Photo. The advance party makes their way to the wreath laying ceremony.
The organiser of the trip, W.Bro Kevin Kemp, had made contact with the Last Post Association based in Belgium, who were responsible for the Menin Gate and the evening tribute to the fallen, to ask if we could take part in the ceremony on this evening, this was granted and four of our party, dressed as Freemasons, wearing collars were able to lay a wreath in memory of the fallen, Attention was drawn to the start of the ceremony by a bugle call, then the Last Post was played by the Buglers after which, W.Bro Peter Guise,
Current Worshipful Master of the Septem Lodge, W.Bro Mark Bassant, APGM, W.Bro David Graeme ProvGSec and W.Bro Kevin Kemp, PPrDepGReg, Secretary of the Septem Lodge, formed the escort to the Worshipful Master as the Wreath was laid.
Every member of the party was visibly moved by the ceremony, but as the only armed forces veteran, W.Bro Kevin was pleased to see the respect and support that the group had given to make this possible, as a mark of respect to the fallen men who could not come home.
Many of the party were not aware that the thousands of names engraved in to the beautiful stonework of the Menin Gate represented the fact that these men had made that ultimate sacrifice, but they had never been found, nor did they have a marked grave. Some of the photographs will show you this, but the size of the Menin Gate which is covered with names, is truly astounding.
The amount of people who attended the ceremony is amazing, from small children to older veterans, everybody came and paid their respects.
The camaraderie that was shown, is incredible, with many people coming to us and shaking our hands with a greeting of “Hello Brother” other Freemasons in the crowds of people from Warwickshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and the Midlands who were just paying their respects, but we only discovered after the ceremony that the first party to lay a wreath were from the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment and it was the Dover Branch of the Parachute Association, as always, during conversations, a potential new candidate was found amongst one of these veterans.
After the ceremony and an hours ride back to the hotel, everybody was free to do what they wished, most went for dinner and a small amount of socialising, then back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep for the next day.
The photo shows, from left to right, David Graeme, Mark Bassant, Peter Guise and Kevin Kemp.
Photo. The Brethren Unite.
Arriving in good time to prepare for the meeting, it was great to meet up with old friends, some of whom we had not seen in almost two years but, who still gave us that warm welcome back that we had all missed, the bonds of the fraternity still as strong as it always is.
Forming up to be escorted in to the Lodge, we made our way to our seats to take part in and observe a full Installation of the new Worshipful Master of the Spinoza Lodge, W.Bro Didier Verschure.
A ceremony that was conducted in the Flemish language, but one which we could all understand through the symbolism and ritual, everything happening in the same way as the UK.
After the meeting, we moved on to the Festive board, a superb meal was served, speeches given from Freemasons from Belgium, England, France Germany and Holland, a truly international meeting.
Presentations were made from W.Bro Peter Guise of a certificate of Fellowship and Friendship to the newly installed Master, and a presentation of a Septem Lodge Past Masters Jewel was also made, not to be worn in Lodge but afterwards at the Festive Board.
This is to signify something special between the two Lodges, to be presented by the Newly Installed Master to the Immediate Past Master each year as a new tradition as had been done with the presentation of a Spinoza Jewel to the Master of the Septem Lodge for passing on to his successor as had been done in previous years.
During the Festive Board, a surprise for W.Bro Colin North, he had given himself a challenge of riding a Lawnmower from Lands’ End to John ’O Groats to set a new Guinness book of World Record, to raise much needed funds for the Motor Neurone Disease, Kenward Trust and 2025 Festival for the MCF Charities.
The members of the Spinoza Lodge presented him with £400 as a donation for his attempt, visibly emotional Colin thanked the members of the Spinoza Lodge and gave a brief talk as to why he had chosen the three charities he was supporting, this was received well and a suitable ovation was given.
At the end of the evening, all brethren retired and did some socialising with each other, names and addresses were exchanged new friendships were forged and a promise to meet again in the not too distant future.
Celebrations did not quite end there though, at the, request of his wife to be, during the socialising W.Bro John Newman changed from his Masonic dress for a Pink Tutu and Wedding Veil with some additional makeup applied by the Septem Master Elect, Bro Alex Coppin, to celebrate his upcoming wedding in July by completing the evening as his ‘Stag Party’
Our Provincial Grand Master has always echoed the Rulers of our great Fraternity, Freemasonry should be fun, well this was a fun filled weekend, our Masonic Decorum taken seriously, whilst having fun and our socialising being an excellent way of making and keeping new friends, we will always remember this trip and all of the new brothers we have met.
On a final note, I personally would like to thank our Active Officers who helped to make this such a special trip, W.Bro Mark, W.Bro David, W.Bro Colin, our TV Star, Bro Paul Bohill, his friend from Hull Bro Andy Ward, our special guests W.Bro Gerry and W.Bro Arthur, all the members of the Septem Lodge, especially our two newer members, Bro Mariusz and Bro Ian, thank you to all, for giving me so few headaches, for your co-operation in getting all the documents completed and for making it so very easy to organise a fantastic weekend which I have been able to enjoy, even with the odd hiccup, and Gerry, if you make the trip next year, you will never have to wear a light blue tour jacket again. Thank you all for being my brothers.
Septem Lodge website can be viewed at https://septem7788.co.uk
For more information about the Menin Gate, visit https://lastpost.be