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Eastern Archipelago Sociability at the Annual Investiture

Compiled & Written by WBro Mahathir Mahzan

The iconic group photo taken at the National Liberal Club, Whitehall [L-R: WBro Ramesh Rajaratnam, Jasveen Bhullar, WBro Saptak Santra, WBro David Lim, WBro Regis Degen, WBro Brian Yeo, WBro Mahathir Mahzan, WBro Ralph Ratnaswamy, WBro Nirmal Singh, WBro Manoj Sharma, WBro Subendran Sathanandan (standing), WBro Lakshmanan Nachiappan and WBro Rajash Singh (standing)]

In April 2023, a group of 27 brethren from the District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago led by the District Grand Master, RWBro Dato Jeyaraj Ratnaswamy, embarked on a journey to London to partake in the Annual Investiture ceremonies held at Freemasons Hall on Great Queen Street. During the course of the trip, some of the brethren enthusiastically joined various other Masonic gatherings and social activities.

Although our arrival in London varied across different days, the official commencement of the visit took place on Sunday, April 23rd. We had a delightful dinner at the Fortune Cookie Chinese Restaurant in Queensway, an annual tradition for the District delegation. This time we were hosted by the Worshipful Master of Lodge Malaya, WBro Rajesh Chelliah, and WBro Vincent Leiu. It was an occasion to relish a delectable feast and reconnect with brethren from Lodge Malaya, where we had the opportunity to revive old connections and foster new bonds of friendship, and we sincerely thank both of them for their hospitality.

Our traditional dinner to kick off the week

On April 24th, 2023, a group of brethren from the District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago had the privilege of attending the Lodge Malaya meeting at Freemasons Hall in London. Lodge Malaya is the only lodge in London to carry out the Revised Ritual. This special occasion provided the brethren from the Eastern Archipelago with a remarkable opportunity to contribute to the proceedings by conducting a third-degree ceremony for two brethren of Lodge Malaya. It was an extraordinary privilege and a great honor for the delegation.

The ceremony itself was executed flawlessly, showcasing the precision and skill of each brother involved. Every brother fulfilled their respective roles with remarkable proficiency. The following brethren from the Eastern Archipelago assumed the following positions, leaving a lasting impression on all in attendance:

  • WBro Subendran Sathanandan of Joseph Eu Lodge, performed the role of Worshipful Master

  • WBro Ramesh Rajaratnam of Sentosa Lodge, assumed the position of Senior Warden

  • WBro Barry Wee of Lodge St Michael, took on the responsibility of Junior Warden

  • WBro Ralph Ratnaswamy of Joseph Eu Lodge, took on the role of Director of Ceremonies

  • WBro Mahathir Mahzan of Makepeace Lodge, served as Senior Deacon

  • The Worshipful Master of Lodge Malaya, WBro Rajesh Chelliah, served as Junior Deacon

  • WBro Regis Degen of Lodge Elliot, fulfilled the role of Inner Guard

  • WBro Nathan Kandapper of Makepeace Lodge, as Immediate Past Master

  • WBro Rajesh Kumar of Makepeace Lodge, undertook the duties of Chaplain

  • The Retrospect was delivered by WBro Ralph Ratnaswamy

  • The Lights of Master Mason and Ecclesiastes were delivered by WBro Rajesh Kumar

  • Signs & Secrets were presented by WBro Nathan Kandapper

  • Third degree Working Tools and Holy Royal Arch Chapter address was delivered by WBro Barry Wee

  • WBro David Rose delivered the remaining portion of the Traditional History

After the conclusion of the Lodge Malaya meeting, we proceeded to the Festive Board, which was held at the Thistle Holborn Hotel. This convivial gathering provided us with a wonderful opportunity to savor a wonderful meal, and revel in the company of fellow brethren.

Lodge Malaya meeting

At The Ship Tavern

Amidst the enjoyable atmosphere of the Festive Board, WBro Manoj Sharma from The Zetland in the East Lodge captivated us with a presentation on the enthralling history of Lodge Malaya and its profound connection with the District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago. With his engaging and informative speech, WBro Manoj Sharma provided us with a deeper insight into the remarkable legacy of Lodge Malaya. It was an enlightening experience that enhanced our understanding and appreciation of the rich history that binds our brethren from the Eastern Archipelago and Lodge Malaya together.

After the Festive Board, a delightful group of us took a leisurely walk to The Ship Tavern in Holborn to unwind with some refreshing beverages. As the pub reached closing time, the bar staff displayed exceptional kindness by offering us plastic cups, allowing us to continue enjoying our drinks under the night sky. This was particularly fitting as we had the pleasure of celebrating WBro Regis Degen's birthday, and the birthday boy generously shared the two bottles of whiskey which he won at the raffle during the Festive Board earlier.

Thank goodness for the whisky won at the raffle!

The night was waning fast and the temperature was dropping

Embracing the wintry chill of the night, we savored the contents of both whisky bottles, complemented by the indulgence of cigars, courtesy of WBro Rajesh Kumar. Despite the frosty weather, our spirits remained warm as we reveled in the camaraderie and shared moments of laughter and joy. To fortify our stomachs, WBro Subendran generously treated us to a selection of McDonald's offerings, providing a much-needed late-night soakage, before heading back to our respective hotels.

On the same day, two Assistant District Grand Masters from the Eastern Archipelago, WBro Raji Ramason and WBro Neale Avery, accompanied by our District Grand Director of Ceremonies, WBro Saptak Santra, had the honor of attending the Old Rugbeians Lodge at Freemasons Hall on Great Queen Street. WBro Raji Ramason is also a member of this Lodge. This occasion held significant importance as both our Assistant District Grand Masters, on behalf of our District, presented the District Grand Master's Meritorious Service Award to WBro John Bones PDSGW, a distinguished member of our District who now resides in the United Kingdom.

WBro Raji Rameson and WBro Neale Avery presenting the DGM's Meritorious Service Award to WBro John Bones at the Old Rugbeians Lodge

Furthermore, the District team presented the Lodge with a special commemorative rugby ball, symbolizing the momentous 200-year milestone since William Webb Ellis, a pupil at Rugby School, first picked up a ball, giving birth to the sport of rugby. This gesture served as a tribute to the enduring legacy of the game and its connection to the Old Rugbeians Lodge.

Additionally, several brethren from the District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago had the privilege of attending various other Masonic events during their visit. One such event was the Emulation Lodge of Instruction, which took place on Friday, April 21st, 2023. This gathering was graced by the presence of WBro Neale Avery, a distinguished recipient of the Silver Matchbox Award, who was accompanied by WBro Saptak Santra.

WBro Barry Wee, who arrived in London ahead of the scheduled events, seized the opportunity to visit the Rupert Patterson Lodge. During his visit, he was fortunate to witness a splendid initiation ceremony and a second-degree ceremony, immersing himself in the captivating performance by the esteemed brethren of the Lodge. Furthermore, WBro Barry Wee had the privilege of attending the installation meeting at Patterson Chapter.

On Tuesday, April 25th, 2023, a joyful gathering of brethren assembled for a delightful late lunch at The Guinea Grill in Mayfair. The occasion, thoughtfully organized by WBro Ralph Ratnaswamy, served as a dual celebration of the birthdays of WBro Regis Degen and WBro Saptak Santra. The feast was a true delight, featuring a delectable array of steaks accompanied by an exquisite Magnum bottle of red wine, creating a memorable culinary experience.

Late lunch at The Guinea Grill

Waiting for our steaks!

Following the satisfying meal, we made our way to Freemasons Hall, where an engaging reception awaited us at the Vestibules. The team at the United Grand Lodge of England had thoughtfully organized this event for the overseas Districts in attendance, offering a wonderful opportunity to connect with brethren from various Districts around the world. It was a moment filled with camaraderie, as we gathered to exchange ideas, share experiences, and forge meaningful connections with Masonic brethren from diverse backgrounds.

The 'shining domes' were present at the Vestibules for the reception organised by UGLE for the Districts

Probably the last to leave…

Probably the last to leave…

Subsequently, WBro Lister Park enticed us to The George pub, located just across the street. Eagerly joining us were brethren from the District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka and the District Grand Lodge of Hong Kong & the Far East. In the warm and convivial atmosphere of The George, we enjoyed a few pints, continuing the spirit of fellowship and building lasting bonds with brethren from different corners of the Masonic world. Even the Grand Secretary, WBro Adrian Marsh, joined us for a few sociable pints.

The pinnacle of our trip occurred on Wednesday, April 26th. It marked the UGLE Annual Investiture, an event that held great significance for us. We gathered to support our fellow brethren who were receiving their initial Grand Rank appointments and promotions. The Most Worshipful The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, presided over the meeting. From the grand processions to the investitures themselves, the entire ceremony was executed with remarkable precision, truly a spectacle to behold.

After the momentous ceremony, as the Grand Rank recipients embarked on their attendance at the Grand Festival held at the Guildhall, a small group of us ventured towards the distinguished National Liberal Club in Whitehall. Our arrival was met with genuine warmth as we were graciously received as guests by our esteemed host, WBro Rajash Singh, one of our very own from Eastern Archipelago, who is a member of this prestigious establishment.

At The George on Great Queen Street after the reception at the Vestibules - Brethren from the Eastern Archipelago, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong & The Far East enjoying the hospitality of WBro Lister Park (sixth from left)

The Grand Secretary, WBro Adrian Marsh (second from left) decided to join us

Within the splendid surroundings of this esteemed Club, we gathered in the historic Smoking Room to partake in a delightful light dinner accompanied by a selection of beverages from the beautifully adorned bar. Immersed in the rich heritage of the venue, we reveled in engaging conversations and shared laughter, creating a truly memorable evening. The iconic photograph taken that evening sums up the experience.

Despite the chill in the air, our spirits remained high as some of us embraced the bracing wind while indulging in cigars on the outdoor terrace, overlooking the majestic Thames and the iconic London Eye. The panoramic view served as a captivating backdrop to our camaraderie, fostering an atmosphere of relaxation and contentment.

An early start awaited us on Thursday, April 27th, as we gathered in the Grand Temple once again for the Supreme Grand Chapter Investiture ceremony by 10:45 am. After the meeting concluded, some of us decided to indulge in afternoon cocktails at Margot, a delightful establishment conveniently located across the street from Freemasons Hall. We then proceeded to Dishoom in Covent Garden for a satisfying lunch.

Celebrating the brethren of the Eastern Archipelago who received their Grand Rank appointments and promotions

Our Grand Officers!

The Excellent Companions and Companions of the Eastern Archipelago at the Supreme Grand Chapter Annual Investiture

At the National Liberal Club, Whitehall

While many brethren from the Eastern Archipelago returned home on Thursday, a few of us chose to prolong our stay. With no Masonic engagements scheduled for Friday, we kept ourselves occupied. Our explorations were limited, but we spent a pleasant afternoon at the Prince of Wales pub, situated just across from Freemasons Hall. Later, we enjoyed a hearty dinner at a pizza parlour in Seven Dials, culminating our evening with a visit to Milroys of Soho for some rare and exceptional whiskey.

Our trip drew to a close on Saturday, April 29th, 2023. VWBro Yushea Hatim Degani, Past Deputy District Grand Master of our District, extended a gracious invitation to those of us who were still lingering in London to attend the Formula One Lodge meeting at Freemasons Hall, where an initiation ceremony awaited.

Free and easy Friday…

Formula One Lodge meeting

Following the lodge meeting, we adjourned to the Hercules Pillars, where we gathered to watch the thrilling qualifying round of the Azerbaijan Formula One race. The camaraderie among brethren and the shared passion for both Masonic rituals and motorsport created a vibrant atmosphere of enjoyment and fellowship.

At the Hercules Pillars to watch the Azerbaijan F1 Qualifying Round before the Festive Board

We then proceeded to the Grand Connaught Rooms for the Festive Board to relish good food and engage in lively fellowship with the brethren of Formula One Lodge.

These additional Masonic events provided our brethren from Eastern Archipelago with valuable opportunities to engage with different lodges and chapters, fostering fraternal connections and expanding their Masonic horizons.

Overall, the trip was a great success, providing the District delegation with a unique opportunity to experience some of the unique Masonic traditions and events in England. All of us returned home with many fond memories and a renewed sense of fraternity and brotherhood.

WBro Neale Avery and WBro Saptak Santra taking a selfie with RWBro George Pipon Francis, Past Assistant Grand Master, at the Emulation Lodge of Improvement

Afternoon cocktails at Margot Restaurant after the Supreme Grand Chapter Investiture

Lunch at Dishoom in Covent Garden

WBro Barry Wee after the Patterson Chapter Installation Meeting

WBro Barry Wee with the brethren of the Rupert Patterson Lodge


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