WBro Ian Armstrong, of Bowes Park Lodge No 3119, woke up on March 23rd, checked his email inbox, and found himself confused to have received an email from Germany.
As he started reading the email, another email arrived from his Lodge secretary, W Bro Mark Schito LGR, telling him that he would soon be contacted by a Brother from Germany, asking for assistance on behalf of a friend. A few weeks earlier, returning to his home in Germany after a month’s holiday
with his wife in Spain in which they avoided all news, W Bro Ian Harris was learning about the spread of Covid-19. Bro Harris was originally initiated into
Sanitarian Lodge No 3458, had moved to Germany in 1984, after meeting his future wife when she was on a holiday tour of England, and soon joined a Lodge, Chapter and other Masonic orders in Munster. Despite Covid-19, he still was intending to fly to the UK to attend Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland’s quarterly communications. Bro Harris has a house in Morecambe, originally a retirement property for his parents, so when he arrived in the UK, he picked up a small amount of food and drove to Morecambe, intending to then drive up to Scotland the following day.
However, the convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland was soon cancelled – as was his return flight to Germany; to make matters worse, Bro
Harris, who is 85 and has diabetes, received a letter from the NHS to his Morecambe address telling him that he needed to shield. He luckily had the food he picked up when he first landed, and he kept his food cupboards well-stocked as he often travels to the UK on short notice. Still, he had not been able to secure any delivery slots from the local supermarkets and commented to some of his Masonic friends back in Germany that it was looking quite difficult to be able to get food.
It was one of those friends who reached out on Twitter to any Brethren might be in position to help. Though Bro Harris was still in regular communication with his mother Lodge, he had not told them about his predicament. Instead, it was Bro Mark from Bowes Park who answered
the call on social media. Knowing that the Lodge’s almoner, Bro Armstrong, lived nearby in Blackburn, Mark passed on his details to the Brother from
Germany - and soon that email was winging its way to Bro Armstrong.
Bro Armstrong, in his own words, believes “when there’s a brother in need, you just help out. You do what you can, whatever format that takes”.
Bro Armstrong immediately phoned up Bro Harris and asked what he could do to help. Fortunately, Bro Harris’ daughter had managed to secure him a food delivery slot, but Bro Armstrong made it clear that should Bro Harris need anything at all, he was only a short drive away.
Fast forward six months, and the two Bros Ian are fast friends, speaking on the phone twice a week, and eating breakfast together over Zoom every Saturday morning. Bro Harris remains shielding away in Morecambe but is being well looked after – at an appropriate social distance – not only by his family, but by Bro Armstrong too.
As an aside, we asked Bro Harris what brought him to Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland; while under UGLE Bro Harris’ rank is Past Master, he was
traveling to Scotland to represent Supreme Grand Chapter of Germany – as a Past First Grand Principal!
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 42 October 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons - Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 42.