Celebrating 300 years

Local communities are set to benefit following a surprise £50,000 donation to Brecon Hospital from Brecon Freemasons, in the Province of South Wales

The generous donation was made at the Brecon Freemasons’ Festive Board, which took place at the Castle Hotel in Brecon, to mark 300 years since the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge.

Professor Vivienne Harpwood, Chair of Powys Teaching Health Board, receiving the donation on behalf of the hospital, said: 'I am so grateful and humbled by this generous donation from Brecon Freemasons. We knew in advance that the Freemasons wished to make a donation to Brecon War Memorial Hospital, but the size of the donation was very much under wraps until the cheque was presented to us.

'This will make an amazing difference, and we look forward to working with the Brecon Freemasons to use this donation for the benefit of local communities.'

Graham Richards, Charity Steward of Brecknock Lodge No. 651, presented the cheque saying: 'The highlight of our Tercentenary celebrations was the presentation of a cheque for £50,000 for the benefit of the Brecon War Memorial Hospital in appreciation and a recognition of the services and care given to Freemasons and their families and indeed to the whole community of Brecon & District.'

The Tercentenary has been an opportunity for fundraising and charitable works across the UK. John Ingham, Worshipful Master of the Brecknock Lodge, said: 'The first lodge in the UK was established in 1717, and here in Brecon our first recorded meeting was in 1764 with the Brecknock Lodge meeting in its current form since 1855. What better way to mark this momentous occasion than by upholding one of the main tenets of our organisation, the support of charity.

'Over £70,000 was donated to good causes and I would like to thank all Lodge members for their support.'

Donations by Brecon Freemasons included £5,000 to Wales Air Ambulance, £200 to Calan Domestic Violence Services and £15,000 shared between the following 15 local and international charities:

South Wales Freemasons held a Teddy Bears’ Picnic at St Lythans, near Wenvoe, to celebrate 300 years of Freemasonry and raise money for the Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) Appeal

More than 3,000 distressed children and their families will be helped by the £4,000 raised at the event.

The picnic will help to provide TLC Teddies to A&E hospitals in South Wales, including Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital.

The Masonic Classic Vehicle Club has undergone a makeover and been re-branded 'Square Wheels' at the NEC’s Classic Motor Show

This is the largest indoor classic car show of the year, attracting nearly 71,000 visitors over the long weekend of 10-12 November. The theme of the stand was the Classic 300 - a series of vehicle runs which took place throughout England this year.

Vehicles on display at the NEC were a stunning 1922 Rolls Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost Tourer, a 1967 Ford GT40 in Gulf livery and an XKSS Jaguar, as well as a 1957 BSA A10 Super Rocket and a 1999 Honda VTR Firestorm, both courtesy of the Widows Sons Chapter.

On the Square Wheels stand, 20 new members were signed up, whilst lots of little teddies were also sold to visitors to help swell funds for the Teddies for Loving Care campaign.

As part of the rebrand, meetings will now be centralised in the Midlands to make the club more ‘national’ and the range of activities will offer members many additional diverse events, to help it appeal to all interests. The new Officers are: Chairman Mark Pierpoint, Hon. Secretary Phil Cottrell, Hon. Treasurer Mark Bigam and Press and PR Secretary John Cole.

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On one of the hottest days of the year, more than 500 Freemasons and their families came from as far away as Plymouth, Barnstaple and Tiverton to celebrate the Tercentenary at Ugbrooke House in Chudleigh

The day had something for all the family, with a brass band, an inflatable assault course, a dog show, and a display of classic cars and motorbikes. Cream teas and cakes were on offer, as were guided tours of Ugbrooke House.

A teddy bears’ picnic was also held in recognition of the Teddies for Loving Care initiative. Over the past eight years, Freemasons in Devonshire have provided hospital A&E units with more than 43,000 teddy bears, which have been used to comfort children in severe distress.

Yorkshire Freemasons’ participation in the Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) initiative, which provides teddies to soothe children in A&E departments, reached a milestone when a young patient at Harrogate District Hospital received the 100,000th teddy bear

Since 2008, 17 hospitals in Yorkshire have benefited from the Province’s TLC scheme – funded by West Riding Masonic Charities Limited.

Masonic teddy bears visited the National Arboretum for a picnic in the woods to help raise money for Manx Breast Cancer Support

Over 100 families attended the event with many of the children bringing along teddies that they had been given through the Freemasons Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) initiative when they were in hospital.

The picnic was organised by Rachel Corlett, who was Manx Breast Cancer Support Group’s entrant for the Miss Isle of Man contest, and supported by the Provincial Grand Lodge of the Isle of Man.

‘About half of the children who attended brought their TLC bears with them – it was so sweet to see,’ commented Rachel.

The Masonic Teddies for Loving Care initiative has been running in the Isle of Man since 2011 and has so far given more than 4,000 teddy bears to children attending hospital appointments.

The Provincial Grand Master for the Isle of Man, Keith Dalrymple said: ‘To maximise effectiveness we are building practical links with local charities. Our Brethren are encouraged to work with other organisations in a spirit of 'constructive collaboration' rather than simply making cash donations.

‘In this instance we found that the Breast Cancer Support Group, high profile and extremely energetic people, had arranged a picnic the same weekend as ours was planned. Rather than competing, it was agreed that we would join them and support their event.

‘The day formed part of the newly re-vamped 'Miss Isle of Man' competition which requires the individual contestants to raise funds for their nominated charity. Rachel selected the Breast Cancer Support Group which, with a little help from Manx Masons, has benefitted to the tune of more than £30,000.’

Wiltshire Freemasons found themselves in the wonderful surroundings of The Grange at Winterbourne Daunstey where they held a Teddy Bears Picnic

Entry to the event was free on the condition you brought a teddy bear and there was lots of entertainment on display for all the family including three bouncy castles games with a teddy bear hunt, a duck race and a thrilling birds of prey flying display.

There was also the opportunity to enjoy music on the lawn before adjounring to the magnificent recently converted Tithe Barn for afternoon tea.

The superb grounds of The Grange were bathed in glorious sunshine and the sound of happy children filled the air as they explored the woodland searching for hidden teddy bears and watched as rubber yellow ducks washed down the stream, cheered on by anxious owners desperate to win a bag of sweets.

The Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire Philip Bullock was thrilled with the day, commenting: 'I know that members of the Salisbury Lodges put a great deal of effort into making this day a success - they can be very proud of their achievement.'

The real winners though were Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) and the assisted living bungalow at nearby Alderbury, who between them shared almost £2,000 from the fundraising.

Rosie Greer, a senior sister at Salisbury Hospital enjoyed her day helping man the Teddies for Loving Care stand and display. She said: 'I have been especially pleased to be able to tell lots of people how a little TLC bear makes such a big difference to a child's time in our Accident and Emergency department.'

Bucks initiative raises prostate cancer awareness

To raise awareness of prostate cancer, Buckinghamshire Freemasons held PSA testing sessions at three masonic centres. PSA is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland and the test measures the level of PSA in a man’s blood.

The Buckinghamshire sessions invited any mason in the Province to bring a friend along and for both to be tested at no charge. Around 10 per cent of those tested had elevated levels and were referred on to their GPs. Tony Dyckes of Hall Barn Lodge, No. 8480, had a raised PSA, prompting further tests in December that confirmed he had prostate cancer. APGM Peter Moody and Teddies for Loving Care programme organiser Mel Shah brought the two initiatives together and presented Tony with a friend to keep him company in hospital. 

Teddies to the rescue

All three of Berwick-upon-Tweed’s lodges were represented at the Berwick Infirmary to promote the TLC (Teddies for Loving Care) Appeal, which provides soft toys for children in A&E units all over the UK. ‘The staff at Berwick Infirmary do a fantastic job and we feel this helps both them and the children,’ said Colin Fuller, chaplain of St David’s Lodge, No. 393, who organised the scheme. 

Nurse Kirsten Burn said, ‘We are really grateful to the Freemasons. If a child is in a great deal of stress we can give them a teddy to make them feel better.’

Funding from Somerset masons meant that Clevedon Minor Injury Unit received its 2,500th bear. Ian Strickland, TLC area coordinator, said: ‘We’re pleased to offer such valued assistance to our local community. The money for these bears has come from Clevedon, Nailsea and Yatton Freemasons, whose contributions enable this scheme to continue.’

Classic car club’s record signings

Described by many as the most beautiful racing car ever built, a 1958 Maserati 250F featured on the Masonic Classic Vehicle Club’s stand at the Classic Motor Show at the Birmingham NEC. 

The car, owned by Berkshire mason Gerry Hann, had a big teddy as the driver as part of a special display for the Teddies for Loving Care charity. 

This prestigious Formula One car, the first model of which made its debut in 1954 with world champion driver Juan Manuel Fangio behind the wheel, attracted a large number of visitors to the club stand. During the three open days, a record number of 40 new members were signed up. 

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