By W Bro Bob Hancock PDepGSuptWks chairman

The directive closing Masonic centres issued by UGLE in March 2020 prompted the Board at West London Masonic Centre to examine what assistance the centre could offer, not only for local Freemasons and their families but also members of the wider community who would be seriously affected by the pandemic.

At this time our Assistant Metropolitan Grand Master, V W Bro Andrew Manasseh PGSwdB, also contacted the Board offering guidance on a community support project.

The Board immediately began to research what the needs were in the Ealing Borough and its environs and also sought details from the Metropolitan office regarding Freemasons and families that may require support. Contact and discussions were held with Ealing Borough Council, Ealing Mutual Aid, Ealing Youth Centre, Ealing Food Bank and Ealing Refuge. The Metropolitan office provided a comprehensive list of Freemasons and their families living in the area.

Running parallel to this, the Board and the Centre Manager began preparing plans to operate a food preparation and packaging service to support any requests received for food parcels. Some immediate support was given to the local food bank and refuge centre but it was soon clear that there were a number of charities and agencies in need of prepared food supplies. Over the following four weeks the Board met virtually on a weekly basis (and continues to do so). An established chef, Bro Dan Lee a Fellow Craft of Westfield Lodge No 3686, was identified as our chef de cuisine and not currently working, was taken on to trial the food preparation and packaging process. At this time a number of Ealing charities were identified as in need.

The trial period demonstrated that the centre could manage 800/900 food parcels a week. The week commencing the 11th May saw the first food parcels collected and delivered to the charities. Because of local demand for storage of toys, books and soft drinks, the main dining room has been converted into a storage space whilst the smaller dining room operates as a packaging and labelling site.

Many of the units meeting at the centre have donated money towards the project and the Centre has also received generous support from the Metropolitan Grand Lodge Covid 19 fund and the London Mark Province General benevolent fund. The Board wish to sincerely thank R W Bro Sir Michael Snyder Metropolitan Grand Master and R W Bro Tom Quinn Provincial Grand Master London Mark Province for their support in enabling the project to continue.

The centre was visited on 21st May by Dr Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing and Acton. She was astounded by the work being performed and the knowledge that London Freemasons were committed to providing such a service to the local community at this critical time.

She is returning with clothing and other gifts which will support needy children in the borough.

The West London Masonic Centre Board has stated that, as Freemasons, we are proud and honoured to be able to support the community in this unprecedented and difficult time. The real positive result is that we have all come together as a community to support those in most need, highlighting the true tenets and principles of our Fraternity. The project has given a fillip to all involved being able to demonstrate our true values.

Tribute should also be paid to W Bros Rohit Pattni, Mike Craft, John Holdsworth, Ex Officio Director W Bro Alan South, our chef Bro Dan Lee and his volunteer assistant Bro Rob Whitelaw . Without their dedication, commitment, and tenacity this project would not have succeeded.

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 41 July 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 41 here.