Freemasons from the Bordon, Alton and Petersfield Masonic Centres held a charity presentation evening to celebrate the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary
Held at the Bordon Masonic Centre, the evening was well attended by local charity and community representatives and Freemasons including Chairman of East Hampshire District Council Lynn Evans, Mayor of Alton Dean-Paul Phillips and Mayor of Whitehill & Bordon Colin Leach.
Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight RW Bro Mike Wilks opened with a talk about Freemasonry and the values it represents and teaches its members. A total of 26 local charities and community organisations were supported and then given the opportunity to talk about the amazing support and services that they provide to the local communities.
Over £17,500 was presented to the below charities:
- Alton Cardiac Rehab - Provides exercise and health education for post-op rehabilitation
- Lifelites - Provides specialist technology for children in every children's hospices
- The Rosemary Foundation - Charity providing a 'Hospice at Home' service
- The Petersfield Society of Special Needs - Improving the quality of life of those who develop a disability in childhood
- Petersfield Counselling Service - Offers short and long term counselling to people 18 years and over
- Petersfield ShopMobility - Motorised scooters and wheelchairs for hire
- Petersfield Girl Guides - Run exciting activities for girls
- The Oaks Playscheme for Disabled Children - Run playschemes during the Easter and Summer holidays for 3-11 years
- Bisters Big Build - Raising funds to build a downstairs bedroom and wet room for Joseph, who has a range of serious medical conditions
- Alton MS Society - Offer help to people who are living with or affected by MS
- Holybourne Theatre Company - A not for profit amateur dramatics group run by volunteers which stages an energetic and diverse entertainment programme
- Kings Arms Young Carers - Charity set up to meet the needs of the young people of Petersfield and the surrounding villages
- The Murray Parish Trust - Charity dedicated to raising £2 million to build a new Children's A&E department at Southampton
- Friends Forever - A service set up to meet the leisure expectations of a group of disabled people who wanted to have the opportunity to rekindle old friendships and make new friends
- Homestart Weywater - Independent charity supporting families in need
- The Downs Syndrome Association - Charity focusing solely on all aspects of living successfully with Down’s syndrome
- Hounds for Heroes - Provides specially trained assistance dogs to injured and disabled men and women of both the UK Armed Forces and Emergency Services
- The Royal Marsden Hospital - A specialist cancer treatment hospital
- The Kevin Ackling Fund - Raising funds for The Brain Tumour Charity in memory of Kevin
- Headley Youth Football Club - Provides inclusive football for all ages from under 6 to under 18
- Headley Holme Primary School - A school for boys and girls aged from 4 to 11
- St Johns Ambulance - First aid charity
- Riding for the Disabled - Charity dedicated to improving the lives of thousands of people through education, therapy and fun
- Masonic Trout & Salmon Fishing Charity - Provides exhilarating fishing day experience for people with special needs
- Headley Sports Association - To provide facilities for recreation for the benefit of the Parish of Headley
- Kings Arms Young Carers - Raises awareness and money for children with cystic fibrosis
This money is achieved by Freemasons holding charity evenings or by regularly contributing to a Lodge charity fund, which is then used for the benefit of local causes.
Mike Wilks commented: ‘Listening to the charity representatives explain the work they do was very humbling. It provided even more motivation for us to keep raising funds for such worthy causes.
‘For 300 years we have been supporting charities and I hope we’ll still be doing it in another 300 years.’
The evening concluded with a social gathering in the dining hall of the centre. This provided a great opportunity for the charities to further explain what they do and to learn about Freemasonry from its members.
With a passion for sailing, the members of Spinnaker Lodge want to help younger Freemasons navigate their way through the Craft, as Matthew Bowen discovers
It’s not often that you hear the words ‘pontoon party’ and ‘Freemasonry’ together. Formal suits aren’t exactly de rigueur at the marina and aprons tend not to mix well with high winds. But the members of a new lodge see sailing and Freemasonry as perfect crew mates.
In November 2016, Spinnaker Lodge, No. 9932, became the sixth specialist lodge in the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight to be consecrated in the past four years under the leadership of Provincial Grand Master Mike Wilks. Like other specialist lodges, such as Football Lodge and Chequered Flag Lodge, Spinnaker centres its proceedings around a common interest; charitable giving will focus on supporting boating charities – and members will travel to meetings by boat.
So how to go about creating a specialist lodge? The first step, according to the lodge’s inaugural Master, Frank Milner, was to see how many of the Province’s 9,000 members were interested in sailing. As the proud owner of a Moody 27 yacht himself, Frank tested the water by issuing a circular, Calling All Yachtsmen.
One of the first to respond to Frank’s invitation was Adam Harvey, who is now the Junior Warden at Spinnaker Lodge. ‘I’ve been sailing since I was 12 or 13,’ he says, ‘so when I saw the invitation I couldn’t turn it down. It struck me as a good thing to have something else to bond over in addition to being brothers.’
Frank’s original intention had been to start a sailing club, rather than a masonic lodge, but encouraged by a 25-strong crew of the keenest boatmen in the Province, he decided to push his idea further. Together they took on the challenge of founding the new lodge.
‘It’s been a learning curve,’ says Frank. ‘If you join an established lodge, the traditions are already in place, but when you find yourself making on-the-spot decisions about how to run a double initiation ceremony, for example, you realise you have a task on your hands.’
Some of the decisions were easy to make: naturally, all members must have an interest in boating (though owning a boat is not a requirement) and they must all be prepared to learn the words to the official lodge song, What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor.
Navigating new waters
Deciding how to appeal to new, younger members, however, has proven to be a trickier affair. ‘We are working hard to bridge the gap between young, trendy sailing guys and our traditional formalities by developing our meetings to meet their expectations,’ says Frank, determinedly. In the face of declining membership, he believes that appealing to the younger generation is crucial for Freemasonry, and his greatest hope for the new lodge is to see younger masons coming up through the ranks.
To make ritualistic masonic life appeal to millennial males, Frank is aware that he must be flexible with the rules. As well as applying the principles of brevity, the lodge will operate in a somewhat nomadic fashion as it casts its net wider in the search for new members.
Meetings at the lodge’s official headquarters, the Royal Naval and Royal Albert Yacht Club in Southsea, will be limited to twice a year, with three more taking place at other masonic centres along the coast, where members will cast anchor for the weekend. By visiting new marinas and hosting social events at sailing clubs, it is hoped that the profile of Spinnaker Lodge will rise among those who could potentially make perfect new members.
Given that the modern man is likely to be time poor, what would convince him to join Spinnaker Lodge? ‘Aside from the personal development opportunities, younger members will be able to tap into the knowledge of more experienced sailors,’ says Frank. By joining older brethren on their boats, younger sailors will be shown the ropes on different crafts.
‘We are working hard to bridge the gap between young, trendy sailing guys and our traditional formalities by developing our meetings to meet their expectations’ Frank Milner
As far as Adam is concerned, special interest lodges are the way forward for Freemasonry, enhancing the appeal of joining as well as creating greater enthusiasm among masons. And when it comes to getting greater commitment from existing members, the founding members of Spinnaker Lodge know there’s nothing more powerful than family.
By holding lodge meetings at weekends, and setting up temporary bases in marinas within easy distance of a masonic hall, Spinnaker Lodge offers family members the chance to meet and socialise. Senior Warden Adrian Cleightonhills, who sails a Southerly 32, says, ‘I’m keen that Freemasonry shouldn’t just be for the man of the house. It can take a fair amount of his time and I feel that it should be done with the encouragement, and involvement, of his family.’
Women and non-masonic members of the family won’t take part in lodge meetings, but they’ll keep the party going while the meetings take place, which is proving to be a popular notion. ‘When we’ve spoken to potential new members, this is the thing they show most interest in alongside the sailing,’ says Adrian.
Anchored in tradition
But Spinnaker Lodge will not only apply itself to appealing to new members; moral and spiritual values will not be compromised, and the lodge will remain dedicated to being a force for good in the community. Spinnaker will choose a sailing charity to support each year – this year it’s the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust – and the personal progression of members will be enhanced by developing them as sailors as well as men. And while the lodge would like its membership to double over the next five years, it’s not its biggest priority and won’t be achieved at any cost.
At the lodge’s first meeting in January this year, Spinnaker initiated two new members, both in their 20s and both keen boatmen.
They are the future of the lodge, and their success within it will ultimately reflect the lodge’s success as a whole. The winds of change are certainly blowing in Spinnaker’s sails and, as Frank says, ‘it’s all up for grabs’.
Plain sailing for Jubilee Trust
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Provincial Grand Master Mike Wilks had a special mission when he boarded the sailing vessel Tenacious at Southampton Docks: to present the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s (JST) chief executive Duncan Souster with a cheque for £15,000 from the Grand Charity.
The donation will be used for the JST’s Buddy Bursary scheme, which funds sailing expeditions for both disabled and able-bodied people, promoting equality by teaching them how to crew a tall ship together, sharing challenges and celebrating their individual differences. Since the JST began in 1978, more than 40,000 people have set sail to destinations including Tenerife and Costa Rica.
Launched 15 years ago, the Tenacious is one of two tall ships used by the group – the only tall ships in the world designed so they can be sailed by a crew with widely varied sensory and physical abilities, including wheelchair users.