Caring for others is a cornerstone of Freemasonry. Within Freemasonry we call it ‘Brotherly love’ which is all about the care we give to others – Masons and non-Masons alike.
A perfect example of someone who lives up to this principle is Frank Bowling, the junior deacon of Anderton Lodge No 8470 which meets at Westhoughton Masonic Hall in the Province of West Lancashire. Frank is also a member of the University of Manchester Lodge No 5683 where he is also its junior deacon.
Professor Frank Bowling, to give him his full title, is an enthusiastic Freemason and a great humanitarian, a very talented surgeon and researcher, as well as a volunteer for the World Health Organisation. He devotes much of his free time to his humanitarian work, in which he travels to Eastern Europe in particular and on a regular basis to South East Asia and occasionally to Africa. When there he performs surgery and teaches the locals, giving them the benefit of his skills, knowledge and research, all at his own expense.
Frank has always had a passion to help and care for others. As a newly qualified draughtsman, he spent all his spare time travelling the world doing voluntary work as an auxiliary health worker, witnessing poverty and horrific living conditions. His worst experience was seeing crippled children begging in the streets.
These experiences convinced him that he wanted to help people in a professional capacity and in particular working with lower limb conditions brought about by diseases such as diabetes, leprosy and other debilitating conditions and trauma of the lower limb. He had learnt, whilst volunteering, that people can have a livelihood if they had hands and feet.
Frank abandoned his career as draughtsman and started an incredible journey by becoming a podiatrist. He then went on to become a doctor of podiatric medicine (the first in the country!) and gained his PhD in bacteriology. Whilst training, he continued with his volunteering to work abroad, in his own time and at his own expense, visiting places like Romania, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia.
Around this time Frank joined Anderton Lodge after approaching his neighbour. He had always been aware of Freemasonry through two uncles and several cousins who were members. Since becoming a Mason, he has found other people who had the same ethos of caring. He has even been able to persuade other Masonic colleagues to volunteer and even join him in his mission to care for the less fortunate
As well as treating patients and operating, Frank started teaching to ensure that there was experience and skills in the deprived communities he visited. He also started writing text books to pass on his knowledge. He now has eight such books to his credit and has contributed to 10 others.
Frank now holds seven degrees, is a Doctor of Science from Nicolae Testenitanu State University of Medicine and Pharmacy. a Professor of Surgery, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and he holds a post graduate diploma in Reconstructive Micro-Surgery (Plastic Surgery).
He spends 40% of his time operating, performing reconstruction and functional amputation of lower limbs and 60% of his time teaching and researching. His research is in the field of Transitional Medicine, taking findings from the laboratory to the patient with a special interest in diabetes – his work has reduced amputations in Greater Manchester over the past five years by about 30%. He teaches all over the world in person and online.
He still spends all his spare time travelling around the world, at his own expense, treating and teaching. He will travel for a week, or maybe two. He even travels on a Friday after a day’s work, operates Saturday and Sunday, and travels back on Sunday night ready to start his day job on Monday morning! These trips, when put together, add up to about 10 weeks a year
He has regular contact with other Masons in Romania who are fellow medical professionals there and really enjoys the fellowship they share as brothers.
If this isn’t enough, Frank has another passion – motorbikes. He loves restoring old motorbikes and bringing them back to their former glory. He is the proud owner of two autocycles, a 1938 Sun and a 1954 New Hudson as well as a 1948 BSA Bantam and a 1952 Triumph Tiger Cub. His latest acquisition is a 2020 CCM Bobber painted to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
Even his hobby has not escaped the caring passion – he has just passed his blood bike licence which he is looking forward to putting to good use in the future,
Frank has said that he wishes he had joined Freemasonry 10 years earlier. He sees his membership as an environment where he can be himself amongst other likeminded people. He also enjoys the fact that everyone in the lodge is equal or as we say; ‘meet on the level’. Irrespective of background, occupation colour or religion, we are all equal in our lodges; nobody is above and no one below.
You often don’t know the stories that the members of a lodge have to tell but maybe, if you visit Anderton Lodge, you will now know the story of their junior deacon, an enthusiastic Freemason and a great humanitarian.
Article by Steve Williams.