Surrey Freemasons completed their 2019 Festival Appeal on 11 May 2019, with over 650 guests attending a banquet at Guildford Cathedral – as it was announced they had raised over £3.3 million for the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI)

Jonathan Spence, Deputy Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, was in attendance, alongside Ian Chandler, Provincial Grand Master for Surrey Freemasons, with his Executive organisers and members of the Province and their partners. The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) and RMBI Executives and Trustees were also present, including Managing Director Mark Lloyd and Chair Sir Paul Williams.

The RMBI was established in Surrey back in 1850 with the opening of the very first home in Croydon otherwise known as the 'Asylum for Worthy, Aged and Decayed Freemasons'. Nowadays, the RMBI is a charity providing affordable care facilities for the elderly across the UK. In Surrey they are lucky to have two RMBI homes – James Terry Court in Croydon and Shannon Court in Hindhead.

Paul Crockett, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Surrey and Chair of the Festival, said: ‘All of the people who work and volunteer in every home will make sure that our donations make a positive difference to people’s lives; helping to keep our loved ones feeling safe, preventing isolation and loneliness and wrapping that warm blanket of security around them.’

The Province has raised over £3.3 million over the last five years through its hard work and ongoing efforts. Various fundraising events have taken place during this time from descending down the longest and fastest zip wire in Europe raising over £35,000, and a charity ball and auction of celebrity memorabilia raising £55,000, to Ian himself completing a triathlon where he raised over £10,000.

Announcing the grand total of £3,313,470, Mark Lloyd said: ‘Sincere thanks to the Lodge Charity Stewards, fundraisers and members of the Province, and their Ladies, for all they have done over the years of the Appeal. Your enthusiasm and hard work is greatly appreciated and has certainly made a huge difference to the lives of a great many.’

Sir Paul Williams OBE, responding to the announcement of the grand total, said: ‘The per capita return of your last Festival has been massively increased from £387 to £532 for this, demonstrating that Surrey truly is committed to caring about the RMBI. Everything we do and achieve is made possible by the generous support of Freemasons and their families, so I would like to thank you on behalf of every person who will benefit from this tremendous display of support.’

Responding to Jonathan Spence’s toast to the Festival President, Ian Chandler said: ‘Everyone who has contributed to this appeal has done so in the knowledge that they were helping in providing a safe and comfortable home for the residents of all the homes, especially at James Terry Court and Shannon Court where we have all witnessed first-hand the quality of care.  

‘Also, while giving priority to our appeal we have not ignored local charities who have received at least a quarter of a million pounds a year. Also, while giving priority to our appeal we have not ignored local charities who have received at least a quarter of a million pounds a year maintaining our support for the community of Surrey. This is something we should all be very proud of.’

The banquet was ended in magnificent style with a firework display over the Cathedral lawn brilliantly choreographed to the finale of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture.

The first Women’s Regular Masonic Lodge in the United States, was consecrated in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, 25 May 2019, by the Honorable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (HFAF)

Immediately following the consecration, the officers of the newly created Lodge were installed with Lourdes (“Lou”) P. Elias as the Lodge’s first Worshipful Master.

The Lodge’s consecration and the installation of its officers were conducted in a closed ceremony. However, HFAF gave exclusive access to Audiovisual Media, Inc. to film rehearsed parts of both ceremonies for the purpose of producing a documentary underwritten by the John E. Fetzer Memorial Trust to mark this historic occasion. The late John E. Fetzer, former owner of the Detroit Tigers and a radio pioneer, was a 33rd degree Mason in Michigan.

At the Gala Celebration that followed the consecration, Lou Elias, the Worshipful Master of America Lodge No. 57, described the significance of the event: 'In a few days, on June 4th, America will celebrate the Centenary Anniversary of the passage of the legislation by the United States Congress that became a year later the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution granting women in our country the right to vote.

'To mark this important anniversary, our British Brethren brought once again to our shores the light of Freemasonry, except that this time around they brought us the light of Regular Women Freemasonry working in the same tradition and practice of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE).'

The Gala Celebration was held at the Almas Shriners Center in Washington, D.C. as an open event that included a traditional Masonic Festive Board and was attended by the Grand Master of Free And Accepted Masons of the District of Columbia along with several former Grand Masters.

Dr David Staples, Grand Secretary of UGLE, commented: 'Many congratulations to the HFAF and their Grand Master Christine Chapman for the historic consecration of the first ever regular Freemasons Lodge for women in America.

'Having met their new Worshipful Master Lou Elias a number of times, I know the Lodge will be in very safe hands.'

Published in International

Freemasons’ Hall – the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) – has received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence for the fifth year running

Now in its ninth year, the achievement celebrates businesses that are consistently excellent, having earned great traveller reviews on the TripAdvisor website over the past year. As a result of earning a Certificate of Excellence every year for the past five years, Freemasons’ Hall has also qualified for the Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame.

Freemasons’ Hall is a stunning Grade II listed Art Deco building in the heart of London’s West End and welcomes over 200,000 visitors from across the world every year. The building was originally built as a peace memorial between 1927 and 1933 to honour the 3,000 English Freemasons who fought and died during the First World War.

Dr David Staples, Chief Executive of UGLE, said: ‘This is a wonderful accolade to receive five Certificates of Excellence in a row for Freemasons’ Hall. The architecture and history of the building have made us an iconic landmark and we’re delighted with the many positive comments we’ve received.

‘We’re now busy working hard on a number of projects to enhance the experience for visitors – including taking part in the world’s largest architecture festival Open House this September – and continue to make us a popular tourist destination in London.’

The Certificate of Excellence accounts for the quality, quantity and timeliness of reviews submitted by travellers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.

Freemasons’ Hall is open to the public Monday to Saturday and includes free guided tours of the building, which incorporates the Museum of Freemasonry and the magnificent Grand Temple.

Read all the reviews of Freemasons’ Hall on TripAdvisor here.

Published in UGLE

Nottinghamshire Freemasons hosted a special evening at their headquarters on 5 April 2019, where they donated £8,000 in recognition and support of the life-saving work on prostate cancer carried out by Jyoti Shah and Sarah Minns

Jyoti Shah, Macmillan Consultant Urological Surgeon with University Hospitals of Derby & Burton NHS Foundation Trust, along with Sarah Minns, specialist Macmillan Nurse, operate an innovative health campaign designed to raise awareness of prostate cancer and alleviate the ‘fear factor’ of being screened.

The ‘Inspire Health: Fighting Prostate Cancer’ campaign, which has been running since early 2016, enables men to seek advice and get screened by visiting a ‘pop-up’ clinic in venues based within local communities across the region where they feel more comfortable and which are easily accessible. There is no charge to attend a screening event, with costs covered by donations and fundraising.

When it comes to prostate cancer, the numbers are damning. In this country, prostate cancer claims a new victim every 45 minutes. It is the number one cancer in men, with one in eight men over the age of 50 being diagnosed.

At the event, held at their headquarters in Goldsmith Street, Nottingham, both Jyoti Shah and Sarah Minns were in attendance, alongside Philip Marshall, the Provincial Grand Master of Nottinghamshire, his wife Ann, along with other masonic leaders, their spouses and partners. Other attendees includes VIPs from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, and local Freemasons and their spouses and partners, gathered in support of this life-saving campaign.

Whilst handing over a cheque for £8,000 to Jyoti and Sarah, Philip Marshall said: 'Nottinghamshire Freemasons are proud to be associated with this campaign which, though based in Derbyshire, benefits the male population of Nottinghamshire where several screening sessions have taken place.'

Jyoti and Sarah Minns were also presented with two other cheques, each for £1,000, from other masonic leaders.

Also in attendance at the event were volunteers from Derbyshire Blood Bikes, co-ordinator, Mark Vallis, and Nottinghamshire Blood Bikes, Jim McRury. The former being presented with a cheque for £1,000 and the latter £500. Mark personally delivers blood samples from the screening sessions, wherever in the UK), to the lab at Queens Hospital, Burton, on a twice-daily basis. The Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes provide a free transportation service to the National Health Service.

For more information on prostate cancer screening, please contact your GP.

More than 200 disadvantaged children will experience life on a real working farm, thanks to a grant of £63,000 from Devonshire freemasons to Farms for City Children

The charity’s founders, acclaimed Warhorse author Sir Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare, Lady Morpurgo, were both at Nethercott to welcome members of the Devonshire Freemasons and also took time to read to the visiting children from an inner city Plymouth School a story from one of his latest books.

The charity welcomes over 3,000 primary school children and their teachers each year from disadvantaged urban areas to one of their three farms in Devonshire, Gloucestershire and Pembrokeshire.

During their seven day stay the children live and work on the farm, explore the countryside around them and find out where food really comes from. They also discover self-confidence as they conquer fears and grow in self-belief as they overcome challenges working as a team to get tasks done. They develop new friendships and learn to see a bigger, brighter future than they ever thought existed beyond their crowded city horizons.

For many of the visiting children the true cost of this fully immersive seven day stay is beyond their reach so the charity subsidises every single child’s visit by at least £300. 

The grant of £63,000 from Devonshire freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Tim Rose, Farm School Manager at the charity’s founding farm at Iddesleigh in Devon, said: 'We’re really grateful to Devonshire Freemasons for their generous grant. Each week we see children from inner cities blossom on the farm – they discover confidence, challenge themselves to achieve so much more than they think they could and revel in the great outdoors.'

Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, said: 'I’m delighted we were able to help Farms for City Children, who do outstanding work helping disadvantaged children from right across Devon and beyond. The experience they offer these children can be life-changing, including improved behaviour at school which can give them a chance to make the most of their education.

'Being a local resident it has often been my pleasure to be onsite when the children are there and have seen the benefit they gain from their time on the farm.'

Hundreds of local children will be able to take part in the year-long Prince William Award experience, thanks to a £150,000 grant to the education charity SkillForce from Derbyshire Freemasons

Derbyshire Freemasons have committed to support SkillForce for the next three years, with a large part of the donation going towards supporting programmes for pupils in Derby.

The Prince William Award is currently being delivered in ten schools across Derbyshire to a total of 686 pupils, with SkillForce’s education programmes being predominantly delivered by former service personnel. SkillForce delivers the Prince William Award and its shorter SkillForce Prince’s Award in more than 300 schools nationwide, helping children and young people to boost their confidence, resilience, and self-esteem. 

The Prince William Award is the only one of its kind and the only Award in HRH The Duke of Cambridge’s name. It is a year-long experience for six to 14 year olds which was launched in 2017 and is now on track to be delivered to 13,000 children across the UK this academic year. 

Derbyshire Freemasons have previously supported SkillForce and made this latest grant as part of their commitment to encouraging opportunity, promoting independence and improving wellbeing. Representatives from the organisation visited pupils at Akaal Primary school in Derby on Friday 5th May to see the Award in action.

The grant from Derbyshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

SkillForce CEO, Ben Slade said: 'We’re extremely grateful to Derbyshire Freemasons for their very generous grant. They have supported us previously and this new donation means a great deal to us and the young people we work with around the UK, and especially in Derbyshire. We believe that every child deserves the chance to be the best that they can be and the money given by the Freemasons is helping us to continue to make sure that happens.'

Steven Varley, Provincial Grand Master of Derbyshire, said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support SkillForce in delivering the Prince William Award (PWA). It’s a great scheme that gives local children the chance to find out what they’re made of and to develop the confidence and resilience that will be hugely important for them as they grow into adulthood. It was so exciting to see out future interacting so well with the PWA and developing their confidence and abilities in what is a challenging world.'

Natalija, aged 6, said: 'I am really enjoying the PWA, it is helping me lots with my confidence. It was nice to meet the new people today and show them around my school.'

Rajvir, aged 7, said: 'It was interesting to hear about the freemasons and how they have different chains. The PWA has really helped me with my friendships and now I am able to get along with people better.'

At The Prince William Award inaugural graduation ceremony last year HRH The Duke of Cambridge Prince William said: 'At a young age, children need to learn the tools to deal with such challenges; the tools to develop their self-esteem, confidence and resilience to lead happy, healthy lives and to succeed and thrive.

'Good academic results are, of course important, but strength of character - the confidence to stand up and be counted and the ability to keep going in the face of adversity are essential if young people are to flourish.'

A £20,000 donation from Yorkshire Freemasons is assisting the Yorkshire Air Ambulance to save even more lives

The money, which has come from Yorkshire West Riding Masonic Charities Limited, has been used by the organisation to purchase an additional pair of night vision goggles. 

With up to one in 10 missions now taking place after dark, the grant will enable the pilots based at the Nostell Priory air support unit to fly to emergencies across the region – night and day.

To keep both of Yorkshire’s air ambulances in the air, the charity needs to raise £12,000 per day – the equivalent to £4.4 million per year – and Yorkshire’s two masonic provinces annually contribute to the flying costs. 

In recognition of this on-going financial support, the helicopters carry the masonic emblem of the square and compasses on their fuselages. 

David Pratt, the Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding – whose geographical area encompasses south Yorkshire, west Yorkshire and parts of north and east Yorkshire - said: 'We are incredibly lucky to be in a position where we can fund vital equipment for charities such as the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. 

'When we were told night vision goggles these were on their wish list, we immediately informed the charity that we would be delighted to purchase a set. 

'It was superb to revisit the air support unit and hear from pilots and staff the difference this purchase will make, and in particular that further lives will no doubt be  saved as a result.'

Steve Waudby, Chief Pilot from Yorkshire Air Ambulance, said: 'Once again we would like to say a big thank you to the Freemasons from the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding for their generosity. 

'If it wasn’t for the continued support of organisations, individuals and businesses, we would not be able to provide the life-saving service that we do. These night vision goggles will make a huge difference to our operation.'

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