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By Ian Dipple Friday 21 February 2014 Updated: 21/02 09:50
A GROUP of Redditch Freemasons has marked its 100th anniversary.
Members of St Augustine's Lodge were presented with a warrant recognising their centenary at a special ceremony at the Masonic Temple off Easemore Road on Monday (February 17). The night also raised more than £500 for charity compared to the 21 shillings collected at the lodge's first meeting which although only worth £1.05 in today's money was more than the average weekly full-time wage in 1914.
It is a remarkable achievement for the lodge which was facing extinction just under a decade ago due to dwindling numbers.
Worshipful Master Paul Buck, who leads the lodge and received the centenary warrant, said he was overwhelmed by the occasion.
"For me personally it's a tremendous honour to be in the chair of this lodge and to be in the chair in its centenary year is doubly special," he said.
The lodge has its roots in Birmingham having been first mooted by the Rev Dr F Rosslyn Bruce, vicar at St Augustine's Church in Edgbaston and also brother of Lady Scott of Antarctic fame, at a choir supper in his house in the early part of 1913.
It was formally consecrated in The Grosvenor Room of The Grand Hotel in Birmingham on February 17, 1914 with 33 founding members.
Membership grew rapidly in the first few years and there were over 50 active members by the lodge's 50th anniversary in 1964.
But by the time of the 75th anniversary in 1989 membership had fallen to 30 and just nine years ago stood at only ten, with the lodge in real danger of closing. The group had met throughout its life at various locations around Birmingham but took the decision in 2005 to relocate to Redditch to ensure its survival. It worked, with membership now at 27 and rising.
David Macey, Provincial Grand Master for Warwickshire and who presided over the centenary ceremony, said it was a truly amazing achievement.
"Freemasonry takes good men and makes them better, it gives them a sense of camaraderie, gives them the support of others, enables them to have more confidence, concern for others and develop skills really they didn't think they had but with the support of others they can project themselves and do great things and make them much more confident and caring people," he said.
"This lodge is showing Freemasonry has as much relevance now as it had in 1914 and this lodge has grown, adapted, changed to the circumstances at the time as they've needed to and they have gone through very dark periods and come out stronger and they are moving forward in a very positive way."
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