With a break from tradition, this year the Annual Dinner was held at Boodle’s, a private Members’ Club located on St. James’s Street. The Metropolitan Grand Master, Sir Michael Snyder, was our Guest of Honour and we were kindly hosted by George Pipon Francis PAGM.
After a sparkling wine reception and a chance to mingle with Sir Michael, the diners headed upstairs to enjoy a menu of pate de campagne of veal and chicken with green tomato chutney, stuffed saddle of lamb with mint and redcurrant jus and followed by pistachio souffle with iced chocolate cream. Port and coffee then completed the meal.
After the loyal toast, the toast to the Grand Master and the toast to the Metropolitan Grand Master, Sir Michael then addressed the brethren. He talked about how he had presented the London Air Ambulance with a cheque for an additional £100,000 (to tumultuous applause from all those present), and about how Masonry in London is growing. But Sir Michael went on to say there was still work to do to persuade some members that the pressures of work and family live mean that the format and timings of meetings need to evolve. He closed by toasting the Kent Club, saying that the Club played an important role in ensuring that there is cross-lodge socialising and visiting.
The Chairman of the Kent Club, Michael Todd, then responded; thanking the organisers and our host (George Pipon Francis) he went on to mention some of the past and future events the Club had organised or was about to hold.
Afterwards, everyone retired to the bar downstairs for more drinks and conversation.
With thanks to David Luckins for the photographs.
We were honoured by the presence of Sir David Wootton (the Assistant Grand Master) at a meeting of Globe Lodge No.23 (a red apron lodge), where Bro. Noël Haynes interviewed David and asked him a series of questions ranging from his rowing days at Jesus College, Cambridge to his love of trains. We were also able to gain insight on the newly created Improvement Delivery Group.
Afterwards there was a champagne reception followed by dinner at the Grand Connaught Rooms.
A small but perfectly formed group met in the bar of Mark Masons’ Hall for a convivial drink (or two!).
A group of Kent Clubbers and family members were treated to a private guided tour of the fascinating Guards Museum, but the curator Andrew Wallis MBE. The Museum reflects the fascinating history of the 5 regiments of Foot Guards (Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards), and the tour covered the period from the end of the English Civil War right up to the NATO-led Afghanistan campaign. We learnt about the life of the officers and soldiers, the campaigns they fought in, their uniforms and equipment and their ceremonial duties in guarding the Sovereign and the Royal Palaces, and heard some terrific stories from Andrew.
Our quarterly Social Evening was held in the recently-refurbished Mark Masons’ Hall where there was plenty of lively conversation!
As the Club’s membership continues to grow and become more established, we have started to look at what the Club can do in the area of charity. One of the Connaught Club “graduates”, Seirios Kokkalis, has joined the Committee as Charity Steward and to kick-start his term of office Seirios ran the Greek Marathon to raise money for a charity that received an overwhelming number of votes from the Club’s members – the Metropolitan Masonic Charity.
Euclid Chapter of First Principals hosted the Metropolitan Grand Stewards Royal Arch Demonstration Team, who gave a workshop-style performance of “Adding More Theatre to the Exaltation Ceremony”. The demonstration allowed attendees to enhance their understanding and enjoyment of the Exaltation Ceremony by seeing it delivered in a more dynamic, theatrical and entertaining manner. The presentation also provided practical guidance on how to make the ceremony both interesting and memorable.
Aspects on how to share the work of the Principals and Sojourners were highlighted too, with all the “best practice” gems laid out for our consideration.
Members of the Kent Club (incl family and friends) were treated to a bespoke tour of HMS Belfast by a Royal Navy officer, Paul Engeham, who’s also a fellow Freemason.
HMS Belfast participated in World War II and the Korean War and has a rich history which was shared with us. On board, there are several decks to explore which give a lot of insight to life during wartime.
Some of the group enjoyed lunch on the ship afterwards while others headed off to a local pub for the afternoon.
For this year’s Annual Dinner, we were back in the Great Hall of St. Bart’s Hospital – an amazing room reached by a staircase painted by Hogarth. The RW Metropolitan Grand Master, Sir Michael Synder, was the guest of honour. During our delicious dinner of foie gras, roast fillet of beef and triple chocolate mousse a string trio from the Royal College of Music gave us delightful background music.
The speech from Sir Michael stressed how he wanted Masonry in London to be fun, and that maintaining a balance between Freemasonry and other commitments (such as family and work) is extremely important.
We’re already looking forward to the next Annual Dinner!
Members of the Kent Club and their families/friends had a real treat when they visited Tower Bridge! Not only did we get a chance to see the Bridge’s Towers, high-level Walkways with their new glass floors and the Engine Rooms in which the original Victorian machinery was on display but, because the trip coincided with the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations, we also got a ring-side seat for some of the activities to mark that historic occasion.
We got to see the Gloriana, Havengore (the vessel famous for carrying Sir Winston Churchill’s coffin on the day of his funeral), and some of the Dunkirk little ships. And then the Bridge lifted in salute, with accompanying artillery fire, followed by a flypast including the Red Arrows. All in all, one terrific Kent Club event!