My name is Phil Warnes, and I am proud to call myself a Surrey Mason.
My journey into Freemasonry began about 4 years ago at – of all places – the wake of my father-in-law who had been a Mason for over 60 years.
However, the story actually begins over 10 years ago, when my wife and I were told by hospital staff, as my father-in-law was discharged, that they did not think he would make Christmas that year.
He was placed into a care home at Hindhead that was run by the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institute (RMBI) where the care he received there was exemplary.
The wonderful nursing and attention he got there meant that our family was able to have him in our lives for a further 7 years before he eventually passed.
Seeing the fantastic work that the care home did for him, I wanted to show my appreciation to them – but was unsure how.
After talking to some of his fellow Masons at the wake, they asked if I had thought about joining Freemasonry and they invited me to attend an informal meeting with some members of their Lodge where I could ask any questions I had.
I have now been a Mason for just over three enjoyable years, and have the perfect environment for my passion of raising money for charity.
I have found great camaraderie with other like-minded men, who cherish honesty and integrity without prejudice of race or religion.
Seeing the good that Masons continually do throughout the year – from helping local people and organisations to overseas aid during disasters – makes me immensely proud.
Freemasonry is not a secret society: all men can join provided they fulfill certain criteria.
I have made many friends within Freemasonry, and my wife and I enjoy many social events with them and their partners.
Events such as skydiving and abseiling, and both of us have ridden the mile-long zip-wire ride in Wales this year, raising more funds for charity.
I would encourage any man who is considering joining to take the first step and contact your nearest Masonic centre, enquire through the Internet, or look out for one of our traveling roadshows around the county.
I sincerely believe you will find something profound within Masonry.