Places / Items of interest

NYMC 2020 Conference Report (summary)

The 2021 conference was hosted on Friday 22nd October 2021 at the historic Ashwell House, situated within a ten-minute walk from St Albans town centre. As a dedicated Masonic building, Ashwell House is used by over 100 Lodges and other orders.

The NYMC Conference was hosted this year by the Hertfordshire Province’s Fleet House Light Blues Club (FHLBC) with the aim of bringing together ‘Light Blues’ clubs from around the country, to share ideas and best practice.

Ashwell House, St Albans

On arrival delegates were warmly met at the door by representatives of FHLBC and issued with a personalised welcome pack and identification lanyard.

Delegates Welcome Pack

The day started in earnest at 11:00hrs, with an opening welcome from Hertfordshire’s Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro. Neil Connolly and progressed with a mix of guest speakers and ‘breakout’ sessions, with a superb buffet style lunch breaking the day into two ‘halves’ and a number of short coffee breaks between sessions.

Conference delegates with Hertfordshire PGM, RW Bro. Neil Connolly, standing front left

One of the main speakers, Tom Rainsford (a founder of Giff Gaff), delivered an interesting talk on ‘Branding your club’ and the need to consider your audience and what makes your ‘brand’ unique and interesting. Some of the key points made by Tom during his presentation included:

  • Your brand is what is said about you when you are not in the room.  
  • Know your audience, do you believe in the same things as your audience?
  • Where is the connection of the brand to the audience you are trying to reach?
  • Consider, when advertising your brand that, if something is boring to write, it is boring to read!
  • Social media is very noisy – so have a good reason to say what you want to say.
  • Target your content to make it relevant, at a relevant time, to the relevant people.
  • What do you believe? Target a similar mindset and be clear in your message.

Although not a Freemason himself, Tom did provide some thought-provoking insight.

What does Freemasonry have to offer our potential members of the future and how do we go about getting that message to them?

Tom Rainsford presenting ‘Branding your club’

W. Bro. Ken Wooten, of UGLE’s L&D Team, gave an update on the evolution and development of the Solomon learning platform. There will be more audio-visual content, as well as some consolidation and simplification of existing modules. There will be more ‘Solomon Live’ streamed sessions. The newly introduced ‘onboarding’ modules will act as an induction for new masons, one for each degree. There will also be online achievement ‘badges’, that users can collect, as they work their way through the material. W. Bro. Ken had a computer system set up and available for delegates to review the Solomon platform.

W.Bro. Ken Wooten presenting an update on Solomon

The final, keynote, speaker for the day was the MW Pro Grand Master, Peter Lowndes, who outlined the importance of ‘Light Blue’ organisations and gave an overview of the current state of Freemasonry, as we emerge from the pandemic.

The Pro Grand Master made specific reference to UGLE signing up to the Armed Forces Covenant. (Some discussion had occurred earlier in the day as to the possibility of the MOD now allowing Freemasonry literature to be made available to retiring servicemen during their resettlement, at resettlement centres such as Catterick)

The need for initiatives to address retention were discussed, with the Pro GM stating that the Craft currently loses 15-20% of new members within 3 years.

Advocacy had been granted for a national new masons’ organisation, where best practice and information could be shared.

The Pro GM placed particular emphasis on the fact that we need to keep brethren involved, we need to provide much more information to prospective candidates and initiates and keep them ‘in the loop’ along every stage of their masonic journey.

The Pro GM stated that senior members must give all available support to newer members but remembering that senior brethren also need to be kept involved and their efforts appreciated. Where possible lodges should consider involving newer members in the learning and delivery of small bits of ritual and lodges should have an active Lodge Mentor.

Keynote speaker, MW Pro Grand Master, Peter Lowndes

NYMC 2019 Conference Report (summary)

The following detail is a summary of the full report on the NYMC 2019 Conference , produced by WBro Nev Johnson. (The full report is available, on request, in electronic format, from the Northumberland Light Blues Club Secretary.

On Saturday the 28th of September 2019, WBro Nev Johnson and WBro Richard Erskine, representing the Northumberland Light Blues Club, attended a national conference of over 100 NYMC “Light Blue” representatives at Freemasons’ Hall in Leicester.

WBro Richard Erskine (front) and WBro Nev Johnson (back)

The New & Young Masons Club (NYMC) was created to bring together all of the “Light Blue” Clubs from around the country, to share ideas and best practices and to ensure their continued success. Representatives from 31 of these clubs descended on Freemasons’ Hall  to enjoy an action packed and informative day with friends, acquaintances, new members and a great line up of speakers.

Freemasons Hall in Leicester

The brethren enjoyed an address by the PGM of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Yorkshire, West Riding, RWBro David Pratt, who delivered an enthusiastic and entertaining talk on the subject of learning and development and the UGLE’s Solomon website.

From left, Bro Reuben Freeman, WBro John Russell, Bro Dan Cooke, and WBro Mark Constant APGM waiting for the address by RWBro David Pratt, PGM of Yorkshire, West Riding

The assembled brethren received a very interesting talk from the Most Worshipful Brother, Christine Chapman, the Grand Master of the Honourable Fraternity Of Ancient Freemasons (HFAF). A further two short presentations were delivered by WBro Elaine Malone, Deputy Grand Secretary and WBro Mia Cameron-Dungey, both of the Order of Women Freemasons (OWF)

The morning session was led by the PGM of the Provincial Grand Lodge of South Wales, RWBro Gareth Jones, and proved to be most interesting and informative.

This led on to the first of the breakout sessions in which all the delegates were allocated to groups of around 10, to discuss various topics about their clubs; what was going well, what challenges did our respective clubs face and what improvements would we all like to see within our respective ‘Light Blues’ clubs.

The morning session being led by RWBro Gareth Jones

The highlight of the day (next to the chicken curry and chilli con carne for lunch !) was the keynote presentation, given by the Grand Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the United Grand Lodge of England, VWBro Dr David Staples. Dr Staples’ which talk gave a wonderful insight into what UGLE are currently doing to bring Freemasonry into the modern world.

VWBro Dr David Staples, CEO of the UGLE

The day produced many great ideas and established some really good contacts with other ‘Light Blues’ clubs from around the country. This will allow the NYMC and local ‘Light Blues’ clubs to move forward and support each other even better in the future. All in all, attending the conference proved to be most worthwhile (as the 2018 conference had been) and was further confirmation that the NYMC and Light Blues clubs, from across UGLE, are going from strength to strength, the Northumberland Light Blues Club being, most definitely, included in that list. (Auth: WBro Nev Johnson)

Visit to Isaac Newton University Lodge

On the 7th March 2020, Bro. Jonathan Richardson, LBC representative for Morpeth, visited the Isaac Newton University Lodge (INUL) No 859, Cambridge. Jonathan was invited by Bro. Alex Diaz, who is also a member of Jonathan’s mother Lodge, De Ogle No 636, based in Morpeth.

Receiving a warm masonic welcome, Jonathan was able to watch the brethren of INUL deliver a triple 3rd degree, as well as a triple 2nd degree ceremony, using Emulation workings.

Also in attendance that evening was the Worshipful Master and a number of brethren from Apollo University Lodge No 357, Oxford.

The image below, taken during the evening, shows (Left to Right), W. Bro Simon Cooper, INUL Lodge Assistant Secretary and Light Blues Club representative, Bro. Alex Diaz, W.M. Steven Rose and Bro. Jonathan Richardson.

TLC Presentation

The Light Blues Club of Northumberland’s charity donations continued on Thursday 23rd of January 2020, with a presentation of a £200 cheque, at the installation meeting of the Duke of Connaught Lodge.
On this occasion, however, no hijacking of the meeting was required as the person being installed, as Master of the lodge for the first time, was W.Bro Richard Erskine, one of the main organising team members of the Light Blues Club.
As has been previously reported, the Light Blues have been very busy over the last year raising funds for good causes. 
On this occasion, in front of a packed to the rafters festive board, Richard, along with another Light Blues stalwart, W.Bro Nev Johnson, W. Master of Delaval Lodge, presented the £200 cheque to W.Bro D. Watson, receiving it on behalf of Teddies For Loving Care (TLC).
The TLC is a national programme, locally-led by freemasons across England and Wales, which provides cuddly bears to Accident and Emergency units for medical staff to give, at their discretion, to young children. The bears are often used by staff to calm children down, reward them for being brave and in some cases demonstrate procedures.  All children who receive a bear get to take it home.

Charity Presentation

During a visit to St Luke’s lodge, Wallsend on Friday 17th January 2020, on behalf of the Northumberland Light Blues Club, Bro. Richard Erskine presented cheques for £200 each to WBro John Gray, receiving the cheque on behalf of the Smiles and Hope foundation and WBro Stan Madgin, receiving on behalf of Samantha’s Legacy.

Benton Classic Car and Bike Show 25th Aug 2019

A Classic Car and Bike Show was held at Benton North Farm’s Dog and cat shelter on Sunday 25th August 2019. Jointly organised by the Newcastle Dogs and Cats shelter and the Widows Sons, the event benefitted from glorious sunny weather. Live entertainment was provided during the day by the superb Baldy Holly band. Members of the Light Blues Club supported the Northumberland Masonic Community Awareness Team’s (NMCAT) stand on the day and we had the opportunity to meet some Light Blues from one of our lodges in North Shields, who will, hopefully, be joining us on our monthly visits around the Province. The afternoon also gave NMCAT the opportunity to meet two new potential candidates. A great event which raised money for a very worthy cause and which was strongly supported by Northumberland Masons. Some photographs from the day are shown below.

Wylam Show 22nd June 2019

The Northumberland Masonic Community Awareness Team attended the Wylam Show on Saturday the 22nd of June. The team were supported by members of the Light Blues Club and during the day approximately 100 information leaflets were distributed to visitors who had shown an interest in the Freemasonry Information Tent. Photographs from the day are shown below.

The Freemasonry Information Tent assembled for the day at Wylam Fair
Members of the NMCAT and Northumberland Light Blues Club supporting the day.
Brethren greeting interested visitors during the day.

Cramlington Charity Day 2019

The light Blues Club supported the Northumberland Masonic Community Awareness Team at the Family Fun and Open Day held at Cramlington, on Saturday the 15th of June 2019. Organised by brethren of Cramlington Masonic Hall and in conjunction with Shanklea Primary School, the day was a great success. Some photographs from the day are shown below.

LBC Chairman and Events Coordinator with the NMCAT Chairman
Representatives from The order of Women’s Freemasons, NMCAT, the Square and Compasses Scooter Club and the Northumberland Light Blues Club.
The Assistant PGM and the Chairman of the Northumberland Masonic Community Awareness Team (NMCAT)
The newly commissioned Masonic Awareness Tent !

The Masonic Memorial Garden

The Masonic Memorial Garden at the National Memorial Arboretum.

The Masonic Memorial Garden is situated within the National Memorial Arboretum , located in Staffordshire.

The pictures below of the Masonic Memorial Garden were taken by the LBC Deputy Treasurer, Mark Cordell, during his recent visit to the National Memorial Arboretum.

Quatuor Coronati Lodge

Quatuor Coronati Lodge No 2076 is a Lodge dedicated to masonic research.

For a small annual fee, brethren can join the Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle (QCCC). In addition to being eligible to attend Quatuor Coronati Lodge meetings, QCCC members also receive an annual communication containing papers presented to the lodge during the year of membership.

Our ‘Resource Links‘ page also contains a link to the lodge, where details and annual membership fees can be found.

The Light Blues Club Secretary is a current QCCC member. The photographs below were taken by the Assistant Treasurer during his visit to Grand Lodge and attendance at the May meeting of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge.