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Last Updated: Friday, 8 June 2007, 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK
Freemasons open door to students
Freemasons march in County Durham
Freemasons have tried to shake off their secretive image in recent years
Freemasons are extending a welcoming handshake to students on university campuses across England in a bid to attract more younger members.

Young masons make up only 0.25% of the organisation's members in England, and membership has been falling recently.

Nine lodges in university cities including Oxford, Cambridge and Durham are offering students cut price joining fees in a bid to entice them in.

A spokesman said universities were an obvious place to access young people.

Assistant Grand Master of the United Lodge of England David Williamson said the aim was to open up wider opportunities for undergraduates and other university members to enjoy Freemasonry.

We have so much to offer that we feel it is important to make younger people aware of it.
Chris Connop
Grand Lodge spokesman

He said: "This is a challenge for the lodges that have chosen to participate.

"Young masons make up only about a quarter of one per cent of the membership of the Craft in this country, so we want to make the Craft more accessible to young men.

"The recent approval by the Grand Lodge to reduce fees for under-25s by half will act as encouragement."

Spokesman for the Grand Lodge Chris Connop said that like many other membership organisations, the Freemasons had seen a drop in numbers in recent years.

This was mainly due to the older age profile of a large proportion of membership, he said.

Personal gain

"They are passing on to the Grand Lodge in the sky," he added.

"We have so much to offer that we feel it is important to make younger people aware of it.

"If you are going to put your message across to young people, universities seem to be an obvious place to do it."

Those wishing to become masons are checked out by the Grand Lodge to ensure they do not have criminal records or are wanting to join for personal gain.

Then their details are passed on to one of the 8,000 affiliated lodges which will get to know them.

They then have to be proposed and seconded by existing members before joining.


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