After-school clubs and weekend classes are a great way to keep children busy and entertained. But did you know they are also a fun way for them to learn new skills and gain fresh experiences?
A study of more than 6,400 children found that as well as achieving more at school, children who take part in extracurricular activities develop social, emotional and behavioural skills such as time management, confidence, teamwork and creativity.
The recent study, carried out by the Institute of Education at University College London, showed activities outside of school hours could help close the attainment gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and those from wealthier families.
However, it also found there were still inequalities, as many low-income families struggled to afford the costs of sports clubs, private tuition and music lessons. With this in mind, the MCF provides opportunities for children and young people both within the masonic community and in wider society.
The MCF recently awarded a £37,000 grant to Boccia England, a charity that provides accessible activity opportunities for disabled people aged twelve to eighteen. Boccia is a ball sport especially designed to test muscle control and accuracy. It is practised in more than 50 countries and is also a Paralympic sport.
The grant will allow Boccia England to continue supporting young people with physical, learning and visual disabilities and encourage inclusion in physical activity for all.
Held in the hub of Nottingham’s city centre, the Old Market Square, the public was treated to fabulous entertainment at this free to attend event. The UGLE representative and special guest for the day was the Past Pro Grand Master, Lord Northampton, who was accompanied by his wife Lady Northampton.
Community was at the very centre of this incredible spectacle, with over 40 local charities supported by Nottinghamshire Freemasons invited to attend. Their hard work, undertaken with the assistance of donations by Nottinghamshire Freemasons, was on display for everyone to see. The Masonic Charitable Foundation promoted the current Tercentenary Awards with their unique Human Fruit Machine – a popular attraction for visiting Provincial Grand Masters.
Live bands and international dancers performed and local sports stars were interviewed on the big stage by two local radio presenters. Pop-up entertainment spots, a Victorian market, fairground rides, face painters, storytellers, a graffiti artist and even an organ grinder all added to the great family friendly atmosphere. Nottinghamshire Teddies for Loving Care grassed over an area for their TLC Teddy Bear Picnic and handed out lots of goodies to the children.
In blazing sunshine, the undoubted highlight of the day captured the attention and imagination of the Nottinghamshire public. A procession, the first in Nottingham since 1946, of over 200 brethren in full regalia marched from the Masonic HQ through the streets of Nottingham to the city centre, assembling at the steps of the Council Building.
The procession was led by the ‘Knights of Nottingham’ on horseback and the banner of Provincial Grand Lodge, followed by the banners and representitives of 70 lodges in Nottinghamshire. The public lined the streets, cheering and applauding as the procession passed.
In addressing the public and the procession, the Provincial Grand Master for Nottinghamshire, RW Bro Philip Marshall, paid tribute to 300 years of English Freemasonry, the fantastic communities in Nottinghamshire and the contribution made by local Freemasons. Lord Northampton followed with an address in which he highlighted the positive role in society played by freemasons through their charitable work and congratulated all on their fantastic contribution to the UGLE Tercentenary celebrations.
Please scroll through the gallery at the top to view photos from the parade
To celebrate their lodge number in 2017 and the Tercentenary of Grand Lodge, the Duke of Portland Lodge No. 2017 held an emergency meeting in the Indian Temple (No. 10) at Freemasons’ Hall on Thursday 25th May 2017
Brethren and their ladies left from Goldsmith Street, Nottingham, by coach in the morning, accompanied by the Provincial Grand Master for Nottinghamshire, RW Bro Philip Marshall and other guests.
On arrival at Great Queen Street, the party, which had been joined by brethren and ladies travelling from other parts of the country, received a guided tour of the Freemasons’ Hall and the Grand Temple.
At the meeting, the Worshipful Master W Bro William Randall, invited W Bro Tim Sisson PPrJGW to take his chair in order to initiate his son George Sisson into the lodge. Bro Edward Sisson, Senior Deacon, then acted as Junior Deacon to guide his brother around the Temple.
A team of intrepid climbers from the Province of Nottinghamshire reached the summit of in Tanzania, climbing to Uhuru Peak, which, at 19,341 feet (5,895m), is the highest point in Africa.
Raising funds for the 2018 Festival for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, the team suffered some effects of altitude sickness, yet took only six days to reach the summit with a further two days to descend.
Jayne Torvill meets Nottingham masons
Ice-dancing celebrity Jayne Torvill OBE made a stop at the masonic stand when she visited the Great Central Railway in Ruddington for a day of fundraising to help local charity and adoption agency Faith in Families. Born locally in Clifton, the Olympic gold medallist (pictured above at the event) is a patron of the charity.
Local Freemasons organised the fundraiser in conjunction with the heritage railway, and the masonic stand was manned by members of South Notts Freemasons for Charity. The group meets at West Bridgford and was formed to raise funds for local good causes.
These boots are made for walking
A team of Nottinghamshire masons, led by Provincial Grand Master Robin Wilson, assembled at Freemasons’ Hall in London to begin a sponsored walk to their headquarters in Nottingham. The 175-mile route between the two cities followed the towpaths of the Grand Union Canal and took the walkers 11 days to complete.
After setting off from Great Queen Street in the presence of Grand Secretary Nigel Brown and members of the Board of General Purposes, they passed through several Provinces, allowing other walkers to join them. The unique walk was one of Nottinghamshire’s major fundraising events in support of the 2018 Festival for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys.
The brass band proms
More than 400 visitors attended the second event held by The Freemasons of Bassetlaw Committee, which links all 12 Craft lodges meeting in Retford and Worksop, at which the Thoresby Colliery Band provided entertainment. Provincial Grand Master for Nottinghamshire Robin Wilson, along with the heads of other Orders, was among the distinguished guests at the Great Hall, Worksop College. A raffle raised £1,488, bringing the total profit of the committee to £4,521 when combined with the inaugural swimathon previously held at the college. Within a year the committee has raised more than £10,000 for local charities.
Aiding youth potential in Nottingham
The RMTGB is helping young people achieve qualifications by supporting SkillForce
The RMTGB has awarded a grant of £30,000 to SkillForce, a national charity that provides an activity-based alternative curriculum to help hard-to-reach young people achieve their potential.
The grant is being used to support SkillForce’s partnership with schools in Nottinghamshire that aims to motivate young people and maintain their involvement in challenging educational activities. Through these partnerships, SkillForce is often able to double the number of qualifications achieved by young people.
The Province of Nottinghamshire is currently supporting the RMTGB through the 2018 Festival and a delegation from the Province visited a local SkillForce group. The visit allowed the Province to witness first-hand how the charity uses donations to help young people, regardless of whether or not they have a masonic connection.
The students are currently working towards a Sports Leader Award, and Robin Wilson, Provincial Grand Master for Nottinghamshire, presented a cheque – in the form of a cricket bat – to the group.
As smaller charities struggle in the current economic climate, Tabby Kinder finds out how Freemasons on a local and national level are keeping community projects in business
In 2012, donations to charity in the UK fell by twenty per cent, with £1.7bn less being given by British people between 2011 and 2012.
A report by the Charities Aid Foundation and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations suggests that small and medium sized charities are suffering most as voluntary donations – rather than National Lottery or state funding – tend to make up a larger proportion of their total income. The report, which surveyed 3,000 people, says that charities in Britain now face a ‘deeply worrying’ financial situation.
The Freemasons recognise the importance of supporting smaller charities. These charities may be small, but their projects and services can provide lifelines for people – meeting very specific needs that fulfil priorities often overlooked by the public sector and larger charities.
Since 1981 The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has donated more than £50 million to national charities, with grants going towards funding medical research, helping vulnerable people and supporting youth opportunities. It now sets aside £100,000 every year for small donations of between £500 and £5,000 to under-funded causes around the country, which often prove vital to their continued operation.
The charity’s allocation for providing minor grants to small charities doubled from £50,000 to £100,000 in 2010 following a marked increase in the number of applications the charity was receiving from smaller organisations. ‘It was clear that the increase in applications was a result of the economic climate, with smaller charities finding themselves worse off,’ says Laura Chapman, Chief Executive of the Grand Charity, pleased by the decision to increase the grant budget. ‘It meant we could reach out to more smaller charities, making a bigger impact during what has clearly been a difficult year.’
Helping small and community-focused causes is not just the domain of the Grand Charity. Local Provinces and lodges donated a huge amount to charity in 2012, around £5 million of which was reported by local newspapers. ‘Freemasons are community-minded and this is demonstrated by the local lodges that frequently donate to smaller charities,’ says Laura.
Neil Potter, Provincial Information Officer at the Provincial Grand Lodge of Nottinghamshire, believes that contributing to small causes is not only hugely beneficial to the community, but is also a way for Freemasons to show what they stand for.
‘Charitable giving is a great opportunity to break down the barriers that seem to have been put up over the years regarding the public and masonic relationship, and to let everyone know exactly what we do,’ says Neil. ‘Our main concern is helping people who are less fortunate than us – and it all comes from the members’ pockets. We make voluntary contributions, hold fundraising events and enjoy doing it.’
Freemasonry Today spoke to four charities that have received invaluable financial support from Freemasons in 2012.
‘The grant we received from the Freemasons is being used in the rehabilitation through sports training programmes’ Edwin Thomas
The British Ex-Services Wheelchair Sports Association
Funded by the Grand Charity
The British Ex-Services Wheelchair Sports Association (BEWSA) enables injured ex-service personnel to take part in sports, building friendship and camaraderie. BEWSA describes itself as ‘not an organisation for the disabled, but of the disabled’.
‘The Grand Charity has long supported charities that provide help and assistance to ex-members of the Armed Services,’ says the Grand Charity’s Laura Chapman. ‘It is a popular cause within Freemasonry. Through our minor grant funding we aim to support small charities that fulfil needs not easily accessible elsewhere, just like BEWSA.’
In May last year, the Grand Charity donated £1,500 to the charity, enabling nationwide support to continue for active disabled veterans. ‘The grant we received from the Freemasons is being used in the rehabilitation through sports training programmes,’ says Edwin Thomas, BEWSA chairman.
One weekend a month, the charity books the sport facilities at the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering RAF centre in Cosford, West Midlands, and ex-service wheelchair users are invited to join in wheelchair sporting events.
‘If they are comfortable in their chosen sport and wish to take training to the next level, then BEWSA is there to provide the encouragement, the training and the sports equipment required to participate,’ says Thomas.
Funded by the Grand Charity
‘JustDifferent is a perfect example of a small organisation carrying out big work,’ says Laura. Toby Hewson, who has cerebral palsy, founded the charity to change social attitudes towards disability. It runs workshops in schools that are delivered by disabled young adults employed by the charity.
‘Today’s young people are tomorrow’s employers, policymakers and educators. JustDifferent believes that changing attitudes in the young is the best way to achieve long-term social change,’ says Laura.
‘Harassment, bullying and discrimination are all sadly part of our society,’ says Karen McLachlan, fundraiser at JustDifferent. ‘The workshops give young people the capacity to challenge discrimination. Our work encourages and educates young people to be understanding and tolerant.’
JustDifferent has received acclaim for its techniques and schoolchildren engage with the workshop presenters with open-minded enthusiasm. Katie, a Year Six pupil, told the workshop presenter: ‘At first I felt sorry for you, but by the end of the workshop I felt more confident to talk to people like you. It changed my attitude towards disabled people.’
A grant of £5,000 made to the charity in May has helped the workshop reach 1,388 children.
‘To teach young people that disabled people can achieve, participate and lead is the ultimate goal of JustDifferent – and this is something the Grand Charity is very happy to support,’ says Laura.
Great North Air Ambulance Service
Funded by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham
Durham Freemasons have provided regular funding for the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) over the years. While GNAAS has become a leading healthcare charity, its funding relies entirely on voluntary donations. ‘We receive no lottery or government funding, but we’re proud to say that when we receive donations, one hundred per cent goes towards providing the life-saving service,’ says Mandy Drake, deputy director of public liaison at the charity.
Michael Graham, Provincial Information Officer at Durham, believes support for the charity comes from a personal feeling within the Province: ‘With many lodges in rural areas, a lot of our members have first-hand experience of, or have witnessed, the amazing job that air ambulances do,’ he says. ‘Our members are always very keen to support GNAAS.’
Michael estimates that the Durham Province has donated more than £25,000 to GNAAS. ‘We purchased two rapid response vehicles at around £12,000 each, and the Mark Degree bought another, so there are three units that are totally funded by the Freemasons,’ he says proudly.
Funding air ambulance charities is a very popular cause with Freemasons, demonstrated by the Grand Charity’s air ambulance grant programme, which is strongly supported throughout the Provinces.
The Lenton Centre
Funded by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Nottinghamshire
Around twenty per cent of the charities supported by the Nottinghamshire Province in 2012 had lost council funding. This was true of The Lenton Centre, a swimming pool and community leisure facility that Nottingham City Council decided to close down due to budget cuts, despite strong local opposition.
Following a campaign, The Lenton Community Association took over the centre, with funding from private donors and charitable organisations. The centre is run as a social enterprise and last year received £20,000 from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Nottinghamshire to fund a multi-use children’s area.
‘It’s a charity that we consider is doing a lot to help local people,’ says Neil Potter, Provincial Information Officer in the Province. ‘With local authorities having such restraints on their budgets, they find it increasingly difficult to support local charities, so our involvement in the community is becoming more important each month.’
Nicci Robinson, project manager of the children and young people’s team based at the centre, says the donation will help create a games area that can be used for sports such as football and cricket. ‘It’s a substantial chunk of what we need. The money has helped get a long-held dream off the ground.
It has kept us going through a very difficult time, while also aiding development and keeping our other activities for young people going.’
‘With local authorities having restraints on their budgets, our involvement in the community is more important’ Neil Potter
Letters to the editor - No. 22 Summer 2013
Sir, it was most interesting to read the article by Tabby Kinder, but more especially to note the ‘coinage’ on the collection plate – these consisted of fifty-, twenty-, ten- and two-pence pieces, with a few £1 coins. It reminded me of having motored from Durham to Cumbria with a brother so that my friend might obtain permission to send around a plate at the Festive Board for his particular charity.
On the journey home I mentioned that I thought he would have collected more than the £74 he gained, there having been approximately seventy members present. He was rather displeased at my comment saying that he would have been happy with only £7.
I had meant to make an observation rather than a criticism, however. I cannot help but remember that when I joined Freemasonry in 1978 it seemed a customary donation was £1 for the then known alms. Yet, the vast percentage of Freemasons still put £1 in the collection these days. Compared to those days, £1 can’t buy you a cinema ticket, a pint of beer and so on, but £1 in the collection is still the norm? I agree with the remarks Neil Potter of Nottingham makes but I know we could and should do better.
Nottinghamshire Freemasons have celebrated raising £1m for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB) in only 8 months. The donations from members of the Province and their families will support the 2018 Festival, launched by Provincial Grand Master Robin Wilson in April 2012. The funds will enable the RMTGB to continue providing financial and welfare support to children and grandchildren of Freemasons who have experienced a distress that has led to financial hardship for their family.