On Friday, 6th October 2023, the Grand Master Mason, Brother William Ramsay McGhee, formally signed the Armed Forces Covenant on behalf of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
The 100-plus guests at this historic event in Freemasons Hall heard that the suggestion for this important initiative had risen from the grass roots of Freemasonry.
In his welcome address, Brother Dr Joseph J Morrow, Chairman of the Benevolence and Care Committee, said, “It was a movement that didn’t come from the High Heid Yins, it came up from a lodge”.
“A letter came from a Lodge in Fife that said, ‘we should consider this’ and it was this upward procession that made this work in a tremendous way.
“It’s a significant and historic occasion for us. Especially, as we are able to celebrate this formal signing here in our own Freemasons’ Hall, which is very dear to us.
“But it’s important that this was a ground-up movement that came from the Brethren within the Lodge who wanted to see this happen.
“It was a no-brainer for me when it came to the committee that we should be supporting that.
“We have the ability to support veterans at lots of levels – as an employer here at Grand Lodge and at the Lodges that are scattered throughout the world and here in Scotland”.
The initial approach referred to by Brother Morrow was made by Brother Alan Blackie, currently Master of Lodge Coupar o’ Fife number 19.
Originally from Edinburgh, but now living in Fife, he joined the armed forces straight from school at age 16.
“When I left the army, I was a Staff Sergeant with 24 years’ experience in the Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers,” he said.
“I joined the Lodge while making the transition to civilian life and I was blown away by the large number of similarities between the military and the Craft. Becoming a Freemason certainly helped with that transition”.
“While I was Senior Warden, I noticed that UGLE had signed the Covenant and wondered ‘why not us?’ So, I wrote to Grand Lodge with the suggestion, supported by Brother David Martin.”
The Covenant was co-signed on behalf of the Ministry of Defence by Colonel Anthony Philips, Deputy Commander of 51 Brigade and Army Headquarters Scotland.
The ceremony, which featured a trio of pipers from the Royal Scots Association Pipe Band, was concluded by the Grand Master Mason who reaffirmed the Grand Lodge of Scotland’s commitment to support the country’s servicemen and women, wherever and however possible.
This will include implementing policies that encourage reserve service and supporting the employment of veterans and service spouses or partners.