Gainas Lodge member Martin Woolloff writes:
I have always had a very inquisitive mind and enjoy looking into how and why things work like they do and what is the history behind it all. Freemasonry was always very intriguing to me and various items of Regalia worn, the various lodge roles and various ranks all took me back to my military days in uniform. Being an Aircraft Engineer and currently serving my 2nd spell in the Royal Air Force, (served 12 years and then left to spend 12 years in the Offshore industry), I was invited in to Freemasonary after a chance meeting when signing my last will and testament.
When I originally left the RAF after 12 years to start a new career offshore, I did not think that I would miss it as much as I did. The camaraderie that you experience when serving in any of the forces is hard to explain but you meet and become life long friends with some utterly amazing people and make some incredible memories. After leaving the RAF it became apparent after several years that something was missing. Although working offshore in the middle of the ocean for 28 days at a time was similar in the respect that you meet some amazing people from all over the world and form a bond when working a hard job nothing can compare to the respect, integrity, and bond of friendship from serving in the military. Or so I thought!
Once initiated and while working my way through the 3 degrees it was immediately apparent the level of respect, integrity and friendship that was shown by all members. Every meeting was a pleasure to attend and getting to know all the brethren was a real pleasure. Once a Master Mason I visited quite a few different lodges and again was overwhelmed by the genuine warm welcome from brethren from all parts of the country. The best thing is you never know what walk of life someone is from and the experiences they have been through. That in itself is for me amazing and meeting and hearing all about someone else’s life is a privilege and honour.
Throughout my time in Freemasonary I have taken time to really think about all the lessons that are taught and how that can transfer in to everyday life. These lessons are also very strong in the Royal Air Force and the wider services and I have prided myself on evolving over the years to ensure I always stay true to their teachings either in my current job, as a member of community or within family life. All in all it has made me a better person, a better husband and most importantly a better father to my two sons.
This became apparent when my eldest son Finlay (11 years old) approached my wife and myself to ask if he could take part in a charitable event he had seen advertised. The event in question was Operation Swim, an event that Help For Heroes Charity was publicising taking place over the month of June. Swim the length of the 5 Normandy Beaches in one month, a total distance of 47KM. Although Finlay was an active member of a swimming club and already a very accomplished swimmer, this would mean swimming a total of 1880 lengths of a 25m pool or 63 lengths each day to reach his goal. When I asked why he wanted to take part, he mentioned that I often mention the great work the Freemasons do for charity and he remembered when I ‘Braved the Shave’ for Macmillan Cancer and shaved my complete head for that great charity. After further discussion Finlay mentioned that he would also like to do it for more than one charity and mentioned two other charities that are close to our families hearts. When quizzed about his motives his answer ‘that it costs him nothing apart from a little effort in the pool, and that any money raised would go a long way to help people that are effected by two horrible diseases but also help ex-servicemen that have given more than words can say for this country and the wider world.’ To say we were proud was an understatement and after setting up the required GoFundMe me account with his initial target of £600 he started his challenge. With donations coming in thick and fast and his initial goal close to being reached, he mentioned that if his initial target of £600 was reached he would up his total distance to 50Km, another 120 lengths!
With a hard month of swimming complete Finlay did indeed reach his target of 50km and including a very generous donation from Gainas Lodge No. 5121 raised an amazing £1180.00 for his three charities of choice, Help for Heroes, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and Breast Cancer Now.
Although every family is different and all parents try to teach their children to be good people and have good morals and standards, having my son do such an amazing feat without any pushing at all, reminds me that the things I have experienced and learnt through my time as a Freemason and while serving in the RAF is most defiantly pointing him along the right path. A Path that I hope he will continue growing along.
Just like the journey every Freemason takes from his Initiation, through the Fellowcraft Degree and on to Master Mason, the journeys that we all take in life and the way we deal with all the many different hardships we undoubtably will face, having a good upbringing and following that through life while constantly evolving to the sometimes challenging face of the world and society, the values both Freemasonary and the Forces provide can influence people in so many ways, as it has done with my truly amazing family.