Portico Lodge travels virtually from Kinshasa to London during lockdown
W Bro Bruce Boxall-Hunt reports
During the lockdown, many Lodges turned to technology to help the brethren stay in touch.
Portico Lodge No 7950 was no different, and its members used Zoom to contact one another. The Secretary, W Bro Bruce Boxall-Hunt, ran Zoom meetings to keep in contact with all its members. They started monthly meetings early in the first lockdown to provide a support network where necessary. The format of the evenings was the same throughout, an update from the secretary, a general chat and a drink, finishing with a toast to absent Brethren.
‘It gave me a chance to pass on information in person rather than via email.’ declares Bro Boxall-Hunt.
During this time, the Lodge didn’t want to slow its activities too much. The brethren, for instance, continued to raise money for charity. But stuck in a primarily digital world, they had to think hard about what else they could do. Confined in lockdown and with all the restrictions imposed, one may think their options were somewhat limited. The brethren still wanted to make it a physical challenge. They looked for a clearly defined goal that could easily be measured to show how they were progressing.
The Director of Ceremonies, W Bro Phil Nicholson, came up with the idea of ‘virtually’ travelling from Kinshasa, Africa, to Great Queen Street via Munich. It may seem arbitrary, but the choice of locations was carefully considered. Kinshasa is the home of the Lodge’s current Worshipful Master, Munich is home to their German twin Lodge and, of course, London’s Freemason Hall is where they usually meet.
The rules were simple. A brother could swim, walk, golf, cycle or choose any other form of non-powered means to tick off the miles. The distance covered by each was recorded on Challenge Hound, a virtual platform that plotted the collective progress on a map as they all added all miles to the system.
The Lodge used the Masonic Relief Chest Scheme to set up a JustGiving page and share progress with people who may wish to contribute. The money thus raised will be going to Richard House, a hospice based in East London that provides palliative care to children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions across London.
The Lodge initially wanted to raise £500 but has already reached £1,686 at the time of writing, and it is still going up! This effort earned them recognition from the JustGiving’s Top 5% Fundraisers award in May, which made the Brethren very proud.
As secretary, Bro Boxall-Hunt wanted to have one final effort before the official challenge ended. He ran 1 mile every hour for 24 hours and raised hundreds of extra pounds as people generously gave to the charity. The members from the Munich Lodge (Zu den drei Säulen an der Isar Lodge) used their cycling talents to cover some serious mileage to help get their London Brothers over the line. Some also went swimming in cold water, while others pledged some money if they could remain 30 mins immersed in 8°C water.
The Lodge inspector, W Bro Russell Sollof, expressed his admiration:
’I am extremely proud of Portico Lodge, that during unprecedented and challenging times their members thoughts were still front and centre to support charity wherever and however they could, and I am truly inspired by the innovative way in which they have raised this significant sum for such a worthy cause as Richard House, especially in the innovative way in which it was achieved, and I have no doubt that this will be an inspiration for our other Lodges to consider.’
If you wish to support the Lodge: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kinchasa-munich-london
If you wish to know more about Richard House hospice: https://www.richardhouse.org.uk/
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 45 July 2021 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 45.