Since 1066 Westminster Abbey has been the coronation church for monarchs as well as the place to celebrate those who have contributed significantly to our country. On 27th September 2021 it was the turn of Essex Royal Arch Mason, Steve Nottage to be invested there with the British Empire Medal which was presented by the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE, on behalf of HM The Queen.
In April 2002 Steve and his wife Theresa, as founder trustees, registered the ‘Smiles and Memories (S.A.M.) Fund’, a charity formed to send families with chronically sick children on fantastic holidays to give them some wonderful smiles and memories. In the New Year Honours List for 2021, Her Majesty had awarded Steve the BEM for his ‘Meritorious work as the Chair of the S.A.M. Fund, providing voluntary and charitable services to Sick and Disabled Children’ but the investiture had to be delayed due to the pandemic restrictions.
During lockdown many of the planned initiatives to send chronically ill and sick children had to be cancelled. Instead, the focus was moved to support Homecare Team Nurses who were supplied with new laptops. Essential medical equipment was also purchased for two of the children. Steve said “The S.A.M. team have continued to do great things and proved that every little helps”.
The Most Excellent Grand Superintendent (MEGS) of Essex Royal Arch Masons, Paul Tarrant, in conveying his congratulations on behalf of all Essex Royal Arch Companions, said “I am delighted to learn that being awarded the BEM has given Steve and everyone at S.A.M. a huge lift. As a great believer that in every Lodge and Chapter members should enjoy themselves and have a mission to help charity and contribute to society, Steve has led by example. With over 18 million hours each year given by Freemasons in volunteering this reflects well on the type of person attracted to Freemasonry and his recognition by HM The Queen is truly deserved.”
Steve retired as a Business Analysis Manager in 2015 having worked for 41 years for British Telecom. Attracted to the principles of integrity, friendship, respect and charity which Freemasonry offers, Steve began his Masonic journey in 1988 when he was initiated by his brother who was the Worshipful Master in the Spirit of Friendship Lodge No 8061 in which his other brother was the Senior Warden and his father was a Past Master.
A Royal Arch Mason since 1998, Steve made several visits to Ixion Chapter No. 2501, which meets at Harlow Masonic Hall. Having made new friends there and having enjoyed the company of the Companions he decided to join in 2007, became First Principal in 2015 and now serves as Treasurer. As well as holding London Grand Chapter Rank (LGCR), following his appointment as a Provincial Grand Steward (ProvGStwd) in 2016, Steve joined Essex Provincial Grand Stewards Chapter No 8665 in 2018 and was promoted to Past Provincial Deputy Grand Sword Bearer (PPDepGSwdB) in 2020.
After attending the investiture ceremony in Westminster Abbey, Steve and Theresa celebrated with their two sons and their families with an enjoyable restaurant meal making it a special day after two decades of hard work giving happiness to children. On this occasion the tables were turned and it was an Excellent Companion, who loves being a Royal Arch Mason, to have his own smiles and memories.