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Arran chairman John Corbett was joined by colleagues from the Ayrshire Bluebell Lodge of Free Gardeners who visited the island to make a £1,000 donation to the MS Society.
They met at Lamlash Masonic Hall, home of Lodge St Molios 774. The Order of Free Gardeners – fraternal societies which that were founded in Scotland in the 1600s – have largely faded into obscurity, so the Ayrshire lodge was instituted in 2003 for the purpose of retaining the tradition.
Originally lodges were formed to ensure that the members would have benefits paid to them in time of hardship, particularly when illness or death prevented the man of the house from earning his wages. This was particularly important for people prior to the modern era of insurance and social security.
Today they mainly endeavour to archive and preserve the fabric of the Lodge and in particular the old regalia worn by its members. They hold two meetings each year at various locations throughout Ayrshire and have held several meetings on Arran over the years.
Since they no longer need to provide financial assistance to members in the old fashioned way the organisation now uses their funds to contribute to charitable causes. Numerous charities have benefited from these donations, including the Arran Mountain Rescue Team, and at a small ceremony at the start of August, the MS Society were the latest beneficiary to benefit from this resurrected ancient order .