Public Schools Lodges Council Festival – Rugby School – 3 July 2010

A very enjoyable day was had by all who attended this year’s Public Schools Lodges Council Festival. The Council consists of 33 Public School Lodges which meet in London and each year one of the member Lodges takes it in turn to host the Festival, normally at its alma mater. Rugby last held the event in 1990.  Mindful of its tradition of providing a good party the Old Rugbeian Lodge rose to the occasion with some 280 Masons and their guests hosted by the current Worshipful Master David Thompson (Sh 80-84). We were blessed with good weather and the combined administrative skills of the Festival Secretary Robert Menzies Walker (Sh 79-84), a professional conference organiser, and Sandra McPherson, the Commercial Manager of Rugby School Enterprises.

Showing the usual Rugbeian spirit of innovation, events were organised so that Masons and non-Masonic guests were able to attend the meeting that morning. This is the first time that a ‘mixed’ meeting has been held at the Festival and was very welcome by the guests and organisers, both to ensure that the non-Masonic guests could fully enjoy all the events and for the logistical simplicity of keeping everyone together throughout the morning. Following coffee in the Lewis Gallery, Masons and their guests moved to the Temple Speech Room where the former donned their Masonic regalia. Some of the most senior Masons in Britain then processed with military precision into the TSR, including the Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence and Metropolitan Grand Master Russell Race. We then heard a moving talk from Mike Woodcock, President of the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. This formed the day’s central theme of education and charity; two core components of Masonic tradition and practice.

We then enjoyed a rousing Chapel service and entertaining sermon from Reverend Mark Beech of St. Andrew’s Church, Rugby. He also spoke about the charity Hope 4, which helps local homeless and was the beneficiary of half of the lunchtime collection. The roof was raised by old favourites such as Praise My Soul the King of Heaven and Jerusalem. As the guests departed they were treated to a magnificent rendition of the Toccata from Widor’s Symphony No. 5 played expertly on the new organ by the School’s Director of Music Richard Dunster-Sigtermans.

A champagne reception followed straight after on the Close where the Head Master was introduced to senior Masons and guests. Lunch was then served in the marquee, which only hours earlier had been the location of the Leavers’ Ball. Lunch was delicious and the new caterers did a fine job with their efficient and friendly service and were later applauded by the guests. In the finest traditions of the OR Lodge, speeches were short and sweet beginning with our Worshipful Master David Thompson, followed by the Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence. Patrick Derham then responded with a stirring speech that summed up the essence of tradition and forward thinking that Rugby is famous for. The OR Lodge and PSLC made a combined donation of £12,000 to the Arnold Foundation, which was gratefully received by the Head Master and a table collection raised almost £2,400. We would like to take this opportunity to once more thank the School for the use of their facilities and the help of the staff in what has proved to be a very successful Festival.

Toby Birch (W 83-85)

Assistant Secretary

Anyone interested in learning more about the Old Rugbeian Lodge is asked to contact the Secretary at

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