In 1912-13, the R.N.L.I. decided that they would organise their appeals on a national basis, this meant that individual towns, and organisations such as the R.A.O.B. would no longer be responsible for maintaining a particular boat but would contribute to the national funds. From this time forward the R.A.O.B. as such had no more to do with organising the Lifeboat appeals, although at Grand Lodge on January 27th, 1923, the following motion was put:-
Bro. A.E.Ingle, K.O.M. (Manchester) moved: that a fund be inaugurated on a voluntary basis for the purpose of providing and presenting a lifeboat to the National Association in the name of the R.A.O.B., G.L.E.. The motion was lost.
The brethren of the Ipswich Province did however play a large part in organizing the Ipswich Lifeboat Saturday Fund, from 1891 to 1912, and members of the Order have assured me that they took part in Lifeboat-day parades as recently as 1927.
From the whip round at the Gyppeswyck Lodge the idea developed into an annual carnival, which paraded the town, and collected two or three hundred pounds each year. The Pickwick Lodge has a large collection of photographs which includes one taken in 1905 showing a four horse dray, gaily decorated with R.A.O.B. emblems and mottoes, that took part in the parade of that year. This was a joint effort of the Gyppeswyck No.1401 and the Pickwick No.1955.
The Aldeburgh Lifeboat was imported for one parade, but this proved to be too costly, and only the lifeboat-men, complete with life-jackets, were brought in to assist in the collection the following year. It seems a pity that these spectacles have been allowed to die out, but with the congestion of traffic in the streets of Ipswich, it would be impossible to have more than one parade per year, and if one body wished to have a carnival,
others would soon attempt the same thing, with chaos as the result.
Another annual parade also claimed the attention of the members of the Ipswich Province of the R.A.O.B. This was the Ipswich Friendly Societies Hospital Sunday Committee, which held its first meeting and Church Parade in 1894. The Gyppeswyck Lodge is mentioned in the minutes of 1904, and from 1913 until 1937, Ipswich Lodges provided committee members, and two collectors each, for the annual parade. This committee gathered in no less than 5808-13-8d for the Ipswich and East Suffolk Hospital, during its forty-three years years of existence, with 1923 providing the record sum of over 460-00-00d.
In 1937, the committee received a rather curt letter from the Hospital Authorities which stated that their services were no longer required, and that was that.
Bros. J.Mason and R.Moss are amongst those that served on this committee, from about 1930, until it disbanded.
National disasters such as the Gresford Collery 1954, and the Quetta Earthquake a year or two later, all recceived financial assistance from the Ipswich Lodges of the R.A.O.B. To-day the policy of Charity begins at home is generally adopted throughout the Order, and practically all of the benevolent activities are confined to the Order only. For instance, in 1939 donations were made to the Lord Mayors National Flood Relief Fund, by the Ipswich Lodges, but in 1952, when floods again became a national affair, a flood relief fund was set up by the Grand Lodge of England, and was used for the relief of members and their dependents only. The Ipswich Lodges contributed, and members of the Province also received assistance to the extent of 250.00.00d from this fund.
The St. Johns Ambulance, Red Cross, and similar organisations all received assistance from R.A.O.B. members
in collecting for their cause, but since the last war these activities have ceased to be part of the life of the Ipswich Lodges.
Possibly the best effort of the Ipswich brethren was the Annual Poor Childrens Treat, which was organised entirely by them from about 1905 until 1923, when it became a town affair and others besides the Buffaloes had a hand in the organisation.
Some idea of the size of these outings can be obtained by a glance at photographs taken in 1911 and onwards, which the Pickwick Lodge still retain, these pictures show that hundreds of helpers were required to attend to the childrens needs, and although there is hardly a child to be seen in the photos, it does not alter the fact that about 3000 of them reaped the benefit of this yearly effort.
The treat consisted of a day spent in a meadow kindly loaned by different landowners, in various parts of Ipswich and East Suffolk, amongst which were fields at Whitton, Freston and Little Glenham.
The whole town would turn out to watch the departure of the army of excited kiddies for their destination. The vehicles would be gaily decorated by the firms or individuals that assisted in the transport arrangments - and it appears that every form of road transport was used at some time or other,
including the Corporation trams which conveyed the children to Whitton..
On arrival there would be organised games and field events, for which prizes would be given, and every child had its fill of sweets, bottles of pop, cakes and other good things, to delight them.
Many and varied are the stories told regarding these grand affairs, and this one related by Bro. G.V.Smith, R.O.H. is typical:-
A thunderstorm put an end to the days field events, and the organisers were very concerned with getting the children home. Bro. Harry Bodies, C.P., not caring for his own comfort, spent his time on the open top trams, seeing that the children were as comfortable as possible. His task complete, he adjourned to headquarters (The Beehive), and as he stood in the bar, in less time than it takes to tell, there was enough water at his feet to float a battleship.
The Host, Bro. Jack Norton, gave Harry a change of clothing whilst his own were being dried. As Bro. Norton was a big fellow, and Bro. Bodie was small and dapper, this led to much amusement, and it was two or three hours before Harry was able to go home.
Bro. Smith does not tell us how much it cost to keep up the brothers spirits during the drying out process.
Collecting funds for this event was a big task in it-self, and we are informed by brothers that took part in it, that it was impossible to enter a public house without being asked to give to the cause. The proprietors of Pooles Cinema were prevailed upon to give up the proceeds of performances to the funds, and many other business people contributed as well.
Undoubtedly, they were happy days, and the Christmas Party given to members children only nowadays, seem insignificant by comparison.
During the last war, the Ipswich Provincial Grand Lodge organised a concert at the Public Hall, where 2000 troops of the Eighth Army were entertained. This was the last occasion that the Order in Ipswich took part in the welfare of other than their own members and their dependents.
Unfortunately we have very little recorded about this event. We do know that it was organised mainly by Bro. Ernest Havill, K.O.M., of the E.U.R. Lodge, and that letters of appreciation were received from the Commanding Officer and the Mayor.
These were framed, and at one time were hung in the P.G.Lodge room, but they have been lost in removing between the Duke of Kent and the first and second R.A.O.B. Clubs.
It is significant that the greatest period of expansion and prosperity within the Ipswich Province of the R.A.O.B. co-incided with the period of our activities on behalf of others than our own members.
BENEVOLENCE WITHIN THE ORDER
The advent of the so-called Welfare State has narrowed the field of opportunities to do good, and a natural outcome of this is that the R.A.O.B., along with similar organisations, concentrate on benevolence to its own members and their dependants. Even in this sphere, there is not the same demand for benevolent work as there was in the early days of the century, but the recent introduction of the Ipswich P.G.L., Annuity Fund shows that the present members are alive to the needs of the moment, and continue to seek an outlet for charitable deeds.
The folowing extract from the Pickwick Lodge minutes will serve as a good illustration of the changing times, and the methods used by the Ipswich brethren to relieve distress:-
March 1912. Primo Leaney brought forward his visit to Bro. Rouse and after explaining the Bros condition, it was proposed by the C.Secretary, 2nd by Primo Hawkins, that 10/6 be granted from the benevolent Fund, and that a whip round be made, which resulted in the sum of 10/9 being collected. Primo Robinson also offered 2/- worth of new laid eggs which was accepted, also Bro. Botwright offered a bottle of Port Wine, which was also accepted, and as Bro. Rouse had expressed a desire to see Primo Rae, he was asked to deliver the money and the goods.
Despite all these comforts, the brother passed away, and on May 8th:-
Primo Leaney brought forward the case of Bro. Rouse who had just died, and of the distressing circumstances in which the widow was left, and how he was refused a coffin by the undertaker, owing to there being no funds to guarantee payment. Primo Leaney very generously promised to stand by, and see he had a decent funeral, and asked the Lodges to help him.
1/1/0d was granted from the Benevolent Fund, and an appeal was made to the other Ipswich Lodges. All expenses were finally met by Hanging the List in the Lodge room.
The first thing that strikes one regarding the above case, is that no one would nowadays find themselves in the plight of Widow Rouse, as the state provides for such cases. But this does not mean that there is room for complacency, and even to-day we find that there is need of our services, but fortunately we can look after the needs of those that are left, instead of depleting our funds for cases such as the one quoted.
The Whip Round was a regular feature of the early days, but it is seldom used in Ipswich Lodges nowadays, although the writer was present at a Lodge as recently as 1953, when this method was used for Benevolence. Hanging the List in the Lodge room, which meant that members would state how much they gave to the appeal, was done away with after the 1914-18 war.
One Guinea, or parts and multiples of it, are still used as a basis for grants in Ipswich Lodges, in spite of the fact that many members have never seen one of these coins, let alone possess them.
Originally, cases for Benevolence were treated in the following way:- First the Minor Lodge would do as much as it could, and if this did not meet the needs of the case,
the second step would be to appeal to all Lodges in the district, and finally to all Lodges in the country. This method entailed a lot of work for the Minor Lodge Secretary, and it is easy to imagine that where an appeal was put forward by a Lodge with an efficient and zealous Secretary, the result would be substantial, whereas the Secretary with little time or inclination for his duties, would get little response.
Eventually the appeal to the country was sent to Grand Lodge, where it was considered, and if the case was good enough, it would be attached to the Grand Lodge Official Report.
One of these reports, dated June 1922, is before me as I write. It contains eight appeals to the Order, and nine balance sheets of previous appeals. One of the latter is the result of an appeal by the Pickwick Lodge on behalf of the widow and children of the late Bro. A...... This was contributed to by four P.G.Lodges, and 248 Minor Lodges, 26-5-3d being collected in all, which is the least of the amounts received in the above nine appeals, the highest being 70-00-00d.
The foregoing system was abolished in 1926 or 27, and the present system whereby appeals are made to M.L., P.G.L., and Grand Lodge Benevolent Funds, was introduced. This method is much simpler to work, and a fairer allocation of grants is made.
The Ipswich P.G. Lodge had its own benevolent fund in 1920, but this apparently, was used for members of that body only, for we find that in March 1925, the P.G.L. gave permission to the J.P.Branch Lodge, to put out an appeal to all Lodges in the Province, and an application was made to the Grand Lodge benevolent fund. In July of the same year an appeal was granted to the Loyal George Lodge, but in neither of these cases is there any record of assistance from the P.G.L. benevolent fund. In December 1926, however, there was a grant made to a P.G.L. Officer from this fund.
At the same meeting an application for leave to appeal to all Lodges in the
Province, by the Pickwick Lodge, on behalf of one of its members, was not granted.
In 1919-20, the Grand Lodge War Memorial Annuity Fund was established. Appeals would be sent to Grand Lodge, and a complete list of appellants would be issued to all Minor Lodges; these would be voted upon, and the candidates with the highest votes would be granted an annuity. Unsuccessful candidates would be included in the next issue, with their accumulated votes, to have another go.
This system again depended on the enthusiast, who would spare no effort to canvass other Lodges, for support of a particular applicant, and it is more than likely that in many cases an annuity was obtained to the detriment of more deserving brethren. This observation is illustrated by the following resolution, from the Grand Lodge agenda, January 1923: That canvassing on behalf of candidates for annuity be discontinued. Unfortunately the Province that submitted this did not send a delegate to Grand Lodge, therefore the motion was not put to the meeting.
At the Ipswich P.G.L. meeting of September 1929: Bro. R.R.Cook, R.O.H., made an earnest appeal to Lodges, to support Kt. P...... in the next election for Annuitants. Sec. of the Sir George Osborne Lodge was given permission to appeal to all Lodges for Financial support, to help defray the expenses, postage, etc.
In this case, as in many others, the applicant for Annuity died before his name reached the top of the list. The list itself eventually became so long that something had to be done about it. This led to the present method of granting annuities whereby each application is decided on its merits, by an expert committee of Grand Lodge, and grants have been made to brethren in the Ipswich Province, within three months of the initial application.
From the registration book of the E.U.R. Lodge, we find that the registration fee, payable by members of that Lodge in 1905, was one penny for the General Funds, and one penny for the Benevolvent Fund. This was probably the same for all Lodges in this area, and the fee remained the same up until January 1922, at which date the Ipswich P.G.Lodge, Local Widows and Orphans Fund was established. The Lodges decided that they would contribute one half penny per registration to this fund, and it has remained the same up to date, although many Lodges make further voluntary contributions.
The average registration fee to-day is ninepence, which, taking into consideration the value of the pound in 1905 and to-day, is still very cheap.
We can trace no record of the transactions of the L.W. & O. Committee, other than that in 1923, the P.G. Primo reminded the delegates to P.G.L. that this committee was administered by one member from each Minor Lodge. In 1926 Bro. John Mason was a member of that body. In 1927,
when the fund had a balance in hand of over 100-00-00d, it was merged with the P.G.L. Benevolent Fund, the first committee of which was elected at the May meeting of P.G.L. as follows:- Bros. Green,K.O.M., R.Cook, R.O.H., Primos Mason, Blasby, Fosker, Collins and Pulford, together with the P.G.Primo, P.G.Secretary and P.G.Treasurer, representing P.G.Lodge, and one delegate from each Minor Lodge. In December 1956, the Benevolent Committee, was disbanded, and the Fund is now administered by the P.G.L. Executive Committee. The reasons for this move being, to simplify the working of the Fund.
It is interesting to note that the late Bro. John Mason, R.O.H., was a member of the first Benevolent Committee, and at the time of his death on June 1st 1956, he had served that body for 30 years, holding the office as Chairman from 1935 onwards - 20 years.
Johns ability as a chairman was unsurpassed, and many members of the Ipswich Province have much to thank him for.
His tolerance and understanding of the many problems that arise from time to time in the R.A.O.B. earned him the esteem of all brethren with whom he had contact, and he was without doubt the most respected member of the Ipswich and District Provincial Grand Lodge.
Having sought the advice of Old John many times during the past ten years, the writer cannot speak too highly of him. I was never dissatisfied with the answer given by Bro. Mason, even when my own views differed from those of my counselor. He had the unique quality of being able to administer a severe reprimand, and yet give no offence. Truly a great man, and the epitome of a Good and Worthy Buffalo.
Since 1927, the Benevolent Committee has disbursed over 750-00-00d, and has a balance in hand of over 400-00-00d, ready for any emergency that may arise.
In 1948 the Stanley Moss Memorial Fund was set up, to commemorate the late Bro. S.R.Moss, R.O.H., P.G. Primo 1944, who was the only holder of that office, in the Ipswich P.G.L., whose father had held it also. Bro. Robert Moss being P.G.P. in 1936. The S.R.Moss Committee provided outings, and generally looked after the welfare of elderly brethren and widows, but owing to lack of financial support the fund was wound up in 1955, when the P.G.L. Annuity Fund came into being.
The Annuity Fund was the outcome of an idea by the present writer, that in this day and age, it is the elderly brethren and their dependants, who should receive our most consideration. This idea was developed by a committee, consisting of Bros, E.Spence, J.H.Mason, Geoffrey Wood (Framlingham), A.R.Ramplimg, W.Tricker, L.Webb, C.Little, F.Edwards, S.Rooks and C.King. It is too early to assess the value of this work, but it has the support and good wishes of all Lodges, it has started paying annuities, and has a sound financial backing.