Celebrating 300 years

A £56,000 grant from West Wales Freemasons has helped to fund a new ambulance for the Haverfordwest Division of St John Cymru Wales

The new ambulance was presented to St John Cymru Wales on Sunday July 2nd at St David’s Cathedral, as part of a Thanksgiving Service to mark the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary, and will be used by volunteers to provide medical cover at a range of community events.

The service was attended by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sara Edwards and The High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mrs Sue Balsom.

Other attendees included the Prior of the Priory for Wales, Sir Paul Williams and the Chief Executive of the charity, Keith Dunn OBE, along with volunteers from the Haverfordwest Division.

Sir Paul Williams commented: ‘We are extremely grateful to West Wales Freemasons for providing such a generous grant to ensure St John Cymru Wales can fulfill its commitments in Haverfordwest and the wider community.’

Chief Executive for St John Cymru Wales, Keith Dunn OBE, said: ‘The Haverfordwest Division has 57 dedicated volunteers who generously devote more than 5,000 hours every year to support the public. In addition to providing medical cover, this new ambulance can also be used at events where our volunteers can help to encourage more people to learn first aid.’

Freemasonry was represented by The Past Pro Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, The Marquis of Northampton, and The Provincial Grand Master of West Wales, Stephen Hookey, along with more than 200 West Wales Freemasons, who processed to and from the service in full Masonic regalia.

Stephen Hookey said: ‘We are very proud to be able to support St John Cymru Wales. A new ambulance will help them with their potentially life-saving work at events right across West Wales.  They are a huge asset to our community.’

The grant from West Wales Freemason comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons and their families from across England and Wales.

Surprise guest at West Wales chapter

The Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes was a surprise guest at the installation meeting of Dinbych Chapter, No. 1177, in the Province of West Wales. Bradley Davies, a long-time friend of Peter Lowndes, was being installed in the chapter chair for a record fifth time.

The Pro First Grand Principal had told Grand Superintendent Stephen Hookey that he would like to come and surprise his friend, so a plot was hatched to smuggle him into the meeting without anyone finding out, and it proved a huge success. 

Pride and confidence

Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes explains why members should be proud to share aspects of masonic ritual with friends and family

In the middle of May I was at the Grand Charity Festival in West Wales. It exemplified how good we, as masons, are at raising money and, dare I say, at celebrating that achievement at the end of the road. A wonderful evening was had by all. 

I have said many times in the past that charity is not necessarily the masons’ raison d’être – but it is certainly a most important by-product of how all of us are taught to live our lives.

In this regard I have always thought that the Charge after Initiation is the best possible rule to guide us in what we do. 

It lays out quite clearly the duties that we owe to God, to our neighbours and to ourselves; how we should respect the laws of the country in which we live – whether that is the country of our birth or the country where we currently reside; how we should behave as individuals; and the other excellent qualities of character to which we should adhere.

Whenever I deliver this Charge, I am always struck by the important message that it contains. At a personal level, I find the lines ‘by paying due obedience to the laws of any state which may for a time become the place of your residence or afford you its protection’ extremely pertinent. This is as a result of having delivered this Charge on the evening of 9/11, and I have to admit to having stumbled a bit when I got to that section. I am still always reminded of those dreadful events every time I hear this Charge delivered.

As we all know, any member of the public can acquire their own copy of our ritual simply by going into a shop and making the purchase. We have no concerns in that regard, as there is nothing therein that we are not happy for them to know about. 

I would go further. I believe there are certain passages that we should be proud to show to non-members, most particularly to members of our families. Top of my list would be the Charge to the Initiate, with a close second being the Charity Charge, although that, perhaps, might need a bit of explanation.

‘We have so much to shout about – our history, charity work, enjoyment in life and code of conduct being just a few.’

Time to celebrate

As you know, 2017 is fast approaching. The run-up to it, as well as the celebrations during the year, are surely the right time to show our pride in being a member of our wonderful Order. We have improved our public image immeasurably over the past 20 years and now is the time to really push this aspect hard. 

We have so many things to shout about – our history, our charity work, our enjoyment in life and our code of conduct being just a few. Of course any organisation with 200,000 members is going to have a few rotten apples, but we have no more than our fair share, and I strongly suspect we have far fewer than most organisations of an equivalent size.

Given all this, let’s make sure we approach our Tercentenary with both pride and confidence.

Published in UGLE

More than £1m for West Wales

The Province of West Wales has raised £1,079,614 in its Festival for the Grand Charity, which was announced at an event in Llanelli attended by Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes. Among other guests were President of the Grand Charity Richard Hone, Chief Executive Laura Chapman and Provincial Grand Master Stephen Hookey, who said: ‘The appeal was launched in May 2009 at a time when the global recession had taken hold and austerity was to become a watchword for several years to come. Thanks to your generosity in these difficult times, the figure for which we aimed has been surpassed significantly.’

Published in The Grand Charity

West Wales supports special school gym

Portfield School in Haverfordwest has around 140 pupils aged between three and 19 years old with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties, autistic spectrum disorder, and other sensory and physical difficulties. 

When the students asked The Friends of Portfield School to raise £7,500 for outdoor gym equipment, Roy Barker, treasurer of the school charity, wrote to Dr Bryn Barton, Charity Steward of Strumble Lodge, No. 4351, in Fishguard, to ask for his help. As a result, Strumble Lodge donated £500 towards the appeal and £4,000 was added by the Grand Charity of West Wales. 

Lodge raises £10,000 for West Wales festival

A team of West Wales Provincial Officers took over Aeron Lodge, No. 7208, which meets at Aberaeron, with Provincial Grand Master Eric Mock leading and raising Nigel Jones in a ‘Cash for Ritual’ deal. But it was value for money – the lodge handed over £10,000 for the 2015 Festival on behalf of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity.

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