The Lodge of St Peter & Harmony No 600 is one of the older Lodges in the Province of Yorkshire West Riding, with very long history stretching back to the days of the German textile merchants of Bradford in the 1850s. Yorkshire's Goose & Gridiron started as a social recruiting forum and has slowly transitioned into a social club primarily focussed on the appreciation of real ales and craft beers.
St Peter & Harmony and Goose & Gridiron are joining forces to become the northern Real Ale & Craft Beer Lodge. This echoes recent developments of the excellent Masonic Craft Beer Society, which largely existed as an online social forum with many active online members, of whom a large proportion are also Freemasons. Recently the Society took the initiative of creating a Masonic Craft Beer focused Lodge by means of taking over a struggling London Lodge, Horus No. 3155.
St Peter & Harmony with Goose & Gridiron is undertaking a similar journey but for Masons throughout the several Masonic Provinces of the North of England, by becoming a special interest Lodge for those Masons with a particular interest in real ale, craft beer and other associated activities, as well as seeking attract new members who have such interests and might www.lodge600.org.uk for otherwise have not thought of joining Freemasonry.
St Peter & Harmony will remain a working Lodge, encouraging candidates to progress, retaining their history of excellent ritual and floor work, but with a new focus on learning about real ale and craft beer-related subjects and the tasting of it; of course!
They will meet on the first Wednesday of March, June, July, and October in our new format. At each meeting, they will undertake regular Masonic business followed by a Festive Board. The meetings will, on many occasions. include a speaker from the real ale/craft beer/related industry, and they will be welcoming guest ales and beers at the bar at each meeting.
The Lodge will become a place for like-minded individuals to practice Freemasonry to the highest standards and enjoy discussing, learning about, and drinking real ale and craft beer.
Their journey is beginning now with the official launch on Wednesday 2nd March 2022. Between now and then, they are encouraging Masons from Provinces all over the North to join them as we plan various events and activities leading up to the launch. These include visits to breweries, speakers' events, plus various social events. Take a look at the events page on their website www.lodge600.org.uk for full events details as well as an online joining form or use the email address firstname.lastname@example.org
Original piece taken from "Freemasonry Today Magazine" | Wednesday 11th August 2021
A SOON-TO-BE 99 YEAR OLD WORLD WAR TWO VETERAN FULFILLED A LIFE-LONG AMBITION ON MONDAY 2 AUGUST WHEN HE FLEW IN A HOT AIR BALLOON OVER YORKSHIRE FROM YORK RACECOURSE
Ron Shelley, who is a resident at RMBI Care Co. Home Connaught Court in Fulford, York, confided to staff that he would dearly love to take to the skies to mark his 99th year, so they set about making it happen. He will be 99 on 3rd September.
Ron, who supported the D-Day landings 77 years ago, was delighted when staff revealed the surprise and he can’t wait to fly over the glorious countryside of North Yorkshire with his son, Peter.
He said: 'I thought it would be a thrilling one off experience, a once in a life-time trip, so I’m seizing the chance while I still can!'
During the Second World War, Ron was a wireless operator. He was sent to France six days after D-Day in 1944, aged just 22.
He was involved in sending out false missives to “confound and confuse” the enemy.
Ron explains: 'It worked. My dummy messages, which I sent from a radio truck, led the enemy to believe that there was a whole division of 3,000 men, too many to take on, so they didn’t attack.'
Ron recollects that he eventually got to Caen behind the infantry, escaping mortar attacks by parking his truck over the trench. He was also involved with the famous Battle of Nijmegen in the Netherlands.
Ron left the Army as a Sergeant, receiving a number of medals in recognition of his immense bravery.
Born in India in 1922, where his father was posted with the British Army, Ron came back to England when he was three years old and grew up in London.
He has enjoyed a life full of travel and adventure with army postings all over the world. He continued his passion for radio as an amateur radio enthusiast. During a posting to Hong Kong, he was in contact with the famed H.M.S. Amethyst, which was caught up in the Chinese Civil War, the story behind the film The Yangtze Incident.
Later Ron met and married the love of his life, Thelma and they had two sons. They lived in Fulford and for a while they ran the Masons Arms public house on Fishergate in York. Sadly, Thelma passed away in 2018 after 64 years of “wonderful marriage”. Ron now has five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
Ron has lived at RMBI Care Co. Home Connaught Court for three years. He is remarkably active and youthful, which he says is because he has 'always been sporty and used to be a physical training instructor in the Army.'
Fran Tagg, an Activities Coordinator for RMBI Care Co. Home Connaught Court said: 'Ron is a modest gentleman who is well known at our Home for his adventurous spirit. When he mentioned to us how he’d love to go up in a hot air balloon we were keen to create the opportunity for him. We’re very grateful to The Association of Friends of Connaught Court whose generosity has made this possible. It’s a dream come true for Ron!'
To help more than 1.4 million people experiencing mental health issues, Freemasons are donating more than £550,000 to help citizens across the UK.
Many people are reaching crisis point with their mental health due to the pandemic. According to NHS Prevalence Data 2020, one in six young people have a probable mental disorder, while the Young Minds Survey 2020 found 83% of young people said the pandemic had made their mental health worse.
To help the population exit the pandemic in a better state of mental health, the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body for Freemasonry in England and Wales, are supporting various institutions, schools and universities.
Among the institutions receiving support, the Freemasons are donating £125,000 to Young Minds to help them to support approximately 1.4 million young people. The goal is to increase Young Minds’ reach by 10% and help many more young people find the support they need, when they need it, and be able to take practical, actionable steps to improve their mental health.
The donation will enable the project to proactively recruit more young Black people and disabled people, to diversify Young Minds’ pool of bloggers to expand the experiences and voices on the website. The idea is to create more content on racism and mental health, as well as for those living with bipolar disorder.
The UGLE and the Masonic Charitable Foundation’s (MCF) - the Freemasons’ charity - donations will also help 100,000 children and young people across the UK to access information, support and guidance online.
In addition, the donation will help to develop and pilot the Suicide Safer Schools programme in three to five schools in west Cumbria, supporting 1,000 young people and 500 parents, teachers and staff, by raising awareness of suicide prevention, understanding help-seeking behaviour, and training selected staff in suicide intervention.
In a separate project, the Freemasons also aim to reach 800 young people in London, who will benefit from better understanding about the prevention of young suicide through volunteers running awareness-raising events in their local communities.
Elsewhere, 2,188 children and young people through three projects will be supported with mentoring and skills workshops. About 270 parents/staff will receive awareness workshops and support, while 270 young people will be trained as peer mentors.
The Freemasons’ donations will also support at least 600 teachers, professionals and parents, who will be provided with support through three projects offering mental health first aid training, learning events and parental support, and this will in turn will help 25,000 children and young people.
The support will also fund seven projects to help 1,780 children and young people with counselling and group therapy, while 40 parents and carers will also benefit. Elsewhere, 100 young men with mental health issues will benefit from a project offering weekly talking group sessions.
During almost two years of the pandemic, Freemasons have donated millions of pounds to support people in need. They have donated many tonnes of food, tablets for hospitals, ambulances and PPE, as well as supporting carers, women’s refuges, care homes, hospitals, hospices and funds for NHS workers. In 2020, the Freemasons total charitable donations topped £51 million.
In addition, Freemasons also worked 18 million hours as volunteers in a range of different areas where there was a need, including driving vulnerable people to hospital, preparing meals, taking care of people at risk, organising care packages, as well as producing scrubs, PPE and hand sanitiser.
Dr David Staples, chief executive of the UGLE, said: “The pandemic has been devastating and mental health is a very important topic to us and our members. During the pandemic, thousands of Freemasons supported people in their communities, preventing mental health problems and supporting many families. This issue must be one of our priorities and we are joining forces to keep the population safe and feeling well.
"The UGLE has carefully chosen the institutions we are supporting, focusing on those with important objectives to achieve in the areas of tackling racism, mental health issues, living with bipolar disorder and prevention of young suicide. We need to do everything we can to help as many people as possible.”
In addition to the £1m donated in 2020, the Freemasons have committed a further fund of £2.1m to support the ongoing Covid-19 crisis response. Of that £2.1m, £850,000 has been allocated to support homeless people through several charities with which UGLE partners, while £715,000 is earmarked to support adult, young and parent carers.
Molly Daphne Rose (née Marshall): b 26th November 1920: d 16th October 2016.
Molly Marshall was born in November 1920, the fifth of six daughters with an older brother, Arthur. Her father, David Marshall, founded a car maintenance, car rental and car dealership business in 1909 and with her brother a flying school and aircraft maintenance business in the 1920s.
In Molly’s own words: -
“My brother, Arthur, who was seventeen years my senior, enjoyed his first flying lesson at Norwich in 1927, obtaining his Pilot’s Licence a year later. In 1929 he bought a new Gipsy Moth, and his first flights were based on flattened fields behind our home in Cambridge.
These fields became part of what is now Cambridge Airport.
“I was a little girl when Arthur got his Gypsy Moth and, if I was hanging about, he didn’t mind taking up his little sister. He was very tolerant. I had some very cold flights because if your big brother is offering to take you flying, you don’t run in for a jumper; you nipped smartly into the front cockpit! It certainly didn’t put me off flying.
“In 1937, I started flying lessons, and a year later, I passed my Pilot’s Licence. When I finished school in the summer of 1938, my father agreed to allow me to do an engineering course at the aerodrome, which he founded, and so I worked as a ground engineer. The chaps were extremely kind to me, despite the fact I was the only female working there.
“With war declared in 1939, I married Bernard Rose in December of that year. He volunteered to serve in the army, and I returned to my ground engineering in 1940,
working there until I was called up by the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1942.
In 1942, Bernard travelled to the Middle East to join a tank regiment, and in July, Molly’s father died suddenly. So, when an invitation came from the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) to join them as a pilot, she reacted: “My mother had died in 1930 when I
was only ten years old, and the two men in my life were not there to be asked, I accepted. I also thought that if I were to go and get a jolly good photograph of me in the ATA uniform and send it to Bernard in north Africa, although he might be alarmed, he would be pleased
to see me looking so smart!”
Although Molly had only just under 19 hours of flying solo, ATA was keen to employ anyone with a pilot’s Licence.
The ATA was formed in August 1939, just before war was declared, and given the task of ferrying from the aircraft manufacturers to the squadrons – because there was a shortage of RAF pilots and they needed to be focused on combat warfare.
ATA comprised male pilots who were not eligible to join the RAF and women who had gained their Pilot’s Licence but could not, in those days, enlist with the RAF. The male pilots were often people who had been turned down for employment in the RAF on the grounds of age or medical impairment. Molly would often remark: “The men were much braver than the women. They were generally older and had medical injuries. Compared with the women who were fit and generally very keen to contribute to the war efforts and fly!
The first group of women ATA pilots, eight of them, was formed in February 1940. It was rapidly proved that the women pilots could pilot aircraft just as successfully as their male counterparts.
Molly signed her agreement to join ATA on 16th September 1942, the employment number “W98”. She completed her induction and was flying solo by 25th September 1942!
Molly commented: “ATA had its own system of training because they recruited people with a variety of experiences and from all around the world. When you first joined, you were allocated your own instructor, and I had a lovely instructor called Joan Hughes. She was
one of the original eight women pilots and was one of the youngest female pilots in Great Britain.”
The training system developed by ATA was truly magnificent. What has to be remembered is that fighter aircraft were single-seaters. Therefore, pilots in ATA were trained by type, and each type was organised into classes. (NB It is only in the past few years that Spitfires have been converted to become two-seaters!). The classes were
•Class 1 Light single-engine
•Class 2 Advanced single-engine
•Class 3 Light twin-engine
•Class 4 Advanced twin engine
•Class 5 Four-engines
•Class 6 Flying Boats
Over time Molly became qualified and licensed to fly classes 1 to 4 – and the largest she flew was a Wellington bomber (first of a dozen solo flights in October 1944) and the smallest a Tiger Moth!
An essential aid to all ATA pilots was a loose-leafed binder of about 12 x 15cms which had instructions for flying all aircraft and was strapped to the leg for use at take-off, flight and landing. It was called Ferry Pilot Notes. It included engine type and some details about the engine, throttle information, undercarriage, flaps, gills, tanks, cabin, take-off, climb, cruise and landing – to name but a few items!
For the Spitfire and ‘Supermarine Seafire’, the Ferry Pilot Notes covered both the Merlin and Griffon engines. For the Merlin engine, specifically Spitfire I, II, IV, V, VI, VIIPR, VIIF, VIII, IX, X, XI, XIII, XVI, and Seafire I, II and III. For the Griffon engine: Spitfire XII, XIV,
XVIII, XIX, 21 and 22: Seafire: XV, XVII and 45. Thus there were 25 variants of the Spitfire.
The ‘Supermarine Seafire’ was a naval version of the Spitfire adapted for operation from aircraft carriers.
Having joined ATA as a Cadet in September 1942, Molly rose through the ranks to become First Officer Rose. The ranks were Cadet, Third, Second and First Officer. She
was, by all reports, a highly competent and reliable pilot.
“I flew with ATA from 1942 to 1945 and was stationed at Hamble, which was one of the two “all women” ferry pools in the country. As the majority of aircraft we handled at Hamble were of the fighter variety, we were responsible for delivering aircraft to all the fighter
squadrons in the south of England,” said Molly.
And this is where the Spitfire came into Molly’s life. Hamble was well-positioned to collect Spitfires from factories that were based in the south of England. Molly’s first Spitfire flight was on 2nd September 1943 and was from Cosford to Cranfield. Her last flight in a
Spitfire was on 23rd April 1945 and from Lyneham to Lasham. In all, Molly delivered 273 Spitfires.
Molly’s words: “The most dangerous part of flying was flying in bad weather. We often didn’t have radios in those days, and even if one was fitted, it was strictly for use in combat situations. Once you were up in the air, you were on your own and had to use a compass
and maps, and in bad weather, this was a challenge.”
ATA pilots were instructed to fly below cloud cover – which is why there is a reference to maps. Often, they would follow a road route for parts of their journeys.
Like many of her colleagues at Hamble, Molly would describe the Spitfire as a lady’s plane in that it was so responsive to its controls. A typical comment was: “It was a beautiful aircraft and great to handle”. They were in awe of the Spitfire designer, RJ Mitchell, who sadly died of cancer in 1937.
The only crash Molly experienced was while delivering a ‘Fairey Swordfish III’ (NF 262) on 13th May 1944 from High Ercall. Experiencing engine failure whilst flying over the Wrekin (near Shifnal), she was ‘forced to land in a field, after severe engine failure and the aircraft was severely damaged. This quote is from the Findings of the Accident Report. Under “Responsibility”, it states: “The pilot is held not responsible for this accident”.
*The Fairey Swordfish was a biplane torpedo bomber designed by the Fairey Aviation Company.
Molly’s description of what happened was that experiencing engine failure, she looked around for somewhere safe to make an emergency landing. She could see a man ploughing a field, and she managed to avoid him. However: what made the crash more of an experience was that she miscalculated the contours and angles. So, the nose dug into the earth, and the plane turned upside down. She was left dangling from the cockpit still in her harness, and the farmer had to come to her assistance. Knowing the aircraft had been adapted with some highly secret equipment, Molly instructed the farmer to guard the plane while she contacted the local RAF station. Molly suffered no physical damage: all that was damaged was her pride! Luckily based at nearby RAF Cosford was a brother-in-law who collected and gave her dinner in the mess.
When ATA pilots were not delivering aircraft, they were often performing a taxi service for their colleagues. With the speed of delivery the essence, pilots would be flown to collect the aircraft from factories and then collected from wherever they had delivered aircraft –
“Maintenance Units” where equipment was fitted for combat for onward delivery to RAF stations.
A typical day’s flying! On 9th September 1945, Molly had 7 flights, of which 4 were delivering Spitfires, and 3 were flying in a Fairchild, taking her to various destinations.
Molly’s flying career was:
•First solo flight in a Tiger Moth on 13th April 1938 from Cambridge to Cambridge.
•Last solo flight in a *Walrus on 24th April 1945 from Cowes to Wroughton.
•With ATA, Molly delivered 486 aircraft flying a total of 705 hours.
•1,364 Flights in ATA, of which over 860 were solo.
The ‘Supermarine Walrus’ (originally known as the ‘Supermarine Seagull V’) was a British
single-engine amphibious biplane reconnaissance aircraft designed by R. J. Mitchell and
manufactured by the British aircraft company Supermarine.
With the war ended, Molly said: “My husband was a prisoner of war for the last eleven months of the war. He had landed on D-day at Arromanches les Baines and was taken prisoner seven days later at the Battle of Villers BocaLes He was to spend the rest of the war as a prisoner of war in the German Brunswick Camp (Oflag 79), and when the war in Europe ended, he came home. I was 26 when I came out of ATA and had flown 36
different types of aircraft.”
During World War Two, the Air Transport Auxiliary employed 1,077 men and 168 women from 25 countries ferried over 309,000 aircraft of 147 different types, without radios, with no instrument flying instruction and at the mercy of the British weather. Sadly 173 men and women were to die in the service of ATA. A remarkable story!
Graham Rose is the eldest son of Molly and Bernard Rose and is currently chairman of
the Air Transport Auxiliary Association.
NHS staff across South, West and North Yorkshire are to benefit from a £60,000 grant, courtesy of the region’s Freemasons.
The donation, from the fraternity’s Province of Yorkshire West Riding, will be used by 21 hospitals for a variety of projects including enhancing staff rest rooms, providing hospital ‘secret gardens’, funding therapy sessions with Huskey dogs.
On Monday July 5th, Freemasons across England and Wales will be playing their part in the first NHS, Social Care & Frontline Workers’ Day, to celebrate all those who have worked so tirelessly to help the country through the Coronavirus crisis, and who continue to support some of the most vulnerable people in society.
Those hospitals to benefit from a share of the grant, which has come via West Riding Masonic Charities Ltd, are:
David S Pratt, The Provincial Grandmaster of the Province of Yorkshire West Riding, said: “I think we are all in agreement that the whole country owes our NHS staff, and social care workers, a huge debt of gratitude for everything they have done since the start of the pandemic early last year.
“Whilst Freemasons up and down the country, including those in our own area, will be marking this NHS, Social Care & Frontline Workers’ Day in a number of ways, we are delighted to be giving this donation of £60,000 which will benefit staff in 21 hospitals.
“Our membership is made up of men from all different walks of life, and I'm very proud to say that we have plenty who work in the medical and caring profession.
“I'd also like to thank our members who have also reacted brilliantly to the pandemic; from those who helped make PPE, to those helping out at vaccination centres and also going back into the medical profession to administer those all-important vaccinations.
“Whilst Covid has been with us for a very short period of time, Freemasonry has been thriving within the Province of Yorkshire West Riding for more than 200 years.
“It is at the heart of many communities, and with charity being a core theme, I’m proud to say it continues to play its part in supporting an ever increasing number of charities and good causes with financial donations.”
Based on the old West Riding, the Province reaches from Sheffield in the South to Ripon in the North, and Goole in the East to Waddington in the West.
With thanks to the Ladybower facebook group for the below words and photos.
“27th May 2021.......A great milestone in Ladybower's Accessibility project took place at the fishery yesterday with the official launch, delayed due to CV19 restrictions, of the Coulam V17 Wheelyboat, named 'The Gov' after our late friend and supporter, the dearly missed Alisdair Duncan from Orvis Bakewell. It's drop-down bow door for easy access will help provide users the opportunity to see the Ladybower Reservoir from the water and at the same time enjoy a fast, hat-ripping ride to the far ends of the system! 👍👍👍
We were delighted to welcome Brian Littlejohn, Assistant PGM of the Yorkshire West Riding Freemasons to perform the ribbon cutting ceremony alongside his brethren Ernie Booth and Pete Eville. They have been instrumental in funding the boat itself, alongside The Wheelyboat Trust (incorporating The Gordon Trust, Helen Jean Cope Charity, The Mansfield Building Society and ALA Green Charitable Trust), The Evans Property Group, Accessible Derbyshire and numerous personal donations from our anglers and the general public, so without them, none of this would have been possible, so we thank you all.😀
Freemasons rise to Covid-19 challenge with donations totalling £1m and 18 million hours of volunteering
Faced with the greatest global pandemic in living memory, Freemasons came together in 2020 and donated a total of £1m as well as their time to help those in need.
The donations were used to help communities in various critical areas, including foodbanks, support for unpaid carers, personal protective equipment (PPE), supplies for hospitals and hospices, support for women’s refuges, and funds for NHS workers, ambulances and equipment.
Freemasons also worked 18 million hours as volunteers in a range of different areas, where there was a need, including driving vulnerable people to hospital, preparing meals, taking care of people at risk, organising care packages, producing scrubs, PPE and hand sanitiser.
At the start of the crisis in April 2020, some Freemasons adapted their businesses’ production lines to produce nearly 5,000 visors for use in healthcare settings. Since then, Freemasons have produced or procured tens of thousands of pieces of additional PPE.
Meanwhile, to help protect women and children from domestic abuse, Freemasons donated more than £165,000 in 2020. The donation helped more than 2,000 women during the lockdown, who received more than 1,000 parcels containing essential items for women fleeing domestic abuse.
Freemasons also focused their efforts on hospitals and care homes, donating nearly 1,000 tablets to provide vital contact between coronavirus patients and their loved ones. The tablets were provided to more than 50 hospitals, care homes and hospices. In London, hospitals including The Royal London, Queen Mary's and St Thomas' received approximately 115 tablets; while in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, some 200 tablets were donated.
Elsewhere, to support thousands of families struggling during the crisis, Freemasons donated 300,000 meals and 38 tonnes of food to homeless people, women’s refuges and vulnerable people, supporting more than 120,000 people in total. Moreover, £560,000 was donated to provide meals and help numerous foodbanks.
Dr David Staples, chief executive of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), said: “No one in this day and age should have to worry where their next meal is coming from. We are so glad that we were able to provide thousands of families across the UK with a hot meal or food donations to help get them through this current crisis. Freemasons have achieved all of this in just a few months and have also given their time to produce and deliver food to the vulnerable.”
The UGLE is also encouraging its members to roll up their sleeves and volunteer to help vaccinate the population. “More than 18.5 million hours of volunteer work were undertaken by Freemasons. Now it is crucial that we help in every way we can to protect the population. If the NHS needs volunteers, then we are happy to emphasise the importance of this to our members,” said Dr Staples.
He continued: “Our response to the Pandemic shows what Freemasonry is all about; supporting those in need, giving back to our communities and volunteering where it can make a real difference. Freemasons have been doing this for over 300 years and I am proud of the time and commitment that our members have given to support the nation in its fight against Covid-19.”
In addition to the £1m donated in 2020, the Freemasons have committed a further fund of £2.1m to support the ongoing Covid-19 crisis response. Of that £2.1m, £850,000 has been allocated to support homeless people through several charities with which UGLE partners. More than 40,000 homeless individuals are being provided with food and essentials, transport, help with accessing services such as counselling and healthcare, as well as employment and training opportunities.
The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) has launched its first annual report, in its 300 year history, marking another major step forward in its commitment to modernisation, transparency and normalization.
The annual report includes the new mission statement, which sits alongside the UGLE’s four key values of integrity, respect, friendship and charity. In addition, a recent study found that 75% of Freemasons take part in civic or charitable activities, compared to only 31% of non-Freemasons, in a matched geodemographic profile.
Dr David Staples, chief executive of the UGLE, said: “Our first ever annual report is a major step ahead for the organisation in terms of the transparency and normalisation of Freemasonry, we want to tell the public who we are and what we do. This year, we have raised more than £42m for charity and given more than 18.5 million hours of our time in unpaid social and civic volunteering. I am enormously proud to serve an organisation with such a story to tell.”
The vast majority of the beneficiaries of charitable grants from Masonic charities are not themselves Freemasons. In fact, 90% of the donations are given to thousands of projects and people across the country to provide relief from suffering, misfortune and poverty. Only 10% of the total money disbursed goes to UGLE members and families, on a means-tested basis.
During the pandemic, it was gratifying to discover that fewer than 2% of the UGLE membership were actively considering leaving Freemasonry. The UGLE had planned for a significantly higher drop in membership, comprising those leaving because of financial hardship and those sadly passing away. Instead, the vast majority are greatly looking forward to things returning to normal and to resuming their Masonic lives.
Elsewhere, many members responded magnificently to the crisis, raising £3m for those in need across the UK, via the Covid Community Fund. In the early days of the pandemic, the group prioritised the need for personal protective equipment, food-based projects and the supply of tablets to hospitals and nursing homes to enable Covid-19 sufferers to contact family members. Now, the project is focusing on helping homeless people, young carers and mental health projects.
The essence of Freemasonry is the practise of charity. It is so inextricably linked that every Lodge meeting includes a charity collection and every Lodge and Province has a charity steward, who is responsible for coordinating the financial commitments and voluntary actions of the members. Many of the charitable efforts of the UGLE and its members are channelled through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons’ primary charitable grant-giving body.
Among other charities that the UGLE is actively supporting is the Freemasons’ Fund for Surgical Research (FFSR), which supports the Research Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) with grants each year to pursue cutting-edge research work, which might otherwise not have been funded. For more than 50 years, the FFSR has supported much groundbreaking research and many of the Fellows have gone on to distinguished careers.
In addition to the RCS, the Freemasons also support Lifelites, which gives life-limited and disabled children in hospices the chance to play and be creative, through the power of assistive technology.
Since taking over as CEO of the 200,000-member UGLE, Dr Staples has targeted many improvements within the organisation. “The challenges I have set myself are to improve the public perception and understanding of Freemasonry, and to improve the administration of the organisation, modernising our systems and processes within this context,” he explained.
In the last few years therefore, Freemasons have been busy modernising and launching campaigns inviting the public to experience the world of Freemasonry. As a result, since 2018 the public’s perception of Freemasonry has improved significantly, according to external opinion surveys.
“All the effort and transparency has brought surprising results. Recent research showed that one in four people would consider joining Freemasonry today. The change is significant, because in 2018, the result of the same survey was one in ten,” explained Dr Staples.
The same research showed that those aged 18-34 are the most favourable towards the organisation, suggesting a real opportunity exists to engage and attract a newer, younger membership. Looking to these segments of the public, the UGLE has done much in recent years to encourage younger men, such as establishing the Universities Scheme and the New and Young Masons Clubs. Currently, the Universities Scheme has approximately 3,500 subscribing members.
Furthermore, a new cafe is opening next year within Freemasons Hall, with the objective of allowing the general public to experience the historic building, alongside new digital tours and a brand new visitors’ shop.
Improvements are also being made in communications. For the first time, the UGLE is able to talk directly and regularly with its membership, and a planned member survey will ensure that Freemasons will have be able to provide feedback directly to the organisation.
Further modernisation is underway with Project Hermes, a modern and simple web-based system to be used by Lodge and Chapter secretaries, which will transform the way in which the organisation is administered and mark an end to lengthy, manual form-filling processes. One of the major design principles of Hermes is that it must be intuitive and easy to operate, similar to using an online banking system.
Looking further ahead, an important milestone to be celebrated is the consecration of Lodge number 10,000, which will be duly heralded next year. That and other upcoming events will offer the UGLE the chance to match its Tercentary celebration in 2017 at the Royal Albert Hall. These occasions demonstrate the richness and importance of the Freemasons’ history and heritage, as well as the essential benevolence of the organisation’s core values and teachings – all while showcasing the fun side of Freemasonry.
Freemasons are leading a project to help up to 33,000 adult, young and parent carers, with donations of more than £715,000.
According to Carers UK, the number of carers grew exponentially during the pandemic, reaching more than 13 million. The helping hand from the Freemasons is supporting them with essential items, life skills, counselling, crisis support, activities and breaks.
Approximately 20,000 unpaid carers are receiving access to crucial support online, funded by the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body of the Freemasons.
The UGLE is also working to protect young carers, who are under increasing pressure as they support family members during lockdown.
In particular, the Freemasons project is providing 870 young carers with respite through activities and breaks, while 760 young carers are being provided with essential items and life skills. Elsewhere, almost 100 schools are receiving assistance to identify hidden young carers and provide support.
In total, more than 1,800 young carers are receiving advice, support and information.
In addition to their support for young carers, the Freemasons are providing funding for crisis support, advice and information to almost 3,000 adult carers. Meanwhile, the project is also assisting 1,050 parent carers with advice and support.
Dr David Staples, chief executive of the UGLE, said: “These have been very difficult times for everyone and especially for carers. With the donations, we are helping with training, counselling, support, mental and physical health, as well as activities to reduce stress.
“We want to recognise the enormous contribution carers make to families and communities throughout the UK. They do their best because they want to make a difference and care deeply for their family members.”
The inaugural celebration of NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers’ Day is set to take place on 5 July 2021, with Freemasons leading the event.
The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body for Freemasons, is inviting its 200,000 members to fly specially designed flags at 10am on 5 July, to celebrate this unique day dedicated to the NHS, social care and all those that work on the front line, who have saved so many lives during the pandemic. The celebration will also remember those workers we sadly lost.
The UGLE is one of the core supporters of the event alongside the Cadet Forces, English Heritage and the Women’s Institute. A £5 donation from every flag and length of bunting made will be equally divided between NHS Charities Together and the National Care Association.
Freemasonry for Women and the Order of Women Freemasons have also joined the UGLE in this initiative, as Freemasons aim to set a record for the number of flags raised simultaneously across the nation.
Subsequently, at 11am, Freemasons are planning a moment’s silence to remember NHS workers and all those who died from Covid-19. The day continues with a toast to the NHS at 1pm, raising a cuppa to the NHS during afternoon tea at 3pm, followed by an address to the nation at 6pm.
At 8pm, the Freemasons will join the nation in an evening clap for NHS workers, while church bells are set to ring 73 times to celebrate 73 years of the NHS. Closing the celebrations at 9pm, there will be a #timetotoast for all NHS workers.
So far, nearly 37 Lodges and Provinces have made a commitment to the raising of the flag and other elements of the day. In addition, Northumberland Freemason, Nicholas Deakin, is hosting a special live streaming theatre show from the Tyne Theatre & Opera House with compere, comics, singers, reading, video footage and messages of support to raise money on the day.
Bruno Peek, pageant master to the Queen and creator of NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers Day, said: “We are delighted that Freemasons, whose members come from all walks of life, are playing such a high profile and active role to start this special day of celebration and commemoration of those within the NHS, Social Care and on the Frontline who undertake so much for us all, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and fifty two weeks a year, without any thought of their own safety.”
In addition, Dr David Staples, chief executive of the UGLE, and a Consultant in Acute Internal Medicine at Peterborough Hospital, said: “We are facing the greatest global pandemic in living memory, and the NHS has never been so tested in its history. Its staff have been stretched beyond comprehension over the last year and they deserve our gratitude, our applause and all the support we can give.
We are encouraging not only our 200,000 members, but the entire population to celebrate the day honouring and remembering the NHS workers with a complete programme of events on 5 July.”
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Freemasons have been supporting the NHS in a great many different ways. They have donated more than £2.5m so far to the Covid effort and complete 18.5 million hours of volunteering to help those in need each year. The donation is being used to help with food, personal protective equipment (PPE), supplements for hospitals and hospices, funds for NHS workers and ambulances.
Freemasons have also offered their Lodges as bases to administer the vital vaccinations. In Hertfordshire, for example, Halsey Hall is being used as a vaccination centre, supporting three local GP surgeries. The centre has been operational since 15 January and once fully scaled up, there will be up to 1,000 vaccinations given there each day.