Celebrating 300 years

Canterbury Cathedral hosted a Tercentenary Thanksgiving service  in recognition of its long-standing relationship with Freemasonry

More than 1,500 masons and their families came from across the Provinces of East Kent, West Kent, Surrey and Sussex to attend a service in celebration of 300 years of the United Grand Lodge of England.

The event was held on 18 February in the presence of the Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Kent and the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, and was led by the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis.

During his sermon, Dr Willis thanked the Duke of Kent for his long-standing support of the cathedral. He recalled how the Royal Family helped when the cathedral was damaged by bombing during World War II. He also paid tribute to the generous support of the masonic community, whose relationship with the cathedral dates back more than 100 years.

Canterbury Cathedral is currently undergoing the largest restoration project in its history. The interior and exterior are covered in scaffolding to allow the ancient building to be restored to as close to its original condition as possible. A donation of £300,000 from the Freemasons of Kent, Surrey and Sussex has funded repairs to the North West Transept, including new tower pinnacles and a spiral stone staircase.

East Kent Provincial Grand Master Geoffrey Dearing said: ‘The existence of Freemasonry for over 300 years bears witness to the fact that the idea of men from all walks of life coming together to make society a better place is one that has stood the test of time and inspired successive generations.’

Published in UGLE

There’s nothing like a bit of fun and games to keep people entertained and that’s exactly what happened at the 2017 Cornwallis It’s A Knockout Competition

Sponsored by the Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons’ Charity and supported by the KM Charity team, the event was held as part of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary celebrations and to help raise £20,000 for Macmillan Nurses.

The head of East Kent Freemasons, Provincial Grand Master Geoffrey Dearing, opened the event at the Aylesford Bulls Rugby Club on Sunday 4th June, where over 200 people took part in the challenge. They made up a total of 21 teams as they ran, slid and tumbled their way across a number of activities including inflatable obstacles and dragon racing – all in the name of charity!

Over a thousand spectators were also present to cheer on the teams before Cornwallis Charity Trustee, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master Nick Waller, presented the trophy to the winning team from the Spirit of Rugby Lodge.

John Grumbridge, Chairman of the Cornwallis East Kent Freemasons’ Charity, commented: ‘What a fantastic day seeing all sorts of teams having so much fun in doing something that will ultimately help others. I am sure that one or two people will be aching, but the fundraising achievements will have been greatly worthwhile.’

Please scroll through the gallery at the top to view some of the action from the competition

Spirit of rugby in East Kent

More than 500 rugby fans and masons filled the Margate Winter Gardens to witness the founding of Spirit of Rugby Lodge, No. 9922, formed by a group of more than 50 rugby enthusiasts in East Kent. The lodge was consecrated at a special meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge presided over by PGM Geoffrey Dearing.

APGM Roger Waltham said, ‘Rugby Union has significant parallels with the core values of Freemasonry – in particular, respect, integrity, cooperation, and benevolence and charity.’

Canterbury connection

An exhibition has opened in East Kent that reveals the enduring link between Canterbury Cathedral and local masons. Heather Newton, head of conservation at the cathedral, said, ‘[We are] grateful to the Freemasons for their support over many years. The exhibition allows us to celebrate this and give the public an insight into our craft.’

Roger Odd (above), Past Deputy PGM for East Kent, said, ‘Our connections with the cathedral are not just local, with the national Freemasons’ charity recently donating £22,000 to fund an apprentice stonemason. And to celebrate the Tercentenary, the Freemasons of Kent, Surrey and Sussex have pledged to raise £200,000 towards the restoration of the north-west transept and its pinnacles.’

Read more about the links between Canterbury Cathedral and Freemasonry here.

Freemasons help their local junior football club purchase much needed kit

Staplehurst Monarchs youth football club are sporting smart new soccer kit, after netting a donation of over £1,000 from a local masonic lodge.

The club, which helps around 140 local boys participate in soccer, had been looking for support and funding to provide essential kit. Members of Staplehurst Lodge No. 8145, which meets at the Masonic Hall in Hartley, stepped in to help.

David Noble, Master of the lodge said, 'The boys have been doing so well recently, with the under-9s winning two autumn trophies in successive years and we felt they really deserved our support. We were able to provide home kit and tracksuits for the under-10s team, as well as new jackets for the under-9s. Helping young people build and maintain a healthy interest in sport is so important and we were delighted to help.'

There was a pleasant surprise for David and the lodge when he went to see the team in action this week. He was presented with handwritten thank you letters from the boys, along with a signed team photograph.

Team manager Dan Monahan commented, 'This generous donation from Staplehurst Lodge has made a significant difference to the club. It helps us to keep local children involved in sport by enabling us to provide essential playing kit and equipment. The club is at the heart of sport within our community and we look forward to continuing to work with the lodge in the future by providing access to football for all.'

In the largest gathering of its kind for a decade, over 500 rugby fans and Freemasons filled the Winter Gardens in Margate on Monday 29th February to witness the founding of a new masonic lodge dedicated to the spirit of rugby

Spirit of Rugby Lodge, No. 9922 was formed by a group of over 50 East Kent rugby enthusiasts who recognise and value the strong connections between rugby and Freemasonry.

Medway Rugby Football Club member and founding Master of the lodge, Roger Waltham explained: 'Rugby Union has significant parallels with the core values of Freemasonry – in particular with respect to integrity, cooperation, and of course, benevolence and charity. Thus it’s hardly surprising that many rugby players also find their way into Freemasonry.'

Roger, who is also an Assistant Provincial Grand Master in the Province of East Kent, added, 'These links go back to the very roots of rugby. William Webb Ellis was himself a Freemason.'

The lodge was consecrated at a special meeting of East Kent’s Provincial Grand Lodge, by a team presided over by the head of East Kent Freemasons, Provincial Grand Master Geoffrey Dearing. He said: 'This was a very special occasion. I was absolutely delighted to meet so many rugby fans and Freemasons from across the UK and Europe, who came to join in the celebrations. An event like this shows the increasing value of Freemasonry in everyday life.'

The event was quite a spectacle as observers had the chance to witness the pageantry of Freemasonry combined with the fun and camaraderie of rugby football. The founding members sported especially commissioned rugby caps along with their traditional masonic regalia.

So called ‘special interest’ lodges have become increasingly popular over recent years and are helping Freemasonry to remain relevant and develop as an integral part of modern society. Sporting connections are a natural ally for those formed in a masonic lodge and rugby in particular is leading the way, with several lodges already formed across the UK.

Also present was Colin Broughton, Master of the oldest lodge in East Kent, the Royal Kent Lodge of Antiquity, No. 20.

Following the meeting the attendees shared a celebratory meal and raised over £2,500 for charity.

Among those visiting were representatives of rugby lodges from other part of the UK. Alan Hurdley, from the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, commented: 'I must congratulate everyone involved in setting up the Spirit Rugby Lodge for making this initiative a reality. It was a wonderful ceremony and most convivial festive board, all conducted in the true spirit of rugby!'

And a spirited success it seems to have been, with prospective members already lining up to join.

Friday, 26 February 2016 07:07

A Life-Line For The Children Of Chernobyl

It seems hard to believe that thirty years have passed since the Chernobyl Disaster shocked the World.


On 26 April 1986 an explosion at at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in The Ukraine released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere. These spread over much of the western USSR and Europe, even reaching parts of the UK.

The effects on the people and environment were devastating and remain hidden behind a wall of secrecy. In fact the full impact may never be totally revealed.

Those hit worst were the young children in the surrounding areas, forced to grow up and  to live in the highly toxic environment left behind. Even those being born today will suffer from the effects of radiation and social depravation caused by the accident.

Last year we published an article about Herne Bay, East Kent Freemason, Daniel John, whose wife Charlotte runs the local branch of the Chernobyl Children’s Life Line. This is a charity that seeks to help families in Ukraine that were affected by the 1986 nuclear disaster.

Click here to read more about the Chernobyl Children’s Life Line (Herne Bay Link).

In February, Charlotte, Daniel and their youngest son Alfie, returned to Borodyanka in Ukraine loaded with cases full of equipment to distribute over there. Included in their baggage were eight large cases, musical instruments, clothing for hospital staff and a double buggy, much of which had been generously donated by people who were touched by the plight of the people still suffering from the after effects of the disaster.

Click here to read an account of the trip in Daniel and Charlotte’s own words.

With the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster approaching in April, a service will be held at Canterbury Cathedral on Tuesday 26th April 2016, at 7.30pm with Guest Speaker Lt Colonel Igor Pismenskij.

Chernobyl Children’s Life Line invites you to attend the service to mark this significant anniversary. Please RSVP by 7th April 2016 with the number of reserved seats required by post or by using the contact form.

Chernobyl Children’s Life Line 30th Anniversary Service, 33 Station Road, Herne Bay, Kent CT6 5QJ

 

Thursday, 04 February 2016 14:44

Knock Knock - A Grand Surprise For Frank!

There was a big surprise for one member of an East Kent Lodge, when a very special visitor made an unexpected visit to present a long service certificate.

Members of Rochester Castle Lodge No.9260 had gathered at the Stanley Rooms in Chatham on February 3rd to celebrate Frank Holding’s 60 years in Freemasonry. So popular is Frank that the meeting had to be moved from the usual venue, in order to accommodate almost 70 brethren who had booked in for this very special occasion.

The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Peter Williams, arrived as expected and was admitted into the lodge to deliver Frank’s award. However, a few moments later there was an unexpected knock at the door. A  “Friend you will know” was announced.

To (almost) everyone’s surprise the unexpected guest was non other than Provincial Grand Master, Geoffrey Dearing. Lodge Secretary Roy Goodhew had discreetly arranged this special visitor and had managed to keep it a secret from everyone else in the lodge.

Retired farmer Frank was “dumbfounded and delighted” to receive such an honour and felt spurred on to lead the rest of the meeting. This included Passing Jake Rowan, during which Frank was ably assisted by Jake’s Father Ian.

“We were delighted to make this such a special evening for Frank.” said Roy. “He was our founding Master and has always been a driving force in the lodge. He is a fine ritualist and one of the kindest men you could hope to meet. As an example, rather than accepting a personal gift for his long service, he asked for a pair of commemorative wands to be purchased for the lodge to use.”

On presenting the certificate, Geoffrey Dearing gave a retrospective of Frank’s life and distinguished masonic career, including a look back at World events from 1955, the year he became a Freemason.

Following the meeting and a fine festive board, Frank went home happy and still somewhat pleasantly shocked by the events of the evening. One member remarked “It was a great night. We were all totally surprised when the PGM walked in, everyone’s jaws hit the floor!”

Canterbury evensong for Royal Arch

The choral evensong congregation at Canterbury Cathedral was enhanced by almost 500 companions, brethren, their families and friends coming together for the Province of East Kent’s Royal Arch biennial church service.

Led by Grand Superintendent Geoffrey Dearing, distinguished guests included Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton, Third Grand Principal David Williamson, the then Metropolitan Grand Master Russell Race and several neighbouring Provincial Grand Masters. 

Guests were able to view the Ancestors exhibit, a series of life-size figures representing the Ancestors of Christ that date to the 12th and early 13th centuries. These beautiful examples of medieval stained glass had been temporarily removed from the Cathedral’s Great South Window while conservation work was carried out on its crumbling stonework. They were on display in the Chapter House, the East Window of which was a gift from the Freemasons of Kent.

East Kent goes the extra mile

After five years of dedicated fundraising, the Provincial Grand Lodge of East Kent celebrated the close of its 2014 Festival for The Freemasons’ Grand Charity

East Kent announced that more than £3.65 million had been raised, a total well above the Province’s target. ‘All the money for this appeal has been raised by the members of the Province and I was delighted to announce the culmination of their efforts at our celebratory dinner in Folkestone,’ said Provincial Grand Master Geoffrey Dearing. ‘I know that our donation will help to change the lives of thousands of people in need. I am so proud of all our members and their families for their generous support and the huge efforts they have made.’

More than five hundred Freemasons, their wives, partners and friends joined the celebration at Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone in June 2014, including Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence; President of the Grand Charity Richard Hone, QC; and the Grand Charity’s Chief Executive Laura Chapman. Speaking about the Festival, Richard said he was tremendously grateful to the Province and their families for their contributions. With grants totalling millions of pounds each year, the Grand Charity assists thousands of people in both the masonic and wider community. Without the support of Freemasons and their families, this would not be possible.

Published in The Grand Charity
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