Stonecutters Update - 5 December 2023
To support Wiltshire Provincial Grand Lodge and Wiltshire 2028 Festival, the Stonecutters have produced a limited edition and serial numbered Challenge Coin to raise money for such a worthwhile cause. The coins sold rapidly across the Chapter and to non-biker brethren alike. We are pleased to know that the Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire is a very proud owner of one of our limited edition coins.
In March, the Stonecutters visited Stonehenge Lodge No 6114 to watch the Ceremony of Raising for Bro Robin Taylor who was our first non-Masonic Cornerstone to be initiated into Freemasonry. Robin also became our Assistant Secretary when the Chapter first formed. Time was of the essence because Robin was due to move from Wiltshire within the week. He was raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason, became a Widows Son and was presented his Founder Member's patch all on the same night! It was an excellent ceremony, which was followed by very convivial after proceedings.
At Easter we visited Spurgeons Children's Charity and Julia's House Children's Hospice to donate Easter Eggs. Both of these charities are based in Devizes but support families from across Wiltshire. Our partners from Juno Company, Wiltshire Army Cadet Force helped us to deliver the Easter Eggs before we rode around Salisbury Plain and then found a suitable venue for a meal. A good day was had by all.
About twenty bikers including members from visiting Chapters including Southern, The Quarrymen, Wyvern and Brycgstow (Bristol and Gloucester) Chapters of the WSMBA attended our Annual Cider Rally at Bredy Farm near Bridport. The ride, food, company and entertainment were excellent. Our visitors really contributed to the success of the weekend and we are as ever, really grateful that they took the time to visit and support our Chapter. Likewise, some of our available members visited the Pilgrims WSMBA for their Annual Bash.
June passed by very quickly. Our members supported our neighbouring Chapters meeting up with them for a ride to Sammy Millers. The Stonecutters also provided eight motorcycle outriders to escort a young lady to her Prom. Her arrival was certainly noticed!
To welcome the arrival of July, the Chapter assembled in Salisbury and rode to Corfe Castle, then on to The Square and Compass at Worth Matravers for lunch. The roads were busy in places but we followed some very enjoyable and windy roads to our destination. We had a delicious lunch at the Square and Compass before we rode back to Wiltshire.
The Stonecutters also donated £1000 to the WiItshire 2028 Festival Appeal at the Installation Night of the Wiltshire Summer Lodge No. 9548 and were also really pleased to announce that several of our members have qualified as Mental Health First Aiders with Mental Health First Aid England through the excellent training delivered by Mental Health Motorbike. We held our Annual General Meeting on 8 July at Trowbridge Masonic Hall. We elected our new President, Vice President, Asst Secretary and Wardens. Plans for the Chapter over the next 12 months were discussed.
On 28th July, the Stonecutters assembled at Amesbury, Chievely and Peartree Services, slowly increasing the size of our convoy of bikes as we rode North to Hull Ionians Rugby Club, where the Widows Sons Masonic Bikers Association was holding its 2023 National Rally. Despite the forecast inclement weather and the anticipated heavy holiday traffic, the Stonecutters made good progress throughout the day and arrived at Hull with plenty of time to spare. After pitching our tents and a quick meal, members of the Stonecutters had a good catch up with friends from across the Widows Sons MBA over a beer or two.
On Saturday 29th July, the Stonecutters participated in an organised ride out from Hull, to Wetwang on the Yorkshire Wolds and then returned in time for the next event of the weekend, a Lodge meeting with the Widows Sons Lodge No. 10011 who had been granted the appropriate dispensation to meet at, and during the National Rally. Following the Lodge meeting, the after proceedings were convivial and the entertainment for the remainder of the day and evening commenced with comedians, live music, food and drink.
Sunday 30th July started bright and sunny, although at about 7:30am, Mother Nature decided to heavily rain on us for about an hour, just in time as we were hoping to start to pack our tents. Once packed, we then had to repair one bike which, for reasons best known to itself, decided not to start on the button. A bump start showed it who was boss! A careful ride back to Wiltshire due to the weather conditions took the remainder of the day, but everybody arrived home safe, sound and damp!
August really flew by and was a very busy month for the Stonecutters. We managed to get out for a ride at least once per weekend. We rode around the North of Wiltshire and down to Haynes Motor Museum but the August Bank Holiday weekend was very busy with the Chapter riding each day. A few select Chapter Officers conducted a route check in preparation for our VP's Ride and BBQ. The Chapter visited the M4 Karting Classic Car and Bike Show
near Hullavington, which then led us to ride to Kemble Airfield and onwards to Tetbury for a late lunch. Finally on Bank Holiday Monday we rode to Weston super Mare via Cheddar Gorge, all in the name of a fish and chip lunch, with great company and riding. The Stonecutters had a packed month ahead of us, which started with our VP's Ride and BBQ and our monthly Natter Night took us into autumn.
On Friday 3 September, members of the Stonecutters enjoyed the evening at Calne Masonic Hall by either attending their regular, or by visiting the final meeting in 2023 of Wiltshire Summer Lodge No. 9548. As this was the Lodges final meeting of the year and the closest to Christmas and New Year, the meeting was brief. We then were able to invite our guests into the lodge room for a presentation. Our President was very proud to patch an honorary Stonecutters Cornerstone as a mark of our thanks to all the brethren from the Summer Lodge for their warm welcome to the Stonecutters as joining members and visitors. After the presentation, we adjourned to the dining room for a Christmas White Table dinner, which concluded with the singing of Christmas carols. A fantastic evening was had by all.
Members of the Chapter assembled at The Planks (Swindon Masonic Hall) early on 3 September to be present for the departure of our "lycra clad" brethren, who are fellow Freemasons, but were riding engineless cycles as a part of a sponsored ride raising funds for the Wiltshire 2028 Festival Appeal. Much to their surprise, we also presented a cheque for £100 to wish our fellow brethren well in their endeavours as we led them on their way before we turned off for our Vice Presidents' Ride and BBQ.
The Stonecutters then rode from Swindon to Choppers Cafe near Marlborough for a breakfast and to meet with other members of the Chapter. The Stonecutters then departed on a ride which took in Tidworth, Upavon, the Vale of Pewsey, Calne, Chippenham, Hullavington, Kemble Airfield and Tetbury before making our way to the Vice Presidents' house for the BBQ. Members of the Chapter who had been unable to join us on the ride were there waiting alongside our partners and guests. The hosting, food, drink and company were excellent and the afternoon provided us the opportunity to use our new and Stonecutters branded gazebo. After our raffle had concluded, the Chapter President patched a Cornerstone and a new Widows Son into the Chapter. Overall, the day raised £500 for charity. The day genuinely concluded with a flypast by the Red Arrows. Despite the VP's vehement attempts to assure us that he had booked the flypast in the name of charity, a quick glance on a certain smartphone App informed us that the Red Arrows had been performing a display at Bournemouth and were enroute to their next display.
On 21 September, members of the Stonecutters were very proud to visit St Bartholomew Lodge No. 6307, which meets at Newbury Masonic Hall in the Masonic Province of Berkshire. We visited to support our Chapter President "Robster" as he was being installed as Master of his Mother Lodge. A very convivial after proceedings were held in a local Greek restaurant, where the members of St Bartholomew Lodge proved to be excellent hosts and made the evening very memorable for all.
It was an honour to be asked by a family to provide a motorcycle escort to a funeral cortege on 23rd September. We dutifully assembled early in the morning to fulfil this request and to support the family. We were joined by representatives from Brycgstow, Pilgrims, Quarrymen and Wyvern Chapters of the MBA, who also rode with us. On 1 October, the Stonecutters rode to Rykas Cafe near Boxhill in Surrey for a bike meet. This may be somewhat appropriate for us; Rykas is possibly the oldest biker cafe in the country and has been described as being a "cornerstone of motorbike culture".
The Stonecutters had an extremely early start on the 7th October, when we conducted a rolling rendezvous as our members rode across Wiltshire and into Berkshire to meet riders from Southern and Quarrymen Chapters at Cheively Services before we headed North to our meeting and assembly point to participate in the 2023 Ride To The Wall, where we met members from most of the other Chapters in the WSMBA. The organisers of the Ride To The Wall estimated that 12,000 bikes were involved, ultimately meeting at the National Memorial Arboretum near Alrewas, Staffordshire for a memorial service centred around the walls of the Armed Forces Memorial.
Most recently, 20 Stonecutters visited Stonehenge Lodge No. 6114 in Salisbury to witness the Installation of our Chapter Almoner, Past President and Founding President as the Master of his Mother Lodge. As well as the support provided by Stonecutters (Widows Sons and masonic Cornerstones), the lodge was also visited by a large number of Masons from across the country as well as the Masonic Province of Wiltshire which highlighted the upmost respect that he is held in as a Mason as well as a Widows Son. It was a privilege for us to be a part of such a special occasion.
Throughout the autumn as the hours of darkness have increased and the riding conditions have worsened, our rideouts have been at a premium, especially while we hope and wait for breaks in the bad weather. To say goodbye to the autumn, a few Stonecutters assembled in Salisbury and enjoyed a short ride towards Blandford and then for lunch in Shaftesbury. A great day was had by all.
On 2 December, members of the Stonecutters met at Trowbridge Cadet Centre with Juno Company of Wiltshire Army Cadet Force for our Annual Toy Run which supports Julia's House Children's Hospice. The weather was far from ideal at an average of -4C before wind chill, freezing fog and the occasional patch of black ice on the road; however, we were still able to escort the cadets in their minibus and their van laden with toys to Julia's House.
Our young friends and the staff at Julia's House greeted us with huge smiles and laughter when they looked out of the window to see not one, but two Santa's arriving by motorbike. The Stonecutters wish to thank everybody who donated toys to such a worthwhile cause. The relationship we have forged with Juno Company and Julia's House is one we truly value. The cadets who participated in the Toy Run are now a step closer to completing their Cadet in The Community syllabus. We wish all who were involved in the Toy Run a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
The Stonecutters Cornerstones and Widows Sons are now looking forwards to our Christmas Dinner, which is one of our "formal" events of the year. Finally we have our annual last rideout of 2023 planned for New Years Eve, weather and road conditions permitting.