Septem Lodge No 7788
The Septem Lodge, like all Lodges suspended their meetings on the instructions of the United Grand Lodge of England with effect from Wednesday 18th March 2020, following its last regular meeting held on Saturday 14th March 2020.
Immediately, thoughts turned to how the Lodge could stay together and communicate during the first Government lockdown. Brother Jason Kemp and Worshipful Brother Kevin Kemp (no relation) came up with the idea of using the Zoom platform as a means of keeping in touch with each other on a regular basis, the idea was floated to all Lodge members by e-mail and on Friday the 20th March 2020, the first Zoom call was held, 23 members attending.
Initially, the call was going to be finished in 40 minutes as that was the maximum time allowed by the platform, but when the calls started, Zoom had already removed any time limits on the free version and so that first call lasted about 2 hours. All calls thereafter lasted for approx. 2 hours and included the toast to absent brethren at every meeting. Nobody thought that we would be using the platform for the next 50 weeks consecutively, not even missing Christmas day or New Years day.
These Zoom calls served two purposes, first to ensure that everybody was keeping well, then to ensure that nobody who needed help was without help in a time of need, and second, to ensure the regular contact with members of the Lodge was maintained which helped with the feeling of loneliness.
In the early days of the lockdown, the Lodge had several key workers, delivery drivers, road workers etc. who kept delivering the essential goods to the supermarkets as well as keeping the roads in good order to keep the traffic flowing and drivers safe.
These key workers were shift workers and many of them were out working on a Friday evening, thus making it impossible for them to attend, so undeterred, Bro Jason, and W.Bro Kevin organized a 2nd Zoom meeting on a Tuesday afternoon so that those who missed out on Friday, could attend on a Tuesday, any member of the Lodge could attend both. The alternative meetings came to an end when the initial lockdown ended, but the Friday meetings continued without interruption.
Two additional regular visitors began attending our meetings, W.Bro Mark Bassant and W.Bro David Graeme, both of whom have attended the annual Septem Lodge visit to Lodge 50 Spinoza Lodge, of the Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium to attend the annual Installation meeting, they also brought to the Zoom meetings, their usual brand of humour and drinks to every meeting that they have attended their usual bottles of Gin with large amounts of tonic, or is it the other way round.
The Zoom meetings have also been graced regularly by the 2 Belgian Members of our Lodge, Bro Hendrik Huys, the current DC of Spinoza and W.Bro Marc Bauwens a Past Master in the RGLB, Bro Hendrik taking a position as Steward of the Lodge and Bro Marc being the Organist of the Lodge. As the Zoom calls have progressed various things have happened, more of our friends from the Belgium side have been joining and have become involved, the friendship between the two lodges has become even stronger during these strange times and we have begun to see our proposed joining members from Spinoza come along to our Zoom meetings.
Not only members of the Lodge have been encouraged to attend, we encourage potential new members, joining members, wives and partners, as well as friends of the Lodge to attend and take part in the camaraderie and the fun that we have. Each meeting has some sort of theme, with the 50th meeting having Gold as its theme.
We were totally surprised on the 50th meeting when our Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro Neil Hamilton Johnstone joined the call to congratulate the members and everybody else on the call for their willingness to take part, their longevity and commitment, he stressed that we should all strive to stay in touch and communicate with each other and to help each other when it was needed, but most of all, to have fun and be happy. It was an honour and privilege to have the PGM take the time out of his busy schedule to join us.
Benefitting Charities and raising money for the 2025 Festival
Talking about having fun, our current Worshipful Master, W.Bro John Newman came up with an idea during one of the Zoom calls, of a ‘Doll’ doing the rounds, a person receiving the ‘doll’ must have a photograph of the ‘doll’ being with them during the time she was with them. The travels of Doris were born and continues whilst the Zoom calls continue. For more news of the travels of ‘Doris’ please see the brand new Septem Lodge Website at www.septem7788.co.uk for photographic evidence and the journal of her travels.
It is used as a means to raise money for the Lodge Benevolent Fund to continue the support of local charities that we as a Lodge support, the ‘Judge’ who levies fines for whatever reason he sees fit was elected by the people attending the calls is W.Bro David Graeme who is very lenient in terms of levying the fines, (in the author’s opinion).
Talking of fundraising, our Secretary received a call from a Dorset Freemason, he was raising money for that Province’s 2025 Festival by producing and selling a Naval Style Cable Tow, with a specially tied naval Knot, these Cable Tows include the colours of a Lodge’s Banner, using the Zoom platform the Secretary asked for donations from members, in typical fashion the members pledged £100 to purchase 2 Cable Tows, one member, Bro Tom Webster pledging to buy one outright, it took two minutes to raise the necessary funds, the Lodge is now the proud owner of 2 ‘Nautical’ Cable Tows, just shows the power of using the Zoom platform.
Another fundraising idea came from Bro John Miller, he has gone to another Lodge member, W.Bro Pete Sparrow to have a special lapel pin designed, which will be sold to any person who attended a Zoom call, the profits of which will be donated to the 2025 Festival objective, every little helps.
The Zoom platform has certainly helped the members of the Septem lodge to remain together, to look out for each other and ensure that everybody is surviving in the darkest of times, we would certainly encourage every Lodge to have a go at using the platform, go on give it a go, you never know, you might like it.
The Septem weekly Zoom calls will continue for as long as the lockdown continues, but as we write, the light at the end of the tunnel is fast approaching and hopefully we will be able to get together to continue our special bond of brotherhood as we always have, the sooner the better for all of us.
By Kevin Kemp