Unity Lodge's Charity
In the early months of 1976, the District Grand Lodge of North Queensland made an appeal to all lodges in the district for an amount of $100.00 per member so that the district Masonic Homes (sometimes called the Masonic Village) could be commenced. This donation would attract a government subsidy. The address to Unity Lodge was given by Rt. Wor. Bro. "Bert" Jones as each member of the organising committee was delegated to address a lodge. It fell on Wor. Bro. Harry Bowmaker as the incoming Master elect to head the organising of raising these funds. Fortunately, our secretary, Rt. Wor. Bro. Bill Ireton had been quietly accumulating the alms collection over many years and a considerable amount was available to cover some of the older members who would find it hard to donate $100.00. Some members immediately made their donation but there was still a considerable shortfall.
At the time of the original address it was suggested that the Lodges combine so that a larger Lodge would combine with a smaller Lodge and thus ease the burden of raising these funds. Also at this time the running of raffles was frowned upon and as a way of getting around this problem many lodges used their roll number as a club number hence "Club 300" was born.
Another piece of good fortune for Unity Lodge was that Wor. Bro. Bill Johnstone had just completed the organising of a large raffle for the boy scout movement and he undertook the organising of a similar raffle for Unity Lodge. However, when application was made for a raffle permit from the Justice Department it was found a formal club constitution was required. As time was running out, it was not possible to take this to a series of Lodge meetings so Wor. Bro. Harry Bowmaker formulated a constitution and met with a committee of Past Masters who approved the draft rules. This was then shown to the District Grand Secretary, Rt. Wor. Bro. Harold Greenslade, who also approved. The draft was sent to the Queensland Justice Department who, after several telephone calls, issued the necessary permit.
Then followed the printing of tickets and organising locations and manpower to sell these tickets. The organising of selling locations was facilitated by Wor. Bro. Don Fisher who together with his sister spent countless hours selling over the weeks which followed. One prime location was at Phillip Leong's store in Hermit Park which was owned by Bro. Phillip Leong. Originally the sellers made use of a card table until Wor. Bro. Kelvin "Doc" Shannon made a very sturdy collapsible wooden table which helped considerably.
While all this was happening a further effort was being organised as " a day on the farm" in conjunction with the members of Townsville A.I.F. Lodge. This event was held at Bro. Keith Melville's farm at Alligator Creek and comprised lucky numbers, knock-em-downs, liquor sales, pony rides, band playing, gate admission and raffles. This raised a considerable amount and after the Unity Lodge big raffle of a freezer full of goods, the money from alms collections, and personal donations Unity Lodge only required a small amount of the day's takings to meet their commitment to District Grand Lodge. The balance was left to Townsville A.I.F. to help them with their pledge.
The fund raising wheels were now in motion and although Unity Lodge had reached the target set on it by District Grand Lodge the members were keen to continue fund raising. Various other methods were devised including the sale of photo albums depicting the building of the homes and their official opening. Another venture was the sale of stable manure for garden fertiliser. The photo albums were the brainchild of Mr. Tony Guest the son-in-law of Wor. Bro. Harry Bowmaker. The garden fertiliser project was idea of Wor. Bro. Bowmaker who lived near the stable area of Wulguru. As he had access to sack bags and manure an advertisement was placed in the paper and Rt. Wor. Bro. Ireton's wife, Bessie, took responsibility for taking orders. Lodge members bagged the manure and delivered it in Wor. Bro. Bowmaker's truck on Saturday afternoons. The cost of the manure was set at $2.00 per bag.
A suggestion was then made by Wor. Bro. Allen Mc.Donald that more money may be able to be raised by cutting survey pegs for sale to surveyor's around Townsville. There were, at this time, three members of Unity Lodge connected with the surveying profession and also several carpenters within the lodge. At this point in time survey pegs and stakes were becoming increasinly difficult to source in Townsville and the peg cutting idea was readily accepted.
A saw bench was loaned by Rt. Wor. Bro. Allen Pollock and was set up in the back yard of Wor. Bro. Bowmaker's premises at Wulguru. He also arranged to purchase reject timber from Foxwood Timber Mill and so the "Peg Factory" was born. A pillar of strength for this project was V. Wor. Bro. Arthur Hetherington, a retired fore-man carpenter, who spent many hours cutting pegs, sharpening blades and organising manpower. Wor. Bro. Vic Freeman, an electrical contractor, also helped by supplying all the necessary extension leads and electrical connections for the electric motors.
Sales took readily, for, with a downturn in the building industry, many staff had been laid off by the timber mills and peg cutting was not being readily undertaken. Hence the surveying industry turned to the Unity Lodge "Peg Factory" more and more for their requirements. The pegs were properly made in the required sizes and painted ready for use thereby saving the surveyors time in having to have this done. It was not long before the business outgrew its back yard location. Due to the efforts of Wor. Bro. Bob. Hume the factory was relocated to the premises of Wor. Bro. Roy Davis at "Northern Aluminium" in Aitkenvale. The need now arose for more and bigger capacity equipment as V.Wor. Bro. Hetherington, who was our main benchman, was continually sharpening blades. Again Townville businesses assisted with larger capacity motors at a nominal fee and steel donated to build a bigger saw bench. This was constructed by Wor. Bro. Allen Watchman who had spent several years in the Royal Australian Air Force as a master welder.
The business continued to grow and a second saw bench was loaned by Wor. Bro. Davis to meet requirements. Shortly afterwards Northern Aluminium sold part of their premises and our business was relocated to Wor. Bro Davis' property at the Bohle. No work was ever carried out at this location as it was found to be too far away to be a viable proposition. Rt. Wor. Bro. Pollock then received permission to relocate to the premises of Bro. Peter Longford of Balmoral Lodge at Stuart. This move promoted the requirement of another saw bench and again Townsville businesses assisted.
Unfortunately, shortly after, the enthusiasm of members began to wane owing to ill health of some and the fact that members had been working each weekend for five years. It was then decided to sell the business as a going concern and to invest the proceeds to enable future donations to various charities as we may decide each year. The business was subsequently sold and the proceeds of the sale were invested allowing Unity Lodge to continue to make donations to worthy causes as the Lodge saw fit. Club 300 has continued to discharge its purpose and still makes donations in 2016. This is thanks to the efforts of Unity Lodge Brethern, many of whom have not been mentioned in the formation of Club 300.
It is interesting to note that in the period 1977 to November, 2002 Unity Lodge donated in excess of $74,000.00 to various charities in the Townsville area which have included:-
Townsville Masonic Homes Meals on Wheels Camp Quality Heart Foundation Queensland Blind Society Kirwin Womens Hospital Mayor's Christmas Appeal Ladies Auxiliary Blue Nurses St. Vincent de Paul The Salvation Army Endeavour Foundation Red Cross Children's Ward D.G.L. Christmas Appeal Masonic Ball Committee Christmas cheer to widows of past members
It is hoped that Unity Lodge, through Club 300, will be able to support charities for many years to come.
Extracted from "A Concise History of Unity Lodge No. 300 U.G.L.Q." compiled by Wor. Bro. G.H. (Gordon) Robertson who was initiated into Unity Lodge on 21st. May, 1971.