Waving Saltire Square and Compasses

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Stirlingshire

Square and Compasses Waving Saltire

The Province Through the Pandemic

By H Graeme Russell PM

Page created 20 August 2020 - Last Updated 12 Apr 2021 09:36

It is over a year since the UK Government announced a lock-down in response to the Coronavirus pandemic (23rd March 2020). We thought that you, like us, might want a flavour of what has been, and still is, happening in our Lodges as they cope with the crisis each in their own way.

The Lodges in the Province of Stirlingshire can be immensely proud of the way in which the members have manifested and even amplified the spirit and values of our ancient institution.

In particular they have demonstrated our charitable instincts and actions. They have kept in touch with each other, caring especially for Brethren and widows of members who are alone and vulnerable. Those members who are not on social media have received personal visits or telephone call. Meals and even on occasions financial donations have been delivered on a regular basis. Lodge Almoners have contacted the elderly and sick Brethren often with a view to providing possible spiritual support or material assistance. Extensive use has been made of Zoom, Skype, Messenger and other social media platforms to host virtual Committee Meetings and contact members. Members have been encouraged to keep in touch with each other and have held useful conversations while taking part in virtual quiz sessions. Copies of the minutes of virtual meetings have been sent to members for their information.

More widely the Lodges have selflessly helped and served the local community and deserving causes. Some Lodges have made use of Facebook to facilitate on-line raffles with the proceeds going to deserving local and national good causes. Individual Facebook pages and Websites have been kept up to date for the benefit of members. Advantage has been taken of Sister Province Zoom sessions where lectures have been presented so providing useful information on many aspects of the Craft.

Finally the Lodges have displayed resilience in trying times. A number of Lodges have taken advantage of the prolonged recess to upgrade and extensively refurbish or simply redecorate their premises in preparation for meetings restarting. Regular checks have been made to premises to check on security and health and welfare issues. Where a bar is present a full review of the safety measures has been carried out and the necessary protection and sanitisation equipment has been introduced in anticipation of re-opening in a limited fashion. Water systems have been regularly flushed through to prevent legionnaires disease. Risk assessments have been prepared in order to satisfy the Licensing Standards Officer and perhaps the Lodge Insurer.

Finally lets us not forget the Lodge Secretaries, Treasurers, Masters and Almoners who have faithfully undertaken the administrative and other duties throughout.

My personal thanks go to Brother Sandy Thomson for his assistance in producing this article, in particular the introduction.

A brief note about the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, was a global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID- 19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30th January 2020, and a pandemic on 11th March. As of 12 April 2021, more than 134 million cases have been confirmed, with more than 2.91 million deaths attributed to COVID-19, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history.

The virus was primarily spread between people during close contact, most often via small droplets produced by coughing, sneezing, and talking. The droplets usually fell to the ground or onto surfaces rather than travelling through air over long distances. However, research as of June 2020 had shown that speech generated droplets remained airborne for tens of minutes. Less commonly, people may have become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their face. It is most contagious during the first three days after the onset of symptoms, although spread was possible before symptoms appeared, and from people who do not show symptoms.

Common symptoms included fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of sense of smell. Complications may have included pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. The time from exposure to onset of symptoms was typically around five days but may have ranged from two to fourteen days. There was no known vaccine or specific antiviral treatment at the time of writing. Primary treatment was symptomatic and supportive therapy.

Recommended preventive measures included hand washing, covering one's mouth when coughing, maintaining distance from other people, wearing a face mask in public settings, and monitoring and self-isolation for people who suspect they are infected. Authorities worldwide had responded by implementing travel restrictions, lockdowns, workplace hazard controls, and facility closures. Many places had also worked to increase testing capacity and trace contacts of infected persons.

The pandemic caused global social and economic disruption, including the largest global recession since the Great Depression. It led to the postponement or cancellation of sporting, religious, political, and cultural events, widespread supply shortages exacerbated by panic buying, and decreased emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases. Schools, universities, and colleges were closed either on a nationwide or local basis in 172 countries, affecting approximately 98.5 percent of the world's student population. Misinformation about the virus circulated through social media and mass media. There were incidents of xenophobia and discrimination against Chinese people and against those perceived as being Chinese or as being from areas with high infection rates

Below are a few examples of what has been happening within the Province. I would be grateful if you find any inaccuracies, if you have any objections to anything in the article or if you have anything to add, then please let me know and I can alter/amend/delete/add to the article. There are several links to external sites and Facebook pages along with links to PDF's, which hopefully are functional. If not please advise.

Please e-mail me at stirlingshireweb@blueyonder.co.uk

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pdfAround the weekend of the 14th/15th/16th March 2020 all Lodges in the Province were beginning to shutdown and after a few days all had cancelled everything until at least the beginning of September. Grand Lodge issued a letter on Monday 17th March 2020 which officially suspended all Masonic activity throughout the world.

As it became clear that the issue was not going to go away quickly the fund raising activities of Provincial Grand Lodge, which usually happen during the closed season, Golf, Fishing, Bowling, etc. all had to be also cancelled. During 2020 the Province was due to have the Installation of our new Provincial Grand Master Brother Gordon Sewell and this was due to take place on the 20th June, this also required to be postponed.

Annually there are two Lodges in the Province who arrange for the collection and distribution of Easter Eggs to various local children's homes and charities, Lodge Polmont No 793 and Lodge Camelon No 1456. Both Lodges already had Eggs collected however with the locking down of the facilities it was not going to be possible to donate to the usual recipients so the Lodges donated the Eggs to various other worthy sources including, Maddiston and Braes food banks and also to Trussels food bank in Tamfourhill. Click here for more details.

The Quarterly Communication of Provincial Grand Lodge being cancelled, the April draw of the 275th Lottery was however carried out by the Provincial Grand Master at home. The Winners on this occasion were.-

1st Prize - £ 100.00 - Mrs. Morag Scobbie.
2nd Prize - £ 75.00 - Bro. Ian Sharp 1303
3rd Prize - £ 50.00 - Brother Russell Scott 1474
4th Prize - £ 25.00 - Brother Robert Spence 1474
5th Prize - £ 25.00 - Brother Thomas Campbell 312

The NHS were also, on this occasion, winners as some of the prizes were donated back

As Lodges were now closed down, income was at a standstill and several Lodges came up with ways of raising monies to supplement Lodge funds and also to raise monies for various charities.

Lodge Dolphin No 911 started the "Lodge 911 Lotto" to help raise funds for the Lodge and still managed to hold its Annual Easter Draw in April and the winners received there prizes despite the shutdown

312Lodge Bannockburn Bruce and Thistle No 312 started running a Bonus Ball with the intention to raise monies for the Lodge funds and good causes. The first draw was on 11th April 2020 and as of the19th August it has ran every week since(19 weeks).

Charities that have benefited are.

Cardiac Risk in the Young-£145
Strathcarron Hospice-£465
Erskine Appeal-£145
Eilidh Brown Memorial Fund-£145
Stirling Rock No.2-£45
Prostate Scotland-£145
Bruce & Thistle-£1815

They also paid out £150 to the lucky winners each week some of which I understand found its way to other charitable bodies.

Lodge Carron No 139 held several Charity Draws for various charities. Further details can be found on their web site, click here or their FB page Click here facebook

Lodge St John Tulliallan No 598 made a donation to help supply hand soap and cleaning products to Larbert Hospital.

484484It was proposed by the members of Lodge St John Slamannan No 484 to try and help some local charities in this uncertain time. With this in mind the monies still available from their golf charity day some £550 was donated to some local charities namely £300 to the Kersiebank Community Project. £150 donation to the Grangemouth Old Age Peoples Welfare and £100 to PGM's NHS donation.

The Lodge also donated £300 to the Community Pavilion Charity (left) who do a terrific job in providing food and meals to the elderly and vulnerable in the Slamannan and surrounding area. As well as the Lodge contributing to various organisations, food banks etc., to try and help other organisations in the district, they have made some donations/sponsorships to some of the local football clubs in the area. the first recipients are East Stirlingshire FC and Camelon Juniors (right).

pglsOver the year prior to the lockdown Brother Lenny McComb, Past Master of Lodge Slamannan No 484, PG Junior Chaplain, ran an initiative to raise funds for Strathcarron Hospice. He asked all 23 Lodges within the Province to run an event of their choice and add it to special fund which will accumulate all the monies. The total amount was then donated as a lump sum to Strathcarron Hospice. A short and restricted presentation took place on the 15th May 2020 where a cheque was handed over to Strathcarron. The original target was £10.000, however due to the efforts of all Lodges in the Province and some personal donations. The final total reached the magnificent sum of £20,020.

 

pglsPGM Brother Alistair Marshall proposed a donation to NHS. Several Lodges and other individuals added to the initial proposal and this culminated in a cheque for £1,050.00, being donated to the National Health Service at Forth Valley Hospital and £300 shared between Killearn, Balfron and Drymen Health Centres. (PGM and PGM Dep handing over cheque at Forth Valley).

Lodge Camelon No 1456, Lodge St John Tulliallan No 598 Lodge Ancient Stirling No 30 and Lodge Abercromby No 531 all donated £100 to the NHS total.

 

The Lodge of Alloa No 69 had a very successful charity gin tasting evening, prior to the lockdown and the Lodge made a donation of £500 to Strathcarron Hospice.

Lodge Polmont No 793 made donations to Maggies £250, to Strathcarron  £250 and £200 to Ashley's Neuroblastoma appeal.

3030Lodge Ancient Stirling No 30 have collated several donations from Lodges culminating in approximately £650 being donated to Annfield Care Home along with a 49” TV. (right and below)

They also made a donation to Plus (Forth Valley).RWM Brother James McMeechan handed over a total sum of £270 to this local charity (left).

30

Grand Lodge announced a COVID-19 Challenge Appeal which would double monies raised and presented to local worthy causes. Several Lodges applied for and were successful in obtaining matching of their donations.

391850Lodge Zetland was able to make a donation of £200 to the Kersiebank Community Project in Grangemouth to match £200 already donated. Pictured are representatives of KCP and Brother John Russell RWM of Lodge Zetland (left)

RWM Brother Robert McAulay of Lodge Craiginnan Dollar No 850 presented a cheque for the sum of £400 to Alexandra Oustroumoff-Croucher of PLAYPEN CAFE Lunch club at Home in Dollar (right).

And the Master of Lodge Camelon No 1456, Brother Iain Clark. present £400 to Tamfourhill Community Hub (below).

1456

0076Brother David W Brown RWM of Lodge Stirling Royal Arch No 76 also presented a cheque for £300 to Susan Fullarton of Plus Forth Valley on behalf of Lodge Stirling Royal Arch in conjunction with the Grand Lodge of Scotland COVID-19 Challenge Appeal.

 
391391Lodge Zetland No 391 have also donated £100 to the Grangemouth Litter team (colloquially known as the Glitter Squad) who not only pick up litter but also supply much needed care and attention to the various flower beds and floral displays around the town, including the area around the War Memorial, (left) £200 to Cunningham House, which will be used for the comfort of the residents particularly as they have been isolated even from close family members (right), £200 to Grangemouth Old Person’s Welfare (Talbot House) to enhance their new improved patio area (below), £200 to Carrongrange School (which for obvious reasons they don't encourage visitors to the school at this time) and to the NU2U project, £200 who continue providing much needed support to those families suffering privation through the effects of furlough or even redundancy.

391

Lodge Abercromby No 531 donated £100 to Plus Forth Valley.

793RWM Brother Jim Bennie and PM Brother Alex Muir visited the Forth Valley Sensory Centre in Camelon and present a cheque for £100 on behalf of Lodge Polmont No 793. Lodge Polmont also donated £200 to Ettrick Dochart Food Bank in Hallglen

 

139139Being aware that the restrictions relating to Covid-19 have had a massive effect on charities whose incomes and donations have been affected, Brother Charlie McVicar, Almoner of Lodge Carron No 139, had a clear out of his drinks cabinet and along with some well received bottles from several friends and family, organised three successful on-line raffles and raised the wonderful sum of £1800.00. This was split between three worthy charities, receiving £600 each. The recipient's were, Combat Stress in Ayr, Prostate Scotland and Forth Valley Giving (NHS). When done Charlie and all who donated. Below are pics of the presentations.139

1303As Master of  Lodge Clackmannan No 1303, Brother Robert Hunter had the privilege to hand over a cheque for £300 to The Gate Foodbank in Alloa. They also donated 8 tins of sweets to the local Nursing Homes for the Residents, Ludgate, Parklands, Beechwood, Hillview and Marchglen.

 

0076Brother Paul Millar on behalf of Lodge Stirling Royal Arch No 76 handed over a cheque for £160 to Start Up Stirling, part of the proceeds from an online Quiz and Curry Night.

 

139Several Lodges arranged visits to Brethren who were in isolation and confined to their homes.

Lodge Carron No 139 organised and delivered goodie bags to the Senior Brethren and their partners and to the Widows of departed Brethren (right). More photos are available on their Facebook page facebook

 

176176Lodge St Andrew (Denny and Loanhead) No 176 who made a fantastic effort by delivering meals to senior members and widows (left).They also made headline news in the Falkirk Herald, when once again a team of drivers headed by RWM James Wilson delivered over 100 Christmas dinners to some of their senior members and widows (right).

176 were unable to stage the annual treat for senior members and widows in 2021. Instead chef Alistair MacDonald prepared 120 meals and 15 members of the Lodge distributed them to the senior members and widows(below).

176 

Masters, Secretaries and Almoners have all been busy keeping in touch with the Brethren throughout the lockdown. Telephone calls, e-mails, facebook and other social media sites and web site postings etc. have all been used. Some Lodges have even went high tech and had “zoom” meetings on-line, to communicate, Lodge Stirling Royal Arch No 76 and Lodge Abercromby No 531, to name two.

911911Outwith the Lodges themselves many Brethren have been volunteering and assisting in the wider community.

For example Denny and Bonnybridge Lodge members joined hands to create a thank you garden in the Denny area for the NHS.

 

pglspglsDespite the lockdown the Annual Two Bridges Six Provinces Charity Cycle Run organised, I think by the PGL of Edinburgh, took place and a number of Brethren from the Province took part, raising much needed funds for MND Scotland. See link. facebook

 

Strathcarron Five
Strathcarron Hospice, like many other organisations, suffered badly in the Covid 19 crisis and their much needed income from donations has been severely cut. As an independent hospice, Strathcarron relies on the continued support of donors to keep its services running. The charity needs to raise £12,900 a day in order to continue to provide specialist care, love and support to people throughout Forth Valley, Cumbernauld & Kilsyth.
During the month of September 2020 five Brethren from within the Province of Stirlingshire, Andrew Goodwin, Norman Bridgeman, David Wilson, George Sturrock & Kevin McCallum, took part in Strathcarron's "Saddle up for Strathcarron" challenge, arranged to boost donations. This required them to cycle 328km or 204 miles during the month. They have all now successfully completed the challenge and have raised between them in excess of £3700. A fantastic effort.

The Annual Poppy Appeal was also badly affected by the Pandemic. Provincial Grand Lodge decided to purchase 24 Poppy Crosses. The Crosses had the name of Provincial Grand Lodge of Stirlingshire and the Name and Number of all the Lodges in the Province on them along with the dedication Lest we Forget. Poppy Scotland will planted these personalised crosses in the Field of Remembrance in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh on the Lodges behalf

During the enforced lockdown a number of Lodges have taken the opportunity to carry out works to their premises.

The Brethren of Lodge Dolphin took the opportunity to extensively re-decorate the Lodge premises during the month of May.

139312Lodge Carron have undertaken various works within the Lodge. Click on the links to view the details.  Web site or facebook (left) and Lodge Bannockburn Bruce and Thistle No 312 have been refurbishing their lounge with the assistance of Brethren from various Lodges. Details can be viewed on their Facebook page. facebook (right).
 

Lodge Abercromby No 531 have carried out roof repairs and are planning a fund raising quiz to assist with the monies for the repairs.

Lodge St John Falkirk No 16 Lodge carried out significant maintenance.

Lodge Strathendrick Balfron No 780 carried out significant maintenance and external painting works in the month of July.

176Lodge St Andrew (Denny and Loanhead) No 176 carried out Major drainage work at the Lodge premises.

 

Some however have not been as lucky, in particular Lodge Ben Cluech No 782, who during the period suffered an attempted break-in, an arson attack and vandalism to the front of their premises. Thankfully insurance covered the majority of the works required to clean up and repair the damage caused and the Lodge is to be commended on its efforts to get the necessary repair works done and the Lodge back ready for when we can re-open.

During the Pandemic a page was created on Facebook called “Scottish Constitution Freemasonry Support” which recorded the fantastic work being done by Scottish Freemasons all over the world to assist in the battle against Covid19. This site was backed by Grand Lodge and can be accessed by this link. facebook

Even through these trying times the Brethren paid fitting tribute to the fallen on Remembrance Sunday. Lodges such as Lodge Craiginnan Dollar No 850, Lodge Callendar No 588, Lodge Buchanan Killearn 1419 and Lodge Camelon No 1456 donated direct to Poppy Scotland rather than lay wreaths this year, whilst other Lodges continued to lay wreaths at local memorials. Pictured below are a few.

312312A number of Lodge Bannockburn Bruce and Thistle No 312 Brethren attended the local Cenotaph in Bannockburn.

391391RWM Brother John Russell and PM Brother Sandy Todd laid wreaths on behalf of Lodge Zetland No 391 and Dundas RAC at the Grangemouth Cenotaph and also donated direct to Poppy Scotland.

RWM Brother Norman Bridgeman, Lodge of Alloa No 69, had the privilege to lay the poppy wreath on behalf of the Brethren of the Lodge at the War Memorial in Alloa.

911911RWM Brother David Morris and DM Brother Victor Macgrain laid a Poppy Scotland Wreath at Bonnybridge Memorial Gardens on behalf of Lodge Dolphin No 911.

793793Brother John Curry had the privilege of laying the wreath at the Cenotaph on behalf of the Brethren of Lodge Polmont No 793.

13031303Brothers John Bartle and Alex Campbell laid a wreath on behalf of the RWM, Office Bearers and Brethren of Lodge Clackmannan No 1303.

 

598Lodge St John Tulliallan No 598 laid a wreath at the Kincardine Memorial.

RWM Brother Jim Wilson laid a wreath on behalf of Lodge St Andrew (Denny and Loanhead) No 176 at the Denny & Dunipace War Memorial and WJW Brother Ian McVicar produced a number of different sized poppies from recycled wood including the one pictured.

139139The Almoner of Lodge Carron No 139 Brother Charlie MacVicar along with other Brethren and on behalf of the Lodge visited several local Cenotaphs and Monuments to pay their respects to the Fallen and PM Brother Ian Barron laid a wreath on behalf at the Dobbie Hall, Larbert.

 

0076Brother Paul Millar PM Lodge Stirling Royal Arch No 76 had the honor and privilege to lay a wreath on behalf of the Lodge at the Church of the Holy Rude in Stirling.

 

0016The Brethren of Lodge St John Falkirk No 16 laid a wreath at the Falkirk Memorial.

 

I am sure many Brethren, throughout the Province and beyond, will have made individual donations to Poppy Scotland, which i know will be gratefully accepted and faithfully applied, and will have paid their own respects in one way or another.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Poppy

Rober BurnsEven in these trying times several Lodges still had virtual celebrations of one of our most well known and respected Brethren. I of course mean Brother Robert Burns. Lodges throughout the Province and out with still celebrated with Burns Suppers to keep the spirits of the Brethren up.

 

Unfortunately during the period of the pandemic we have lost a number of well-known Brethren. Our condolences go to the families, friends and Lodges of those Brethren and I am in no doubt, that when we get back to normality, fitting tributes will be paid to all Brethren who have Passed to the Grand Lodge Above.

Brother Neil George PM - Lodge Carron No 139

Brother Andrew Mailer - Lodge Polmont No 793

Brother Jim Meikle Snr - Lodge St John Slamannan No 484

Brother Livi Waugh - Lodge St John Tulliallan No 598

Brother Walter Livingstone PM - The Lodge of Alloa No 69

Brother Brendan Bernard - Lodge Ben Cleuch No.782

Brother Sam Reid PM - Lodge St Andrew (Denny & Loanhead) No.176

Brother David Connell - Lodge Dolphin No 911

Brother James McLean - Lodge Bannockburn Bruce and Thistle No 312

Brother Bob Newlands PM - Lodge St John Tulliallan No 598

Brother David Hagen - Lodge Dolphin No 911

Brother James Dick - Lodge Zetland No 391

Brother William McCormack PM - Lodge Ancient Stirling No.30

Brother Lindsay Wannan - Lodge Carron No 139

Brother George Green - Lodge Clackmannan No 1303

Brother R Innes Gray PM - Lodge Polmont No 793

Brother Brian Brown - Lodge Stirling Royal Arch No 76

Brother Erik Macura - Lodge Stirling Royal Arch No 76

Brother Alexander Cowbrough PM - Lodge Ben Cluech No 782

Brother Bobby Wilson - Lodge Carron No139

Brother William Sneddon - Affiliate to Lodge Camelon No 1456

Brother Morris Caldwell Graham - Lodge Camelon No 1456

Brother Robert Blair - Lodge Camelon No 1456

Brother George Rough PM - Lodge Ancient Stirling No 30

Brother Sandy Watson - The Lodge of Alloa No 69

Brother Tom Russell - Lodge Clackmannan No 1303

Brother Alistair Aitken - Lodge St John Tulliallan No 598

Brother Robert Blair - Lodge Dolphin No 911

Brother Harry Carson - Lodge Dolphin No 911

Brother Walter Bilsland PM - Lodge Buchanan No 1419

Brother William Sneddon - Lodge Dolphin No 911

Brother Robert Stuart - Lodge Carron No 139

Brother Sandy Robertson - The Lodge of Alloa No 69

Brother Ferguson Smith - Lodge Camelon No 1456

Brother John Carson - Lodge Camelon No 1456

Brother Roy McAlpine - Lodge Bannockburn Bruce and Thistle No 312

Brother James Watson Broadfoot PM Lodge Ancient Stirling No 30

Brother James Cassidy PM - Affiliate Member of Lodge Carron No. 139

Brother Francis Cairney PM - Lodge Ancient Stirling No 30

Brother Danny Reynolds - Lodge Abercromby No 531

Brother James Hayworth Lodge Dolphin No 911

Brother George Moffat - Lodge Carron No 139

Brother James Brown - Lodge Ladywell No 1474

Brother Andrew Tonner - Lodge Zetland No 391

Brother James Fallas PM - Lodge Strathendrick No 780

Brother Steven RM Conlin PM - Lodge Camelon 1456

Brother George Porter Johnstone Dickson - Lodge Camelon 1456

Brother Colin Terris Wyse -PM, PPGM, - Lodge St Servanus No 771

Just to conclude on more general note

In June, the reign of Brother Alistair Marshall, as Provincial Grand Master, came to an end and Brother Gordon Sewell took over. However due to the pandemic the actual installation was delayed. Click here to see the new team.

Although Grand Lodge was unable to operate as usual, the the Grand Master Mason still awarded Honorary Grand Rank out to deserving Brethren in November. One Brother within our Province was honoured by the Grand Master Mason, that being Brother John Galloway of Lodge St John Falk irk No 16 who was awarded the Honorary Grand Rank of Organist.

Grand Lodge has over the period issued regular communications, updates and guidance, and we are grateful to the Grand Master for these updates. They can all be seen by clicking here.

One of the more pleasant of these communications was to advise the Brethren that Brother William Semple, Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Perthshire West, had been appointed Grand Secretary and will take up the appointment in mid-September and we wish him well in that position.

pdfAt the time of updating this article Grand Lodge have advised that here will be no Masonic gatherings or meetings (including Committee meetings) in Scotland until at least June 2021, when the situation will be reviewed,

To be continued.

 

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