News

Grand Secretary’s Christmas Message 2019

It’s quite natural at this time of year to look back on the last twelve months and assess what’s been achieved and what remains to be done. But we should always bear in mind that the past should not dictate who or what we are, it should be part of what we become.

This sentiment encourages us to look to the future and build on our achievements. It’s a call to action to be bold and brave and meet our future challenges head on.

2019 hasn’t been plain sailing all the way but I’m delighted to say that we’ve continued to make progress in several key areas, including developing our understanding of the factors that affect our headcount and membership numbers, and extending the reach of our various recruitment and retention initiatives.

Perhaps the greatest progress we’ve made this this year has been in the way we communicate with you and our wider audience. Internally, I have continued my commitment to more open and transparent communication through regular reporting to our various Boards and Executive Committees; to annual conferences with the leaders in our various Orders; and most importantly by getting out to the Provinces and Districts and sharing news of what we’re doing directly with our members.
For the first time, we have a coherent communication strategy in place founded upon three core values of Respect, Friendship and Care. We aim to be better, easier and fairer in the way we communicate.

Externally, we’ve been working hard since the summer to improve our outreach through a variety of communications channels and the results clearly show that there’s an appetite out there for more news and information about who we are and what we do.

2020 will bring with it new and different challenges; challenges we must turn into opportunities.

We are all rooted in the Craft and the Royal Arch which completes our initial journey into Freemasonry, and we must always acknowledge that fact. But it’s time to be bold and proud about our Orders and celebrate the heritage, colour, ritual, ceremonial and diversity they bring to the table.

Our Orders are progressive and provide a doorway to greater enlightenment and I encourage you all to do whatever you can to increase awareness of and interest in the rich tapestry of Masonic knowledge that the progressive Orders provide.

What we have achieved this year has only been possible with the support of the staff at Mark Masons’ Hall, those who lead and administer the Orders in the UK and abroad and most especially you.

None of us knows what the future holds but our expectations must be for good health and happiness; the love and support of our families and friends and, of course, a brighter future for our Orders.

Wherever you are and whatever you may do over the coming festive season, I send you my warmest fraternal good wishes for Christmas and the New Year and look forward to your continuing support in 2020.

 

 

Ryan A. Williams

Grand Secretary

“Taking the Air” Takes on a Whole New Meaning for Pupils of Balliol Primary School

Pupils of Balliol Primary School in Kempston are some of the first in the country to benefit from a new approach to teaching their children outside of the classroom. 

The idea of creating an outdoor classroom was floated by the school’s headteacher at the time, Kirsty Bicknell, who commented, “We wanted to create a facility, in which our children could be taught and at the same time learn about the environment around them.  Our initial research indicated that to create an outdoor classroom and a 'chill-out zone' for children to learn in and have space to build social and emotional skills, would cost approximately £20,000!”

“We approached our Parents and Teachers Association (Friends of Balliol) and Bedfordshire Freemasons to seek their assistance. After careful consideration, Bedfordshire Freemasons agreed to provide £15,000 and our PTA helped to fundraise the balance.  On behalf of all the staff and the pupils of Balliol, I would like to express our most grateful thanks to Bedfordshire Craft and Bedfordshire Mark Master Masons and our wonderful PTA for providing the funds to help us create this unique learning and thinking facility.”

R.W.Bro. Russ Howard, Provincial Grand Master of the Bedfordshire Mark Master Masons added, “We are delighted that we could combine with Bedfordshire Craft Freemasons to help build this wonderful and unique teaching and thinking facility for the pupils of Balliol Primary School.  Having visited the school to see the outside area for myself, I was impressed with the outdoor classroom and 'chill-out' space, and the politeness and good manners of the pupils and their enthusiasm for their new outdoor classroom.  All we need now is some mild weather so the pupils can enjoy their lessons 'Al Fresco'."

R.W.Bro. Tony Henderson, Provincial Grand Master of Bedfordshire Craft Freemasons said, “We are delighted that we could help Kirsty and her team build this amazing outdoor classroom and thinking space.  The £15,000 donated by Freemasons, includes a £5,000 contribution each from Bedfordshire Mark Master Masons, Bedfordshire Craft Masons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Freemasons are keen to be involved in and support the communities we live in and where possible will support local charities and good causes.  We are currently building a 48 bed state of the art accommodation and amenities lodge for Bedfordshire Scouts at the Leslie Sell Activity Centre in Bromham.  In addition to the good causes we support locally, Freemasons across England and Wales gave over £48 Million to charities and good causes last year, and over 5 million hours of voluntary work was provided by Freemasons to local and national charities and good causes in 2018”.

Left-to-right: R.W.Bro. Tony Henderson, Craft P.G.M. (Bedfordshire), R.W.Bro. Russ Howard, P.G.M. (Bedfordshire), and with teachers and pupils of Balliol School.

 

With thanks to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Bedfordshire for submitting this article and congratulations from all at Mark Masons' Hall on this fantastic achievement.

Team Visit to Powys Lodge of M.M.M., No. 685 on 31 October 2019

R.W.Bro. Robert Andrew Stokes accompanied by W.Bro. Brian J. Elliott, P.G.S.D., Deputy Provincial Grand Master and 21 members of the Provincial Team together with 10 Grand Officers visited the Lodge to complete the Lodge Centenary Celebration.

The Assistant Grand Master, R.W.Bro. Stephen Davison, at the request of the Worshipful Master, W.Bro. Kevin Williams, presented members of the Lodge with a Lodge Centenary Jewel. Also visiting the Lodge were R.W.Bro. Michael E. Herbert, P.Dep.G.M., R.W.Bro. Philip J. Mann (Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland), R.W.Bro. A Morris, Dep.Pres.M.B.F. together with the immediate Past Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro. George E Bonham, G.M.R.A.C.

Following the presentation Bro. Simon Craggs was Advanced by W.Bro. Kevin Williams and the Lodge officers with great sincerity and feeling. It will be remembered by those present as an outstanding ceremony for many years to come. After the ceremony the Assistant Grand Master, whilst welcoming Bro. Simon to our Order, presented him with a Lodge Centenary Jewel. The Provincial Grand Master congratulated him on becoming a member of the Lodge and hoped that he would have a long and happy association with the Lodge, he then presented him with a copy of the Province booklet entitled “Notes for the guidance of Newly Advanced Brethren”

Afterwards, 58 brethren enjoyed the fellowship of the Festive Board under the direction of W.Bro.Mark Golding Dep.G.D.C.

Left to right: W.Bro. Balbir Lotay, D.C.; R.W.Bro. Phil Mann, Prov.G.M. Leics & Rutland; W.Bro. Mark Golding, Dep.G.D.C; R.W.Bro. Stephen Davison, Assistant Grand Master; Bro. Simon Craggs, Advancee; W.Bro. Kevin Williams, W.M.; R.W.Bro. Robert Stokes, Prov.G.M; W.Bro. Brian Elliott, Dep.Prov.G.M.; R.W.Bro. George Bonham, P.Prov.G.M; and W.Bro. David Balmer, Prov.G.D.C.

Newly Advanced Craft Prov.G.M. makes his Mark at Charity Event

 

Bedfordshire Craft Provincial Grand Master, Anthony Henderson signed his new Mark on a log during a special log-laying event at the Leslie Sells Activity Centre earlier in the Summer.

Freemasons in Bedfordshire have been working hard to support their local Scouts as part of their celebration of the Craft Tercentenary in 2017. The Scouts were chosen as their focus as the Province felt that they "shared common values", and that this assistance would provide the local area with a worthwhile facility that will help to improve the community for many years to come.

 

Tony and his Province have had fantastic success in their fundraising, resulting in a donation of £500,000 to create a new 48-bed accommodation and amenities lodge for the Bedfordshire Scouts, which will help thousands of children to socialise, develop new skills and gain confidence.

 

On 4 August, they had a special log-laying event and barbeque to celebrate the beginning of the building (expected to be complete in Spring 2020). Tony was given the privilege of signing the first log - which he did as a Craft, Royal Arch, Rose Croix and, of course, as a Mark Master Mason using his brand-new Mark. The full inscription read "Freemasonry and Scouting - Sharing one ethos. Anthony P. Henderson, Provincial Grand Master. 4th August 2019"

We at Mark Masons’ Hall wish hearty congratulations to the Craft Province of Bedfordshire on this marvellous achievement.