Tony Hales

When You’re Smiling

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 principals 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.

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Nore Give More!

In 1732 the world’s first lightship was moored on the Nore sandbank at the confluence of the River Thames and the North Sea. In the spirit of being a beacon of light helping those in distress, Nore Chapter No 3610 has been congratulated by Paul Tarrant, the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent (MEGS) of Essex Royal Arch Masons, and rewarded with a Certificate to mark Nore Chapter’s Double Grand Patron status for the Essex 2022 Festival.

Masonic provinces in England and Wales raise vital funding for one of the UK’s largest charities, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), through appeals called ‘Festivals’ which normally last for five years. The Essex 2022 Festival with its initial target of £5 million ends in March 2022. The MCF has pledged £7 million pounds to help charities and good causes in Essex. 

At Southend Masonic Hall, on 2nd October 2021, Nore Chapter held its first convocation following lockdown The Companions welcomed David Wilson, an Assistant Principal to the Provincial Grand Principals (APGP) who was proud to present the Chapter with its Double Grand Patron Certificate signed by the MEGS. Due to a family wedding the Chapter Charity Steward, Trevor Darby, was unable to attend but was full of praise saying “A tremendous effort has been made by all the Companions”.

In the wake of the destruction in the Bahamas two years ago Nore Chapter responded swiftly to the Hurricane Dorian appeal   It then supported the paediatric new Scanner appeal of Southend Hospital which now has one of only three in the south east. The impact of the scanner has been hugely positive. In May this year Jacci Dearman, lead paediatric radiographer MRI at Southend Hospital, said “We are light-years ahead in our ability to scan young children”.  Nore Chapter also made a donation to the Friends of Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court care home at Stisted towards the loss of income by not being able to hold its regular summer fete during the pandemic as well as to the Provincial Almoner’s Covid-19 appeal.

How do the Nore Chapter Companions navigate their way against the tide, through all the barriers and shifting sands of fund raising to support four worthy causes and raise the £10,800 needed to qualify for Essex 2022 Festival Double Grand Patron status? Trevor Darby explained that the money has been raised by various ways and means over the last five years including:

  • Individuals giving generously through the Lodge and direct to the Essex 2022 Festival
  • Annual Chapter subscriptions which include a sum for charity
  • Donations through the Relief Chest
  • Raising a sum for the Nore Chapter Centenary in 2017 for a charity chosen by the previous late MEGS which was for the Essex 2022 Festival appeal

Trevor became a Freemason in 1975, was exalted into Nore Chapter in 1987, has twice been the First Principal, in 1992 and 2018, and is a Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies (PAGDC). He is also a member of Essex First Principals Chapter No 3256 and Essex Provincial Grand Stewards Chapter No 8665. As the Charity Steward at Nore Chapter, Trevor played down his role in all this saying “I am only the conduit for pushing the money through and hopefully there is more to come towards the Essex 2022 Festival”.  

As a guiding light to all other Chapters and Lodges in Essex it is clear for all to see that “Nore Give More.”

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Jeff Cripps PPSGW 50 Years in Freemasonry

In the only Cinque Port north of the River Thames, Essex Masonic history was made on 23rd September 2021 at Brightlingsea Masonic Hall where the Installation Meeting of the Lodge of Faith No 6830 was held.  On behalf of the Provincial Grand Master (PGM), Paul Tarrant, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master (DepProvGM) Nick Franklin was delighted to present Jeff Cripps with a Certificate to commemorate his 50 years as a Freemason.

Also in attendance was Tony White, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master (APGM) for the Lodge of Faith; Clive Rees, also an APGM and a member of the Lodge; and Geoff Turpin the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies (ProvGDC) and 30 Brethren, all of whom watched Jeff, as the Worshipful Master of the Lodge for the last two years, install his successor, Tony Linton, a Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer (PPGSwdB), with sincerity and to a high standard of ritual which was reflected throughout the whole meeting despite the added pressure of hosting such high ranking senior Provincial Grand Officers.

The evening was made extra special when, on behalf of the PGM, who had sent his congratulations and best wishes, Jeff was given a field promotion to Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden (PPSGW) by Nick Franklin. This was well received and greeted with rapturous applause by all the Brethren who know only too well how dedicated a Freemason, the newly promoted Jeff Cripps PPSGW is.

Paul Firmin, a Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden (PPJGW) and the Lodge Secretary, explained on behalf of all the Lodge members, “One of the most impressive things about Jeff is that he is very keen to participate in everything the Lodge does. He gives himself and goes above and beyond all that could be expected of him”.  Paul continued “Promotion to PPSGW is special as there are so few of them and it is so well deserved by Jeff. We are all immeasurably proud and lucky that he chose the Lodge of Faith No 6830 nearly six years ago when looking for another Lodge to join”. Jeff is also a member of North Essex Master’s Lodge No 9831.

In Royal Arch Masonry, Jeff is a Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah (PPGSN) and a Companion of Grey Friars Chapter No 5169 where he is the Director of Ceremonies. “He definitely puts in the hours” said Paul “as he also works at the Essex Mason shop in Colchester. It’s all unpaid and admirable what he does to help all of us enjoy our Freemasonry in Essex”.

Jeff Cripps PPSGW, on behalf of the PGM and all Essex Freemasons, we wish you well and congratulate you on your 50 years in Freemasonry followed by promotion in the field.

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