London Grand Rank Investiture Meeting – Wednesday 3 November 2021
You will remember that on 20 October 2021, His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent signed the UGLE Armed Forces Covenant. This partnership cements UGLE’s ongoing support to members of the Armed Forces.
During the LGR Investiture Meeting, Metropolitan Grand Lodge demonstrated its own commitment when the Metropolitan Grand Master, Sir Michael Snyder, on behalf of all London freemasons signed The Armed Forces Covenant alongside Brigadier Andrew Wright MBE, Deputy Commander London District.
At the same meeting, representatives from London’s Air Ambulance showcased some of their new rapid response cars (outside in Great Queen Street) and the Charity’s Chairman, Mark Vickers, gave a speech to thank members for their ongoing support. ‘The support of the London Freemasons down the years has been instrumental in keeping our helicopter flying and our rapid response car fleet on the road, ready for when they are needed for the people of London.’
The London Freemasons first supported London’s Air Ambulance Charity in 2015 with a £2 million donation towards the service’s second helicopter as part of the ‘Your London, Your Helicopter’ campaign, and went on to pledge a further £100,000 in 2017 thanks to additional support from the membership. Now, London Freemasons are donating £330,000 over three years to lease a new fleet of rapid response cars, which will form a crucial part of London’s Air Ambulance’s infrastructure.
These are some extracts from the Metropolitan Grand Master’s address to all those present:
I have been greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm of so many Lodges in regard to the resumption of meetings, utilising the dispensations process to hold additional ‘Emergency’ meetings, adjust dates and meeting places to suit members, all with the aim of clearing the significant backlog of work that has accumulated over the past year.
I have also been greatly heartened and extremely proud at the manner in which London Freemasons, and Freemasonry in general, have risen to the immense challenge posed by this pandemic.
We established a London Covid Response Group, and they have done a fantastic job in identifying, researching, and evaluating worthwhile causes and then applying for central funding to implement projects quickly and efficiently. These included the supply of essential PPE; computer tablets that enabled family members separated in care of one sort or another to stay in touch with each other; free hot meals cooked and distributed to those most in need; support for London’s homeless; and care packages for vulnerable women forced to shelter in various London refuges. The whole list is an impressively long one.
In no time at all, Freemasons had raised £1,000,000 by way of the Covid Community Fund, which was matched by the Masonic Charitable Foundation leading to £2 million being dispersed in support of three key themes: The homeless, Young Carers, and Mental Health and Well-Being.
We are now in partnership with Only A Pavement Away (see page 28), a London charity who received £50,000 to set up Life Skills Hubs that assist the homeless back into work in the hospitality sector and thus enable a more enduring solution – a hand up, not a hand out. Six sessions have been run to date with nearly 70% of those attending now back in employment with a roof over their head. We supported successful bids for Young Minds, Place2B, Papyrus and Honeypot – all fantastic mental health charities doing some great work. The work goes on and every edition of Arena now carries a free advert for good causes to give them wider publicity and greater awareness among our members.
Our routine charitable work also continues unabated, and we have undertaken to provide the funding for London Air Ambulance to renew and expand their fleet of fast responder cars for when the helicopter cannot fly, at night or in poor weather. £330,000 over 3 years is money well spent.
The upside of this pandemic is that it has provided Freemasonry with an opportunity to demonstrate in a very visible way what we are about, to justify our reputation as a force for good, and to encourage the public to give some thought to joining us.
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 47 January 2022 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 47 here.