Celebrating 300 years

The inaugural match of the Light Blues Rugby Football Club (LBRFC), recently formed by Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, was held on Saturday 29th October 2016

The Light Blues played host club Vipers RFC at their ground in Whetstone, Leicester as a thank you for proposing them to the Leicestershire Rugby Union and allowing the use of their facilities for future fixtures.

The Light Blues were first to score with a try from Bro Jordan Owen-Clegg of Hastings Lodge No. 8695 and the extra points converted by Bro Mark Edwards from Beacon Lodge No. 5208 who kicked all three conversions with stylish ease. At half time LBRFC were a converted try up, a flurry of activity straight after half time saw the Vipers strike back to level the score. The game was played in a fine spirit and the final score of 40-21 to Vipers did not reflect the balance of the match, a few younger backs came to the fore in the final few minutes to inflate the lead further.

Bro Samuel Harris of the Lodge of the Golden Fleece No. 2081 and Chairman of the LBRFC said: 'It was a great day and the culmination of a lot of hard work by the committee. Thank you to all those who came to support and provide banter from the touchline.'

 

Thursday, 12 May 2016 07:28

Young mason visits lodge in France

Channel hopping

On the 3rd May 2016, three members of the Beacon Lodge No. 5208 travelled to France to accompany Bro Joshua Symonds to a meeting of La Loge Ad Augusta, Per Angusta No. 617

Bro Joshua Symonds was initiated, on his 18th birthday in May 2015, into the Beacon Lodge No. 5208 in Loughborough. Joshua, who is a gamekeeper, subsequently gained a position as under-keeper on a large estate at the Chateau de La Verrerie in Aubigny-sur-Nere in France. This meant that, as Joshua was working abroad, he was unable to regularly attend his Mother Lodge. His father, W Bro Garry Symonds and other brethren, therefore decided to arrange a visit to a French lodge in Bourges, near to where Joshua works.

W Bro Garry Symonds said: 'The lodge is a small Provincial Lodge way off the beaten track and had never received foreign visitors before; we received a very warm and generous welcome.'

At the Festive Board, the hand of friendship was further extended to Bro Joshua when the Master, W Bro Frédéric Heurtebise, invited him to attend the lodge at their next meeting and for him to continue this practice through the next season.

The brethren from the Beacon Lodge kindly presented an engraved silver loving cup to the lodge, to mark their visit and to be used in ceremonial form at the Installation meetings.

During the summer, the Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works of Leicestershire and Rutland led the redecoration of the Provincial headquarters on London Road, Leicester.

W Bro Fred Harris and his son Bro Freddie Harris, both of Beacon Lodge No. 5208, along with a small team, began the four week process in mid-June 2015 and is focussed on a complete redecoration including repairs to joinery and preparation of external surfaces prior to the complete repainting of the façade.

No doubt these efforts by W Bro Fred Harris over the summer will not only prolong the life of the building but vastly increase the appearance of Freemasons' Hall doing justice to the magnificent Grade II listed Georgian building that many Leicestershire and Rutland masons call home.

Beacon Lodge No. 5208 held an emergency meeting on Friday 29th May 2015 for a very special ceremony where they initiated a 'Lewis' on the very day of his 18th birthday

Whilst the normal age for joining Freemasonry is usually 21 years old, there are special circumstances where those aged 18 years and above can join. 

A ‘Lewis’ is the name given to the uninitiated son of a mason. In stonemasonry, a lewis is an iron cramp that is forced into a cavity of a stone to enable the lifting or lowering of that stone. Although it is not a working tool used in masonic ritual it can be seen as a symbol of strength, which a son is to his father.

Joshua Symonds, who is the eldest son of W Bro Garry Symonds and Past Master of Beacon Lodge, became what is most probably the youngest Freemason in the country thanks to a dispensation granted by the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger.

The ceremony was witnessed by over 70 brethren including visitors from far and wide, including a good contingency of younger masons from the Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blue Club. The ceremony was first class and a very proud father took the Master’s Chair to Initiate his son and give those attending a memorable and very unforgettable evening.

Beacon Lodge has one of the lowest age profiles in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland with an average age of just 51. The addition of Bro Symonds will undoubtedly continue the trend in the lodge for younger men to join the fraternity and enjoy Freemasonry at an early age.

After the meeting, a very enjoyable Festive Board was held after the ceremony where £475 was raised for Leicester Children’s Holiday Centre who provide free seaside holidays for disadvantaged children across the county.

Over the festive period a band of determined and enthusiastic brethren from the Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blue Club undertook a unique and historic feat, visiting 12 different lodges across 12 different evenings in December

The lodges visited were:

1st December - Jason Lodge No. 7716 (Leicester)
4th December - Highcross Lodge No. 4835 (Leicester)
5th December - Edward Sherrier Lodge No. 6757 (Lutterworth)
9th December - Castle of Leicester Lodge No. 7767 (Leicester)
11th December - Beacon Lodge No. 5208 (Loughborough)
12th December - Rothley Temple Lodge No. 7801 (Leicester)
13th December - Old Oakhamians No. 8033 (Oakham)
15th December - Lodge of the Golden Fleece No. 2081 (Leicester)
16th December - Temperantia Lodge No. 4088 (Leicester)
17th December - Reynard Lodge No. 9285 (Loughborough)
18th December - St Peter's Lodge No. 1330 (Market Harborough)
19th December - Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448 (Leicester)

The event was organised by Samuel Harris (Lodge of the Golden Fleece), and was conceived not only as an enjoyable test of endurance (and waistlines), but also to achieve three specific aims:

  • To introduce brethren to the joys of visiting and meet other masons across the Province, by providing a unique opportunity to attend any of the 12 lodges during this period knowing there were a group of likeminded individuals also attending
  • To raise awareness of the Light Blue Club and its aims across the Province and
  • To raise a significant amount of money for LOROS Hospice as one of the designated charities

Over the course of the event, over two dozen individual brethren took part at various stages, including a few who had only been in the Craft for a matter of weeks but were keen to take part. Indeed, one brother who was initiated at one of the meeting, then came to visit another first degree ceremony the day immediately after his own!

In total, visits under the guise of the 12 lodges accounted for over 60 individual visits during the period, with the Light Blue Club attended meetings across the Province, from Leicester to Loughborough and Lutterworth, from Oakham to Market Harborough.

The brethren were overwhelmed with the warm welcome and hospitality they received at every lodge, and enjoyed seeing a wide variety of ceremonies performed, as well as the peculiarities and traditions unique to each Lodge either in the meeting or at the Festive Boards.

Every degree was witnessed at least one, as well as an Installation, although due to the time of the year, Christmas dinner was more often than not the menu of choice! The brethren enjoyed being able to explain to other junior Freemasons the aims of the Light Blue Club, the events put on, and how much they enjoy meeting and socialising with others across the Province. As a result, many more are now aware of the club and intend to get involved in the future.

Samuel Harris was supported in organisation of the event by Karl Coles (Edward Sherrier Lodge), and both deserve full credit for their commitment being the only members who managed to attend all 12 lodges. By the end of the final visit, both stated they would be happy if they never had to see turkey on the menu again!

Over £800 has been raised so far for LOROS, with contributions still coming in.

Thursday, 15 March 2012 00:00

Understanding the light touch

With mentoring high on the agenda, Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes takes the opportunity to give clarity and perspective to what it means for Freemasons

You have all heard that the Mentoring Scheme is designed to eventually mentor members at all stages of their masonic progress. Initially this is especially for candidates – the next generation – during the three degrees and then to encourage them to continue their progress into the Royal Arch. London and all Provinces now have a Metropolitan or Provincial Grand Mentor who currently is responsible for liaising with the lodge mentor. For the avoidance of doubt, the lodge mentor is responsible for coordinating and selecting suitable brethren to be the personal mentors. It is most certainly not the intention that the lodge mentor should carry out the task himself – the personal mentor is best described as a friend and guide.

We all have our own ideas about what mentoring is and, for that matter, what it is not. Indeed, some believe there is no need for mentoring and some believe they are already mentoring perfectly satisfactorily. These sentiments are understandable without an explanation of what we actually mean by mentoring and what we are trying to achieve. In an ideal world, mentoring would happen naturally, everyone would be looked after as a matter of course, and this, in turn, would take care of issues such as recruitment, retention and retrieval – the three ‘Rs’.

Whatever your idea of mentoring might be, one of the aims we should all keep in mind is the promotion of an environment of belonging, understanding, involvement and enjoyment within the lodge. The skill will be to achieve this with a ‘light touch’.

three stages of mentoring

But first, let’s look at the word ‘mentoring’, which is translated in so many ways – rather like our masonry. Let me be quite clear: mentoring is not just about the Lodge of Instruction, valuable though that is for advancement in masonic ritual. Rather, it is mostly about pastoral care: seeing that the candidate is looked after, kept informed and that that support and care remains throughout each member’s masonic life.

In terms of the mentoring scheme, I see pastoral care being eighty per cent of what mentoring is all about. Put simply, the real test is how you would like to have been welcomed when you first joined and how you would like to have been supported from then onwards. I do not want to have a complicated or onerous scheme but rather one that is as natural as possible yet, at the same time, allows consistency of advice and support.

Mentoring has essentially three stages. The first two are straightforward as they cover logistics, basic ritual meaning and developing a sense of belonging. The third – how to talk about our Freemasonry to the non-mason – needs more explanation as it links in with our overall communications strategy that supports an external-facing organisation and underpins our new ambassadors’ scheme.

The first stage is for each candidate to understand the basic logistics that are involved in becoming a Freemason. Essentially, they should get a proper welcome. A candidate should never feel under-briefed and should be made aware of his financial and time commitments. During this stage the personal mentor answers any questions the candidate may have for him to gain a sense of belonging. In other words, there should never be any surprises.

common understanding

The second stage is to understand the basics of the ritual, especially after initiation and then passing and raising. But this understanding should be about the ability to answer questions about the myths that non-masons have. Right from the start, members can counter the questions about the so-called funny handshakes, the nooses and trouser leg being rolled up. The questions need to be answered accurately and without embarrassment – I am not talking about an in-depth knowledge, but more a common understanding. The mentor can, of course, point them in the right direction for this additional and important information as they require it. It is not, however, part of the new mentoring scheme.

We all understand the need to look after candidates, but it is the third stage of giving them the confidence from the very outset in order that they can speak to family and friends about Freemasonry. This is vital to ensuring our future. A candidate needs to understand how to talk to the non-mason about what Freemasonry means and we aim to have as many members as possible being ambassadors for Freemasonry. An ambassador is not a rank or office, it is a mode of behaviour. On the fundamental understanding that we recruit only people who live up to our principles, an ambassador will not only understand the basics of ritual but will also talk to others about their Freemasonry.

To quote the Grand Master: ‘Talking openly about Freemasonry, as appropriate, is core to my philosophy, central to our communications strategy and essential to the survival of Freemasonry as a respected and relevant membership organisation.’ It is with these three stages in mind that the Grand Secretary’s working party is producing succinct mentor guidelines. I see mentoring as a ‘light touch’ resulting in everyone enjoying their Freemasonry even more and feeling comfortable in talking
to their family and friends in an informed and relaxed way.

 

Letters to the Editor - FreemasonryToday No.18 - SUMMER 2012

    

Sir,
I was delighted to read the Pro Grand Master’s article, ‘Understanding the Light Touch’. I have always considered that one’s mentor should ideally be one’s proposer or seconder and not a lodge officer. In 1998, I was part of a workshop on the future of Freemasonry at Manchester Freemasons’ Hall, addressing the thorny issue of retention, which proposed a mentor as a substitute for the candidate’s proposer when the proposer was himself too inexperienced to carry out the role.I personally never needed a mentor because my proposer (my father-in-law) took me to every practice meeting of our lodge, arranged many visits to his friends’ lodges and encouraged me throughout my progression to the chair. In other words carried out the mentor’s role in full.

I believe the one-to-one relationship is essential between candidate and mentor and it is good to see the lodge mentor’s role described as ‘co-ordinating and selecting brethren to be personal mentors’. Freemasonry proved to be a strong bond between my father-in-law and myself and I have always been appreciative of the shared interest, as well as the support he gave me.


Graham Holmes
Ben Brierley Lodge, No. 3317
Middleton, East Lancs

 

 

Sir,
A couple of years ago, I invited half a dozen or so of the most junior brethren of my lodge to a very informal meeting. They came and we had a very positive meeting, followed by another in 2011, and it will be repeated later this year. As the brethren progress, I let them drop off and add newcomers. The lodge mentor joins us and we have had enjoyable as well as constructive meetings. When I was new, grand officers were not addressed until they spoke to you and then you called them ‘Sir’. I am proud to be called Ken by an entered apprentice. I intend to continue as long as the GAOTU spares me and, of course, my wife, since she provides the refreshments.


Ken Mason
Beacon Lodge, No. 5208
Loughborough, Leics & Rutland

 

Published in UGLE

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