Celebrating 300 years

iSight Cornwall has received a significant donation of £15,000 via the Masonic Charitable Foundation Grant Awards

iSight Cornwall, who are based in Newham, Truro, were presented with a £15,000 Community Award from the Freemasons of Cornwall following a successful public vote organised with the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The Community Awards are a major part of Freemasonry’s 300th anniversary celebrations.

iSight Cornwall was one of six self-funded charities who were recently nominated by the Cornish Freemasons with everyone encouraged to vote, including family members, friends and the general public, the public vote deciding the level of Award each charity would receive. The Masonic Charitable Foundation is distributing three million pounds to 300 charities across the country, with awards ranging from £4,000 to £25,000.

It is estimated that there are some 22,000 people living with sight loss in Cornwall, a figure that is expected to grow to 32,000 over the next 15 years. Founded in 1856, iSight Cornwall is the only charity in the county dedicated to supporting people with sight loss to lead active and independent lives.

Terri Rosnau-Ward, Chief Executive of iSight Cornwall, said: ‘We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that took the time to vote for us, we really appreciate your support. This award will help us to extend our Community Development service so that we can reach even more people living with sight loss across Cornwall and to give them the support and advice they need. We would especially like to thank the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cornwall for nominating us for these amazing MCF Awards.’

Mike Pritchard, the Provincial Grand Charity Steward for the Province of Cornwall, commented: ‘The response we’ve received to the MCF Awards, nationally, has been outstanding, but especially so here in Cornwall. The support for the six self-funded charities nominated has also been immense and shows how much local charities mean to the Cornish communities. I feel extremely proud to have been invited to present this award and see for myself what an incredible charity iSight Cornwall is.

'The support and equipment available to visually sight impaired people is staggering, I’ve seriously had my eyes opened to some very special equipment that I didn’t realise even existed, but clearly is essential to so many.’

The Provincial Grand Master for Cornwall Stephen Pearn added: ‘To have met so many wonderful Cornish charities in the last few years is a truly remarkable and emotional experience. The welcome, together with the extra special tour I received at iSight Cornwal,l has been extremely special and a day I will remember for a long time to come.

'To present £15,000 to this special charity fills me with joy knowing what a difference this will make for them and it’s so well deserved. The support all the charities have received in these MCF Awards has been staggering and I sincerely wish to thank everyone – especially the Cornish public for their support.’

To find out more about iSight Cornwall’s services please click here.

East Kent Freemasons have given a grant of £31,000 to the Canterbury Cathedral Trust to support the fourth year’s training for a young apprentice stonemason at the Cathedral, which comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation

At a recent ceremony, Provincial Grand Master Geoffrey Dearing, presented the donation to the Dean of Canterbury, the Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis, saying how pleased the fraternity was to be able to continue their support for the scheme.

In reply, the Dean thanked him and all who had contributed saying how much it meant to the Cathedral and to the young apprentices who were just coming into 'these wonderful crafts here at the Cathedral'.

The apprenticeship programme at the Cathedral offers vocational training to young people that is truly life-changing. Seven apprentices are currently employed at Canterbury – four stonemasons, one painter and decorator, one scaffolder and one chef.

Apprentices are recruited through Kent schools, colleges and advertisements in the local press. Coming from varied backgrounds, they are encouraged to explore their creative talents within the inspirational setting of the Cathedral as well as developing the technical and life skills needed for a career in their chosen trade or craft. Whilst these training placements are exceptional opportunities in their own right, the Cathedral also makes every effort to provide subsequent employment for the apprentices.

Heather Newton, the Head of Conservation at the Cathedral, explained how the donation would be used: 'We are incredibly grateful to the Freemasons of East Kent and to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for this continuing support. There are lots of expenses associated with training Craft apprentices.

'We need to cover everything from travelling costs to and from College, to tools, specialist clothing and the time of more experienced Masons who act as trainers and mentors for our young people.'

This latest grant is in addition to the gift of over £300,000 presented to the Cathedral by the Provinces of East and West Kent, Surrey and Sussex, as part of the celebration of the Tercentenary of the founding of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1717. It continues a long and much valued relationship with the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion which dates back over 150 years.

The Freemasons of Cornwall have donated £25,000 via the Masonic Charitable Foundation Grant to the Cornwall Blood Bikes charity, after it received the most votes in a countywide public poll

Thanks to this remarkable donation, the charity is buying a brand new 1200cc BMW response bike and two further second-hand bikes upgrading its ageing fleet that runs throughout the year in all weathers.

Cornwall Blood Bikes was one of six self-funded organisations in the county to be nominated for the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) Awards, which saw £3 million handed out to 300 charities and other organisations across the UK as part of its Tercentenary Year of celebrations.

All 80 Lodges, their Brethren, together with family members and friends took part in the vote. The promotion and support for the MCF Grant Awards within the local communities resulted in an unprecedented local response.

The Blood Bikers received the highest out of a £58,000 pot of cash for Cornwall, with iSight Cornwall receiving £15,000, Bosom Buddies UK £4,000, Penhaligon’s Friends £4,000, Young People Cornwall £4,000 and Ellie’s Haven Cornwall £6,000.

The volunteer bikers, who transfer life-saving medical supplies out of hours across the county and further afield saving the NHS in Cornwall around £250,000 each year in taxi fares, arrived at Truro Cathedral to meet the Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Cornwall, Stephen Pearn for the official cheque presentation.

Ian Butler, Fundraising Manager for the Blood Bikes, thanked the public and Masonic Lodges of Cornwall for their amazing support: 'To have this amount of money donated to us is fantastic. It is an iconic day in the Blood Bikes history. We have been overwhelmed by the public response and want to thank the Freemasons across all of Cornwall for their support. It would take nearly two years and a lot of hard work to raise that amount of cash.

'We have already ordered a brand new BMW that is due to arrive in April next year. We are also buying two second-hand bikes to replace two in the fleet that have clocked up 140,000 miles each. The new bikes will cut down on maintenance and off-road time as well as making us more efficient. This is a brilliant start to our campaign to update our fleet of machines.'

Speaking at the official presentation, Provincial Grand Master Stephen Pearn said he was delighted for the Blood Bikes: 'The donation from The Masonic Charitable Foundation will literally save lives and it’s also a great way to advertise what the charity does. Cornwall’s Masonic Benevolent Fund has been supporting a lot of communities across Cornwall for many years. It’s a great organisation that is fun to be a part of as well as helping others. Our members come from all walks of life.”

The Charity Steward for Caradon Lodge No. 8543, who meet in Saltash, Ross Fisher, has been giving blood since he was 18 was especially pleased with the Blood Bike's donation: 'Since 1995 I have been donating platelets (these are formed in the blood and help it clot and to stop bleeding). Last week was my 250th donation. I have four times more platelets in my blood than the average man. I keep fit and well and feel very proud that I’m able to help others in times of need. The Blood Bikes are a dedicated team giving their time to keep such a vital service running.'

Also attending Saturday’s presentation were several volunteer bike riders local to the St. Austell area. The oldest member of the Blood Bikes team, Conrad Dowding 80, from Launceston, who is still enjoying life on two wheels, said: 'I joined the charity after I lost my wife, Pam to breast cancer. I couldn’t do anything to help her which is why I joined the Blood Bikes team. It was my way of giving something back. I feel part of a great team that is working together to do something worthwhile. We get no NHS funding, we use our own bikes and we work out of hours and can be called on at anytime.'

Five other local Cornish charities also won substantial grants totalling £33,000 and can be viewed here.

A pioneering programme of non-contact boxing, combined with intensive one-to-one support will be helping young people from deprived backgrounds in South Wales to turn their lives around, thanks to a grant from South Wales Freemasons

The £16,000 grant will pay for 150 young people go through the Empire Fighting Chance charity’s programme of non-contact boxing combined with intensive, tailored support focused on education, employability and wellbeing.

Run from boxing gyms in Torfaen, Merthyr Tydfil and Barry, the programme uses punch bags, skipping and a focus on technique, which improves discipline and physical and mental health. Participants also receive regular mentoring, numeracy and literacy classes, counselling and help preparing for the job market.

The grant from South Wales Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends from across England and Wales.

Despite significant progress over recent years, there are still parts of South Wales that suffer from some of the worst poverty in the UK. Young people face a devastating mix of issues that limit life chances, most notably low academic achievement, poor mental health and high unemployment. Despite the huge challenges they face, few services exist to support them.

Results from the charity’s pilot programme in Bristol point to success. An impressive 87% of the pilot’s participants progressed into employment, education or further training, while 92% reported that they felt more confident in themselves after completing the programme.

One young person suffering from very low self-esteem, depression and anxiety had this to say about the Empire Fighting Chance programme: 'Getting involved has changed my life, I now have a job, my own property and life is looking good. I feel more confident in pursuing my career and I no longer have any problems with my rent.'

Martin Bisp, CEO of Empire Fighting Chance, is confident that the new project will be a success: 'We’re very grateful to South Wales Freemasons for their help in making this project possible. Together we’ll transform the lives of many vulnerable young people.'

Alan Gardner from South Wales Freemasons commented: 'We’re very pleased to be able to help Empire Fighting Chance. This is a charity that does what it says on the tin – it helps some of our most deprived young people to have a fighting chance of making something of their lives.'

Older people who have never learned to use the internet are to be helped online thanks to a £66,000 grant to Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland from Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons

Age UK will recruit at least 20 “Digital Champions” who will support and guide 2,000 older people to use communication tools like email, Skype and FaceTime, which younger people take for granted. 

The Digital Champions project is aimed at helping these older people to access online information on everything from benefits to bus timetables. With many services becoming digital by default, older people who are not online face more hurdles in their daily lives to access both private and public sector services. There will also be an emphasis on online safety and protection from viruses and fraud.

The project is supporting older people across Leicestershire and Rutland, with a focus on people in rural areas. It aims to combat loneliness and isolation by helping these budding “silver surfers” to keep in touch with family and friends online.

Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland’s Digital Champions will be holding up to four sessions a week across Leicestershire and Rutland. They will be for around 15 people each and be held in community settings such as libraries, village halls and residential homes, whilst there will also be one-to one sessions available.

Tony Donovan, Executive Director at Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland, said: 'We are very grateful to Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons for their generous grant which will improve the quality of life for thousands of older people.

'More than four million older people nationally have never used the internet and we need to help them to benefit from all the advantages of a digital world that most of us take for granted.'

The grant comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation and David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, said: 'We are very pleased to be able to support Age UK’s Digital Champions.

'As well as fighting loneliness and depression, getting older people online has great practical benefits. A household without internet access is on average £650 a year worse off.”

Cumberland and Westmorland Freemasons have donated a grant of £8,000 to help victims of the recent flooding in Millom and Haverigg

Heavy rain in these areas last weekend resulted in an estimated 300 homes being flooded. Many of these properties have no insurance, as a result of being flooded on previous occasions.

The Provincial Grand Master of Cumberland and Westmorland, RW Bro Norman Thompson DL, announced the grant during a meeting with the Mayor of Millom, Councillor Angela Dixon.

Of the £8,000 grant, £5,000 comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, with remaining £3,000 coming directly from Provincial funds.

Councillor Angela Dixon, Mayor of Millom, said: 'I’m very grateful to Cumberland and Westmorland Freemasons for their generous grant. The recent flooding in Millom and Haverigg hit us very hard and we need all the help we can get to get back on our feet.'

RW Bro Norman Thompson DL said: 'Having your home flooded is a terrible blow for anyone. In this case it’s even worse as these are homes that have flooded before and for which insurance was often unobtainable.

'I am pleased that we can offer a little help to our neighbours in Millom when they need it.'

A grant of £4,000 to the Wales Air Ambulance from South Wales Freemasons has brought the total Masonic support given to air ambulances across the country to almost £4 million since 2007

Wales Air Ambulance operates right across Wales, covering over 8,000 square miles of remote countryside, bustling towns and cities, vast mountain ranges and 800 miles of coastline.

The grant, which comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, is funded by Freemasons and their families from across England and Wales. During 2017, Freemasons from around the country will be presenting 20 regional air ambulances with grants totalling £180,000.

Catrin Hall from Wales Air Ambulance said: ‘We are very grateful to South Wales Freemasons for their continuing generosity.

'Without support like this the Air Ambulance would not be able to carry on flying and our life-saving work could not continue.’

Roy Woodward, Deputy Grand Master from South Wales Freemasons, recently visited Wales Air Ambulance, accompanied by John Davies, Freemasons Charity Officer. He said: ‘We are proud to be able to support the Wales Air Ambulance. Thanks to the tireless efforts of their doctors and aircrew, many lives of local people are saved every year.’

Wales Air Ambulance relies entirely on charitable grants and donations. To make a donation, please click here.

Cliff jump raises over £1,000 for Masonic Charitable Foundation

Tony Andrews and Digby Lund, both from Lodge of Science and Art No. 8429 in Loughborough, made a jump off a cliff in Malaga on Sunday 3rd September 2017 for the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2022 Festival

The 2022 Festival aims to raise £1.8 million by Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons over the next five years.

The pair have so far raised over £1,200, and Digby’s wife Yvonne also jumped for charity with Tony's wife Elanor providing moral support. 

Having arrived at Alumnecar, the group were met by their paraglider pilots, Antonio and Jose, who arrived by air demonstrating how best to land. The intrepid paragliders were taken up into the hills along a single track road via numerous hairpin bends to the take-off site. The launch site was on the south side of a sharp ridge offering wonderful views out to sea.

Having arranged the wing, the pilots set about strapping themselves and their guests into their harnesses after which a full safety briefings were delivered. They were then given take-off instructions to simply to run down the slope until the ground fell away.

The flights down were very smooth and offered amazing views out to sea and along the coast. Digby's flight showed the advantage of being so much taller than Antonio when taking off from such a steep slope, a couple of steps and then off into the blue yonder. 

Tony said: ‘We were all lucky enough to have relatively good landings, though I did collect a lot of the beach in my shoes and some in my knees.’

Digby said: ‘Having all safely returned to terra firma, we exchanged feelings about our flights, the heightened heart rate before and during take-off, the gradual relaxing as the flight continued and then the increasing tension as the ground rapidly approached. We all agreed the venture had been well worthwhile and hope the donations will fully reflect our efforts.’

Leicestershire and Rutland Provincial Grand Master David Hagger said: ‘Congratulations to Digby and Tony for their fundraising efforts and I'm pleased to learn they landed safely without harm.’

You can still sponsor Digby and Tony by clicking here

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 00:00

Grand Secretary's column - Autumn 2017

From the Grand Secretary

Normally, July and August are quiet months in which we relax and prepare ourselves for the new masonic season ahead. Such a period of calm has been noticeably absent this year, however, as you will discover by reading this issue of Freemasonry Today.

Your Rulers have been particularly busy travelling the globe to support our District activities, as well as enjoying the many events throughout England and Wales, which have been so successful through your hard work. These events may not have been relaxing, but they have certainly been reinvigorating.

I know the Masonic Charitable Foundation would wish me to thank you for your efforts in getting people to vote for the recipients of 300 grants totalling £3 million in celebration of our 300 years and the charity’s foundation. Over 177,000 votes were cast, of which more than 85 per cent were from non-masons. It has been a really positive and successful way of engaging with the community at large, and the charity will shortly be announcing the 300 fortunate beneficiaries of its grants.

We now eagerly anticipate the Grand Ball on 30 September and the culmination of our Tercentenary celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall on 31 October in a successful year that bodes well for the future.

CLUBBING TOGETHER

In this autumn issue of Freemasonry Today, we look forward to building upon our strong foundations with the Essex Cornerstone Club. Mixing social with community and educational events, the club has already attracted 150 younger members from the masonic community in Essex. Hosting activities ranging from paintball and family days to charity runs, the founding members are now exploring how technology could help create a national or even international network of young Freemasons.

Of course, innovation isn’t the sole property of younger people. Our piece on Music in Hospitals reveals how live music can spark important memories and emotions for the elderly. We travel to a care home in Surrey to see jazz musician Phoebe Gorry performing to a captivated audience. Thanks to the latest funding from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the initiative is being rolled out in care homes across the country, allowing staff to have a more detailed understanding of their residents and provide improved levels of care.

For Freemason Iestyn Llewellyn, the immediate future will be spent pounding the streets as he aims to complete four marathons to mark his 40th birthday. Our profile on Iestyn reveals how he was inspired to push himself beyond his comfort zone when he discovered Daisy’s Dream, a charity providing support and advice for children facing the news of the terminal illness or death of a loved one.

Being a mason has allowed Iestyn to mix with like-minded people in an environment where he feels he belongs. While the work his lodge does for charity is crucial, it’s the brotherly love that keeps Iestyn coming back. All of which points to an exciting and positive future for us all.

Willie Shackell
Grand Secretary

‘Thank you for your efforts in getting people to vote for the recipients of 300 grants totalling £3 million’

Published in UGLE

Perfect arrangement

Musicians such as Phoebe Gorry are bringing comfort to vulnerable adults right across the country. Masonic funding will allow Music in Hospitals to find an even bigger audience, as Matt Timms finds out

Singer Phoebe Gorry shoots a glance at her guitarist before turning to the audience: ‘This one’s my favourite. It’s called Tea for Two.’ Popularised by Doris Day in the 1950 film of the same name, it’s an unusual favourite for a 28-year-old jazz musician to have. Then again, this isn’t your usual performance. In a quiet corner of Surrey, Gorry is reeling off classics for elderly residents at the Royal Cambridge Home.

The concert is one of many that are taking place in care homes (including RMBI homes), hospitals and hospices across the country. They’re the work of Music in Hospitals, a charity that has brought live music to vulnerable adults and children for more than half a century. With the help of a £60,048 grant from the Masonic Charitable Foundation – the latest in a line of donations from the masonic charities over the years – there is now funding for another 216 concerts over a three-year period.

‘Research has shown that live music can help to reduce levels of pain, stress and anxiety, as well as provide moments of joy for those who have lost their independence or feel isolated,’ says Emily Winchester, senior fundraising officer at Music in Hospitals, adding that music has an inherent ability to generate an emotional response in the listener. ‘Musicians like Phoebe provide stimulating and therapeutic enjoyment for hundreds of elderly people in care homes across the country.’

Judging by today’s performance, Gorry is a welcome addition to the home. There are singalongs and plenty of requests – particularly from a cheeky couple in the corner. There is also dancing between staff and residents, and an opportunity to revisit treasured memories while making new ones too.

‘The residents love it,’ says Gaye Wyeth, who is the housekeeper and activities manager at the home. ‘I’ve been here for 26 years and remember a time when there were hardly any activities at all – never mind this.’

Now there’s flower arranging, birthday teas and even a version of the Olympics – with straws and paper plates instead of a javelin and discus. Yet the Music in Hospitals concerts, according to Wyeth, are a house favourite because they’re so varied.

‘Live music can help to reduce levels of pain, stress and anxiety, as well as provide moments of joy’ Emily Winchester

SOUL MUSIC

‘We have some artistic residents here who have always appreciated music,’ says the home’s manager, Rory Belfield. ‘One of our residents, Joyce, loves today’s music, but we have plenty of diverse tastes. Some like jazz, some folk, others opera – the whole range.’

The music is enjoyable but it’s also therapeutic. Active participation serves as a form of physiotherapy, through clapping, tapping and moving in time to the music. Positive changes to patients’ mood and self-esteem can also make a real difference to their well-being. In addition, and most noticeably at this home, music sparks memories and emotions, meaning staff can understand more about an individual.

Gorry has been a professional singer for 10 years, since graduating from the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, and was introduced to Music in Hospitals through a friend.

Music in Hospitals’ chief executive Steve Rowland-Jones says that potential musicians are assessed against their musicianship, breadth of repertoire and communication skills. Since 2013, auditions have been conducted within healthcare environments to gauge how musicians engage with audiences and deal with the vagaries of such settings.

Often, musicians will take on the role of friend or listener as they chat to patients about the memories the music may have sparked. It’s an important part of the experience, and one that is welcomed by patients.

‘It’s intimate,’ says Gorry. ‘I can engage with an audience in a way I can’t do at, say, a wedding when everybody’s a bit drunk and I’m in the background. Over the past year, I’ve become a much better performer. It has changed the way I sing. Now I think about how to communicate a song simply, without overcomplicating it.’

SPECIAL MOMENTS

As well as in care homes, Gorry has performed in hospitals and special-needs schools. She says her experience with the charity has given her memories that will last a lifetime. One of the most moving was when a nurse in a children’s ward asked her to sing for an eight-year-old girl.

‘She hadn’t been responsive for a long time and, with her mum and sister by her side, my guitarist and I were able to wake her up and help make eye contact. At that point, her mum started crying. She said it was the most stimulated she’d seen her for a really long time. Moments like that make it all worthwhile.’

Close harmony

With the help of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), Music in Hospitals aims to reach 5,400 elderly people. David Innes, CEO of the MCF, says that the benefits of the service are clear to see and the work itself is closely aligned with the masonic ethos:

‘At the heart of everything we do lies one of the basic principles by which all Freemasons conduct their lives – an ingrained duty to care for those who are less fortunate. From its earliest days in the 1700s, Freemasonry in England and Wales has been concerned with the care of orphans, the sick and the aged, and this grant is a continuation of that principle into the modern day.’

Published in Freemasonry Cares
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