It appears that the events that lead to me becoming a Freemason started just before I was born. The first event that I can trace is my Grandfather, on my mother’s side, becoming a Freemason. I don’t know the exact date that he became a Mason, I’m sure if I tried it would not be too difficult to find out but I know that he became a Master Mason, by taking his third degree, on 17th January 1968. I know this as I have his ritual book, which was presented to him on that occasion.
Therefore, as I was born in March 1967, it is probable that he would have become a Mason just before I was born. The 17th January 1968 was also a significant date in the family, with regards to Freemasonry; as it was the day my Father was initiated into the fraternity.
With me not even a year old both my Grandfather and Father had become Freemasons. Sadly, my Grandfather died relatively young, still working as the Station Manager at Parsons Green Tube Station, so I never got the opportunity to talk with him about it, but I’m pleased to say at the time of writing, my Father is still a member and as active as his health allows. Freemasonry has held his attention and affection for nearly 50 years.
So when it came to the right time, my Father suggested that I join Freemasonry. When I asked him what it was all about, he said “it’s hard to say son, but I’m pretty sure you will like it.” Blind faith in my Father’s judgement made the decision easy. This was reinforced by my early encounters with Freemasons at ladies nights and weekends away with Mum and Dad on social Masonic functions. From my early teens I would attend these events and I was always struck by how nice everyone was.
On Tuesday 2nd March 1993 I was initiated into Freemasonry, with the big surprise of my Father conducting the ceremony as Master of the Lodge that year. This happened in the Felix Lodge No.1494, which became my “Mother Lodge”. This is in the Masonic Province of Middlesex.
Strangely, it was not the Mother Lodge of either my Farther or Grandfather. They had both been initiated in the Ember Lodge No.2540 in the Masonic Province of Surrey. This was established in 1894 but sadly closed in 2008. Ironically, the reason my Father recommended me to Felix Lodge and not Ember, was then, as now, Felix Lodge needed new members, whereas the Ember Lodge had so many at that time, I would have had a long wait to progress due to the large membership that Lodge enjoyed then.
So my journey had begun and I’m please to confirm that my faith in my Father’s judgement was well founded, as Freemasonry has held my attention and affection for over 23 years now. I also understand why my Father found it difficult to pinpoint what it was about Freemasonry that he enjoyed so much. It is many things to many Masons, there is a lot one can put into it and a lot that you can get out of it.
For me, the overriding benefit is the people you meet and the good we can do as a group. I have dined in the same room as members of the Royal Family, joked with millionaires, taxi drivers, builders, doctors, lawyers, members of the armed services, people from all walks of life. The stories and anecdotes over diner are funny, tragic, fascinating and enlightening. We are all equal when together at a Masonic meeting and I for one relish the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. It has been known for us to have a drink or two, as well!
Freemasonry has given me the opportunity to meet younger and older people from various backgrounds, religions and stations in life. It is unlikely that I would have had the opportunity to make these friends in my normal social and work circles outside Freemasonry, but I’m so glad I have. I have some very dear friends as a result of being part of the fraternity.
The other significant attraction of Freemasonry for me is the opportunity to raise money for charity and help good causes. If you Google “Masonic Charities” there are over 400,000 results and you will find that Freemasons support and incredible range of charities and donate millions of pounds every year.
So there is my tale, destined to be a Freemason from before I was born and so glad I was. With two sons of my own, I look forward to bringing them to Freemasonry when the time is right for them. I’m confident that they will enjoy it, and like my Father, it will be hard to pinpoint what they will get out of it but I’m confident that they will appreciated it as we do. I have noticed a rise in younger Freemasons joining the fraternity in recent years, which can only be a good thing.
I was recently lucky enough to witness a member of my Lodge, Felix No. 1494, being presented with a certificate to commemorate his 70th year in Freemasonry. It was wonderful to hear him speak with such fondness of his time as a Freemason and observe the twinkle in his eye. I think any organisation that can keep someone involved for 70 years is very special.
Hopefully, this is just an interim chapter in my tale as a Freemason, I may not see a 70 year or even 50 year certificate but I’m confident when I reflect on my time in Freemasonry it will be as it is now with fondness and affection.