Over the years doing my day job, as an IFA, I have met many people, most of which are not Masons or have anything to do with them. Some still think we are a nefarious society that want to take over the world, some just ignorant! I have also met with with Masons and Masonic widows, who extoll the virtues of Freemasonry.
Today I met with a client in Minehead, who has been client of mine for several years, but the topic of Freemasonry never arose, today it did and I want to recount this story, as to me it exemplifies what we can do.
My Client, Mrs Wendy Barker (she gave me permission use her name) is the widow of Russell Barker, a deceased member of Exmoor Lodge, who sadly died as SW just before he was about to be installed as Master, back in the late 1990s. Wendy said since then the Almoner and several members of Exmoor Lodge have been so supportive to her and the other widows, in fact she said she did not know what she would have done if it wasn’t for the Masons!
The conversation started today when I asked her if she had had a nice Christmas, to which she replied yes, I was invited to Christmas lunch with a friend of my husband, who was a member of Exmoor Lodge (Tony Everett and his lady wife), invited me and the other four Masonic Widows to lunch with them as they didn’t want us to be alone at Christmas. She said she wasn’t sure if she tell me that, to which I replied, not to worry I am also a Freemason, a large smile then appeared on her face!
Wendy then went on to tell me that she and the four other widows get invited to all the Ladies and social events events run by the Lodge, and every month the five of them meet for tea and coffee and a catch up, under the auspices of SMFA, Whom she is proud to be a member of.
Wendy also went on to tell me about the recent merger between Saint Bernard and Exmoor Lodge and the farewell dinner they were all invited to, and that they were all “chauffeured” there and back and were not allowed to pay for anything, which she said was absolutely lovely.
I was then told about the time after Russell died, she moved from her home to the new flat, she now lives in Minehead, and how at 7am that morning a Mason was there to make sure all the metre readings were done and the removal men looked after her, then when they got to the new flat two Masons were there to help her move in and make sure she was OK. Members of the Lodge also helped clear out her old garage and helped to take away her husbands work benches etc and made sure they went to worthy causes.
Wendy and the other widows also wear the “Broken Column” Brooch when they go anywhere, to signify they are Masonic widows and on more than one occasion a Mason has approached them to offer assistance, once at an airport to help them through customs.
Wendy mentioned other people who have helped over the past 25+ years, but cannot remember all their names, sorry.
Wendy said she is always grateful for the card and voucher she gets at Christmas and despite her husband being dead for over 25 years, she is still made to feel part of the Lodge and Masonic Fraternity over all.
What a superb job Exmoor Lodge have done and our doing to support the Widows, remember when your Almoner asks for funds for the widows, please note it makes a massive difference to their lives and the support it gives is much appreciated.
Ian Evans – Newsletter Editor.