Saturday, 31 December 2016

Youngest Mason in Shropshire?

Brother Richard Slack of The Iron Bridge Lodge 9897, one of Shropshire's newest Freemasons, has been completely upstaged on New Year's Eve by his baby son Mason, dressed to party the night away at the age of just 11 days.

Baby Mason already seems to have picked up some of his Father's dance moves. Watch out Richard - heavens only knows what Mason will be getting up to by the time he's two weeks old...

Crime and the Craft

The next regular Crewe Street meeting of Shropshire Installed Masters Lodge 6262 on Saturday, February 4th at 11 a.m. will feature a Lecture on the subject of Crime and the Craft, open to all Masons.

WBro Mike Neville will be speaking about a number of mysterious crime-related stories with a Masonic 'angle' - including the old question - was Jack the Ripper 'on the Square'? The meeting is followed by a meal, all done by about 3 p.m..

Guaranteed to entertain, you can book in by contacting Secretary David Griffiths.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016


It has to be said that Freemasonry's age profile is often slanted towards the grandparents
rather than the parents - we are, after all, not an organisation which excludes older members - so this story is a little bit special. Once again The Iron Bridge lodge is in the news as its newest Initiate, Brother Richard Slack, has just become a father for the fifth time.

Richard and wife Becci (who it is understood had something to do with it too) welcomed the latest addition to their family on 20th December, as their children Abigail, Megan, Maya and Harvey were joined by a 7lb 11oz son. Our best wishes go to them all - especially as the new arrival has been given the name Mason. 

All jokes about stepping off with the left foot please kept in reserve for the next few days at least...

Friday, 16 December 2016

Shropshire in "Freemasonry Today"

Two picture stories in "Freemasonry Today" keep our high profile at UGLE where it deserves to be! The stories are of a young footballer assisted by the new MCF, and the presentation by the Midlands Air Ambulance in recognition of 25 years' partnership in fund raising for that excellent charity.

You can read the entire magazine by clicking here.

Does your lodge have more stories for us?

Send them to the Blogmaster!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Calling all Sportsmen!!!

There are a number of sporting events that take place across the Provinces, including bowls, cricket, football, rugby, clay pigeon shooting, fishing and golf. I’m sure there are many others that also deserve consideration.

The suggestion is that there might be an appetite for a ‘national’ competition(s) where teams selected from Provinces and Regional Communication Groups might compete to become UGLE champions.
This could be kicked off in 2017 with a view to establishing a permanent competition.

Do you feel that there would be an interest in your Province competing – at Provincial or Regional Communications Group level – and which sports might be considered?
I would very much value your thoughts.

Kind regards,

Mike Baker, UGLE Communications Officer.     Replies please to our Tercentenary Co-ordinator for Shropshire, WBro John Norman.

Idsall's Bob Williams received 50yr certificate

At a recent meeting of Idsall lodge, Idsall's own RWBro Peter Taylor presented Bob Williams with his certificate of long service, preceded by the following citation:

Robert Denis Williams, you were born on 25th February 1943 in the New Forest, Hampshire. You thus claim yourself to be a “Hampshire Hog”. No Brethren, this is not a derogatory term; Hampshire being the home for hundreds of years of wild boar, the people of Hampshire have had the pleasure of being referred to as ‘Hampshire Hogs’, from the late 18th century, and Bob is proud to be one of them. 

You were born during an Air Raid, a fact that your mother often used in order to explain to others any of your strange foibles or behaviour that may have been observed in your childhood and formative years.

You moved to the Midlands with your family, firstly to Leamington via Sutton Coldfield and eventually settling in Shifnal in 1973.

You were educated at King Edward V1 Grammar School, Stratford-upon-Avon and you accept that it is fair to say, that sport was of far more interest to you than academic study, with you developing a talent for cricket and rugby in particular.

After leaving School you served an apprenticeship with Coventry Gauge and Tool Ltd. You attended Lanchester College in Coventry and the Aston Technical College in Birmingham gaining an HNC in Production and Mechanical Engineering and you eventually became a highly skilled tool design draughtsman in the design office. Your career developed, and with your expertise in precision engineering and automation, you subsequently rose through the ranks of management to become a Director of the Company.

You were an enthusiastic rugby player playing as a wing-forward with Leamington RFC, Coventry Gauge Company, and then Sutton Coldfield RFC.  As with many retired players looking back on their careers, you say “the older you get – the better you used to play”. You were also a keen cricketer at Leamington, playing in the South Warwickshire and Cotswold areas; again you admit you
became a much better player after retirement. You also played tennis at a competitive level in the Coventry Works League.

You have always been an enthusiastic Mason and as we have heard you started your Masonic career in Prudence Lodge in Warwickshire.  You occupied most of the offices in that Lodge although it would be fair to say that you were not always in step with the other officers and were evidently noted for your 'edited ceremonies', which made prompting near impossible and reduced the Lodge preceptors to a state of nervous exhaustion!

You have a house on the Black Sea coast in Bulgaria and have a love of that country and its way of life. You are still trying to get to grips with the both the language and the rather odd workings of the official systems there, but you have apparently been accepted by the locals who refer to you as 'Robotski'.

Your hobbies include gardening and making garden features, watching rugby and particularly supporting Wasps (well, each to their own!). You also enjoy reading Masonic and esoteric history, and studying Balkan history.

You are certainly not idle in retirement, for in addition to all of this, you undertake voluntary work on two mornings per week in the gardens of the Severn Hospice in Telford.

You are a widower with three married children and six grandchildren. You describe driving your partner Mary to distraction with your perceived eccentricities and workaholic tendencies; luckily she has immense patience and tolerance as she tries to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Bob, over your fifty years, you have contributed an immense amount of hard work to Freemasonry and I know you will continue to do so. We thank you for your continued support of this Lodge and the Province of Shropshire. It is my great pleasure to award, and now present you with this Certificate, which is so thoroughly deserved. 

Masonic Charitable Foundation First Year

A video about the work of the MCF in its first year has been produced - click here to view it.

News from St Mary's

On Saturday 3rd December Santa’s Workshop once again opened its doors to the children of Market Drayton and surrounding areas. Once again the King's Head opened its heart, and its doors to the workshop.
This year the workshop that is run by W.Bro Clive and Stephanie Jones raised in excess of £750 for the Winston’s Wish Charity. Winston’s Wish is a Charity for bereaved children. They help children and young people rebuild their lives after the death of their mother, father, brother or sister enabling them to face the future with confidence and hope.

This year the Workshop was full of fun, laughter and happiness and there was plenty of things for the children to do. These included Gingerbread Reindeer face decorations and a festive arts corner. A tombola plus much, much more. There was a raffle and the STAR PRIZE was a Tablet computer which was kindly donated by Central Tattoo Supplies of Market Drayton.

The meeting of St Mary's L of I held on the 13th December was the annual Christmas meeting with fun, laughter and a beautiful dinner afterwards.

This year was no different. The evening arranged by W.Bro Clive Jones went down a treat with 33 Brethren, wives and friends at the Kings Head in Market Drayton. The food was absolutely lovely, the attention to detail and the service were superb, This evening was arranged for St Mary’s Lodge,
and yet again, another substantial donation was made towards the Santa's Workshop that took place on the 3rd of December in aid of Winston's Wish, a charity for bereaved children who have lost parents or siblings enabling them to face the future with confidence and hope. This brings the amount raised for this Charity in excess of £750. 

A raffle and an auction for a lovely Christmas Hamper which was donated by our Worshipful Master W.Bro Phillip Wright and his good lady Sue fetched nearly three figures. This amount was matched by Bro Keith Stokes the Junior Warden and donated to the Almoner's account. What a wonderfully generous donation.

May I take this opportunity to thank all those who attended this annual event and gave so generously to such a wonderful cause. Special thanks must go to W.Bro Mark King and the Team tonight for their hard work and commitment on what was a full on and busy evening. Thank you all at the King's Head, I look forward to arranging this event again next year.

May I on behalf of St Mary’s Lodge wish Mrs Sue Wright the good lady of our Worshipful Master all the best with her pending knee surgery and may we all at St Mary’s Lodge wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

WBro Clive Jones

Getting festive with the "Masonettes"

[thanks to Mike Higgins of Clive Lodge for this article:]

A great time was had by all at Clive Lodge’s Christmas Festive Board, held on Monday night at Tern Hill Hall.   A pianist played a selection of classics and Christmas favourites on the grand piano in the entrance hall to greet guests as they arrived, setting the tone for a wonderful evening of friendship, good food and festive fun.

The tables were named after Santa’s Reindeer and everyone was delighted to find that Santa had left them all a small gift at their tables, along with a Christmas card and, of course, a Christmas cracker!
During the evening the guests were treated to the debut performance of the newly formed Clive Lodge Freemasons’ Wives’ Choir (a.k.a ‘The Masonettes’).  

Threatened that if there was ‘no singing – there’s no pudding’ – the whole party joined in singing some Christmas songs and carols led by The Masonettes and accompanied by the pianist on a white baby grand, which all added to the festive atmosphere and made sure the room was full of Christmas cheer!

Everyone was in good voice, especially the ladies, and from the comments made as the evening ended, the whole event was declared a great success - with some saying it was the best Christmas Festive Board they had ever been to!

All thanks to The Masonettes:- Joyce; Trish; Jane; Jean; and led by the WM’s wife Carole, who also organised the ‘extra’ decorations, printed songbooks, wrote cards, bought and wrapped presents and generally added to all the  festive cheer we could possibly have wanted . 

Also thanks to the DC for his trademark well-organised function and the Lodge Secretary for doing all the necessary organising of the event to make sure we had the fine food and service to give us the basis for a truly exceptional night. We raised over £300 for the Lodge, with thanks to all who contributed raffle prizes and to the guests for buying the tickets.  

Merry Christmas Everyone – and here’s to a successful New Year to all Lodges throughout the world, to Provincial and Grand Lodges and all who give of their time and resources to make Freemasonry such a worthwhile and friendly activity.

The next Clive Lodge social function is our Ladies’ Lunch at Tern Hill Hall on Sunday March 12th which promises to be equally enjoyable and memorable.   Book early to avoid disappointment, contact Lodge Secretary Steve West-Wynn.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

A message from the Deputy PrGM

Brethren I have so many thank-yous to make and I haven't opened a single Christmas present yet!

Thank you to everyone who attended the Installation Meeting at The Iron Bridge Lodge on Saturday morning - a huge crowd and a most enjoyable ceremony.  Of course I'm usually at the transmission end of the Address to the Master rather than the receiving end - it was very special for me to have the PrGM presiding and presenting that address.

As Chairman of the 2019 Festival in aid of The Freemasons' Grand Charity may I thank you all for your wonderful generosity over the past two and a half years. You have enabled us to bank £525,000 - over halfway towards our target. To everyone of you who has helped arrange or participated in fund raising events; to everyone who has donated using whatever method; to those who have biked, hiked, cut off your pony tails or eaten curries. Thank you.

And to you all, a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year.

Roger Pemberton

Deputy Provincial Grand Master.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Masonic Dress Code violation???

Oh dear, oh dear...

Following a recent post on "Shropshire Blue" which showed RWBro James Hodgson very informally clothed, another picture has emerged from the same historic South African lodge room with proof that another Brother well known to Shropshire Masonry has been taking liberties with the Masonic dress code.

Surely a fine must be in order???

Thanks to WBro Andrew Symon for dropping WBro David Stott 'in it'...
A message from WBro Clive Jones:

As you are all aware, I attended the Pride of Shropshire awards last Monday night as a finalist in my respective category. It was lovely to be around all these inspirational people - twenty-seven finalists in total - and a wonderful night was had by all.

I never won my category and therefore never won the main prize of Pride of Shropshire 2016. However what I did win tonight was friendship, hope and humility. I was surrounded by twenty-six other champions and unsung heroes from Shropshire. After thousands of entries, we were the lucky and overall champions. However there could only be one winner.

This fell to Carrie Fulcher, an inspirational women who has overcome adversity and devastating injuries to become the woman she is now. What has happened to her hasn’t made her the inspirational women she is today - she has always been that person.

I congratulate Carrie and it truly was a privilege and a pleasure to be with her on her special night.

May I take this opportunity to thank you - and I mean all of you, who have supported me and voted. Sadly it wasn’t to be, but I was beaten by the better person. Thank you all for your support and commitment with everything that either St Mary’s lodge or I am involved with.

May I personally take this opportunity to wish you and your families a pleasant and safe festive season.

The Iron Bridge Lodge Installation

At the recent Installation of 9897, WBro Simon Clare capped a year in which he had visited over 60 times and overseen "14" Ceremonies by installing VWBro Roger Pemberton, DepPrGM as his successor, and the third WM of the Iron Bridge Lodge.

RWBro Peter Taylor presided, and was kept busy as Grand Lodge Certificates were presented to three new Master Masons. A ballot was held in order that two more Initiates might be brought into Freemasonry in February.

Despite the Installation having a formal Festive Board (normal meetings have a buffet and reduced Toast list), the whole meeting lasted just four-and-a-half hours.

The lodge also appointed Bro Ryan Preece, a Fellowcraft, as its Charity Steward. Ryan has already organised an inter-Province bowling event and is the first Secretary of the Shropshire Cornerstone Club.

And as to the significance of the balloon...

Answers on a postcard to Andy Delamere!!

The Ashlar is on the move again!

Seven months ago, The Iron Bridge Lodge no. 9897 relinquished the Shropshire travelling Ashlar to Audley Lodge, No. 1896. Many lodges thought about going to raid the ashlar in the months that passed but none was fruitful.

The "young boys" from TIBL were keen to raid it back immediately but were persuaded to let others have a chance. Eventually last week they could be held back no more and under the organisation of Fellowcraft and Shropshire Cornerstone secretary Bro Ryan Preece, they mounted a successful raid at an Initiation ceremony.

The Iron Bridge Lodge invite all Shropshire lodges to try and raid it from them at a double Initiation on Monday 6th February at 7pm at Meeting Point House. Please book in via

Pictured from left are Bro. Harvey Greatrex, W.Bro. Dave Hedley, Bro. John Watt, W.Bro Andy Delamere, Bro. Ryan Preece, W.Bro. Zed Pazio (WM of Audley Lodge) and W.Bro Ray Dickson.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Advertisements manager required

Following the sad loss recently of WBro Allan Hollick, the Province needs an IT literate Brother with good communication skills, hopefully some relevant experience but certainly the time to devote to managing and promoting advertisements in our Year Book.

Shropshire is proud that through the excellent work which is done to collect and maintain advertisements, our Year Book (unlike those of many other Provinces) is provided free to all members of the Province.

Can you help? Please contact the Provincial Office.

Lewis makes a special night at Round Table

A very special meeting took place at Round Table lodge when WM Shaun Willocks invited WBro Charles Evason to take the Chair to Initiate his elder son Richard. A Freemason who is the son of a Mason is known as a Lewis - in reference to the strong link that such a bond implies.

Richard had taken a gradually increasing interest in where Dad was going to in his dark suit each month, and recently attended a Gentlemens' evening which helped increase that interest. Richard gave a very good response to his Toast, and was welcomed by a good crowd from the lodge as well as some distinguished Visitors - one of who had taught him many years ago at prep. school!

We wish Richard many years of happiness to enjoy his Freemasonry.

Provincial Officers' Dinner

Many of the Brethren who were appointed to Craft and Royal Arch Provincial Rank for the first time in April this year at Harper Adams may not be aware that at the end of each Provincial year, we celebrate and cement the friendships we have made during that year with a dinner which is shared with our wives and partners.

The Provincial Junior Grand Warden and I are anxious that you will miss the opportunity of dining informally with those friends, and so we wish to inform you that the date of the 2016/17 Provincial Officers Dinner will be on Friday 24th March 2017It is anticipated that reception will be at 7.00pm with dinner starting at 7.30pm. Please put this date in your diaries now.

The dinner has been fixed to take place at the Hadley Park House, Hadley Park, Telford, TF1 6QJ. We will be sending out details of the menu with a booking form nearer the date.

In addition, Brethren and Companions, on Saturday 19th November 2016 the PGM/MEGS announced that the Deputy Grand Superintendent, E.Comp John Williamson would be stepping down after 12 years in that office. This dinner would be an ideal opportunity for the Province to show how much we appreciate his enthusiasm, drive, commitment and loyalty to the Province in general and to the Royal Arch in particular.

John Norman, Provincial Senior Grand Warden

Robin Richardson, Provincial Junior Grand Warden

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Who made all the pies???

Getting into the Christmas spirit at Shrewsbury Farmers' Market are some familiar faces - WBro Rodney Stokes of Brownlow Lodge and Bro Stuart Jones of Sabrina with Stuart's sons Charlie and Henry.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

GOLF, GOLF and more GOLF!!!

Come on, you golfers - the Shropshire Masonic Golf Society needs your active participation! Please contact Mike Charles if you are not already on his list, and if you are, please put these dates in your diary and support Shropshire's Masonic golf club! Here is what has been
organised for 2017:

  • SPRING OPEN     12th May     Market Drayton G.C.     This meeting will include the Presentation of the Festival cheque.
  • MATCH v Province of Herefordshire     30th June     Herefordshire G.C.         Some serious bragging rights at stake - book yourself in now!
  • M-FEST MATCH    Monday, 19th June     organised by Mark Ashton of Staffordshire Province. Teams of 12 at King's Norton G.C.
  • TRIANGULAR MATCH  Shrops/Staffs/Cheshire     18th July     the inaugural event for the "Provinces in Brotherhood"     Hawkstone Park
  • MATCH v Province of Worcestershire     10th August      Bromsgrove G.C.     (in 2018 this event will revert to the 2nd Tuesday in August).
  • AUTUMN OPEN     15th September     Ludlow G.C.  
Target price for all events is ~£35 including meal. Please note, Brethren, that the two established inter-Provincial trophies above are currently held by Shropshire - the pride of Shropshire is at stake!

Further details from Mike Charles.

New Chapter appointments announced

At the meeting of Shropshire Installed First Principals' Chapter 6262, three very significant appointments were announced. These will take effect on April 1st, 2017 at the Convocation of Shropshire Provincial Grand Chapter.

E Comp Dave Kettle (top left) will replace E Comp John Williamson as Deputy Grand Superintendent. Dave is well known to everyone in the Province and well beyond as Provincial Secretary/Scribe Ezra, so needs no further introduction. John Williamson is to step down after more than a decade of excellent service to the Holy Royal Arch, and MEGS Peter Taylor spoke in glowing terms of his contribution to the Order.

Peter Taylor also announced the Second and Third Grand Principals for the Province - H is to be E Comp Mike Parry (right), and J E Comp John Hollick (left).

Keith's Fourth Thursday Irregulars

WBro Keith Arscott welcomes any Brother to the next Irregular meeting of this enjoyable Oswestry get-together which follows Cae Glas L of I.

This month's meeting is not at the Simla Restaurant but in Freemasons Hall, Roft Street, Oswestry at 2030h. This meeting features a Fish Supper (Fish, chips, peas and bread roll) for £7. Advance booking not necessary if you are at the L of I - if arriving later contact Keith for details.

Non-Masonic guests all welcome, provided they are accompanied by a 'member'.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Remembrance Sunday

In memory of those who laid down their lives, 19 Freemasons representing the Province processed to St Chad's in Shrewsbury, with VWBro Roger Pemberton leading. Elsewhere, many other Brethren paid their respects at a host of similar events.

At Crewe Street the well established service by the restored war memorial outside Freemasons Hall attracted an audience of over 100 people, including relatives of some of the 72 men remembered on the memorial and representatives of the Royal British Legion, in addition, naturally, to many Freemasons.

WBro Rev Phil Niblock led the service, referring to the great loss of life in 1916 and likening it to the falling of millions of leaves. Wreathes were laid, including one by the Provincial Grand Master Peter Taylor, prayers were said and a hymn was sung as well as the National Anthem.

Afterwards refreshments were served inside the building. Thanks are due to the many who look after the memorial and plan the service each year - a group led by WBro David "117" Griffiths, assisted by Shaun Willocks, Garry Breakwell and many more, including their ladies.

Lest we forget...

A poem for Remembrance Sunday, by WBro Clive Jones:

Our fallen Brethren

Those names on the cross or the plaque that you see,
Are the names of the Brethren who died for you, and me.

We wear a poppy to remember them well,
these men who were boys that fatally fell.

As they fall from the sky, those poppies so red
With tears in our eyes, we honour the dead.

                                                     A two minutes silence is all we give
in remembrance, honour and praise.
For those lives that were lost on those worst of days.

                                                      In Flanders, poppies grow that way,
 fed by the blood of the fallen that day.
They fell side by side and alongside each other
Our brave soldiers, our masonic brothers.
 No aprons put on, no hand in a glove
our Brethren, admitted to the Grand Lodge above.

                                                                        Lest we forget.

We will remember them, are the lines we all say,
For those who never returned on those fatal of days.

   As the guns fall silent on the 11th hour, of the 11th day in November.
  It is now on this day 
we will always remember.

Fair warning...

The Province of Shropshire is holding a Christmas Fair on Saturday, 3rd December in the afternoon - from 2 to 6 p.m. - at the Masonic Hall, Crewe Street, Shrewsbury. Any money raised will go towards the 2019 Festival.

Highlights will include a visit by Father Christmas, stalls, games, refreshments, music from the Shrewsbury Brass Band and Prestfelde School Choir. There will be a Fancy Dress competition for children (up to the age of 10) who attend, to be judged at 4 p.m..

Children under the age of 10 are most welcome free of charge, but should be accompanied by an adult. Tickets (£1) and further details are available from Graham Watson of Pengwerne Lodge. His email contact details will be on this page soon - till then, please contact the blogmaster.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

St Milburga approaching milestone

An Initiation Ceremony at St Milburga 1120 shows the lodge to be in good heart with its 150th anniversary meeting just one month away.

The Initiate is Bro. Paul Matthews, who owns a double glazing business. Paul was proposed into Freemasonry by Bro Sunny Patel. His wife's cousin Matt Butts of Idsall Lodge 7133 was also on hand to see him join the Craft. The Ceremony was carried out (in the absence of the WM) by IPM Bob Jenkins.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Another Shropshire Lodge?

Dear Brethren,

Having participated in the formation of The Iron Bridge Lodge No 9897, which was consecrated by our RW Provincial Grand Master on the 24th January 2015 and therefore joined this wonderful Province of Shropshire and buoyed by the experience and positive impact that its formation has had on both the Province and me personally, I would like to explore the potential of forming another new Lodge within the Province of Shropshire.

My wish is that the proposed new Lodge be made up of current and past members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. My working Title is “The United Services Lodge”. I have spoken to a number of Brethren very informally over the past months and have been encouraged by the apparent appetite for this idea.

Before I can seek the views and support of the RW Provincial Grand Master, I need to be confident and able to demonstrate that there is sufficient support from Brethren of this Province and potentially neighbouring Provinces to make the formation both viable and sustainable.

This letter is the start of the process, by asking for an indication from the brethren, if they would be interested in pursuing this idea further. At this point in the journey, we cannot solicit the assistance of the RW Provincial Grand Master or the Province, as we have to be able to exhibit a desire and commitment of sufficient brethren, to be in a position to make a petition to the RW Provincial Grand Master and seek his patronage for the formation of a new Lodge in the Province of Shropshire. I am not, at this stage seeking firm commitment from anyone, as there is a great deal of discussion, consideration, negotiation and procedures to follow if this is to be successfully achieved. If you have a genuine interest in pursuing the formation of a Lodge based on the criteria outlined and are currently or have been a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, I would be delighted to hear from you. You can e mail me or contact me directly and I would be happy to discuss the proposal with any brother or listen to any ideas or suggestions that will assist the process.

Yours sincerely and fraternally


Dear Brethren,

[Following much indication of interest]I have therefore arranged for an inaugural meeting to be held at the Masonic Hall, Crewe Street, on Friday 16th December 2016 at 7.00pm.

I intend to formulate an agenda in time to be circulated and would welcome any items that you feel need to be included, before this is undertaken.

Having participated in the formation of The Iron Bridge Lodge No 9897, which was consecrated by our RW Provincial Grand Master on the 24th January 2015 I am confident from the feedback I have received that this is a real opportunity to form a new Lodge with a Military bias that will add to the lustre of the Masonic Province of Shropshire.

As I indicated previously, my wish is that the proposed new Lodge be made up of current and past members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. My working Title remains “The United Services Lodge”.

I am now confident that there is sufficient support from Brethren of this Province and potentially neighbouring Provinces to make the formation both viable and sustainable. I would appreciate if you could circulate this information to others who may be interested in the formation of the Lodge and ask them to drop me an e mail confirming their interest, so that I have a contact record for further communications.

We are still at the point in the journey that we cannot solicit the assistance of the RW Provincial Grand Master or the Province, as we have to be able to exhibit a desire and commitment of sufficient brethren, to be in a position to make a petition to the RW Provincial Grand Master and seek his patronage for the formation of a new Lodge in the Province of Shropshire.

This meeting will be the first and crucial stage of the journey to the formation of the Lodge and your assistance, support, energy and commitment will be vital to a successful outcome.
Please feel free to contact me at your convenience should you wish to discuss any aspect of the process, wish to offer advice or assistance or just to seek clarification.

Yours sincerely and fraternally

Dave (contact details above)

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

St Oswald Lodge 1124 celebrates 150 years

St Oswald Lodge 1124 in Oswestry celebrated its 150th anniversary in November. This historic occasion was marked by a meeting in the presence of the Provincial Grand Master and Deputy PrGM which included readings and facts from the early days of the Lodge - including its Minutes from 1866 - and especially from the Consecration.

Also mentioned were the laying of Masonic foundation stones at two Oswestry hospitals in 1869 and 1937, te first carried out by Sir Watkin Williams Wynn Bart., Provincial Grand Master for Shropshire and North Wales. WBro Melvin Gough delivered a history of life in Oswestry in 1866, and of the first meeting of the lodge in October of that year.

Brothers Gerrard and Smith presented the 1st Degree Tools, Apron and Charge. Two members who were present at the Centenary meeting in 1966 were also celebrated - WBro Ron Lewis and WBro Mike Hall.

A fine Festive Board ensued, and each Brother present received a commemorative gift of a Firing Glass, by the generosity of WBro John Hemming.

Jenny Evans talks about her experience of MS

Good morning. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk to you about MS and to tell you about how you’ve been contributing to the battle to beat it.  You will see that I am largely reading out what I want to say. The reason for this will become apparent shortly.

I remember when I got diagnosed with MS, I knew nothing about it apart from having an image in my head of people in wheelchairs, smiling. If this is the same for you too, then I hope I will enhance this image of MS for you, show you that it’s not all smiles and describe the significant contribution to beating MS you have made.

I’ve found that the more you mention MS, the more people there are who have a relative or friend, or friend of a friend with the condition. After all, there are well over 100,000 people living with MS in the UK.

My father is Gordon Gildener. He’s a Trustee of the Provincial Grand Charity for Yorkshire, North and East Ridings, which, like you, is currently in Festival for the Charitable Foundation.  He has accompanied me here today and, if you don’t already have one of these connections, then that connection with the Craft has brought me to you now.
It takes 2 isolated “events” before a diagnosis, so you can have MS long before you are diagnosed.
My isolated events were triggered with the births of my children in 1999 and 2001 – These were minor symptoms that came and went, tingly fingers that I had put down to carrying babies.  I never imagined these minor symptoms could lead to a diagnosis that would turn my life upside down.

Let me tell you a bit about what MS is….
MS is a neurological condition that affects the brain and spinal cord (in other words, the central nervous system).

In MS, the body’s immune system turns against itself,  so, instead of fighting off infection (which is what it’s supposed to do), it starts attacking the myelin coating surrounding the nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord.
One way to understand what is happening in MS is to think of the nervous system as the electrical circuit in your home, where your brain and spinal cord are the power sources – the mains electricity. The different parts of your body are all the things that need electricity to work, such as the lights, TV, computer and appliances.
If the insulation on the wiring becomes damaged then the appliances may not work properly. There might be interference on the telly, the lights might flicker on and off or an appliance might not switch on. This is what is happening in MS and it depends on which bit of the brain or spinal cord is affected as to how it affects a function of your body.

Common symptoms include:
 Problems with walking – this is the most visible symptom and the only symptom I was aware of prior to my diagnosis, o The fact that I’m now in a wheelchair makes it pretty obvious that there’s something wrong with me. Not everyone has such a visible symptom and it’s the invisible symptoms that can often make it difficult for other people to understand. Some people’s symptoms also come and go and if that’s the case, somebody might have very little empathy with them when they see them on a good day.

 Fatigue   I have to be disciplined about how busy I am during the day, because, with MS, the fatigue can wipe you out.  If I overdo it, I won’t be able to get to the car and then get into it for picking up my children from school, which is an absolute must. Overdoing it might have involved the crazy day of doing the washing and cooking a main meal. Tomorrow, following this, I will be exhausted. If you catch me sitting down and doing nothing some might call me lazy!

 Loss of muscle strength and dexterity.   o I have become quite clumsy, have a tendency to drop things, and once on the floor, things tend to stay there until someone retrieves them for me. o Filling out a long application form can take a few days, as after a short time I can no longer write. Typing is the same, but I can usually manage longer. o I can no longer play the piano, which I love because I can’t move my fingers quick enough to hit the notes.

 Problems with memory and thinking  o This affects the speed and ease with which someone can process information. It doesn’t make me any less intelligent than I was, but it’s why I have to talk pretty closely to a script. If I didn’t do this, I might have started a sentence and lost my train of thought by the end of it. Believe me, it’s true, I tried when I was preparing this!
I shan’t go into any more, but there are lots of other possible symptoms, which include:
o Poor balance and co-ordination  o Dizziness and vertigo o Visual problems. With MS, you can get optic neuritis, inflammation of the optic nerve, which can result in reduced vision of varying severity, eye pain and impaired colour vision  o Uncontrollable pain o Problems with sexual function o Bladder and bowel problems o Difficulties with speech and swallowing o …and there are more

MS is a very individual condition however, and no 2 people are affected in exactly the same way. The symptoms someone has, as I explained earlier, will depend on which parts of their brain and spinal cord are affected.

What causes MS?
The short answer is that we still don’t know,
but there appear to be a number of factors that in some combination can increase the risk:
 Genetic factors –  o MS is not directly inherited like some other conditions, but there does appear to be a genetic element to it. Researchers have identified a number of genes linked to MS, in fact over 100. o In the UK, around one person in every 600 gets MS and having a member of your family with MS does increase the chance of you getting it. o If a parent has MS, there’s about a 1.5 per cent chance of getting it, so 1 in 67. o If a brother or sister has MS, it’s about a 2.7 per cent Chance, so 1 in 37 o If an identical twin has MS, it’s about 18 per cent, so a 1 in 5 chance. But their biological make up is exactly the same, so it can’t just be genes.  Environmental factors – MS is more common in areas that are furthest away from the equator, which suggests there is something in the environment that plays a role. Scotland is often talked of as being the MS capital of the world and yet not all eskimos have MS.  There is a lot of talk at the moment of the role of vitamin d, the sunshine vitamin. A growing body of research suggests that low levels of vitamin d, particularly during childhood or before birth, may be a factor that affects someone’s risk of developing MS.  Viruses. Researchers have looked at whether viruses or bacteria may be a factor in developing MS and there is growing evidence that a common childhood virus, such as the Epstein Barr virus (which can cause glandular fever) may act as a trigger.  Smoking – A number of studies have looked at smoking in relation to MS, and have found that smoking appears to increase someone’s risk of developing MS. It is not yet clear exactly why this is and there is more that we need to know about the link.

 Or perhaps it is something else that we haven’t discovered yet.
Are there different types of MS?
While everyone’s MS is different, there tend to be common patterns of disease course and MS has been categorised into 3 types:

Relapse Remitting MS
People with RRMS have attacks of symptoms that occur for a period of time and then improve. Some people have very few attacks, others have them regularly.  About 65% of PwMS fall into this category.
Some of the symptoms can go away completely and sometimes there is some residual damage.
During a period without an attack, someone with RRMS might appear like there is nothing wrong with them. This can be knocked on the head at any time when they get an attack without warning.
Until recently, the ability to reduce these relapse rates has been the focus of much attention and you have played a part in this which I will come back to shortly.

Primary Progressive MS
People with PPMS don’t have any distinct attacks or remissions. There are fewer people with PPMS, about 10-15%, but their MS progresses from the start. People with PPMS tend to be the worst affected and progression the fastest.
Secondary Progressive MS
Many people with RRMS tend to go on to have SPMS, where they then have progressive deterioration. This is me.
Is it contagious?
Is there a cure?

No,… but there are different things out there to manage it, such as drugs intended to reduce relapse rates for people suffering from Relapse Remitting MS.
Until recently there has been nothing to slow, stop or even reverse progression and this has become a focus of funding with the MS Society and includes global collaboration to try and speed up the process of finding some answers. I’ll tell you more about that shortly too.
In the meantime, a lot now is down to the individual taking an active role in how they manage their MS through:
Stress management
Complimentary therapies, such as acupuncture, meditation and yoga to name but a few. There is no proven antidote, but many people find something that helps.

So, this is MS. Let me tell you more about mine.
I got my formal diagnosis in 2002, at the age of 30.
My MS very quickly turned to secondary progressive MS, which means that you then experience a permanent decline. This can be rapid for some people, slower for others, and there is no way to predict how yours will go.
Over the last 14 years I and those around me have experienced a slow and steady progression of my disabilities. These slowly nibble away at your life.  You are constantly adapting and adjusting to the change in your situation as well as having to deal with the changes emotionally.  It has been painful for all to see and experience, and relentless.

I’ve gone from being a very active, young and independent lady to someone who has to rely on others. I try to do as much as I can myself but I have now learned to ask for help.
So, how does it affect me?
 I wobble around precariously using 2 walking sticks, although I am now doing this less and less …but I can still walk. … Bear with me with this point…. I wrote up to here in April 2014. I have now had to buy a walker just to give me a bit more stability on my wobbly days… I added this in late spring 2014…. Back in October 2014, when I gave a talk at The Charities Information Day of the Provincial Grand Charity of Yorkshire, North and East Ridings, I added that I didn’t have the confidence to walk using 2 sticks anymore. Then in March 2015 when I gave a talk to the Masonic Samaritan Fund in London, I said that I didn’t really have the confidence to use my walker either and now, 18 months on, I am pretty reliant on my wheelchair. My point is that I want to show you how the status quo can constantly shift with MS.  So I’m a wheelchair user…but it allows me to go further afield and therefore gives me some degree of freedom. I’ve bought a scooter as well and this allows me more independence, as I don’t need anyone to push me, especially my children.  My body suffers from the reduced mobility that MS causes…but I have regular private physiotherapy to keep me as agile as possible  I’ve had to adapt my car as I can no longer use the pedals…but I can still drive. And that’s fine, as long as I can get in it, but that’s my current mobility problem which I find very stressful.
 All these challenges (well, most of them anyway) have been overcome by spending money and I am fortunate enough to have been able to do them. Others may not be so lucky…
 I’ve lost my husband  o Spending money can’t change this.  o MS doesn’t just affect the individual with MS. It affects all those around you and it becomes too much for some. Statistics suggest a gender imbalance when it comes to how likely it is that your partner will stay. A study (published by Dr Marc Chamberlain) showed that women in the study were 7 times more likely to become separated or divorced as men with similar health problems. I am now one of the statistics. Interestingly, I was at an MS Society training day and in the first minute of small talk at my table, we ladies had established that all our husbands or partners had left us.
… I feel strongly that the pressures of living with MS get overlooked and I want to make you aware that this is not just about the individual, but about the whole family unit.

What else?
 Whilst I can still drive, I’m unable to get a wheelchair in or out of a car on my own, so I’ve lost my freedom…but I still have my friends and family who don’t see it as a burden to help me. Some people don’t have this support network, so they are completely stranded.  The fatigue that MS causes affects the amount of energy I have to live my life. I was ready to throw in the towel…but I have spent hours researching diet and its effects on MS and my energy levels are now considerably restored.   Isolation – if you can’t easily get out and about, your opportunities to meet people and socialise become limited. You rely on old friendships and contacts, and when these dwindle away, which they inevitably do over time, you are left with very little. My friends have rallied round and supported me since my husband left me and I feel blessed, although I have still lost many opportunities to leave the house – to work, join clubs, go away independently.
I don’t want you to think that my life is all doom and gloom. I’m a fighter and, as you can hear, I‘ve done many positive things to enhance my life and, I believe, to slow the progression down.  But I wanted you to be aware of how it is (and much worse) for many others, who are less able to help themselves and speak for themselves.

I see MS as the enemy and I am fighting a constant battle, like so many other people with MS. If you are not a strong person, MS will defeat you.
Now onto more positive things.
I want to tell you about the huge contribution you have made over recent years in the battle to beat MS.
Between 2004 and 2008, a total of £120,000 was provided by you to fund the salary of an Information Officer with the MS Trust to support their enquiry service. They answer questions about MS and life with the condition. They also support health professionals and anyone else who’d like more information about MS.
The Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair was set up in 2005 with a £1.6 million grant from the MS Society. Its aim was to develop therapies that promote myelin repair in people with MS (so that’s repairing the insulation in the faulty wiring, to go back to the analogy I used at the beginning).  Its aim is to halt MS progression and even cure the damage.
Based on the success of its first stage, the MS Society committed a further £2.1 million to the Centre in 2011 for an additional five years. The grand Lodge partly funded this. The Centre’s plan was to work collaboratively with world leading experts in MS to continue this groundbreaking research. The next stage of work would:
 build on the recent advances in myelin repair research, so it’s possible to identify more potential MS treatments in the future   do pre-clinical research to translate their laboratory findings into a clinical trial for people with MS   eventually run a small-scale clinical trial to test the safety of this treatment in a small number of people with MS.
This stage of the research started in April 2011 and finishes this year.
Now the MS Society has committed a further £1.6m over the next four years. Its focus will be on understanding more about the cells capable of repairing myelin and the impact ageing and lifestyle factors (such as diet and exercise) can have on these cells.

In 2010, a £100,000 grant from the Freemasons’ Grand Charity supported the successful development of the first line treatment drug Alemtuzumab by Dr Alasdair Coles at the University of Cambridge. This drug is aimed at people in the earlier stages of MS and reduces the relapse rate significantly. I was keen to go on a trial for Alemtuzumab but my MS was too far down the line to allow me to qualify. The drug is now licensed in Europe, Canada and Australia. In the UK, NICE (which stands for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) decides what drugs and treatments are available on the NHS. After turning the drug down in December 2013 and much subsequent campaigning by the MS charities, it reversed its decision in April 2014. Alemtuzumab became available for neurologists to prescribe in October of that year.
In 2013, The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund both dedicated £50,000 (so £100,000 in total) towards ground-breaking medical research at The University of Cambridge. Led again by Dr Alasdair Coles, the study is a Phase 1 trial investigating the safety and tolerability of the drug bexarotene, which targets a specific molecule (RXR-gamma) that can encourage the brain’s own stem cells to regenerate myelin. In other words, it is capable of repairing brain damage. I am very excited about this research as it shows a focus on repairing the damage done. The trial, which is running in conjunction with the Institute of Neurology and the University of Edinburgh is underway.
These donations, whilst huge, form just part of the overall funding required in the process from developing a drug to finally reaching the patient. I know that the MS Society have also funded these projects. The significance of this is that the MS Society takes a favourable stance on projects that have already secured funding from other sources. This means that your contribution played a significant role in securing the full amount.
Researchers believe that we’re still around 15 years away from a potential treatment coming through, but these are positive steps. Just to put this in context however, I remember when I was diagnosed, the consultant told me not to worry, there would be a cure in 10 years’ time. 14 years later, I am still waiting as we all are.

Also in 2013, the Grand Charity made a £40,000 donation spread over two years to the MS Trust to provide specialist information for people who are newly diagnosed with MS. I rate the MS Trust’s publications highly. They are well written, educational and good quality.
Now in 2016, you have contributed to the £30,000 of the Grand Charity’s funding for the MS nurses to attend a conference which brings some of their training up to date.
The MS charities are very much second tier charities, not on a level for example with the Cancer or Heart charities, so this level of funding is huge to them. I thank you for your support and speak  sincerely when I say that research like this makes me excited and hopeful that one day we will beat MS.
On a more local note now, there are also things that can be done that require little or no money, just a bit of time to make a big difference to somebody with MS.
 Just visiting someone to counter the isolation is really important.  There will be plenty of people with MS who can no longer drive…(or in my case, get in the car!...). Helping them to get to appointments or just getting out and about, even if it’s just to a supermarket would be a lifeline for them.  For those MS sufferers who, like my friend, struggle to plan and organise, giving a helping hand to make what should be an everyday job like planning and buying food more manageable could be most welcome.  Providing respite care, even just an odd hour off to give a carer a much needed break would mean so much to some family units. The pressure can get someone close to breaking point. I didn’t recognise that my husband saw himself as a “carer” until it was too late. People can paint a picture that doesn’t represent the truth. I would suggest to not wait until you are asked for help because people are often too proud to ask. Be proactive.

And on that note, I hope I have helped you understand what MS is and how it can affect someone.  I hope I have also shown you what an amazing contribution you are making to the lives of people affected by MS and what small, but significant things can be done at a local level to make life more tolerable.