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  • Writer's picturePaul W Skinner

The long road to the second degree

An Epic Trip in Arctic conditions to be made a FellowCraft!

Jaguars and classic cars have always been part of Bro Eddie Payne's life, and it was at a Jaguar car event within the beautiful rural grounds of Wroxall Abbey in Sept 2019 that his very first step in Freemasonry was taken.

"I remember the day very well and the conversations we had. I had accepted my self into a path in life I knew I would enjoy. Typically for me, my initiation would be in April 2020 during the height of COVID and sadly the Lodges were closed. Some 18 months past until I was finally initiated into Michael Price Lodge 9853 with those fellow brothers and friends who I had got to know at a variety of occasions prior, including a very nice Christmas lunch in 2019 and via some Jaguar related Zoom calls. It was great to meet with people from all walks in life who both shared a passion in motoring and the craft."

Several months past and Eddie was contacted to attend an emergency meeting coupled with being passed to the second degree. As the Michael Price Lodge is situated in Knowle Warwickshire, and with Eddie living in Andover Hampshire, his journey back to the lodge would be something that he would never forget.

As a military man who has served in the British army for 18 years as an Armoured Cavalry tank crewman, Eddie has experienced his fair share of being subjected to extreme climates and austere environments, but the 140 mile journey to Lodge would be a trip that would once again test his grit.

"It was an ice-cold November morning and a 06:00 start. My suit and shoes where packed neatly in a waterproof backpack and a cup of tea and bacon sandwich to start my day.

I would be embarking on 280-mile journey from Andover Hampshire (near Stonehenge) to Warwickshire and back for my second degree on a 125cc geared motorbike as typically my warm comfortable car was being fixed."

Bro Eddie with his 125cc in front of his Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank

"I set off with the first 50 miles being pleasant as the sun was rising and the world was coming to life. However, when I passed Oxford towards the A34/M40 Banbury junction the weather turned for the worst. It was now a very dark grey sky and the snow had started. By the time I had got to the area of Birmingham, the motorway was down to a crawling 35mph on what was now an ice-cold snow-covered carriageway. Desperately fighting to keep my 125cc motorbike wheels within the dry tracks on the road, and feeling the bike slipping around underneath me, I would slowly make progress towards Knowle with the temperature dropping even more."

"By the time I had reached Coventry my toes were numb, fingers were numb and having been sat on a motorbike in the elements my body temperature was struggling. I had felt these symptoms before during my military arctic weather training in Estonia, where we would jump into ice cold water and then roll in snow and re-dress to survive the effects of hypothermia. An extreme example but this bike ride was putting me to the test. It was now approaching 10 o’clock and I was still crawling 20miles or so from the lodge when I had to pull over to make a call and desperately warm up."

"I managed to get feeling into my fingers and toes by warming them on the exhaust in an icy layby and get myself back on the bike to push the final 20 miles. "

"Soaking wet from melted snow, ice cold, a wet neck scarf, and feeling the early effects of a cold injury. I made it to the Knowle Masonic rooms, and I was never happier to knock the door and be greeted by our Tyler who took me in. He immediately made me a hot drink as I hugged the radiator in the changing room and jumped up and down to get life back into my ice-cold limbs. If I did however take the car, I would never have made it until lunchtime, so my little 125 bike was a saving grace. I was then in a good state to be progressed to my second degree followed by a lovely lunch and prizegiving before heading back south.

It was a very challenging day because of the severe weather, but I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting and spending time with some very good friends. It will be undoubtedly a day I will never forget."

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