Monday, 29 February 2016

Freemasonry Today online

We are all familiar with the printed magazine, "Freemasonry Today", and eagerly await the forthcoming Spring edition which once again features Shropshire Masonry prominently!

Are you quite so aware of the online magazine, which features even more stories from our 'blue remembered hills'?? Click here and read an account of the Cleobury Lodge - but be warned - this story will slip down the page as other Provinces put forward their offerings.

Even so, the online magazine makes for interesting reading, and we send on average twelve stories to be published in one or other of the main categories. Have you a story or event you would like to see get this national coverage? Send it to Jeremy Lund!

Teddies for Loving Care marching on!

Another generous donation - this time from Teme Lodge - dropped through our postbox today, and the children, parents and nursing staff who so appreciate the charity will be delighted that these gifts from so many of the lodges enable us to continue to support Shropshire's A&E outlets (Shrewsbury and Telford) as well as the Minor Injuries centres (Ludlow, Bridgnorth, Oswestry and Whitchurch), Market Drayton medical practice and the Midlands Air Ambulance with the reassuringly cuddly teddies.

Also look out for Will Heyward (story earlier in the blog) who should appear in the Shropshire Star later this week with his three furry friends!!!

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Cae Glas Ladies Night

Cae Glas Lodge in Oswestry has a social round that is certainly not for the faint-hearted! Only a matter of days after their most successful Burns Night, members and their partners donned their glad rags one more time for a most successful Ladies Night at the Wynnstay Hotel in Oswestry. After a fine meal the entertainment and conversation continued into the small hours before the Brethren headed home to plan the next event - almost certainly a Lodge of Instruction curry night!!

Friday, 26 February 2016

50-year certificate for WBro Anthony Bolus

We are indebted to RWBro Peter Allan Taylor, PrGSupt and PrGM for Shropshire, for his notes from his speech to Castle Lodge on the occasion of the presentation of a 50-year Certificate to Tony Bolus. These have formed the basis of the following account of Tony's Masonic and personal life:

Anthony John Bolus was Initiated 21.12.1965 into Castle Lodge 1621 and was made its WM in 1977. He joined Shropshire Installed Masters Lodge 6262 in 1978, and became its WM in 1999. Tony was a Founder of Shropshire Round Table Lodge 9104 in 1984. He was its first Charity Steward – and held that post for 12 years! He was also made an Honorary Member of West Mercia 9719 at its consecration in 2000.

Craft Provincial Appointments:  PrDepGDC  1983; PrGDC 1987 – 1990; PrSGW 1992.

Grand Lodge Appointments: PAGDC 1994; PJGD  2002.1988 -  1994;

Royal Arch      Exalted into Castle Chapter 1621 12.11.1969, becoming MEZ in 1981. Founder of Caer Caradoc 6346 in Sept. 1985. Founding DC for 3 years. Founder of Installed First Principals 6262 in March 1988, and MEZ in 1996.

Provincial Appointments: PrDepGDC 1984; PrGScE; 3rdPrGPrin 1994; DepGSupt from 1995 – 2005.

Supreme Grand Chapter Appointments: PGStB 1993; PGSoj 1996; PGSwdB 2002

Other Orders
Rose Croix, Ancient and Accepted Rite - Very Illustrious Inspector General of District of Staffordshire and Shropshire from 2000 – 2010.
Past Great Officer in KT.
Grand Officer in the Order of Red Cross of Constantine.
Provincial  Grand Chapter Officer in Warwickshire in Royal Order of Scotland.

Tony Bolus was raised in Birmingham, being just nine years old when World War II broke out. Father was service manager at RGD Company.  In 1941 the factory was blitzed and the manufacturing unit transferred to Bridgnorth - and so did Tony and family. Tony completed his secondary education at Bridgnorth Grammar School.  At 16 he left and became apprentice at RGD as design draftsman in electro-mechanical engineering. At 21 years he did two years’ National Service with R.E.M.E..  He returned to work a changed man, with wider horizons and could not see himself whiling away his days in a design office! So it was that he became Assistant Buyer for RGD and was soon promoted to Purchasing Manager.  He left RGD in 1968 to set up own manufacturing agency in electro-mechanical components. This proved very successful, and work took him all around the world until he retired in 1997.

From early days in Freemasonry, Tony developed a deep interest in its symbolism and history, and later came to appreciate the deeper companionship enjoyed in the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch. As ProvGScE he followed in the footsteps of Bob Dommett who was a fount of knowledge and gave him wise counsel. As DGS he followed George Thomas and Harold Harding, both of whom are remembered with great fondness.
Whilst DGS he sat on the revision committee of the Warwickshire Workings for the Royal Arch and this resulted in the Workings being amended to absorb some of the suggestions for change put forward by SGC: his work has stood the test of time, in that we in Shropshire still follow the ritual of the Warwickshire Workings which have now existed for over 150 years.

In all his work, his late wife Jean was his tower of strength and gave him and this Province wonderful support.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter – Anthony John Bolus, a gentleman through and through; a man of great integrity and humour; a Mason of great standing and quality and a Royal Arch Mason of whose life this Province is very proud.

Target golf? Festival Family Golf Day this autumn!

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Two virtual milestones!

"Shropshire Blue" (at barely a week old) has hit a big milestone, with 1,500 pageviews recorded... and counting! The blog statistics inform us that 30% of these have come from i-phones or i-pads, and that Chrome is the browser of choice, followed by Safari.

Most fascinating of all, the top ten nations looking at our blog are (in order) the UK, the USA, Slovakia, Ireland, Germany, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine - and there are even single 'glimpses' from Hong Kong and Jersey!

The only area still in need of improvement is in the number of Comments - you can Comment on any post by clicking on the word Comment at the foot of the post. Please let me know if you have any trouble with this - visitors with their own Google account should have none whatsoever...

Another milestone is our Twitter account @shropshiremason which has achieved 1,250 followers. We don't follow individuals outside Shropshire unless with good reason (for reasons of preserving my sanity), so this is an outstanding performance by our Twitterati. I would love to increase the number of Twitter users within the Province - look out for Training Days in the future!!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Travelling Ashlar on the move again!

At the February meeting of Salopian Lodge of Charity number 117, more than 70 Masons - including well over 30 Visitors - witnessed a fine 3rd degree ceremony. A feature of the evening was the age range of those participating in the ritual, with fine contributions from recent Master Masons and Visiting Grand Officer alike!!

At the Festive Board WM Phil Niblock addressed the assembled company with the Shropshire Travelling Ashlar rules. As there were two 'raiding parties' present, each with twelve members, the decision as to who was victorious was made according to which Lodge had brought most Entered Apprentices. So it was that by the narrowest of margins, St Mary's Lodge 8373 lost out to The Iron Bridge Lodge 9897, whose IPM Andy Delamere is pictured above clutching the Ashlar. Also pictured here are 117's WM Phil Niblock, as well as Deputy Provincial Grand Master Roger Pemberton, Grand Officer Melvin Gough, Provincial Grand DC Dave Hedley and the three Entered Apprentices who in the end made all the difference.

The Ashlar will next be available to raid on the second Wednesday in May, and interested parties can contact Assistant Secretary Brian Goodwin to book their places at the meeting in Telford.

Provincial Perambulations

Brethren who have been supporting the Provincial Perambulations - either with charitable pledges or with blood, sweat and blisters - will be relieved to hear that the programme is to go ahead, but with a few alterations...

The Walk to Welshpool (10th March) has been deferred until later in the year - probably in early September (8th) - please keep watching the blog for details. The two Rogers - Pemberton and Michell - are planning to dust off their walking boots, and any other intrepid walkers are welcome to join them for this and/or any of the other walks.

Wellington to Ludlow is likely to happen in April, with Ludlow to Shrewsbury and Shrewsbury to Wellington to follow. If you have already pledged your financial support in aid of the 2019 Festival Appeal, you can count on your generous sponsorship being collected in short order!!

Monday, 22 February 2016

Provincial Almoner has new role

We are delighted to announce that W Bro David Foulkes, Provincial Almoner, has been appointed as Provincial Liaison Officer for Shropshire with Queen Elizabeth Court in Llandudno. QEC is our own RMBI home - almost within walking distance (!) - and W Bro Foulkes is charged with keeping up the excellent relations we have enjoyed in recent years with Queen Elizabeth Court.

Cae Glas Burns Night

Cae Glas Lodge celebrated their Burns Night themed meeting – which is becoming a ‘must attend’ event on the Oswestry masonic calendar, on Thursday 4th Feb. 

The evening, a Juniors and Past Masters Night, commenced upstairs with a 1st Degree ceremony to initiate Bro. Mark Evans, and all officers taking part delivered an excellent ceremony. Those present, including 18 guests from 10 lodges, including visitors from North Wales and Cheshire, were then treated to the famous Cae Glas Burns Night Festive Board, organised by W.Bro. Keith Arscott, which included piping in the haggis by Bro. Izzy NcLachlan and the address to the haggis by W.Bro. Jim Larby. Members and guests enjoyed a ‘wee dram’ to toast ‘The Immortal Memory’ of Bro. Robbie Burns proposed by W. Bro. David Bramwell. 

Pictured – Piping in the haggis, the address to the haggis, Piper Bro. Izzy MacLachlan with the initiate, Bro. Mark Evans (right) and his proposer, Bro. Neil Bevan.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

If you go down to the Heywoods today...

Eleven-year-old William Heywood has quite a collection of teddies - in each case given to him when he was a patient in Accident and Emergency. The colourful bears are supplied to A&Es as well as Minor Injuries Units in Shropshire by the Freemasons, as part of their Teddies for Loving Care charity. After his latest escapade, which involved a flight in an Air Ambulance to Cardiff and a night landing on the roof of the hospital there, Will decided to give something back by raising money for TLC - and has just made a substantial donation.

"The green one is called Arthur, after my granddad, and I got him when I tripped at the swimming pool and cut my eye. The purple bear is called Mary - after Grandma - and I had her when I fell in the playground and had concussion. The red teddy - called Dave, after my Dad - was given to me after I had to fly to Cardiff hospital just a week later. They didn't have any teddies at the time, but Column Lodge in Shrewsbury gave me one when they heard what had happened". 

Will was just 4 years old when he received his first TLC teddy - it has the distinction of being the first Shropshire teddy ever given out (the total is now around 30,000). His father David is well known in Column, Caer Caradoc and Long Mynd lodges, and often plays the organ when not delivering high class ritual. Will knows a good deal about Masonry already, and decided to have his hair shaved off last autumn to raise some money for TLC and Children in Need. "Mum and Dad told me I had to have my hair cut before I went to the Column Ladies Night - and that gave me the idea." Donations flooded in, and Will has been able to give £350 to his chosen charities. He even had a donation from the hairdresser ('Pauline's' in Meole Brace) who shaved his head free of charge...

Most Lodges and some Chapters in Shropshire donate a modest sum each year to fund this wonderful charity - read more about its history and work at the TLC website. Do you have a TLC story? Please send it to us

And does Will plan to collect the full set of teddies? "I hope not!" said mother Becky, with feeling...

Friday, 19 February 2016

Bosting night in Cleobury!

The Black Country Demonstration team was at Cleobury lodge last night and a bosting time seems to have been had by all! Their ritual was a little different from Cleobury's normal fare, but they clearly were spot on with their choice of candidate... Lodge DC Kevin Gwilliam! Can you also spot frowtsy gaffer W Bro John Williamson (DepGSupt) underneath the cap??!!!

A feature of the evening was the involvement of those Masons who were present - questions were fired at the 69-strong audience and those who got the answers wrong - or were even just a little too slow - were duly fined. We can assure our readers who were not there, however, that the blood you can see in the group picture was not real, and certainly not the result of some ghastly Black Country penal obligation!! £100 plus half the raffle proceeds went to the team, and everyone left well chuffed...

Glossary for those not familiar with the Black Country dialect:
bostin(g):         good, super
chuffed:            happy
frowtsy:            dishevelled
gaffer:                boss

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Auction of Promises!

The Auction of Promises at the Wynnstay Hotel, Oswestry on the evening of Friday, 1st July, 2016 promises to be an excellent event and a great fund raiser for the 2019 Festival.

If you wish to book tickets for the event (including a meal) click here to fill in the online booking form. Because of menu choices, you need to fill in the form once for each member of your party.

An email confirming your booking will be sent to the email address you supply at the latest by June. If you wish to check on or alter your booking, please contact me.

Shropshire on Twitter

A reminder that the Province of Shropshire is on Twitter - @shropshiremason. We have (at the time of writing) posted 2749 tweets, followed 414 other twitter users (we as a matter of principle only follow Masonic individuals from within the Province unless there is a special reason to do otherwise) and have 1240 followers from around the world.

We would, however, like to see more tweets from our own Shropshire members! To do this you need to create your own Twitter account, and then follow @shropshiremason. You can also follow many different interests and people - why not give it a try!!

Triple Initiation story on Freemasonry Today Online

For the online Freemasonry Today story from The Iron Bridge lodge, click here.

Job Opportunities in the Province!!!

Five years ago, the Public Relations operation in Shropshire was managed by a (very) small group of enthusiasts - today, because of Masonry's growing profile in the wider community and the exploding use of media of all kinds in our modern world, we are looking to create a team of enthusiasts to assist us. 

WANTED     Our biggest challenge is to collect news stories and learn of forthcoming events well in advance. We wish to create a band of roving reporters who can assist Lodge Secretaries in keeping us informed of what is going on. It is not necessary that they write the material up in its finished form - our office can do that - but their role will be to be in close contact with one or more Lodges and gather the important information. This they will send by email to the central office, ideally with a picture or two...

DO YOU HAVE A STORY FOR US? Click here to send it!

In recent years one our greatest challenges has been to get good picture stories placed in the local newspapers. This is not because the stories don't exist - but it is now extremely difficult to arrange for a staff photographer to attend an event. 

WANTED      one or more photographers who have the skill to take good digital pictures of press quality (we can give guidance on what is required) and crucially who are willing and able to make themselves available when a picture is required. Photo-editing skills not required!!!

DO YOU HAVE A HUNDRED PICTURES FOR US? Please just send us one or two of the best - and don't forget to give names (left to right) of subjects, and secure their consent. PS no cheque presentations, please - the papers don't want them. They want to see how our money is actually being put to use...

There are many other skills that you might be able to offer, especially if you are highly skilled in IT, especially if you are well acquainted with design and particularly MailChimp, and especially if you have time and enthusiasm to devote to the team. The rarest skill (but one we would treasure) is that of writing up the stories in finished form and making contact with outside media - following a story through until (in the words of Sir Francis Drake) it be thoroughly finished...

DO YOU WANT TO COME ON BOARD? Email me with your name, Lodge and mobile number, and details of what you do!

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Wrekin Lodge 2883

The headquarters of United Grand Lodge in Great Queen Street, London is a magnificent building, intended as a lasting memorial to the many thousands of Freemasons who died in the Great War of 1914-1918. Today it is the home to many lodges under Metropolitan Grand Lodge, including Wrekin Lodge 2883.

The Wrekin Lodge was founded in 1902, shortly after the Shropshire Society was established for Salopians in the capital - and continues to maintain those links to this day. Masonically, there is also a strong connection as the lodge visits Shropshire every year for one of its meetings, while our Province reciprocates by sending a large deputation every February to Wrekin Lodge's Installation meeting. 

The sun shone (although the temperature was bitter) this year as more than forty Masons from Shropshire converged by coach, rail and car on Great Queen Street. The nearby "Prince of Wales" did a fine trade in fish-and-chip lunches, Letchworth's shop sold a fair few sets of white gloves, books and Masonic ties, many Brethren enjoyed the guided tour (the building is open to masons and non-Masons alike) and heard the magnificent Willis organ in the Grand Temple (now replendent in gold leaf) being out through its paces. 

The ceremony in the afternoon was the proclamation of W Bro Andrew Symons as Worshipful Master for a second consecutive year - his fourth time in the Chair - and Shropshire's Wardens performed their Addresses faultlessly as ever. The evening Festive Board was at the Imperial Hotel on Russell Square, where those who had not over-partaken of W Bro Rodney Stokes' famous pork pies on the coach enjoyed a fine meal and traditional good fellowship. 

What a great night - we look forward to welcoming our London-based Brethren back to Shropshire in the autumn!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Triple Initiation a first for Shropshire!

The number three is by tradition important in Freemasonry, and so it proved recently when The Iron Bridge Lodge 9897 went one better than last year's Double ceremony - and began 2016 in style by conducting a Triple Initiation at their Telford Meeting Point House base. A packed house witnessed this rare event - for which a Dispensation had to be sought - and with the help of both Deacons and an Assistant the ceremony was carried out to a high standard.

The Iron Bridge Lodge is scarcely a year old, but as a Universities Scheme lodge is committed to promoting Freemasonry among young men and in a modern way. Brothers Greenroyd (26), Preece (22) and Watt (20) joined Brothers Greatrex (21) and Perring (27) (furthest right above), Worshipful Master Simon Clare and four Visiting Entered Apprentices in a photograph which is surely unique in the annals of Shropshire Masonry! 

Brother Josh Greenroyd studied Law at the University of Kent, and was called to the Bar in 2011. He works for Shropshire Council and hopes to continue his education with an MBA at the new Shrewsbury University. Josh found that Freemasonry was 'just a Google away' and joined Freemasonry in the hope of meeting kindred spirits of a similar age.

Brother Ryan Preece is a Dorset lad - now working as an Account Manager at Schneider. His grandfather W Bro Reg Bugler is a member of Dorset Masters Lodge 3366, and was present at Ryan's Initiation - a proud moment indeed!

Brother J Watt, from the Wirral, shared a flat with another recent 9897 Initiate and has two student friends who have become Masons through the Universities Scheme in Liverpool. "I was interested in joining because it allows you to widen your friendship group whilst providing the opportunity to do something good for those in need [and] get to know new people if I moved to a new area of the U.K."

The Iron Bridge Lodge 9897 has certainly been in the news since its Consecration in January last year - but don't expect it to stop there! A little bird tells the Editor that the Spring edition of "Freemasonry Today" will be a very special one for Shropshire Masonry...

Shropshire's Travelling Ashlar

As was announced in the first post of this blog, the Travelling Ashlar blog is to be closed and news about the progress of the stone will be posted instead on "Shropshire Blue". We ask any successful raiding party to inform the editor of the raid, ideally with a picture or two attached and details of bloodshed or other notable incidents. I promise to give these details as well as the Secretary's email address for the Ashlar's new holder - making it as easy as possible to set up a new raid.

As can be seen from the picture, W Bro Keith Arscott's fine Ashlar currently resides with Salopian Lodge of Charity 117, which meets on the 4th Wednesday of the month. New Worshipful Master Phil Niblock (not pictured!) awaits challenges. Contact Secretary Russell Price by this Wednesday 17th to attend February's meeting.

Shropshire Light Blue Club

Did you read the article about Light Blue Clubs in the Winter edition of Freemasonry Today (check out page 26-)? Or perhaps you have encountered these gatherings of young and junior Masons on twitter or Facebook - Leicestershire's Light Blue Club, South Wales' Colonnade Club or Cheshire's Rough Ashlar Club, among many more.

These gatherings of younger and newer Brethren have proved extremely popular, with a social 'angle' but also providing an opportunity to learn more about the history and principles of Freemasonry in an informal atmosphere. For many Masons, such a club helps bridge that awkward gap between becoming a Master Mason and taking office in their Lodge. It also introduces junior Brethren to members of other Lodges, and promotes visiting. Light Blue Clubs complement - rather than replacing - the experience of Freemasonry in Lodge.

We are delighted to announce that a Light Blue Club for Shropshire has been sanctioned - in principle - and an announcement about how it will be organised is to be made in the near future. In the meantime, anybody interested in knowing more or becoming involved can follow Shropshire's twitter @shropshiremason or email, giving your name, Lodge and email address.

Wrekin Lodge visit

Very early on Monday morning, Brethren from around the Province will be gathering in cold car parks and on bleak station platforms ready for our annual pilgrimage to London for Wrekin Lodge's Installation meeting. The visit of a sizeable contingent of Shropshire Masons to this event is now an established tradition, and a good time will undoubtedly be had by all!

The Wrekin Lodge 2883 is not a Shropshire lodge as such, but one of two 'associated lodges' which meet at English Masonry's headquarters in Great Queen Street not far from Covent Garden and the British Museum. Many of the visitors will find time before the meeting to have a guided tour of the fine building - probably the finest remaining example of art deco design in the capital - and a look into the masonic shops and the excellent Library and Museum of Freemasonry which are open to the public most days of the week.

The Festive Board will be a happy occasion at the Imperial Hotel on Russell Square: afterwards some Brethren will stay on overnight, while others will head for the final train or leap on board the coach for the journey home...

Welcome to Shropshire Blue

Welcome to our blog - the latest way for Masons in Shropshire to read about what is going on in our beautiful Province. Please note that for full functionality, you may need a Google account - if you don't have one, they are easy to make (go to Google page and create an account top right).

Please note that you can still go to our website, and follow us on twitter @shropshiremason.

This blog however replaces (for the time being) the online magazine "Out of the Blue". Please send all material for our newsletter, Freemasonry Today, website and twitter (including photographs) to Provincial Communications Officer Jeremy Lund. Any such material will automatically be forwarded to the website.

This blog also replaces the "Travelling Ashlar" blog. We ask any Lodge which takes possession of the Travelling Ashlar to notify me (ideally with a picture of the successful raid)! I will then announce the new whereabouts of the Ashlar and the details required to set up a new raid (i.e. dates of meetings and email address of Secretary).

Do you have something to say? Click on the Comment link below and you can add your own views or messages!