Turning the Key

Remembering Bert Harrison

Members of the Hungerford Lodge were just recovering from the loss of our Chaplain, Nigel Ludlow last month when the news came through of the loss of another member, Bert Harrison.

Bert with his Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur

Brother Bertram Horace Leonard Harrison, Past Provincial Grand Standard Bearer or “Young Bert” as we referred to the 94 year old, was one of the nicest men you could ever wish to meet. Bert was always smiling, whatever life threw at him. Until recently he came to Lodge whenever one of the members could transport him and we were all overjoyed to see him.

A fanatical Chelsea supporter, he even managed to break his walking frame in his excitement when the Blues beat Arsenal. He also loved watching speedway, although more recently this was via satellite TV.

All of this sounds like almost anyone’s father or grandfather. Whilst Bert was that to his family, he was also one of a dwindling number of people who took part in the key battles of the Second World War.

He was honoured as a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour) by the French government, for his gallantry during the Second World War. He served as a medic in the Royal Navy and as a 20-year old took part in Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of Southern France on August 15th and 16th 1944. Originally code named Anvil, it was designed to complement Operation Sledgehammer, or what we now know as Operation Overlord (the Normandy landings).  You can read more of Bert’s story here.

Bert was initiated into the Hungerford Lodge on the 17th January 1978. In his forty year long Masonic career, Bert gave widely and freely of his time. Well into his eighties he was still serving as one of the official Examiners to the Lodge accounts. It is therefore perhaps surprising that he never served as Master of the Lodge. Bert was meek and humble and preferred life out of the spotlight. His contribution to the Lodge and Freemasonry in general meant that he was recognised by the Province, being one of a select few wearing a Provincial apron bearing rosettes.

Whilst the Lodge will miss Bert, he will now be reunited with his wife, Florence.

It broke our hearts to lose you – But you didn’t go alone,

For part of us went with you – The day God called you home.

Parcels for the troops at Christmas

“A generous donation of goods from the Hungerford Lodge of Freemasons meant that more boxes than expected were posted to a number of locations worldwide”

The Kingsclere branch of the Royal British Legion have been busy sorting and packing Christmas parcels for British Servicemen and women who will be away from their families this Christmas. 

The preparations culminated in a packing and posting session on Saturday the 17th November where 128 parcels were put together at The Crown, Kingsclere, thanks to Suzanne and Nigel Windmill’s kind permission to turn their function room into a scene akin to an elf’s workshop.

Mark Holden, Chairman of the Kingsclere branch of the Royal British Legion said; “I have first hand experience of being overseas at Christmas and away from family and friends and opening a parcel sent from home really does make a difference to moral and remind you that people are thinking of you”. 

The parcels are typically funded by donations from people living in and around Kingsclere but this year the shipment will be even bigger than normal. “A generous donation of goods from the Hungerford Lodge of Freemasons, coordinated by their Charity Steward, Nick Stephens, meant that more boxes than expected were posted to a number of locations worldwide”.

The branch members were supported by people from across the village in the task with many villagers donating boxes and items, including the Kingsclere Guides and Scout packs who each put together 12 boxes.

The parcels contained a mixture of sweets, chocolates, toiletries and Christmas hats and games.

Installation Night

Chris Coyle installed his successor, Andrew Holmes, with both delivering a mastery of the ritual that was a joy to behold.

As the dust settles after another Installation meeting, we get to draw breath and reflect on the evening. It was a magnificent meeting with some of the finest ritual the Lodge has seen. Andrew Holmes, or as we now refer to him Worshipful Brother Professor Andrew Holmes, was installed by his predecessor Chris Coyle.

It was, however, an evening tinged with sadness as we started the evening by standing to remember Nigel Ludlow who was Master of the Lodge for two consecutive years in the mid-1980s. More recently he had served as the Lodge Chaplain, offering prayers during both the ceremonial and festive gatherings. Our thoughts and prayers are with Nigel’s father, Peter, as well as Nigel’s partner and his children.

Once the Installation got underway, it was obvious to all that Chris had spent many hours learning the ritual as he installed Andrew with sincerity and feeling. It is a true feat of memory to be able to deliver that much ritual in the way that Chris did. It is never easy and in front of sixty people it can be nerve wracking. 

Andrew too had done his homework and appointed and invested his team for the year in a calm and unflustered way. They both surely impressed the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Julian Pacey and his retinue.

It was also great to see the talent coming up through the ranks as we have Light Blues, or those Freemasons who have yet to be Master of the Lodge, from Junior Warden to Inner Guard. Our new Junior Warden, Marc Cox is one of our youngest members, but I am sure his father, Peter, is immensely proud of his rapid progression. 

With the ceremonial part of the evening complete, the members retired to the Newbury branch of the Royal British Legion where they were treated to a meal of tomato soup, roast beef and all of the trimmings followed by an excellent cheese board.

All of this put the members and guests in a very generous mood and this was reflected in the number of raffle tickets sold. The proceeds of the raffle will benefit the Lodge Benevolent Association and no doubt in time, the Berkshire 2023 Festival.

Andrew Holmes – Master 2018/19

DSC01048Hi Andrew, can you tell me a bit about yourself before you joined Freemasonry?
I started my career wanting to study physics like my Dad and also like Mr Spock (of Star Trek!!) being excited by the prospect of discovering new things back in the mid-sixties when science was having a renaissance.

This led rapidly to working at CERN in Geneva on large particle accelerators and then to a long career with the UK Atomic Energy Authority again on accelerators but now for the big JET fusion experiment in Abingdon. Then I was appointed Visiting Professor of Physics at the University of Salford to aid with the research there.

I finally retired shortly after I was initiated into Freemasonry, but I am still working on accelerator projects for several customers (they won’t let me go!) and the number of lectures per year to students and colleagues has perversely risen despite being semi-retired and 72 years old so there is no rest for the wicked.

How did you come to join Freemasonry in the first place? and when?
A friend from primary school days (who will be my guest at my installation) joined Freemasonry shortly after the Millennium and he persuaded me that I should become a Mason. The chance to join came when I went to a Freemasonry road-show in Newbury in 2012.

There I met Gilbert Mills who happened to overhear the magic words “live in Hungerford” and the rest is history. I became a Master Mason in 2013. Despite being a late starter in Freemasonry, I was fascinated by the ritual and I have tried to put in the effort to learn it and the back story behind it.

What are your thoughts as you approach becoming the Master?
As I approach the completion of my Masonic journey by becoming Worshipful Master of the Hungerford Lodge and being both a Mason and a scientist, I feel like I am truly gaining comprehension of the hidden mysteries of nature and science.

Becoming Master of my Lodge is a major step in the development of my Freemasonry and enables me to do my very best for my Lodge and repay the investment the Lodge has made in me over the past few years, particularly at the start of the current five-year festival in support of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Like all previous masters, I would like my year to see an improvement in the well-being of the Lodge as a whole.

Which other orders are you in? Which is your favourite?
I have joined several side orders, beginning with Royal Arch and continuing with Knights Templar and Knights Templar Priests, all of which continue the Masonic story after the story at the centre of Craft Freemasonry.

Each of these comes with its own ritual, story and lessons. The order I like the most is the Knights Templar, simply because I can wave a sword about (or at least just a little bit!) being a bodyguard of the Provincial Prior of Dorset and Wiltshire at installations. Unfortunately, that will end next year when I go into the chair as Eminent Preceptor (equivalent of Master of the Lodge) a few days after I leave the chair in Craft. Eminent Preceptors are not allowed be bodyguards as well.

What keeps you busy outside of Freemasonry?
Turning to other activities, I am learning to be an amateur geologist via the University of the Third Age which is also fascinating (I was interested in Geophysics back in student days). Although I will never do it seriously, I have given a couple of lectures on this and related topics. I also play bridge and am building a model railway with some help from the Newbury Railway Club (second childhood perhaps).

I think the combination of Freemasonry together with, ideally, several hobbies that provide both a mental and physical stimulus is essential as one grows into old age. You are never too old to learn something new, particularly if that provides a challenge to yourself. So, like that rabbit in the TV commercials I plan to keep on going on for as long as I can. I think Freemasonry is an ideal way of doing this.

Lodge News

Members of the Hungerford Lodge recently gathered with family and friends for a Sunday lunch at the Chequers Hotel in Newbury. Everyone had a wonderful time enjoying the food and the atmosphere. Funds raised from those attending the event were split as follows:

Hungerford Lodge is now the proud sponsor of three guide dogs for the blind over a two-year support programme, the Lodge members have supported two of the dogs and our Master, has sponsored the third – Oscar.

Bella Daisy Oscar

Bella is an affectionate little puppy who enjoys cuddles.

Daisy is a bundle of fun who loves to play. Oscar is an adventurous chap who loves to explore.

WBRRCAlso attending the event were the Chairman of >WBRRC (West Berkshire Rapid Response Cars) and Peter and Lyn Congerton. WBRRC had recently been presented with a cheque for £1000, from the Hungerford Lodge Benevolent Association, to support the good work they do in around West Berkshire. Peter and Lyn have been part of the Lodge’s extended family ever since the Lodge assisted Peter with a new mobility scooter.

A Scouting Expedition

Thanks to the Hungerford Freemasons, Scouts belonging to the Savernake Forest Scout Group will now be able to pursue more challenging outdoor activities.  The Burbage-based group has been awarded a £250 grant towards the purchase of camping equipment to enable the young people to take part in camping and other outdoor activities.

Neil Patterson receiving the cheque from Colin Sainsbury, on behalf of the Hungerford Freemasons, surrounded by members of the Scout troop

Scout Leader Neil Patterson says, “We are delighted by the generosity of the Hungerford Freemasons.  Our Scouts recently planned and went on a 20-mile two-day hiking expedition from Burbage to Avebury, involving an overnight stay in Marlborough.  After the hike, they put together a wish list of equipment that would be helpful for future expeditions.”  As a result, they requested a tent and various camping cooking accessories.  The equipment will also be used by the group’s Beavers and Cubs.

The enthusiastic Scouts are already planning another expedition later this year.  Scouts who successfully completed the expedition will be awarded the Scouting Expedition Challenge Award.

The Scout troop (11-14 year olds) meet at the Scout Hut next to Mundy’s yard, East Sands, Burbage on a Friday night from 7-9pm. The younger sections of the Scouting movement are:

  • Beavers (6-8 year olds) meet on Mondays 6pm -7pm
  • Cubs (8-10 ½ year old) meet on Wednesdays 6pm – 7.30pm

Contact details for these groups can be found here.

The Magic Table

Our Charity Officer, Nick Stephens, recently went to Hungerford Resource Centre with a donation from our members. This was received with thanks by the care team as it means that they have now raised £5,400 and are very close to being able to buy a Tovertafel.

tovertafel-original-productTovertafel (which means Magic Table in Dutch) is a series of games for people with moderate to severe dementia and adults with severe learning disabilities, encouraging them to instinctively participate to stimulate both physical and social activity. The games consist of a series of interactive light animations which are projected on any table and which motivate the mind and inspire those living with dementia and/or learning disabilities to be active.

As a day centre, the Hungerford Resource Centre provides services for adults with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and for those who maybe frail or have dementia. Ages range between 18-103, it brings people together and promotes laughter and interaction with each other, leading to wellbeing and social interaction.

To see how the Tovertafel works and the joy that it brings, watch this video from the manufacturers.

They have been lucky enough to experience the Magic Table with their customers when it was brought into the centre for trial. The difference it made was truly inspirational; the cost of this equipment is around £6.000 (exclusive of VAT) which includes 8 original games, installation, training and a three-year service contract.

The Centre hopes that by having this equipment, it will help younger adults to have improved social interaction in the community. ‘Magic Table’ games help dementia patients relax and reminisce. For people with learning disabilities the hardware is identical, but the games are different — more intense, more directly educational. It got its name from someone with dementia who announced when trying it that “this is a magic table”.

The manufacturers believe that everyone has the right to play. Whether young or old, male or female, living with a disability, suffering a short or long-term illness or in recovery, playing is much more than just having fun; it is paramount for the individual’s mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. The Centre staff are very keen to see this device in use by their customers.