Since the onset of the Government restrictions in March 2020, shortly after our first meeting this year in February, and the long suspension of Freemasonry up until July, with severe restrictions since that time and the current further suspension, it has been a long time since we have all been able to meet face to face and enjoy our work in the Temples and the enjoyment of our Festive Boards. Furthermore, there is no firm indication as to when any normality will return to Freemasonry in general and indeed, to our lives in particular.
With the encouragement of the Officers of the Lodge of Light & Honour it was decided that proactivity was a better option than inertia, if nothing else but to maintain the interest of the members, particularly the Lay Brethren. So, from the start, we maintained a regular weekly LOI via Zoom under the guidelines of UGLE. This was usually well attended and enjoyed by those who attended. A team of 8 members was also set up to ensure that every member received a weekly telephone call to check on their welfare and that of their families. This was very well received by all concerned, especially those living on their own.
During the height of the first Lockdown, with the agreement of the members, we made donations of £1,000 each from the Lodge Benevolent Fund to two Hertfordshire Hospital Trusts in answer to their appeals for funds. These funds were designated for the benefit and comfort of the NHS staff and patients.
On what would have been our Installation Meeting (May 14th) we arranged a ‘virtual’ Zoom Installation meeting, once again under UGLE guidelines. This was attended by over 50 members and visitors and a ‘virtual’ raffle was arranged raising £510, which the Lodge donated to the Noah’s Ark Childrens’ Hospice.
Sadly one of our Honorary, and highly respected, Members, W.B Maurice Podro was taken to the Grand Lodge above on 17 May aged 91, just 17 days before he would have achieved 50 years of service to Freemasonry, having been initiated into the Lodge of Light and Honour in 1970. As, unfortunately, no members were able to attend his funeral due to Government restrictions a ‘virtual’ Zoom memorial service was arranged in his honour during the week following his passing which was attended by well over 50 people including non-members who knew him well and wished to pay their respects. Following a service and prayers many members and non-members spoke of their personal memories of W.B Maurice, which at times were very moving. The service was also attended by his widow, Marilyn a lady Freemason, who offered her sincere thanks to the Lodge for arranging the occasion, saying that she said she found it a very touching and emotional experience.
As W.Bro Maurice had been a regular attender at LOI, even in his 92nd year, a special LOI was arranged on the date that he would have achieved his 50 year of service to Freemasonry. This included a quiz compiled by one of the members.
Since W.B Maurice’s passing another three members have passed to the Grand Lodge above. None of these deaths were Covid-19 related.
Looking to find other ways of retaining the members’ interest in Freemasonry we arranged a virtual seminar on 13 July presented by the Grand Orator of Middlesex, W.Bro Andrew Farleigh, entitled ‘Masonic Questions That You Didn’t Know How To Ask’.
This proved to be a most interesting and entertaining evening which attracted an attendance of over 50 people. Once again a ‘virtual’ raffle was held, raising £310 which was donated to the Association of Friends of Prince Michael of Kent Court in Watford.
On 21 September we held our regular scheduled Meeting at Ashwell House in full compliance with Government guidelines and those of Ashwell House, thus being attended by only 6 members plus our Tyler. Being a pleasant late summer evening this was followed by an enjoyable ‘Festive Board’ al fresco at a local hostelry, once again in full compliance with the Government guidelines at that time.
Due to the success of the previous seminar a further one was arranged with the same presenter entitled ‘Masonic Questions That You Didn’t Know How To Ask (part 2)’on 16 November which proved to be equally as popular and entertaining. Once more a ‘virtual’ raffle was held, raising £1,170, enabling us to make further donations to the Association of Friends of Prince Michael of Kent Court in Watford and the Noah’s Ark Childrens’ Hospice, plus other charities, including The North London Hospice, The Peace Hospice and Dementia UK.
On February 8th 2021 on what should/would have been the Lodge’s first regular meeting this year but, sadly, was exactly one year since it’s last regular meeting with a Festive Board, we arranged a Zoom talk by Mark Smith on a subject which he had discussed on the Antiques Roadshow over the Christmas period. Once again this attracted an ‘audience’ of 80 people and by setting up a Just Giving page via the MRC we were able to raise £1,200, £500 of which has already been donated to the British Heart Foundation.
And so we will continue as best we can, looking for further ways to maintain the interest in Freemasonry until such time as ‘normal service’ resumes (whenever that may be).
I’m not pretending that the Lodge of Light & Honour is unique in this respect as I’m sure that other Lodges have continued in similar ways or indeed in other ways as well but, at the risk of being repetitive, I feel it is most important that interest is maintained by encouragement from the senior Lodge members otherwise inertia ensue to a degree that there will be a loss of membership as a result. I hope I have shown that this can be done in positive ways.
Even though we have physically been out of action for over a year now we are proud to be able to say that by our ‘virtual’ activities we have still been able to donate in excess of £5,000 to worthy charities which are all desperate for funding during these awful times and our thanks must go to our members and many ‘visitors’ who have contributed so generously.
Stuart Kira – Secretary of Lodge of Light and Honour 7894