My first introduction to Freemasonry was being co-opted by my Dad to help clearing up Fitzwilliam Street Masonic Hall after Installations, Cinderella Dances, Ladies Nights & Childrens’ Christmas Parties gradually attending all those events as I grew up. This meant that I became familiar not just with the premises but the many men involved in the Craft with my Dad, Trevor Smith who had joined the Lodge of Truth No 521 in the 1960s whilst I was still in education.
I was educated at Mirfield Grammar School & proudly graduated from Leeds University in 1967 with a BSc Hons in Agriculture. Later that year I started work with an Agricultural Company in Lincolnshire, as a Technical Adviser. Weekdays in Lincolnshire & weekends in Huddersfield was the result.
It was 1969 when I expressed an interest in joining the Lodge so my Dad started the application process. When I reflect on why my interest was aroused I believe that I had seen nothing but good being demonstrated.
On Friday 1st May 1970 I was initiated into the Lodge of Truth, No 521. It was an exciting event, but I know I was anxious. However, I can still clearly remember things that happened that night. My Dad proposed me. Brother Richard Hollas was my seconder & I am delighted to say that we have remained friends throughout the years. I am immensely proud that on that evening there were 3 generations of Smiths present, my Grandfather, my Dad & myself - a unique occasion in the history of the Lodge, as far as we can trace.
Over the years, I made steady progress through the various offices & on the 1st December 1978, having driven through freezing fog from Lincolnshire, I was honoured to be installed into the Masters’ Chair by the late Worshipful Brother Fred Broadbent. This was followed by many enjoyable years rolling by & eventually I was privileged to be appointed Acting Provincial Grand Standard Bearer. Subsequently I was awarded the rank of Past Provincial Grand Standard Bearer.
I can honestly say that I have enjoyed all the time I have been in the Craft, having met countless numbers of people with whom I have enjoyed the best of Fellowship.
Over the years I have seen many changes both within the Craft but also in life in general. I believe that one important principle I always try to practice is that of tolerance & to accept the maxim that ‘Nothing is Forever’.
I am really proud to have reached the landmark of fifty years in Freemasonry & wish to record my sincere thanks to everyone who shared & helped me on my journey, especially Margaret, my wife of 43 years
On the 21st April 1920, shortly after the end of hostilities of the Great War, R.W. Bro Sir William Raynor, Provincial Grand Master, ably assisted by W. Bro Richard Gill, Senior Grand Deacon and Deputy Provincial Grand Master and a full team of Consecrating Officers, came together to consecrate the newly founded Nevil Talbot Lodge. One of many Lodges which came into being following the war, Nevil Talbot’s original membership was drawn from that of the then highly successful Furnival Lodge No 2558 who had realised that their growing list of candidates would have to wait many, many years before attaining the Chair unless another Lodge was formed. Nevil Talbot Lodge was the solution to that problem. So what of their name? Well, the founders determined to follow the history of the distinguished Furnivall family but that the Lodge name could not directly involve the name to avoid confusion. Charting the family history back through the 14th and 15th century showed the line of Furnivall merged through marriage first to the Nevill family, through the union of Baroness Furnivall to Sir Thomas Nevill and subsequently through their daughter’s marriage to General Sir John Talbot. From that point forward descendants would be of the line of Nevil-Talbot, and the Lodge banner proudly displays the Coats of Arms of the Furnival, Nevil and Talbot families. Much of the Lodges history is, like many other Lodges, relatively uneventful with members quietly enjoying their opportunity to dwell together in unity and the companionship which that brought. Of interest to our current situation was a communication received from UGLE on 4th September 1939 suspending all Masonic meetings until further notice following the issue of emergency orders from H.M. Government following the outbreak of the Second World War on 1st September. That suspension was however lifted just 21 days later with permission granted for the resumption of Masonic activities which then continued throughout the war. Unfortunately, our current suspension has already lasted twice as long! However, the war was not without its effects not least the cancellation of a meeting immediately after the Sheffield Blitz in December 1940. There was also a request from Provincial Grand Lodge for brethren to surrender their jewels to be melted down to assist with the war effort. There is no information as to the extent with which this request was complied! In the 1960s the Lodge began to develop a reputation as a musical Lodge with various members who were local singers of repute. This tradition continued for many years. There was also an association with The Boys Brigade with many members sharing that interest as current or former members. In 1982 the then President of the Sheffield Battalion, Roland Hare was to be initiated and this led to an invitation being issued to the National President, The Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Unfortunately the Earl was delayed in responding to the invitation as he was required to attend a meeting abroad about the now renowned Elgin Marbles. Nevertheless, two days before the Initiation, he accepted the invitation. His acceptance lead to a flurry of activity. He being such a distinguished visitor, the list of those due to attend rapidly rising from 30 to 80! Over recent years the Lodge has suffered a decline in fortunes with now only 13 members, not all of whom are still active. However behind the small number hide some great if now ageing characters of Sheffield Freemasonry like Terry Hoyland, Philip Kirkup and Roy Yates not to mention the current Secretary, Richard Drury-Smith just one of several members of that well-known family to have graced the Lodge. Although small in number the Lodge is big in heart and has been holding on for the past couple of years to be able to celebrate this wonderful milestone. We all offer our hearty congratulations to everyone at Nevil-Talbot Lodge and hope that we will be able to join them in person when our suspension finishes to celebrate properly what this proud Lodge has achieved over the past 100 years. I am most grateful to W. Bro’s Terry Hoyland and Philip Kirkup for the work put into the Lodge Centenary booklet from which this article was drawn.
V.W. Bro John Boyington Deputy Provincial Grand Master
We are delighted to welcome two new Heads of Orders to our Masonic family in Yorkshire, West Riding. Following the sad death of David Cordell, earlier this year vacancies were created to the local leadership for The Allied Masonic Degrees and the Order of Royal and Select Masters, both of which David held previously.
Right Illustrious District Grand Master for West Yorkshire, Order of Royal and Select Masters, Right Illustrious Companion Fraser McPherson
Fraser McPherson is a 3rd generation on his Fathers’ side and at least 5th generation on his Mothers’ so there is no doubting his Masonic pedigree. His parents actually met at a Masonic dance! Fraser was Initiated as a ‘Lewis’, aged 19 years, into Lodge Possilpark, Glasgow, No. 1330 on 24th April 1980, soon after completing his other Craft degrees including, under the Scottish Constitution, his Mark Degree. After moving to Yorkshire in 1984 he joined Trafalgar Lodge No. 971, Batley, in August 1991. Fraser joined Prince Edward Mark Lodge No. 14 in 1995, Royal Ark Mariners in 2002, Secret Monitor in 2003, the Royal Arch in 2004, Royal & Select Masters in 2007 and the Royal Order of Scotland in 2015. WM of Trafalgar Lodge during 2009, Craft Provincial Rank came in 2015 as an Acting Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies before being promoted to Past Provincial Deputy Grand Registrar in 2017. In the qualifying Orders for R&SM, Royal Arch and Mark, Fraser became MEZ of Scarborough Chapter in 2012, was appointed as an Acting Provincial Grand Steward in 2018 and promoted to Acting Provincial Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2019, a role he currently holds. In Mark, Fraser was WM of Prince Edward in 2002, soon after becoming Lodge Secretary, a role he relinquished in 2019 to become their current WM for the second time. In 2006 he was appointed as Acting Provincial Grand Steward and was honoured to be appointed as Grand Standard Bearer in Mark where in November 2017 became Provincial Grand Secretary for the Province of West Yorkshire. In R&SM Fraser was appointed in 2013 by the then District Grand Master for Yorkshire, Right Illustrious Companion David S. Pratt, as Assistant District Grand Recorder, and when the District of Yorkshire was divided into West and N&E Yorkshire in July 2014, became District Grand Recorder for West Yorks under David M. Cordell. Fraser received his Silver Trowel Degree in 2014, was promoted to Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in Grand Council in 2016 and received his Excellent Masters Degree in 2018.
After 41 years working in the NHS, Fraser retired from Leeds Teaching Hospitals in July 2019 as a Senior HR Business Partner. He now spends his time focussing on his Masonry, a huge list of accumulated d.i.y. jobs, reading scientific publications, his garden (especially recently!) and maintaining his wife’s Land Rover! Fraser has been married to Tina for 32 years, and they have two sons, Benjamin and Lewis and a daughter, Hope. The Masonic suspension permitting, Fraser will be installed as Right Illustrious District Grand Master for West Yorkshire on 1st August 2020, otherwise, he will assume the position from that date and take responsibility for overseeing the 8 Councils in the District.
Right Worshipful District Grand Prefect for The Allied masonic Degrees in Yorkshire Right Worshipful Bro. Graham Bailey.
Born and bred in Doncaster Graham first became a Mason in December 2000 when he was initiated into De Maulay Lodge No 6358. He became WM of the Lodge in 2010 before later serving as both Secretary and Treasurer. Graham is a member of two other Lodges in Doncaster, Danecastre No 4843 and St Georges No 242 and also holds subscribing memberships of a Lodge in Warwickshire, Thomas Harper No 9612 and one in the German Constitution, Lodge Niederrhein No 892. Graham was appointed Acting Provincial Senior Grand Deacon in 2017 and promoted to Past Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies in 2018. He was Exalted into the Royal Arch in Magdalen Chapter No 242 and after serving as MEZ was subsequently appointed as Acting Provincial Grand Standard Bearer and now holds the rank of Past Provincial Deputy Grand Registrar. Graham is also a member of 2 other Chapters meeting in the Doncaster area. A keen member of many other Masonic Orders including Mark, Royal Ark Mariners, Royal and Select Masters, Red Cross of Constantine, Order of the Secret Monitor, Scarlet Cord and Rose Croix. In the Allied Masonic Degrees Graham joined South Riding Council No 243, became Master in 2019 and is currently IPM. While serving as Master Graham was appointed as Deputy District Grand Prefect and as Past Grand Standard Bearer in Grand Council in 2019. Graham was appointed as District Grand Prefect by Patent on 2nd May 2020 and will be installed when the current Masonic suspension ends. Graham attended schools in Doncaster. Always a keen golfer Graham started work as an Assistant Professional in 1976 becoming fully qualified in 1982. He then held appointments as Head Professional at three clubs before retiring in March this year. During his career, Graham taught seven young men to become professional golfers and coached the Doncaster Junior Team to winning the Junior Championship in 2015. Graham and wife Karen have been married for 36 years and have a daughter who now lives and works in London. Welcoming both Graham and Fraser into their new roles, Provincial Grand Master David Pratt said: “We pride ourselves in West Yorkshire on being part of a large and varied Masonic family, and I am delighted that two such keen Craft and Royal Arch Masons have been appointed to these important roles. I wish them well in their work over the coming years and look forward to working with them in their new positions.”
Thursday 7th May should have seen a ceremony to mark the centenary of Fellowship Lodge No. 4069 at Tapton Hall, Sheffield. Unfortunately this could not be celebrated in the usual way with a very well-attended lodge meeting, which would have included the presentation of centenary jewels to the lodge members by V.W. Bro. John Boyington, PGSwdB, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, and the delivery of a short history of the lodge by the Master, W. Bro. Dr John Wade, PAGDC, before adjourning to the special festive board. At the four or five-course meal there would have been speeches, including a toast to the future of the lodge, a souvenir engraved glass tankard, and a jubilee booklet containing the full history of the lodge over the last hundred years.
Owing to the lockdown enforced on the population by the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus this was of course impossible. However, through the marvels of modern technology an informal ‘virtual’ meeting was held just after 8 pm on that very Thursday using an internet application called ‘Zoom’. This meant that fourteen brethren were able to greet each other from their computers and tablets, seeing in small frames their colleagues spread across the screen. W. Bro. Wade, after a short introduction in which he included some apologies from brethren who for either technical reasons or illness (not the virus) were unable to join in and a report from the lodge Almoner, went on to deliver a PowerPoint presentation entitled ‘The Founders and Early Members of Fellowship Lodge’. He explained that the title reflected the fact that, while he had gathered materials for a large part of the centenary history before the enforced lockdown in March, he had been unable to consult the remaining lodge books in the basement of Tapton Hall to complete the history.
Nevertheless, by means of sharing his own computer screen showing the PowerPoint slides with all the brethren at the Zoom meeting and each slide was accompanied by an audio recording of his text – W. Bro. Wade was able to give a detailed account of the circumstances leading to the foundation of the lodge in 1920. This included some fascinating and hitherto unpublished information, together with extracts and in some cases photographs or line drawings of these early members of the lodge. This really brought to life some of those brethren who were only known to the current lodge members by their being listed simply as names on the back of the summons. The presentation by the WM was followed by a toast to the future of the lodge by V.W. Bro. John Boyington and some closing words by W. Bro. Brian Littlejohn, PJGD, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, both of whom had been able to join in the meeting.