How I became a Freemason

My first acquaintance with Freemasonry goes back to the end of the second World War in 1945.  My elder brother and I were choristers in our local church choir, and we were both asked by one of the senior members of our choir to attend a hall in Woolston to sing carols to some men who were meeting there.  I recall all these years later how we were fed well with sausage rolls and other goodies, a real treat in those austere times.  We were aware that a meal was going ahead in the nearby hall, and when this was over, we were taken in and duly sang carols to those assembled.  It was only later that we realised that these gentlemen were Freemasons.

I suppose that it was this event that sparked my interest in Freemasonry, but as our current Worshipful Master relates in his article on this website, Freemasonry was kept very secret, no one knew for sure who was a member, and one had to receive an invitation to join.

It was around 1980 when I was working in the Bitterne area of Southampton, that the subject of Freemasonry came up in a conversation with a colleague.  He asked whether I was interested in joining, and when I replied in the affirmative, he stated ‘I may be able to help you’.

The following day, my colleague came into my office with a list of names, and enquired whether I knew anyone on that list.  There were three or four names who were people familiar to me, and I pointed them out. We then chose one that he felt would be most suitable, and together we went to see this gentleman.  As a result, my colleague became my proposer into Freemasonry and the other gentleman kindly seconded my application.

So it was that I became a Freemason, and incidentally became a member of the same Lodge that my brother and I entertained with our carol singing all of those years previously.

I enjoyed many very happy years at that Lodge, and became its Worshipful Master in 1994, the same year that I took early retirement.  It was only in 2015 that, with advancing age, I found the numerous journeys that I needed to make from my home in Gosport to my Lodge in Woolston were becoming a strain.  It was for this reason that I made the decision to transfer my membership to a Lodge in Gosport.  To this end I became a joining member of Alwarestoch Lodge, a decision that I am very pleased that I made and I really appreciate the manner in which I have been welcomed by the members of my new Lodge.

You may wonder what I have gained from Freemasonry.  I can honestly tell you now that if that is in respect of advancement at work or any pecuniary advantage, then the answer is ‘nothing’.  But if I look at the many excellent people that I have met through Masonic meetings and events, and also to some extent my outlook on life, the answer is an immeasurable amount.

It used to be a cliché that Freemasons looked after their own.  This is correct, but they also donate to numerous non-Masonic charities, often local, but also national.  One only has to check the World Wide Web to discover just how much support Freemasonry gives to charity.

I trust that you have enjoyed reading the ‘potted history’ of my Masonic career.  Can I say to anyone who may be interested in joining, don’t be put off by the thought that you may be required to learn ritual to take part in the ceremony, there is no pressure on anyone to do so.  You may be put off by the thought of having to donate more than you can afford to charity, this is never the case.  Freemasonry is a fraternity of like-minded men, and it is rightly said that in a Freemason’s Lodge you will never see a stranger, there will only be a friend you have yet to meet.

Gerry Mansell