Members of three Universities Scheme Lodges meeting in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland - Wyggeston Lodge No.3448, which is the Universities Scheme Lodge for the University of Leicester, Castle of Leicester No.7767 (De Montfort University) and Lodge of Science and Art No.8429 (Loughborough University) - met together for a joint meeting to celebrate the success of the Universities Scheme in the Province together with the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England.
The meeting, which was held at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, on Saturday 25th February 2017 was attended by over 90 brethren who witnessed 3 ceremonies (an Initiation, a Passing and a Raising) with multiple candidates and conducted in turn by each of the lodges.
The Lodges were extremely honoured to welcome the Assistant Grand Master, RW Bro Sir David Wootton, who is President of the Universities Scheme, along with the Scheme Chairman, W Bro Edward Lord. Also attending were the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro James Buckle, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Peter Kinder, brethren representing ten other Scheme Lodges, and with other visitors.
After the Master of Wyggeston Lodge Master, W Bro Yogesh Patel, opened the meeting at 2.30pm, the Master of Castle of Leicester Lodge, W Bro Daniel Hayward, along with members of the lodge conducted a triple Raising. Following a short tea break it was the turn of Lodge of Science and Art to conduct a Passing. Finally, after a further tea break, Wyggeston Lodge conducted an Initiation ceremony for three new members, two of whom are students at the University of Leicester.
The meeting was followed by a wonderful Festive Board, where the lodges enjoyed a hearty three course dinner and the company of the guests and visitors. A raffle held in aid the Alderman Newton’s Educational Foundation, which is a local charity offering financial support to individuals and schools to help people access education or training opportunities in Leicestershire, raised £420. A collection for the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2022 Festival also raised £422 including Gift Aid.
W Bro Andy Green, organiser of the event and Vice-Chairman of the Universities Scheme, said: “Getting the three lodges together provided a wonderful occasion to celebrate the Universities Scheme in the Province and to mark the Tercentenary of Grand Lodge. It was encouraging to see so many younger members enjoying their Freemasonry, which created a real buzz throughout the day.”
Opening evening for the curious
Freemasons from lodges in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland were invited to bring their sons, friends and colleagues who might be interested in finding out more about the ancient fraternity to an open evening at Syston Masonic Hall on the 14th November 2016.
In the past three years, unlike the national trend, membership in the Province has seen a rise – particularly amongst younger masons who are keen to join and to mark the Tercentenary of United Grand Lodge of England in 2017. It is aimed to welcome 300 new members across Leicestershire and Rutland joining the 3,000 strong membership which meet in the 76 lodges across the two counties.
A total of 80 gentlemen accompanied by their hosts packed into the lodge room to listen to a number of short talks on what Freemasonry is, how it developed, why people join and charitable aspects which were given by W Bros Phillip Dodd, Brian Golland and Marc Taylor. Additionally Bro Andrew 'Jock' Keenan introduced the Light Blue Club which is the social club for newer members. It was so well attended that extra chairs had to be brought into the lodge room to accommodate everyone.
The Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro. David Hagger, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Jim Buckle and the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Peter Kinder were also in attendance to support the event and answer any questions from the guests.
After the talks, the guests and their hosts enjoyed a sumptuous buffet and a chance to chat with their hosts about masonry on a more casual basis.
The Provincial Grand Master said: 'We are finding that more and more younger people are attracted to Freemasonry as they seek a social environment with strong values and traditions that also supports the local community in charitable giving.'
He added: 'Whilst we would be delighted if our guests this evening consider joining our fraternity, I trust that they have all left with an extremely positive attitude about the Freemasons.'
Remembering the fallen
For the first time in living memory, Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons attended the annual Remembrance Day service in Leicester in order to pay their respects and to lay a wreath to the fallen.
The Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Peter Kinder together with other Provincial Officers and their wives and partners attended the service at Victoria Park on Sunday 13th November 2016. They joined thousands of military veterans, local civic dignitaries and members of the public.
The service was led by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Martyn Snow. During the service, maroons marked the two-minute silence between 11am and 11.02am.
Wreath-laying was led by the Lord Mayor of Leicester Cllr Stephen Corrall and Deputy Lt Col Richard Hurwood. The Provincial Grand Master was also invited to lay a wreath, on behalf of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, at the war memorial to honour those who lost their lives during active service.
The Provincial Grand Master said: 'During the Great War, we had over 160 brethren serve, of which seven died. In the Second World War, five brethren also lost their lives.'
He continued: 'It was therefore a great honour to lay a wreath on behalf of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons honouring the brethren and all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.'
Royal Arch club formed by Leicestershire and Rutland
Following the success of Craft Freemasonry social groups such as the Light Blue clubs, the Royal Arch Executive in Leicestershire and Rutland has sanctioned the creation of a similar scheme for the Royal Arch. Named after the white breast jewel worn by newly exalted companions, the White Ribbon Club will work alongside the Province’s Light Blue Club for master masons.
The aim is to attract and inspire members and to encourage retention through chapter visits and social events. Grand Superintendent Peter Kinder said, ‘It is hoped the encouragement and recruitment of many new Craft members will equally apply to the Royal Arch membership.’
Nearly £50k of donations distributed in Leicestershire
Representatives from 33 diverse local charities attended Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester on Saturday 27th February 2016 as recipients of awards totalling £43,537 from the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons
Amongst those receiving donations from the kind generosity of the members of the fraternity were:
Heart Link (East Midlands Children's Heart Care Association) received £1,000 to help provide facilities for children with heart defects, their families and providing much needed valuable medical equipment at Glenfield Hospital. Gill Smart, Treasurer of Heart Link, said: 'We are very grateful for this donation which will go towards paying for a latest 4D scanner so that children which a heart defect can have a better quality of life and help the families.'
CHICKS, Country Holidays for Inner City Kids, is a national children's charity providing free respite breaks to disadvantaged children from all over the UK. Kelly Tones, said: 'This money will go towards funding breaks in our new retreat in Derbyshire giving children the opportunity to be involved with activities such as rock climbing and horse riding and let them live their lives and let them be kids again.'
Toys on the Table provides new toys and gifts at the holiday season for those children in Leicester and Leicestershire, regardless of faith, who might otherwise not receive anything. On receiving £1,000 from the Freemasons, Terry Watts, Chairman of the Trustees, said: 'Last Christmas we gave 4,000 children around 8,000 toys. We thank the Freemasons for this donation which will enable us to purchase toys and make certain that no child is left without.'
Melton Community First Responders received a donation of £1,000. It provides voluntary support to the East Midlands Ambulance Service and serves Melton Mowbray, Asfordby and many of the surrounding villages. Peter Scott said: 'On behalf of all of the community of Melton thank you to the Freemasons for their donation. Last year we provided over 19,000 hours on call and attended more than 2,000 patients. As we have been going for 12 years our defibrillators are getting old and therefore this donation will go towards paying for a new defibrillator which will enable us to continue our work.'
The Dove Cottage Day Hospice, which is situated in Stathern, offers palliative day care to those living with advanced progressive life limiting illness received a total donation of £1,000. Chris Gatfield, Registered Manager and Founder of Dove, said: 'Thank you to the Freemasons very much indeed for this wonderful donation. We are a comparatively small hospice started 20 years ago to serve the people in rural communities. We couldn’t do any of this without the support of organisations such as the Freemasons which is very much appreciated.'
Leicestershire and Rutland 4x4 Response, which provides a network of volunteers that are able to respond to situations likely to cause danger to the general public, received a donation of £500. Chairman Simon Dale said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for the donation. Leicestershire and Rutland 4x4 Response are a group of volunteers that help out the emergency services. We are 100% self funded and this money will be used for training our responders.'
Loughborough Group for People with Disabilities received a donation of £500 from the members of Beacon Lodge which meets in Loughborough. Tony Wilkinson from the charity said: 'Thank you so much to the Freemasons for this money. We are very humbled and grateful to receive this donation which will go towards a trip to Lourdes, France and repairs to our minibus.'
Rainbows Children’s Hospice received £3,338 from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. Dana Simons, Appeal Manager at Rainbows said: 'We are now needing over £5 million pounds each and every year to run the hospice to provide one to one care, respite stay, palliative care, symptom control, end of life care and bereavement support. Sadly that need never goes away and we are increasing our services and extending them for cancer patients and new born babies. Thank you to the Freemasons for this donation which we are extremely grateful.'
On behalf of the Westfield Community Development Association, Dave Roberts received a donation of £1,000. He said: 'We have 65 volunteers delivering over 300 hours a week many of which are centred on our elderly, disabled and socially isolated projects. Thank you to the Freemasons for this generous gift which is help support these projects in the the Hinckley and Bosworth area. It really is an important contribution to the work that we do and it is much appreciated.'
Upon receiving a donation of £2,000 Diane Morgan, Director of the Hinckley Homeless Group said: 'We are small charity that runs a hostel, Lawrence House, for homeless young people aged between 16 and 25 in the Hinckley area. We have lost our statutory funding recently and the trustees would like to thank the Freemasons for this generous donation which will go towards providing the cost of the project workers which really are the key to the success of Lawrence House.'
On behalf of Voluntary Action Rutland, Director Lindsay Henshwaw-Dann received a donation of £1,500 from the Enderby Lodge. She said: 'Thank you so much to the Freemasons for this donation which we are so pleased to receive. We have had our funding slashed by half and this money will allow us to complete the furnishing of a new counselling room at our centre in Oakham which will be used by community groups and other charities.'
Rutland Sailability were given £500 from the Beacon Lodge. Chairman of Rutland Sailability Martin Sutcliffe said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for this generous donation and their help. We provide facilities at Rutland Water for people will all varieties of disabilities to enjoy the sport of sailing. This money will go towards training a small group of people representing Team GB at the World Championships in Holland.'
Other charities receiving funds included Lady Gretton, Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire, who received £1,000 on behalf of the Lord-Lieutenant's Award for Young People 2016 which seeks to identify, celebrate and reward the very best examples of achievement by young people in Leicestershire. Upon receiving the donation, Lady Gretton replied ‘We thank the Masons most sincerely for the wonderful support for these awards which recognises young inspirational people in Leicester and Leicestershire for bravery, sport, and volunteering.'
ENRYCH Leicestershire and Derbyshire, based in Coalville, received £1,000. Sonia Lear, Volunteer and Social Event Coordinator, said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for this generous and wonderful donation. Our small charity was formed to support adults with physical disabilities to enjoy leisure and learning activities. This donation will enable us to continue recruiting volunteers that do wonderful work and are the lifeblood of our charity.'
People's Accessible Transport for Harborough (PATH) received a donation of £1,000. Michael Cheeseman, from PATH, said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for this generous donation which will enable PATH to continue to function for a few more years. There is a major shortage of community transport and this funding will support our buses to help mobilise isolated elderly, disabled and vulnerable people in the Market Harborough area.'
A total of £500 was presented to Lutterworth-based Heartsafe by the Head of the Royal Arch Masons Peter Kinder. Heartsafe aims to ensure that every young person passing through secondary education in the County schools is provided with training in Emergency Life Support, including vital cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Dr Doug Skehan said: 'We are run by a group of volunteers who spend time in schools. We have a modest amount of administration costs and therefore are very grateful to the Freemasons for their generous donation.'
David Hagger, the Head of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, concluded the meeting by applauding all the charities and their volunteers who give their time to such good causes: 'I’m proud that the Freemasons have been able to make a major contribution to society by supporting charities particularly those helping many children and young people in the local community.'
White Ribbon Club formed for younger companions
With the success of Craft masonry in forming junior social clubs for members, such as Light Blue clubs, the Royal Arch Provincial Executive in Leicestershire and Rutland has sanctioned the creation of a similar scheme for the Royal Arch, which has been called the White Ribbon Club due to the white ribbons newly Exalted companions wear on their regalia.
The White Ribbon Club was officially launched at the recent Master Masons’ and New Exaltees’ evening held at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester. A number of White Ribbon Club events are already planned for 2016.
The club has been formed for Royal Arch masons within Leicestershire and Rutland, and will also work alongside the Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blue Club for Master Masons who are interested in taking the next regular step and joining the Royal Arch.
The aim of the White Ribbon Club is to promote Royal Arch Freemasonry by raising awareness, encouraging recruitment, retention and the inspiration of members throughout the Province by organising chapter visits and social events as well joining events of the Light Blue Club so that interested Master masons have the opportunity to discuss Royal Arch masonry and ask any questions.
The Grand Superintendent of Leicestershire and Rutland, E Comp Peter Kinder said: 'We were delighted to officially launch our Royal Arch White Ribbon Club at our recent Master Mason and New Exaltees evening in November. The Royal Arch Executive were delighted to approve the idea of forming this new club based on the amazing success of the Craft based Light Blue Club. It is hoped the the encouragement and recruitment of many new Craft members will equally apply to the Royal Arch membership. The new White Ribbon Club will co-exist with the Light Blue Club and we all in the Province of Leicestershire & Rutland are very excited about its future success.'
Comp Dale Page said: 'We are delighted the Royal Arch Executive has given us the opportunity to boost and foster Royal Arch Freemasonry within the Province. Our aim is to stimulate less experienced members of the order as well as encouraging Master Masons to complete their journey in craft masonry by joining the Royal Arch.'
A grand introduction in Ireland
Coming from eight different lodges, members of the Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blue Club, including Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Kinder, visited the Grand Master’s Lodge in Dublin, Ireland. Prior to the meeting, the visitors were treated to a private tour of Freemasons’ Hall by the Grand Tyler of Ireland. The Light Blue Club’s visit (pictured above) took place when the Grand Master of Ireland, Douglas Grey, was attending his own lodge.
The installation ceremony offered a fascinating insight into the differences between the English ritual and that practised in Ireland.
Three Leicestershire lodges were part of a unique joint meeting to celebrate recent UNIVERSITIES' SCHEME successes
Since joining the Universities’ Scheme, over 50 university staff, student and alumni have joined the lodges in just four years.
The Lodge of Science and Art No. 8429 joined in December 2010 and is the scheme lodge for Loughborough University. Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448 is the scheme lodge for the University of Leicester and joined in April 2011, with Castle of Leicester Lodge No. 7767 for De Montfort University joining in October 2012.
Members of the lodges and visitors from across the country gathered in the decorative Holmes Lodge Room at Freemasons' Hall to witness each lodge conducting one of the three ceremonies consisting of candidates from all the lodges.
The acting Master of the Lodge of Science and Art, W Bro Peter Legg, started the day's proceedings with a triple Raising ceremony. Then acting Master of Wyggeston Lodge, W Bro Andy Green, who is also part of the UGLE Universities’ Scheme Committee, conducted a triple Passing ceremony. Castle of Leicester Lodge then conducted a triple Initiation with acting Master, W Bro Paul Wallace taking the Chair.
The lodges were pleased to welcome the Deputy Chairman of the Universities' Scheme, W Bro Daniel Johnson, who said it was 'a marvellous day' and that the Province were seen as huge supporters of the scheme.
The members of the three lodges enjoyed a special celebration Festive Board after the meeting and raised £300 for the Alderman Newton’s Educational Foundation, a local charity that offers financial support to individuals and schools to help people access education or training opportunities in Leicestershire.
The entire meeting went extremely well and clearly demonstrated the very good heart of the three Universities’ Scheme Lodges within the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland.
VW Bro Peter Kinder, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, who has overseen the development of the scheme within the Province said: 'We are delighted with the amazing response we have had to this new scheme. Freemasonry has recently proved to be very popular amongst younger men, particularly students and this resurgence of renewed interest into our historic fraternity, which is 300 years old in 2017, has led to lodges, such as the three University Lodges, having to hold extra meetings to cope with demand. The Masonic code of moral behaviour, charitable giving, especially to non-masonic charities, and honesty, really appeals to many young men, even in this modern day and age.'
W Bro Daniel Hayward, UGLE Regional Co-ordinator for the scheme who also took part in the ceremonies, said of the meeting: 'It has been a wonderful day celebrating the success of the scheme with so many friends. We look forward to welcoming many more young men who are looking to better themselves as people and assist a wide variety of charities by becoming members of our fraternal society.'
The first degrees
Through the Universities Scheme, Freemasonry is reaching a young, community-minded generation. Sophie Radice finds out what attracted five university recruits to Leicester’s Wyggeston Lodge
University is a place that encourages self-expression and personal discovery. Surely not a time when you would consider joining Freemasonry, with all its traditions and structures? Dr Andy Green of Wyggeston Lodge, No. 3448, disagrees: ‘Freemasonry is a sociable and supportive fraternity. This works very well with those just starting out on their adult lives and looking to meet a range of people with a solid moral code – it’s also a lot of fun.’
The first university lodge, Apollo University Lodge, No. 357, was founded at Oxford almost two hundred years ago, with Isaac Newton University Lodge, No. 859, following some years later at Cambridge. Since then, many thousands of young men have been introduced to Freemasonry through these two lodges, and they provided the inspiration for the Universities Scheme. Set up in 2005, the scheme establishes opportunities for undergraduates and other university members to learn about Freemasonry and to bring fresh minds and ideas into the organisation. There are now more than fifty lodges pursuing a similar course. Their membership consists of undergraduates, postgraduates, senior members of the university and alumni, ranging in age from eighteen upwards.
Wyggeston Lodge in Leicester joined the Universities Scheme in 2011 to try to revive membership numbers – in the 1950s the lodge had one hundred and twenty members and in 2010 it had dwindled to thirty-two. In the past few years, however, the lodge has initiated twelve students. Last summer, four students from the University of Leicester were part of a special meeting of the lodge, when it carried out its first ever quadruple initiation ceremony. This saw Valentin-George Tartacuta, Yusif Nelson, Peter Clarke and Peter Shandley joining the Craft.
‘It’s very exciting to see the lodge filling up with the younger generation, all of whom seem to have great ideas about the future of the lodge and what might make Freemasonry more attractive to their age group,’ says Andy, Universities Scheme Subcommitee Chairman at Wyggeston. ‘We have already made good use of social networking sites – we have a strong Facebook and Twitter presence, as well as a website with film clips of our new members talking about why they joined, and a blog. I realised that it was essential to be able to contact and attract young members through these forums. It has made the lodge communications more dynamic, because we have all had to up our game in a way.’
Provincial Assistant Grand Master Peter Kinder, who is also the Provincial Universities Scheme Liaison Officer, says: ‘We are very lucky in this area with potential next-generation Freemasons because we have three very good universities – Loughborough (with the Lodge of Science & Art), De Montfort (with Castle of Leicester Lodge) and Leicester itself. When we first went to the University of Leicester freshers’ fair three years ago, we were really surprised at the interest. So many people wanted to talk to us and asked us to explain what we were doing there. We spoke about the history of Freemasonry and if they seemed interested, we suggested that they came and had a tour of the lodge.’
Peter recalls how, at the end of the freshers’ day, the floor was filled with flyers. ‘But you couldn’t see any of the Freemasonry ones chucked away. I suppose we were a little bit more unusual than the pizza and taxi firms. We gave out seven hundred leaflets that first year and one thousand this year. We seem to be going from strength to strength.’
Learning the ropes
Peter Clarke is in his third year studying history and knew very little about the Freemasons when he came across the stand at the freshers’ fair. ‘It took me a year to think about it and by the time my second freshers’ came up, I had done a bit of research and found out about the history of the Freemasons. I thought it would be something a bit different to join and take me out of my normal social circles. I like the feeling of being part of something bigger and, as a history student, I was fascinated by tracing back the roots of Freemasonry.’
‘It’s very exciting to see the lodge filling up with the younger generation, all of whom seem to have great ideas about the future of the lodge.’ Dr Andy Green Business and finance student Jeff Zhu also came across Freemasonry for the first time at a freshers’ fair. ‘It was my second year at university; I had just split up with my girlfriend and was feeling a bit down, so I went to the freshers’ day. I come from China and I have to say that I liked the historical look of the Freemasons’ stall, but I had never heard of them before.
Many Chinese students just stick together but I really wanted the chance to branch out. I also like the values of integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness. It fits in with the way I want to live my life.’ Peter Shandley, who reads law and has just finished a year studying in Germany, was taken aback when he made his first visit to Wyggeston Lodge, which holds its meeting in Leicester’s Freemasons’ Hall – a Georgian building with stunning interiors. ‘From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but when I came inside and saw the main hall I was really interested in the heritage. e hall was built in 1910, when this area was really booming from the textile trade, and is one of the most impressive in the country. I feel really privileged to have been initiated into this lodge because it is such a distinguished one. I have so enjoyed my experience here that I have brought someone else into the lodge. He was initiated in December.’
‘I like the feeling of being part of something bigger and, as a history student, I was fascinated by tracing back the roots of Freemasonry.’ Peter Clarke
While initially surprised by the decision to join, friends of university lodge members have been receptive to hearing about the general ethos of Freemasonry. Andrew Slater, who is in his third year reading medical biochemistry, says that he was attracted by the international aspect of Freemasonry and the fact that ‘pretty much anywhere you end up in the world you could find a Freemasons’ lodge and be welcomed there’. He also goes to other lodges in the UK and enjoys being part of the events that they hold. ‘It’s a good feeling to know you have people who will welcome you everywhere.’
For Andrew, joining a brotherhood that brings him together with new people is important. ‘Andy Green is so great at promoting the values of decency, charity and brotherhood that it is hard not to be enthused by him. there is also the feeling that as well as having a great deal to teach us, the Freemasons here are very receptive to what we have to say about the way forward to keep membership alive. I have also become friends with students from different departments that I would never have met if I hadn’t become a Freemason.’
Alex Pohl is twenty-two and has enjoyed acting in the ceremonies. ‘I’m often nervous and things never go exactly to plan but it really helps with a sense of belonging and fraternity.
I am really committed to the Freemasons – it is a lifetime thing – and I joined because I knew about the huge amount Freemasons do for charity. I also really like the modesty behind the charitable giving. It’s not something that the Freemasons make a big deal of but so much of what we are about is the desire to help others as much as we can. I really respect that, and I am excited about being a part of a new generation of Freemasons.’
‘As well as having a great deal to teach us, the Freemasons here are very receptive to what we have to say about the way forward to keep membership alive.’ Andrew Slater
How Cheshire Masons exhibited at the Royal Horticultural Society's flower show at Tatton Park is explained by David Heathcote
Between 19 and 23 July the Royal Horticultural Society Flower Show was held at Tatton Park, Cheshire – the ancestral home of two past Provincial Grand Masters of Cheshire – Earl Egerton of Tatton and the 3rd Lord Egerton.
With the anticipation of some 250,000 visitors to the multitude of gardens and flower exhibits, the show was set to be a resounding success.
Nothing new in that you say, with the exception that, in 2006, the Freemasons of Cheshire had designed, built and exhibited a garden entitled The Spirit of Freemasonry.
Why a garden? The idea came from attempts to communicate with the media in new ways – in this instance the project was to by-pass the media and go direct to our audience – the public.
Cheshire has created a special projects group, led by Harry Wright, whose aim is to undertake two major projects each year to deliver the Provincial objective of: Dispelling the myths and informing visitors of our work in the community.
It was this small team who set out to change the way in which the Province communicates with the public and in doing so … be friendly, open and honest about Freemasonry – not to attempt to increase membership directly, merely to offer opportunities for improving the understanding of our organisation and to ensure that visitors are left with a favourable opinion of the Craft.
The architect and designer of the garden, Peter Kinder, considered his brief carefully, and his description moved many members of the Province and the 80,000 members of the public who visited. Peter outlined the garden as follows:
The garden depicts the journey of man, from a rough stone to perfection, whilst travelling a path of good and evil, joy and sadness, right and wrong.
The good and evil of the world we live in is represented by a black and white tiled path, which passes alongside an ever-present danger of water, contrasted with verdant pasture representing peace.
The journey carries on until the traveller reaches his final resting place, a triangular seat symbolising the three basic principles of the organisation, namely faith, hope and charity.
The garden’s sundial, with square and compasses – the universal symbol of Freemasonry – depicts the passage of time, over which we have no control.
The Province produced a series of leaflets to support the event including one which explained the horticultural aspects as they related to Freemasonry. A leaflet entitled What’s the big Secret? … It’s no Secret targeted those who may have wanted to know more about Freemasonry.
The Grand Charity series of leaflets including the Tsunami and hospice grants, to name but two, dealt with charitable work. Almost 50,000 leaflets were distributed to members of the public, who without exception welcomed this new approach by Freemasons to communicate with the community.
What impressed so many of the visitors was that, unlike so many of the other display gardens at the show, which were to be sold or broken up, the Cheshire garden was given as a charitable donation to the Hospice of the Good Shepherd near Chester.
Indeed, one lady, when visiting the garden, said “What a lovely garden. This will be a lasting tribute for others to enjoy. I am delighted that it is going to a hospice. I visit this hospice and will certainly look out for it next time I visit”.
In addition to the garden, the Province had a display in the Arts and Garden Design Marquee which equally attracted a large number of visitors. The stand, which depicted a snapshot of a Lodge room with an ancient Master’s chair (courtesy of the Lodge of Unanimity No. 89), provided a glimpse of many rare and important artefacts, including the Provincial Sword, Provincial banner and Provincial Grand Master’s personal standard.
Supporting information told of famous Cheshire Freemasons, charity work and the teddy bear project operated in many Provinces across the English constitution – TLC. The Provincial Grand Master Timothy Richards got in on the act when visiting both the garden and stand on one of the build up days. In his own words, as the Grand Master Overseer of Mark Master Masons, he said: “This is fair work and square and such as we have agreed” – praise indeed!
The garden not only attracted the public, but many Masons from far and wide. Almost every Province and many overseas jurisdictions were represented, with several Masons accidentally stumbling across the garden and stand, clearly delighted at what they found.
Other members of the Cheshire Special Projects team for this initiative included David Heathcote, Eric McConnell and David Thomson, assisted by the Provincial Grand Secretary, Peter Carroll, and the office team, together with many brethren from the Province as volunteers.
David Heathcote is Media and Public Relations Officer for the Province of Cheshire