We often enjoy special occasions in our Freemasonry. Every year, we celebrate our Lodge's birthday; we occasionally celebrate significant milestones, notably in recent years when several Warwickshire lodges reached their centenary. However, it is not very often when we are there at the start – at the consecration of a new Lodge.
Following the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant in a ceremony at St Mary's in Warwick, a church very familiar to Warwickshire Freemasons, the Provincial ruler expressed a desire to form a new Lodge for current and former members of the Armed Forces. He obviously thought it a good idea, as did a number of petitioners, as did the Grand Master, who gave his blessing for it to be called the Warwickshire Armed Forces Lodge No 10039.
Work began in earnest – there was plenty to organise. Thankfully, the prospective members had a superb organiser, Bernard Foad, who, with help from other Founders, put in a tremendous amount of work in preparation for the big day. "Train hard, fight easy" is an often-heard military maxim and one that arguably describes the preparation for the consecration.
All the hard work by the Founders, as well as the Provincial Team, meant that the day ran smoothly.
Friday saw a dedicated bunch set up the room and unpack the 'Lodge in a box' ready for the rehearsal. A plethora of Founders and Provincial Officers were put through their paces by Will Farrell, the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. Did Will worry? Probably, but he didn't let it show and did a grand job.
Saturday morning started early with final preparations as well as an all-important bacon butty. Members continued to arrive, eager to be part of history and impatient to witness the rarely seen ceremony of Consecrating a new Lodge. The Provincial Grand Master proceeded to open a Lodge' and then, ably assisted by his superb Provincial Team, he consecrated the Lodge with great aplomb and sincerity, all under the outstanding direction of the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. The baton was then handed to his Deputy, David Butcher, who installed the Primus Master in an equally sincere manner. Oliver is a former member of what is now known as The Queen's Royal Hussars, whose new Regimental Museum was recently opened in Warwick. He was pleased to accept the invitation to become the Primus Master and to become a Warwickshire Freemason.
Having closed the Lodge, the crowd enjoyed an excellent Festive Board.
The chefs at Gaydon provided first-rate fayre that was enjoyed by all. As you would expect with such a historic occasion, wine-takings and toasts were aplenty. One highlight was the toast to the new Master, warmly and humorously delivered by David Swain.
One aspect that became apparent as the day continued was the banter and camaraderie between the Services. Looking back a little over a century to the years following the Great War, which saw so many of the returning combatants seek something approaching that camaraderie experienced during conflict, culminating in so many new lodges being formed.
Freemasonry's core values of Integrity, Friendship, Respect and Service are reflected in so much of what members of the Armed Services represent and hold dear. We wish the Founders well and hope that the Lodge goes from strength to strength, developing their own traditions and customs and helping Warwickshire fulfil its obligation to support those who have served our great country.