A new Lodge for Berkshire

I am currently starting the process of setting up a new “specialist” Lodge for Berkshire. The Emergency Services Lodge will be open to all past and present members and volunteers of the following agencies:

  • Fire, Police, Ambulance, NHS
  • RNLI, RLSS and Coastguard
  • Search and Rescue
  • Highways Agency Traffic Officers
  • St John Ambulance & British Red Cross
  • Bomb Disposal
  • Chemical and Nuclear Response teams

We will welcome applications from members of other agencies. The lodge will be a fun and relaxed with regular social activities for members and families.

If you are interested in becoming a Founder/Member please get in touch, Email: EmergencyServicesLodge@mail.com

The story so far

My new regalia as an active Provincial Grand Steward

I became a Freemason on the 5th November 2012, nearly 8 years in and I am still loving it. It has been a fantastic journey so far. My time working my way through the Lodge and completing the progressive offices was a great experience. I had many occasions thinking to myself “I can’t learn all of that!”, but I did! During these years I particularly enjoyed the roles of Junior and Senior Deacon. This enabled me to escort candidates around the Lodge throughout their ceremonies, a great experience for me and hopefully for the candidates. I will always remember the deacons for their part in my ceremonies. The next great moment was the year as Senior Warden. Apart from enjoying the role I had 12 months of looking at the Masters chair and counting the weeks down…. It soon came around.

The Grand finale was my installation as Worshipful Master of my Mother Lodge. I will never forget that night, a huge mix of excitement and emotion. I had many visitors and close to 100 attended. I was lucky to have my honoured guest the Provincial Grand Master attend. It was a fantastic evening, I often look at the photos and videos from the night. One vivid memory was the sudden emotion I felt when the members sang the masters song to me, that will stick with me forever.

My Installation as WM of The Old Sunning Lodge

I had a brilliant year as Master and as everyone said it flew by. I was able to initiate 2 new candidates and conducted the ceremonies of passing and raising with the very grateful help of the other members. During my year I was very lucky to be able to organise a ladies festival weekend, we had a fantastic weekend in Bournemouth with members of my lodge and many other guests attending.

Me and “The Lads” of The Old Sunning Lodge at my ladies festival weekend in Bournemouth.

My final task was to install my successor. This was another memorable moment because he was one of my candidates into Freemasonry. It was great to see him take the chair. During my year as the Immediate Past Master I can remember a friend telling me “you are not really out of the chair until you leave the chair of IPM”. By this he meant during your year as IPM you have to stand in for the master if he is unable to make a meeting. Due to work commitments of the master this happened and I had to conduct one of his ceremonies. Another great experience for me as it was for a candidate I initiated during my year.

I am just about to leave the IPM chair. The biggest surprise during my IPM year was to receive promotion in the Provincial Honours List 2020, I am delighted to be one of the six chosen to be promoted to Provincial Grand Steward. I will be wearing my new regalia (above) for the first time to my Lodges installation meeting in October. I am now an “active” Provincial Grand Officer, I’m not sure what the year will bring as due to the Covid-19 pandemic we are not visiting meetings but I will be make the most of it.

To sum up its been a brilliant 8 years so far and I have no doubt many more to come.

The Old Black Shoes

The Old Black Shoes

The old black shoes are looking glum
As I pass the lobby door,
“What’s wrong with you?” they seem to say,
“We’re going out no more.
We’ve taken not a single step,
Not third or even first,
And ne’er a sign we’ve seen you give,
Has Masonry been cursed?”
“It has”, I said, “by virus vile,
We have to stay at home
Until such time the plague has passed,
Then once more we can roam.
The Masons’ Halls are empty,
Regalia put away,
Gavels now stay silent,
DCs hold no sway.
Volumes of the Sacred Law
On pedestals redundant,
Now Brother Jim contacts his friends
By social posts abundant.
No handshake, word or secret sign,
No friendly Festive Board
No Tyler’s song to say Goodnight,
No organ’s well-loved chord.
“Black shoes,” I said, “do not despair,
Our Chain is firm and strong
Our flag of love remains unfurled
We’ll sing again our song.
And though our Brethren may have passed
To Grander Lodge Above,
We’ll look upon their memories
With everlasting Love;
And in their name, we’ll offer help
And soothe the burdened heart;
We’ll comfort those who are distressed,
Thus Masons play their part.
And when this crisis is resolved
We’ll sing the old refrain,
Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part,
Happy to meet again

So…. Why am I a Freemason

Every time I attend anything to do with Freemasonry I can honestly say that I am reminded of why I joined. This evening was a prime example.

I was due to attend a Lodge committee meeting. At the last minute my childcare arrangements fell through. I thought to myself what do I do?? Now the most important lesson taught to all Freemasons is that family comes a very long way before Freemasonry. I thought to myself what do I do now, the meeting was one that I really needed to attend and so I asked Hannah my daughter if she would like to come with me. She said yes!

I knew way before asking her that the guys would be ok with it and wouldn’t mind.

They had no idea she was coming, as soon as they met her they were absolutely lovely, they made her feel very welcome and gave her a tour of the lodge. By the end of the night they gave her a Berkshire visiting book so that she could get it signed when she returned.

This is just one of the reasons I am glad I became a Freemason. The guys I have met over the years are some of the nicest and most genuine people I have ever met. Hannah had a lovely time and I enjoyed the meeting.

Freemasonry is a family and the family includes every one of a Freemasons family. I am a very proud Freemason!!

Social Media and Freemasonry

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I have only been a Freemason for a short while (8 years), yes that is very short in Freemasonry!! When I joined there was very little use of Social Media in the organisation. I can remember mentioning Facebook, Twitter etc at a committee meeting of my Lodge, it received a very frosty reception from the members. When I mentioned us designing a website it was even more frosty!! After a very long discussion and many words of advice such as “be careful, watch what you say, do your homework and make sure you don’t get in trouble!” I was given the go ahead to start up the various pages. I did and then helped the other (older) members of the lodge to start their own personal pages. They now use it more than me!!

I posted quite a bit of Masonic information and details about what I had been up to in the hope that it would show non Masons what we are about. I developed this blog for people to read, hopefully some may find it interesting.

So what do I think about Social Media, well obviously I think it is a good idea as I am now the Provincial Social Media Officer for Berkshire. It is a good tool and can be beneficial for Provinces and Lodges but it must be used well. UGLE recently sent out guidance on its use, it is very important to read this fully before you start posting anything related to Freemasonry. To be honest most of the advice is common sense. As a Lodge using Facebook and Twitter is a great way to publicise your events and work. Facebook is great for detailed information, photos and events. Twitter is great for short information bursts,  I have been surprised at the number of Lodges and obviously Provinces that are on there. For fast up to date information Twitter is perfect, you can see lots of information in a short period of time. My advice for all Lodges would be to start off with Facebook and Twitter. Twitter spreads information very quickly.  If you think about the enough is enough campaign, UGLE could not have spread the word faster using any other means than social media. The #EnoughisEnough hashtag went “viral”.

Now there are those who think we shouldn’t be so public and we should still be exclusive and select people via our existing membership. I truly understand this and see your point but the reality is that this method doesn’t produce the number of new members we need to keep the craft going. It would be brilliant if it did but it just doesn’t so we need to explore other avenues. A saying I like is  if you always do what you have always done you will always get what you always got, this is true. If we don’t spread the word of what a great organisation we belong to and what a great time we have and the fantastic donations we are able to give to charity then the general public won’t have a clue. They will still think of a secretive organisation with funny handshakes etc etc. We are not like that anymore, we are fun, young and open to all!!

So give Social Media a go, what have you got to lose?? Be proud of your Lodge and province, show it off and tell everyone about it.

That is the only way Freemasonry will thrive!!

I look forward to reading your posts!!!!!!!

Twitter: My Twitter Link

Facebook: My Facebook Link

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