Celebrating 300 years

Wiltshire Grand Superintendent David Blanchard has received strong backing for the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal in support of the Royal College of Surgeons, improved by a further £500 donated at the First Principals Chapter.

There were presentations by a number of college representatives, including head of research Martyn Coomer; Priyan Landham, who specialises in orthopaedic (trauma) surgery; and Nishith Patel, a heart surgeon who is researching kidney failure after cardiac surgery.

While much is known about the endeavours of the Dambusters, Squadron Leader Jerry Fray’s more covert role of photographing the resulting destruction is far less familiar

Almost seventy years ago, the Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron or ‘Dambusters’ used a specially developed bouncing bomb to attack the dams that supplied hydro-electric generated power to Germany’s industrialised Ruhr valley. The aim was to bring the German military to a halt by denying power to the factories that would build the machines and ammunition required for Adolf Hitler’s war.

Operation Chastise was carried out on 16-17 May 1943 and its success is the stuff of legends. Barnes Wallis’ spectacular feat of engineering allowed a bomb to bounce across water until it struck its target, before sinking to explode underwater. The Möhne and Edersee dams were breached, causing catastrophic flooding of the Ruhr valley and the Eder valley.

Iconic photographs showing Germany’s submerged industrial heartland quickly found their way onto the front pages of British newspapers. The images were taken during a lone flight in an unarmed plane on 17 May by Frank Gerald Fray – or ‘Jerry’ as his friends called him. A flying officer in the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit, Jerry had flown in a specially adapted sky-blue camouflaged Spitfire to capture the devastation wreaked by the Dambusters’ raid.

Flying determination

Jerry’s identity was only revealed in 2001 by the RAF and brought to the public’s attention through an interview in The Sunday Telegraph in the same year. ‘I could see the industrial haze over the Ruhr area and what appeared to be a cloud to the east. On flying closer I saw that what had seemed to be cloud was the sun shining on the floodwater,’ said Jerry. ‘I looked down into the deep valley which had seemed so peaceful three days before, but now it was a wide torrent.’

With his photographs proving to be a massive morale boost to the British public, Jerry had written himself into the history books. Born in Bristol, and the eldest of three children, he was educated at the City of London Freemen’s School in Ashtead, Surrey. With war imminent in 1938, Jerry’s parents were not enthusiastic about his desire to become a pilot so he volunteered for the army and joined the Royal Engineers. Shortly after the outbreak of war, he was sent to France and attached to the No. 4 Squadron at Mons en Chaussée. Evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940, Jerry was transferred to the RAF for pilot training shortly afterwards. His early flying training was at the No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School in Brough, followed by advanced training at the No. 9 Service Flying Training School in Hullavington, where he gained his pilot wings and was commissioned into the RAF in January 1942.

Medals and masonry

Electing for special duties, Jerry undertook specialist navigation training before flying unarmed Spitfires at RAF Benson. With his photography of the Möhne dam immortalising the exploits of the Dambusters, Jerry was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and later the Belgian Order of Leopold and Belgian Croix de Guerre (with palm) for photographic work to help the Belgian resistance.

After two successful operating tours, and with the war ending, Jerry was posted to India to command the No. 34 Squadron at Palam, Delhi. After the partition of India he joined No. 80 Squadron in Germany, still flying Spitfires, but in a tactical role. Then followed a period as a regular officer with No. 613 (City of Manchester) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force, and two and a half years in Greece with the RAF Mission. Twelve months at the Staff College at RAF Bracknell preceded various staff appointments at Fighter Command and RAF HQ in Germany.

In 1963, Jerry took early retirement and for several years was involved in management training with the British Productivity Council in London. It was at this time that he began his masonic career. By all accounts an enthusiastic Freemason, Jerry was initiated into the Daedalus Lodge, No. 3843, in 1963. He joined the Pegasus Lodge, No. 5637, in 1965, where he was installed as the Worshipful Master in 1979. Jerry finally retired to Somerset in 1981. Becoming Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1985, he was appointed London Grand Rank in 1990 before being promoted to Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 1991 and to Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer in 1999.

Just two years after his interview had been published, Squadron Leader Jerry Fray died on 26 June 2003. He had lived long enough to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Dambusters and his remarkable flight over the Ruhr valley. Ten years later, his contribution to the war effort still resonates in an evocative series of black and white photographs that were captured at first light on that May morning. ‘The whole valley of the river was inundated with only patches of high ground and the tops of trees and church steeples showing above the flood,’ said Jerry in the final remarks of the newspaper interview, ‘I was overcome by the immensity of it.’

Acknowledgement

Freemasonry Today would like to thank Squadron Leader Bob Chevin, Buckinghamshire Past Provincial Grand Charity Steward and Past Senior Grand Deacon, for his help in putting this piece together, and the RAF Museum London, for letting us access its archives.

 

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - No. 21 Spring 2013

 

Dambusters

 

Sir,

 

We were fascinated to read your article in the winter 2012 edition about Jerry Fray. Except for the mention of London Grand Rank, the article left out, in particular, that he joined Elthorne and Middlesex Lodge, No. 2094, in 1973, was Master in 1979, was a key player in achieving the lodge’s centenary in 1985, including writing the lodge history during a period (1980-1990) when its continuing existence was very precarious, and Master again in 1986.

 

He attended regularly thereafter as DC, until the day after our December meeting in 1995 when he suffered a stroke. Even so, he was back in post with a ‘runner’ the following October. We made him an honorary member in 1998. He last attended in December 2001, although he had not long before suffered another, less serious, stroke.

 

Charles Brookes, Elthorne and Middlesex Lodge, No. 2094, London

 


 

Sir,

 

Although currently unable to be a frequent attender to my own Elthorne and Middlesex Lodge, I too was surprised that we were not mentioned in the newspaper report, although naturally bow to the fact that Jerry Fray wrote his own obituary.

 

However, there may be some small interest in my writing that once, at the Festive Board following a lodge meeting, I was able to discuss elements of his photo reconnaissance participation in the Dambusters’ raid with him.

 

I recall Jerry advising that he flew over the dams on several occasions prior to the raid, including the day before and again the day after. Upon returning to his home base, the film from his cameras would be quickly processed and (after his PR Spitfire was refuelled) he then flew copies directly onwards to the then RAF Spitalgate at Grantham. He would then deliver them personally to the Dams Project team with the great advantage that he was able to describe exactly what he had seen only the briefest of time before.

 

Jerry mentioned that he had been able to keep copies of the photographs and it is with great anticipation that I look forward to seeing these, should a book of his life come to fruition.

 

If interested to know why this was of particular interest to me, then I shall add that not only did I fly at RAF Spitalgate as an RAF Air Cadets gliding instructor, but I also served as a Territorial Army officer for many years at Prince William of Gloucester Barracks (formerly RAF Spitalgate), Grantham – so have always been pleased to think that I had, in one sense, shared the airspace with men of such sterling qualities as Jerry Fray.

 

Edward G Waite-Roberts, Elthorne and Middlesex Lodge, No. 2094, London

 


 

 

Published in Features

With the spread of the Royal Arch across the world creating different rituals in each of the countries it has touched, John Hamill explains why international relations can be complex

In the news section of this issue there is a short piece on the change of Grand Chancellor in the Craft. That office has now been in place for just over five years and the question has been asked why, unlike the other ‘executive’ offices in the Craft, there is no equivalent of the Grand Chancellor in the Royal Arch? The simple answer is that, from a combination of historical reasons and the close administrative links between the Craft and Royal Arch in England, there is little in the Royal Arch for a Grand Chancellor to do.

There is no doubt among historians of the Royal Arch that it originated within the British Isles. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it quickly followed the spread of the Craft into what were then the Colonies and became firmly established in North America, the West Indies and Caribbean, India, Africa, the Far East and Australasia, in all of which it is still practised today.

After the Second World War, England was asked by various European Grand Lodges to assist in establishing the Royal Arch

The Royal Arch, however, never took hold in mainland Europe until the second half of the twentieth century. Apart from a short-lived Grand Chapter in France in the early nineteenth century, there is no evidence for any Grand Chapter being formed in Europe before the one attached to the National Grand Lodge of France in the 1930s.

Scandinavian countries that have the Swedish Rite do not work any of the degrees we have ‘beyond the Craft’, yet the degrees above the first three in the Swedish Rite are regarded as being equivalent to, but different from, our Royal Arch, Knights Templar and Ancient and Accepted Rite degrees. In other European countries and in Central and South America, the Ancient and Accepted (Scottish) Rite and the Rectified Scottish Rite were the preferred steps after the Craft.

Expansion in Europe

After the Second World War, England was asked by various European Grand Lodges to assist in establishing the Royal Arch, leading to the erection of Grand Chapters in Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Hungary and Estonia. That process continues today with English Chapters meeting by dispensation in Bulgaria, Russia and Macedonia. There are also Grand Chapters in Austria, Germany, Italy and Slovenia set up under the American Royal Arch system.

There is an added complication in that not all Grand Chapters work the same ritual. Some have preliminary degrees that are taken between the Craft and the Royal Arch. The closest rituals to the English traditions are the Grand Chapter of Scotland and those in Canada and Australasia – the majority of whose founding Chapters originally worked under either England or Scotland. Scotland works the same Royal Arch ritual as England but requires candidates to take the Mark Degree and the Excellent Mason before they can be exalted into the Royal Arch.

The English and Scottish ritual explains to the candidate how certain major discoveries were made when the Children of Israel returned to Jerusalem from their Babylonish captivity and were clearing the ground for the rebuilding of Solomon’s temple under Zerubbabel. The principal officers of English and Scottish Chapters are Zerubbabel the Prince, Haggai the Prophet and Joshua the High Priest.

While the import of the ceremony is the same in Ireland and the US, the discoveries were made at a different time, when the second temple at Jerusalem was being built under King Josiah. Their principal officers are King Josiah, Hilkiah the High Priest and Shaphan the Scribe, although in the US – the Great Republic – the High Priest is the senior of the three. As in Scotland, Irish and American Chapters include the Mark Degree and the Ceremony of Passing the Veils as preliminaries to entry into the Royal Arch.

Add to these differences the unique relationship between the Craft and Royal Arch in England – the bicentenary of which we will be celebrating next year – and you will begin to understand how complex international relations are within the Royal Arch. In all other constitutions the Craft and Royal Arch are entirely separate. The closest is Ireland, where the Grand Secretary is always the Grand Registrar of the Grand Chapter (the equivalent of our Grand Scribe E) and Chapters bear the number and, in very many cases, the name of the lodges to which they are attached.

Royal Arch acceptance

When, in 1813, the indissoluble link was forged by the acceptance of the Royal Arch as an integral part of pure ancient masonry, a number of links were put in place to strengthen the relationship. In particular, a preamble was made to the General Regulations governing the Royal Arch which, in short form, states that anything not specifically covered by the regulations is to be considered as bound by the Book of Constitutions of the Grand Lodge.

While the Grand Chapter is sovereign over the regulation and administration of the Royal Arch, the Craft is paramount and certain aspects remain in its sole remit. This is particularly so in regard to our relations with other constitutions. It is Grand Lodge, on the recommendation of the Board of General Purposes and its External Relations Committee, which grants recognition to other constitutions. The Royal Arch has a voice in such recommendations, as the President of the Committee of General Purposes of Grand Chapter is ex officio a member of the Board and sits on its External Relations Committee.

As recognition has always been a Craft matter, Grand Chapter does not formally recognise or exchange representatives with other Grand Chapters. It is, however, very happy to receive companions from, and to allow its members to visit Chapters under any Grand Chapter that draws its membership solely from a Grand Lodge recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England.

With all these differences, a companion wishing to visit a foreign Chapter would be wise to seek advice from the Grand Scribe E’s office in advance.

Published in SGC

Masonic effects

Why does masonic regalia end up on eBay? Director of Special Projects John Hamill puts it down to a lack of family communication and lodge support

Old habits die hard. For many years, for professional reasons, I used to visit antique shops, markets and boot sales to see if there were any masonic items on offer. These days I periodically surf the masonic section of eBay. What was, and still is, available was usually fairly modern standard regalia and jewels mainly for the Craft but occasionally the Royal Arch or other orders. I always found it sad that what was once a brother’s treasured possession should end up on a market stall or car boot sale. Thinking about it I came to the conclusion that two main factors were at play. First was the excessive privacy of our members who never discussed their Freemasonry with their wives or families. When they died, unless they had made provision in their wills for the disposal of their regalia, the family were left wondering who it actually belonged to, whether or not it had been on loan and what they should or could do with it.

The lack of communication between family members became very apparent in the 1980s and 1990s when, as part of the openness policy, I took part in many phone-in programmes on national and local radio. On virtually every occasion someone would come on line and say that they had been sorting out the effects of a relative and had discovered a small case containing regalia and medals – what should they do with it?

The second factor was a group who should have been available to advise widows and families: the lodge almoners. It has to be said that for too long the office of almoner was seen in many lodges as a token act or sinecure to keep a Past Master in the team and on the list of officers. Before the introduction of the office of Charity Steward, many almoners believed that their role was to persuade the members to support the masonic charities, the lodge benevolent fund and the Master’s list. There were undoubtedly good almoners who did excellent work in looking after the welfare of their members and the widows and dependants of former members, but the majority tended to be reactive rather than proactive.

Reversing the trend

When the Craft came under intense scrutiny in the 1980s and 1990s for the first time in generations, we were forced to look at ourselves and our relevance in society. To the dismay of many it became apparent that we were not quite as good as we thought we were in caring for dependants. The central and local masonic charities were doing great work when deserving cases were brought to their attention, but too many were slipping through the net. Almoners were seen as crucial to reversing that situation.

The message soon went out that the office of almoner was not a sinecure but a working office within the lodge. In London and a number of Provinces, seminars and training sessions were introduced, the central masonic charities became involved and began to organise meetings in the Provinces to make almoners aware of what support was available and how they could tap into it. That process culminated in the introduction of the office of Grand Almoner at Metropolitan, Provincial and District level. They act as liaison with the charities and organise the work of lodge almoners within their areas. As so often in Freemasonry, lack of communication was part of the problem. Now there are good lines of communication and support and fewer should slip through the net.

Change takes time to percolate through, but I look forward to the day when I can go on eBay and not be saddened by entry after entry showing what are clearly the masonic effects of a former member.

Letters to the editor - No. 21 Spring 2013

 

Valuing care 

 

Sir,

 

John Hamill’s Reflection and your article on dementia care were both impressive and thought provoking, but I believe there is one area where lodge almoners can provide real benefit, especially for our elder brethren and widows.

 

It never ceased to amaze me in my years as a lodge almoner how many of those with real needs were unaware of the benefits from the state to that they were entitled, which could make a real difference to their well-being. Because of my background in financial advice, I have been able to help a number of lodge members and widows who have care needs. Attendance Allowance is worth £51.85 per week if help is required during the day, and £77.45 per week if help is required day and night. This money makes a tremendous difference and is not means tested nor taxable. Additionally, it may entitle some to increases in other benefits such as Pension Credit.


Lodge almoners are in a unique position to be able to help our older brethren and helping obtain this benefit can be one of the most important tasks an almoner ever performs. To assist I have produced a short paper (contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). It would surprise me if all lodges did not have some members who could be assisted in this way.


Alan Booth, Earl of Chester Lodge, No. 1565, Lymm, Cheshire

 


 

 

Published in UGLE

Moving together

An innovative competition run by Buckinghamshire Freemasons is confronting stereotypes by giving young people the chance to show why they care. Sophie Radice reports from the ihelp finals

The atmosphere in Beaconsfield Masonic Centre is buzzing with excitement. Five youth groups from Buckinghamshire have made it into the ihelp finals. Over the afternoon each team will make a presentation to a panel of judges to convince them that they deserve the top prize of £5,000 to fund their community project. 

Each team is different. There’s Misunderstood, a street dance group who have raised £4,000 to build a youth club. The Leon School team has been making beautiful bird feeders for a local old people’s home and 1st Stokenchurch Scout troop has been running respite camping weekends for young carers. 

Jan Smith from Leon School explains how much being a finalist means to the competitors: ‘Most of our kids have difficulties with learning, and presenting the project to the panel is particularly challenging for them. But being a finalist has been such a boost and the responsibility of putting their case forward has really increased their self-esteem.’

The ihelp project is the brainchild of Buckinghamshire Assistant Provincial Grand Master Mike Stimson and ihelp’s president Eugene Matthias. Three years ago, the two Freemasons found themselves talking over a pint about the mismatch between the young people they knew and the poor image the press gave them.

‘There were so many negative articles about the behaviour of youths and it just seemed so unhelpful. We thought about how great it would be if there was a Britain’s Got Talent-type contest to showcase the good things that young people do for their community,’ says Mike. The idea fitted in well with initiatives set up in 2006 by the then Provincial Grand Master Ray Reed to promote the work that Freemasons do in the community, as well as talk more freely and openly about their fraternity.

Turning an idea into ihelp

With approval from Ray and Deputy Provincial Grand Master Clifford Drake, Mike and Eugene worked together in conjunction with Provincial Information Officer John Poulter and Chris Coombs to roll ihelp out across the Province. ‘We thought up the slogan “Turn Hoodies into Goodies” and reached out to Scouts, Girl Guides, Air Cadets, Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme participants, youth clubs, church groups and schools. The response was amazing,’ remembers Eugene.

Mike explains how the ihelp idea fitted in with the concept of promoting Freemasonry within the community. ‘We already had a big display explaining the Craft, which goes round the local fêtes and community events. So ihelp was the next step,’ he explains. ‘We wanted ihelp to be different. We wanted to encourage youngsters to be the leaders of tomorrow and the successful projects were those led by the kids themselves, whether they’d been running for a while or just got off the ground. Overall, we wanted to ensure that each project embodied our values of friendship, decency and charity. That’s the modern way of explaining brotherly love, relief and truth.’

With the ihelp team constantly being asked to give talks about the project, there has been a great deal of interest in ihelp from local authorities, district councils and local businesses. Freemasons in other counties are now considering taking up the competition and there has been support from the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, who visited Buckinghamshire in the summer of 2010 to see Freemasonry in the Community projects.

Promoted around the Province through town and village shows, the ihelp project is now in the fabric of Freemasonry in Buckinghamshire. It was through these shows that John made contact with Sir David Jason, who agreed to back the scheme.

Competitive camaraderie

Back at the competition, the teams are waiting to make their presentations. Each team is cheered when they go to present in front of the panel and when they come back there is a feeling of real camaraderie rather than rivalry. In the hall where the presentations are being made, the judges do their best to put the young contestants at ease. One of the judges, Clifford, is asked to be part of the Misunderstood dance troop and he rises to the occasion. Donning a large gold chain and a backwards cap, he shows himself to be surprisingly good at following the street dance routine. 

With all the presentations making convincing cases for why they should win, the judges have a particularly hard job this year in deciding who should take first prize. In the end it goes to the 1st Stokenchurch Scouts, whose presentation, although perhaps lower key than some of the others, proves to be such a worthy cause that the judges felt they could best benefit from the top prize. Leon School and their temple-like bird feeders get the second prize of £1,000.

After a long day with a lot of laughter and some tears, each team comes away smiling with a generous cheque in their hands. As Emily and Chloe from the 4th Taplow and Hitcham Guides, who raised money to take children with severe joint problems skating, enthusiastically explain: ‘We got so much out of coming here today and being runners-up. It was a great experience learning how to speak to an audience and present our case. We loved it!’

 

 

 The atmosphere in Beaconsfield Masonic Centre is buzzing with excitement. Five youth groups from Buckinghamshire have made it into the ihelp finals. Over the afternoon each team will make 
a presentation to a panel of judges to convince them that they deserve the top prize of £5,000 to fund their community project. 
Each team is different. There’s Misunderstood, 
a street dance group who have raised £4,000 to build a youth club. The Leon School team has been making beautiful bird feeders for a local old people’s home and 1st Stokenchurch Scout troop has been running respite camping weekends for young carers. 
Jan Smith from Leon School explains how much being a finalist means to the competitors: ‘Most 
of our kids have difficulties with learning, and presenting the project to the panel is particularly challenging for them. But being a finalist has been such a boost and the responsibility of putting their case forward has really increased their self-esteem.’
The ihelp project is the brainchild of Buckinghamshire Assistant Provincial Grand Master Mike Stimson and ihelp’s president Eugene Matthias. Three years ago, the two Freemasons found themselves talking over a pint about the mismatch between the young people they knew 
and the poor image the press gave them.
‘There were so many negative articles about the behaviour of youths and it just seemed so unhelpful. We thought about how great it would be if there 
was a Britain’s Got Talent-type contest to showcase the good things that young people do for their community,’ says Mike. The idea fitted in well with initiatives set up in 2006 by the then Provincial Grand Master Ray Reed to promote the work that Freemasons do in the community, as well as talk more freely and openly about their fraternity.
 
TURNING AN IDEA INTO IHELP 
With approval from Ray and Deputy Provincial Grand Master Clifford Drake, Mike and Eugene worked together in conjunction with Provincial Information Officer John Poulter and Chris Coombs to roll ihelp out across the Province. ‘We thought up the slogan “Turn Hoodies into Goodies” and reached out to Scouts, Girl Guides, Air Cadets, Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme participants, youth clubs, church groups and schools. The response was amazing,’ remembers Eugene.
Mike explains how the ihelp idea fitted in with 
the concept of promoting Freemasonry within the community. ‘We already had a big display explaining the Craft, which goes round the local fêtes and community events. So ihelp was the next step,’ 
he explains. ‘We wanted ihelp to be different. We wanted to encourage youngsters to be the leaders 
of tomorrow and the successful projects were those led by the kids themselves, whether they’d been running for a while or just got off the ground. Overall, we wanted to ensure that each project embodied our values of friendship, decency and charity. That’s the modern way of explaining brotherly love, relief and truth.’
With the ihelp team constantly being asked to 
give talks about the project, there has been a great deal of interest in ihelp from local authorities, district councils and local businesses. Freemasons 
in other counties are now considering taking up the competition and there has been support from the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, who visited Buckinghamshire in the summer of 2010 to see Freemasonry in the Community projects.
Promoted around the Province through town and village shows, the ihelp project is now in the fabric 
of Freemasonry in Buckinghamshire. It was through these shows that John made contact with Sir David Jason, who agreed to back the scheme.
 
COMPETITIVE CAMARADERIE
Back at the competition, the teams are waiting to make their presentations. Each team is cheered 
when they go to present in front of the panel and when they come back there is a feeling of real camaraderie rather than rivalry. In the hall where 
the presentations are being made, the judges do 
their best to put the young contestants at ease. 
One of the judges, Clifford, is asked to be part of 
the Misunderstood dance troop and he rises to the occasion. Donning a large gold chain and a backwards cap, he shows himself to be surprisingly good at following the street dance routine. 
With all the presentations making convincing cases for why they should win, the judges have 
a particularly hard job this year in deciding who should take first prize. In the end it goes to the 
1st Stokenchurch Scouts, whose presentation, although perhaps lower key than some of the others, proves to be such a worthy cause that the judges 
felt they could best benefit from the top prize. 
Leon School and their temple-like bird feeders 
get the second prize of £1,000.
After a long day with a lot of laughter and some tears, each team comes away smiling with a generous cheque in their hands. As Emily and Chloe from the 4th Taplow and Hitcham Guides, who raised money to take children with severe joint problems skating, enthusiastically explain: ‘We got so much out of coming here today and being runners-up. It was 
a great experience learning how to speak to an audience and present our case. We loved it!’

 

Published in Features

Patrick Dunachie, a student at Hereford Cathedral School, has benefitted from a Chorister Scholarship from the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys since the age of seven, and now has a place to read music at King’s College, Cambridge, following his brother Liam, a music scholar at Trinity College.

Patrick said that it was hard to overestimate the importance and benefit of the scholarship, which was a great privilege. The Dean of Hereford, the Very Reverend Michael Tavinor, thanked Herefordshire Freemasons for their continuing valuable support.

Dean of Hereford
Published in RMTGB
Friday, 14 December 2012 00:00

RMBI pioneers with Dementia Care Matters

Putting the pieces back together

A new way of treating dementia recommends that you concentrate on creating the best possible quality of life for people. Andrew Gimson finds out how RMBI homes are pioneering groundbreaking techniques in dementia care

Helen Walton speaks with some emotion as she discusses providing good quality care for people living with dementia. As operations director at Dementia Care Matters, an organisation that has become closely involved in the provision of dementia care in the homes run by the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI), Walton draws a sharp distinction between the right and wrong approach.

Care has traditionally been very institutionalised; huge importance is attached to routine and the atmosphere in some homes is sterile. People with dementia are treated as passive recipients from whom no initiative is expected.

Walton is deeply concerned that this kind of care still exists today, which can leave people sitting in their chairs staring into space. She believes strongly that it can be different, that instead of being run with the greatest possible efficiency, homes can concentrate on creating the best possible quality of life. She emphasises that although people living with dementia may have lost their capacity for logical thought, ‘their feelings are enhanced – feelings are what they have left, and are stronger than before’.

For Walton, staff must encourage rather than repress the natural inclinations of those they look after. The first step is to relax any barriers between staff and residents. In a home where Dementia Care Matters is called in to advise, the staff will get rid of their uniforms and the main meal of the day will be eaten together. Once this happens, it will not necessarily be apparent who is a member of staff and who is a resident. The two groups will be running the home together as friends.

Debra Keeling joined the RMBI four and a half years ago. In her role as deputy director of care she has a brief to bring in exactly this approach. She is ‘hugely encouraged’ by the progress that has been made: ‘The people who live in our homes are now becoming much more involved. We’re really developing communities.’

Joining their reality

The RMBI has seventeen homes in England and Wales, accommodating more than one thousand residents. Louise Baxter is home manager at an RMBI home, Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court in Essex. She tells the story of Nina Wainwright, who arrived in the dementia support unit in 2008. Mrs Wainwright, who was suffering from early to mid-stage dementia, had great difficulty settling in. Like many people, she felt disorientated by leaving her own home. She would ask: ‘What is this place? Why am I here?’

The staff became increasingly worried about her happiness and welfare, so they arranged with the catering contractor for Mrs Wainwright to start working in the kitchen. Each morning, she comes downstairs, goes to the kitchen and starts to wash up and make herself useful. She believes she lives upstairs in her flat and is employed to undertake washing up as well as some waitressing duties. This has given her a sense of purpose and allowed her to feel once more in control of her life. Staff ‘join Mrs Wainwright in her reality’ – they do not seek to disabuse her of her beliefs.

Baxter believes that her diploma course with Dementia Care Matters has certainly given her the confidence to join people in their reality without being accused of infantilising them. ‘It allowed me to work in the way I’d always wanted to.’

 ‘If a resident asks for her mother, you could say: “Tell me about her. She sounds very special”’ Debra Keeling

Conventional methods for treating dementia would confront the person with reality. When they asked for their mother, for example, they would be stood in front of a mirror and shown they were clearly far too old for their mother to still be alive.

Nowadays, there is a different approach. When a resident with dementia says they want to go home, the best thing to do is open the door and let them go outside. ‘Once they’re outside, the urgency to get out is gone,’ says Baxter. ‘You can then go and rescue them by saying something like: “Oh hello, Mrs Jones. I live next to you. Would you like to come and have a cup of tea with me?”’

There are parallels between the care of children and those with dementia. If a child is playing a game that depends on imagining that a toy is real, you do not ruin things by telling them to stop being so stupid, the model car is not real. Rather, you enter into the child’s world in the same way that you should with a person with dementia.

Keeling agrees: ‘While you should never lie to people with dementia, if a resident asks for her mother, you could say: “Tell me about your mother. She sounds very special. Do you have a photograph of her?”’ The RMBI has sent one or two people from each of its homes to take the diploma run by Dementia Care Matters, while everyone else – from gardeners to trustees – have attended courses run by the Alzheimer’s Society.

Dementia Care Matters has awarded Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court its Butterfly Services kite mark. Launched in 2010, the kite mark is conferred after unannounced visits by auditors who ‘observe the quality of interaction between staff and people’ in a home. Six of the RMBI’s homes have received the award and this work is of the greatest value. By showing that there is a better way to look after people with dementia, the RMBI and Dementia Care Matters are performing a public service of inestimable value.

 

Published in RMBI

The social circuit

 ‘Motorcycling is about friendship and it engenders a spirit of. There is a similar fraternal bond between Freemasons’

When king of speed Charlie Collier won the first Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) race in 1907, he wore a three-piece tweed suit and was almost disqualified for having pedals on his bike. In the early days of TT, it wasn’t uncommon to have to get off and push, and the Mountain Circuit was basically a horse-and-cart track; it was the duty of the first rider around in the morning to open the gates along the way, and the last rider was responsible for shutting them.

Collier’s average speed of 38.21mph may seem painfully slow by today’s standards but the race was groundbreaking. From these rudimentary beginnings, the event has developed into a world-famous annual spectacle, and remains one of the most exciting road races on the motorcycle racing calendar. Now, 105 years since TT’s birth, a lodge on the island has been consecrated to celebrate this illustrious history.

With many arriving by bike, 171 people came from all over the UK to take part in the consecration ceremony on 14 July. ‘The Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight rode up here with his wife on pillion, and the next day we took him for a guided spin around the TT track. It was a fantastic day,’ enthuses Nigel Bowrey, Director of Ceremonies at the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Lodge. ‘After the formal ceremony and the festive board that followed, we sat around until midnight exchanging motorcycling tales.’

A past racer who has owned 37 bikes, Nigel has toured North Africa down to the Sahara, as well as undertaking a two-month tour in Australia covering nearly 8,000 miles. ‘I think my most epic journey was a 10,000-mile trip across America and back.’

Brotherhood of the road

The connection between motorcycling and Freemasonry might seem a stretch, but there are striking similarities in their code of conduct and behaviour. ‘When you pass a motorcyclist on the road you wave at one another. It is totally normal to engage in conversation with someone on a bike that you meet at a stop, because motorcycling is about friendship and it engenders a spirit of ,’ explains Nigel.

‘And there is a similar fraternal bond between Freemasons where you have a huge network of people you can rely on, even though you don’t necessarily know one another at the outset.’

The Isle of Man link between Freemasonry and motorcycling reaches back to the turn of the century. In 1912, Lieutenant Governor Lord Raglan, one of the men responsible for initiating road races, became Provincial Grand Master of the Isle of Man, perhaps forging the first connection. Today, the members of the TT Lodge are all motorcycle enthusiasts, many of whom are still heavily involved in the TT race and other motorcycle events that take place annually.

With several other UK lodges sharing a passion for biking, the TT Lodge is in good company. The surge started in 2000 with the consecration of the Lodge of the Chevaliers de Fer, No. 9732, in Basingstoke. There is also the Sussex Motorcycling Lodge, No. 9871, consecrated in August 2012. Some lodges are named after TT alumni, including the Mike Hailwood Lodge, No. 9839, the Graham Milton Lodge, No. 9796, and the Joey Dunlop Lodge of Mark Master Masons, No. 1881. Freemasonry in the UK often has to work hard to retain, let alone increase, membership, but the motorbike lodges are thriving.

‘We want to broaden our appeal, particularly to younger people. It’s been the success of the other biking lodges that encouraged us to set up the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Lodge,’ says Nigel. ‘We want to say to people, “We’re not a bunch of tired old masons, we’re a bunch of active motorcycle enthusiasts with an associated interest in Freemasonry.’”

Need for speed

The Motor Car Act of 1903 set the speed limit in the UK at 20 miles per hour. Of course, most cars couldn’t go this fast, and most people didn’t have cars, but for the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland, it was a severe dampener. How were they to test their new, ever-more powerful machines, if they were limited to crawling around country lanes?

So the club plotted. Secretary Sir Julian Orde had a bright idea: his cousin Lord Raglan was the Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man. The Manx Government was autonomous and not bound by the same laws, so with some gentle persuasion from Lord Raglan, they were encouraged to permit public roads to be closed so ‘high speed reliability trials’ could take place.

In 1904 the International Car Trials were held there, with motorbike trials added a year later. The first 125-mile race was won by JS Campbell in four hours, nine minutes and 26 seconds, with an average speed of 30.04mph, despite a fire in the pit stop.

Letters to the editor - No. 21 Spring 2013

 

Motorcycling lodges 

 

Sir,

 

I was interested to read the article on motorcycling lodges in the winter 2012 edition. I had always understood that Harry Rembrandt (Rem) Fowler won the first Isle of Man TT race in 1907 as I was distantly related to him. I was therefore surprised to see Charlie Collier credited with that distinction.

 

After a little research, I discovered that in 1907 two races were held on the TT short course, with Harry Rem Fowler winning the twin cylinder class on a Peugeot-engined Norton at 36.22mph and Charlie Collier the single cylinder class on a Matchless at 38.22mph. They each set the fastest lap in their respective classes, Fowler at 42.91mph and Collier at 41.81mph. The TT short course was used for only four years, and in 1911 the TT race moved to the mountain course, which is still used today.


I am still in frequent contact with Rem’s granddaughter – my cousin, who still has some of his memorabilia. Incidentally, Rem died in 1963 and is buried in the churchyard of St James the Great in Shirley, Solihull, Warwickshire.

 

John Hayward, Lodge of Faith and Hope, No. 4772, Edgbaston, Warwickshire

 


 

 

 

 

Published in Features
Friday, 14 December 2012 00:00

Turning heads

Turning heads

Twice a year, Freemasons’ Hall plays host to shows for London Fashion Week, with press from around the world in attendance. Ellie Fazan finds out what happens when fashion and Freemasonry come together

Visitors to Freemasons’ Hall on London’s Great Queen Street are being greeted by a stylish young woman bedecked in a studded leather jacket. With a clipboard in one hand and wristbands in the other, she is very much in charge.

Upstairs in one of the 21 lodge rooms, frantic preparations are under way for design duo Leutton Postle’s Spring/Summer 2013 show. It is not a scene you would expect to find in Freemasons’ Hall: there is an impossibly tall model having her make-up done wearing nothing but underwear and sparkly high heels, while a team of assistants hurriedly make final adjustments to various hairstyles and outfits.

In the midst of it all, two young women are trying to control the chaos. They are Jen and Sam, otherwise known as Leutton Postle, and this is their third show at Freemasons’ Hall. Their work is being showcased by Vauxhall Fashion Scout – an initiative that offers young designers a space to show their collections. ‘Hello, we’d love to stop and say hi but…’ Before they can finish, they are swept away in a sea of assistants.

‘The building hosts such a vibrant and eclectic mix of people... but it still maintains the elegance of the purposes it was built for’ Karen Haigh

The frenzied atmosphere permeates the room. The majestic corridors are full to the brim with brightly coloured clothes, with fun oversized collars, playful patchwork and lots of glitter. A photographer is shooting a catalogue for the designers today, and has set up a makeshift studio in the cleaning cupboard. Meanwhile, the cleaning lady leans on her mop looking unfazed. She watches on while the call ‘Girls in shoes please’ sends everyone into a panic.

Start the show

Outside Freemasons’ Hall, the fashion crowd is queuing around the block: it’s one of the most anticipated shows of the season, and the designers here are the ones to watch. The Temple vestibule starts to fill with guests, and techno music begins to blast. The clothes are the main attraction – big, bold and attention grabbing – but they don’t detract from the space. Three models at a time appear in the three carved archways before taking to the perfectly polished floor. The contrast between the futuristic collection and the stately, solid building is powerful.

One of the finest Art Deco buildings in England, Freemasons’ Hall has been available for use as a location for television productions and photoshoots for more than a decade. ‘One of the location managers I’d worked with on a film project asked if we hired the venue to outside events such as fashion. We hadn’t before, but I just said yes,’ remembers Karen Haigh, UGLE Head of Events. ‘That led to us piloting the first London Fashion Week shows for Vauxhall Fashion Scout in 2009. All events are special in their own way, but working twice a year with Vauxhall Fashion Scout has become part of the venue. It’s bigger than ever now and it has been wonderful to see it develop each year. It’s like being a parent!’

Offering an opportunity

Freemasons’ Hall is an integral part of London Fashion Week, placing it alongside Somerset House as one of the most important events spaces in the capital, hosting the most cutting-edge shows. The designers here are the ones to look out for. This year fashion’s punk princess Pam Hogg showed, with celebrities and fashion editors alike coming to watch.

For Karen Haigh it’s an exciting time, with no friction between the long-term residents and the temporary inhabitants. ‘The building hosts such a vibrant and eclectic mix of people during this time, but it still maintains the elegance of the purposes it was built for. It really makes me smile when members come into the building during that period and can’t hide their surprise at some of the outfits on display!’

Vauxhall Fashion Scout is helping young people in their chosen fields – one of Freemasonry’s founding principles. Hand in hand they are offering young designers a space. Sam and Jen agree. ‘We couldn’t do this without their support,’ the pair say. ‘It means that as designers we can grow. We’ve learnt so much since last year.’ And what do they think of the building? ‘It’s intense! Even though we have permission to be here, it’s so awe-inspiring it makes us want to run around here at night!’

Published in Features

The Royal connection

With members of the Royal Family carrying out a vital role in Freemasonry, John Hamill counts the line of princes and dukes who have played their part over the past three hundred years

This year, the nation rightly celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen, but there is another significant royal and masonic anniversary of which many of the Craft may not be aware. It was the two hundred and seventy-fifth anniversary of the initiation of HRH Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales, the first member of the English Royal Freemasons, on 5 November 2012. The eldest son of King George II, Frederick Lewis did not come to the throne, as he died in 1751 at the early age of forty-four. This was some nine years before the death of his father, who was succeeded by Frederick Lewis’s son George, who went on to reign for sixty years as King George III.

Frederick Lewis was made a Freemason in what was termed an ‘occasional’ lodge, presided over by the Reverend Doctor JT Desaguliers, Grand Master in 1737. In the fashion of the day, the prince was made both an Entered Apprentice and a Fellowcraft at the meeting. A month later, another occasional lodge was held and he became a Master Mason. Due to lack of records for the period, we have no information as to what Frederick Lewis did in Freemasonry, other than that in 1738 he was Master of a Lodge. We know this because in the same year, the Reverend Doctor James Anderson published the second edition of The Constitutions of the Free Masons, which has a wonderfully flowery dedication to the prince ‘now a Master Mason and Master of a Lodge’.

Rapid promotion

It would be interesting to speculate if Frederick Lewis discussed Freemasonry within his family, for one of his brothers and three of his sons went on to become Freemasons. The youngest of his sons, Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland (1745-1790), had rapid promotions. He was initiated at an occasional lodge on 9 February 1767; was installed as Master of the Horn Lodge in April 1767 and in the same month elected a Past Grand Master of the premier Grand Lodge. In 1782 he became our first Royal Grand Master and held that office until his untimely death in 1790. He was also the first Royal Brother to enter the Royal Arch, being exalted in the Grand Chapter in 1772 and was its Grand Patron from 1774 until his death.

Henry Frederick introduced the next generation of royalty to the fraternity, with sons of King George III becoming Freemasons. Three of them went on to serve as Grand Master: George, Prince of Wales (later Prince Regent and King George IV) succeeded his uncle as Grand Master in 1791 and served until he became Prince Regent in 1812, when he was succeeded by his younger brother Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex. At the same time, their brother Edward, Duke of Kent, became Grand Master of the Antients Grand Lodge.

With two royal brothers at their head in 1813, the two Grand Lodges came together as the United Grand Lodge of England, with the Duke of Sussex as Grand Master. Sussex was determined that the would succeed, and put in place a number of procedures that today still form the basis of the government of the English Craft and Royal Arch.

The death of the Duke of Sussex in 1843 marked a twenty-five-year period without royal participation for the simple reason that – with the exception of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert – there were no princes of an age to join. That situation was happily rectified in 1868 when the then Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) became a Freemason on a visit to Sweden. In 1869 he was elected a Past Grand Master and in 1874 became Grand Master, holding office until he came to the throne in 1901 when he took the title of Protector of Freemasonry.

Invaluable support

The Prince of Wales was soon joined by two of his brothers, the Duke of Connaught and the Duke of Albany, and brought in his son, the Duke of Clarence. The Duke of Connaught succeeded his brother as Grand Master in 1901 and was to be an active ruler until 1939. He was supported by his son Prince Arthur and by his great nephews, the then Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII and Duke of Windsor); the Duke of York (later King George VI); and the Duke of Kent, father of our present Grand Master. The Duke of Kent succeeded as Grand Master in 1939 but his rule was cut cruelly short when he was killed in an RAF air crash in 1942.

Today, English Freemasonry is fortunate to still have Royal support. HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh became a Master Mason in Navy Lodge, No. 2612, of which he is still a subscribing member. HRH The Duke of Kent has been our Grand Master since 1967 and his wise counsel and great support in what has been a turbulent time for English Freemasonry, have been invaluable. His brother HRH Prince Michael of Kent has given long service as both Provincial Grand Master for Middlesex in the Craft and as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons.

To look back on two hundred and seventy-five years of Royal support is a wonderful sight and something that English Freemasons hope will continue long into the future.

Published in Features
Page 1 of 6

ugle logo          SGC logo