74th Annual Report of the Federation of School Lodges
Report to the Annual Business Meeting to be held at Bradford Grammar School on Saturday 3rd September 2022
73rd Festival hosted by Kingswood School Lodge No. 4197 at Bath on Saturday 23rd October 2021
As we began to emerge from a prolonged period of enforced lockdown due to the global pandemic we were able to enjoy our first Festival for two years, accordingly the 73rd Annual Festival of the Federation was held at Kingswood School, Bath on Saturday 23rd October under the banner of Kingswood School Lodge No. 4197 who were celebrating their 100th year of existence. Michael Jakins SLGR, PPrJGW was in the Chair.
Whilst Kingswood School Lodge is part of the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London, the meeting was held in the Province of Somerset. We were pleased to welcome the Assistant Grand Master, RW Bro Sir David Wootton, the Deputy Metropolitan Grand Master, RW Bro Christopher Hayward, the Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Somerset, RW Bro David Medlock and the Past Provincial Grand Master for Somerset RW Bro David Jenkins.
At the Annual Business Meeting of the Federation RW Bro Sir David Wootton was installed as President and W Bro Michael Button SLGR, PPrJGW as Chairman. The day included the planting of a Centenary Tree, a Chapel Service, an extremely interesting Presentation entitled 'Bath - Grand Lodge's First Provincial Centre' which was followed by a first class reception and Festive Board. A cheque for £500 was presented to the School. A two minute restriction on the length of speeches enabled the AGM and his Escort to catch their train back to the Metropolis. W Bro Michael Jakins had almost single handedly delivered a successful Festival against a difficult backdrop. Later the committee discussed the understandably lower numbers attending (74 compared to 145 at Preston) that had led to a substantial deficit to which, in the special circumstances, the Federation made a significant contribution. The importance of advance testing of any online based application form was stressed.
Management Committee Matters
There were two regular meetings of the committee held on 29th November 2021 and 13th June 2022 and a further (Emergency) meeting on 4th July 2022 to finalise arrangements for the 74th Festival. All are now held via social media (Zoom) thus saving considerable time and expense. The committee focused its attention on the following:
Objectives for 2022
Included in the declared objectives for the year were the expansion of membership, the improvement of communications, public relations within the wider masonic community and various helpful updates including the Guidance Notes for Festival Secretaries.
We have been particularly concerned that Lodges and Chapters should embrace the opportunity to further encourage inter visiting between units in the same area and from time to time when they have a special event, to host a cluster meeting.
The Gavel has proved an ever popular attraction and has traversed the country from the Old Giggleswickians to the Old Kimboltonians at the Festival and then on in March to the Old Wilsonians who had 9 members present at OKs meeting at Mark Masons Hall. Thereafter it went to Old Brentwoods Lodge at their summer meeting on 9th July.
Originally the initiative of W Bro Terry Hall, the Membership Secretary and London Representative who assisted in its launch, it has certainly lived up to the objective in increasing the fun of inter visiting.
Improvements to our website at www.schoollodges.org.uk continue to be made by our Webmaster, W Bro Sarb Singh, and I would urge everyone to take a look at the site from time to time. Lodges and Chapters are encouraged to post details of important upcoming events of interest, thus encouraging attendance. More to come.
Guidance notes for Festival Secretaries
We are grateful to W Bro Ronald Barham for updating this invaluable guide. Next year we will also add a chronological check-list to further assist Festival Organisers.
Memorial table cover
Unfortunately the table cover used at our Annual Business Meetings which had been purchased in memory of W Bro Stuart Craig, a much revered former Joint Secretary, had gone missing following the Festival at Preston. A price is currently being obtained for a replacement.
Support for Ukrainian refugees
The committee were anxious to support the plight of Ukrainian refuges and agreed two amounts of £250 to be donated to the British Red Cross and the Salvation Army specifically for the assistance of Ukrainian refugees settling in the UK.
Need for a Press Officer
We are currently on the lookout for a Press (Public Relations) Officer to join our fully ‘zoomed’ committee. We are seeking wider recognition of events through the medium of the national and provincial masonic press. Hopefully such endeavours will attract additional old school lodges and be of interest to existing members of the Federation.
We have achieved some success during the year with photos and editorials in Arena (London) capturing details of the Festival at Kingswood School and the ‘gavel raid’ by Old Wilsonians at the February meeting of Old Kimboltonians at Mark Masons Hall . Whilst FMT have acknowledged our submissions they have yet to offer us space. With a dedicated press Officer we should be able to focus our effort more effectively
We try to encourage written reports from representatives prior to each committee meeting. During the year we have received enthusiastic reports for many areas where meetings are flourishing following lockdown including a cluster meeting in Essex, visits to many meetings by our ever enthusiastic Arthur Hornsby who looks after Kent, Ken Oliver who reported in detail on each of the Lodges on his patch (West Midlands) and the indefatigable Ronald Barham, who is extremely active in the North. It would appear from these reports that there are more Lodges considering membership than those who have fallen by the wayside.
Recently we welcomed Nick Watts who has taken over as representative for London (A) following the retirement of Graham Milne. Following the death of W Bro Fred Fox and the retirement of W Bro Mike Neville we still have vacancies in South Wales, East Midlands and East Anglia.
Constitution and Rules
Once again we are indebted to the tireless W Bro Ronald Barham (what would we do without him?) for keeping our Constitution up to date.
Public School Lodges Council
The Federation continues to enjoy good relations with the PSLC. I was pleased to attend their Festival at Ardingly College, West Sussex on Saturday 2 nd July along with W Bro Barham.
We were delighted to be able to offer our hearty congratulations to our President, RW Bro David Wootton Assistant Grand Master on hearing of his impending promotion to Deputy Grand Master and also to RW Bro David Medlock, PGM for the Province of Somerset who had been a guest at the Festival at Kingswood School who will become Assistant Grand Master. Both appointments will take effect at the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge on 14 September – 11 days after this year’s Festival.
74th Festival (2022)
Plans for the 74 th Festival to be held in Bradford on 3 rd September 2022 and hosted by the Bradfordians Lodge No. 9886 are well in hand as I write. The scene is set, the publicity is out with the members, the applications are rolling in. It looks like being a bumper Festival for all. Our thanks to the Festival Organisers.
75th Festival (2023)
Looking ahead, outline plans for the 75th Festival to be held at Southend High School for Boys and the local Masonic Centre on 19 th August 2023 and hosted by the Old Southendian Lodge No. 5403 are well under way. It will also be an Essex School Lodges Cluster Meeting.
76th Festival (2024)
The 76th Festival will be held at Kimbolton Castle on 31 st August 2024 and hosted by the Old Kimboltonians’ Lodge No.7204.
Behind the Scenes
My thanks to those who work behind the scenes to keep the wheels turning. The Joint Secretaries, the Joint Membership Secretaries and of course, our Treasurer. They all put in many hours on your behalf.
We shall continue to make improvements in the various areas I have mentioned and I hope that more of you will want to join in: particularly attending the Festivals and also in visiting other Federation Lodges when the opportunity arises.
In visiting just a few of the many Lodges in our extended family I have been struck not only by the warmth of the welcome shown to me and my colleagues but also by a very strong sense of integrity of purpose amongst individual masons. Our younger brethren have chosen to seek out this very special quality which, sadly, is not always available to them in the world outside today.
Michael Button SLGR, PPrJGW (Somerset)
Taunton School Lodge No. 8215
Federation of School Lodges