A LODGE in Cornwall has hosted what is being described as a first for Freemasonry in England. 

Penwith Lodge, in the old port town of Hayle, was the venue for the beginning of Valentin Nicolae (Nick) Ilovan’s masonic journey.

The Lodge itself was packed with Freemasons from all over the Province to witness what was a first for Freemasonry in England, as member Ben Evans led his partner Nic, who was born in Romania, through his ceremony of initiation as well as delivering the charge after initiation and giving the extended presentation of the first-degree tracing board.

Nick said afterwards: "I want to thank both my partner Ben and the Worshipful Master, Anthony Wilkins, for what can only be considered a truly wonderful experience, that of undertaking my Initiation into Freemasonry.

"While initially fearful and reticent due to my lack of knowledge and understanding of what was to come, Ben offered the guidance (and in my own personal case, the comfort) needed to be capable of going through the process with a steady foot, head held high and voice unquavering, at least enough so that I would not embarrass myself in front of those I’d soon consider Brothers.

"To cap off the ceremony I was most fortunate to be the recipient of a unique address from the Tyler which I believe was very useful in putting much of the initiation into context for me.

"Probably the biggest surprise of the night was that of being greeted by a fellow Romanian, Robatzchi Dragos, who was also a member of a Cornish Lodge. This helped quell any worries I had, safe in the knowledge that there was someone else present who was born in the same country and from the same culture as me.

It was quite a night, one that I will not soon forget, an experience I will forever treasure and a group of people I cannot wait to interact with more in the future."

Falmouth Packet: Penwith Lodge and visitorsPenwith Lodge and visitors (Image: Penwith Lodge)

Ben added: "For myself also this has proved to be one of the most unique meetings in my near decade in Cornish Freemasonry. It was a night of real firsts, in the literal and metaphorical sense, and a night I hope has done much to reaffirm Freemasonry as a relevant and adaptable force for good in a modern world that is all too often keen to dismiss it.

"It was certainly a very unusual experience for myself, and for the Lodge, for me to not only to be able to propose my own partner as a Candidate, but to also undertake a large part of the ceremony.

"To my mind it is very indicative of the fact that Freemasonry today really is a society that is accepting of all, regardless of race, religion, orientation, or background.

"Certainly, even in the past century, it would have been unthinkable in most societies to see two men of different nationalities not only being open with other Brethren about their relationship, but also being allowed to join the same Lodge.

"The fact that Nick has been welcomed not only warmly, but with great encouragement is a testament to not only how far Freemasonry has come compared to some sections of our society even today, but also, crucially, a testament to how it remains a relevant force for acceptance and equal opportunity in doing good.

"Coming from a culture where Freemasonry has also long been anathema understandably led to some reservations in Nick, as he has referred to himself, but again the extraordinary welcome he has received from Penwith, and W. Bro. Wilkins, in particular, has been of immense help in assisting him to navigate and understand his concerns.

"Above all, Nick and I feel that the main point we hope that those both inside and outside the Craft will take away from this experience is that Freemasonry in Cornwall is very far from being the stereotype of the dusty 19th Century old men’s club that it’s detractors all too often put about.

"It is a vibrant society made up of a diverse membership, it is a relevant society that is not afraid to adapt with the times, but above all it is a society that really will accept you for what you are, whoever you are, and will support you all the way in the aim of doing good, something that it has amply demonstrated in this case."