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For reasons of declining masonic membership in the last 10 years there have been few consecrations of new lodges. It was thought better to save lodges from closing rather than create new ones. However, it is clear now that there is no evidence to suggest that the birth of new lodges has contributed in any way to the cessation of others. Furthermore, Grand Lodge is enthusiastic about the formation of themed lodges as they are seen to be more relevant in today’s society. Themed lodges are nothing
new; all you have to do is think of golf and freemasonry, and you will undoubtedly be reminded of lodges such as Links Lodge and Vectis Fairway.
The Provincial Grand Master is therefore very keen to see the formation of new themed lodges and, having thrown the gauntlet into the ring, it was promptly picked up by Assistant Provincial Grand Master Jonathan Whittaker, who led a team of scouting masons to consecrate the Pax Hill Lodge.
As a keen follower of
rugby and having played
for a number of teams
at varying standards, I
can safely say that there
are similarities between
the game of rugby
and freemasonry. The
foremost of these is the
reliance on teamwork in
a rugby XV and a masonic
lodge. In both rugby and
freemasonry it is vital that
the team works together
to ultimately succeed in
what you are trying to
achieve, whether it be
to win the game or to
complete a successful
ceremony. Secondly is
the camaraderie that
exists in both. In 1984 I was lucky enough to tour New Zealand for two and a half months with an England schools team. The friends I made in that team some 30 years ago have remained so and will be friends for life, as will the friends I have made through freemasonry. I also remember my father was a huge supporter of the teams I played for and remember him meeting many of his masonic friends in the clubhouse wherever we played. The links between the two are strong and have always been there.
When I first discussed the option of a rugby lodge with the Provincial Cabinet, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Graham Williams, supplied me with a small number of names of brethren located in the Portsmouth area who had links with the game of rugby. On my visits around the area it soon became evident that there wouldn’t be a shortage of interest and before long I had 97 prospective founders. At the time of signing the Grand Lodge petition, the number of founders had reduced to 45, still a strong number and with many of the originals wanting to become joining members once the lodge was up and running. The future was already looking bright for the new lodge.
In 2012 I had the sad duty to preside at the closing ceremony of a lodge in Horndean. After the meeting I enquired what was to be done with the lodge regalia and found out that nothing had been planned. I suggested that, if we could keep the name of Hilsea Bastion alive in some way such as in the name of the new rugby lodge, then perhaps we could use the now redundant
regalia. This was agreed with the lodge members and at the first founders meeting the name Rugby Bastion Lodge was adopted. Thus, all the regalia, which still bears the Hilsea Bastion lodge number, and the Worshipful Master’s collar and the names of the last two Masters of the lodge, so generously donated by Hilsea Bastion and founding Chaplain Brian Howlett, will act as a constant reminder of the indisoluable link between the two lodges.
Also agreed at the first founders meeting were the names of the principal officers; Primus Master Mark Mills-Goodlet, and founding Senior Warden Bill Withers, Junior Warden Tom Jones and Immediate Past Master Graham Williams. With members from every corner of the province it was also agreed by the founders to hold the meetings around the province. The lodge will be based at the Purbrook Masonic Centre, but in the first year will hold its meetings in Cowes, Farnborough and Horndean before the returning to Purbrook for the installation meeting.
The founders wanted to make sure that the lodge is modern and vibrant. The lodge will therefore tyle at 6:30 pm which means that the working man has ample time to attend lodge. We will also ensure that we keep the meetings short and interesting by introducing some brevity measures such as circulating all reports, short squaring the lodge, taking all three risings as one whilst keeping to the traditional ritual. This will ensure that, despite the late start time, dinner will finish at a reasonable hour rather than dragging on long into the evening.
I have been staggered by the generosity of some of the founders given the time they have dedicated towards making our dream a reality, and also for the financial donations for the masonic bits and bobs that we needed to purchase. These brethren know who they are and I thank them on behalf of the other founders and the province. I have also been surprised by the support and offers of advice I have received from the other rugby lodges around the county. Again I express my thanks, to the Adrian
Davies Lodge of Rugby, the Webb Ellis Lodge and the Rugby Lodge.
The new lodge was consecrated by the Provincial Grand Master, Mike Wilks on 10th October 2014. After the consecration ceremony, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Mark Mills-Goodlet was installed as Master by fellow APGM Geoff Tuck. At the festive board that followed the 9
Insight • Issue 9
new Master spoke very movingly and thanked the lodge founders and the provincial team for all their hard work in making the Rugby Bastion Lodge a reality. This is the second lodge to be formed in the province in as many years, the former being the Pax Hill Lodge, which consists of members who have a particular interest in the scouting movement, remembering that the founder of scouting, Lord Baden-Powell, was also a mason..
Mark Mills-Goodlet - @MAMGoodlet

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