Although the arrival of the recess has seen many of their Masonic colleagues in the throes of planning their summer break, or in some cases already headed off to Ukraine and Poland for Euro2012, one group of Masons was still to be found hard at work planning for the future.
The Masonic halls executive committee of APrGM Jon Clipsham, Provincial Masonic Hall Co-ordinator Tony Hough and fellow co-ordinator Steve Bolton met up at Cleveleys to draw up an agenda for the restart of the Masonic season.
In common with that often unsung band of comrades, fellow Masonic hall chairmen, the committee was taking full advantage of the recess to further the regeneration process which has begun in the halls of the Province. On the drawing board were measures to support those brethren who manage and run the Province’s halls.
Great strides have been made since the launch of the Masonic Halls Appeal. It forms a vital part of Provincial Grand Master Peter Hosker’s vision to create one fully interdependent Provincial family of lodges, groups, the Province and the crucially important Masonic halls.
Many halls, due to the Appeal directing a spotlight on often long neglected buildings and housekeeping issues, have highlighted specific problems, addressed and ‘future proofed’ them to provide fit-for-purpose meeting places suitable for both Masonic and commercial usage.
Though the Appeal programme which was launched in 2010 encouraging halls to submit capital projects as part of the Province’s five year rolling plan is shortly to come to an end, 11 halls have taken advantage of the scheme whilst others have risen to the challenge independently – the concept is ongoing. The newly formed committee’s role has evolved to assist the management of the Masonic halls of West Lancashire who request advice on any of the aspects of running a Masonic hall.
These aspects are legion and include such items as health and safety, marketing and publicity, incorporation and disaster recovery as well as a whole host of other categories which, if properly applied, will help lead a hall to being a successful resource for the future. The halls committee is in the process of recruiting a pool of professionals throughout the Province to give advice in each of their fields of expertise. Though this guidance is designed to assist hall chairmen, ultimately each Masonic hall is in charge of its own affairs for the benefit of its membership. Input from hall chairmen led to the development of this second phase of the halls programme.
Following on from the successful seminar which was held at Leyland in October 2011, by popular demand, a second seminar with a difference is planned for 6 November 2012 again at Leyland. This will take the form of ‘audience participation’ in two workshops on topics such as marketing and some of the many aspects of health and safety.
Jon, Tony and Steve are keen that Masonic halls which have found their own particular formula for success do not hide their light under a bushel. The committee have plans to invite the Province’s publicity officers to include items on the ongoing regeneration of the halls for the Provincial and group websites.
Jon asks of hall chairmen: “Keep your own members in the picture and let the rest of the Province know about what you are doing in your hall, what you have achieved, what your plans for the future are. What you are doing is good news. I have seen some first class examples of well run and managed halls on my travels. Our halls are our Masonic homes and we should rightly be proud of them.”
Tony and Steve are also keen to expand the committee to share in the workload and are actively seeking another member to come on board. Their aim is to create a system of support for Masonic halls that will last and become an intrinsic part of Freemasonry.