Freemasonry: The Next Generation

Introduction: Freemasonry is constantly seeking new ways to expand its reach and ensure its continued relevance. One initiative to further these aims is the Universities Scheme, which seeks ‘to establish and/or enhance arrangements and opportunities for undergraduates and other university members to enjoy Freemasonry’.

W Bro Paul Huggins, PSGD AProvGM, explains how Middlesex is playing a leading role in promoting the scheme and how it is enriching and invigorating Lodges in Middlesex.

The Universities Scheme was set up in 2005, beginning with Apollo University Lodge, No. 357, founded at Oxford, with Isaac Newton Lodge, No. 859 following shortly afterwards at Cambridge. There are now nearly 80 Lodges involved.

The intention of the scheme is to promote young intelligent men joining who will contribute greatly to the future of Freemasonry, as potential leaders and sources of inspiration.

In Middlesex there are now three Lodges participating, covering four different universities in or near the Province.

They are detailed as follows:-

Ruislip St Martins Lodge, No. 9125 -

Freshers Fair Brunel University Sep 2019
Freshers Fair Brunel University Sep 2019

Ruislip St Martins Lodge was the first Middlesex Lodge to join the scheme in 2013.

It meets at Harrow, and covers Brunel University, London, based at Uxbridge.

After the Lodge first entered into dialogue with Brunel, they were invited to make a presentation to the governing University Council.

Happily this was well received and they subsequently became designated “Partners” of the University, receiving invitations to a number of annual functions.

The challenge has been to broaden and deepen the relationship with the University through initiatives with various schools at Brunel.

The student membership has enriched the experience of meetings at Ruislip St Martins as these new student members have little prior knowledge of our organisation and its workings, but they share our values.

The cultural diversity is an advantage, as is the lesson that “nothing stays the same.”

The Lodge was founded by members of St Martin’s church, Ruislip but that profile has inevitably changed over time.

Participating in the Universities Scheme has reduced the average age of the Lodge substantially, as well as adding cultural diversity and youthful energy.

In common with other University Lodges, student members often move on to other parts of the UK or the world, but the Lodge is happy to have been their foster parent for the years they are with them, and they try to maintain links with those that go.

Whilst the challenges of 2020 mean that the Lodge has been unable to initiate two students, they have remained in contact with them and they maintain their enthusiasm for joining.

Barn Hill Lodge, No. 7799 -

Graduation Ceremony at Middlesex University
Graduation Ceremony at Middlesex University

Barn Hill Lodge joined the scheme in 2019 to cover Middlesex University, whose main campus is at Hendon.

The Lodge meets at Harrow and is diverse, enthusiastic and youthful which currently numbers 25 members.

While it is not a large Lodge, it has a youthful membership of whom 40% are under 30 and two thirds under 40.

Barn Hill’s members are also extremely diverse with Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist faiths represented.

This demonstration of ‘masonry universal’ is also extremely important in engaging the diverse millennial student body at Middlesex University.

Members of Barn Hill represent a wide range of racial and demographic backgrounds, with a very wide range of career backgrounds including medicine, construction, IT, accountancy and marketing.

This year with no physical Freshers Fair the Lodge sponsored the Middlesex University Freshers’ newsletter and appeared on its social media.

This resulted in six enquiries from men and three from women.

Bushey Park Lodge, No. 2381 -

Royal Hollway College, Egham
Royal Hollway College, Egham
St Mary’s College, Strawberry Hill House, Twickenham
St Mary’s College, Strawberry Hill House, Twickenham

Bushey Park Lodge has only just joined the scheme this year to cover Royal Holloway College in Egham, and St Mary’s University in Twickenham.

Although Egham is in Surrey the nearest centre to the college within easy public transport is Cole Court.

The Lodge is a historic one founded in 1890 and has moved to Cole Court with the closure of the Staines Centre.

Though reduced in numbers from former days, they are proud of the standard of their West End working and their history.

During 2019 the Lodge Raised three Universities Scheme candidates on behalf of Caribbean Lodge, and but for the pandemic they would have done some Passings for them as well.

The experience was a positive factor for their future as a Universities Scheme Lodge.

The Lodge members are excited by the prospect of developing this important new role.

The members are far flung; no one lives in the Province, and they hail from London (5), Surrey (5), Kent (2), East Sussex (1), Cheshire (1) and Northumberland (1).

The Lodge’s Saturday meetings are an advantage for student membership attendance and it is planning to establish a ‘Circle of Friends’ consisting of brethren from connected Lodges who wish to take part in the meetings and student activities.

There is also a connection with the Connaught Club (for young masons in London) as the Lodge Director of Ceremonies is the current Chairman.

A thanks to W Bro Paul Huggins PSGD APGM  for the article and to W. Bro Ian Mitchell for providing the introduction and edit.

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