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When the masonic Province of Hampshire came into being on 28th February 1767, the then Grand Master chose Thomas Dunckerley to be its leader. Five years later, the Province of Isle of Wight was formed and Thomas Dunckerley was also appointed its Provincial Grand Master, making him the leader of two separate provinces, albeit not far removed.
In the history of the Island’s East Medina Lodge, written in 1913, the authors make reference to the craft as “in all probability at work on the Island from somewhere about 1750” and make mention of “considerable masonic activity generally on the Island”. The first documented evidence that exists dates from 1761 when Medena (now Medina) Lodge, originally warranted in London in 1733, re-formed in Cowes under a warrant from the new United Grand Lodge of England. As it happens, this is now the only lodge still working over which Dunckerley had jurisdiction. A second, Vectis Lodge of Peace and Concord (now Albany) was consecrated in 1796 in Newport and over the next few years four more lodges would appear on the Island. Of these only Medina, Albany (formed in 1801) and East Medina (formed in 1813) survive to this day.
The Isle of Wight remained a separate province for almost 100 years. However, in 1869 when Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Lucius Curtis, PGM for Hampshire died, records show there was no serving PGM on the Isle of Wight. The Grand Master therefore finally sealed the union of both provinces by appointing the Right Honourable William Beach MP as Provincial Grand Master of the conjoined Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight, since when it has remained so.
Today Freemasonry is still very active on the Isle of Wight, with 17 lodges meeting at 9 masonic centres around the Island. To find
out more about freemasonry on the Isle of Wight, please visit
For the ninth year, Steve Marsh of Sandown Lodge has made the 3,000 plus mile round trip to the Stupini Kids orphanage in Brasov, Romania and is already preparing for the tenth consignment. Steve and his Wight Hope team again plan to deliver food, toys, clothes, medicine, toiletries and other donated commodities that have made their grim lives that little bit happier. Steve was accompanied by five fellow Island masons in three transit vans, each loaded to the gunwales with supplies donated throughout the year to TJ’s Gym on the Spithead Industrial Estate.
The link with Brasov was formed when Steve was a retained fireman at Shanklin. He and other firefighters had been asked by Rotarian Bill Wyke if they would be prepared to drive humanitarian aid to a centre in Brasov that supported several projects, including street and impoverished children with both basic and educational needs. Several car washing and other fundraising events later, the first convoy snaked its way to Brasov and back, which is now a well-worn route. When Steve left the fire brigade in 2007 he was determined to continue the project they had started.
Mick Poole
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity have been supporting Air Ambulances throughout the country since 2007. The total donated now stands as £1.3m including £34,000 to our local Air Ambulance. The Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Kent, is pictured on the cover during a recent visit to Newport when he opened the Helipad and met members of the crew.
“Dave Edwards, Paul Wray and Tony Delannoy have been my partners for the many trips and this year we were joined by Rob Newton and Jim McGovern,” said Steve. “Over the years, we have seen young children grow into adulthood, attend college and university, and all through the support the centre gives them. Some have returned with social work skills to volunteer and help the next generation come through. Our small contribution of clothes, medicines and toiletries through to second-hand computers have helped and enriched their lives.” he continued.
What Steve and his team discovered on their early visits were stark levels of deprivation. Often children would live in a one room apartment with up to 17 other people with no space or quality time to do their homework. “On top of this, we met a gentleman who was looking for some help to support an institution for adults with learning difficulties. Having visited the place, it was apparent they were still in the 19th century. For instance, there were 6 members of staff to 120 residents, all with different levels of autism, dementia and all manner of conditions. You name it, it was there. We have now adopted a dormitory for 12 people, and send funds to decorate and provide the occasional orange or banana. These are real luxury items for the residents. Our visit is often the only one some residents receive all year. It’s worth it just for the smiles and the hugs. The Facebook page ‘Angels of Mai’ will tell people more.”
The project continues to grow and each visit uncovers ever greater need. During the latest trip, the team met a girl they first came across at the original centre, who was now helping at an orphanage for children with learning difficulties. “This year, we particularly need more of the basics, including medicines for kids, toiletries for all ages, clean clothes boxed by age group if possible, and of course money. We give our time and pay for all our own food and hotels, but diesel, ferries, insurance and van hire amounts to nearly £1,800 per van,” said Steve. “We drive around 600 miles per day, each trip taking us through several central European countries, three days each way. But the effort is all made worthwhile by the delight on the childrens’ faces after eating a wholesome meal and playing with their new toys.” Steve Marsh
Insight • Issue 7 8

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