MY FAMILY AND FREEMASONRY
By Henry Leipold – Junior Warden & Charity Steward Shotokan Karate Lodge No. 9752
I was Born in Maidstone, Kent
Attended the University of St. Andrews, Scotland
Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA) with the ICAEW, London
Met my wife Lauren at St. Andrews in 2005 and married in 2012.
I was initiated into Freemasonry in 2013.
Moved to the US in 2013, where my wife and I currently live on the Upper West Side in Manhattan and both work in financial services.
Martial Arts Experience:
For as long as I remember I have been passionate about martial arts; due both to the physical and mental strength and confidence training provides practitioners, but also its practical application for self-defense. In training I have had less of a “career” in martial arts, but rather energetic sprints of training in my youth! My first introduction to martial arts was a Judo class at school when I was 10 years old, interest sparked I tried several different styles over the years, including training in Karate Jutsu Kai under Shihan John Wilson (Northiam) and training in Wing Chun Kung Fu with the UK Wing Chun Association (Maidstone). When I was 17, finding that my current school did not have a martial arts club, I helped found a Judo and self-defense club,
engaging instructors to come onsite in the evenings to teach all those interested.
At university, I trained with the St. Andrews Shotokan Karate Club under Shihan Paul Dempsey. My desire to be the next Bruce Lee also led me to travel to Hong Kong for a few weeks of training and meeting like-minded Wing Chun enthusiasts.
I never realized how important Freemasonry was to my family, or was going to become to me, until after my father passed away at only 46 years old in 2003. At the time, my father had not spoken to me about being a Freemason but was very accustomed to seeing him leave for work in a suit and tie with briefcase in hand, it was easy to overlook the evenings when he came home late wearing a slightly darker tie than normal and his briefcase having changed into a funny shape! It was at his funeral that I became aware of a group of friends of my father’s that I had never met and heard the references to “Brethren” without fully understanding the meaning.
With the unexpected death of my father, my mother, sister, and I found ourselves in severe financial hardship, including the loss of our home and the risk that my sister and I would need to leave our school. The Almoner of my father’s Lodge contacted my mother and referred our case to The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB), a charity funded by Freemasons which aims to relieve poverty and advance education for children and young people. The support that both my father’s Lodge and the RMTGB provided was an immense source of comfort during a difficult time and provided financial support to both my sister and I throughout school and university – scholarships assisting with everything from school fees to stationery and laptops. I do not think I would have finished university with an MA (hons) in History without the assistance of the RMTGB. After graduating, I accepted a job at PricewaterhouseCoopers as an Associate. As I began my career in the city, I felt immense gratitude but also had no idea how I could ever repay the Masonic charity for its generosity.
As the years passed, the Almoner we knew so well also passed away and we unfortunately lost contact with my father’s Lodge. I feared a loss of contact with Freemasonry overall. Researching Freemasonry one afternoon I found an e-mail address for enquiries and taking a chance I cold-contacted UGLE with the name of my father, his Lodge, the Almoner who had looked after us and a few details of the support the RMTGB had provided. My message was clear – I wanted to know how I could support and give back to the organization that had done so much for my family either through donations, joining a Lodge or other work. A few e-mails and a coffee chat later, I found myself being introduced by Bro. Trevor Grey to other Freemasons and initiated into the Shotokan Karate Lodge 9752 on February 9th, 2013, by W. Bro. Michael Randall MBE SLGR a Founder Member of the SKL, sadly now passed to the grand lodge above. My progress to Master Mason was a little slower than most due to living abroad for work and having to coordinate trips back to the UK, but my mentors W. Bro William Browning, and W. Bro Mike Fitz-Gerald were patient with me, and I was passed on December 10th, 2016, and raised on February 10th, 2018. It was important to me that I wore my father’s apron as a Master Mason, and the Shotokan Karate Lodge presented his apron back to me at my ceremony of becoming a Master Mason. I know my Father would have been so proud that his Son was carrying on the family tradition of Freemasonry.
It was only after joining that I discovered that my family had further ties to Freemasonry beyond my father. My maternal Great Grandfather Frederick Charles Jonathan Cracknell was also a Freemason, as were relatives before him. While looking through old family documents and photos, we discovered Masonic certificates for Craft, Holy Royal Arch and Mark Masonry dated between 1918 – 1922, including a certificate for the Robert Freke Gould Lodge 2874 in Gibraltar which is still in existence. We even discovered photographs of my grandfather and other Brethren wearing their aprons while posted abroad at the end of World War I. I am looking forward to continuing my Masonic career and contributing to a tradition of charity and fraternal companionship and discovering more about my Masonic family members along the way.