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Freemasons toast absent friends and those working on the frontline in the NHS

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ON the first day of home working for many and millions of people now self-isolating, Cheshire Freemasons joined a national call for the whole community to take part in a ‘traditional toast’ at 9pm to ensure no one felt alone.

The United Grand Lodge of England’s 200,000 strong membership, traditionally toasts ‘absent Brethren’, remembering those who are unable to attend their meetings in person at the dinner that takes place afterwards.

The organisation has now adapted the usual 9pm toast it makes during its dinners, inviting everyone to join in a ‘virtual toast’ to ‘absent friends and especially those working on the frontline in the NHS’. Many of Cheshire’s 5,000+ members took part on Monday evening at 9pm, including members from Warrington, sharing pictures on social media and posting on the website.

The initiative, which uses the online hashtag #TimetoToast, has been well received over the past few evenings and we know many people from the wider community have joined in, making it a time to come together and give share wishes with all those we cannot physically meet, yet remain close in our thoughts.

Head of Cheshire Freemasons Stephen Blank said “Our membership includes people of all ages and walks of life, many of whom, like the rest of the country are now in the safety of their own homes – but we know many aren’t so fortunate, especially those who are working so hard to keep us all safe. It was fantastic to see so many people join in the 9pm Toast on Monday and raise a glass in particular to members of the NHS. The initiative will continue across social media channels so please feel free to join us on line to raise a glass to those who are not able to be with their families and loved ones at this time.”

Dr David Staples, Chief Executive of the United Grand Lodge of England, called for the Freemasons’ regular toast to be a ‘virtual’ toast and says “We want everyone to join in a 9pm toast and raise a glass to those you cannot be with in person due to the huge challenges facing the country. Stay safe, self-isolate but know that you are not alone.

Cheshire Freemason Andy Tong said “We are all unable to do the things we previously took for granted, that are so precious to us all – meeting with friends at the pub or for a coffee, enjoying each other’s company. Being social, in its small way, is something we can still all share.”

Christine Chapman, Head of Freemasonry for Women, added “We must combat loneliness by ensuring that, even if we are all in our own homes, we are still connecting across the country”.

The 9pm toast will take place regularly, not every night, over the coming weeks – please join in at @UGLE_GrandLodge as part of the national ‘get together’ or more locally on Twitter @Cheshire PGL, Facebook Provinceofcheshirefreemasons or Instagram at CheshirePGL

Andy Tong – Local Freemason

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Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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