Spotlight on Liberal Arts Lodge No 6659 – Brethren’ success, in their own words

Liberal Arts Lodge No 6659 had ample opportunity to celebrate so early in the year. One of its members, W Bro Robert Upton, celebrated 50 years of service to Freemasonry. Then two Brethren, W Bro Chirag Shah and W Bro Billy Driscoll, both received London Grand Rank.

Robert Harry Upton Esq.

An Esquire from Bramley (Surrey), Robert was born in Basingstoke on the 3rd of February 1941. At 16, he started a five-year Government electrical apprenticeship. He worked with a local electric contractor while studying at college. Rising to technical director, he resigned at 40 to start his own company, providing building maintenance services to some prestigious clients, including the Houses of Parliament and English Heritage. He finally retired in 2011, aged 70.

Initiated in Liberal Arts Lodge No 6659 in 1968, Robert has had an exemplary masonic career. Member of many Lodges and Chapters, VO, SVO, Past Grand Steward and Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in both Craft and Chapter. He joined several other Orders, rising to high prominence in most of them.

Robert is married to Valerie, and together they have two adult children and a Grandson. Robert has always kept very active, from sailing to golfing, riding horses to piloting planes. A member of many institutions, supplemental, Justice of the Peace, for the County of Surrey, retired councillor, and so many more, Robert the true embodiment of the family motto: ‘Through Personal Endeavor.’

Chirag Shah LGR

I am 57 years old, married with two grown-up children. I work as a partner in a financial service firm and am a chartered member of the Securities Institute. I have been in Craft for fourteen years, and my current role is DC of the Lodge.

I have been in Chapter for eight years, and my current role is J. 

What do I like about Freemasonry?

1.) Fraternity, I like the fact that we are a band of Brothers who look out for each other. Some of the most trustworthy people I have ever met have come from Freemasonry. This also involves the concept of helping Brothers in times of need and charity. 

2.) The concept of disinterested friendship. This isn’t a networking or business-driven body. Although, of course, business does occur between Brothers, Freemasonry’s purpose is not business. It is the concept of disinterested friendship. In other words, we are friends and Brothers, but I don’t want anything out of you.

3.) If you study the ethos of the ritual, it actually provides you with a blueprint for how you can lead your life. I particularly like the point about living your life so that you are respected and die regretted. 

4.) The comradeship and banter. The many hours of light relief that Freemasonry has provided! Need I say anymore… 

William Driscoll LGR

When I was a younger man, I was asked several times if I would consider Freemasonry. Unfortunately, I had to decline, mainly because of my work and football commitments. By chance, I first met Chirag at a breakfast meeting with my son Joe, and I would like to think that we had mutual respect. Eventually, Chirag asked us both if we would consider joining his Lodge, The Liberal Arts.  We were seconded by Richard Gore and were initiated in a double ceremony, as was the case with our second and third degrees. Joe moved to the Peak District. I went into the chair in 2014 and was awarded LGR in 2021.

My only regret is that all those years ago, I didn’t commit to Freemasonry. I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I have enjoyed every single minute I spent in my masonic career.

I met some truly and genuinely wonderful people and made lifelong friendships. My special thanks to Chirag Shah LGR, Richard (Reggie) Gore LGR, Toot (the Lodge father) Bunag LGR, (Sir) Fred Ridley SLGR, Reza (padawan) Choudhury, Kevin Tidey SLCGR, Ray Murphy SLCGR and all members of Liberal Arts.

Ted Page visiting from Chingford Lodge No 2859, celebrated 40 years of Freemasonry

My Grandfather was a Freemason, and as a child, I was always fascinated by the mystery. It was obvious that whatever was involved, he enjoyed it very much. He was a lovely man.

I joined Freemasonry forty years ago, and I, too, have enjoyed every minute. I have met so many nice people, learnt a lot about life and feel that, in some way, I have contributed to a happier life for others, masons and non-masons.

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 49 August 2022 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 49 here.