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R.W.Bro Stanley Hopkins – Obituary

11th June 1935-9th January 2024

It is with great sadness that I write to inform you all of the passing of R.W.Bro Stanley H.A.F Hopkins, Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Somerset from 1990 to 2002. He was an outstanding and very distinguished Freemason and his contribution to our Province was enormous.

R.W.Bro Stanley took over as PGM in 1990. It was a time of great change in Freemasonry, the heady post war years of huge expansion in the number of Lodges and Members was over. The press in particular were very hostile to Freemasons. Stephen Knight’s book “The Brotherhood” made claims about the activities of Freemasons that were totally outlandish. Masonry was seen from without as  a secretive, exclusive and somewhat privileged organisation. 

From the start of his tenure Stanley promoted ‘Openness’, encouraging members to talk to those outside about and be proud of their membership, it was something we hadn’t heard before. 

Things that we take for granted now were introduced on his watch. The introduction of the Provincial Tie in 2000 for example. A quarter of a century on it may seem insignificant but it was an important move forward at the time. Black ties were part of the uniform but he saw the opportunity to promote our membership by wearing a distinctive masonic tie and being ready to answer questions about its significance.

The majority of his predecessors in the post had tended to be remote from the running of the Province and the Brethren. Stanley changed that, in his words, “Freemasonry is a voluntary organisation and I believe that everyone in it deserves support from the man at the top”. He was someone at the top who was both approachable, unfailingly polite and always helpful and supportive.

He was the first Provincial Grand Master I had worked with, first in my role as the editor of Compass magazine, subsequently as a Provincial Officer and then as one of his Assistant PGMs. He was a friend and a great mentor, ready to support and guide not only me but everyone he came into contact in the Province. That unconditional support continued to his successors, never seeking to interfere but always there with a kind word of encouragement. 

Together with the Almoner of Prudence and Industry Lodge, W.Bro Alan Gitsham, we visited him at home the week before Christmas to present a certificate celebrating his 60 years in the Craft. He was by then quite ill with cancer but still pleased to see us. We chatted for half an hour, he was ever his old self with a smile and a kind word. Those of us who new him mourn his passing of course but we also think of Sylvia and his family, offering them our sympathy and support.

His funeral will take place at Taunton Crematorium on Friday 2nd February, this will be a family only event. This will be followed by a thanksgiving service for his life that will take place at Combe St Nicholas Church at 12.30pm on the same day. The church is not large and is likely to be very busy with his family, friends and the many local people who new him well. To try to alleviate any possible overcrowding and with the permission of his family, the Province has arranged for the service to be live-streamed so that brethren can watch at home rather than travel to the church and not be able to gain access. Full details of how to view the service will be circulated to you all before the event. I hope as many as possible will join the live stream.

If you would like to know more about R.W.Brother Stanley’s life and his work as PGM, read the article below. This is the transcript of an interview he gave to Compass magazine in 2000, not long before he retired as PGM. Many of the observations he made then are relevant today, please have a look.

He lived respected and died very much regretted.

Yours sincerely and fraternally

Ray Guthrie, Provincial Grand Master.

The link to watch the service is:  this link will work from12.20 hrs on the day of the funeral, that will take place at 12.30 hrs on Friday 2nd February.  

Those of you who wish to leave a message for his family or tribute to RW Bro Stanley can do so by using the following link.

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