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.
Helping with sight loss in the uk
Hampshire and Isle of Wight PGM Michael Wilks presented a cheque for £50,000 from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity to the Macular Society to roll out the Daily Living Champions volunteer scheme across the UK. Daily Living Champions demonstrate high- and low-tech equipment that can help people affected by sight loss to complete tasks that others take for granted.
Age-related macular degeneration affects central vision and is the most common cause of sight loss in the UK. The Macular Society helps anyone affected by central vision loss, and its 15,000 members make it the largest patient group in the sight loss sector.
Bro James Male, of Thomas Bennett Langton Lodge No. 9224, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, is one of the sailors missing in yacht Cheeki Rafiki
Contact with the 40ft Cheeki Rafiki yacht was lost on Friday after it got into difficulties 620 miles (1,000km) east of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
The search for Mr Goslin and three other men was called off in the early hours of Sunday morning local time.
Meanwhile the yachtsman and four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Ben Ainslie joined calls for the US coastguard to continue the search, while an online petition has gathered more than 37,000 signatures.
Television presenter Ben Fogle also added his support, adding: 'We've heard too many stories over the years of shipwrecked sailors found in tiny rafts.
'If they don't have a beacon that's emitting, that doesn't mean they've perished.'
It was a fair wind for the four-day sailing extravaganza of North Harrow Lodge, No. 6557, which has taken place around the Isle of Wight after the chartering of Reunion, a 46-foot Bavaria class yacht
The crew who sailed around the Solent comprised seven members of North Harrow Lodge and one member of Gradation Lodge, No. 6368, from London.
The boat hoisted two flags: the Household Division ensign (one of the crew is a former Guardsman) and the newly obtained and designed Middlesex Provincial flag.
Special thanks went to skipper Vaughan Coleridge-Matthews for getting the crew back to port safely, and to Ian Ferguson for designing and sourcing the Middlesex Provincial flag.
World’s biggest jump AIDS festival
A Hampshire and Isle of Wight mason has conquered the world’s highest bungee jump to raise a significant amount for the 2016 Festival in support of the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. Seventy-seven-year-old Tony Welland, a member of Lymington Lodge, No. 7984, jumped the staggering 764ft from the top of the Macau Tower in China.
Visit: www.rmtgb.org/news/newshome to watch a video of Tony’s amazing jump.
The social circuit
‘Motorcycling is about friendship and it engenders a spirit of. There is a similar fraternal bond between Freemasons’
When king of speed Charlie Collier won the first Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) race in 1907, he wore a three-piece tweed suit and was almost disqualified for having pedals on his bike. In the early days of TT, it wasn’t uncommon to have to get off and push, and the Mountain Circuit was basically a horse-and-cart track; it was the duty of the first rider around in the morning to open the gates along the way, and the last rider was responsible for shutting them.
Collier’s average speed of 38.21mph may seem painfully slow by today’s standards but the race was groundbreaking. From these rudimentary beginnings, the event has developed into a world-famous annual spectacle, and remains one of the most exciting road races on the motorcycle racing calendar. Now, 105 years since TT’s birth, a lodge on the island has been consecrated to celebrate this illustrious history.
With many arriving by bike, 171 people came from all over the UK to take part in the consecration ceremony on 14 July. ‘The Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight rode up here with his wife on pillion, and the next day we took him for a guided spin around the TT track. It was a fantastic day,’ enthuses Nigel Bowrey, Director of Ceremonies at the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Lodge. ‘After the formal ceremony and the festive board that followed, we sat around until midnight exchanging motorcycling tales.’
A past racer who has owned 37 bikes, Nigel has toured North Africa down to the Sahara, as well as undertaking a two-month tour in Australia covering nearly 8,000 miles. ‘I think my most epic journey was a 10,000-mile trip across America and back.’
Brotherhood of the road
The connection between motorcycling and Freemasonry might seem a stretch, but there are striking similarities in their code of conduct and behaviour. ‘When you pass a motorcyclist on the road you wave at one another. It is totally normal to engage in conversation with someone on a bike that you meet at a stop, because motorcycling is about friendship and it engenders a spirit of ,’ explains Nigel.
‘And there is a similar fraternal bond between Freemasons where you have a huge network of people you can rely on, even though you don’t necessarily know one another at the outset.’
The Isle of Man link between Freemasonry and motorcycling reaches back to the turn of the century. In 1912, Lieutenant Governor Lord Raglan, one of the men responsible for initiating road races, became Provincial Grand Master of the Isle of Man, perhaps forging the first connection. Today, the members of the TT Lodge are all motorcycle enthusiasts, many of whom are still heavily involved in the TT race and other motorcycle events that take place annually.
With several other UK lodges sharing a passion for biking, the TT Lodge is in good company. The surge started in 2000 with the consecration of the Lodge of the Chevaliers de Fer, No. 9732, in Basingstoke. There is also the Sussex Motorcycling Lodge, No. 9871, consecrated in August 2012. Some lodges are named after TT alumni, including the Mike Hailwood Lodge, No. 9839, the Graham Milton Lodge, No. 9796, and the Joey Dunlop Lodge of Mark Master Masons, No. 1881. Freemasonry in the UK often has to work hard to retain, let alone increase, membership, but the motorbike lodges are thriving.
‘We want to broaden our appeal, particularly to younger people. It’s been the success of the other biking lodges that encouraged us to set up the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Lodge,’ says Nigel. ‘We want to say to people, “We’re not a bunch of tired old masons, we’re a bunch of active motorcycle enthusiasts with an associated interest in Freemasonry.’”
Need for speed
The Motor Car Act of 1903 set the speed limit in the UK at 20 miles per hour. Of course, most cars couldn’t go this fast, and most people didn’t have cars, but for the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland, it was a severe dampener. How were they to test their new, ever-more powerful machines, if they were limited to crawling around country lanes?
So the club plotted. Secretary Sir Julian Orde had a bright idea: his cousin Lord Raglan was the Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man. The Manx Government was autonomous and not bound by the same laws, so with some gentle persuasion from Lord Raglan, they were encouraged to permit public roads to be closed so ‘high speed reliability trials’ could take place.
In 1904 the International Car Trials were held there, with motorbike trials added a year later. The first 125-mile race was won by JS Campbell in four hours, nine minutes and 26 seconds, with an average speed of 30.04mph, despite a fire in the pit stop.
Letters to the editor - No. 21 Spring 2013
I was interested to read the article on motorcycling lodges in the winter 2012 edition. I had always understood that Harry Rembrandt (Rem) Fowler won the first Isle of Man TT race in 1907 as I was distantly related to him. I was therefore surprised to see Charlie Collier credited with that distinction.
After a little research, I discovered that in 1907 two races were held on the TT short course, with Harry Rem Fowler winning the twin cylinder class on a Peugeot-engined Norton at 36.22mph and Charlie Collier the single cylinder class on a Matchless at 38.22mph. They each set the fastest lap in their respective classes, Fowler at 42.91mph and Collier at 41.81mph. The TT short course was used for only four years, and in 1911 the TT race moved to the mountain course, which is still used today.
John Hayward, Lodge of Faith and Hope, No. 4772, Edgbaston, Warwickshire
SkillForce makes a difference
A team of students from Fareham worked tirelessly as part of the SkillForce 24 Hours to Make a Diﬀerence challenge, with the task of refurbishing North West Fareham Community Centre in readiness for a unique charity fête. SkillForce is an educational charity that works in partnership with 10,000 young people throughout 150 schools in England and Scotland.
Michael Wilks, Provincial Grand Master for Hampshire and Isle of Wight, represented The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and attended the opening together with representatives from Hampshire councils, schools and public services. ‘The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has, over the past six years, made grants of £240,000 to SkillForce, which is a national charity with a local presence, and the local team has received £90,000 of the £240,000,’ explained Michael. A selection of year 8, 9 and 10 students from The Henry Cort Community College also attended the charity fête and enjoyed a broad range of activities.
Phase 1 of the rebuild at the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) care home James Terry Court, in Croydon, has been officially opened. The event was attended by more than 40 representatives from the Province of Surrey, the Association of Friends and the RMBI.
RMBI President Willie Shackell opened the event and spoke about the history of the RMBI, which started in East Croydon with its first home, named ‘Asylum for Worthy, Aged and Decayed Freemasons’ in 1850. Shackell went on to explain why the rebuild of the home was necessary, as it needed to adapt to the changing needs of older people.
Thanks were given to Dennis Vine, who oversaw the development of the home in his role as Co-opted Trustee. Julian Birch, Regional Property Operations Manager, who sadly passed away in October, was remembered for all his efforts in the rebuild. The Association of Friends and the Province of Surrey, Metropolitan Grand Lodge, and the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight were also thanked for their support. The event saw the official opening of the lounge and library by Eric Stuart-Bamford.
The vehicle was found wasting away in a builder’s yard and after some negotiations and a good clean-up, it was fitted with a ‘Freemasonry in
the Community’ sign and driven around local shopping centres to advertise a masonic presence at the annual Bournemouth Air Festival.
Hampshire and Isle of Wight linked up with the Province of Dorset at the festival – although Bournemouth is officially in Dorset, it masonically remains in Hampshire. The two Provinces promoted Freemasonry through the Hampshire and Isle of Wight exhibition unit.
Clarabelle can look forward to future outings following the decision by Hampshire and Isle of Wight to work with the Jubilee Sailing Trust charity to help disabled sailors put on their annual pumpkin festival. The aim is to set a world record of the greatest number of scarecrows in one field.