Proudly supporting those who serve.
Photo L-R: Jon Whitaker, Leo Docherty and Iain Henderson.
It was in Winchester’s Great Hall that contains the 13th century Arthurian Round Table where Jon Whitaker signed the Armed Forces Covenant along with Leo Docherty, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence People and Veterans.
The Province has always had a close association with the armed forces and includes 17 military lodges and many members who serve or are veterans. The Covenant represents the Province’s continued commitment to ensure that no member of the armed forces’ community will face disadvantage within the organisation. Furthermore, it is a pledge to provide grants and support to serving personnel, veterans and their families through funding from lodges.
Hampshire Freemason, Lt Col Bill Withers (rtd), addressed those present and gave a brief history of Freemasonry and its relationship with the military.
Also attending the ceremony was Hampshire’s Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Rear Admiral Iain Henderson, CB, CBE, DL, who said: “The signing of the Armed Services Covenant cements the strong relationship that Freemasonry has with the military, veterans and their families. I welcome this continued commitment and am delighted to witness the signing.”
Many serving personnel, veterans and Freemasons were present. Also there were members of the county council, which recognised National Armed Forces Day by a flag raising ceremony that preceded the signing. While those attending came from disparate organisations and backgrounds, there was a sense of togetherness and common purpose in the Great Hall – of the type that once linked the knights which legend says sat at the Round Table.
Jon Whitaker said: “History shows how Freemasonry and the military are entwined, to confirm this relationship beyond just convention is an important step.”
The Covenant was later reaffirmed and celebrated at a similar ceremony at the Cowes Masonic Centre on the Isle of Wight.
Bill Withers (left) welcomes those present and introduces Jon Whitaker.
(l-r) Island Freemason, Commander David Hilton MBE RN (rtd), welcomes John Whitaker and the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle Wight, Brig. Maurice Sheen CBE QVRM TD DL and other guests.
Following the ceremony at Cowes Masonic Centre The Veterans Hub IW receive a cheque from £750 from Jon Whitaker.
“The camaraderie of Freemasonry reflects my service life, but in a more relaxed environment.”
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