Celebrating 300 years

W Bro Barrie Hewitt, PAGDC, has been presented with the Badge of the Order of Mercy by Lord Lingfield, President of The League of Mercy at Mansion House, London

The presentation ceremony on Tuesday 11th July 2017 was followed by an informal tea with the Sheriff of the City of London Lord Lingfield and the Trustees of the League of Mercy. Also in attendance were Barrie’s wife Christine, Provincial Grand Master Mike Wilks and his wife Kay and W Bro Les Hutchinson, Chief Operating Officer of the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Barrie Hewitt received the award in recognition of his outstanding contribution over the course of six years as Provincial Grand Charity Steward of Hampshire & Isle of Wight, towards their 2016 Festival which raised over £7.7 million for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. Barrie drove hundreds of miles around the Province to attend numerous Lodge meetings and deliver his presentation about the Festival in order to encourage Brethren to support it by making contributions and organising fundraising events.

At a national level, Barrie attended annual Festival Forums, giving advice and sharing his expertise with Provincial Grand Charity Stewards across the country. As well as working tirelessly for the Festival, Barrie also managed the Province’s ‘Teddies for Loving Care’ and carried out his other duties as Provincial Charity Steward.

Barrie has been a Freemason for over 30 years and was appointed to the Grand Rank of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2013.

Provincial Grand Master Mike Wilks commented: ‘I am so pleased that Barrie has been honoured in this way by a non-Masonic organisation which recognises distinguished voluntary work across the country. Barrie was one of just 25 to receive an award this year – a great accolade to a dedicated and committed Freemason.’

The League of Mercy was founded in 1899 by Royal Charter of Queen Victoria at the instigation of the then Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII. The object of the League was to establish a body of volunteers who would assist with the maintenance of voluntary hospitals and otherwise relieve sickness and suffering. Central to the activities of the League was an annual ceremony at which about 50 people were awarded a medal known as the Order of Mercy. When the 1948 National Health Act abolished these hospitals, the League was quietly wound up.

The League of Mercy was re-founded in 1999 as a registered charity, exactly 100 years to the day after it was first established. Central to its aims are “the encouragement and recognition of distinguished voluntary work within the areas of care, which include the sick, injured or disabled, young people at risk, the homeless, the elderly, the dying and those who are impaired in mind”.

Each year the League receives many nominations from charities and other recognised organisations from which the Trustees select about 25 outstanding volunteers, who are then invited to receive the Badge of the Order of Mercy. This is a hallmarked silver gilt representation of the original 1899 design.

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:

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.

A Southampton charity, the Rose Road Association, has been given a major grant by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Freemasons to provide short breaks for severely disabled children and young people when their families are in crisis

The Rose Road Association is celebrating its 65th anniversary and by coincidence the grant from the Province and the Masonic Charitable Foundation totals £65,250. The funding will provide 150 short breaks over three years.

The short breaks give severely disabled children and young people the one-to-one care that they need, while allowing their families to spend dedicated time with their non-disabled children, or even just to get a good night’s sleep.

All aboard

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

Smooth sailing

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’.

FIND OUT MORE Contact Spinnaker Lodge at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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. 

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