Sunday 11th November began in thoughtful reflection, when a Congregation of nearly 90 Freemasons, families and friends from across Kent, attended the Museum Armistice Day Service of Remembrance at the Canterbury Masonic Centre to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War.
The moving service was led by W.Bro. Tony Eldridge, Lodge Chaplain, who had sensitively compiled a programme designed to remember, and to give thanks for, all those who gave their lives, or sacrificed their health, in the Great War and other conflicts since.
The order of service, which can be viewed here, also looked ‘to a time of reconciliation’, as the way forward.
The final Blessing, “Go forth into the world in peace…”, encouraged all to take heart and to do all we can to work together for a better world for this, and the next generation.
The carefully chosen hymns, I Vow To Thee My Country, Abide With Me and Jerusalem were accompanied on piano by Tony’s wife, Judy.
Bugler, Bro. Mike West, of Herne Bay played the ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’ adding a special touch to the service.
After the service there was a guided visit to the Canterbury Temple where the 1914-18 Memorial on the north wall commemorates members of Canterbury Lodges who gave their lives in the conflict. There then followed a visit to the Museum, to view the “Great War Exhibition” which has been painstakingly put together by curator, W.Bro. David Birch and his assistant W.Bro. Mike Farrell, which includes a wonderful piece of research by Mrs Sandra Bailey on various Brethren from Kent who had served in WW1.
After the tours 65 people, including W.Bro. Peter Laker MBE of Royal Military Lodge, which lost four members in the Great War, who had been laying a wreath at the Cathedral Service on behalf of Canterbury’s Freemasons, sat down to an excellent family lunch of ‘Tomato Soup, Roast Beef and Old English Apple Pie’, prepared and served by W.Bro Graham Skelton and his team.
Museum & Library Trust Chairman, W.Bro. Roger Waltham, thanked everyone for attending and all who had contributed to this special day in the life of the Museum and Nation, adding some personal reflections about his family members who had served their country in battle.
A copy of the Order of Service and a thoughtful collection of WW1 Poems was given to all who attended, which included ‘special thanks’ from David and Mike to all those who had helped before and on the day, including Tony Eldridge, Sandra Bailey, Sue and Martin Ransom, Linda Johnson, Jim Flower, Graham Cuthbert and David Tyler – and not forgetting all of our wonderful Museum volunteers.
All proceeds and donations arising out of the day will be going to support the essential and continuing work of the Royal British Legion.
Afterwards, W.Bro. David Alexander, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Masonic Province of East Kent commented, “I estimate that I have attended well in excess of 55 Remembrance services during my life and military career, but I have never attended one as memorable as the event hosted by the Kent Museum & Library today. Thank you Tony Eldridge and David Birch for a wonderful event.”