STRONG communities are crucial because they are often an important source of social connection and a sense of belonging. Participating in a community bonded together by attitudes, values and goals is an essential ingredient to enjoying a fulfilling life.
Community and charity have always been a core principle of Freemasonry and its members are proud of their 300-year history of helping those in need. With around 30 members, for Stanford-le-Hope Lodge No. 5217, which meets at the Orsett Masonic Hall, the charitable and community donations and their direct involvement with local good causes over the past 12 months has been amazing.
The Lodge has donated £31,850 in that time which was shared between 29 charities, community groups, and local good causes:
Of the monies donated, a large part of that figure came by the way of a Legacy Trust, left by the late William Glasgow (Willie) who was born in Aberdeen in the year 1905. His father, a draughtsman in shipbuilding, commuted to Glasgow each week until on acquiring a Clydesdale shipyard, he moved the family to Glasgow.
The yard was very prosperous prior to World War I, producing stern-wheelers and side-paddle steamers in package form for export to Egypt and other parts of the African Continent. During World War I the yard was engaged on Government work with full order books but, during the depression following the war, orders from the Government for shipping or any other form of work were practically non-existent. He tried to diversify into other fields of engineering to keep his workforce in employment but unfortunately the shortage of work proved long reaching and eventually he was made bankrupt. The trauma and shock from this catastrophe left him a broken man and resulted in his early death.
Willie, was at this time in his teens and apprenticed to the taxi-cab makers, Beardmores of Clydesdale. His mother, with money scarce and no prospect of a worthwhile income in work-short Scotland, decided to travel south to Essex with her son Willie and her sister to find land to start poultry farming in Horndon-on-the-Hill where her uncle, a Mr Morrice, already owned forty acres with two cottages and it was to one of those cottages the family moved.
The poultry business proved a success and over the years many changes were made, including the building of a bungalow below the range of the poultry houses primarily in order to stop unscrupulous people coming through the fences and hedges at the top of the property and raiding the eggs, unobserved, during the darker hours. During World War II, Willie was exempt from military service because of the smallholding, but was enlisted into the local Home Guard, in the Intelligence branch, where he served throughout the War.
Willie was initiated into Stanford-le-Hope Lodge No. 5217 on the 15th November 1944 in a double ceremony with Harold Sparkes and they became life-long friends. The Lodge meetings at the time were held in the Methodist Chapel at Stanford-le-Hope with the festive board afterwards in the ‘Kings Head’. To those that knew him, Willie will be always remembered for the many ‘Toasts to the Visitors’ he gave, and his ability to ensure each and every guest was made to feel welcome.
Willie’s life during his later years was solely enlightened by his visits to ‘his’ three Lodges, Stanford le Hope, Haven No. 7046 and Hassenbrook No. 5217 which all meet at Orsett Masonic Hall. He resolved that, when he was called eventually to the Grand Lodge above, he would make a provision to ensure the Lodges would always have funds in perpetuity for charitable purposes and to the local community in particular. To his end, under the terms of his will, he bequeathed four properties in Aberdeen to them in the form of a trust to be called ‘The William Glasgow Trust’, by way of rental incomes accrued by existing tenants.
Willie died at the November meeting of 1980 of Stanford le Hope Lodge whilst giving the charge Freemasons recite to all new members on their initiation. The candidate was David Awcock, who is now the Lodge Treasurer and whose father was then the Worshipful Master. Willie was standing at the South East corner of the Lodge and in his usual manner delivering a superb word-perfect rendition of the charge when he suddenly faltered and fell. Despite the very best attempts of another member, Dr K George, and various brethren, to revive him he passed away there and then. A tribute to William Glasgow, who was also a Past Provincial Grand Pursuivant in Essex Freemasonry, was given at the January meeting of 1981.
It is well regarded that that should Willie have been able to choose the manner of his demise, that it would have been among his friends and Lodge brethren. A good number of trustees, friends and brethren who remember him and Essex Freemasonry in general all owe a deep debt of gratitude to the late William Glasgow.
Special thanks to David Awcock for his input and extracts from ‘A Short History of the William Glasgow Trust’ by J.C. Moncur.