‘It is time to dispel the myths surrounding the Freemasons. We wear white gloves to Masonic functions so the hands of a surgeon look the same as the hands of a labourer. In bygone years, no one would talk about the Freemasons. The men went off in their dinner suits and wouldn’t even tell their wives. But now we’re coming out in the open to shout out loud that the Freemasons have been supporting a whole host of charities for years.’ Interview with Bob Pullin.
‘The Freemasons are an organisation of ‘good men’ supporting each other, their families and the community. We don’t discuss politics or religion. It’s a place to meet in harmony and enjoy each other’s company, while working towards helping valuable causes. It’s open to any man over the age of 18 and welcomes a diverse range of occupations and beliefs.
‘The aim is to be a self-development organisation. Men who join get training in public speaking, leadership and gain the opportunity to support worthy causes.
‘The Freemasons of England celebrated their 300th Anniversary and in Victoria we are up to our 127th Year. Meetings are monthly mainly at night. There are daylight lodges, where groups get together in the morning, then enjoy lunch with their partners. These are for older men who may not be able to get out at night. They have also been for entertainers who were working at night, these were known as the Thespian Lodges.
‘In Geelong, we’ve supported Cottage by the Sea for over 100 years. In 1916 this began with a group of three Freemasons who enjoyed a crayfish meal at Queenscliff and donated the extra change to the cause. In recent years, we’ve raised over $170,000 for Cottage by the Sea.
‘The Master (President) of a Geelong Lodge is a keen musician and his lodge has raised $15,000 to buy the Geelong Concert Band new tympani. We also have an emergency bushfire or disaster clean up trailer. Our task force work in conjunction with other authorities, in these incidences.
‘We also support schools by offering scholarships right around the district and all the way to Lorne. We’ve bought equipment for the Geelong Hospital. Freemasons Victoria recently donated $1.8 million to the Monash Children’s Hospital.
‘Each lodge has different ways of fundraising. It might be a Bunnings Sausage Sizzle, dinners or auctions.
‘Freemasons Victoria prides itself on its ceremonial aspects and proceedings. The Grand Instillation which is the AGM in March, held at the Grand Lodge, is streamed live. This would never have happened previously.
‘The local lodges can apply to the Freemasons Victoria to support their fundraising. Sometimes amounts are matched.
‘In just 4 months we raised $22,000 for SAS (Support After Suicide, see previous article), this was topped up with another $15k.
‘We have 13 lodges in the Freemasons of the Bellarine Otway District and every Lodge’s response was amazing. One member recited the poem ‘Rain from Nowhere’ which is about a farmer who was ready to go and blow his brains out, but then he receives a letter from his father. There were few dry eyes among the listeners. Afterwards people were coming up and sharing their heart wrenching stories of grief due to suicide. Money flowed into the hat as people supported a cause close to their hearts.
‘This fundraising endeavour was a catalyst in Freemason Victoria’s launch of @Start the Conversation at Parliament House by Martin Foley MP, Minister for Mental Health.
‘We are very proud that this movement started in Geelong. We are also thrilled that Melinda Hopper is fronting the SAS team and look forward to continuing to support this worthy cause.’ Interview by Jacqui Bennett
Meet the Freemasons, one of many groups exhibiting, at our Humans in Geelong Expo 2017, 10am – 3pm at Deakin Waterfront Sunday 8th of October. www.humansingeelong.com for more information.