PRO GRAND MASTER PETER LOWNDES EXPLAINS WHY 2017 WILL BE A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE MASONIC PRIDE ACROSS THE NATION
As the masonic fraternity is a single, indivisible fellowship that is neither divided nor affected by local or national boundaries within our constitution, the word ‘united’ is extremely appropriate as we move forward to our three hundredth anniversary celebrations in 2017. Hence, Metropolitan Grand Lodge, the Provinces and Districts are united as part of one fellowship – that of the United Grand Lodge of England.
CELEBRATION FOR ALL
So how should we be working together to plan the 2017 celebrations, remembering that this is just over two and a half years away? From the very outset, I want to make it clear that this is a celebration for every one of us – for the members throughout the English constitution, both here and in the Districts.
Celebrating three hundred years is a once in a lifetime event for us all, as is appropriately marking this wonderful achievement and, of course, being the first Grand Lodge to do so. We have seen two great events this summer – that of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games. Both these events proved highly successful and raised the morale and spirit of our nation. That is exactly what I want the members’ 2017 celebration to achieve for our united fraternity.
I am convinced that by working through the Metropolitan Grand Master and the Provincial and District Grand Masters we will encourage a large participation in this great occasion. Although there is much detail to be planned and to be communicated to you for your own planning, the main event will certainly include partners.
We are proud to be Freemasons and 2017 is a great opportunity to show that pride not only to our families and friends, but to the non-masonic community as well. To this end it will also be the natural culmination of the open public relations strategy we have embraced.
When UGLE announced that they were to formally recognise the 300 years since the first Grand Lodge was formed in 1717, they stated that they were only going to organise one event at the Royal Albert Hall on 31 October 2017 and that this would be followed by a Festive Board at Battersea Park.
They wanted individual Provinces to make their own arrangements, and they asked each Province to nominate one man to head up all arrangements. RW Bro Mark Estaugh nominated Bob King to be our man.
West Kent along with East Kent, Surrey and Sussex form part of what is known as the
Group 8 Rulers Forum and this group decided collectively to donate £200,000.00 to Canterbury Cathedral to help pay for the urgent refurbishment work to the North West Transept and Pinnacles.
That would be the first of 4 objectives in the Province.
UGLE also said that they would match fund up to £10,000.00 appropriate community projects This will be our second objective.
Our third objective was to arrange a celebratory function in 2017. The PGM’s requested that we hold a gala dinner in London and the Connaught Rooms should be booked
CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL APPEAL
The cathedral maintenance projects depend entirely on voluntary contributions and you may have read that last year they received £12,000,000.00 from the National Lottery well that was earmarked before they even received it. The works we have contributed to came about as urgent repairs for which no money had been allocated
Mrs Heather Newton, Head of Conservation, along with Roger Odd PDPGM of East Kent came to one of our Officers Mess’ to give us a greater insight into her role and the building programme at the cathedral.
On the 8 September 2016 RW Bro Mark Estaugh and several members of our Tercentenary committee presented our cheque for £50,000.00 VW Bro Roger Odd did the same for East Kent. Surrey and Sussex had previously presented theirs. This meant that in less than one year our four Provinces had made good their pledge.
Canterbury Cathedral are absolutely delighted with these generous donations and as a mark of their gratitude they have carved out of Caen stone pairs of Ashlars for any Lodge that contributed a minimum of £1500.00. To date 13 Lodges have qualified. We also made a special presentation to W.Bro Ray Hudson who qualified on his own by donating his lecture fees to the appeal.
WEST KENT COMMUNITY PROJECTS
Having secured the £50,000.00 to Canterbury we have turned our fund raising to the local community projects and to date we have raised a further £33,000.00, not all Lodges have given yet and we hope to reach £50,000.00 by the time we close the appeal on 31 December 2016.
To date we have pledged £4000.00 to take 16 children with special needs on a Jurassic Adventure week in the West Country.
We have purchased every ticket for a pantomime in Sevenoaks on 8 January 2017 and we will be giving away 150 tickets to deserving children.
We have now booked the Connaught Rooms for the 11 March 2017.
Tickets at £85.00 each will go on sale shortly along with full details of the evening
We have already received over 200 requests for tickets.
OTHER EVENTS (4th Objective)
18 February 2017 Church Service Canterbury Cathedral
27 June 2017 Inter Provincial Golf Match, Nizels Golf Course
9 July 2017 Teddy Bear’s Picnic Oakley House
15 July 2017 Three Choirs Festival
Full details of all events will be published nearer the time along with any new events.