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Around the Province

Meet EKt Maslin

E.Kt. Tony Maslin is a well-known character in Kent, particularly in the western part of the Province, especially in the “Tyler” office for a number of masonic Orders and units. As a Knight Templar, he has served with distinction as Eminent Preceptor of Shirley Woolmer Preceptory No.500, and served conspicuously as Provincial Banner Bearer in 2008. This is in spite of quite severe physical disability. (Tony is the only knight in the Province to have the Provincial Prior’s command to carry his sword in the left hand!)

During his birth he suffered accidental damage to the left side of his head. This injury caused a right hemiplegia which, as a result, left him with a degree of weakness and lack of control in one side of his body, plus specific learning and speech difficulties.

E.Kt. Maslin is a shining example to all those who strive to overcome their difficulties, and he has written the following article, which, it is hoped, you will find enlightening.

Reboot the Hard Drive Of My Life!

by Anthony Maslin

Most of my life, all the children called me names and told me I was thick, even some adults talked to me as if I was thick and had got a queer disease – when you’ve heard that day after day, in time you begin to think you actually are thick and you act like it.

When I was at school, some of teachers did not know how to use the audio & visual equipment and because they knew someone who could use the equipment, namely me, they would come to my class and take me away to show them how to use it, so I missed a large number of my lessons. It is because of this that I am unable to read or write properly and during this time my speech deteriorated.

Before my 17th birthday I left school, but it didn’t take me long to find a job in the Freemason Care Home at Duke of Kent Court as a kitchen assistant, then I became a Gardener and Handyman for two years, after which time I was then promoted to Head Gardener and Handyman –I was there for over 16 years. During my employment at the home I became a freemason in 1991. In 1994, I went to West Kent Provincial Meeting and whilst I was coming down the stairs, my feet went from under me and I injured my back on the stairs. My doctor told me not to dig the garden any more so my employer informed me “sorry we have to let you go” – the employment also involved live-in accommodation so it meant I also became homeless at the same time as jobless. As a result, I went back to live with my parents for a number of years, but now I rent a one bedroom flat on my own. My back has considerably improved over the years since I eased off doing manual labour.

Computers came into my life and changed my life for the better. From the 80s, my brain made new pathways around the bad areas to the good parts of my brain – when the new pathways were developing sometimes wrong pathways were taken, funny things began happening to me and I was not sure of what I was doing nor why I was doing it. Now all the main pathways have been recreated properly. Then I really started to talk better to people and from then I have not stopped talking! This has enabled my speech to become considerably clearer for people to understand me when I speak.

My life was going nowhere in 2006, I was feeling miserable and asking “Why am I alive?” Then one day it came to a head and I went onto an internet chat site talk to a lady about my life –she told me “if you do not like your life, change it”; she subsequently went on to become my best friend. So I started to make changes to my life by getting my own place to live and going back to school to retrain. I have completed two First Aid courses, two computer courses and a FdEng Network Computing Degree, now I am also doing a BEng (Hons) Computer Systems and Networks Degree which will take me another two years to finish.

About three years ago I went to the doctor to ask him for a letter to take to the hospital to see if I could get Speech-Language Therapy, the hospital told me “we’re not taking any more patients”. Subsequently I was talking to the Mark Provincial Almoner, Keith Chappell, and he said that perhaps he could help me. I forgot all about it. However, Keith came back to me and said he had the Samaritan Fund forms and would come and see me. I went on to the internet to find a Speech-Language Therapist and found Mrs Margaret Millar. Keith came with the forms and we filled them in. Two weeks later Keith rang and informed me that I must have an assessment first, and he had already talked with the Provincial Grand Master of Kent Mark about funding the assessment and he had said yes. I’ve been having speech therapy now for two years, and my speech is ten times better than it was before.

Since starting my new life things have been going from strength to strength, not that it hasn’t taken a lot of effort from me, but it’s a challenge that I am keen to continue pursuing.

I hope in time to have a book written of my life experiences, and if you would like to know more please do not hesitate to ask me, I’m not as thick as I may seem!