Freemasonry which has endured since 1717 without break but, suddenly - during the very early part of 2020 when Covid-19 reached our shores - it was hit with forced abandonment of all meetings throughout the country. It was an extremely strange time as there was no getting around the enforced restrictions to starve the virus from spreading further; centre's were closed and social distancing was implemented.
Freemasonry however, took on another face, that of virtual communication. No ritual took place but, members kept in touch during this time with virtual social chats and Charity incentives in assisting essential workers and in particular our NHS Hospitals.
Our Lodge was no different and below are some of our stories during this time:
During FIRST Lockdown...
During this very difficult and for many, a sad time, there emerges some heroes who by their studious dedication and work, make things happen - Front line NHS Doctors & Nurses, Care Home workers/assistants, Pharmacy staff, Police Officers, Public Transport drivers, Supermarket staff and Delivery drivers can all be included as Heroes and also the many thousands of unknowns, who are helping whether, delivering food packs or just calling on those in difficulty. We also have a ‘big’ unknown, Captain Tom who raised over an astonishing £30 million for the NHS - outstanding!
Our Lodge also has some new heroes, namely “W Bro Paul Marshall and Bro Chris Bull” - Paul our Deputy Almoner, dived straight into action by checking on all members and organising help for those in need. Chris Bull, then proposed our supplying PPE to our local hospitals which was taken up in earnest by the Lodge GP whereby, donations were made available from Lodge & Chapter funds together with heartfelt “member donations” to aid the cause.
Through their magnificent efforts they have supplied the following
to Basildon and Southend Hospitals…
400 Isolation Gowns
2,000 Nurse Caps
Some photo’s showing Paul & Chris delivering the PPE together with several hospital representatives…
In addition to these efforts the Lodge has transferred:
£500 to the Provincial Almoner Fund.
£1,000 to the Provincial Initiative of supplying Face Masks to Essex Care Homes.
Also £250 to Kim Cannon, a local dressmaker who is now producing Hospital Scrubs for our local hospitals…
As our lives started to ease a little and the shortage of PPE supplies was overcome our Charity Steward, Austin, felt that an abundance of thanks was needed not only to the NHS but, all the charities that gave their support to the NHS during those early dark days of 'lockdown' and so requested a donation of £500 to be made to one such charity, St John Ambulance.
This was whole heartedly agreed by the members and the donation was made.
Many of our members with their partners/wives enjoyed a Virtual Quiz Evening during Friday evening, 30th October. Needless to say it was organised and run by our ever active Charity Steward, Austin. The evening, in addition to the quiz allowed some general 'catchup chit-chat' amongst our members and was a great success. Due to our not being able to meet at the moment, resulting in our charity collections being severely hit, Austin called for small £5 per head entrance fee, which would be donated to our Widows fund; the evening raised a welcome total of £220...
Yet another Virtual Quiz Evening with partners/wives and also this time friends joining, took place during Friday evening, 11th December. The evening was equally full of fun, friendly banter and some seasonal dressing up to celebrate the time of year. Again, a small donation of £5 per head was requested as a donation towards out Widows fund and with two of our members donating a more than substantial sum the evening raised a handsome £355! - when you add this our previous raised amount it puts us half way towards the annual amount our Almoner requires in the fund. Very well done Austin for another great evening...
SECOND Lockdown began...
500 Step Challenge:
Austin our tireless Charity Steward with Stuart, Paul (M), Roger & Vic also with help from some of their families, are partaking in the challenge hoping to win from the province a £500 donation to a charity of our choice. With the forthcoming strange & quiet Christmas, we reckon walking will be high on these guys agenda!
We came 11th out of 24 teams - the winners St Philip lodge averaging just over 20,000 steps per team member...
During the 15th January, SAXON HALL became a Vaccine Centre for the Southend East Central GP Hub. After a bit of a chaotic start a smooth daily operation is now taking place.
Volunteer car park attendants - our own
Paul Thurgood with Richard Goodwin
a regular visitor to our Lodge
Our Roy Squibb was called to provide some wheel chairs for those requiring some additional support
It was during this month we were informed of the very sad loss of our Barry Nichols to Covid. Barry was in hospital for several weeks but, could not be saved from this terrible virus. This was without doubt, the biggest loss and shock our Lodge had endured for many years. In addition to being a great Mason he was also a wonderful husband, father & grandfather.
With the sad loss of our W Bro.Barry Nichols PPAGReg
In memory of our esteemed Brother Barry Nichols who was sadly taken by Covid-19 during Sunday 10th January 2021.
Barry achieved the highest honours of becoming
Worshipful Master of the Lodge and First Principal in our Chapter.
Barry became an inspiration to us all with his friendship, guidance and wit and will be deeply missed.
Our thoughts go out to his wife Rose and family.
Our Final - as our Charity Steward described it - Virtual Quiz evening took place during Saturday evening 20th March - and what a final event it was with over 30 attending via the Zoom platform. With a mixture of members with wives and partners together with guests joining as far away a Miami, Florida!!! - Truly international - In addition to the quiz, a toast was given to our sadly missed member (to Covid-19) Barry Nichols together with a little theatre presented by Stuart and 'Norfolk' Jon. The icing on the cake was raising £240 towards our Almoners Purse. Once more our Charity Steward - Austin, has surpassed himself yet again!