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The Best Is Yet To Be.

Significant milestone reached for the District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago

24th February 2018, Freemasons Hall, Coleman Street, Singapore

Oldham Lodge No. 9961 – Became the first English Lodge to be consecrated in Singapore since 1959

On this date Oldham Lodge No. 9961, named after William Oldham, the Founder of the Anglo-Chinese School was consecrated at Freemasons’ Hall, Singapore.

With its consecration three (3) Masonic “firsts” were achieved:

  • First English Lodge to be consecrated in Singapore since 1959; when Singapore was not yet an independent nation

  • First English Lodge consecrated in the independent Republic of Singapore

  • First “School Lodge” in South East Asia

The idea of a “School Lodge” for the alumni or “old boys” of the Anglo-Chinese School had been mooted for several years. Finally, in late 2017, nineteen (19) Petitioners, who are all “old boys” of ACS, petitioned the United Grand Lodge of England in London. The Petition was approved by Grand Lodge and a Warrant was issued. It was decided to hold the Consecration on Saturday 24th February 2018, a week before the School’s Founder’s Day 1st March.

Naturally for such a historical event many dignitaries were in attendance. We are happy to report that our own The Right Worshipful District Grand Master, R.W.Bro. Dato Jeyaraj Ratnaswamy, acted as the Consecrating Officer. He was ably assisted by R.W.Bro. Peter Wong, Past District Grand Master of Hong Kong & the Far East, who was Consecrating Senior Warden and V.W. Bro. Yushea Degani, Deputy District Grand Master, and an “old boy” of ACS as Consecrating Junior Warden.

The other august members of the Consecrating team were:

Chaplain : W. Bro. Sydney Michael Hwang S.C.

Secretary : W. Bro. James Valentine

Director of Ceremonies : W. Bro. Dr. Yeoh Sin Hock

Sword Bearer : V. W. Bro Leslie Oswin Struys

Standard Bearer : W. Bro. Beppi Foster-Lau

Senior Deacon : W. Bro. Robert Donald Deans MacVicar

Junior Deacon : W. Bro. Khoo Boo Khean

Inner Guard : W. Bro. Seelan Chelliah

Director of Music : W. Bro. John Graham Bones

Organist : W. Bro. Daniel Koh Yew Bin

Tyler : W. Bro. Shiva Prasad Bannerjee

We are proud to note that V.W.Bro. Degani, W.Bro. Michael Hwang S. C. and W.Bro. Danny Koh, are all “old boys” of the Anglo-Chinese School.

To add dignity to such an auspicious occasion a choir was formed to sing the numerous hymns and songs and these were melodiously delivered by the following brethren:

- Bro. Brent Allcock

- W. Bro. Ian Drysdale-Banks

- W. Bro. Eric Hernandez

The Consecration

The Main Temple was filled with more than 120 Brethren and extra chairs had to be provided. Just before 3 p.m., the following Distinguished Brethren, representing the Sister Constitutions were escorted in and seated:

  • R.W. Bro. Stephane Benoist, Deputy District Grand Master of the International District,

  • Bro. Kang Tee Yong, R.W. District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of the Middle East, Grand Lodge of Scotland.

  • R.W. Bro. Vijayakrishnan Nambiar, Provincial Assistant Grand Master, Provincial Grand Lodge of South East Asia, Grand Lodge of Ireland.

The Consecration Ceremony started promptly at 3 p.m. when the Consecrating Officer entered in procession with his Consecration Team. The Lodge was duly opened, and the Consecrating Officer addressed the Brethren present as to the object of the meeting. The Warrant was read by W. Bro. James Valentine, the Consecrating Secretary, after which the Petitioners were asked to confirm their agreement with the officers named in the Warrant.

Thereafter, W. Bro. Michael Hwang, a distinguished “old boy”, and Consecrating Chaplain delivered the Oration. In his Oration, W. Bro. Hwang noted that School Lodges have a long and distinguished history in English Freemasonry. He also observed that both schools and Masonic lodges share a common objective of turning “rough ashlars” to “smooth ashlars” and, in that sense, occupy different places in the same continuum. They both emphasise the pursuit of knowledge and the betterment of oneself. Schools exist to equip a person to deal with the challenges of the external world and Masonic lodges exist to equip him to deal with himself, his frailties and mortality.

In addition, schools with their history, tradition, school anthems and colours in effect induct boys into a brotherhood. Lodges continue the process and “initiates” them into a closer brotherhood. ACS with its history, traditions, school crest, motto, school anthem and school spirit is well placed to be the first “School Lodge” in Singapore to do so. Given that ACS and Freemasons Hall have been neighbours on Coleman Street for more than a century, it was timely that they finally come together in the form of Oldham Lodge.

At the conclusion of the Oration, there was the Invocation to the Great Architect Of the Universe followed by the Consecration when the Consecrating Officer, Senior and Junior Wardens perambulated the Lodge Board three (3) times to scatter corn, pour wine and oil being the symbols of plenty and abundance; joy and cheerfulness; and peace and unanimity and salt was sprinkled as the symbol of friendship and fidelity.

The Consecration was followed by the Dedication when the Petitioners were formed around the Lodge Board and salt was sprinkled as the symbols of friendship and fidelity. The Consecrating Officer then dedicated the Petitioners to the service of Freemasonry and the Great Architect. The Consecrating Chaplain then perambulated the Lodge three (3) times with the censer. Thereafter the Petitioners were formed in the West and Oldham Lodge was duly Constituted with the Petitioners as the Founders.

The Installation

Thereafter, the Installation ceremony took place. The District Grand Master acted as the Installing Officer and W.Bro. Raji Ramason was duly installed as the Worshipful Master. He then invested V.W.Bro. Degani as the IPM.

In addition, the following officers were invested:

Senior Warden Bro. Ganesh Nagappan

Junior Warden Bro. Andrew Tow Chew Choy

Chaplain W. Bro. Robert Chan Mun Hon

Treasurer W. Bro. Ian Hugh Alan Townrow

Secretary W. Bro. Brian Yeo Kah Loke

Director of Ceremonies W. Bro. Laurence Wong Yuen Tin

Almoner W. Bro. Henry Baey Seng Kah

Charity Steward V. W. Bro. Yushea Hatim Degani

Mentor W. Bro. Sivakumar V. Murugaiyan

Senior Deacon W. Bro. Chew Boon Kiat

Junior Deacon Bro. Janna Vale Joethy

Inner Guard Bro. Tan Jian Yuan

Tyler (Elected) W. Bro. Nadarajah Rajamohan

Founder Jewels and Banner

The District Grand Master, R.W. Bro. Dato Jayaraj Ratnaswamy, then presented the Founder Jewels to all the Founders of Oldham Lodge who were present. At the conclusion of the presentation of the Founder Jewels, the R.W. District Grand Master was again invited to take the Chair in order to conduct the Banner Dedication ceremony.

The Lodge Banner was then unfurled.

W.Bro. Sivakumar Murugaiyan, who designed the Banner with the assistance of W. Bro. Benedict Chin of Royal Prince of Wales Lodge No. 1555, gave a short explanation of the Banner.

He explained that the Banner comprised of the school badge with the three (3) Great Lights of Freemasonry which reflect not only the primacy of faith in the Almighty but also the principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. The chequered pavement reflects the vicissitudes of life. The placing of the badge above the pavement is to show that faith in the Almighty and virtues of Freemasonry will enable us to overcome the challenges of life.

The two (2) columns reflect stability which is what Oldham Lodge should seek to achieve in the years to come. The Lodge’s motto at the bottom “Optimum Nondum Venit” is Latin for “The Best Is Yet To Be”, the motto of the Anglo-Chinese School.

Honorary Members and Presentations

The Lodge then conducted the Lodge business including the approval of the Lodge By-Laws and the election of Honorary Members. The Consecrating Officer, R.W. Bro. Dato Jeyaraj Ratnaswamy and the Consecrating Senior Warden, R.W. Bro. Peter Wong, were elected as Honorary Members and were presented with Founder’s jewels as mementos.

There were 2 presentations to the Lodge. The first was from The Lodge of St. George No. 1152, the Sponsor Lodge. W.Bro. Thomas Graeff, their Worshipful Master, presented a Volume of Sacred Law to be used by Oldham Lodge for all our meetings.

The second was a set of Working Tools from Old Rugbeian Lodge No. 3551; which is a “School Lodge” in England for Rugby School. W.Bro. Robert MacVicar, Past Master of Old Rugbeian Lodge presented the set to the Lodge.

The Worshipful Master with his Wardens with

the Volume of Sacred Law and Working Tools presented.

The Consecrating Officer and Consecrating Team gave their greetings at the first rising and retired accompanied by the representatives of Sister Constitutions. At this juncture it would be very remiss not to mention the invaluable contribution of W.Bro. Yeoh Sin Hock, the Consecrating Director of Ceremonies, who is also a Past District Grand Director of Ceremonies. His firm and steady guidance throughout the proceedings ensured that all 3 ceremonies went flawlessly.

The Lodge was then closed. Photographs were then taken to commemorate the occasion.

The Founders with the Consecration Officer, the Consecrating Team and representatives of Sister Constitutions

The Founders and Honorary Members

The Brethren then adjourned to the Padang Restaurant at the Singapore Cricket Club for the Consecration and Installation Banquet. W.Bro. Victor Fernandez delivered the Master’s Song with his characteristic melodious aplomb.

Celebrations

Thereafter, drinks were organised at the Stumps Bar for those who wished to carry on with the celebrations. Needless to say, a very enjoyable time was had by all, which was a most fitting finale to a wonderful day of Freemasonry.

“The Best Is Yet To Be”.

EPILOGUE

OLDHAM SCHOOL HISTORY

On 1st March 1886, a Methodist preacher named Rev. William Fitzjames Oldham, started a school for boys in a rented shophouse in Amoy Street, Singapore. It had 13 students and was called the “Anglo-Chinese School”.

In the intervening 132 years, the Anglo-Chinese School or ACS has produced a President, 2 Deputy Prime Ministers, several Cabinet Ministers, Supreme Court Judges, Generals, Parliamentarians of various stripes in Singapore, Indonesia and Canada, Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Heads of the Civil Service, Rhodes Scholars, President Scholars, Business tycoons, Authors, Musicians, Actors, Chess Grandmasters, Sportsmen who have won medals at the SEA Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games as well as an Olympic gold and most recently a Masonic Lodge.