Buckinghamshire Freemasons have donated £15,000 to help Carers Milton Keynes to both extend and continue to provide vital support to unpaid carers in the area

The grant comes via the Masonic Charitable Foundation and will help them to increase and improve the support given to older carers, specifically carers aged 50 or over.

Carers Milton Keynes is a charity which supports the health and wellbeing of unpaid carers looking after a family member, friend or neighbour who cannot manage without them due to illness, physical or learning disability, frailty, mental health issues or additional needs.

The support available from Carers Milton Keynes includes advice, information and guidance, emotional support and counselling, young carers and young adult carers support, carers support groups and training courses.

Carers Milton Keynes commented: 'This generous award will enable us to grow the service to its full potential.'

The Pace Centre has received a grant from the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF) for £3,980, enabling them to buy materials to construct a set of bespoke Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display (PODD) books for 10 of its students

PODD books take 24 man-hours to compile and are used by children with complex communication needs, consisting of selected and organised sets of symbols.

Many of the students at the Pace Centre have movement problems in addition to their communication difficulties (such as cerebral palsy) and can select the symbols by eye movement allowing communication with their communication partner.

The advantage of this low-tech system is that it is portable and can be with the student at all times, allowing their essential needs to be understood as well as allowing communication with teachers, parents and peers. This can alleviate discomfort, frustration and unhappiness both in the school environment and in and out of the home.

They recently received a visit from two Buckinghamshire Freemasons, Phil Blacklaw, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, and Andrew Hough, Secretary of the BMCF. Phil and Andrew were keen to see how the donation was helping children at the school.

The Pace Centre has two sites in the Aylesbury area and serves children from the whole of Buckinghamshire as well as some from adjoining counties. The school has 34 students on the roll, but supports over 300 children.

The centre commented that the books will have very heavy use and will need to be expanded as each child’s vocabulary increases allowing them to maintain academic progress.

In the latest of several daredevil feats by the Buckinghamshire Provincial Executive Team, their Deputy Provincial Grand Master Hugh Douglas-Smith, along with Assistant Provincial Grand Master Phil Blacklaw, were convinced to abseil down the old Northamptonshire Lift Tower to raise money for the Bucks Masonic 2021 Festival

The lift tower stands a daunting 420 feet high and it was with some reservations that the intrepid duo ascended to its summit.

Indeed, Hugh readily admits to a cunning plan to avoid the adventure by attempting to eat enough to make himself too heavy for the ropes, thus preventing his participation. Fortunately though, the ropes have been upgraded and will allow those of a much greater size than Hugh to take part!

Meanwhile, Phil had taken the precaution of not telling his nearest and dearest of his planned descent so they received a lovely surprise on the day.

On a lovely June afternoon both men arrived unscathed at the foot of the tower having completed their daring challenge and, so far, raised over £2,500 for the 2021 Charity Festival.   

You can still donate here.

A well-planned cooperative effort, ably supported by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), has enabled a significant £60,000 donation to be made to Thames Hospice, on behalf of the Freemasons of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire

This great example of fraternal cooperation resulted in a significant grant to support the construction of its new hospice in Bray near Maidenhead. 

After several weeks of planning, the Provincial Grand Masters of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, Anthony Howlett-Bolton and John Clark respectively, together with representatives of their Provincial Charities, met up with Debbie Raven, CEO of Thames Hospice, to formally present their combined donation in front of the site of the new hospice, which was from the Berkshire Masonic Charity, the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund and the MCF.

Serving both Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, Thames Hospice opened in 1987 but is now no longer able to keep up with the increasing number of people who need their care and services. As well as the increase in numbers, the charity is dealing with more complex and challenging medical conditions and, as a result, the decision was taken to build a larger facility. In 2017, planning permission was given to construct a new state of the art facility on land donated to the charity near Bray Lake. Inpatient rooms will increase from 17 to 28 and there will be more dedicated space to treat outpatients as well as to provide therapeutic and other activities.

This new Thames Hospice will open in 2020, with the £60,000 donation helping towards the building of two dedicated rooms in the £22 million facility. These rooms will be quiet areas for reflection and remembering loved ones as well as offering help and advice to families.

After the presentation ceremony, Debbie Raven gave an outline of how Thames Hospice is developing and some of its future plans. Once the new building is complete, there will be a permanent reminder of the contributions that the Freemasons of the two Provinces have made.

Debbie commented: ‘I cannot thank the Freemasons enough for their generous support towards our new Hospice. The donation comes on top of several others from their charitable funds and the incredible support they have given over many years. It will make a significant difference to our patients and their families.'

Together with Debbie, both Provincial Grand Masters acknowledged the cooperation and support given to this collaborative donation by the MCF and the continuing work they do in supporting the Hospice movement in England and Wales.

Anthony Howlett-Bolton, Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire, said: ‘Working together with our fellow Freemasons in Buckinghamshire and the MCF has allowed us to make a significant contribution to Thames Hospice to help them in the wonderful work they are doing to help families across our counties.’

John Clark, Provincial Grand Master of Buckinghamshire, commented: ‘The Freemasons of Buckinghamshire are delighted to be part of this joint initiative supporting the essential work performed by Thames Hospice. We look forward to establishing a long and fruitful relationship with them.’

The Magic Club of Great Britain brought its Change4Life 'How to Eat Healthy' show to Swanbourne Primary school in Swanbourne near Milton Keynes

The event introduced Freemasonry to parents at the school through a newsletter, letting them know it was sponsored by the Freemasonry Supporting Local Communities programme. 

The show was also supported by the local authority with ‘Change4life’ leaflets being supplied to every child on eating healthy for them to take home.

As well as lots of fun and laughter, in the show, local Freemason Eugene Matthias demonstrated how much fat children would consume if you had two packets of crisps a day for a term and how much sugar you would eat by drinking two fizzy drink a day for a term. 

All the teachers said this was a fantastic way to teach children about eating healthy, especially the amount of sugar in fizzy drinks and fats in foods. 

And it was also a great way to raise awareness of Freemasonry in Buckinghamshire and the fantastic charity and community with take place across the county.

A new lodge in Buckinghamshire has been established for Freemasons with an interest in caravanning, camping and motorhomes

Nomadic Lodge No. 9978 will meet several times a year both in Buckinghamshire and nearby counties.

The lodge meeting will take place in the nearest masonic hall to the chosen site and will be followed by a festive board or barbeque back at the campsite, which will be open to friends and family members who are attending the event.

The consecration was also unusual as it was held in a large marquee at the showground in Winslow on 14 June 2019, where many of the founders had gathered in an array of caravans and motorhomes. A spectacular ceremony was conducted by the Provincial Grand Master John Clark, with Michael Clanfield installed as the lodge’s Primus Master.

Over 160 attended the event and the lodge is keen to welcome members and guests from Buckinghamshire and further afield.

Buckinghamshire’s Provincial Grand Master John Clark and Assistant Provincial Grand Master Gary Brodie have completed the first in a series of challenges undertaken by the Provincial Executive – raising over £6,000 on behalf of the Bucks 2021 Festival, in aid of the Masonic Charitable Foundation

The challenge was to row 26 miles in two canoes along the River Thames, one being rowed by PGM John Clark and his son Jack, the other by APGM Gary Brodie and Simon Williams, with Peter Lawrence following in a single canoe.

The rowers, accompanied by a support team, set off on Thames Paddle at 6am on 15th June 2019. As they reached each lock the support team plucked the canoes from the Thames and transferred them to the other side to allow them to continue their journey.

Along the way they were greeted by a host of well-wishers and supporters. At Cookham Lock, John Keeble, Grand Superintendent of Buckinghamshire, was waiting with his wife to offer his support, while at Boulter’s Lock they were greeted by Deputy Provincial Grand Master Hugh Doughas-Smith and John’s wife Sarah.

The weary, but jubilant, team arrived at their final destination many hours later to the cheers of a reception group. The glow of a job well done pervaded the air and with over £6,000 raised for the Bucks 2021 Festival, it was indeed a mammoth feat of endurance and tenacity.

Buckinghamshire’s Assistant Grand Master Philip Blacklaw has visited The Princes Centre following the pledge of £4,000 towards the cost of a new kitchen, on behalf of BMCF (Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund)

In 2012, the centre at Princes Risborough was due to close before a community-led ‘Social Enterprise’ was established to take over the running of the centre and save it from closure.

In the years since, it has turned from a loss-making facility into a sustainable award-winning centre of excellence. Last year, the centre took on Bourne End Day Care Centre which was also faced with closure and together they provide day care for 140 clients including those with dementia, mental health issues, learning difficulties and the frail elderly.

Both centres provide award-winning care to vulnerable members of society, as well as enabling much needed respite for their full-time carers.

Members of Carrington Lodge No. 2421 in Buckinghamshire have supported the centres with both practical and financial assistance over the years.

As a special surprise on the 7th birthday of the centres, it was announced that they had been awarded The Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

Buckinghamshire’s Assistant Provincial Grand Master Phil Blacklaw joined up with the Winslow Rotary Club and the Lions Club of Winslow at St Laurence Church in Winslow to give a presentation to members of the local community

The event was organised by Reverend Lightbown to give an overview of the good work the three groups are involved with. Neil Smith of Winslow Rotary club was first up, followed by Tony Morley of the Winslow Lions.

Phil Blacklaw was last to speak, pointing out that all three organisations had similar charitable objectives and that they could all collaborate more in the future.

Phil then went on to present the work Buckinghamshire Freemasonry is involved with including charitable funding and community acitivies.

Afterwards they sat down together to discuss for a productive chat on how they could help each other.

Buckinghamshire Freemasons have donated £1,000 to buy new strips and footballs for the Waterhall Stars under 11 football team

George Watt and Sue Redband from Waterhall Stars attended a Buckinghamshire masonic cheque presentation event held in Aylesbury to report on the effect the donation had made to the junior football team.

The team, which draws its young players from a deprived area of Milton Keynes, were in need of a new strip which the grant from the Bucks Masonic Centenary Foundation (BMCF) has now allowed them to buy.

At the event, George explained to the audience the remarkable rise in morale experienced by the team, which culminated in cup success at the end of the season with the MKDDL Unde r11 Group winner’s trophy.

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