A Small Token of Appreciation

(Ault Wharrie and Ardnablane)

(An article by Brother Thomas McDonald P.M. Lodge Abercromby No. 531)

I had occasion to visit a brother on business in Dunblane in August 2007. On my way home I took the opportunity to visit the site of the Ault Wharrie and Ardnablane Masonic Homes which were in the process of being demolished to make way for a new housing development.

My attention was arrested by a plaque mounted on a gate pillar that was glinting in the sun as I approached site. The plaque displayed the Grand Lodge of Scotland crest in remarkably good condition.  Enquiries of the site security personnel allowed me to discover that the wall and gate pillars would be demolished in the next few days. This prompted me to immediately speak to the Contractor’s site management staff to explain the significance of the plaque and to ask that they give me time to contact Grand Lodge the next morning with a view to rescuing the plaque.

The next day I spoke to Grand Secretary and asked if I could remove the plaque with the intention of perhaps presenting it to the local museum or to the Lodge of Dunblane No. IX. He gave his permission to remove the plaque and said that my plan to give it to Lodge of Dunblane No. IX was a sound idea. My son and I took the plaque down with the permission of the Contractor’s site management staff at Dunblane that very day.

The plaque was somewhat heavy and after removal we took it do Doctor Elspeth King, the curator of the Smiths museum in Stirling, to ask how best to look after the plaque. She suggested that it be retained in its present condition. I then contacted the Lodge of Dunblane No. IX to gauge what their opinion would be in respect of receiving and displaying the plaque. Their opinion was most favourable.

One might be tempted to ask why the plaque was to be given to the Lodge of Dunblane No. IX. I personally felt that the plaque might represent ‘A Small Token of Appreciation’ to recognise the tremendous support given to the two Masonic Homes by the Lodge of Dunblane No. IX over many years. During the operation of the Homes (Ault Wharrie from 1951 and Ardnablane from 1969) until they closed in 2005, the Lodge of Dunblane No. IX welcomed the able bodied members of the two Homes into their Lodge and made them feel most welcome. I thought that the plaque being displayed in the Lodge of Dunblane No. IX would be a fitting reminder to mark the special connection that the Lodge had with the two former Masonic Homes.

The Lodge of Dunblane No. IX invited me and my son to a meeting of the Lodge a few weeks later when the plaque was duly presented to the Right Worshipful Master.