January 11.

I read with interest, enjoyment, and amusement the Diary article by

Tom Shields in which he referred to a presentation to be made that

evening to myself in the Masonic hall in Polmont (January 8).

Alas, alas, I regret to say the item was somewhat misleading,

unintentionally no doubt. The organisation of which I am proud to be an

''honorary brother'' is in fact the Sir William Wallace Lodge of the

Grand Lodge of Scotland Free Colliers.

Free Colliers were the forerunners to the Miners' Union and each area

had its own lodge, choosing the name of a famous Scot to identify the

lodge. The term ''Free Colliers'' referred to the fact that they were

seeking to gain the freedom of the miners from the coal-owners, who not

only owned the pits but also owned the houses, the shops, the schools,

and everything else, by virtue of which they owned the miners as well,

and the Free Colliers fought to gain the miners' freedom.

Scotland's only remaining lodge of Free Colliers is the Sir William

Wallace Lodge in the Braes area of Falkirk and each year on the first

Saturday in August the annual demonstration takes place to the

Wallacestone and always draws large attendances. This year the

demonstration will take place on Saturday, August 7, and I would welcome

Tom Shields as my personal guest.

With my family mining background, it was a very proud and moving

occasion for me when I was made an honorary brother of the Free


To this day, in what is left of the Welsh coalfield, the branches of

the NUM are not in fact referred to as branches but are referred to as

''lodges'', much in the same way as the branches of the National Union

of Journalists are referred to as ''chapels''.

When the great day arrives that the chapel decides to pay tribute to

Tom Shields, perhaps this ''lodge'' member will be invited by the

''chapel'' to share in the celebration.

Lord Ewing of Kirkford,

45 Glenlyon Road,