Sad Farewell to Sheila Hicking – Freemasons New Zealand
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Sad Farewell to Sheila Hicking, former Administrator of The Freemasons Charity

An exit interview for Sheila

Good afternoon my name is Duane and I am the Grand Secretary for Freemasons New Zealand and a work colleague of our dear Sheila.

My words this afternoon, do not come from me alone as a work colleague of Sheila’s but from how others in Freemasonry saw Sheila, especially our Grand Master.

Both our Grand Master Mark Winger and Deputy Grand Master Graham Wrigley, both wanted to be here today, but other duties have sadly kept them away. They both extend their personal condolences to you Noeline.

Just in case you weren’t aware Sheila was the Administrator of The Freemasons Charity an integral part of Freemasons New Zealand. She administered tens of millions of dollars of charitable funds, ensured that we meet all our statutory obligations and supervised some very large national projects and thousands of smaller ones. Sheila wasn’t a Freemason but lived the values and principles of Freemasonry every day and in every way.

Mark has delegated to me, the privilege, of passing on these words from him, which may well have served as a final exit interview for Sheila.

Our Grand Master has said, “Sheila when we started our journey back in 2005, we had some challenges to face and some attitudes to change in Freemasonry. Now, 12 years later you can look back with absolute pride on the bridges that have been built, the restructuring that has been accomplished, the good that has been spread throughout New Zealand society – all with the enthusiasm and dedication you brought to the process.

Our Charity Officers (known as Almoners) across the country knew you and loved the humanity you brought to their world – our widows look forward to their ‘random act of kindness’ each year, the big Institutions like the Universities, the Royal Society, etc all enjoyed and respected the way you keep them up to the mark and, yes, even the ‘powers that be’ also enjoyed the firm yet protective way you ensured that charity funds were always applied to the charity!

Sheila, we now know that no one person is indispensable, even though we think we are. Your time with The Freemasons Charity will forever be seen as setting the foundation for the future direction of masonic benevolence. With your dedication we turned a previously slow, cumbersome process with inflexible rules upside down, rebranded with a modern name and image, restyled the type of assistance provided, and modernised the procedures so we could deliver benevolence to those in need within 24 hours. Thousands of silent recipients are grateful for your efforts in getting help to them when they needed it not months later.

Community projects helping Masonic Lodges raise local profile while doing good in society. Hundreds of university scholars and their families enthused with the support they received including our current Prime Minister. Mixing with the man/woman in the street – or with royalty, Prime Ministers, and senior community leaders – all done with your elegance and good grace. The list goes on.

Sheila, one aspect I remember is the new logo we devised. I recall you and I discussing it and thinking how we could explain it to the members. A bird’s eye view of a couple, one giving assistance to another in need. You were the indeed the one giving assistance to the Freemasons of New Zealand to refocus our Charity and we will forever be grateful for the outstanding contribution you made over the last 12 years.

On behalf of all the Freemasons throughout the country, I thank you most sincerely for the sterling work you gave to The Freemasons Charity, and for the huge impact you made to all who had the pleasure to enjoy your company.

If your spirit, which will be always with us, ever needs strengthening, reflect on the relief that you have helped to deliver to those in need, and the compassion you displayed in performing those duties. Take pride in what you have achieved and take comfort in the knowledge that you will always have the universal love of all Freemasons”.

Now Noeline this is from me on behalf of the National Office staff…

We found Sheila a delight to work with, she was a wonderful listener, gave sage advice and administered tough love when required. She was a snazzy dresser with matching watches and jewellery and her company made coming to work every day an absolute pleasure.

We loved that she had names for everything – her car, her orchids, her stuffed toys and even better…. that she talked to them!

Noeline, from the National Office staff – Shelley, Irene, Barbara, Gareth and myself and from our Grand Master Mark Winger and indeed all the members of The Grand Lodge of New Zealand we offer our love, support and sincere condolences to you, after a tough few months.

I am also pleased to advise that in the memory of our Sheila – The Freemasons Charity, is donating a $1000.00 to Te Omanga Hospice, in her name.

I now ask all Freemasons and their partners and the staff of National Office to stand for a moment to show you Noeline just how much Shelia was loved and cherished by Freemasons throughout New Zealand.

Thanks, and please be seated.