Celebrating 300 years

Eight Devonshire charities benefited from a series of special MCF Community Awards from Devonshire Freemasons after an unprecedented public vote, with 178,801 people in England and Wales participating

The MCF Community Awards are a major part of UGLE’s 300th anniversary celebrations. The Masonic Charitable Foundation is distributing £3 million to 300 charities across the country, with the public vote deciding on the level of awards, which range from £4,000 to £25,000.

Presentations to the charities were made in September at a special ceremony in Plymouth by Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury on behalf of the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Find out more about the thinking behind the MCF Community Awards here.

The Province of West Lancashire was anxious to ensure that it celebrated the Tercentenary in style and with that in mind, two gala dinners took place within a few weeks of each other

At the main event, held at the Hilton Hotel, Blackpool, over 400 brethren and their partners gathered to attend the Provincial Tercentenary Gala Dinner. The evening began with the entrance of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and his wife Maureen, who were accompanied by the principal guest, Assistant Grand Master Sir David Hugh Wootton. Also joining them was the chairman of the West Lancashire Tercentenary committee, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Tony Bent and his wife Lynda.

Following the dinner, the entertainment began in dramatic style when a waiter dropped a large tray of cutlery, apparently accidentally on to the dance floor. This got everyone’s attention but rather than a mishap, this was the start of a performance in which several theatrical ‘waiters’ performed a set of popular operatic arias to the delight of the audience.

As the customary toasts were made, Tony Harrison proposed the toast to the ‘Premier Grand Lodge’ on the occasion of its Tercentenary and then, following a brief synopsis of Sir David’s professional and Masonic career, offered a toast to the Assistant Grand Master. To further mark Sir David’s visit, Tony presented him with a cheque for £5,000 from the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity to pass on to the Lifelites charity, of which he is a patron.

He was also presented with a ‘Rail Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland’ and a special bottle of Martell Cognac which commemorated the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Martell Distillery. Sir David thanked Tony for his kind words and very generous gifts.

The evening’s raffle, which raised £1,920 in favour of the West Lancashire 2021 Masonic Charitable Foundation Festival, saw the lucky winners claiming a variety of prizes, including a coach holiday in the UK, flying lessons and a widescreen television.

At another event, held earlier in the north of the Province, over 200 Masons and their partners gathered at the Cumbria Grand Hotel to celebrate what was billed as ‘A Spectacular Banquet and Ball’, organised jointly by the Furness and Lancaster Masonic Groups. Once again, the revellers were joined by Tony and Maureen Harrison at a wonderful event that combined great food, marvellous entertainment and a spectacular firework finale.

Speeches were kept to a minimum with the emphasis firmly on having a relaxed and fun filled evening. The speech and double toast given by Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger was so uncharacteristically short that it earned him rapturous applause!

Everyone pronounced both evenings to be a great success and a fitting way to celebrate such a memorable Masonic milestone in true West Lancashire style.

News that her organisation was going to be given £15,000 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation reduced Pat Ebbs to tears

“Words can’t explain what this means to us. No-one has even done anything like this for us before, and saying thank you just doesn’t seem to be enough,” she told Lincolnshire's Provincial Grand Master Graham Ives, when he went to Scunthorpe to make a formal presentation of the funds given to Magic Moments for Autisic Kids.

Pat is the driving force behind the charity, and knows better than most about life in families with autistic children – she has seven grandchildren suffering from it. 

The money is the largest single donation ever made to the group, which has the objective of preventing sufferers of autism from feeling isolated, of training them and giving them life experiences. 

Pat said the donation was a colossal sum of money and would make a significant difference to the families helped by the charity, which itself has been awarded an MBE. All of the money will be spent on providing experiences for the children, which will include a sledging trip and possibly a holiday in Wales at a venue specialising in holidays for disabled children.

Six Lincolnshire charities have benefited from Lincolnshire’s Community Awards after unprecedented public involvement. The Awards are a major part of Freemasonry’s 300th anniversary celebrations, with the Masonic Charitable Foundation distributing £3 million to 300 charities across the country.

All of the Lincolnshire charities were presented with their Awards by Graham Ives who commented: 'It was uplifting to hear the stories of the people who have been helped by these donations. Volunteers work so hard and to be able to provide the wherewithal for them to make an even more effective contribution is the perfect way to celebrate 300 years of Freemasonry. 

'We’ve been active in charity work for all of Freemasonry’s 300 years, but this is the first occasion we’ve asked the public to help us decide how to spend our money. We are very pleased that so many people from Lincolnshire took part in the vote.'

A golden and unique Masonic evening took place on 22nd November, at the always welcoming Derwent Lodge No. 4250 in the village of Chopwell, which saw over £10,000 donated to the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS)

This was achieved through the collective charitable efforts of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) and Durham Benevolence, as well the efforts of Derwent Lodge itself.

Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Watts was in attendance to firstly recognise the charitable efforts of Derwent Lodge and proudly presented Ken Cook, the Lodge Charity Steward, a well-deserved Gold Award on behalf of the Province for meeting their Durham 2021 festival five-year target in only 22 months.

Durham Freemasons and, in particular, Derwent Lodge have a strong charitable association with the GNAAS and upon closing the Lodge, Ben McWilliams of the GNAA then gave a short presentation in the Lodge room regarding their work. He played a specially recorded video where the Director of Operations at the GNAAS thanked Derwent Lodge and Durham Freemasons for their ongoing support towards this crucial service.

John Watts then had the privilege, on behalf of the MCF, to present Ben McWilliams with a £4,000 grant as well as an additional £1,000 on behalf of Provincial Grand Lodge Durham to contribute towards the next generation of motor vehicles, to assist them with their life-saving work on both land and in the air.

Keith Walker, Derwent Lodge Treasurer, also presented GNASS with an additional £5,300 which had been raised through the support of Lodge members and friends at the annual Derwent Lodge Barbeque. This special event has increased in attendance from 37 to 141 people in the five years that it has been in existence and is now widely supported by the Lodge members, other local Freemasons and the business community.

More than 30 carers will be able to take a break next year, thanks to a £2,000 grant from Lincolnshire Freemasons via the Masonic Charitable Foundation

The grant to Respite Association will pay for the annual rent of a caravan at Richmond Holiday Centre in Skegness.

The caravan will be used by families of mentally and physically disabled children and spouses of people with various forms of dementia. While alternative short-term care is arranged, the carer can have a well-earned and much-needed rest beside the sea.

Lincolnshire's Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Graham Ives said: ‘We’re really pleased to be able to help the Respite Association with its wonderful work in the community.

‘Carers are often forgotten by the rest of us and Respite gives them the opportunity to take a well-earned rest.’

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.’

The Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England coincided with the end of the Provincial Grand Lodge of North Wales 2017 Festival Appeal, with two major events held in aid of the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys

Recognising the unique opportunity that these two milestones presented to involve and interact with the public, they organised events in July and September this year.

A gloriously sunny 1st July saw the Tercentenary being recognised with a hugely successful ‘Big Party’ in the extensive grounds of Queen Elizabeth Court RMBI Care Home in Llandudno. Attracting over 1,400 attendees, including many young families from the local community, the day was a festival of live music, charity and market stalls, games of skill, fun fair rides, circus performers, circus workshops and craft demonstrations all supported by the Goose & Gridiron licensed bar and catering outlets.

A number of national charities that have benefited over the years from funding by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) were present, giving the public a real insight into the way in which Freemasons have an impact on their local communities.

Visitors were astounded to see a secretly planned landing by a Wales Air Ambulance helicopter on the adjoining school field. Children, in particular, stood in awe as the big red helicopter settled no more than 100 metres from them. Provincial Grand Master Ieuan Redvers Jones, accompanied by the MCF's Chief Operating Officer Les Hutchison, presented a cheque for £4,000 to the helicopter pilot on the big stage.

All proceeds from the day, which amounted to over £21,000, were donated to the Friends of Queen Elizabeth Court to be used for the benefit of the elderly residents.

Following hot on the heels of the Big Party success, a spectacular Welsh flavoured Festival Gala was held at Venue Cymru, a modern theatre complex in Llandudno, on 9th September, during which the Province revealed the total raised by North Wales brethren for their 2017 Festival Appeal in aid of the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys.

In the presence of the Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton and the Provincial Grand Master for North Wales Ieaun Redvers Jones, members and the public alike watched as short video clips highlighting charitable credentials were tantalizingly shown between acts until, nearing the finale, the stage screen lit up to reveal that the target set at £2.75million had been exceeded by a considerable amount – reaching £3.1 million!

This total raised represented an impressive achievement by the North Wales Freemasons, upon which they were enthusiastically congratulated during the formal addresses. Les Hutchison confirmed that the amount raised represented the second highest total raised per capita for any Festival Appeal.

Throughout the evening, the audience was treated to a spectacular and inspiring mixture of modern and traditional Welsh music and song by artists of local, national and international repute, which provided a most fitting tribute to the brethren of North Wales who have worked tirelessly to achieve such a magnificent Festival Appeal total.

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.

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