Address given on the occasion of Old School House Lodge’s 10th Anniversary
By W Bro John Stribling, on Monday 30th September 2013
The founding of our Lodge, The Old School House Lodge goes back a little further than the ten years of Lodge history we are celebrating today with the formation of a committee for fund raising for the Beaconsfield Masonic Centre towards the end of 1999.
The committee formation was the idea of our Primus Master David Wall to pay off debts which had been reflected in the accounts of the Beaconsfield Masonic Center for a number of years. On the first fund raising committee, there were three members who were later to become our first Master David Wall, Alan Green our founding Senior Warden, and myself as founding Treasure.
By the following year the committee had become a success and its objectives had been raised to purchase the long term lease and secure the fabric of the building, roofing repairs, window frame replacement and the exterior painting.
In 2001 the Fund Raising committee was further enhanced by our future founding Secretary Vic Dorman joining, with his organizing skills and commitment.
The fund raising committee continued in its success in raising money, from 1999 to present day some ¼ of a million pounds at the same time creating a happy and social successful Masonic Centre holding many happy events, Horse Racing, Casino, Gourmet evening, Quiz Nights, Shakespeare theater, Old time musical, Christmas Card Extravaganza, Sunday Lunches, St Georges, Valentine and Burns Nights etc,.
By the end of 2004 the success of the committee not only played its part in securing the long term lease of 99 years in November 2003 and securing the fabric of the building during 2004, its objectives again increased with the desire of the Center members to improve the facilities within the building and extend the Centre.
The improvements have been the extension of the building in 2006 to accommodate the Bar, Provincial Offices and the first floor meeting room at the same time reconfiguring the building with new toilets and moving and expanding the Kitchen. Prior to this time David Pryor our Chef was really working out of a shoe cupboard.
The improvements of the building facilities has continued over recent years with the continuing support of the fund raising and individual donations in particular Don Varney, Ivo Nash and Alan Bennet.
In particular, the creation and fitting out of a second Lodge Room; the extension and fitting out including new seating of the main Lodge Room which we are in today; and this summer the removal of the wall between the dining rooms and the installation of an acoustic sliding wall to enable the rooms to be use as one large room thus giving the Center and its Units flexibility and opportunity to hold functions such as Ladies Nights, and further outside bookings.
Also during this summer the Lodge Room ceiling has been painted and the dining rooms redecorated.
It was during 2002 that David Wall and Vic Dorman had the idea of founding a Lodge to build on the success of the committee.
The specific aim of the proposed new Lodge is to bring a group of Freemasons together who cherish our Masonic home at Beaconsfield and who are committed to the Center’s long term future. The Lodge will actively promote and continue to support the popular social functions run by the appeal committee and encourage other Lodges to do so.
The Lodge will also promote the advancement of Masonic knowledge by dedicating a small part of each meeting to an education topic in allusion to its name, The Old School House Lodge, and the original purpose of the Centre.
The Old School House Lodge was consecrated at Berkshire Masonic Centre on the 12th of September 2003 by the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master Lord Burnham, with a record number of founders, 43 in total, and 200 guests.
The Old School House Lodge and its members have played a leading part in the support of fund raising events for the Center and in addition have raised from its own meetings £17,000 towards the improvements of the Center. It is not only the money raised but the timing of the donations which has enable the building improvements to continue from year to year. The Lodge has also played its part in fund raising for various charities starting with a donation of £1,500 to the Buckinghamshire Masonic Benevolent Fund at the Lodges consecration.
The Old School House Lodge can be proud of its part in the improvement of the Beaconsfield Masonic Center. We now have 48 units meeting at the Center making this the biggest Center in the Province of Buckinghamshire.
This Lodge has had 10 members who have become Grand Patrons since the consecration of the Lodge.
We have a number of members who over the years have played a big part in the success of this Center In particular I would like to mention David Wall fund raising, Dave Batten building work, Kevin Bell IT skill in setting up the remote playing of the Organ, Eddie Taylor for his quite assistance with the setting up of various events and Bryan Harfield always willing to step in and help out, but to all our members and may the success of our first ten years be carried forward into the future.