Celebrating 300 years
Tuesday, 05 September 2017 00:00

Somerset deliver Tercentenary banner to Devon

Despite inclement weather, the Province of Somerset safely delivered the special south west Tercentenary banner to the Province of Devonshire in the magnificent Exeter Cathedral

The banner recognises the special fraternal bond that exists between the South West Provinces and has toured to the Provincial Grand Lodges of Jersey, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset. Devonshire will pass it on to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cornwall later in the year.

The Provincial Teams from Somerset and Devon paraded in regalia and met in the nave of Exeter Cathedral where the banner was formally passed over.

Stuart Hadler, Provincial Grand Master of Somerset, and Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devon, greeted one another and expressed their delight to be able to publicly show and acknowledge the 300th anniversary of the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge.

Sea cadet support in Jersey

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Jersey has donated £10,000 to the Jersey Sea Cadets to fund staff training as well as the purchase of items such as kayaks, archery and diving apparatus, and IT equipment. Provincial Grand Master Ken Rondel said, ‘The core values our two organisations share are so similar, it is an honour to be able to assist the Sea Cadet Corps in their valuable work.’ 

A nationwide maritime youth organisation, the Sea Cadets gives young people aged 10 to 18 opportunities for personal development, through learning new skills – such as sailing and rock climbing – challenging themselves and working in teams. Those aged 13 to 18 may also join the Royal Marines Cadets.

 

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Jersey is delighted to announce that following an approach last year from the Jersey Sea Cadets, the Freemasons of Jersey donated £10,000 yesterday at the Sea Cadets weekly parade

This donation is to purchase a variety of items, including Kayaks, Archery and Diving equipment, as well as IT software and hardware and also to provide important staff training.

The aim of the Sea Cadet Corps (SCC) is to give young people the best possible head start in life through nautical adventure and fun, teaching them essential life skills and moral values.  

The SCC is a nationwide voluntary youth organisation open to young people aged 10 to 18. Junior Sea Cadet sections are open to young people aged 10 to 12 years of age. Those aged from 13 to 18 may also join Royal Marines Cadet Detachments (RMCD), where established within Sea Cadet units, as Royal Marines Cadets. The local branch of the Sea Cadets, particularly at the present time, is very much in need of support.

The Provincial Grand Master, Ken Rondel, said when presenting the donation: 'The core values our two organisations share are so similar, it’s an honour to be able to assist the Sea Cadet Corps in their valuable work, keeping teenagers’ activities focused on positive mental and physical attributes.'

 

 

Vital support for Jersey hospital

Jersey masons reached the highlight of their 2013-14 charity appeal when a paediatric colonoscope was donated to the Endoscopy Unit at the General Hospital for its bowel cancer screening programme. Jersey masons raised £40,000 through donations and charity events ranging from lunches and raffles to clay pigeon shooting. The new colonoscope will enable the department to prevent a significant number of cases of bowel cancer on the island. 

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Jersey is delighted to announce that Tuesday the 2nd September will the see the culmination of its chosen 2013/14 charity appeal when a paediatric colonoscope shall be donated to the Bowel Cancer Screening Department of the General Hospital

The £40,000 to purchase this vital piece of equipment was raised by the Freemasons of Jersey over the past year through donations and various charity events, ranging from lunches, raffles, BBQs and even clay pigeon shooting!

The importance of the work done for all the people of Jersey by the Bowel Cancer Screening Department was highlighted to the Freemasons of Jersey, when Dr Linda Diggle and her team gave a presentation at an annual event to welcome newly joined members and their family and friends. It was made clear that the additional colonoscope, by virtue of allowing for more screenings, would enable the department to catch and therefore prevent a significant number of cases of bowel cancer in the island.

Whilst the name suggests the equipment is for use in regard to children, it should be highlighted that in this instance 'paediatric' also refers to the size of the apparatus, which, being smaller, is far less invasive for those undergoing screening procedures.

The Provincial Grand Master of Jersey, Kenneth Rondel (along with other Jersey Freemasons), presented the equipment to the General Hospital on Tuesday 2nd September, see image above.

On British soil

With Freemasonry banned in Germany, Jersey’s Past Provincial Grand Master David Rosser explains what the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands in World War II meant for local members of the Craft

The story of Jersey’s occupation by the Nazis is unique not only in masonic terms, but in the history of World War II, because it took place on the only part of British territory to be occupied by German forces during that conflict. It would have been impossible to attempt to defend the Channel Islands, in the case of Jersey just twelve miles from the west coast of France, without incurring an unacceptable level of civilian casualties. It was therefore announced that, as the Islands might be occupied, those who wished to leave would be evacuated. It was an agonising decision, but for Freemasons (and there were more than a thousand each in Jersey and Guernsey) especially so, knowing of Hitler’s persecution of German Freemasons.

Following the fall of Paris on 14 June 1940, the Nazi forces moved quickly westwards and began their invasion of the Channel Islands at the end of the month. The occupation began not without bloodshed as a number of civilians were killed during a brief air raid on St Helier, on the road to the quayside.

Freemasons would have been more apprehensive had they known of the Führer’s order in September 1939 for the creation of a list of British subjects and European exiles, the Sonderfahndungsliste GB (Special Search List GB) – now known as the Black Book – who were to be taken into what was euphemistically termed ‘protective custody’ in the event of an invasion of Great Britain.

This was brought home after obtaining a copy of the Last Will and Testament of the Provincial Grand Master of Jersey in those days, Charles Edward Malet de Carteret. Significantly, the Will was signed on 1 July 1940, the day enemy forces landed in Jersey. So far as we are able to gather, he had never previously made a will. Charles must have wondered what might have been in store for him and other members of the Craft still in the Islands. In poor health, Charles died in January 1942.

Life on the ground

The atmosphere was more relaxed than had been expected, mainly because the German troops were in high spirits; they were convinced that the occupation of Great Britain was but a few days away. And while some restrictions were harsh – for instance, remaining Jewish shops had to display notices to this effect – proclamations issued by the occupying authorities were conciliatory if not, in some respects, almost bizarre.

For instance, islanders were allowed to say prayers for the British Royal Family and the welfare of the British Empire. Likewise, while the National Anthem was not to be sung without permission, it could be listened to on the radio. For Freemasons, the future seemed uncertain. Charles was anxious that nothing be done to make life more difficult for his members and was informed by the German military authorities that, provided no further meetings were held and the masonic temple locked up, the building and its contents would be left alone.

Relying on this, and the proclamation issued on the first day of the occupation, which stated that ‘in the event of peaceful surrender the lives, property and liberty of peaceful inhabitants is solemnly guaranteed’, Charles complied. Furthermore, he instructed that all the beautiful furnishings in the temple, as well as the thousands of priceless items in the library and museum, should remain in situ. Unfortunately for Freemasons, the proclamation proved untenable. Soon after the establishment of the regular German troops (the Wehrmacht), the Sturmabteilung, or SA, were also despatched to Jersey – more sinister forces bent on pursuing the Nazi official policy against Freemasonry.

The first indication that something was afoot was the unannounced arrival at the masonic temple on 19 November 1940 of the Geheime Feldpolizei – the Secret Field Police – who demanded all keys to the building and proceeded to place seals on every door. Then, on Thursday, 23 January 1941, a squad of special troops from Hitler’s Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg arrived and proceeded to take an inventory of the contents and to photograph the main rooms, including the temple.

‘What was remarkable was that, having taken such drastic action against the physical attributes of Freemasonry, no action was taken to persecute individual masons.’

The investigations led to the despatch of further squads of Einsatzstab from Berlin, who commenced the systematic looting of the building on 27 January 1941. All the main pieces of furniture, the many beautiful furnishings, and the contents of the library and museum were stripped out, loaded onto lorries and shipped off the island. Anything that the looters did not want was either smashed and left lying around or piled in great heaps and burnt. Photographs taken when the building was repossessed by masonic authorities in 1945 reveal the scale of the devastation inflicted. 

Material losses

It subsequently came to light, from articles published in the local newspaper, which was under the control of the occupying authorities, that the reason for the removal of furnishings from the temple was to transport them to Berlin for use in an anti-masonic exhibition. Likewise, the photographs were taken to enable exhibition managers to replicate the layout of a lodge room. 

Exhibitions were also staged in Paris, Brussels and Vienna using artefacts stolen in similar fashion from French and Belgian lodges; another was held in Belgrade. It is known that artefacts were also taken from masonic buildings throughout the Netherlands, so there was little shortage of suitable material with which to stage such exhibitions.

Thankfully, the main fabric of the building remained undamaged and for the remainder of the occupation it was used to store liquor and confiscated wireless sets. What was most remarkable was that, having taken such drastic action against the physical attributes of Freemasonry, and given the purpose of the notorious Black Book, no action was taken to harass or persecute individual masons, full details of whom would have been ascertainable from the stolen masonic records.

The situation becomes more astonishing given that in 1942, and again in 1943, Hitler ordered all high-ranking Freemasons to be deported to Germany. The orders were sent directly to the Commander-in-Chief, but no action was taken to identify, locate and deport these senior masons, of whom there were many. This opens up the intriguing line of speculation that some of the most senior military commanders had masonic connections or sympathies, or may even have been members of the Craft at some time.

‘After the liberation by British forces on 9 May 1945, the massive task of restoration confronted the masonic authorities... it took several decades to complete.’

We know that none of those appointed to govern the Channel Islands was a Nazi, and that Commander-in-Chief of the island Rudolf Graf von Schmettow came increasingly under suspicion in Berlin. Chief-of-Staff Baron Hans von Helldorf also came under suspicion for his leniency towards civilians, and for failing to carry out orders he received from Berlin – he was banished to the island of Herm, pending court martial. Meanwhile, the wife of Baron Max von Aufsess, who was still in Germany, was declared an enemy of the state and arrested by the Gestapo. Von Aufsess had been tasked with handling the liaison between the military government and the Jersey authorities. 

The aftermath

After the liberation by British forces on 9 May 1945, the massive task of restoration confronted the masonic authorities. Since the last meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge in October 1939, the Province had lost its Provincial Grand Master, his Deputy and many other senior members. Despite this, Provincial Grand Lodge was convened on 16 August 1945, just one month after the masonic authorities repossessed the building. 

All the furnishings needed replacing, and to meet the cost the Province had to rely almost entirely on its own resources and the generosity of friends worldwide, although they did receive a donation of £5,000 from Grand Lodge. By early 1946 the temple had been restored to some kind of normality, although it took several decades to complete the full restoration. With the anti-masonic exhibition staged in an area of Berlin that suffered almost total destruction at the end of the war, it is likely that the building in which it was housed was destroyed. So sadly, and despite endless enquiries, none of the stolen treasures except for some two hundred and fifty library books have been recovered.

There is a happy ending to this story. As those who are able to recall and compare will readily testify, the present splendour of the Jersey masonic building even exceeds that which existed prior to the traumatic events of January 1941. This is a tremendous tribute not only to those on whose shoulders fell the enormous burden of restoration, but also to their friends worldwide who contributed so much and so generously to this massive task. Thanks to them, Freemasonry in the Channel Islands is alive and well today.

Published in Features

It was all down to a quiet word over a glass of wine with a fellow Freemason and GB international shooter at the end of the world championships in Pforzheim, Germany back in August 2012

'How would you feel about being captain of the Great Britain Long Range Team in Cape Town next year Gareth?'

An innocent question from my masonic brother David Brigden. 'Surely so-and-so or such-and-such will be skipper?' I replied.

Well, twelve months later the 'so-and-so' concerned is myself and on September 7th 2013 I arrived with a team of five shooters after spending the year organising the best training sessions from the best coaches the country has to offer. My team are new and ready.

New? Yes, as well as a few old hacks I have selected two debutants who have never shot for the country before but who, I firmly believe, are the best shooters Britain has.

New? Yes, I am a new captain with new ideas. The coaching, provided by one of the National Rifle Associations finest international mentors shook the system up a bit, a new broom never tried before.

Will it all work? Will I pull it off? These were my thoughts as we arrived in Cape Town after a seemingly endless journey through four airports, dragging our rifles, bullets (heavy on the excess baggage), kit, clothing and hopes and ambitions with us.

Fast forward six days and I’m sitting over another glass of wine with the same David Brigden, utterly exhausted at the end of a long competitive week.

'You did OK mate,' he says to me.

So yes, I think I pulled it off.

I ended with a gold medal and correspondingly left Cape Town as world champion at 500 meters. To add to this success my two debutants repaid my trust and faith wining between them a silver and three bronze medals.

The event is shot with muzzle loading rifles at distances from 300 meters back to 900 meters, using black powder and bullets one has made oneself.

For the uninitiated, shooting at this distance may sound impossible with a muzzle loading rifle, but long range target shooting started on Wimbledon Common in the 1860s with the very rifles we are using, and developed from there into the modern bolt action target rifles seen on ranges all over the world today. It is a matter of some pride that we still shoot muzzle-loading rifles of exactly the same type as those from the 1860s, and often shoot alongside these newer models.

The championships started with a full day's sighting-in before the competitions took place. This involved an uncomfortably early start to shoot at all five distances, progressing backward from 300 meters all the way to 900 meters.

At the last distance, after many hours of hard work, I was clambering up onto the raised 900 meter firing point when I remarked 'I have had easier days,' to which a local Cape Towner responded in his thick Boer accent, 'Africa was not built for sissies!' Now there is a motivational speech designed to make one determined to beat this chap on his own turf, which thankfully I was able to do the next day.

The actual competitive events started on the second day with the individual competitions at 300, 500 and 600 meters and I knew if I was going to make an impact on the championship this would be my only chance, as I specialise at these shorter distances, leaving the 800 and 900 meter events to more capable hands than mine.

Sure enough I contrived to finish last at 300 meters (in my defence the difference in score between first and last was rather close) but when moving back to 500 meters I felt a confidence in my original 1,860 Metford rifle and settled down just as the wind rose. By the time the shoot started the wind was rather feisty, which suited me as, living in Jersey, I train on a 500 meter range built on a cliff top. 'The wind is your friend' I remember an old shooter once telling me and on this occasion he was proved to be right as I scored 38.2 a decent score.

Conditions steadily worsened at 600 meters and by this time even my stamina and familiarity with stormy conditions was wavering, but once again I put in a decent score and left the range satisfied with my work for the day and optimistic that my scores might put me in the mix for a medal in the minor places somewhere, assuming that some of the world's best shooters will have pulled out scores superior to my reasonable efforts.

It takes some hours at these championships for all the scores to be collated and scrutinised before final results can be announced, and I was back at the range club house relaxing and preparing my kit for the next day. Then brother Brigden tapped me on the shoulder and announced 'Well done skipper, you won the 500!'

I have been shooting for Great Britain for over 20 years and would describe myself as a dependable team shooter, but not one of the exceptional talents who regularly win the top prizes. So it came as something of a surprise to learn that 'my friend, the wind' had clearly done enough on my behalf to interfere with my rivals scores and give me just enough room to beat them on v-bulls, a tie-breaking method used to separate identical scores. I was delighted that this news, the culmination of 20 years' effort, was given to me by a brother and fellow mason, many thousands of miles from home. Masonry universal sprang to mind and it is fitting that the two dominant pursuits of my life, shooting and masonry, came together in this moment.

Although the experience of leading the national team was challenging and daunting, I found support by falling back on my experiences in masonry. In particular my journey to and through the chair of my Craft mother lodge (Royal Sussex Lodge No. 491) has aided my growth as an individual, giving me greater self-confidence and improved leadership skills. Considering that my margin of victory was so tight, if Freemasonry gave me even a tiny advantage on the range in Cape Town then I am doubly grateful for my life in the Craft.

When Kirk decided to become a mason with Lodge St Helier No. 4449 I was not sure what to expect

Whilst we have many friends who are masons, Freemasonry was not a frequent topic of conversation on social nights out with them. One thing I knew was that Kirk and I have always supported each other and so I was keen to give my full commitment in any way I could on this new journey.

This proved to be by accompanying Kirk to events such ladies's nights. Being a naturally sociable person and used to networking I was not daunted by the prospect of meeting new people. I therefore encouraged Kirk to attend as many events as possible, both in Kirk's lodge and also other lodges.

My first surprise was how easy it was to fit in, how welcoming all of Kirk’s fellow masons were, and how many people I actually knew. I also found that I enjoyed the variety of events and was impressed with the extent of the charitable support. I do believe in life that you get out of it what you put in, and we managed to attend lunches, suppers and many ladies' evenings. I found the talks to be informative, and I also enjoyed the Christmas carol event – a chance for a good singsong with friends old and new!

I was particularly thrilled to find that a group of people I had met at another lodge’s supper evening decided, when it came to our lodge ladies' night, not only to come along but they also asked to sit with Kirk and I – a real compliment in itself – and we had a great evening.

As it happens, my work also takes me across the Channel Islands and London and, with a word or two here and there, I started to pick up the nuances and recognise other masons and their partners. I noticed that I was working for a company based in the former masonic lodge in Guernsey and found that the taxi driver I regularly used was a mason. So I even managed to introduce Kirk to some of his contemporaries. We have enjoyed many a night out in our sister island and, when Kirk became Worshipful Master of his lodge, one of our Guernsey friends came to his installation and our London friends made a special visit and came over for the ladies' night.

For our own ladies' night we dared to do something a bit different and by all accounts it was a great success, as we had lots of positive responses. We tried to ensure it was a fun evening that all ages would enjoy it, and I was so pleased to see everyone’s enjoyment of the excellent magician.

I have found the overall journey to be about supporting your other half, enjoying the experience and making new friends.

So to all other ladies, particularly if your husband or partner is going into the chair of their lodge, I would encourage you to involve yourselves as much as you can by attending a few of the functions and meeting new people and you will be surprised how you grow as a person alongside your masonic man!

Now we are on another route of our journey as Kirk is installed as the Worshipful Master for his Mark lodge.

I am already enthused and excited about the new opportunities this will bring, which new friends I will meet and could we even manage another successful ladies' night? Watch this space! 

Susan Clark

Wednesday, 14 December 2011 09:26

Cake with a difference

There was a particularly appropriate surprise for the 60th birthday of Past Deputy Grand Organist Brian Williams at a celebratory dinner with family and friends at a local restaurant.

Unknown to him, Jersey Provincial Grand Master Kenneth Rondel – a guest at the dinner – had secretly commissioned two cakes to be made in the same dimensions as Brian’s full dress regalia. The cakes were made by Mrs Natalie Jordan and took nine hours to create – an extraordinary effort as the cakes looked so much like the real thing.
Wednesday, 28 September 2011 21:23

"On ya bike"

The Jersey PGM's personal challenge

December 2010, an email circulates the bank looking for participants to cycle from London to Nantes in June 2011 – 350 miles in 4 days. What made me even think I should attempt it, I don’t know. But something said “go on have a go – it’s a real challenge”. The training was tough during the bitter cold months of January and February. I have done little (in fact no) exercise in the last 20 years to keep myself fit, so training was not overly easy, but I was determined not to be the one that failed the challenge. My confidence was seriously shattered in April, when I was knocked off my bike by a car! However, I was still convinced not to give up and pursued the training regime with vigour. The challenge was a four day event and a group of 50+ cyclists (some very good & many novice cyclists like me) gathered at the Stoop in Twickenham on 29th June, the home ground of the Harlequins Rugby Club. We were briefed, stocked up on liquids, energy gels, and spare inner tubes, given a cycling shirt to wear and sent on our merry way through the outskirts of London and into countryside towards Portsmouth. No further than half a mile and already a cyclist had a puncture; these over the next four days were plentiful and had to be repaired on the side of the road in a matter of minutes. Numerous punctures were sustained by single riders each day, this was demoralising but the team spirit got them through.

Day 1 was an 80 mile cycle over a good many hills not least across the Hog’s Back in Surrey and all the cyclists who set off finally assembled at the port to catch the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Caen. Most were drained and tired, but many assemble in the bar to stock up on carbohydrates (beer) for the next day.

Day 2 started at 05.45 AM with a fresh SW breeze as we cycle from Caen to the first food station 30 miles into the French countryside. Jaffa cakes, jam tarts, chocolate rolls, peanut bars, bananas are just some of the items that are scoffed at a rate of knots to rebuild the sugar and carbohydrates. The euphoria of early morning is soon quelled when the first of a series of 3 km hills are encountered. In total 5 of these hills are cycled before the lunch stop. This is by far the hardest day; the heat was over 30º C and a gruelling 130 miles (not kilometres!) to cover. Not a completely uneventful day; one rider crashes at the bottom of a hill, loses two front teeth & suffered a broken jaw; others have been forced to retire due to knee injuries or other collisions with the tarmac! We eventually get to the hotel and after a quick shower, retire to the bar for an intake of carbs (beer) and reminisce over the day’s events. 

Day 3 is pretty much the same as the previous day. Thankfully no major injuries sustained but many are suffering from the effects of the heat which was 35º C throughout most of the ride. After 85 miles we arrive at the hotel where more beer is consumed to build up the carbs for the next day – sadly many cyclists overdosed on this method of carbohydrate intake and suffer the effects the next morning!

Day 4 The heat is continuing to pick up and even in early morning as we leave on the final leg to Les Herbiers, 55 miles away the temperature is already up to 25º C. The ride is not only hot but “le derrière” is getting very sore! The highlight of the day was to see the finish of the first leg of the 2011 Tour de France – an experience, but not one that lasts particularly long, as you might expect from a sport that is better watched on TV than as a road side spectator! So, for a personal challenge what did I gain from my experience? · I realised that effort + determination = success; it is obvious to those who make an effort that the rewards can be very satisfying – this equally applies to the work we put into our Freemasonry and the rewards that can be obtained if we make that extra effort.

Team work with the other cyclists made the ride so much easier, everyone took it in turns to lead the peloton, thus making it easier for those behind; again, if we work together as a team in our various Lodges and within the Province, we will achieve better results, thus involving more brethren who otherwise may not feel included.

Friendships were formed with other likeminded people, which otherwise, I would not have had the opportunity and pleasure to meet. Freemasonry brings likeminded men together where we develop lasting friendships.
Help and support in a time of need. This rang true throughout the whole four day event; if someone sustained a problem or injury there was always a fellow rider on hand to lend a helping hand. Freemasonry is built on these principals but it was refreshing to see it still practised elsewhere! A HUGE thank you to all the brethren who sponsored me on my challenge, the other Provinces who made donations, and to everyone who offered words of support. It meant a great deal and the results speak for themselves - our eight man cycle team raised £38,000 (at time of writing) which forms part of an expected total of £100,000 to be raised by the 50+ cyclist that took part. Several people have asked me if I’d do it again next year; catch me at a week moment while filling up on carbs (beer) and I might say yes! 

You can find out more about the wonderful work Right To Play does for children around the world by visiting their web site  http://www.righttoplay.com/uk/. Right To Play uses sport and play to provide basic education to the children on their programmes, to raise awareness of health issues such as HIV AIDS and Malaria prevention, to promote peace and tolerance, and to give children the life skills and confidence necessary to make the most of their lives.
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