Celebrating 300 years

Freemasons from Leicestershire and Rutland, who cycled 300 miles during the summer, made their last short trip from Leicester to Loughborough to present a cheque for £11,704 to Rainbows Children’s Hospice in Loughborough

In June 2017, 23 Freemasons cycled around the Masonic centres in Leicestershire and Rutland and down to Freemasons’ Hall in London and back – completing a total of 300 miles as part of their 300th anniversary celebrations.

A total of £23,408 was raised from Freemasons, family and friends which was split equally between Rainbows and the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

A number of the cyclists took the short ride to Rainbows Hospice at Lark Rise in Loughborough to present the cheque to David Strudley, Rainbows CEO. The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland David Hagger was also on hand to formally present the cheque.

After light refreshments, the cyclists were delighted to have a guided tour of the Hospice and hear first-hand about the amazing care and support provided by Rainbows for life-limited children and their families.

Simon Oldfield, who organised the ride, said: ‘Riding 300 miles in four days was a first for many of us. After seeing the excellent work that Rainbows do, it makes me very proud to be a Freemason and to have been part of the team to help raise funds for such an amazing charity.

‘We all felt very humbled and everyone who took part in the ride, the cyclists and support team, felt immensely proud of our fundraising achievement and the opportunity to support such a deserving local charity. It made all the hard work of training through the depths of winter so very worthwhile.’

David Strudley, Rainbows CEO, commented: ‘We are especially grateful to Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons in making Rainbows Hospice part of their 300th anniversary fundraising event. The magnificent total raised from their cycling marathon will go a long way to supporting youngsters with life-limiting conditions and their families when they need it most.’

Provincial Grand Master David Hagger added: ‘I most sincerely thank the cyclists and assisting crew on behalf of all the Freemasons and their families in Leicestershire and Rutland for the generous contribution they have made – it is truly a magnificent achievement.’

Freemasons in Leicestershire and Rutland are celebrating a magnificent milestone in their charitable donations to the local community during the last five years

As they approach their 300th anniversary, figures released today show that Freemasons based in Leicestershire and Rutland, despite the recent economic downturn, have donated to over 400 different charities to the sum of £800,000.

Just under a third of the money donated went to healthcare charities, whilst those charities supporting children and youth received a quarter of the funding. Other charities were also supported who focus on social welfare, education, disability, elderly, culture, sport, religion, homeless and animals.

Freemasonry is one of the biggest contributors to UK charities, including both masonic and non-masonic causes. It encourages members to take a moral and ethical approach to life, helping them become the best that they can be. It seeks to reinforce the principles of kindness, honesty, fairness, tolerance and integrity.

The donations include those given by the Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association, the Royal Arch Masons and Mark Master Masons.

Some of their recent donations include £10,000 to Warning Zone, the Leicester based interactive life skills centre, for an e-Safety zone, £15,000 to Leicester Cathedral for the reinterment of Richard III, £25,000 to the Leicester Children’s Holiday Centre Mablethorpe for play equipment and £50,000 to the new Centre for Medicine at the University of Leicester.

Other major beneficiaries include the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, LOROS Hospice, Rainbows Children's Hospice, and PROSTaid.

David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland said: 'All of our members are encouraged to give to charity but should always be within their means and it is entirely up to each member how much they wish to contribute. The money donated is raised by the members themselves from such events as ladies' nights and other social occasions where family and friends get together.'

He continued: 'I'm incredibly proud and thank all our members for their philanthropy and generosity by contributing this amazing amount of money to local communities reinforcing the role that Freemasonry has always and continues to play in society.'

Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons are currently in full training getting ready to do a 300-mile cycle ride marking their 300th anniversary and aiming to raise £20,000 for the Rainbows Children's Hospice in Loughborough and the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF)

On 24th June 1717, four masonic lodges, which had existed for some time in London, formed the Grand Lodge of England which has since continued to administer the 7,000 lodges and it's 200,000 members across England and Wales.

Leicestershire and Rutland have 3,000 members which meet in the 76 lodges across the two counties. Masonic lodges are based in Leicester, Loughborough, Hinckley, Syston, Uppingham, Melton Mowbray, Lutterworth, Market Harborough, Oakham, Coalville and Ashby de la Zouch.

At least 35 Freemasons, aged between 22 and 70 years old, from over 20 different lodges will be cycling in June 2017 to each of the 11 masonic meeting places within Leicestershire and Rutland. They will then head to the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England at Freemasons' Hall, Covent Garden in London. When clocking up the 300 miles they will take a short detour to the site of the former Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St Paul's Churchyard, London where the first Grand Lodge was formed before they head back to Leicester.

Simon Oldfield, keen cyclist and organiser said: 'Cycling 300 miles will be a test of all those taking part, everyone is motivated to do the training knowing that we are raising money for two very worthwhile causes as part of our Tercentenary celebrations. It has brought together cyclists of varying age, experience and fitness, building a real team spirit for the challenge ahead.'

The Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People, based in Lougborough, provides care to those that are affected by life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. Helen Lee-Smith, Head of Individual Giving at Rainbows, said: 'I would like to thank Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons for organising their 300 mile cycle ride to celebrate 300 years of Freemasonry and for supporting Rainbows. Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons are doing a wonderful thing raising funds to help us run the hospice – fundraising efforts make such a huge difference to both the children and young people at Rainbows and their families.'

The MCF supports Freemasons, their families and the wider community. David Innes, Chief Executive of the MCF said: 'Our work depends entirely on donations from Freemasons and their families across England and Wales, and we are continually surprised and inspired by the unique and challenging ways that they raise funds for us. We wish all participants in the Leicestershire and Rutland 300 mile bike ride the best of luck and thank them in advance for their hard work and generosity.'

The Provincial Grand Master of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, David Hagger, added: 'We'll be holding several celebratory events in 2017 and this charity bike ride is a perfect opportunity for our members to raise money for good causes by undertaking this physical challenge. We're keen to shake off our bygone image and this bike ride is a great example of this. Recently we have found that more younger people are attracted to Freemasonry as they seek a social environment with strong values and traditions that also supports the local community.'

He continued: 'During 2017, we'll also be opening the doors to our masonic halls for everyone to see inside and an exhibition on Freemasonry at Newarke House Museum in Leicester highlighting the contribution of Freemasons to our local communities. We hope this will lead to further interest and a better understanding of our historic fraternity.'

Nearly £50k of donations distributed in Leicestershire

Representatives from 33 diverse local charities attended Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester on Saturday 27th February 2016 as recipients of awards totalling £43,537 from the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons

Amongst those receiving donations from the kind generosity of the members of the fraternity were:

Heart Link (East Midlands Children's Heart Care Association) received £1,000 to help provide facilities for children with heart defects, their families and providing much needed valuable medical equipment at Glenfield Hospital. Gill Smart, Treasurer of Heart Link, said: 'We are very grateful for this donation which will go towards paying for a latest 4D scanner so that children which a heart defect can have a better quality of life and help the families.'

CHICKS, Country Holidays for Inner City Kids, is a national children's charity providing free respite breaks to disadvantaged children from all over the UK. Kelly Tones, said: 'This money will go towards funding breaks in our new retreat in Derbyshire giving children the opportunity to be involved with activities such as rock climbing and horse riding and let them live their lives and let them be kids again.'

Toys on the Table provides new toys and gifts at the holiday season for those children in Leicester and Leicestershire, regardless of faith, who might otherwise not receive anything. On receiving £1,000 from the Freemasons, Terry Watts, Chairman of the Trustees, said: 'Last Christmas we gave 4,000 children around 8,000 toys. We thank the Freemasons for this donation which will enable us to purchase toys and make certain that no child is left without.'

Melton Community First Responders received a donation of £1,000. It provides voluntary support to the East Midlands Ambulance Service and serves Melton Mowbray, Asfordby and many of the surrounding villages. Peter Scott said: 'On behalf of all of the community of Melton thank you to the Freemasons for their donation. Last year we provided over 19,000 hours on call and attended more than 2,000 patients. As we have been going for 12 years our defibrillators are getting old and therefore this donation will go towards paying for a new defibrillator which will enable us to continue our work.'

The Dove Cottage Day Hospice, which is situated in Stathern, offers palliative day care to those living with advanced progressive life limiting illness received a total donation of £1,000. Chris Gatfield, Registered Manager and Founder of Dove, said: 'Thank you to the Freemasons very much indeed for this wonderful donation. We are a comparatively small hospice started 20 years ago to serve the people in rural communities. We couldn’t do any of this without the support of organisations such as the Freemasons which is very much appreciated.'

Leicestershire and Rutland 4x4 Response, which provides a network of volunteers that are able to respond to situations likely to cause danger to the general public, received a donation of £500. Chairman Simon Dale said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for the donation. Leicestershire and Rutland 4x4 Response are a group of volunteers that help out the emergency services. We are 100% self funded and this money will be used for training our responders.'

Loughborough Group for People with Disabilities received a donation of £500 from the members of Beacon Lodge which meets in Loughborough. Tony Wilkinson from the charity said: 'Thank you so much to the Freemasons for this money. We are very humbled and grateful to receive this donation which will go towards a trip to Lourdes, France and repairs to our minibus.'

Rainbows Children’s Hospice received £3,338 from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. Dana Simons, Appeal Manager at Rainbows said: 'We are now needing over £5 million pounds each and every year to run the hospice to provide one to one care, respite stay, palliative care, symptom control, end of life care and bereavement support. Sadly that need never goes away and we are increasing our services and extending them for cancer patients and new born babies. Thank you to the Freemasons for this donation which we are extremely grateful.'

On behalf of the Westfield Community Development Association, Dave Roberts received a donation of £1,000. He said: 'We have 65 volunteers delivering over 300 hours a week many of which are centred on our elderly, disabled and socially isolated projects. Thank you to the Freemasons for this generous gift which is help support these projects in the the Hinckley and Bosworth area. It really is an important contribution to the work that we do and it is much appreciated.'

Upon receiving a donation of £2,000 Diane Morgan, Director of the Hinckley Homeless Group said: 'We are small charity that runs a hostel, Lawrence House, for homeless young people aged between 16 and 25 in the Hinckley area. We have lost our statutory funding recently and the trustees would like to thank the Freemasons for this generous donation which will go towards providing the cost of the project workers which really are the key to the success of Lawrence House.'

On behalf of Voluntary Action Rutland, Director Lindsay Henshwaw-Dann received a donation of £1,500 from the Enderby Lodge. She said: 'Thank you so much to the Freemasons for this donation which we are so pleased to receive. We have had our funding slashed by half and this money will allow us to complete the furnishing of a new counselling room at our centre in Oakham which will be used by community groups and other charities.'

Rutland Sailability were given £500 from the Beacon Lodge. Chairman of Rutland Sailability Martin Sutcliffe said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for this generous donation and their help. We provide facilities at Rutland Water for people will all varieties of disabilities to enjoy the sport of sailing. This money will go towards training a small group of people representing Team GB at the World Championships in Holland.'

Other charities receiving funds included Lady Gretton, Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire, who received £1,000 on behalf of the Lord-Lieutenant's Award for Young People 2016 which seeks to identify, celebrate and reward the very best examples of achievement by young people in Leicestershire. Upon receiving the donation, Lady Gretton replied ‘We thank the Masons most sincerely for the wonderful support for these awards which recognises young inspirational people in Leicester and Leicestershire for bravery, sport, and volunteering.'

ENRYCH Leicestershire and Derbyshire, based in Coalville, received £1,000. Sonia Lear, Volunteer and Social Event Coordinator, said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for this generous and wonderful donation. Our small charity was formed to support adults with physical disabilities to enjoy leisure and learning activities. This donation will enable us to continue recruiting volunteers that do wonderful work and are the lifeblood of our charity.'

People's Accessible Transport for Harborough (PATH) received a donation of £1,000. Michael Cheeseman, from PATH, said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for this generous donation which will enable PATH to continue to function for a few more years. There is a major shortage of community transport and this funding will support our buses to help mobilise isolated elderly, disabled and vulnerable people in the Market Harborough area.'

A total of £500 was presented to Lutterworth-based Heartsafe by the Head of the Royal Arch Masons Peter Kinder. Heartsafe aims to ensure that every young person passing through secondary education in the County schools is provided with training in Emergency Life Support, including vital cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Dr Doug Skehan said: 'We are run by a group of volunteers who spend time in schools. We have a modest amount of administration costs and therefore are very grateful to the Freemasons for their generous donation.'

David Hagger, the Head of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, concluded the meeting by applauding all the charities and their volunteers who give their time to such good causes: 'I’m proud that the Freemasons have been able to make a major contribution to society by supporting charities particularly those helping many children and young people in the local community.'

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