State-of-the-art Scout ‘hotel’ opens in Bromham

Masons donated over £500k

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 10:37 am

A new state-of-the-art ‘hotel’ to accommodate Scouts from around the world will be officially opened next week – two years late due to Covid.

The county’s Masons have donated £520,000 to build the 46-bed Lodge of Friendship at the Lesley Sell Activity Centre in Bromham.

One daring member even walked on the wings of a 75-year-old biplane as it flew over the Cotswolds at 130mph to raise £10,000 towards the cause.

The Lodge of Friendship built of Finnish timber

Terry Thurley – who described himself as being “bonkers” after the thrilling flight – will be among the 65 VIP guests at the opening ceremony on May 26.

Local Masons funded the building to mark the 300-year anniversary of the Premier Grand Lodge of England, the world’s first Masonic Grand Lodge, in 1717.

It will be officially opened by the Most Worshipful Pro-Grand Master Peter Geoffrey Lowndes, the second highest-ranking Mason in the country after the Duke of Kent.

Senior Bedfordshire Mason Michael Hillson, whose Maulden-based building company masterminded the project, said: “It has been an incredible achievement.

The first sod-cutting in June 2019, Tony Henderson and Scouts, Cubs and Guides

“There’s no doubt this has been a world-class project – it’s a truly magnificent building and really has the ‘Wow!’ factor.

“Hundreds of Scouts have already used it and we are proud to have been able to help make this happen.”

The amenities and accommodation lodge has been built from spruce logs hewn in Finland.

Standing outside will be a two metre-high, three-ton Welsh stone monolith, which has been hand-carved with the Scouts and Masons’ logos over a hand of friendship.

Bedfordshire Mason Terry Thurley about to take off on his daring wing-walking trip

Mr Hillson said: “The lodge has been designed to last at least 100 years and the county’s Masons can feel rightly proud of generously making this happen.”

Wing-walking Mr Thurley admitted: “I was initially very apprehensive taking on the challenge.

“But once I was airborne on the wing of the Boeing Stearman plane I started to relax and then became exhilarated by the experience.

“I was surprised and delighted so many Masons dug deep in their pockets to sponsor me.”

However, when asked whether he would do it again, Mr Thurley quickly replied: “I may be bonkers, but I’m not totally mad.”