Lodge. 

Thursday, 07 March 2013 00:00

Socking it to the Wigton chapter

The special Bicentennial Convocation of the Chapter of St John, No. 327, which meets at Wigton, Province of Cumberland and Westmorland, was attended by the Second Grand Principal, George Francis, and a deputation from the Supreme Grand Chapter in celebration of its 200th year.

Bob Aird gave a brief history of the chapter’s origins in the town as well as a flavour of the local industry and notable people of the time, John Hamill read the bicentenary charter, and Third Provincial Grand Principal, the Reverend Robert Roeschlaub, gave an oration.

At the Festive Board, George Francis had special gifts for Grand Superintendent Norman Thompson and the Principals of the Chapter. The Second Grand Principal is renowned for wearing red socks to chapter convocations and so presented the Grand Superintendent and Principals with their own stylish pairs.

The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria, James Cropper, were welcomed by Norman Thompson, Provincial Grand Master for Cumberland and Westmorland, and the Provincial Executive at Carlisle Masonic Hall.

The Duke met the Royal Arch Executive and the three most recent recruits to Freemasonry in the Province. He then lunched with members of 15 local charities that have benefitted from masonic support over the past year. These included Cumbria Teddies for Loving Care, Haverigg and Silloth RNLI, the RMBI Scarbrough Court, Chrysalis in Wigton and The Outward Bound Trust.

Cycling from south to north

Campaigning for charity can be exhausting, as Robert Crawford discovered when he spent 65 hours in the saddle to complete the 908-mile Land’s End to John O’Groats cycle ride for the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland 2016 RMBI Festival. Travelling the entire length of Great Britain, at an average speed of 14 miles per hour, Robert, of Trinity Lodge, No. 6730, raised the magnificent sum of £1,700. A keen runner on the fells, he presented a cheque to both the Kendal Mountain Rescue team and the festival.

Grand Charity goes outward bound

The Outward Bound Trust has received a grant of £30,000 from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity which, since 1985, has donated over £250,000 in total. The grant helps fund bursaries that will enable disadvantaged young people to go on three-week outdoor learning programmes. Nearly 25,000 youngsters took part in these activity courses during 2011, and more than 69 per cent were bursary funded.

Mike Clementson, Cumberland & Westmorland Provincial Information Officer, said: ‘Providing support to disadvantaged youths is at the heart of the grant-making funded by the Grand Charity. The masonic community, both locally and nationally, recognises the importance in supporting young people today and we are therefore delighted to be able to show our support for Outward Bound once again.’

Nick Barrett, Outward Bound Trust chief executive, added: ‘We are delighted to have Freemasons’ continued support. This kind of donation enables us to provide crucial bursary support to hundreds more young people each year.’

Published in The Grand Charity
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 00:00

Boxing for charity

A successful sporting evening at Carlisle was organised by the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland, Kendal Amateur Boxing Club and Custodes Copiae Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards

The boxing spectacular, now in its second year, raised £13,400 for masonic and non-masonic charities during an evening involving amateur boxers of all ages from clubs across the county, with The Edinburgh Woollen Mill as principle sponsor.

Meanwhile, the Furness & South Lakeland Group in conjunction with Kendal Boxing Club held one of its best boxing nights in 26 years for both masonic and non-masonic charities. The event at the Cumbria Grand Hotel in Grange appealed to boxing enthusiasts and the local business fraternity alike. More than 220 guests watched 10 entertaining rounds of fights. Female boxers were on the bill for the first time, with the event catching the interest of the local paper. More than £6,000 was raised through sponsorship, ticket sales, raffles and an auction which included a Toyota jacket signed by ex-Formula One driver Ralph Schumacher, younger brother of seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012 00:00

One Mason and his hearing dogs

John Broster’s early life was to have a profound effect on his life: at the age of three he caught diphtheria and has been deaf ever since.

John managed to adjust to his disability and attended Hutton Grammar School and Liverpool University. He then trained as a chartered accountant and after qualifying worked for a firm of accountants in Preston. In 1968 he married Mary, who was a teacher, and they have lived in the same house in Preston ever since. Soon after they married, John started his own accountancy business.

John was initiated into Freemasonry in 1970 in the Lodge of Unanimity No.113 in the Province of West Lancashire.  He served as Worshipful Master in 1982 and Treasurer from 1987 to 1992, and received his first Provincial appointment of Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon in 1992.  In 2001 he was promoted to Past Provincial Deputy Grand Superintendent of Works and in November he will receive a further promotion to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden.

He is also a member of Uter Pendragon Lodge No.3481 in the Province of Cumberland and Westmoreland, which is close to their holiday home.

In the Royal Arch, he was exalted into Unanimity Chapter No.113 in 1983, becaming First Principal in 1992, and appointed Treasurer in 1994 - a post he still holds today. In 1996 he was appointed to Past Provincial Assistant Grand Sojourner, and was promoted to Past Provincial Grand Scribe N in 2003.

In 1996 whilst on holiday in Devon, Mary noticed a market stall which was selling goods for the charity, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, and exchanged addresses with Mrs Guymer who was running the stall.

A few months later their pet dog Robbie sadly died. Having taken some details about the charity John applied for a dog. Following an interview he was accepted and in January 1997 John spent a week with ‘Coppers’ at the charity's northern training centre.

Whilst John was training, Mary researched the charity and was surprised to discover that Hearing Dogs for Deaf People had benefited considerably from a grant from United Grand Lodge of England, which had provided funding to buy and build their first training centre plus a working balance for the first 18 months of being formed.

Coppers had already had intensive sound training and been ‘puppy socialised’ at weekends by Ian Frinthian Franks, who was coincidentally at that time preparing to go into the chair of Lodge of St Germain No.566 in the Province of Yorkshire North and East Riding.  Coppers had become increasingly familiar with masonic ritual during long walks with Ian!

The charity said they were delighted they were able to place Coppers with John, as Coppers was the first ‘Hearing dog’ to be placed with a Freemason. Having spoken to staff at Freemasons Hall in London the charity asked John “to go out and reach as many Freemasons as possible to thank them and show them how well the money donated by UGLE had been spent.” John and Mary were pleased to do this and they immediately started to tell people how they had been given Coppers who quickly carved out a Masonic role for himself!

Coppers quickly became John’s most valuable hearing aid and constant companion. Since he was already a Master Mason it was only natural that Coppers should accompany John to the Lodge of Unanimity, and the first time Coppers attended the lodge it was recorded in the minutes.  Coppers quickly became familiar with the ritual, enjoyed walking in procession, knew when to sit and stand and was known to give a prompt to others in the lodge! 

In February 1997 Coppers had his first studio photograph taken, which appeared in Freemasonry Today and is also displayed at Preston Masonic Hall.  His television debut came in December 1999 when John was interviewed about Freemasonry for the deaf by BBC2 ‘See hear’.

In July 2000 when John went to London to receive a certificate from another masonic order, Coppers also received his own certificate, proclaiming him ‘Illustrious Bro Coppers 30th Degree’. John later that day visited Freemasons Hall and was photographed with Coppers in Grand Lodge.

In August 2001, Coppers was featured by Grand Lodge on their website and he was awarded the 'rank' of 'Masonic Hearing Dog of United Grand Lodge'.

The idea of Coppers wearing a coat had been that of John Hamill (UGLE's Director of Special Projects). UGLE enlisted the help of Mary, who was sworn to secrecy and asked to obtain permission from the charity, supply the paper pattern and liaise with the Craft and Regalia Department at Freemasons Hall. John Hamill had the coat designed and arranged for it to be crafted to the template Mary had supplied. When it arrived by post it was a complete surprise for John and Coppers.

In September 2001, Coppers was photographed in full regalia with John in the George Bath Suite at Preston Masonic Hall. The photographs were displayed in Preston Masonic Hall, Freemasons Hall and the Hearing Dogs Centre in Buckinghamshire. Coppers was also featured in the first issue of ‘The West Lancashire Freemason’.

Coppers accompanied John to Provincial Grand Lodge in 2001 when he was promoted to the rank of Past Provincial Deputy Grand Superintendent of Works and again in April 2003 when John was promoted to the rank of Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in Provincial Grand Chapter.

Coppers continued to work hard in the home, with his sound work. He was also an ambassador of the Hearing Dogs charity and accompanied John and Mary when she gave many talks about Coppers and the charitable side of Freemasonry. Their talks and PR work have reached a wide cross section of the public in an area of a 100 miles or so radius of Preston and considerably large sums of money have been sent to Hearing Dogs as a result of their work.

In 2004 Coppers was given an award for working over and above the call of duty. He alerted John when Mary needed help one night as she had collapsed and thus saved her life. He gradually worked for both John and Mary when Mary developed mobility and health problems.

The extraordinary and unique Masonic life of Coppers came to an end in July 2008. The end was quick and unexpected. At 13 years old Coppers had refused to retire. John said he was a perfectionist and most professional in all his work. In partnership with John he achieved a great deal for Freemasonry in the wide community portraying the charitable aspect.

In November 2009 a new hearing dog ‘Hayden’ was placed with John. Hayden was a beautiful six years old black Labrador who is very lovable, friendly and always wags his tail when spoken to and praised.

John says Hayden has had a difficult act to follow. As it was impossible to replace Coppers, a dog with a completely different disposition was requested, bearing in mind the role he would be expected to follow.

Hayden like Coppers before him alerts John to the door bell, telephone and wakes him up in the morning when the alarm goes off. Mary say’s the most valuable job he does is to find John wherever he is in the house and tell him Mary wants him!

John says Hayden has different strengths and so he is being allowed to carve out his own role and not emulate Coppers.

In order to mark the Bi-centenary of the Lodge of Unanimity a new Masonic coat was made for Hayden by Denise Croasdale at DMC Regalia in Preston who crafted it personally for him. Hayden is proud to wear it and grows in stature when on parade in the lodge.

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