THE blind leading the blind was cause for celebration at a possibly unique freemasonry ceremony.

When someone joins, part of the initiation includes the new member being led around the lodge by its master.

At Coningsby Masonic Lodge not only was the master blind, but so was the new member and the officer responsible for organising the ceremony.

What made a joyful occasion even more so was that the master, Andy Bailey, and his wife, Suzanne, who is also blind, had welcomed their first child to the world just four days earlier.

Andy was himself guided around the lodge as he carried out his ceremonial duty of leading new member Jason Payne.

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The officer in charge was Basil Clement. Basil and Andy are long standing members, having become friends at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford about 10 years ago.

Andy met Jason when both were working for Guide Dogs for the Blind and had taken him to the Hereford Masonic Hall when invited there for the presentation of a cheque from Palladian Lodge, also in Hereford.

All three are busy with voluntary work, and both Basil and Andy have served as vice-chairman of the board of trustees of Herefordshire Vision Links, a local charity dedicated to helping those with visual impairments.

All three work with Reach Radio, a local community radio project, which makes great use of Andy's professional background in sound recording, and his degree from the University of Westminster in Radio Production and Media.

The proceeds of a raffle on the night were donated to Retina UK, which supports people with inherited retinal conditions, which affect both Jason and Andy's wife Suzanne.

Andy said "Freemasonry has given me a place where I can be me. My blindness is not seen first, as it can be so often in other situations."

Director of ceremonies David Hudson said: "We feel it is essential for all candidates for Initiation to be given a full and enjoyable experience."