The Master and his Wardens – Freemasonry in Kidderminster
MEET THE PRINCIPAL OFFICERS OF THE LODGE OF HOPE AND CHARITY NO.377
John’s a man of many parts.
Our Worshipful Master, John Stevens, has a quiet personality but is a man of such a bewildering breadth of interests that you wonder how he can pack it all into just one life – and he does it all while coping with the demands of Diabetes and Coeliac Disease.
School Governor, a member of the Public Participation Involvement Group (part of the Wyre Forest clinical commissioning group), member of a trust looking after a group of almshouses, Kidderminster Operatic and Dramatic Society, and in earlier days a member of Kidderminster Male Voice Choir. He is also Vice Chairman of the Diabetes UK Wyre Forest Voluntary Group.
Oh, and for good measure, he was Mayor of Kidderminster 2001/2002. During his time as First Citizen of the town he visited the twinned town of Husum and still has links with the German town.
John met his wife Della on stage at Stourport Civic Hall when both were playing bit parts in a Gilt Edge Operatic production of ‘New Moon’ and they have a son aged 32, a two-year-old grandson and a baby granddaughter.
All of which tells you that John is very much a local lad. Born and raised in Stourport, he lived for some time in Kidderminster but is now back in his home town.
He is an avid visitor to other lodges in the area and there was a near-full house of visitors for his Installation – which in fact had to be moved from the usual February meeting until March while he recovered from a virus infection.
Ask him what he gets out of Masonry and his answer is short and sweet, “Enjoyment.”
A man of many talents
Our new Senior Warden, Andy Portman, is a local man, born and bred in Stourport on Severn. At 16 he started a life as a musician, playing any brass instrument you care to name, having had lessons since he was eight. At 18 he was teaching others how to play. Then he decided to go into horticulture and after a spell at Pershore College joined a big garden centre in 1983.
By 1988 he was repping for a tool and plant hire company and in 2005 joined his father-in-law, our Lodge Treasurer Jeff Whiteley, in Jeff’s audio-video company. Now, at 51, while still lending a hand to Jeff when necessary, Andy is mainly engaged with his wife Joanna in building up a bespoke stationery business specially aimed at weddings, family celebrations and so on.
The great love of his life is his wife and children aged 20, 9, and 4, and another great enthusiasm is motor racing at the Shelsley Walsh hill climb.
Last season was his second term as Junior Warden. He had delayed his progress because of business pressures but, he says, “I now feel I am able to find time to give to our marvellous lodge the attention it deserves and am looking forward to a successful year.”
New challenges for ex-Army man
For a man who has tackled the dismantling of landmines, the Charge in the First Degree should present no fears. But it’s still a challenge and Andrew Hinton, our Lodge’s new Junior Warden , admits that, although he loves Masonic ritual, it doesn’t come naturally to him and he has to work at it.
Landmines? He was in the Army for six years and as a bomb disposal expert he was called on from time to time to carry out one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. In fact, although he had left the Army, he was one of 200 men who answered a request for volunteers to clear up after the 1991-92 Gulf War.
Nowadays, at 58, he follows more gentle pursuits as a Principal Designer in a construction role working exclusively for Jaguar Land Rover.
His grandfather was a Freemason and Andrew was attracted to the Craft by the promise of camaraderie similar to the friendships he enjoyed in the Army. He was Initiated into H&C in 2012 and is the first of the newish members to reach the Junior Warden’s chair.
He has embraced Masonry and has joined other Orders like Royal Arch, Mark, and Rose Croix.
He lived his early life in Southampton and an Army posting brought him to the Midlands. He is married to Rachel, who is a NHS Health Visitor.
How does he like the JW’s chair? “It feels pretty comfortable to me,” he says.