In March 2017, five Freemasons from Howe and Charnwood Lodge No 1007 which meets in Loughborough, accompanied by their wives, flew to Panama City in order to attend the Centenary celebrations of Pacific Lodge No 5, under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Panama
In addition, a member from London based St Barnabas Lodge No 3771 also attended. They were invited by W.Bro. Andres Lopez, brother of W.Bro. Gabriel Lopez of Emulation Lodge No 5 in Madrid of which the Brethren are members. On arrival, a gift bag for each couple was given by the Master and his lady, which contained Panama hats and a bottle of Rioja. Two days before the meeting, the visitors were invited to attend a Centenary Gala Dinner, which was a very elaborate affair and good food and wine were enjoyed by all. The Centenary meeting of the lodge was held on Monday 27th March 2017 which the Brethren attended whilst the ladies were taken to a bar overlooking the Pacific Ocean for drinks and then on to a restaurant for dinner.
Pacific Lodge performed an immaculate ceremony of Passing (English Emulation working) and their Centenary Banner was subsequently presented by the M.W. Grand Master of Panama, Bro. Roberto Coueto, who was assisted by the M.W. District Grand Master of Massachusetts in the Panama Canal Zone, Bro. George O’Masta.
Interestingly, Panama has two M.W. Grand Masters because the United States originally owned the Panama Canal and the American Engineers who assisted in building the Canal formed Masonic Lodges under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and this practice has been continued after the Canal was gifted back to Panama by President Jimmy Carter in 1977, with full ownership being granted by the Millennium.
W.Bro. Tony Ridewood from Howe & Charnwood Lodge presented an engraved “naval” gavel to the Master on behalf of the Brethren present and St Barnabas Lodge.
The Festive Board, once again a first for the English masons as it was a buffet supper, taken in the open air, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
W.Bro. Geoff Searson responded to the toast to the visitors and presented the the lodge with commemorative cufflinks, the History of Howe and Charnwood Lodge and Freemasonry in Loughborough. He also presented the Master and M.W. Grand Masters of Panama and the Canal Zone with Leicestershire and Rutland Provincial ties with an explanation of the 2022 Festival for the Masonic Charitable Foundation. He also gave the best wishes and congratulations from the Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro. David Hagger.