Chingford Freemason Ken Birnie celebrates 60 years of friendship

Special presentation by Provincial Grand Master at West Essex Round Table Lodge

The Worshipful Master, Derek Lindsey, and 60 members and guests of West Essex Round Table Lodge, which meets four times a year at Chingford Masonic Hall, welcomed the Provincial Grand Master (PGM), Paul Tarrant, on 24th October 2023. The special occasion was twofold.

The PGM presented a Certificate to mark 60 years Meritorious Service to Essex Freemasonry by Ken Birnie who was initiated in 1963 and exalted into Royal Arch Masonry in 1967. Ken became Master of his mother lodge in 1971 and First Principal of his chapter in 1973. Following several promotions at Provincial level and as a Grand Officer, Ken became a Past Senior Grand Deacon in 2007 and a Past Assistant Grand Sojourner in 2018 and served as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master for Essex from 2006 until 2012.

West Essex Round Table Lodge No. 9310 was formed in 1989. Paul Tarrant said “Ken was the first Master, the significance of which cannot be overstated. Ken and the 12 other founder members determined the ritual the new lodge would use, that there would be Ladies Festival Weekends away and a regular Lodge of Instruction, laying the foundations for the practice of ritual being performed to the highest standards whilst retaining the spirit of strong fellowship that Round Table had engendered”.

It was also a proud occasion for one of the five remaining founder members, Ted Gradosielski BEM, as his recently initiated son, Mark, became a Fellow Craft, the second of the three degrees in Craft Freemasonry. With about 50 members, West Essex Round Table Lodge is one of nearly 300 which meet at 26 centres across Essex. With around 7,500 members, the Essex Freemasons regularly donate over £1 million each year towards local community initiatives and charities as well as volunteering a lot of time to good causes.  

The Lodge has the rare distinction of being a Premier Grand Patron for the Essex Festival 2022, which was an appeal in support of the Masonic Charitable Foundation and forecast to close at between £5.7 to £5.8 million, raised primarily for charities and good causes in Essex.   Martyn Bradish, the Lodge Secretary said “The Lodge has built up enviable track record in supporting appeals and local charities on a needs basis.” The good work of the founders and their successors means that the Lodge is now benefitting from an influx of new younger members who are wholeheartedly embracing the four values of Freemasonry which are integrity, friendship, respect and service.


Top: 13 Grand Officers from Essex join in the celebrations for Ken Birnie. Centre three (seated) L-R: Paul Tarrant, Worshipful Master Derek Lindsey and Ken Birnie

Left (L-R): Paul Tarrant, Derek Lindsey, Ken Birnie and John Webb, a Past Provincial Grand Master for Essex (2005-2015)

Right (L-R): The Master congratulating the Fellow Craft. Paul Tarrant, Derek Lindsey, Mark and Ted Gradosielski BEM