MEET THE FREEMASONS
Membership of Masonic Lodges in Sunderland is varied and extensive, but here is a selection of local Freemasons with their views on what Freemasonry means to them.
Richard is a lecturer and is a member of Ernest Dixon Lodge No.7856
"I love to learn, regardless of what the subject is, and so I have a broad range of interests. As such, I relish a pub quiz! I enjoy cycling, film, fell-walking, watching football and, much to the annoyance of everyone around me, singing badly."
"I always wanted to join Freemasonry from my late teens, having extensively read about it, but I didn't really know how to go about it. I later discovered that my father-in-law was a Freemason and he encouraged me to apply. I wanted to join as I was fascinated by the philosophical aspects of the organisation that I had read about and wanted to be part of something that had existed for hundreds of years and was bigger than myself."
"To me, the most important part of Freemasonry is the journey of self-discovery that it puts you on, coupled with the fantastic friendship and support you receive from your Masonic brothers. We live in times of the social network, where people unfortunately have friends lists rather than actual, genuine friendships. Younger people often say they lack a sense of belonging. Freemasonry for me is the antidote to this - it is the 'original' and an authentic social network. Out of this bond of friendship comes all the good deeds the organisation does, not least the charity work we do."
"You get out of Freemasonry what you put in. Some brethren simply choose to happily belong to the organisation. Others, like myself, enjoy the challenges of Masonic office and I am now involved in various aspects of the charitable and ceremonial sides of the Craft. I really enjoy studying the ritual and delivering it in the Lodge; it's kind of like a play that tells a story and teaches moral lessons. The biggest lesson I'm reminded of every day by my Masonic obligation is to 'endeavour to be the best version of yourself you can be'."
"If you wanted to become a Freemason, I would say 'Ask the people who know what they're talking about.' In other words, us!"
Wayne is an IT professional and is a member of Palatine Lodge No.97
"I’m into music and regularly head out to the local venues to catch some of my favourite bands, as well as supporting some of the local talent, too. Despite not being a massive camping fan, I still find myself drawn to the festivals, having been to two this year, Kendal Calling, and, further afield, Rock Werchter. I take little persuading to head out for beers or a curry. I’ve also just renewed my SAFC season ticket. I took a break during Ellis Short’s last season of ownership, but am back to give them my support now."
"A friend of mine was already a member, and, by chance, we were both working away down in Gosport. We arranged to meet up down there for a beer. It was probably the first chance we’d had to talk openly about his being a Freemason since he’d joined. He explained how the ethos was all about camaraderie and helping your fellow man; not giving each other hand-outs, as people often think, but playing a part in your community and just trying to be a better person. Who can argue against that? He explained some of the history, too, which very much intrigued me. Before you knew it, my application form was in."
"What do I think are the most important parts of Freemasonry? Well, for the organisation as a whole, that’s undoubtedly charity. We do a huge amount for good causes, mostly behind closed doors, but we’re starting to be more vocal about it now; for example, the TLC Appeal (Teddies for Loving Care) provides teddies for local A&E departments. We’ve recently supplied Teddy number 12,000 to Sunderland Royal Hospital Children’s A&E. For me personally, as well as the charitable side, I really enjoy the history and the ritual. The work we perform inside the lodge has been passed through the generations, and it’s a source of personal pride to think that I’m continuing the tradition. I’ve made a lot of good friends, too, from all walks of life."
"The general motto is that 'we make good men better.' You need to have a good moral code, be compassionate to your fellow man (and woman), and be respectful of others. A willingness to get involved and make a difference goes a long way, too. Freemasonry is not for everyone. I have many good friends outside of Freemasonry with zero interest in joining, and I would never try and persuade them otherwise. However, if you think it might be for you, then there is a good chance it is. If you know a Freemason already, ask them about it, if not, give us a shout on here."
Octavian is an entrepreneur and is a member of Mowbray Lodge No.5373
"When I became a student at the University of Sunderland, I had seen Wearside Masonic Temple and became interested in finding out more about Freemasonry. I then discovered that students under the age of 21 can join Freemasonry as part of United Grand Lodge of England's Universities Scheme, which my Lodge participates in."
"I found that the symbolism of Freemasonry is impressive and I was keen on finding out the meaning behind this. I also have an interest and appreciation of great architecture which, whilst Freemasons are not literal builders, is apparent in the organisation's buildings."
"I was born in Romania and moved to the UK when I was young. My parents encouraged me to integrate and there are few organisations that have a more welcoming nature than Freemasonry. I have met people from all different backgrounds and we meet as equals."
"I believe the most important parts of Freemasonry are the charity work that we do and the opportunity for self-discovery and development. A Freemason has a love for life, charity, his community and his fellow brothers. He has a good and positive temperament. He is kind by his nature. If you want to be one, ask - approach a member, go to Masonic events, ask questions and join!"
Bob is a retired engineer and is a member of Fenwick Lodge No.1389
“I have and have had various interests – amongst others, caravanning, cycling, going to the gym, DIY, travel and all things motors! I have also been involved with Scouting, supporting young people in developing skills that they may play an active and full role in society. In many ways, Scouting is similar to Freemasonry as they both have this common belief and it seemed like a natural progression for me to become a Freemason. I was already familiar with Freemasonry as both my parents were Freemasons and a lot of my friends were already involved in it.”
“Helping others, who are not necessarily Freemasons, is probably the most important part of Freemasonry for me. It’s also great for friendship – you make, and continue to make, many friends, you renew old friendships and often you bump into people who you knew many years ago who you didn’t even know were Freemasons.”
“To be a Freemason, you need to be an honest, loyal, helpful and caring person. I would say that a Freemason gives in the fullest sense of the word. If you are interested in Freemasonry, you may thoroughly enjoy it like I do! Never jump to conclusions and doubt something you haven’t tried yourself!”