Filey Freemasons' Portus Felix Lodge have received an impressive gift from York Minster stonemason apprentice Emma Waitzmann.
In 2017, the Masonic Charitable Foundation donated £170,000 to the Minster to cover three apprenticeships. Emma is the second apprentice stonemason at York Minster to be supported by this funding, the third is to be recruited soon. This means that of the six apprentices currently working at York Minster, half will be supported by the Freemasons.
It’s an appropriate choice given the society’s origins and an idea that began in Filey, just a few years ago, has now been adopted across the province. Addressing the meeting before Emma spoke, Brother John Davies said: “We are delighted to be funding an apprentice, thanks to the Brethren in Filey, the seed of an idea has flourished big time.”
He continued: “A full set of working tools costs roughly £1,500. Each new mason needs a selection of appropriate tools, and they have to buy them themselves. If we can fund them for these young people it’s worth every bit of effort to do that.
“With 150 lodges and chapters in the Yorkshire North and East Province, the maths is easy, each lodge need only commit an average of £10 per year.”
The province is now looking to raise the £15,000 a year required to fully fund an apprentice, at £100 per lodge per annum.
Brother Davies said: “By funding an apprentice, we give a young person the chance to follow their dream, what could be better than that?”
The masons have long been involved with York Minster. Addressing the meeting, York Minster Funding Director, Neil Sanderson, said “The link between York Minster and the Freemasons goes back centuries. The Jesse Window features an all seeing eye in the Star of David and the date 1789.”
As one of the few centres of excellence in the country, competition for stonemason apprenticeships is fierce. This year’s apprentice, Emma Waitzmann, fought off stiff competition to secure her place. She said working on the building was a dream come true: “Right from the start I was pleased to see my work being added to this great building”
“I really enjoy it, there’s always something new to learn and lots to do. I just want to say thank you for your support.”
Emma became interested in stonemasonry after her mother paid for her to attend a soapstone carving course. “I really enjoyed using the tools,” she said.
“I think it’s absolutely amazing to work at York Minster, to do the job is just amazing.”
To say thank you for their generosity, Emma presented the Portus Felix Lodge with an immaculately carved stone block with the Freemason symbol on it, along with the name of the lodge and Emma’s own personal mason’s mark.
Worshipful Master John Colling thanked Emma for her gift and said that it would take pride of place in the lodge.
After the talk a dinner was held where Emma was once again thanked. Filey Portus Felix Lodge then gave Emma a gift of £135 and a train ticket so she could return home to visit her family in Scotland.