Paul Palmer

Solomon and the Lodge Officers’ Jewels

A number of Brethren in Essex are part of the Solomon User Group (SUG) which is a module on Solomon where new items designed by the Learning and Development Team are tried by ‘lead users’ who give feedback before the material goes live for all users. The current item being reviewed is all about the Lodge Officers’ Jewels.

Imagine a busy Installation Meeting where the collars have got mixed up and as you are sitting the closest to them the Worshipful Master looks at you and asks you to put them in order so he can invest his Officers. Three well designed introductory quizzes cover matching the officer to the jewel, the jewel to the officer and a timed quiz to identify the jewels for all the officers of a lodge. Then comes the fourth quiz called ‘Precedence of Officers’ which is described as fiendishly difficult with only two minutes to sort all the collars. This quiz has only one question but if you get it wrong a brother may be invested with the wrong collar and jewel.

The concept of the tests is first class and practising this way will help any brother make a useful contribution to the smooth running of proceedings at a busy Installation meeting with the added bonus of becoming more familiar with the Book of Constitutions Rule 104(d). Do look out for this and other new modules as they are a good way of “fostering curiosity and developing understanding”.

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Freemasons' Hall lit up for Rememberance Day

FREEMASONS’ HALL LIT UP FOR REMEMBRANCE DAY 2020 IN HONOUR OF 3,000 MEMBERS WHO DIED DURING WW1

To mark three major anniversaries for Remembrance Day the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) has lit up Freemasons' Hall in London with the names of Freemasons who died in WW1 to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of VE and VJ Day, and the Centenary of the unveiling of the Cenotaph, London.

The projection on Freemasons’ Hall will be on display until 9pm on the evening of Armistice Day and has already been shared widely on social media. In addition, more than 500 poppies, donated by Staffordshire Freemasons, are on display in the vestibules inside the stunning Grade II listed building, which was built as a peace memorial after WW1. The names of the 3,000 Freemasons are immortalised in the Roll of Honour within the Hall.

Freemasons have always had a strong relationship with the armed services, and UGLE have worked with Remembrance Penny who have donated a bronze poppy, in a case, inscribed with the words “They shall not grow old. For those Freemasons who died for their country”. Funds raised from the sale of the pennies will go to support Combat Stress to help continue delivering life-changing specialist services to veterans across the UK.  The poppy will be permanently situated in the vestibules as a symbol of reflection and contemplation for those servicemen and women who have served their country.

On Weds 11 November at 11:00am UGLE will live stream on its Facebook channel the two-minute silence in front of the peace memorial at Freemasons’ Hall, with a bugler playing The Last Post in tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Dr David Staples, UGLE’s chief executive, said: “The history of Freemasons’ Hall is directly linked to the Great War. There were more than 3,000 Freemasons killed in action during WW1 and in honour of those members, Freemasons' Hall was rebuilt as a peace memorial to all Freemasons’ who gave their lives for their country. This year, even in a difficult period, we have found a way to remember their ultimate sacrifice.”

In addition UGLE Freemasons will also be taking part in Remembrance Day events across the country. In Guernsey, members will attend the Remembrance Day service at our war memorial and lay a wreath in remembrance of those who lost their lives during WW1. The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry (RGLI) was formed in 1917 and fought in France during the last 12 months of WW1. Of the 2,430 Guernsey men, 230 were killed or missing in action.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight, meanwhile, is home to some of the country's largest and most important army and naval bases, and strong links have been formed during many decades. Many of the Province’s 250 Lodges have a long military heritage, reflected in proudly held names including Fleet Air Arm, Pegasus Forces, Royal Marine, Comrades and Aldershot Camp Lodge. Indeed, three members received the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest award for gallantry, during the Great War. Jon Whitaker, the head of Freemasonry in Hampshire and Isle of Wight, and a senior volunteer with the Royal British Legion (RBL), will lay a wreath on behalf of both local Freemasons and the RBL from all over the Province.

Meanwhile, in Bedfordshire the six Masonic centres (Ampthill, Bedford, Biggleswade, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard and Luton), will each lay a wreath at local civic services to mark Remembrance Day.

In Middlesex, members will lay a wreath informally at each of 16 war memorials throughout the Province, in order to honour the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for this country’s freedom in various conflicts. The wreaths will be laid by one Freemason at each memorial.

In London, Freemasons are taking part in a parade past the Cenotaph. Others are acting as poetry readers for the London Underground. While in Staffordshire, six members will be attending the National Memorial Arboretum to lay wreaths at the Masonic Garden of Remembrance.

In Worcestershire, Freemason Karl Nicholson and his friend Luke Ford are marching 111 miles over 11 consecutive days with 11kg of dead weight, in aid of the Royal British Legions’ Poppy Appeal 2020. They aim to finish at Worcester Cathedral war memorial by 11:00am on 11 November 2020 and have so far raised £1111.11. They were previously members of RAF Air Cadets, serving adult volunteer staff at 187 (City of Worcester) Squadron.

Mr Nicholson said: "We reasoned that the RBL Poppy Appeal might struggle this year, and after the success of a similar walk we did during the lockdown in May (road marching 100 miles in 14 days with 10kg deadweight), raising £1,137 for the RAF Benevolent Fund, we thought we would do it again but upping the stakes to make the challenge more difficult, and of course this time in the cold and no doubt wet conditions.”

Meanwhile in Leicester and Rutland, with Freemasons’ support, a memorial stone commemorating those taken prisoner in the Far East during the Second World War has been installed. Elsewhere, Derbyshire Freemasons will be laying wreaths at a number of locations throughout the Province. While at Freemasons Hall in Derby, the Province will be holding a wreath-laying ceremony at its own monument, which was erected in 2018.

To find out more about the role Freemasons played during periods of national war members of the public can view the online Brothers In Alms website at https://brothersinalms.org.uk. This exhibition of rare photographs spans the period from the Second Boer War through to the end of the Second World War, and features those who led and those who served on land, sea and in the air. It portrays the great landscape of the conflict across all continents and the diversity of the participants.

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Better Lives at work in Essex

Brethren across Essex, especially the Trustees and Members of the Association of Friends of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent Court, along with the residents and all those who work at Stisted must be very pleased that the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) chose Nikki, a Team Leader, for the lead story ‘A day in the life’ in the Better Lives Autumn/Winter 2020 issue.

Nikki’s fascinating account gives Brethren a glimpse of the hard work and dedication that goes on behind the scenes in the RMBI’s 18 care homes looking after more than 1,000 residents. The main focus of the rest of this issue of the MCF’s bi-annual magazine is on the relief available for full time unpaid carers, childcare for parents and life after caring.

Ten hard copies have been mailed to all lodge Almoners but with the suspension of meetings the online version is available at: https://mcf.org.uk/resource/better-lives-issue-8-winter-2020/  and can be passed to anyone associated with each lodge including past and present members, widowed partners and the children and grandchildren of members so that the MCF can reach those who are in need of support to get Better Lives.

Between 1 April and 31 July 2020 the MCF supported 451 charities with £2,775,136 of funding and another £2,689,702 in 1,847 grants to 1,460 brethren and their families struggling as a result of Covid-19.

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