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July 2020

It hardly goes without saying, but what a strange and partially debilitating the last three months have been. Lockdown has necessitated the cancellation of two Lodge meetings and one Chapter meeting. The timing of these lost meetings was particularly annoying as both the Lodge and Chapter have new membership candidates to be introduced and these occasions are particularly special for all Freemasons. We still do not have any definitive news about when our normal meeting activities may resume as it appears that our “Masonic Rulers” have challenging decisions to make over the social distancing guidelines. There are also question marks over our ability to dine after our meetings and this aspect is particularly important in the life of any public school old boy Freemason. We nevertheless remain optimistic that meetings and festivities will be able to be resumed in the autumn.

However and in keeping with the use of modern technology Neil Richards (Staff 1987-2008) organised a “Zoom” meeting for members of the Chapter to replace the scheduled June meeting. This was great fun especially as most of the time was taken up by some members not being able to grapple with the straightforwardness of Zoom. Our picture, being a screenshot of some of the participants shows from top left Peter Cox (1958-62), Howard Norman Taylor (1963-68) Nigel Birch (Society Treasurer), Richard Wyndham-Smith (1969-74), Peter Parr-Head (1945-48) and finally bottom row Roger Southcombe (1954-59). Jeremy Gaskell (1957-59) was due to attend but had sadly fallen asleep at the appointed hour. Considerable hilarity ensued over Peter Parr-Head’s anxiousness over the cabbage and potatoes over-cooking on his stove and Howard Norman-Taylor’s clarion call of being required at the dinner table.  

Our members have been busy assisting in their local communities and one of the most notable contributions has come from David Locke (1970 -76) who has written as follows:

“My son Rob has lines of business in industrial product design and property.  He uses 3D printing to make prototypes. He couldn’t view houses during the lockdown, so like quite a lot of other people, Rob set about printing the frames for face shields from a design downloaded from the internet, as indeed the students at MTS have been doing.  By fine tuning two printers, quite soon production was up to 100 units per day. The issue was how to source the plastic filament that the printers use.  I wrote to all the clients of my accountancy practice, asking if they wouldn’t mind donating a reel or two of the plastic, or the overhead projector transparencies which form the clear plastic face shields. One client wrote back saying that he would ask the members of his Lodge in Northampton to give some help.  I had no idea that he was on the square and he had no idea that I was.  Two days later and many boxes of plastic filament turned up.  The members of my client’s lodge had basically cleared out Amazon’s entire stock of decent product.  In the end, Rob turned out just under 2,000 face shields. The face shields have been donated to the NHS at Stoke Mandeville and to care homes, which have had some difficulty in getting hold of PPE.  A guy turned up came to collect a box of them.  We got talking and it turns out that he’s also a mason.  I’ll be inviting both newly-discovered brethren to our meetings when we can re-start again. It must say something about Freemasonry. Masons fulfil needs when they arise.  Masons make things happen”.

Lewis Cohen (1982-87) has reported that his 4 year old “step-thug” (his words) has been accepted at Quainton Hall for September and so will no doubt be making his way to MTS in about 2028!

Freemasonry in general has nevertheless been very active during Lockdown and London Freemasonry has been involved with initiatives developed by so many Lodges and Chapters, not only in keeping a watchful eye on their more vulnerable and isolated members but in the manner in which they have embraced the various forms of Social Media to stay in touch with each other on a regular basis. Quiz nights, evening gatherings on WhatsApp and Zoom, strategy planning sessions looking at the future of the Lodge or Chapter, or even something as simple as the exchange of jokes, funny videos and pictures, all in the best possible taste of course. These activities assist greatly in retaining the bonds of friendship whilst we are prevented from meeting together in person. As part of UGLE’s Covid19 response, we have begun distribution of 115 (1,200 nationally) Samsung Galaxy tablets to London NHS hospitals including The Royal London, Queen Mary’s and St Thomas’. Furthermore, donations of £10,000 have been made to each of Felix Foundation and City Harvest, two London food redistribution charities.

Among the very many initiatives, London freemasonry is also supplying some 36,700 Covid-19 visors to London hospitals, care homes and hospices. The West London Masonic Centre (Ealing), in cooperation with the London Borough of Ealing, has a chef from one of their Lodges preparing 200 meals a day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

We were all deeply saddened by the departed merit of another hugely popular member, Peter Henson (1950-55), on March 16th having lost a long fight with cancer. Peter was a Vice President of the OMT Society and brother of Past President, Brian Henson. A more fulsome tribute will no doubt appear in other pages of this issue. However in brief Peter was an extremely accomplished member of the Pinner and Hatch End Operatic Society where he performed many leading roles. Not so generally well known though was that he was an accomplished tap dancer. One of the highlights of his amateur dramatic career must surely have been his organisation of a fund raising G&S concert at the Royal Festival Hall in the presence of HRH Princess Alexandra. Although Peter was never Worshipful Master of the Lodge he was an enthusiastic and valuable contributor to Lodge activities.

We also warmly welcome enquiries from any non-Freemasons and any Freemason wishing to know more about our work and the fun way we go about it.

Masonic visitors are always very welcome at our meetings. Forthcoming dates are: Lodge – Thursday 17th September and Thursday 17th December both at Mark Masons Hall. Chapter –Tuesday  17th November at Freemasons Hall. All meetings being subject to further relaxations of the lockdown rules.

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