So what has my Masonic journey been like?
I have been a Freemason since January 2011. A choice which I have never regretted. I had attended lots of social events at St Peters Lodge No. 7334 and enjoyed every single one of them prior to my initiation.
Each time I was asked to join I could not make up my mind until I finally decided to take the plunge and go for it.
It was our past Chairman Worshipful Brother Dan Thomas that finally convinced, and proposed me into St Peter's Lodge. And since this day I have never looked back.
Initially, I thought is this isn’t for me… but I can honestly say it was a short-lived thought.
I have met some amazing and interesting people since joining Freemasonry. I doubt I would, in any other circumstances have met such brilliant and supportive people.
I enjoy learning ritual. When I first began learning I thought... how am I going to do this... where do I start?
Various lodge members gave me some great advice, what to do - how to break ritual down and how to present it. Advice which I can now say has paid off for me.
So much so within two months of being initiated, I had learnt the first-degree tools and presented them during an initiation. I then went on to singing in the lodge room and proposing toasts.
Proposing toasts is one thing I thought I would never do, standing up in front of lots of people and speaking is completely out of my comfort zone.
But the more I did it, the more I enjoyed it, and the more comfortable I felt about it, and without Freemasonry, I could not have done this.
The ritual side of Freemasonry I really enjoy. I enjoy learning, and I would say to any new Freemason do not be put off by it. Embrace it, the more you put in, the more you get out. There are plenty of people to help and steer you in the right direction... you will never be criticised... only encouraged.
Within no time at all I have jumped from office to office, learning each role as I go - the working tools, the charge after initiation, and my last piece of the work involved opening and closing in all three degrees as Worshipful Master and rehearsing a first degree ceremony in the chair for the Lodge of Instruction. There’s lots of reading, plenty of frustrations but it’s so worth it when you hear the lovely comments from the brethren afterwards.
I now have the great honour of being Master Elect where I will be installed into the Chair in October of this year. A position which I am looking forward to. A lot of hard work ahead but I know I have a great supportive team behind me.
Another highlight for me is being one of the initial members of the Five of Nine Club committee from its launch date until now. Again, I have learnt so much, gained so much experience and enjoyed being part of an initiative and club that has cemented itself not only on a provincial scale but nationally.
This being topped off with us launching the NYMCC in 2017. A huge honour and credit for us all. We have a great committee with fantastic support from the province, and I can say that we will only go from strength to strength.
‘Another highlight for me which signifies what Freemasonry is all about is very personal and close to my heart’.
My father decided in 2016 to become a Freemason. He had been a regular figure and supporter of St Peter's Lodge at its social functions. He had been due to be initiated in December 2016, but he had a fall and injured his right arm, not good for his initiation as we all know, and so it was cancelled.
His initiation was rescheduled for January 2018. Unfortunately for us, we had the devastating news in December 2017 that my father had terminal cancer and was deteriorating quickly.
Knowing this, members of our lodge rallied round together, pushed the ceremony forward and modified it so that he could complete a wish which he always had to become a Freemason like myself and my brother.
In December 2017 in he was initiated. The love, support and help that he and we received was nothing short of amazing. An amazing turnout for a memorable evening.
Unfortunately, two weeks after his initiation my father passed away, but we know he had achieved one of his final wishes. Something which I know he and many of us will never forget.
The support continued for my family from all of our lodge members as well from the wider Freemasons community. It was nothing short of amazing.
So for me... This is what Freemasonry is all about. Rallying round to help each other. One big family. Supporting each other especially in our times of need. Nothing is too much trouble, and the brethren always willing to help. And this extends outside our lodges with the support we give to our local charities and communities that we help at any given chance.
Would I change anything about my journey, No! The only thing I could say is for us to be more open in what we do, never to be embarrassed. Be proud of who we are. Be proud of what we have achieved and what we hope to achieve for the future.
The future of Freemasonry is bright, so to is the Five of Nine Club and long may it continue.
Bro Carl Foster
The Five of Nine Club