Another Surprise Visit by the AGM in 2014
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RW Bro. David Kenneth Williamson, the Assistant Grand Master (AGM) and the President of the Universities’ Scheme of the United Grand Lodge of England, visited Hotspur Lodge No. 1626 on Friday 21st February 2014. It was the AGM’s last official visit to the Province of Northumberland before he retires on 12th March 2014, when his successor Sir David Wootton will be installed as AGM. RW Bro. Williamson was accompanied by the Deputy Chairman of the Scheme, W Bro. Daniel Johnson PProvGSwdB (Oxon).

The purpose of his visit was to lend support to Hotspur Lodge in conferring a triple Initiation ceremony for the first time in living memory. (Hotspur is possibly the first Lodge to do so within the Province.) The ceremony was well rehearsed, went very smoothly and was witnessed by about 60 brethren including a large number of visiting brethren.

Members of the Provincial Executive were in attendance to welcome the distinguished guests from London. They were RW Bro. Peter Magnay DL, Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro. John James Craigs, Deputy Provincial Grand Master and W Bro. David Melvin, Assistant Provincial Grand Master. The Provincial Liaison Officer for the Scheme, W Bro. John Chan, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master, was also present.

Following the Initiation ceremony, the Provincial Grand Master presented W Bro. Richard S. Herford PProvJGW with a 50 Years Certificate for his long and continuous service to Freemasonry.

At the end of the meeting, RW Bro. Williamson gave a short introduction as to the reason for his visit and then introduced W Bro. Johnson who gave a short presentation on the purpose and progress of the Universities’ Scheme. W Bro. Johnson informed the brethren that it was nearly 200 years ago that the first university Lodge, Apollo University Lodge, was founded at Oxford, with Isaac Newton University Lodge following soon afterwards at Cambridge. Since then many thousands of young men have been introduced to Freemasonry through these 2 Lodges, and they provided the inspiration for the Universities’ Scheme which was set up at the beginning of 2005 with the objective: ‘To establish and/or enhance arrangements and opportunities for undergraduates and other university members to enjoy Freemasonry’.

The brethren were updated on the success of the scheme. In October 2011 there were 49 Scheme Lodges from 9 regions plus 1 district overseas. By January 2013 there were 55 Scheme Lodges in total from 9 regions plus 2 districts and by the end of 2013 there were 58. Today there are now 59 with 1 joining in the near future.

At the Festive Board the Worshipful Master, W Bro. Christopher Barnes who himself came to Hotspur through the Universities’ Scheme, welcomed all the guests, in particular distinguished guests the Assistant Grand Master and the Provincial Grand Master. Following the toast to Grand Lodge, RW Bro. Williamson gave a reply and thanked the Lodge for their very warm welcome. He also congratulated the Worshipful Master and his Officers for the very excellent triple Initiation ceremony in particular as it was the first meeting after the Installation of the new Officers. He also congratulated the Junior Warden on his delivery of the tools and charge and the way that the Junior Deacon had conducted the candidates. He also personally congratulated the 3 newly made Initiates. He said that he was proud to be an Honorary Member of the Lodge. In view of his imminent retirement RW Bro Williamson also said that he really had enjoyed his health being ‘toasted’ over the past 13 years.

As the President of the Universities’ Scheme, the AGM thanked the Provincial Grand Master for his full and continuous support of the Scheme within the Province since 2009 and thanked the Provincial Liaison Officer for his hard work and guidance in helping the 2 Scheme Lodges in this Province, Hotspur and Duke of Connaught, get off the ground and to get to the level of success enjoyed today. He said that he was also grateful to the Lodge Secretary, W Bro. Philippe Pagès, for the invitation as well as his help in arranging his visit to Newcastle and for the tremendous work that he had done for the whole evening.

In response to the toast to the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro Peter Magnay welcomed the AGM to the Province and thanked him for his visit and support. He echoed many of the sentiments expressed by the AGM regarding the evening and said that as he is also retiring this year, it was a fitting occasion for both to be enjoying the hospitality of Northumbrian Freemasonry.

The following photographs mark this happy, unique and unforgettable occasion.

W Bro. Herford receiving his 50th Certificate from PGM

(L-R): PGM, AGM, Provincial Liaison Officer and Deputy PGM

(L-R): AGM, 3 Newly Made Initiates and WM


Members of Hotspur Lodge with their Distinguished Guests



United Grand Lodge of England