As Master of the Be Prepared Lodge I am hosting a weekend away in Bournemouth. It is going to be a fantastic weekend and one you wont forget. All Freemasons, Family and friends are very welcome. For more information use the email above or click on the following link: http://www.bepreparedlodge.org.uk/festival/
The story so far and what’s ahead…
So the end of my active year as a Provincial Grand Steward is nearly here. After our summer break I will hand over my collar to another very worthy Brother. I have had a brilliant two years in office due to Covid. I have had the pleasure of visiting all of our centres and many Lodges. It has been lovely to see meetings returning to normal even though numbers are understandably low. The standard of ritual has been very good, I think this is due to the amount of time given to learning whilst our meetings were suspended. I will certainly miss being in active office but I’m very pleased to know that another brother will partake of the enjoyment I have had.
My Masonic workload will not slow down though, I am still heavily involved in managing the Social Media and Social Media team in the Province of Berkshire.
September will see me being installed as Master of The Be Prepared Lodge in Berkshire (www.bepreparedlodge.org.uk), this will be my second time as Master of a lodge, Be Prepared is a young, fun and enthusiastic lodge. Im looking forward to working with their team and supporting the new members, I am planning on having (hopefully) a ladies evening or weekend and many social activities for the members to enjoy. I will be on the circuit and visiting as many lodges as I can fit in to represent BP Lodge, I look forward to seeing many other WMs on my travels.
Some of you may be aware that I have been working on setting up an Emergency Services Lodge in Berkshire. Its been a year in the planing so far and I’m very pleased to say that we are now able to submit our application to the Province for consecration. We have all of the offices filled and a good number of founders. we are of course still taking applications for Founders and joining members. Membership is open to all past and present members of the emergency and support services, NHS, Prison and Voluntary services. We will be holding 2 meetings a year with additional meetings as and when required. We had a curry night with potential founders and members and the decision was made on only two meetings a year to ease the commitment around shifts etc. This has actually proved very popular and I’m sure has resulted in founders joining who would not have joined had we been having more meetings. I would encourage others to consider this when planning a new lodge. To find out more about this lodge and to follow our activities go to www.emergencyserviceslodge.org.uk .
I will continue to be Director of Ceremonies, Membership Officer and Preceptor of The Old Sunning Lodge: www.oldsunninglodge.org.uk. Like many lodges Old Sunning has lost a few members and is rebuilding itself. We are pleased to have two new candidates joining us and will make sure they have a great time.
The summer break will give all members and lodges time to plan and look forward to the next year. Lodges need a “game plan” and need to look at publicity for attracting new members and looking after their existing members. Update your websites, work on your social media, plan a lodge night out or jolly. Use the summer to have some down time and enjoy the company of Brethren in a social setting with their partners and families.
It is my personal opinion that due to covid Freemasonry is slightly fragile at the moment, we need to rebuild, re-energise and plan for the years to come. We need to engage with our members, especially those who feel unable to attend at the moment. Keep them informed, remind them they are still part of us as much as they have always been. Consider assigning them jobs they can undertake from home if they are willing to do so eg Festive Board, Social Planning, online help with ritual for junior members who are delivering it etc etc. We need to work on our future now, we can’t assume that all will be well.
Now I’m going to return to reading my blue book in preparation for my Installation (1st September, Wokingham Masonic Centre, all Freemasons are very welcome to attend!!). Plan for the next LOI and rehearsal, work on the provincial social media and a few other bits. Have a fantastic summer and hopefully I will see at least some of you around in September onwards.
Take care, be safe!!
Social Media and Freemasonry
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
Donation to West Berkshire Therapy Centre
As part of our Tercentenary celebrations, Berkshire Freemasons are donating £4,000 toWest Berkshire Therapy Centre helping towards their appeal raising funds for new buildings and equipment.
Opened in April 2014, West Berkshire Therapy Centre is a specialised therapy gym for people with disabilities in West Berkshire and surrounding areas. It is a not-for-profit organisation, supported by voluntary donations.
The Community Awards are a major part of Freemasonry’s 300th anniversary celebrations. The Masonic Charitable Foundation is distributing three million pounds to 300 charities across the country, with the public vote deciding on the range of Awards from £4,000 to £25,000. The £3million fund is being administered by the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which obtains all its funding from Freemasons, their families and friends.
Julian Pacey, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire Freemasons, visited the charity and presented the award to Irene Walters. Julian commented on the tremendous work the Trust does to provide therapy services to the disabled and infirm people in the Newbury area and that Berkshire Masons are delighted to help support this great project.
Irene Walters–Trustee said: “We are thrilled with this generous award from Berkshire Freemasons, it will help us in the delivery of our services to the people of Newbury and Thatcham as well as helping our appeal to purchase of the land for our gym. Exercise is key to help people recover from stroke, Parkinson’s and arthritis”
Martin Peters, Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire Freemasons said: “We are delighted to be able to celebrate three hundred years of Freemasonry by helping excellent local charities like the West Berkshire Therapy Centre. We’ve been active in charity work for all that time but this is the first occasion we’ve asked the public to help us decide how to spend our money. We are very pleased that so many people from Berkshire took part in the vote.”
Windsor Freemasons’ Throw Open Their Doors
Freemasonry – What’s It All About?
On Saturday 31st January 2015 Windsor Freemasons’ will be throwing open their doors at:
The Windsor Masonic Hall, Church Lane, Windsor SL4 1PA from 11am – 4pm
Entry Is Free and Refreshments Will Be Provided
The Freemasons of Berkshire are throwing open their doors to the local community in Windsor at an Open Day on 31st January 2015. We want to give the public an opportunity find out what the Freemasons’ really do as opposed to the myths.
We are offering the opportunity to tour this superb, spectacular, historical building right next door to Windsor Castle, and much, much more.
Come and find out about what Freemasonry has to offer :
• A great place to make new friends
• Opportunity for Individual Development
• Thriving social scene
• Charitable works in the Community
• Ceremonial symbolism (yes we will really tell you what this all means!)
We are extending a warm welcome to all to come and meet us – what have you got to lose? Just pop in anytime between 11am and 4pm on Saturday 31st January 2015. We are The Red Door at the top of Church St, Windsor, SL4 1PA.
Two interesting Masonic days
The last two days have been great. Yesterday I attended the consecration of a new lodge in Berkshire. A consecration is where a Lodge is made a Lodge and receives its warrant. The main lodge room at Sindlesham was full. It was a great ceremony to watch. The new lodge is called The Combined Services Lodge and is the first Military Lodge in Berkshire. It was great to see some adaptions to give the lodge a Military feel.
The day ended with the Festive Board. This is the more relaxed side of Freemasonry, we have a nice meal, a good chat and a few laughs along the way.
A few weeks ago I was invited to join a new recruitment team for Berkshire, today I attended the first meeting of the new team. There are 27 of us on the team and we are looking to expand the membership. It’s a really exciting project. One of our aims is to become a more open organisation. One of our concerns is that we have always been seen as a secretive organisation and one that was quite difficult to join. This is not the case, we welcome new members.
So why become a Freemason?
Everyone has their own reasons for joining. For me I enjoy both the work that is done in the Lodge and the very big social side of being a member. The lodge work is a bit like learning your lines in a show. I enjoy the challenge. Every job in the lodge requires you to learn lines for certain parts of what is traditionally called the ritual. At first I thought I would never be able to learn it all, I have actually been surprised at what I have been able to learn so far for the various jobs I have done. The social side of Freemasonry is great. After every meeting we have a meal and a drink in the bar. We have a good chat and plenty of laughs during the evening. I always leave thinking I can’t wait for the next meeting. As a Mason you can also visit other lodges, this is great! It gives you a chance to make new friends and watch how other lodges work. The old thing about Freemasonry is that you are in control of how much time you want to spend out at meetings. There are always meetings and event happening so you are never short of things to do.
One side of Freemasonry that is never publicised is donations to charity. Lodges and provinces donate huge sums of money throughout the year, we also provide emergency donations in times of crisis. This is the main aim of our organisation and something we can be proud of. If this all sounds good get in touch with your local province, they will be very happy to welcome you.
Our new recruitment team will be holding lots of open days at various Lodges throughout Berkshire, our next one is on the 31st January at the Masonic Lodge in Windsor. We will have displays and information packs available, we will be giving tours of the Lodge, you will be given a full talk on what we do in the lodge and what everything means in the lodge. You can also attend a presentation on Freemasonry by one of our team. Following the tour and presentation you can have some refreshments and a chat the team. Even if you don’t want to join you are most welcome to come and have a look around. See you there!!