In a solemn ceremony at the United Grand Lodge of England in London, HRH The Duke of Kent, Grand Master, unveiled and dedicated a new Freemasons Victoria Cross Remembrance Stone in honour of all Freemasons awarded Britain’s highest military award for bravery. Sergeant Johnson Beharry VC, himself a Freemason, was among the 130 distinguished guests who were witnesses to the historic event.
Sixty four recipients of the Victoria Cross during the First World War were Freemasons, and 200 have been recipients of the rare and prestigious award since it was first instituted in 1856. It is estimated that Freemasons make up an astonishing 14 per cent of all VC recipients and this is put down to the type of person who wants to become a Freemason. They are by nature friendly and generous people, individuals who have an ingrained sense of duty to others and a heightened sense of selflessness and personal responsibility. These are the very traits that lead individuals to carry out the actions that are considered worthy of the Victoria Cross. The VC is only awarded for acts of conspicuous gallantry and courage in the face of an enemy. Since 1856, there have been 1,358 VCs awarded.
The stone was carved by Worcester Cathedral’s first female Stonemason apprentice, Emily Draper, having been sponsored by local Freemasons. Emily’s Great Uncle was a Freemason VC Recipient. The Duke of Kent presented her with a stone carving toolset to aid her future projects.
HRH The Duke of Kent has strong military ties – having attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, he was commissioned into The Royal Scots Greys (2nd Dragoons) and subsequently served in Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Hong Kong. He retired from the Army in 1976 and was promoted to Field Marshall in 1993 and is Royal Colonel Scots Guards. He has been a Freemason for 55 years 52 as Grand Master of The United Grand Lodge of England.
164 recipients of the award were Scottish.
The Grand Lodge of Scotland, the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and the United Grand Lodge of England formed a concordant in 1938 and since then have worked closely in all Masonic matters.
Freemasonry is one of the world’s largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations, and its symbolic origin lies in stonemasonry. Its foundations of equality of individual, its spirit of altruism and practical voluntary service and charity aiding others across the whole of society makes it an obvious draw to Service Personnel and Veterans.