A local Masonic Lodge has been praised by SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity and Poppyscotland for virtually cycling 242 miles in memory of the brethren who paid the ultimate sacrifice in The Great War.
Last Saturday, 35 volunteers of all ages from Masonic Lodge Houstoun St Johnstone played their part in cycling bikes connected to turbo trainers loaned from the Johnstone Wheelers.
Over 100 years ago, 27 local brethren answered fellow Mason, Lord Kitchener’s call with 7 eventually paying the ultimate sacrifice across the famous battles of Ypres, Mons and the Somme.
When war broke out, Colonel Paton, from the Paton’s Mills Family and the Right Worshipful Master of the lodge at the time, immediately singed up to the 1/6th Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders alongside his son, 6 office bearers and 20 others.
Today several of their brethren continue to serve in the Armed Forces and the lodge felt it fitting to attempt the virtual cycle of 242 miles, the lodge number, and a distance which would have taken in the main battles of The Western Front in this the Centenary year of the end of World War 1.
In 1914 the lodge donated £20, over £1000’s in today’s money, to the National Relief Fund which was administered by SSAFA or SSFA (Soldiers and Sailors Families Association) as it was known then on account of the RAF still to be formed.
In Johnstone and 1914 alone 289 wives, 653 children and 241 other relatives required £1,385 7s 5d, which is over £80k in today’s money, of support from the National Relief Fund when their family members went off to defend the country.
The Renfrewshire branch of SSAFA continues to play a similar role and works alongside charities like Poppyscotland to ensure veterans and their families have support when they need it.
Brian Smolarek, Right Worshipful Master, Lodge Houstoun St Johnstone, said: “The Lodge is proud of the achievements and sacrifice of the brethren from Colonel Paton right through to those serving today in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We hope our virtual cycle is a fitting tribute which also recognises the important part Armed Forces charities continue to play in supporting veterans and their families.
“They have sacrificed a great deal for us, so now it’s our turn to support them.”