by Connaught Club Chairman, W.Bro. Laurence Hobbs

In the blink of an eye the Connaught Club knocked two events straight out of the proverbial park! It’s not often that we have two fixtures within four days but that’s just how the calendar fell. Nevertheless, we rose to the challenge and put on what can only be described as great successes.

The Club’s annual Open Reception is the first gathering in question. Held on a lovely summer’s evening, it was a pity we couldn’t all be outside! That said, the Grand Temple and Vestibule proved to be a more than adequate distraction. The purpose of the evening is very simple: to introduce the young Freemasons (aged 35 or under) of London, and their friends, to the Connaught Club and the Club’s to goal improve masonry for them by providing the environment to get the most out of it.

Did you know that there’s around 2,000 Freemasons within London that fall within that age category in Metropolitan Grand Lodge? Many can be happy within their Lodge but isolated by their age. By hosting events we aim to provide the opportunities for young masons to meet fellow young masons with whom they may have more common ground. Access to the evening wasn’t exclusive to those on the square though, the invitation was also extended friends and partners.

We follow a simple format, we have a small handful of select speakers and then we retire to the vestibule for a light buffet and wine. This year the audience were treated to some wonderfully interesting speakers (and I include myself within that). Commencing with the Club’s President, VW Bro. Ian Currans PGSwdB, AMetGM, who gave a fascinating introduction to Freemasonry and teed me up nicely to discuss the point and relevance of being a member of the Connaught Club. Besides referring to the numerous social events and educational seminars we host, the talk moved onto our charitable appeal for the year, Veterans Aid, a charity focussed on helping ex-servicemen and women in crisis. We were fortunate enough to be joined by one of their representatives, Dorothy Jones, who gave a very informative talk on the essential services they provide. Remaining on the charitable theme we then introduced Tony Shields, the Metropolitan Grand Charity Steward, who gave an overview of the current £2.5 million London Fire Brigade Appeal. Thereafter, we all munched on vol-au-vonts (or whatever they were – tasty though), drank the Club’s special vintage and got to know each other a little better. For those that weren’t ready to go home at 9pm, we had negotiated free entry to SWAY Bar next door with a small tab behind the bar and there we remained until each of us ran out steam.

One event down, another to go.

Saturday afternoon, Freemasons’ Hall. The Club’s Lodge, Burgoyne No. 902, held a white table event. First of all, we opened to conduct our business and then called off to invite our visitors. A very novel experience for both them and us. Many of the wives and girlfriends had never been in a Lodge room or indeed seen their other halves in regalia before. We were honoured to be joined by VW Brother James H. Newman OBE, Deputy President of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, who presented a marvellous talk entitled “MCF, a force for good in Freemasonry and Wider Society”. This was truly interesting talk on the numerous charities and the efforts that went into merging them, on April Fool’s Day (2016) of all days.

Following on, the Club’s Immediate Past Chairman W.Bro Lewis Clement, GStwd, presented a cheque for £5,250 to Rob Music, CEO of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust representing sums drummed up by the Club during our “Bro’s for Jo’s” campaign. What a sum to be proud of!

Looking forward to what’s in store, the calendar says our next event is our Summer BBQ, Sunday 19th August. However, it’s not just any old BBQ. We’re combining it with our charity walk, it’s going to function as our finish line. For three days we’re going to walk carrying our camping equipment from deepest darkest Surrey covering forty odd miles to Central London for our Veterans’ Aid appeal. Everybody is invited to participate whether it be for all three days, starting Friday 18th August, or just the last. And if you wish to share the in glory at the finish line it will great to see you there!

If walking is not your thing, then perhaps rugby is? This year (September 22nd) we’ll be playing in our first ever match against Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blues Rugby Football Club. They don’t stand a chance.

For more information on our forthcoming events and to signup, please visit www.connaughtclub.org

One final thing, don’t forget we meet informally the first Friday of every month at the Freemasons Arms on Long Acre, Covent Garden at 6.30pm onwards! If you’re a freemason aged 35 or under, coming along will be one of the wisest decisions you’ll ever make.