Paul Palmer

Saxon Hall Vaccination Centre

Police swoop on ‘lockdown rave’ at Saxon Hall ... to find 80+year olds queueing for their Covid jabs!

Southend’s freemasonry centre, Saxon Hall, in Aviation Way, opened its doors last week to NHS front line staff, offering the building for use as a vaccination centre in the battle against Covid19.

On the chilly opening day, the first 80-year-old-plus invitees for a jab turned up for their 8am appointments almost an hour early, and kept coming.

Helping the queues grow even longer was the late arrival of the actual vaccines – and then there wasn’t enough supply to meet demand, which led to further delays, and lengthening queues, while fresh supplies were sourced.

And then police arrived. Chairman of Saxon Hall Dennis Baum, pressed into willing duty as a car park attendant, said: “They had been notified that there was a rave taking place at Saxon Hall – only to find 80and 90-year-olds with wheelchairs, zimmer frames and walking sticks patiently queueing for their vaccinations.”

Dennis added that although the earlier queues had resulted in a few grumpy old men and women, “as a balancing act, many more very appreciative people couldn’t have been more grateful to receive the vaccine, and thanked Saxon Hall and Essex freemasons for providing the venue”.

In the days following, local voluntary organisations, including the Leigh Lions, Community Police and OneLove Soup Kitchen Southend, made queueing a lot more comfortable for those awaiting the vaccine by providing gazebo shelters, hot drinks, blankets and wheelchairs, as well as helping with steward duties and providing refreshments for the hardworking NHS staff.


Companions Helping Companions

Every Essex Freemason has contributed one way or another to the Covid-19 Project of the United Grand Lodge of England and the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Phase 2 began this December with over £840,000 released to target homelessness and rough sleeping.

Fifteen individual Emmaus organisations are among the 39 Charities to have received grants. Although each Emmaus unit is allowed to operate in varying ways according to local needs the concept is similar. A Community ‘programme’ is established to provide accommodation and a reason to get out of bed each day. Those in the programme are called ‘Companions’.


'Companions’ of Emmaus are given emotional and practical support to help them provide an income of their own by working in the Emmaus shops to build up their self-esteem. It is a Community giving much needed support to their ‘Companions’, all of whom are 18 years or older and who typically stay for nine months to one year in the programme.

The support of Freemasonry means a lot to Emmaus in what has been a devasting year since the first lockdown. This support is also special to all Holy Royal Arch Masons as it is a unique example of ‘Companions helping Companions’.




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