Disabled people in Sussex will have the same freedoms as everyone else to attend concerts and events thanks to two new mobile changing facilities funded from a £13,794 grant to the Bevern Trust charity from Sussex Freemasons

The new MigLoo mobile changing facilities will allow at least 30 people with profound disabilities to attend community events, festivals and outdoor activities. Attending venues with limited facilities previously meant that changing or going to the toilet for people with complex needs was impossible and that they could not stay for long or even attend at all.

For people with profound disabilities, using large motorised wheelchairs, even 'disabled toilet' facilities can prove challenging, might be dirty or not even accessible at all. The ‘Migloo Festival’ provides a fully portable, temporary hoisted Changing Place that utilises the innovative MigLoo hoisting system.

The unit can easily be erected to provide those with profound disabilities and the need for hoisting, the privacy to use a toilet or freshen up and enjoy the rest of their day. The grant from Sussex Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Paul, a resident at Bevern View likes to try new things, he loves being sociable and above all Paul likes going out to new places and meeting people.

The MigLoo has transformed Paul’s life and for the first time, he will be able to go sailing at a specialist activity centre in Chichester because they will have the new mobile changing facilities. This new freedom will allow people like Paul to access new activities and live life to the full. 

Matthew Cornish, Fundraising & Development Manager for The Bevern Trust, said: 'We are extremely grateful for the funding we have received from Sussex Freemasons. This donation provides a significant step towards achieving our ambition of allowing more freedom and opportunity for the many profoundly disabled people in Sussex.'

Maurice Adams, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Sussex Freemasons, said: 'We’re very pleased to be able to support the Bevern Trust in helping people with disabilities to have the same chance to enjoy a day out as everyone else. We want to help make sure that events in Sussex are open to everyone, including disabled people.'

Riding Proud

Blood bike volunteers deliver vital medical supplies, whatever the weather, whatever time of day. Steven Short discovers how Freemasonry is helping

Blood bikes, often referred to as the fourth emergency service, act as an out-of-hours courier service for the NHS, delivering not just blood and plasma, but a variety of medical samples and equipment throughout the day and night. And they’re operated entirely by volunteers.

‘The most urgent thing I’ve ever delivered was very early on a Sunday morning,’ recalls blood bike volunteer John Watts, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Durham. ‘I got a call to go to a children’s ward at one of the hospitals we work with, and as I walked in a doctor came running up to me and put a small vial of liquid in my hand. “Please take this as fast as you can; a child’s life depends on it,” he told me.’

After delivering the vial, John discovered that it contained a sample from a very young baby with suspected meningitis. Until the sample had been tested, life-saving treatment could not be started. ‘It felt amazing to know that what I’m doing is helping save lives,’ he says. 

Strange as it may seem, the Greek authorities are partly responsible for John becoming a volunteer. ‘I’d heard that Greece was about to bring in a law that meant you couldn’t even hire a moped there without a bike licence,’ he recalls. ‘I’d been going on holiday to Greece for years, always hiring a bike while I was there, so I did my motorbike training and really caught the bug.’ 

When the retired policeman saw a feature in The Gazette (Durham’s masonic magazine) about a Freemason who was volunteering for a blood bike charity, he decided to investigate. ‘I’ve always been a keen volunteer, and I thought getting involved with blood bikes would be the perfect way to enjoy my new-found passion of riding motorbikes while doing something positive and useful.’ 

Digging a little deeper, John learned about the work of Northumbria Blood Bikes and got involved. He has now been riding for them for more than two years and recently earned his silver badge, which volunteers receive after working 50 shifts. 

‘It’s just so rewarding for our work to be appreciated’

INCREASED DEMAND

Pointing to the increased demand for blood bikes over recent years, Graham Moor, fundraising officer for Northumbria Blood Bikes and a member of Hammurabi Lodge, No. 9606, says there is a need to raise awareness as well as money. ‘All our groups need new volunteers so we can keep going. When we first started in my area, we might only get a couple of calls per night. Now, sometimes as soon as one call has been answered, another will come in. We might get 20 or 30 calls during a shift.’

Blood bikes primarily operate between 7pm and 7am on weekdays, and 24 hours on weekends and on bank and national holidays. ‘The NHS doesn’t have infinite resources, and we can help out logistically with no cost to it. We’re like taxis, but we don’t charge,’ John says. 

Volunteers typically do two shifts a month, either collecting and delivering goods or working as controllers to coordinate bikes. Cars are used if conditions are unsafe for bikes, or in winter when the temperature on the back of a bike with wind chill drops below 3°C, at which point blood can crystallise and can't be used. Riders can also be asked to deliver printed medical records as well as breast milk for premature babies or babies whose mothers have died in childbirth.

John once delivered a family photograph that a young man with autism had left behind in hospital so that it would be in its usual place when he woke up. ‘I was told he would have been extremely distressed to wake up and find it missing.’

There are more than 30 blood bike groups around the country currently providing this much-needed courier service. As well as delivering blood to and from hospitals, some groups supply air ambulances with their daily supplies of blood and platelets – blood typically has a five-day shelf life – allowing on-board doctors to do blood transfusions wherever they may be needed. 

‘Motorbikes get stuck in traffic much less than four-wheeled vehicles, meaning they’re faster and more efficient at getting to their destination,’ explains another volunteer, Neville Owens of Wrexhamian Lodge, No. 6715, and a member of the North Wales Chapter of the Widows Sons Masonic Bikers Association. ‘Bikes can better manoeuvre through traffic, we can avoid traffic jams, and because we’re liveried, people tend to get out of our way.’ Bikes are also cheaper to run, which is important, as funding comes entirely from donations. 

Neville volunteers as a controller, coordinating deliveries and pickups. ‘It’s high-concentration work. You have to calculate how long each journey should take and keep tabs on where all your riders are at any one time,’ he says.

‘We’re like taxis, but we don’t charge’

FREEING UP FUNDS

‘Like any emergency service, when we’re busy, we’re really busy,’ adds Colin Farrington of Wayford Lodge, No. 8490, who volunteers as a controller at SERV Norfolk. ‘Sometimes it can be 4:30am before you get a break.’ 

Last year, Colin’s group saved Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital enough from its transport budget that the hospital was able to replace some of its ageing freezers. 

‘They were always breaking down, but there was no budget for new ones,’ Colin says. ‘We saved them so much money on transport that they had free funds. It’s great to be able to actually see where your time and volunteering is going.’ 

While nothing would keep him off his bike, John says that shifts can sometimes be tough. ‘The weather can be challenging. No matter what protective clothing you’re wearing, when you’re doing 70mph in the pouring rain, the water will get in. It’ll start going down the back of your neck, then down your back…’ 

For John, the biggest reward comes when he’s sitting at a hospital waiting for a call. Someone will approach him and say that they or a relative needed a transfusion and a blood bike delivered the blood that saved their life. ‘They’ll shake my hand and say thank you. I’ll just well up – it’s just so rewarding for our work to be appreciated.’

Changing up a gear

Freemasons around the UK have donated funds, bikes and cars to blood bike groups. ‘With their livery and Freemasonry branding, the bikes are a great way to take masonic values into the community. When people see the masonic livery, they can see that we are doing good community work,’ says Graham Moor from Northumbria Blood Bikes.

Among the donated vehicles are two BMW police spec bikes from Cumbria Freemasons and two from West Lancashire Freemasons, which will help North West Blood Bikes Lancashire and Lakes to answer more calls. ‘We have completed 50,350 runs since we started in 2012,’ says trustee and founder Scott Miller, from Bank Terrace with King Oswald Lodge, No. 462, whose blood bike group has 365 volunteers – a mix of riders, controllers and fundraisers.

Local masons supported SERV Norfolk with the purchase of three motorbikes. ‘I was invited to various meetings to give talks about blood bikes and was invited to Norwich to pick up a cheque for £250,’ says controller Colin Farrington. While there, he was asked how much a bike would cost by the Provincial Charity Steward, who said they would organise a Christmas raffle to try to buy one. 

‘The Great Yarmouth lodges got together and by early December raised the £15,000 for the bike on their own,’ Colin says. ‘Then, at the end of January I was told Norfolk had raised enough money to buy another two fully equipped Yamaha FJRs. I was flabbergasted.’

It’s the journey  that matters

Via Rolls-Royce, camper van, horse and cart, speedboat and tandem bicycle, Lifelites chief executive Simone Enefer-Doy travelled 2,500 miles in two weeks to raise the profile of this hard-working charity

Providing life-changing assistive technology, Lifelites helps the 10,000 children and young people in hospices across the British Isles live their short lives to the full. On 25 May 2018, the charity’s chief executive, Simone Enefer-Doy, set off on an epic road, air and river trip to spread the word and raise funds.

The 2,500-mile challenge, called Lift for Lifelites, was to take in 47 famous landmarks in England and Wales in just 14 days. For each leg of the journey, Simone received a lift from Provincial supporters in an eclectic mix of transportation. After setting an initial target of raising £50,000 for Lifelites, the total now stands at over £104,000. Simone says she has been astounded at the support and generosity she encountered as she travelled around the country. 

‘Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that so many people would come out to meet me on my journey and support my challenge. We have received a terrific welcome wherever we have gone, and it really spurred me on to continue whenever I felt myself flagging. I would like to thank everyone – drivers, donors and venues – for helping to make Lift for Lifelites happen. We couldn’t have done it without you.’

If you’d like Lifelites to come to one of your Provincial meetings to make a presentation about Simone’s adventure and how the charity will use the money, please get in touch via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0207 440 4200.

Published in Lifelites

Earlier this year West Lancashire Freemasons donated £20,000 to St Mary’s Hospice to support its ‘Make Do and Mend’ initiative and in August 2018 they readily accepted an invitation to visit the workshop and see the progress that has been made

‘A huge success that has more than met our expectations’, were the words of Lynsey Lawson, who is the team leader for family and bereavement support at St Mary’s Hospice in Furness, when she was asked for her views on the ‘Make Do and Mend’ initiative.

The scheme was able to be implemented due to a grant of £20,000 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), which enabled an unused corner of the premises to be developed into a suitable work space.

The aim of the scheme is to provide a chance for bereaved men and women to come together to share their experiences and, ultimately, to help each other through their loss. The initial idea for the scheme arose from discussions on how best to connect with those bereaved people who found it uncomfortable to access the already available support and counselling. Experience shows that this relates mainly, but not exclusively, to men.

Head of Clinical Services Jo Blake explained: ‘It was thought that providing an opportunity for them to get together with people in the same position and to work together in upcycling donated furniture may be a possible way forward. A blueprint for the program was drawn up and an application was submitted to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for the funds needed to get the scheme up and running. We are very grateful that our bid was successful.’

West Lancashire Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger, along with Furness and South Lakeland Group Chairman Peter Schofield and local charity steward Richard Wilcock, recently had the pleasure of visiting the workshop and meeting some of the users.

After speaking with members of the hospice team, as well as some of those benefitting from the scheme, David commented: ‘It is superb to see our charitable funds being put to such marvellous use. It is often said, when accepting donations from lodges for the MCF that we thank the lodge on behalf of the recipients who they will never know or see.

'To hear first-hand of the difference the scheme is already making to the lives of others in helping them through the grieving process is really quite touching. It brings home the true ethos of charitable giving which is at the heart of our wonderful fraternity.’

One of those who has engaged with the program is George Last whose wife Linda passed away at the hospice Christmas time 2017. George was happy to talk about the benefits of ‘Make Do and Mend.’ George observed: ‘I come down once a week and have found it really beneficial. The company and the overall community feel of the workshop have helped me to come out of myself. I look forward to getting out of the house to come along and work on the cabinet I am recycling. 

'It is self-supporting as we are all in the same boat. One of the other users has become a firm friend and we go for a coffee and a chat together after each session. I now have the confidence to go along with my daughter to the coffee evening which the hospice host on a Thursday evening. It has made a real difference to my life.’

The workshops are run on informal lines with a bereavement counsellor always on hand, but not obtrusively so. Such is the demand that the present sessions and the next series of sessions are fully booked.

But it is not only men who benefit. Olivia Armistead found it difficult to cope with the loss of all four of her grandparents in a short space of time. Olivia attends the workshop and took pride in showing Peter Schofield the kitchen cabinet she was working on as she told him how much the scheme had helped her.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons have donated over £20,000 to 31 charities at a celebration evening at Farnborough Masonic Centre on 4th May

All the donations distributed to the charities had been raised from individual members of the area’s lodges. Of the many and varied methods of raising funds are raffles, special events and personal donations, all with the specific aim of distributing to local charities.

The evening was hosted by William Withers, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight. Dignitaries present included the local Aldershot Member of Parliament, Leo Docherty, together with the Mayor of Rushmoor, Sophia Choudhary, as well as Cllr Ken Muschamp, Cllr Charles Choudhary and Diane Bedford.

Representatives of the charities and other agencies gave interesting and inspirational talks about their own work and how donations are put to good use.

Amongst the 31 charities which received donations, were Phyllis Tuckwell, Lifelites, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Hampshire Air Ambulance, Stepping Stones, Limbcare, Henry Tyndale Community Special School and Veterans in Action.

William Withers said. 'This was a memorable and rewarding experience, with local and national charities coming together displaying such enthusiasm and in the process, making new friends. As Freemasons we believe in supporting our local communities in their functional activities and this event provided even more motivation for us to keep raising funds for such worthy causes.'

After the formal presentations had concluded, the attendees were invited to a buffet reception in the centre’s dining hall, where everyone had the opportunity to socialise and discuss many of the evening’s topics and recipients of the donations.

Lodge No Lodge Name Charity
515 Zetland Farnham Assist, Stepping Stones
723 Panmure Phyllis Tuckwell, Limb Care, Step by Step
1331 Aldershot Camp The Salvation Army, Hampshire Air Ambulance, Fleet Army Cadet Force
2475 Border Stepping Stones, Messy Arts
2755 Waller Rodwell Wright Asthma  UK
4187 Palma Virtuti Veterans Charity, Hampshire Air Ambulance
4919 Earl of Malmesbury Stepping Stones
8385 Anniversary Beavers Church Crookham
1971 Aldershot Army & Navy SAAFA, Parity
2203 Farnborough North camp Alzheimer's Café
4178 Aldershot Royal Engineers Veterans in Action
4581 Mercury Phyllis Tuckwell, Lifelites, Dogs for Good
5073 Fugelmere Cancer Relief UK, Diabetes UK
6314 Ferneberga Boots on the Ground, Alzheimer's Café
6664 Semper Fidelis Phyllis Tuckwell
7154 Loyalty Step by Step
7786 More Majorum Ehlers-Danlos Support UK
7927 Lodge of Hospitality Phyllis Tuckwell
8463 Rose of Hampshire Prostate Cancer
8859 Mid Wessex Installed Masters TBC
9107 Yateley Lodge Tommy's Charity
9289 Alder Tree Brain Tumour Charity
9336 United Progress Henry Tyndale School
9393 Pegasus Airborne Security Forces
9395 Ashburn St John Wessex Cancer Trust
9732 Chevalier de Fer TBC
9399 HIOWMCL Lifelites

Freemasons have met in the historic city of Lincoln for more than 200 years – but this Saturday will be the first time that members of the public have been invited to tour their meeting rooms

Created inside the former Nightingale pub in the city’s Nettleham Road, the building will be open to the general public between 10am and 3pm on Saturday 9th June. Visitors will be able to tour the building, see first-hand the rooms in which ceremonies take place and ask questions of members who will be there throughout the day.

Lincolnshire’s 3,500 Freemasons meet in 74 lodges based at 21 centres from Barton and Grimsby in the north to Grantham, Bourne, Spalding and Deeping St James, close to the county boundary, in the south.

The oldest of them all is a Lincoln lodge, Witham Lodge No. 297, which has a warrant dated  23rd September 1793. It meets at the Nightingale Rooms Masonic Centre, which was opened for Masonic business in 2013, having been converted from its former life as a pub by the brethren themselves.

Find out more about the centre, and see an interview and video with Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Wheeler in the city’s media outlet The Lincolnite.

West Lancashire Freemasons have donated £19,449 to Willowbrook Hospice in Merseyside

The donation was made by the Masonic Charitable Foundation on behalf of West Lancashire Freemasons, which follows the hospice's bid for a grant to fund a special project. As a result, a visit was arranged from the St Helens and Prescot Group from within the Province of West Lancashire to mark the donation.

Willowbrook was chosen as a recipient in order to aid in the creation of ‘Willowbrook Connections’. This is a three-phase project to aid carers and family members who need support before, during and after the loss of a loved one. Particular emphasis will be placed on assisting children and male relatives, two groups who are often reluctant to seek help.

Specifically, the project will provide a ‘Kids Shack’ where children between the ages of 5 and 16 can come along to after school hours, get to know each other, and take part in activities together. Support will be on hand from trained staff who will engage with the children and help support them in those difficult times.

A similar project will create a ‘Men Shed’, designed to help and support male relatives who are often unwilling to talk about their difficulties.

The St Helens and Prescot Masonic Group has supported Willowbrook since its foundation and donations from the group, as well as from individual lodges and chapters, are an important aid in funding this essential and important local service. Although the hospice does receive aid from central government and the local health authority, this only provides a small percentage of the large sum they require each year to function.

Neil Wright, Willowbrook Hospice CEO, detailed that the hospice costs £4.5 million annually to run and that government support of just £1.5 million left a very large funding deficit. Neil explained that this shortfall had to be filled by appealing for voluntary aid and support from the local and wider community. Money, he said, was raised by various means, with donations and legacies forming a very important part of this fundraising, supplemented by the hospice lottery and income from the hospice.

The Masonic visitors were welcomed by the Chairman of the trustees Alan Chick, who gave a short explanation of the work done by Willowbrook and thanked the Freemasons for their generous donation.

The ‘Willowbrook Connections’ project was then explained by Family Support Therapist Jan Barlow, who explained that she would now be enabled to provide full time support and much more care and therapy for bereaved relatives. She stressed how ‘Willowbrook Connections’ would also provide continuing support for family members of terminally ill patients both pre and post bereavement.

On behalf of the visitors, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Tony Bent paid tribute to the excellence of the care provided by the hospice and praised the staff for their commitment to delivering that care.

A third generation was welcomed into Helios Lodge No. 8311 when Alexander Burton, at the age of 20, was Initiated at the Wilmington Masonic Centre in Kent on 9th May 2018

Alexander's father, John Burton, Treasurer of the lodge, acted as the Junior Deacon and conducted his son around the lodge room during the ceremony.

He was also looked on by his grandfather, Michael Burton, lodge Secretary, who recorded the ceremony and made sure everything went off properly. It was back in 2001 when Michael then had the pleasure of initiating his son John.

The lodge was honoured by the presence of James Marsh, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of West Kent, who, as the previous Provincial Grand Secretary, arranged for Dispensation to allow the lodge to initiate Alexander three weeks prior to his 21st birthday.

Monday, 02 April 2018 12:12

700th meeting of Beacon Lodge

Beacon Lodge No. 5208, which meets at the Masonic Hall in Loughborough, held their 700th meeting on 11th January 2018

To mark this special occasion, the Provincial Grand Master for Leicestershire and Rutland David Hagger, along with the Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Kinder and the rest of the Provincial Grand Officers, attended the landmark meeting.

The Lodge Room was packed full to witness a Passing Ceremony which was superbly conducted by the brethren of Beacon Lodge including Joshua Symonds, who at 20 years old gave his first piece of ritual. To celebrate the 700th meeting, Graham Thorpe gave a short and interesting Oration on the history of the lodge.

During the meeting, the Provincial Grand Master presented the lodge with a gold Founders Jewel which was found hidden in the Masonic Hall during recent maintenance. Over 120 sat down at the Festive Board for a Burns Supper where Geoff Searson, Provincial Junior Grand Warden, who was suitably attired in a kilt, recited the 'Address to a Haggis’.

St Deny's Lodge No. 8276, which meets at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, celebrated 100 years of Freemasonry on 25th January 2018 when two of its members received certificates to mark 50 years of service to Freemasonry

During the morning, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland David Hagger presented the 50 years service certificate to John Booton in the Holmes Lodge Room, accompanied by Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Kinder and Provincial Grand Secretary Kelvin Johnson, together with a number of St Deny's Lodge members. 

Later that same day, David Hagger attended the lodge meeting to present the 50 years service certificate to Mike Jacobs.

John Booton was initiated into Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448 in December 1966 and joined St Deny's Lodge in 1969, where he became Master in 1978. He subsequently joined the Lodge of Research No. 2429 in 1983 and was Master in 1999.

He was appointed Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 1991 and acted as Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1998 until 2002. He was given the grand rank of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1992 and Past Junior Grand Deacon in 2003.

Mike Jacobs was initiated into St Deny's Lodge in January 1968 and was installed as Master in 1985. He is currently the Mentor, having previously been Chaplain. He was given the Provincial rank of Provincial Grand Registrar in 1999 and promoted to Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 2014.

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