When the Metropolitan Grand Master, RW Bro Sir Michael Snyder, announced the “Up Against Time” appeal at the 2023 Metropolitan Grand Lodge Annual Meeting, the recently invested Metropolitan Grand Stewards decided that they wanted to go over and above in doing their part to meet the goal of raising £3m by October 2024.


By W Bro Gur Samuel


You’ll already have read in Arena about the first fund-raising event held by the 2023 Stewards: “Chomping for Choppers”. But our fund-raising efforts have not stopped there. From beer tastings to guided tours of London to sponsored walks, the Stewards have come up with a wide variety of events to help raise funds for London’s new air ambulances. They have even managed to persuade some of London’s famously follicled Freemasons to shave their beards in the course of charity, and the “Shave your Chops for Choppers” campaign is in full-swing, with donations being accepted via links published on London Freemasons social media channels and in Rosetta. It is no surprise that Bro Michael specifically mentioned the Stewards in his 2024 Annual Meeting address, as the now-outgoing Stewards have raised over £20,000 towards the appeal!

One of the most noteworthy events was geared, not just towards raising funds, but also creating new relationships and friendships among London’s youngest Masons.

 “Race To Save Lives” took place underneath Canary Wharf. Deep under Cabot Place is an indoor go-karting circuit, and on November 7th, the circuit was closed for a private event for London Freemasons under the age of 40 (with two notable exceptions!).

Thanks to a very generous sponsor, 40 young Freemasons – and prospective Freemasons! – were invited to take place in a private go-karting tournament, where they would be racing against RW Bro Matthew Hampson PJGW, DepMetGM, as well as W Bro Scott Simpson PSGD, MetGInsp. The event was quickly sold out, with the tickets being sold for a “suggested” donation – so that no young Mason should feel priced out from taking part.

As you might imagine, the event was filled with enjoyment and revelry, with much cheering and jeering taking place as friends supported or ribbed each other through the qualifying heats, before the final races. In the end, Bro Matthew, an experienced racer, found himself on the podium as many may have suspected – but only in third place! The winner of the event, Bro Harry McLoughlin, was a Fellowcraft at the time, but was due to have his Raising on the Saturday just four days later – suffice it to say, it was quite the Masonic week for the young Brother!

After the race, the sponsor of the event also arranged for a pizza buffet, as well as use of the facility’s giant-sized Scalextric track and their top-of-the-line Formula 1 simulators for several hours following the race. This gave an opportunity for all the young Masons to spend a more relaxed time together, and many new friendships were made, with phone numbers – and invitations to each others’ future meetings – being exchanged by many. Among the non-Masons present, two actually had their “interviews” with prospective proposers at this event – one of whom will have been initiated by the time you read this article.

Bro Scott was positively effusive with praise for the event, which had been organised by W Bro Sami Steinbock MetGStwd: “Absolutely fantastic. It’s a great opportunity for getting young Masons talking to each other; a real mixture of new and more experienced Freemasons connecting and communicating. I look round and I’m seeing lots of groups chatting away, having great conversations together, talking about their experiences and sharing a beer. The racing was hard work but a lot of fun too – and there was great camaraderie among everyone on the race track. If they had this kind of event when I first came into Masonry, it would have made a world of difference. I had a great friendship with everyone at my mother Lodge, but it took at least ten years before I started to reach out beyond my own Lodge. Having the opportunity for these Brethren to come along and make friendships early in their Masonic journey is brilliant!”

Other attendees echoed Bro Scott’s sentiments. “It’s been very fun, very enjoyable,” said one prospective candidate; “I’ve met lots of new people.” “I’ve loved it – a really good vibe with all sorts of different kinds of people here. Everyone’s really inviting and welcoming,” said another soon-to-be Brother who, since the event took place, has now had his Form M read out at his friend’s Lodge. Another young Mason, who had recently become Junior Warden in his Lodge, said, “There were just such great spirits here, with everyone chanting as half the group raced first and the other half second. I’ve had a brilliant time and the food afterwards was a great opportunity to chat to those I’d been battling on the race track!” The Brother said that this was the first event he’d attended through Freemasonry that didn’t just feature members of his own Lodge.

Bro Matthew called the event “one of those rare examples where Freemasons get together and really enjoy each others’ company in a new way. Go-karting can be a bit of an aggressive sport, as you probably saw with people banging into each other! But you really saw that fraternal friendship, and seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces has been a real pleasure.” Speaking more broadly about the Stewards’ fund-raising goal, he added, “I was really pleased that this year’s Metropolitan Grand Stewards have decided to take this on for themselves – but I wasn’t surprised! The Stewards both in this year and in previous years, time and time again, have grabbed hold of an idea and made things happen. The Stewards want to be there, they want to contribute, and do so massively when we go out visiting; the charity is just another example. I must give Bro Sami a shout out for being a ball of energy that has helped propel this year’s Stewarding group to new heights. Tonight has given the opportunity for people like Bro Scott and me to hear outside of a Masonic environment about young Masons’ experiences of Masonry and what they’re enjoying. It has given us some great insights into what people in the early part of their Masonic journey are feeling. I’m always struck by how, for many Freemasons, the sphere of their Masonic experience is only their own Lodge; and events like this, as well as the Connaught and Kent Clubs, bring and connect people together and help young Masons get a sense of what more there is to be involved with.”

Creating the opportunity for all these young Masons to meet is laudable in and of itself, but the event also raised a whopping £2,000 for the Up Against Time appeal. It is no surprise that the 2024 Metropolitan Grand Stewards, only just in post, have already stated their intention to follow the example set by the Class of 2023.

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 54 April 2024 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 54 here.