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 This included some fascinating and hitherto unpublished information, together with extracts and in some cases photographs or line drawings of these early members of the lodge.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.