A huge crowd of over 10,000 were in attendance with seven races, plenty of family fun and special guest Tony Hadley making up the second day of the Best of British Festival at Windsor Racecourse on Sunday July 2nd.
2017 marks the official 300th birthday of Freemasonry, celebrating how 300 years ago, on June 24th 1717, four London Lodges came together to form the Premier Grand Lodge. The Tercentenary is being commemorated with a calendar of high profile events including the Windsor Race Day.
In the bright sunshine, it was a glorious day of racing and free entertainment including a fun fair which further enhanced the family atmosphere. The special day ended with a fantastic evening concert by ex-Spandau Ballet member Tony Hadley.
During the course of the day, Richard Hone, President of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, presented a grant award to Professor Sonia Blandford of the "Achievement for All" charity of £240,000 to help thousands of under-performing children in their education.
Provincial Grand Master of the Berkshire Freemasons Martin Peters said: 'This was a wonderful and very special celebratory event with over 4,000 Masons and their families and thousands of other racegoers enjoying an incredible occasion.
'From the many favourable comments I received there can be no doubt that we opened up the public’s perception of Freemasonry in a beneficial way. Myself and Peter Lowndes, the Pro Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, would like to congratulate everyone who contributed to such a brilliant event to celebrate our Tercentenary - matched only by the glorious weather.'
Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton attended a meeting of the Worcestershire Installed Masters’ Lodge, No. 6889, where a talk was given on delivering the 2020 strategy for Freemasonry
Sir David was present to support the launch of the Worcestershire 2022 Festival Appeal. Masonic Charitable Foundation President Richard Hone emphasised the significant contribution from local and lodge-organised events, along with regular charitable giving.
Jasmine Elcock, a finalist in 2016’s Britain’s Got Talent show, provided the evening’s entertainment, and the Provincial Grand Lodge of Worcestershire's PGM Robert Vaughan announced the Festival target was to raise £2,022,000.
14 December 2016
An address by VW Bro His Honour Judge Richard Hone, President, and David Innes, Chief Executive
Richard Hone: Pro Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master and brethren, I am delighted to address Grand Lodge for the first time, as President of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, and I am very proud to be the first person to hold this position.
The launch of the Foundation marks a new era in the long and proud history of masonic charity that has been built on the increasing collaboration between the four charities over recent years.
Our new charity, which has been formed following the consolidation of the four central masonic charities, opened for business in April this year. The work necessary to establish the Foundation is now largely complete and it has been a significant undertaking to bring together four charities that have operated separately for many years, in some cases since the 18th century.
In recent times, the predecessor charities have supported 5,000 Freemasons and their family members each year, at an annual cost of around £15 million, and we anticipate operating on this scale, or hopefully higher, for the near future.
But behind these statistics, there are thousands of stories about Masonic families across England and Wales, whose lives have been blighted by unexpected distress. Each story is unique – some are affected by financial hardship, others by ill health, disability, or just plain old age! Some stories are brief, whilst others extend for many years.
But every story has three things in common. The first is that everyone involved is a Freemason, or his wife, widow, partner, child or even his grandchild. The second is that all of them have experienced some kind of challenge that has made their lives difficult. And the third is that we at the centre have supported them. It is this third commonality that, I believe, has been the main driver for establishing the Foundation and the area where the greatest benefit will be felt. With a single charity, it is now much easier to understand and access the support we provide.
An additional advantage, and one that is particularly beneficial to the reputation of Freemasonry as a whole, is that bringing the charities together has created a sizeable organisation within the UK charity sector. This will help us to raise our public profile and allow us to have a significant voice of influence within the sector.
Through the work of the previous charities, Freemasons provided support amounting to over £100 million in recent years to charities and medical research projects across England and Wales.
The Foundation is continuing this legacy and since our launch in April, 350 grants totalling over £3 million have been awarded to non-masonic causes, and more are planned before the end of the financial year.
Next year, in addition to our main grant-making programme, we will help celebrate the Tercentenary by awarding 300 additional grants totalling £3 million to local charities operating across England and Wales. Over the past two months Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Lodges have been nominating charities for these Community Awards. In January, we will be asking the selected charities to submit formal bids outlining the purpose and size of the grant they would like. Once the submissions have been reviewed and confirmed, we will be inviting everyone – both the masonic community and the general public – to vote for those charities that have been put forward.
Freemasonry will therefore be helping more charities than ever before during this important year and by involving the public in the voting process, many people will learn about the charitable nature of our fraternity.
Bringing the charities together has also allowed us to improve the way we communicate with those who make our work possible: Almoners, Charity Stewards and many others.
Last month, we hosted our first Provincial Grand Almoners’ Conference in Manchester under the MCF banner. One of the key themes was to provide guidance and training to those who are most closely involved in the application process. Similarly, we held a Festival Forum here at Freemasons’ Hall – a one-day conference, which brings together those running appeals so that they can share ideas, learn from one another and, as a result, raise more funds for our cause.
Whilst part of our yearly income comes from the Annual Contribution, the MCF, like its predecessor charities, will continue to rely on the festival system for the majority of its income. For the next few years, festivals are still in place for the separate charities and this year the Provinces of Norfolk, Cumberland and Westmorland, Cheshire, and Hampshire and Isle of Wight have all successfully concluded appeals, with the latter setting a new record of £7.7m raised. A remarkable achievement!
This year, the first appeals for the MCF have been launched in Essex – who I’m told have Hampshire’s total in their sights, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, with West Lancashire and Worcestershire to follow very soon in the New Year.
We are extremely grateful to all our donors and fundraisers and I hope that, at the end of this short presentation, you will agree with me that these donations are being well spent and carefully managed.
Whilst it is my privilege to be able to represent the MCF as its President here today, I cannot claim credit for the work that has taken place to get the new charity off the ground. Led by my Deputy President and Chairman, the Trustees and, of course, the staff of the MCF have taken on much of that responsibility.
They have all worked very hard over the last year or more and have achieved an enormous amount, as you will hear from David Innes shortly.
Looking ahead, I believe that we have – to all intents and purposes – realised our vision of creating a single charity that can support the next generation of Freemasons.
To tell you more about Foundation’s work so far this year and our plans for the future, I’m delighted to hand over to its first Chief Executive, David Innes.
David Innes: Pro Grand Master, brethren all – good morning. It is a huge privilege for me, as the MCF’s first Chief Executive, to helping to shape the next chapter in the proud history of masonic charitable support and I’m really enjoying the challenge.
At the time of my previous address to Grand Lodge in March, Leicester City sat at the top of the Premier League, David Cameron had no intention of leaving No. 10 this year and Donald Trump seemed far from securing the Republican nomination, let alone winning the Presidential race! Clearly a lot can happen in 9 months and that has certainly been the case within the MCF.
Back in March, you may recall that I spoke about a three-phase consolidation process to create the Foundation during this year.
The first stage was ensuring that the required legal and governance foundations were in place to underpin a new, integrated organisation with the appropriate structure and systems for the future. I’m pleased to report that this phase, which also involved the transfer of all CMC staff to the MCF and RMBI staff to the new RMBI Care Co, was completed successfully on 1 April.
The second phase, which took place during the summer months, was the actual reorganisation itself and the physical relocation of staff into their new teams, albeit in temporary locations. Again, this has been completed successfully and all staff are now in their new posts with new contracts.
The final phase is still ongoing and involves a period of bedding in, during which the policies and procedures of the MCF are being finalised and the necessary systems needed to run the charity are becoming fully operational, such as our new grant-management software. We have also undertaken a major job evaluation exercise to ensure that every employee, irrespective of their former charity, is paid on a fair and equal basis, and that salaries are set in line with the sector.
I am delighted with the way all our staff have approached this potentially unsettling process. They quickly grasped the concept of what we were trying to achieve, and have willingly embraced new ways of working. Several members of the team have worked for the charities for over 20 years and many more in excess of 10 years, and I’m pleased that we have been able to retain so much experience and expertise as the new organisation takes shape. The bottom line is that they have been fantastic!
From my own perspective, I handed over responsibility for RMBI Care Co to the new Managing Director, Mark Lloyd, in October. Since then, I have been able to focus fully on the MCF. I have formed a Senior Leadership Team comprising directors and heads of department which meets monthly to assist me in running the charity. The majority of the day-to-day management for grant-making and fundraising lies in the very capable hands of Les Hutchinson, our Chief Operating Officer.
We have recently appointed our first Finance Director, Charles Angus, who brings a great deal of experience and is settling in very well. Charles has taken over from our Interim FD Chris Head and, Pro Grand Master, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Chris for all that he has done to help get the MCF up-and-running during the past 10 months.
The finance function was undoubtedly the most complex to integrate and, together with the Finance Committee, chaired by Mike Heenan, the team has put in a huge amount of work to create a unified accounting system that is both fit for purpose and statutorily compliant.
The only major element of phase three outstanding is the reconfiguration of our office accommodation, most of which is two storeys directly below us. During this two month project, which began on Monday, we have set up temporary office accommodation in the Gallery Suite on the Ground Floor of Freemasons’ Hall, but plan to move back downstairs in early February.
The refit will further remove barriers – both physical and psychological – and enable the staff to work together far more efficiently within a shared culture and working environment. It has also served as an excellent spring-cleaning exercise!
At the current time, the Trustees and staff are working hard to ensure that everyone is aware of the changes that have taken place, and to firmly entrench the single charity concept and our new brand into the consciousness of the Craft.
Many visits have been made to Provinces by our Trustees and senior management to spread the word, and we are extremely grateful to all those PGMs who have given us the opportunity to speak in their Provinces.
All of us involved in the consolidation process have stressed that there should be no adverse effect on the charitable services we provide to those in need. As far as we are aware, that has been the case. Indeed, following our launch, enquires for support have increased with over 1,200 received within the last three months alone.
Looking to the future, the Foundation will continue to provide its wide range of grants for Freemasons and their families experiencing a financial, health or family need as we have always done. But having a single charity with broad objects provides us with opportunities that go far beyond just financial grants. We now have the chance to adapt our charity to be more responsive and to offer new services to meet the needs of the masonic community, now and in the future.
Whilst the Craft will spend much of next year celebrating the remarkable milestone of the Tercentenary, our thoughts are already turning to the longer-term – as we look to build a new charity for a new generation.
Now that the Trustee Board and the Committees that serve it are up and running and working well, over the next few months they will be looking to formulate a forward-looking strategy for the Foundation that will dictate the direction of travel during the next five years.
We are keeping a very open mind about what we could do better to support those in need and are willing to explore all manner of proposals, however radical they may appear.
I would like to reassure you that the views of the Craft will be sought and represented in our discussions. Our first members’ meeting and AGM takes place later today, at which two nominated members from each Province and London will be provided with an update about our work, and the opportunity to comment and question our activities. We are looking forward to welcoming the Deputy Grand Master.
We plan to share an overview of our strategy with the Craft towards the middle of next year and this should provide you with a sense of what the Foundation will look like in the future.
For now though, and with only the final few weeks of the year remaining, I am delighted with where we are and am confident that your charity is well placed for the future.
Brethren, on behalf of everyone at the Masonic Charitable Foundation, I wish you a happy Christmas and thank you for all that you are doing to support our work.
Annual General Meeting of The Freemasons' Grand Charity
9 September 2015
An address by Richard Hone, QC, President of The Freemasons' Grand Charity
The main change is to reduce the membership from the present 180,000 members to a single charitable company whose own 124 members – comprising the trustees of the new charity, plus members appointed by the 47 Provinces and the Metropolitan Grand Lodge. Experience has shown that 180,000 members are too many and the vast majority do not even know that they are members! Good governance is better achieved by a smaller number. The present members of the Grand Charity will become Supporters of the new charity and, in the rare case of dissent, can either contact their Provincial or London representatives, alternatively they can attend a general meeting and make their views known.
I want to inject a note of enthusiasm here because I am delighted to report that we have made significant progress in our overall aim to have the new, fifth, overarching charity up and running by 1 April 2016. As you will all know by now, over the past five years the four Presidents and Chief Executives of the central masonic charities have been meeting regularly with a view to making masonic charity a more coherent operation.
The present division between the four charities has become illogical and inefficient in the sense that there is now considerable overlap and duplication of function. Over the five year period of the review much has already been achieved.
There is unanimous agreement between the Presidents, the Chief Executives and all four trustee boards that the best way forward for masonic charity is to incorporate a new overarching charity with the widest charitable objects. This will optimise the resources of the four existing charities and ensure an improved service to our masonic and non-masonic beneficiaries.
This has been the most detailed review of masonic charity since the Bagnall Report in 1973 and builds on recommendations endorsed by the Provincial Grand Masters’ Forum in 2008. We have consulted widely.
At a meeting in October 2014 the PGMs supported the changes. My letters to members in March and July 2015 explaining the changes to Grand Charity have been distributed through Provincial and Lodge Secretaries. I have had half-a-dozen letters from individuals and lodges raising questions which I hope I have answered to their satisfaction. In general the response has been overwhelmingly supportive.
At the General Meeting in Norfolk on 15 November I was able to seek the views of those attending, and they indicated approval. In July 2015 there was a large meeting of Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Charity Stewards in Manchester with almost every Province represented and they were positive and enthusiastic. These proposals have been accepted by the Grand Master’s Council, the Grand Master’s Council Charity Committee and the Grand Master himself, in his capacity as Grand President of the four central masonic charities.
Although significant, this change is neither rocket science nor revolutionary. The four existing charities will remain in name and will hold their restricted funds, but their functions will be assumed by the new charity administered by a single Trustee Board of 20 members with a single Chief Executive, rather than the four existing Trustee Boards with their separate committees and administrations. Masonic charity is an extraordinary, but largely untold, story and truly is a terrific force for good. The four charities collectively distribute over £25 million each year and we are expecting to improve on that.
I am delighted to announce that the new charity has now been incorporated with agreed Articles of Association. This has been quite a complicated task and we are all extremely grateful to the Grand Registrar who has mediated differences of views with consummate forensic skill and tact. There is now in place a shadow Board of Trustees for the new charity, drawn from the existing trustees of the four charities and working alongside the existing trustee boards. It is a most impressive group and I have no doubt that it will be ensure a smooth transition and a first rate administration from its operational date which is 1 April 2016.
All that remains is for the new charity to be registered with the Charity Commission and for an agreed Memorandum of Understanding between the existing charities and the new charity.
But we do need you, the members, to support this exciting work and vote in favour of this resolution. I now have great pleasure in proposing that the amendments to the Trust Deed and the Regulations of Grand Charity, subject to meeting the conditions specified, be ratified and that the Report of the Council be approved.
[The amendments were approved]
Thank you. As this is the last AGM of Grand Charity, I would like to pay tribute to the 139 trustees who have served over the 35 years of Grand Charity’s existence. I am delighted to see over 20 Council members present today. Also present are three former Presidents, Sir John Welch, Raymond Lye and Grahame Elliott, who have done so much to bring about the changes you have just approved. I mention the late Iain Ross Bryce who as Deputy Grand Master started this whole process moving and was a driving force. He is greatly missed.
More than £1m for West Wales
The Province of West Wales has raised £1,079,614 in its Festival for the Grand Charity, which was announced at an event in Llanelli attended by Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes. Among other guests were President of the Grand Charity Richard Hone, Chief Executive Laura Chapman and Provincial Grand Master Stephen Hookey, who said: ‘The appeal was launched in May 2009 at a time when the global recession had taken hold and austerity was to become a watchword for several years to come. Thanks to your generosity in these difficult times, the figure for which we aimed has been surpassed significantly.’
East Kent goes the extra mile
After five years of dedicated fundraising, the Provincial Grand Lodge of East Kent celebrated the close of its 2014 Festival for The Freemasons’ Grand Charity
East Kent announced that more than £3.65 million had been raised, a total well above the Province’s target. ‘All the money for this appeal has been raised by the members of the Province and I was delighted to announce the culmination of their efforts at our celebratory dinner in Folkestone,’ said Provincial Grand Master Geoffrey Dearing. ‘I know that our donation will help to change the lives of thousands of people in need. I am so proud of all our members and their families for their generous support and the huge efforts they have made.’
More than five hundred Freemasons, their wives, partners and friends joined the celebration at Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone in June 2014, including Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence; President of the Grand Charity Richard Hone, QC; and the Grand Charity’s Chief Executive Laura Chapman. Speaking about the Festival, Richard said he was tremendously grateful to the Province and their families for their contributions. With grants totalling millions of pounds each year, the Grand Charity assists thousands of people in both the masonic and wider community. Without the support of Freemasons and their families, this would not be possible.
Annual General Meeting of The Freemasons' Grand Charity
11 June 2014
An address by the President of the Grand Charity, Richard Hone, QC, and the Chief Executive, Laura Chapman
President (Richard Hone, QC):
Deputy Grand President and Members, welcome to the 34th Annual General Meeting of the Grand Charity. At the end of this meeting, we bid farewell to a past President, Grahame Elliott; a Deputy President, Ian Johnson and a Vice President, Ian Macbeth. These senior officers have played pivotal roles in the efficient running of the Grand Charity and on behalf of the Council and members here present, I want to thank them most warmly for all that they have done for the Charity over a long number of years and also for all they have done to assist me in particular.
I just want to endorse fully what the President of the Board of General Purposes has said about the unofficial and unauthorised history of Freemasonry being advertised with the improbable promise of half the net profit on sales being donated to the Grand Charity. I can confirm that we have had absolutely no contact with the publishers. The day job (if I may refer to it as that) reminds me that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Next year, our Annual General Meeting will be held at the September Quarterly Communication because as part of the wider re-organisation of the four central Masonic charities, it has been agreed that all four should have the same financial year-end of 31 March. So next year I shall be reporting on a 16-month period rather than the normal 12.
When I proof read the 44 pages of the Annual Report and Accounts, it demonstrates a year of steady progress - but there are highlights. In November 2013, there was the general meeting in Berkshire where four local mayors attended, with our own RW Bro Anthony West representing the Lord Lieutenant. The Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro Martin Peters, encouraged a terrific attendance of over 400 members with families and it was a marvellous opportunity to showcase our work and hear heart-rending stories from some of those who have been helped. You probably know that our areas of non-Masonic charitable support are Medical Research, Youth Opportunities, Vulnerable People and Hospices not substantially financed by the NHS. We know from the feed-back we have received that these are the most popular causes with you the members.
Since the formation of Grand Charity in 1980, which took over the work of Grand Lodge’s Board of Benevolence, we have enjoyed 28 Festivals which have raised a global total of no less than £57 million. With prudent investments, the annual contribution and generous legacies, we have been able to add to that £57 million and distribute over £120 million since 1981. Last September, the Province of Staffordshire held the 2013 Festival for the Grand Charity, which raised the stupendous total of £1.675 million from one of the smaller Provinces. I am so grateful to the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro Sandy Stewart, who is also a member of our Council, for that tremendous support. Last year we gave grants totalling £6.6 million, first to distressed Freemasons and their families, and equally important to non-Masonic charities. With the other central Masonic charities, we donate over £20 million annually and that excludes Provincial and individual Masonic giving. It is a great story and the world should know that Freemasonry is and remains a truly terrific force for good.
May I turn now to the yellow paper of business on page 13, paragraph 18, and mention that after careful discussions with representatives of the Board of General Purposes we have decided to withdraw our recommendation for an increase in the annual contribution and that the amount for 2015 should remain as it. This situation will be kept under review between now and the next Annual General Meeting.
With that amendment, I now propose that the report of the Council on pages 10-13 be taken as read and adopted.
Deputy Grand President and members – unless anyone has any objections, I shall propose all these recommendations as one resolution.
In the absence of objection, I now move that the 19 Non-Masonic grants recommended under Agenda Items 3a. to 3s., which total £842,500, be approved.
Deputy Grand President and members – Item 5 relates to Emergency Grants. These are grants that, under the rules of the Grand Charity, may be authorised by the President without approval from the Council or from the membership, for either Masonic or non-Masonic purposes in cases of real or dire emergency. Such emergency assistance usually follows natural disasters in other parts of the world, but on occasions this country has its own emergency requirements. The business paper reports a number of grants that were made to assist flood relief operations earlier this year in the UK, and which the Pro Grand Master spoke about in his address to Grand Lodge last March. Since then, I have authorised an emergency grant of £30,000 to assist the three million people affected by flooding and landslides in the Balkans, where more than 100,000 homes are thought to have been destroyed. As is often the case when dealing with urgent aid in areas where the Grand Charity has no real appropriate contact, the British Red Cross has been given the money to assist us in seeing that it swiftly gets to where it is most needed.
I should now, with your permission Deputy Grand President, like to ask Laura Chapman, the Charity’s Chief Executive, to say a few words about further assistance that is given in the name of the Craft, but which falls outside of the normal reporting requirements.
Chief Executive (Laura Chapman):
Deputy Grand President and members. Almost ten years ago, whilst the majority of us were enjoying our Boxing Day lunch, a tsunami travelled 375 miles across 18 countries, leaving 1.7 million people homeless in just 75 minutes, eventually killing more than a quarter of a million people by the end of the day. As you may recall, the Grand Charity immediately made a grant of £100,000 on behalf of the Craft to assist with front-line relief efforts and I personally hand delivered that cheque to the offices of the Red Cross on the first day it re-opened after the Christmas break. In the next few days, before Freemasons’ Hall reopened, I received a number of telephone calls at home from Provincial contacts, asking if the Grand Charity planned to open a Relief Chest to receive donations from Masons and Lodges throughout UGLE who wanted to help the tsunami victims, but also wanted their donations to be associated with Freemasonry. The Grand Charity had never opened a Relief Chest before to receive donations for disaster relief, but it seemed to me to be a very reasonable request. So, even before FMH re-opened after the New Year, the Tsunami Relief Chest was up and running and receiving donations that would ultimately reach nearly £1m. The Trustees of the Grand Charity then approved a grant to Plan International to use the Relief Chest funds to help to reconstruct schools, health centres and other vital community services focussed on helping the children who had suffered so much.
Since then, for a number of catastrophic disasters, Masons have wanted to give more than the emergency grant that the Grand Charity invariably makes immediately after the disaster strikes. For these, the Grand Charity has opened a Relief Chest with the result that more than £1.25 million has so far been given by the Craft for 7 major disaster relief projects.
In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan – the worst storm ever to have hit land – caused widespread destruction across the Philippines, affecting an estimated 14.1 million people and sadly taking the lives of more than 6,000. A President’s emergency grant of £50,000 was immediately made to the British Red Cross and in response to further interest from the Craft to help with the longer term redevelopment efforts, the Council of the Grand Charity announced that its special Relief Chest would once again receive funds to be dedicated to a special project to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan rebuild their lives.
To date, £185,395 has been donated to the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Chest, which will be used, once again with the help of the charity Plan, to re-establish vital services within affected communities through the reconstruction, repair and equipping of 15 classrooms and two village health centres in East and West Samar. It is estimated that approximately 5,000 people will benefit in the first year alone following project completion. The classrooms and health centres, which will be constructed using disaster resilient designs following stringent building codes, will provide safe and engaging learning environments and quality healthcare services for thousands of children and families for many years to come.
This project, along with the schools in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, Aceh Besar, Indonesia, Leogane, Haiti, the donation to the emergency relief and recovery programme in Japan (2011), and the fishing boats jealously guarded by the women of Tamil Nadu, India, to make sure that their men did not sell them on to the highest bidder, have all been possible only because of the outpouring of generous support that Masons, throughout the Craft, have given to those who have suffered so much from these catastrophic disasters.
On behalf of those whom you have helped, thank you.
Shoring up in Somerset
Flooding in England and Wales caused widespread damage and disruption to many communities during the winter. Somerset masons, backed by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and other Provinces, came to the rescue with help for the Somerset Community Foundation.
Grand Charity President Richard Hone, QC approved a £20,000 emergency grant for the British Red Cross in support of its UK flood relief efforts.
The grant was backed by a special appeal among Somerset masons, who raised more than £175,000 for the Somerset Masonic Flood Recovery Fund, becoming one of the four main donors to the local appeal. Other Provinces also sent generous donations.
The Grand Charity is working closely with masons in other affected areas of England and Wales to establish the best way to offer further support. In parallel with support for wider relief efforts, the charity will assist individual eligible masons who have been affected by events, and their dependants, by providing Masonic Relief Grants to relieve hardship.
Coming to the rescue in flooded areas
Working with the Provinces, the Grand Charity has been providing help to those in need following winter floods
The start of 2014 saw the wettest January reported since records began, and the severe weather continued into February, causing widespread damage. Entire villages were cut off and thousands of people had to abandon their homes and businesses. It is estimated that more than five thousand properties were flooded, with many underwater for up to six weeks.
Richard Hone, QC, President of the Grand Charity, said: ‘The thousands of people whose homes were flooded have had their lives turned upside down. Not only do they face financial hardship as a result, they also face tremendous emotional difficulties as so much of what they held close to their hearts may have been lost. Months of living in temporary accommodation while they coordinate repairs to their homes will take a tremendous toll on their well-being. We should not forget how damaging the floods have been to people’s lives, and why it is so important that we help.’
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity liaised with Provinces in affected regions to work out the best way to deliver support. Provincial funding efforts in Somerset, Berkshire, Devonshire and West Wales were matched with grants totalling £12,500. In addition, two emergency grants were issued in February 2014.
The first, for £25,000, was donated to the Somerset Community Foundation via the Provincial Grand Lodge of Somerset. A second grant of £20,000 was awarded to the British Red Cross to help fund its relief efforts across England and Wales.
In addition, Freemasons across the country rallied together and generously contributed to fundraising efforts in the Provinces of Essex and Somerset, whose appeals have so far raised more than £185,000.
The supporting role of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity
The charity’s grants are given to assist communities in desperate need of help due to disasters such as the major earthquake in New Zealand in 2011, the typhoon in the Philippines in 2013 and monsoon flooding in India in 2013. The Grand Charity has also consistently supported relief efforts for flood victims with emergency grants, while hundreds of thousands of pounds have been donated through the Relief Chest Scheme thanks to additional support from Freemasons nationwide.
To find out more about emergency grants for disaster relief, go to www.the-grand-charity.org
In response to an urgent appeal launched by the British Red Cross, the President of The Freemasons' Grand Charity, Richard Hone QC has today approved a £30,000 emergency grant in support of their flood relief efforts in the Balkans
In response to an urgent appeal launched by the British Red Cross, the President of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, Richard Hone QC has approved a £30,000 emergency grant in support of their flood relief efforts in the Balkans.
Since 13th May 2014, strong winds, low temperatures and extremely heavy rains in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) have caused large-scale flooding. So far, 44 people have been reported killed, although government officials expect this figure to increase as the water recedes.
Speaking about the donation, Richard Hone QC, President of the Grand Charity said: 'With so many people facing hardship and danger in the Balkans, we know that Freemasons are eager to support the emergency relief efforts of the Red Cross. Hundreds of their staff and volunteers are already providing life-saving support in the region, and we hope that this donation will make a real difference to many of the people in need of assistance.'
Ben Webster, Disaster Response Manager for the British Red Cross said: 'The Red Cross is delighted to have received such a generous donation from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. Three million people across Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia have now been affected by the floods, which are the worst ever recorded in the region.
'These funds are a valuable contribution towards the Red Cross response, helping us provide food, water, and shelter to some of the tens of thousands of people who have had to leave their homes and in the long term, support them to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.'
The floods have triggered more than 3,000 devastating landslides, which have buried houses and disturbed landmines laid during the regional conflict in the 1990s. More than 350,000 people in the region are estimated to be without water or electricity, and more than 100,000 homes are thought to have been destroyed. This means that hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and urgently need hygiene kits, mattresses and blankets. The emergency grant from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity will help with the provision of thousands of these supplies.
Visit the British Red Cross Balkan flooding Appeal page for more information.
Find out more at the Grand Charity website here.