By W Bro Irwin C Jewell BEM, PPSGW.
I was Initiated into The Old Sunning Lodge on the first Monday in November 1975, where I soon learnt of the affiliation between the two Lodges which had already been in existence for many years.
It was started by one our members WBro Cyril Johnson who lived at Caversham, his work took him all over Europe and apparently he had to visit Brussels University, where he met Dr Maurice Verbist and they soon discovered they both had one thing in common- Freemasonry! From that meeting Cyril arranged his visits to coincide with a visit to the Lodge in Mechelen and other Lodges and Chapters in the area.
It wasn’t very long before Cyril started to take members of Old Sunning Lodge to the Belgium Lodge and
The Brethren from Belgium were regular visitors to Sindlesham.
After I was raised in March 1976, I soon was invited to make my first visit to Mechelen
In I977 the Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium was excluded from the United Grand Lodge of England and as a protest against their own Grand Lodge about six of their members joined Old Sunning Lodge and made even more visits to us, after a while the Grand Lodge of Belgium was reunited with the United Grand Lodge of England and all of the Belgium Masons rejoined their old Lodge except WBro Dr Maurice Verbist who stayed a member of Old Sunning!
When I was installed into the Chair of Old Sunning in October 1985 many members from Belgium came over to the Ceremony, I took a party over to their Lodge during my year of office and our affiliation continued for many years
until WBro Cyril Johnson moved away and I became the coordinator of the visits between our two Lodges. Unfortunately a year or so later WBro Dr Maurice Verbist passed away and it wasn’t until I went into the Chair of Old Sunning Lodge again in 2001 I decided we should make another visit to Belgium. However, by then our Lodge was getting much smaller and I sought other Masons in Berkshire to see if they were interested in the visit which resulted in me taking a Coach over to Belgium, I have done this annually ever since. WBro Dr Maurice Verbist’s widow, Angela is still included in the list of Old Sunning widows and receives an annual cheque and Christmas card from the Lodge.
This year we have something really special happening, firstly 1st of May the Worshipful Master and the Brethren of The Constante Fidelite Lodge are coming over to Sindlesham to give a demonstration of their Spring Equinox Ceremony, which will be followed by a White Table Dinner together with the Belgium brethren and our Ladies, and we extend a very hearty welcome to any Brother and his Lady who would like to see this very different Ceremony to come and join us.
We have had a offer from Greta Palmer who will give a Illustrated talk to the Ladies entitled “Dressed to Impress” whilst the Masons are in the Ceremony in the Berkshire Temple. The interest shown already indicates this will be very well attended.
Secondly on June 18Th
to the 22ND
I am running our visit to Mechelen, we stay in the Novotel Hotel in the Centre of the City for 4 nights and apart from our visit to their Lodge to witness The Summer Equinox Ceremony we are going to Waterloo on the Saturday to celebrate the 200Th Anniversary
of The Battle of Waterloo where they are having a re-enactment of the Battle with 5000 troops taking part!! We still have 4 spaces available, If you are interested in joining us please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
My deepest wish is that in my 87th year I cannot continue to be the coordinator of the affiliation of our two Lodges and someone else will take it over! If anyone is interested in taking this role on please feel free to talk to me.