Interview with the newly appointed Deputy Metropolitan Grand Masters
Interview by W Bro Rod Glyn-Thomas LGR and Bro Seb Giroux
With lockdown still upon us, we are confined to Zoom once more, and this time we are joined by the newly appointed Deputy Metropolitan Grand Masters, W Bro Warren Duke and VW Bro Christopher Hayward*.
The journey starts
After we all set our cameras, microphones, and adjust our chairs, we invite our two guests down memory lane, where they recount their masonic journey. It quickly appears that they were both Lewis, sons of Freemasons, and that masonry ran deep in their families.
At twenty-two, Bro Warren didn’t realise how well he already knew most members of his father’s Lodge. It was only when the blindfold came off during his initiation that he realised how many of those present were also close family friends he had met so many times already. Tregenna Lodge No 1272 in St Ives, Cornwall gave him that first and memorable taste of Freemasonry that he’ll never forget. Tregenna meets ten times a year, all of which were very much a ‘family and friends’ occasion and a place of much laughter and some very high standard ritual. Being part of something so special became so crucial for Bro Warren when, sadly, his father passed away only a couple of years later. He has gone back annually in recent years, generally with close masonic friends, to make it a trip to remember!
Bro Chris had a somewhat similar start and couldn’t wait to join. As a schoolboy his interest was piqued by seeing his dad disappearing off an evening in a dark suit and with a black briefcase. When he managed to sneak a look into the case and discovered all those amazing things inside, he knew he had to be part of it. It was not too long before he finally turned twenty-one, and his father could reveal it all. Initiated by his father into the King Arthur Lodge No 5469 in Bournemouth he, like Bro Warren, was astonished to find so many familiar faces.
As they recall their early masonic years, they both agree that things were a bit different back then. “Freemasonry was more secret then, and we didn’t know anything at all beforehand. So much so that the older members could easily pull our leg before each ceremony”, Bro Warren recalls. “They told me so much. I was actually terrified before my raising!” (Bro Warren then describes the ritual as worked in Tregenna Lodge, which, as the interviewers can attest, is quite different!)
Both were impressed by the very high standard of the ritualists they met, including their family, and neither wanted to let anyone down. The Lodge members’ commitment to the work carried through into the festive board and beyond. It was undoubtedly a case of work hard and play hard, as both remember how much they managed to drink after LOIs and meetings! Bro Chris and Bro Warren note how the firm grounding in ritual has helped them on their masonic journeys.
Their respective professional careers pulled them away from home, and it became impossible to commit to attend meetings. So after taking his time, Warren joined Blundell’s Lodge No 5467 in London and waited a few years before deciding he had the time to advance through the offices.
Bro Chris was keen to get involved from the start and quickly became a Steward in his mother Lodge. “But there were seven stewards before me and each as keen as I was, so it took me seven years before I could progress!” By the time he reached Junior Warden, he was working in Exeter so he didn’t have the chance to progress. To this day, it is a deep regret that he has never been master of his mother lodge.
After several years of visiting various other Lodges, they both settled in London, and became Masters of their Lodges each of them inviting brethren from their mother Lodges to mark the occasion and seal the duality of their masonic journey so far: started in the provinces and progressed in London.
When asked which parts of the ritual they like the most, it is amusing to note how similar they are once more. They both confess to being very fond of the charge after initiation, although neither has ever delivered it in an open Lodge! Bro Chris remembers fondly when his father told him the charge would answer many of his questions: “it encapsulates everything that Freemasonry is about. It is the most fabulous summary of all that is good and great about Freemasonry.”
Bro Warren’s favourite moment, though, is when the Master asks the Inner Guard to attest for the regularity and preparedness of the candidate. “I love that moment when the word of the most junior officer of the lodge is good enough for the Master.”
Bro Chris and Bro Warren are both members of the Royal Arch, and while Bro Chris joined numerous other appendant bodies, Bro Warren remained focused on Craft and the Royal Arch. They are also both members of Rose Croix, Bro Chris for many years but Bro Warren only recently.
As they talk more about their masonic journey after passing through the chair, Bro Chris and Bro Warren describe how, from this point, their journeys diverged.
Bro Warren spent several years simply enjoying his Freemasonry in his London Lodge. His experience in Cornwall had made him aware there was some structure above the Lodge. After all, he had often met visiting officers. But he had absolutely no idea about either Metropolitan Grand Lodge or Grand Lodge. Then, and without any recollection of how this happened, he suddenly found himself invited to be a Metropolitan Grand Steward. The year was 2007, his best so far, and his entry into the world of Metropolitan. “Joining the Metropolitan Grand Stewards Lodge No 9812 was the most fun I’d had in Freemasonry. It literally opened my eyes to everything that happens in London and Metropolitan. I met many life-long friends in this year, and ultimately it broadened my masonic perspective.”
Bro Warren recognises Metropolitan is still a relatively young organisation, especially when compared to Provinces. Still, it has a lot of talent and tremendous energy and enthusiasm to continue to flourish. It also enables anyone to contribute as they wish. “The thing in Freemasonry is that you are never directly asked what you want to do. So relax, apply yourself, enjoy the journey, and if you do get a tap on the shoulder, say yes!”
Bro Chris never saw masonry as a career, more as a journey. When he was awarded Senior London Grand Rank, he was elated. It is almost like it triggered something in him, a drive to carry on and get even more involved. Then things moved quickly, perhaps even to the surprise of some friends, as Bro Chris tells us. “A friend of mine, who was an Inspector at the time, offered to take me as a Visiting Officer in his Inspectorate. After six months, he told me to keep up the good work for five years and I may become a Senior Visiting Officer! Little did he know that I’d been identified sometime before, and I had just had an interview to be an Inspector, a little faster than he might have thought.”
Yet, Bro Chris happily confessed he knew little about Metropolitan by the time he became an Inspector. Undeterred, he found and appointed a fabulous adjutant who provided a tremendous amount of support and allowed him to flourish in the role. “It is such a special moment when you put that chain on for the first time, and you go out and visit your first Lodge.”
But Bro Chris’ first visit as an Inspector was not going to be so smooth. Half an hour before the meeting, his Escorting Officer called to say that he was stuck at work and couldn’t come. The Lodge’s Director of Ceremonies had to step in and escort Bro Chris himself. Bro Chris likes to remind the chap who didn’t show about this event whenever they bump into each other. (Which is quite often as that missing Escorting Officer is now better known as VW Bro D Staples GSec!). However, from slightly unusual beginnings, a great relationship has formed between the first visit to that Lodge and Bro Chris, and it went on to make him an honorary member.
Becoming Deputy Metropolitan Grand Master
We moved on to the recent appointment of Bro Chris and Bro Warren to the office of Deputy Metropolitan Grand Master, and our first question is whether they were expecting the call.As it turns out, not at all. In their own words, Bro Warren was “floored” by the offer and Bro Chris “flabbergasted”. As they explain, when you get the call, you take a little time to think, but there really can be just one answer.
Both feel that they are fortunate to be invited into such an important role. After only three years as an Inspector, Bro Chris became Assistant Metropolitan Grand Master and enjoyed working with his team. One should not underestimate the amount of work and responsibilities brought by looking after five Inspectorates, all in addition to the day job as well. And so, one must be willing and able to afford the necessary time for such roles. Being offered DepMetGM is a huge opportunity but one that requires total commitment. It may also bring a lot of uncertainty, but for Bro Chris, taking risks is part of the game. As an Inspector, he organised and ran the first Inspectorate festival despite most people warning him against it. But he went ahead, believed in his idea and ultimately, it was a great success. Two hundred turned up, and most Lodges in his Inspectorate were represented. “If you have an idea and want to bring something forward, there is no such thing as failure, you always learn from what you do. The main secret lies in the team you work with and how you get them on board, motivate them and excite them to run with your ideas or their own.”
Nodding in agreement, Bro Warren adds that ultimately, we’re only in any position for a while before handing it to someone else. We should do the best we can and enjoy it while we’re there. “Whatever we do in Freemasonry, we are just passing through. We are merely the custodians of our roles.”
Bro Warren also points out how well he and Bro Chris complement each other. Their backgrounds allow each of them to bring something different to the role. For over thirteen years, Bro Warren has been very active in London, culminating in the last four years as Metropolitan Grand Director of Ceremonies. In this role, he has worked closely with the Metropolitan rulers and developed his knowledge across all of Metropolitan. With Bro Chris’ more traditional path, they certainly bring a variety of perspective and form a well-rounded and well-balanced pair.
The Practicalities of DepMetGM
As they are preparing themselves to enter the demanding role of Deputy Metropolitan Grand Master, they recognise they are doing so at such a crucial time for Metropolitan. Thinking ahead to the post-pandemic weeks and months, they relish the challenge and opportunity to be part of the team that will be leading London Freemasonry out of lockdown and back into meetings and social events.
They have been invited to contribute to a four-year MetGL plan and developing a complete strategy for their terms. There is much to do and much to catch up on. Among the key challenges post-Covid are, of course, the retention of members and attracting new ones. It requires the whole leadership team to encourage Brethren and Companions back, help them as much as possible through any challenges they may face during resumption, reinvigorate Lodges and Chapters and also invite new members to join Freemasonry – all whilst maintaining the high standards we are all accustomed to. It is a complex jigsaw but, most of all, Bro Warren tells us it is about enjoying our Freemasonry, and having fun while working through the next few months and years.
Echoing these words, Bro Chris reminds us all Freemasonry is a hobby and something we enjoy doing. Being a DepMetGM is also being an ambassador for that ethos, the integrity and values behind Freemasonry and how it contributes to society. They both have a clear plan of what to work on and what is expected of them, particularly providing leadership for London. But, of course, the great emphasis remains on post-pandemic planning.
“As all of society will be changing, and we can’t expect this to happen overnight, but we will need to be out there as rulers to encourage London Freemasons to come back to what they loved doing before the pandemic and find it still enjoyable, still vibrant.”
As we reach the end of the interview, Bro Chris and Bro Warren reflect on their journey and all they have enjoyed as Freemasons. If there is some pride in being offered this tremendous opportunity to join the Metropolitan leadership team, it is mixed in equal measure with humility to be a member of such a great brotherhood.
Similarly, Bro Chris has connected with those who helped him along the way and invited them to the important milestones in his journey. For instance, the Secretary who put him forward for Senior London Grand Rank was also there to see him become an Assistant Metropolitan Grand Master. Sadly, however, his dad has passed away a year ago and will not see him rise to DepMetGM.
In their final words, Bro Warren and Bro Chris want to acknowledge the hardship that the current lockdown has brought on so many people and urge all of us to try and help others as we can. This is what brotherhood is about, they say.
“We are sensitive to the fact that a lot of people have gone through a lot of hardship and pain. We have lost people, we have lost Brothers, and we must remember the real meaning of the word Brother in that we are here for each other. We will get together again, and we will enjoy our Freemasonry again.”
* Correct at time of publishing. The promotions will take effect on 28 April for Craft and 29 April for the Royal Arch.
Ranks, Awards and Posts
PJGD, SGD (became PSGD after an active year), PGSwdB
UGLE PGSwdB 19-
London SLGR 13-, AsstMetGM 19-
SGC PGSwdB 19-
London PJGD, SGD, PGSwdB 19-, AsstMetGSupt 19-
Memberships (Current Subscribing)
L5469 King Arthur, Hants. & I. of W.
L4197 Kingswood School, London
L3245 Athlumney, London
L5107 Lodge of Saint Julian
L33 Britannic Lodge
L1 Grand Masters Lodge
L8220 City of London Lodge of Installed Masters, London
C1269 Stanhope, London
C2712 London First Principals, London
C5 St George’s, London
Ranks, Awards and Posts
UGLE AGDC 13, GStwd 20-
London SLGR 11-13, MetGDC 17-
SGC GStB 19
London SLGCR 11-, MetGDC 17-
Memberships (Current Subscribing)
L1272 Tregenna, Cornwall
L5467 Blundell’s, London
L9812 Metropolitan Grand Stewards’, London
L5 St Georges and Cornerstone
L3549 Old Bradfield, London
C29 St Albans, London
C1475 Peckham, London
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 44 April 2020 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 44.