“The First Meeting of The East Kent Combined Services Lodge No 10038”.

Creating a Legacy of Tradition and Unity

Picture of Richard Dixy, a visiting volunteer standing next to the MCF banner

“The First Meeting of The East Kent Combined Services Lodge No 10038: Creating a Legacy of Tradition and Unity”

On Saturday, the 9th of December 2023, a significant event took place which will be permanently recorded in the annals of Lodge History: The Inaugural Meeting of the East Kent Combined Services Lodge No 10038, held at the Ashford Masonic Centre.

 The gathering marked the culmination of extensive discussions leading to the formation of a new lodge, followed by the consecration ceremony in October. Brethren from various regions of East Kent and beyond convened in the upstairs dining room, fostering a congenial atmosphere with pre-meeting refreshments and warm camaraderie.

Pre meeting chat with lodge members and guests by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master
Pre meeting talks with fellow lodge members and guests

The esteemed presence of the Deputy Grand Master for East Kent, VWBro Phil South, accompanied by the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, WBro Andy Stevens, was duly acknowledged. Additionally, the escorting party, including WBro Graham Cuthbert, the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies (Acting) at our consecration, was warmly received.

The empy lodge room before the first meeting
WBro Paul Gear plays the lodge organ as members gathered in the lodge room

As the clock struck 3 or 15:00 hours, (being a services lodge) the lodge organist WBro Paul Gear ProvGCO set the tone with the melodious strains of the lodge organ. Promptly at 15:00, the announcement, “Brethren, stand to order to receive the Worshipful Master, accompanied by his Officers” was made by our Director of Ceremonies, Graham Cottington. The resonant notes of ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ filled the air as the Worshipful Master and Officers entered the lodge, marking a historic moment.

Following the formalities, the Worshipful Master extended a warm welcome to the distinguished guest, the Very Worshipful Brother Philip South, and the proceedings commenced. The initiation of our first new member, Brother Rupesh Pabari, marked another significant milestone for the lodge. His initiation ceremony was impeccably conducted, with WBro Kevin Stones delivering an exemplary Ancient Charge.

Brother Chelsea Hall adeptly presented the first-degree tools and conducted the candidate around the lodge, effectively capturing the significance of this momentous occasion. Subsequently, a ballot for new members ensued, along with the customary lodge proceedings, culminating in the presentation of a £1000 cheque to the Deputy Provincial Grand Master for donation to the 2025 Festival.

Following this, all Brethren adjourned from the lodge amidst the strains of “Westering Home” and proceeded to the festive board. Amidst the festively adorned tables, accommodating 60 guests, commenced the subsequent segment of our inaugural meeting, characterised by a more relaxed and convivial atmosphere.

After the Ceremony, the Festive Board

The vacant chair, in memory of those unable to attend our meetings, especially those who have ascended to the Grand Lodge above, particularly WBro Paul LeMasonry, who was to be our first Lodge Secretary.

The vacant chair, in memory of those unable to attend our meetings, especially those who have ascended to the Grand Lodge above, particularly WBro Paul LeMasonry, who was to be our first Lodge Secretary.

Andy Stevens commanded the attention of all present, announcing the arrival of the Worshipful Master, accompanied by the Very Worshipful Provincial Deputy Grand Master, not forgetting our newly made Brother, Rupesh Pabari, to the festive board. This was met with a resounding applause, adhering to customary masonic tradition, after which they all took their seats at the top table.

Ready to enter the festive board, WBro Any Stevens and the Worshipful Master, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master and our new member

Following a collective rendition of the opening grace, the assembled company partook in a sumptuous and convivial Christmas feast, featuring an array of dishes including Roast Beef, Roast Turkey, Brussels, Carrots, Turnips, Cauliflower Cheese, Roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, Pigs in blankets, and stuffing.

The sumptous food for which we were all grateful
Our Chefs, and what a job they did, Fantastic!
The Worshipful Master is served by the excellent caterers. No queue jumping here!

Amidst amiable conversations and discussions throughout the room, the formalities continued with the customary toasts. Commencing with the first toast, “The King and the Craft,” each brother delivered the toast individually before a collective raising of glasses. Subsequent toasts by our Junior Warden to the visitors, WBro Mike Salter, was joyfully responded to by, WBro Richard Matthews, Worshipful Master of Surrey United Services Lodge No 9999.
WBro Mark Robey toasted the members of the Province of East Kent, which included the reading of VWBro Phil Souths CV.

VWBro Phil repied in an excellent manner, thanking everyone for the warm welcome, Phil didn’t have much to say due to the excellent communications team, which included WBro John Ray, who will be stepping down as our Provincal Editor next year. Thank you John.

Phil continued with Provincial messages about the members pathway and the 2025 festival. Reminding brethren that it is not too late to sign up for regular giving via Direct Debit.
Any monies received by this way, will be counted towards East Kents total until November 2026, so please keep giving and raising money for our Masonic Charitable Foundation.

The usual fire followed, and so was our new tradition of the enthusiastic banging of newly issued firing truncheons. What a sound!

WBro Steve Simmons, the Worshipful Master, then read a letter intended to be opened in 100 years’ time, detailing the consecration and including artifacts to be passed down to successive secretaries until 2123.

The Deputy Grand Master, Phil South, continued with the warm welcome to  our newly initiated Brother, Brother Rupesh, who expressed gratitude for the warm reception and conveyed his anticipation of many fruitful years in the lodge.

With the raffle and auction over, a fantastic amount was raised which will go to good causes via our lodge Charity Steward.

The Deputy collects the takings from the raffle, sorry Sir, not for you!

As the evening drew to a close, the Tyler’s toast was delivered by our Director of Ceremonies, concluding the proceedings as all present departed for their respective homes.

 It was truly a remarkable day and an unforgettable experience. Here’s to the forthcoming meetings.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

Picture of all the members inn attendance at the first meeting of the East Kent Combined Services Lodge No 10038

Photos by WBro John Ray

Write up by WBro Paul Gear 

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