The 'Lifeboats and the Masonic Connection' is a most interesting article (MQ, Issue No. 7). I am sure that there may be many more Masonic involvements with the lifeboats and which have occurred without publicity.
I can give you some details of one where I was involved as an executor. W. Bro. F A Cooper was a member of Lodge of Perseverance No. 455, my Mother Lodge, in the Province of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire.
He and his wife had no close relatives. On holiday together in Aldeburgh, Suffolk they discussed what should happen to their estates after their deaths, and agreed that to fund a new lifeboat at that station would be an ideal solution.
In due time they each died and a substantial legacy was left to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. A new boat was commissioned and was named the 'Freddie Cooper' by the Grand Master as President of the RNLI.
It has done sterling service in the rescue of ships in distress. Two Provinces made gifts of equipment for the boat, and this is recorded on plaques in the lifeboat station.
Perhaps the saddest thing is that the Coopers did not let it be known what their intentions were, and had never met any officials or crew members of the Aldeburgh lifeboat station, so it was a complete surprise locally when the Wills were published.
An amusing aside is that, as President of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution, I was once asked by a Mason for how long I had been interested in lifeboats!
If only the work of the Masonic Charities could be more widely known and understood.
Brian Smith President, RMBI Aldwincle, Northants
The clear message from the Grand Master and others subsequently to phone a friend, unfortunately does not address the problem before it arises. The fundamental problem is that the moment one goes on the country/non-dining list, they are virtually cut off.
When I was in office, I used to advocate that someone was delegated to telephone the absent Brother to convey greetings and enquire after them. We should all reflect and reappraise those immortal words we advocate: Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
Tale of Sir Arthur
Regarding Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the late W Bro Eric Crosbie of Middlesex County Lodge frequently told an anecdote about him.
Eric was a director of Wards Stores, a department store in north London. He was advertising a corner table and a letter arrived from Sir Arthur, who was interested in purchasing one.
Eric arranged for a chauffeur to meet the train from Buntingford, Sir Arthur's home, at Liverpool Street station, bring him to the store, give him lunch, let him inspect the table and then return home to Liverpool.
Sir Arthur looked at the table and asked that one be sent to him. The table retailed at 12s 6d, but the publicity 'As supplied to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle' was beyond price.
Lady Doyle, as well as her husband, developed an interest in spiritualism. Harry Houdini, the illusionist, had recently lost his adored mother. Lady Doyle offered to hold a seance where she fell into a trance, and Mrs Houdini gave a message that she was well and wished the company a Merry Christmas.
A shocked Harry Houdini declared that his mother, as a very orthodox Jewish woman, would never wish anyone a Merry Christmas. He declared that they were all fakes as he left the room, and never again attended seances.
Harry Landsman, London N14
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article (MQ, Issue No. 6) concerning the Masonic career of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
However, my wife points out that the photograph on page 8 entitled 'Conan Doyle's Southsea home' was, in fact, his home in Crowborough.
This is now an old people's home where, sadly, my father-inlaw died several years ago.
Derek Richards FRCS, Uckfield, Sussex
Thanks to the thoughtfulness and generosity of one of my Brothers from the UK, I have been privileged to receive copies of MQ and find them to most interesting and informative.
I only wish we had a publication comparable to it over here, but alas we do not.
F Brooks Lindsay, Greensboro, USA
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