The official opening of an accessible low ropes course in Little Deer Wood, Mirfield, West Yorkshire took place in August
This facility is the only rope course accessible to both able bodied and disabled young people in the whole of the North of England and is one of only two in the country. It was funded primarily from a major grant of £20,000 from the Provincial Grand Master’s Fund in the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, together with donations from Huddersfield-based Cummins Turbo Technologies and the Yorkshire Regional Spinal Injury Centre’s Stepping Stones Appeal, based at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, who will use it to treat patients whose spines were injured in accidents or warzones.
The opening ceremony was performed by Major Stan Hardy, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant for West Yorkshire, who was accompanied by Worshipful Brother Anthony Llewellyn, Assistant Provincial Grand Master from the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, and Anya Philip, HR Director of Cummins Turbo Technologies.
The course is strung beneath trees with a series of linked challenges. It is designed to be environmentally friendly and should last for many years. The ropes, wires and other elements that make up the obstacles are no more than 50cm from the ground but team members must remain off the ground as they negotiate the course. There are also moving platforms which youngsters confined to wheelchairs must negotiate.
Courses like these are becoming more popular in the UK, but, there are only two which are totally accessible for able-bodied and disabled people. This type of course aims to encourage communication and co-operation as well as to help individuals build up confidence and develop balance and co-ordination.
Little Deer Wood is situated in woodland at Shepley Bridge in Mirfield and is one of the locations locally where young people train for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award which is the world’s leading achievement award for young people. Over 6,000 young people in Kirklees are currently taking part in the scheme.
Denise Bedford MBE, manager of the Kirklees Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said: 'Around 40 young people with disabilities, who are currently staying at the centre for the Wild Activities Challenging Kirklees Young people (WACKY) programme, had the first go on the course. They absolutely loved it. Everybody had a smile on their face.
'It is often really difficult to ensure that people with disabilities can join in and benefit from a whole range of activities, most of which require specially-adapted equipment. We can only achieve this with donations such as the ones we have received and from the excellent support we get from volunteers.'
'The course has been three years in the making,' said Steve Dunn, Chair of Kirklees Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Trust. 'Having raised the necessary funds it was difficult finding an organisation that would build it to fit in with its natural surroundings in the woodland. Eventually the course was designed and constructed by Gloucestershire-based Motiva Adventure Construction and is tailor-made to the site. It will be a superb addition to the other facilities at Little Deer Wood which include canoeing, archery, climbing, orienteering, bushcraft and many more which are already accessible to both able bodied and disabled young people.'
David Archer, secretary of Howley Lodge No. 5012 in Batley, who sponsored the bid to the PGM’s Fund, and Trustee of the Kirklees Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Trust, said: 'When you see how our charitable donations are used to provide facilities like these for young people, especially those with special needs, it makes you feel proud to be a Freemason. It is really emotional seeing able-bodied and disabled children working together to navigate the course, and the Trust is extremely grateful to the PGM’s Fund for making it all possible.'
The Children's Trust have been presented with a grant for £80,000 to help support hundreds of children with brain injuries
The Children’s Trust’s brain injury specialists are experienced clinicians, who will work with the child, family and school, providing advice, brain injury education and classroom strategies to support each child.
The grant will be used to fund the role of a Brain Injury Specialist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital who will support around 500 children across South Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and North Derbyshire over the next two years.
The grant from Yorkshire, West Riding Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded entirely through the generosity of Freemasons and their families from across England and Wales.
Stuart Grantham of Yorkshire, West Riding Freemasons commented: 'We are very pleased to be able to help The Children’s Trust who do hugely important work supporting hundreds of children across South Yorkshire and beyond.'
Harrogate and Ripon Freemasons have turned to “flower power” to help celebrate key milestones in the fraternity’s history
Three floral displays – located on Harrogate’s Montpellier Hill, within the Valley Gardens and in Ripon’s Spa Gardens – have been created by Harrogate Borough Council’s Parks & Environmental Services Department to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Premier Grand Lodge and the bicentenary of the Province of Yorkshire West Riding.
The official unveiling of the beds, which feature the masonic symbols of the square and compasses and the white rose of Yorkshire, was performed by the Mayor of Harrogate, Coun Anne Jones, Ripon Mayor Coun Pauline McHardy and the Provincial Grand Master David S Pratt.
The flower beds, containing around 7,500 plants, were the brainchild of Doug Mills, Charity Steward of The Spa Lodge No. 7609, who came up with the idea that the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England and the Bi-centenary of The Province of Yorkshire West Riding, could be celebrated by a floral display in Harrogate.
He approached Harrogate Borough Council to see if they would support planting out beds to mark the two landmarks, which it readily agreed to and added Ripon to the mix.
Doug Mills commented: 'These three flower beds are simply stunning and they look absolutely fantastic. Six months ago it was merely an idea and now it is reality.'
Rt W Bro David S Pratt, who presented commemorative hand trowels to the mayors, said: '2017 is a very special year for Freemasonry in England and Wales, and in particular for our Province as we are also celebrating our 200th birthday.
'We very much welcome the support of Harrogate Borough Council, as without them Doug’s floral tercentenary and bicentenary tributes would never have seen the light of day. Thanks to the skills of the parks team, thousands of people walking in the three locations will be able to enjoy these stunning flower beds throughout the summer months.'
The Treasurer of The Spa Lodge, W Bro Peter Dodds, facilitated the manufacture and supply free of charge of four powder coated stainless steel display cases from In Stainless Engineering Ltd together with graphic boards provided by Signs Express that detail the history of the United Grand Lodge of England and the Province.
Grand announcement by Freemasons of Yorkshire, West Riding
An explosion of sound and a cascade of glitter to the background of Purcell’s music and a montage featuring activities during the festival culminated in the amazing total being dramatically revealed at an impressive banquet at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.
Some 600 brethren, their wives and partners, shared in the celebrations and delight as the outstanding result, kept under wraps until the night, was greeted with acclaim and great satisfaction by all present.
RW Provincial Grand Master David Pratt was, for once, lost for words. The £3,300,300 raised was fitting recognition to mark the 300th anniversary of the formation of the first ever Grand Lodge.
RW Bro Pratt paid tribute to all the members of the Province and their families for their contributions and support throughout the festival. He also reflected on the work of RW Bro John Clayton, his predecessor, who had launched the festival as its President in 2012, with a clear vision of how it should be managed through to a successful outcome.
VW Bro Sir Paul Williams, Chairman of the RMBI Care Company, thanked the Province for the manner in which it had supported the Festival. He commented that Yorkshire, West Riding had not only done themselves proud but also done it in style, with passion, commitment and a lot of fun along the way.
Sir David Wootton, Assistant Grand Master, in proposing a toast to the Festival President thanked everyone in the Province for their tremendous support, which had resulted in such an outstanding achievement. He is proud to be a member of the Province.
Man among Men
A new photobook on Freemasonry, created to coincide with the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary, has been described as giving a detailed and colourful insight into the world of Freemasonry
The photobook is the work of Juliane Herrmann, a documentary photographer from Cologne, Germany, who has spent the last five years travelling to different countries around the world, which include England, Brazil, Germany, Israel and the Netherlands, to document Freemasons.
Juliane has now started up a crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter to help finance the printing costs, where people can make contributions by ordering the book.
Juliane Herrmann commented: ‘For over five years I have worked relentlessly on a project about Freemasonry. The upcoming book will give a complex, unprecedented perspective into a world, which has never been photographed in such a comprehensive way before.’
Titled, ‘Man among Men', the photobook will hold over 300 pages in a blue velvet hardcover with gold stamping and will contain 160 colour photographs.
Please scroll through the gallery at the top to view some of the images from the book.
You can find out more and support the project here
Refresh for Ripon Cathedral
Ripon Cathedral has received two grants totalling £12,500 from the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, which will help to pay for the renewal of ancient flagstones.
The Dean of Ripon John Dobson received the two grants – one for £7,500 from West Riding Masonic Charities Limited, and a second of £5,000 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation. These were presented by David Pratt, PGM; Jack Pigott, Chairman of West Riding Masonic Charities; and Paul Clarke, APGM.
Support for Leeds’ young
Leeds charity The Market Place, which provides support services for young people, was awarded a grant of £1,000 by Yorkshire, West Riding’s Provincial Grand Master’s Fund.
The money will be used for additional computers, the staff team and making the premises safer.
After the floods - Freemasons of Yorkshire, North & East Ridings donate a further £25,000 to the Two Ridings Community Foundation Flood Appeal in York
We can all remember the sight, over Christmas 2015/New Year 2016, of the floods cascading over the sides of rivers all over our country. We can also remember the sadness on the faces of the victims of these floods. We saw traumatised children and older people, being lifted from their homes by the Emergency Services. We were looking at people who had lost everything to the waters. This horrendous picture of despair had such an effect on the Provincial Grand Master, of the Freemasons of Yorkshire North and East Ridings, Jeffrey Gillyon that he had to do something to relieve the distress of these people in the York area.
The Freemasons' Grand Charity, which is based in London and administers a relief fund for such eventualities, had already set the wheels in motion by giving an immediate £75,000 donation to the flood-relief efforts, both in Cumbria and in York.
Jeffrey Gillyon wanted to directly affect the lives of our more local victims of the York floods, and so asked the Freemasons' Grand Charity for another £25,000 to be given for the benefit of the victims of the York floods. The immediate result was this extra donation for use by the Provincial Grand Master.
The next thing, for him, was to channel this money, to the most deserving of those people in need. So, the Freemasons of the Province of Yorkshire, North & East Ridings approached the Two Ridings Community Foundation (TRCF) for their assistance in distributing these funds. They had been involved from the start, Jan Garrill, the Chief Executive of TRCF, had received a telephone call from Colin Stroud on Boxing Day, to set up a fund for the victim relief effort.
In mid-February 2016, a small team of Freemasons attended at the offices of TRCF in York to, not only hand over a cheque in support of the fund, but to speak with the TRCF Team about their work. The Freemasons Team was also willing to offer their help and support. They met with Jan Garrill, the Chief Executive of the TRCF.
Terry Wolf, is the Flood Relief Manager and she told the Freemasons Team about a young couple, who had recently bought their new home in York. To their knowledge there hadn’t been any flooding in their area for over 40 years, so the taking out of insurance hadn’t been one of their priorities. She was pregnant and due to give birth soon, so was not at work at that time. This had put some pressure on their finances, which may have been a consideration when thinking of insurance purchase. The Freemasons Team could imagine the stress of moving into a new home, a pregnant mother-to-be and then the nightmare of the floods. The couple had lost nearly everything that they had built up, but what most hurt them, was that they had also lost their wedding photographs. They were devastated.
The TRCF Team had given this couple an immediate grant of £700, to cover their immediate finances and is staying with them until they can get them back on their feet. The £25,000 from the Freemasons will help this young couple directly.
It will also help another older couple, which was mentioned by Terry Wolf. This elderly couple are on a low income and the husband is in poor health with chest problems. They are a stoic couple and do not normally look for assistance from anyone, preferring to have their own independence. They had seen floods in former times, at their home and were ready for it. However, when these floods came, they were unprepared for the amount of flood water. Their home was flooded. When the waters eventually subsided, they got on with repairing their lives and just cleaned up as they had been used to doing. The dampness of the house made the husband’s chest condition worse and he had to visit the York District Hospital frequently. The TRCF Team were not initially made aware of this couple’s needs, as they had not made any application for assistance.
The TRCF Team, being on the ground and talking with victims of the flood, had gone to a local furniture store, which was acting as a pseudo-community centre, giving out ‘bacon butties’ and advice, where they were told of the elderly couple’s woes. (Praise must be given to the owners and staff of the furniture store, for re-kindling the fine community spirit that exists in York.) Terry Wolf helped to arrange de-humidifiers for the drying out of the elderly couple’s home. However, the chest problems of the husband were made more difficult by their use, so they then arranged for the landlord to re-house them, while he went about ‘Cooking’ the house with driers. The TRCF Team expect the couple to move back into their home very shortly.
The £25,000 donation from the Freemasons of Yorkshire North & East Ridings will help to provide assistance, in the months to come, to these specific people and generally to the people of York, who will still be suffering, even though the media story has started to fade.
The Freemasons will be working in the community with the TRCF in the future, not only with the flood victims, but on other projects to benefit the people of the two Ridings of North and East Yorkshire.
The latest TRCF venture is the “Surviving Winter Appeal”. This project helps older and vulnerable people to stay warm and well during the winter months.
The Government’s Winter Fuel Payment is paid automatically to all eligible older people. For many this is vital. But the Freemasons Team will be asking their members, ‘If you feel that you’d like to give some or all of your payment to help other local older or vulnerable people, please donate to the TRCF Surviving Winter Fund.’
The Surviving Winter Appeal will be match-funded by a new project which is tackling fuel poverty and supporting winter health across North Yorkshire.
Keeping Kirklees course accessible
The Kirklees Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Trust, which supports around 5,000 young people each year in pursuit of awards, has received a £20,000 grant from West Yorkshire masons. The grant was sponsored by Howley Lodge, No. 5012, which meets at Batley, and will be used to build a low-rope challenge course with a wheelchair-accessible path to allow access to the course and facilities at the Little Deer Wood site in Mirfield.
HG Wells said that whenever he saw an adult on a bicycle, he had hope for the human race. A three-hundred-mile ride brought out the best in forty-five masons when they pedalled the perimeter of the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding. Simon Lewis met some of the participants
The August bank holiday started beautifully in Sheffield, remembers retired civil servant John Boyington, a Freemason since 1994. John was there at dawn to watch forty-five Lycra-clad masons set off on a bicycle tour of the entire perimeter of the Masonic Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, visiting all twenty-three masonic halls along the way.
‘The Grand Départ was from Tapton Hall,’ John says. ‘Funny how we speak French now – up until last year we’d have called it the “Start”. When I arrived at 8am, the car park was full of bits of bikes and all I could hear was the clip-clopping of cycling cleats. As the lads came into view, I could see the excitement on their faces from twenty yards off. The trepidation, too.’
No wonder they were daunted. West Riding is one of the biggest Provinces in the country, spanning both sides of the Pennines, ranging from industrial Sheffield to the hill farms north of Lancaster, taking in the Three Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales and some of the toughest cycling roads in the country. The participants would be covering nearly three hundred miles over three days.
‘The first real climb took us over the Pennines to Uppermill,’ says Phil Atkinson, a menswear retailer from Addington and a member of Olicana Lodge, No. 1522, in Ilkley. ‘We were going down the high street towards the Lodge of Candour when this guy steps out, stops the traffic and ushers us into the lodge like royalty. Then a brass band starts up. It brought a lump to my throat. A lot of people had gone to an awful lot of trouble.’
At Hebden Bridge, a bit further on, the cyclists were greeted by a piper in full Highland dress playing Danny Boy. That night they were invited to Waddington’s Royal Forest Lodge to have dinner with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, resplendent in their chains of office, while the cyclists limped around bow-legged in Lycra.
All twenty-three masonic halls along the route opened their doors. ‘My aim was to raise awareness of Freemasonry,’ says Martyn Bolt of Woodsmoke Lodge, No. 9317, in Mirfield, who is a cycling development officer and designed this year’s Tour de France route through Yorkshire. A mason since 1993, he spotted a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something new for the Craft. ‘Two years ago there was huge Olympic cycling success and we were about to host the Tour de France. I figured that by the summer of 2014 there’d be a huge boom in cycling.’
He was right – cycling participation in the UK has doubled in the past few years. When his Province began its Festival to raise money for the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI), Martyn’s suggestion of a three-hundred-mile bike ride was the right idea at the right time. ‘It chimed with the goals of our five-year Festival,’ says John Boyington, who heads the Province’s fundraising committee. ‘When it started in 2012, the economic climate wasn’t good and our Provincial Grand Master didn’t want to set arduous targets. Another goal was to raise the profile of Freemasonry. I think there’s a misconception that we just look after ourselves, when we also look after lots of other people. We give to almost every type of charity you can imagine.’
‘I’ve seen one of the RMBI homes in York,’ says Martyn, ‘and I know how people depend on our charities.’ And so he began planning, beginning with sticking pins in the map to show all the masonic halls in the Province, working out the best routes between them, and recruiting fellow mason Craig Johnson, a senior lecturer at Bradford University School of Management and member of Lodge of Connaught & Truth, No. 521, in Huddersfield.
‘Cycling is not normally something you associate with masonry,’ says Craig. ‘In fact, it’s almost the beginning of a joke: “What do you call a Freemason on a bike?” A lot of the events we do are based around dinners and galas, so for me this was something new and exciting.’
The planning took eighteen months. Craig took two weeks off to design a website to keep everybody informed and to make it easy to donate. The site alone raised £1,000 and Craig gave talks about the ‘Provincial Perimeter Pedal’ at all the lodges in the Province and elsewhere.
The real hard work, however, came on that August bank holiday – particularly on the second day, when the forty-five cyclists faced some of the steepest roads in the UK. ‘There was one hill just outside Settle that was so steep some of the sheep were falling off it,’ says Craig. ‘I’d heard about it but had never been up it, and now I know why.’
With a gradient of one-in-four over two miles, cobbles at the bottom and an unseasonal hailstorm at the top, it was all a bit much for Chris Oldfield, who only started cycling a few years ago. ‘I’ve never seen a hill like it,’ says Chris, of Mirfield Lodge, No. 1102. ‘I had to get off and push, which I’m annoyed about. One of our group was over seventy and he managed to stay in the saddle – if only because his hips were so bad he said he couldn’t walk.
We looked after each other. If anyone had a mechanical problem, we’d stop. If anyone needed a breather, we’d stop.’
There were compensations for the near-vertical ascents. The views, for one thing: the valleys around Keighley and Hebden Bridge, where Last of the Summer Wine was filmed, and the beautiful James Herriot country around Ripon. More importantly, however, was the friendship.
‘I got to meet likeminded masons who I wouldn’t have met otherwise,’ says Phil. ‘We’ve been out riding since and just today I got an email from one of them who’s having a get-together at his lodge. There’s also the buzz of raising money. And with the training, I’m as fit as I’ve ever been.’
‘The fact that all the masonic halls opened their doors to us on a bank holiday and gave the public a chance to come in will have had a beneficial effect for Freemasonry,’ says Martyn. ‘Hopefully we’ll have broken down some of the myths about us – including the notion that masons are all grey-haired blokes who sit around and eat.’
Martyn is already planning an even bigger event for 2016: a walk around the Three Peaks in the Yorkshire Dales, with various levels of difficulty so people can bring their families, and he hopes hundreds will get involved.
Are we seeing the start of a new era? John, who was there to see the cyclists off that Saturday morning, was also there at the end when the exhausted riders returned to Tapton in a freezing downpour. ‘There was an enormous cheer,’ he remembers. ‘Some of the guys were done in. It does my heart good to know that people are willing to put themselves through that sort of trial for the benefit of people they’ll never know. In these days, when the media is full of how a minority of people in the world can be so unkind and cruel, it’s great to be reminded that the majority of us want to live good lives and do good for others.’
Donate to the Provincial Perimeter Pedal at www.everydayhero.co.uk/event/E2057A