The sun was out and the sunblock was on, as 20 cyclists from the Provincial Grand Lodges of Leicestershire & Rutland, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire gathered in Leicester on Saturday 29th June 2019 for this year’s 83 mile Charity Cycle Ride – raising £7,000 in support of the Rainbows Children’s Hospice and the Masonic Charitable Foundation

To wish them good luck on their journey, Helen Lee-Smith, Head of Individual Giving from Rainbows, said: ‘Thank you so much to all of those taking part today, yet again the support from the Freemasons is essential to Rainbows Children’s Hospice.’

Also there to wave them off was the Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire & Rutland Freemasons, David Hagger, who said: ‘We are all extremely proud of the work we do to support Rainbows and the Masonic Charitable Foundation and thank all of those riders for raising such a fantastic amount today.’

On the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures well in excess of 33 degrees Celsius, 20 cyclists including Freemasons, friends and family set off from Freemasons’ Hall in Leicester early in the morning before the sun was at its strongest. The route took the four groups out from Leicester and on towards Loughborough before heading through Shepshed and onto Derby in the first leg of the journey of over 33 miles.

The first stop was at the Masonic Hall in Derby, where tea, coffee, bacon sandwiches and much needed water were in abundance. The break was very much appreciated as the day was beginning to warm up, however time was of the essence, and it was not long before the next leg out through Long Eaton and on to Nottingham.

By now the temperatures were soaring, but that did not stop the determined cyclists to battle the searing heat and traffic as they arrived at the Masonic Hall in Nottingham for a rest in the shade and to restock with supplies.

The afternoon sun meant that water stops were frequent, but with determination and hard work, the cyclists made their way from Nottingham back into Leicestershire; finally finishing at Freemasons’ Hall in Leicester at around 6pm.

Flyfishers’ Lodge No. 9347 in Derbyshire held its annual fishing event at the Yeaveley Estate for a party of pupils from Alfreton Special School with additional support needs

Freemasons from the lodge were only too pleased to give their time to help with the event, which proved to be a great success. It has been an annual event for more than a decade, as part of Derbyshire Province’s work in the community.

Alfreton Park Special School is a very popular community school for pupils with special needs where the pupils benefit from the specialist teaching knowledge and expertise of the staff. Classes are small and consist of between seven and 10 pupils, each with a teacher and at least two teaching assistants. Pupil ages range between three and 13.

The majority of pupils have severe or complex learning difficulties and many have been diagnosed with autism which means they need a high level of support to help with their learning.

On the day, the party of 12 children, their helpers and teachers enjoyed a wonderful day’s fly-fishing with each pupil landing several rainbow trout. Afterwards, the party was entertained to a barbecue lunch and the Provincial Grand Master for Derbyshire, Steven Varley, presented framed certificates to all pupil participants.

The smiles on the faces of the children were more than ample reward for the lodge members to go home happy and content that they had spent a worthwhile day in supporting the school and the great work it does.

You can watch a video of the annual fishing occasion below.

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.'

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force, the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War and the 75th Anniversary of the Dambusters Raid, Derbyshire Freemasons with special guest, Squadron Leader George 'Johnny' Johnson MBE DFM, made generous presentations to Derbyshire Air Cadets

‘Johnny’ was a 21-year-old Sergeant when he took part in Operation Chastise, where he was the bomb aimer in Lancaster AJ-T (T-Tommy) piloted by ‘Joe’ McCarthy RCAF, which conducted the first attack on the Sorpe Dam.

The Squadron was based in Lincolnshire but used the Derwent dams during training so he is no stranger to the county, albeit in those days he was seeing Derbyshire from the air. The connection to Derbyshire also includes Barnes Wallace, the engineer who designed the bouncing bomb and who was born in Ripley.

Looking for a fitting tribute to mark the various anniversaries, the Provincial Grand Master for Derbyshire Steven Varley decided to present all Air Training Corps Squadrons within Derbyshire a cheque for £1,000. In addition, the Squadrons each received a framed print of a Lancaster Bomber signed and presented by Squadron Leader Johnson, who at 96 years of age is the last surviving member of the aircrews that participated in the Dambusters Raid during the Second World War. These prints will no doubt be treasured by future generations of ATC cadets.

All of the donations were funded by the Provincial Grand Charity of the Province Of Derbyshire which regularly gives funding for many worthy causes throughout the County. All of the funds are collected from donations made by their members.

Flight Lieutenant Steve Broomhead RAFAC, Officer Commanding 1890 (Dronfield) Squadron ATC: ‘This is a fantastically generous gift that will certainly help as my Squadron is desperately trying to update our IT capability.

‘The IT is now such so important to the running of the Squadron both in our administration and in the gaining of cadet qualifications. The icing on the evening’s cake was receiving the signed print from, and meeting with, Johnny Johnson, such an inspiring gentleman.’

After the Presentations, Squadron Leader Michael Roe, RAF Rtd, gave an interesting talk about his long and distinguished flying career in the RAF. To cap it all, four lucky cadets will also receive a flight in an historic two-seater Chipmunk aircraft.

In a short but entertaining speech, Johnny Johnson paid tribute to those he flew with and told the cadets that they were the RAF’s future and that the future was looking to be in good hands. After the Presentations and speeches, Johnny Johnson was presented with a cheque for £1,000 for his own charity, Group 617.

The evening ended with a dinner for all present which included the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, Civic representatives of Derby and Derbyshire and representatives of the Royal Air Forces association along with the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association.

Wing Commander Andy Pass, Officer Commanding South & East Midlands Wing, commented: ‘This was an extraordinarily generous gift to the 15 Squadrons from across the county. The money will be of great benefit to the cadets at the Squadrons and it will be spent wisely on equipment that will greatly enhance the Squadron’s ability to deliver the World class cadet experience for which the RAF Air Cadets are renowned.’

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

Derbyshire Freemasons have donated £1,700 to the Jon Egging Trust, which supports young people who find themselves in difficult circumstances

On 20th August 2011, Flt Lt Jon Egging lost his life whilst completing a display at the Bournemouth Air Festival. He was coming to the end of his first year with the world-famous Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team ‘The Red Arrows’, flying in the position of Red 4.

In 2012, the Jon Egging Trust was formed to help realise Jon’s dream of inspiring young people through his love of aviation, teamwork and leadership – helping them to overcome adversity, identify their strengths and work towards their ambitions.

The staff and volunteers for the Trust are all chosen for their ability to act as positive role models; in turn they inspire and enthuse young people to reach their full potential. Their accredited programmes increase young peoples’ self-confidence, self-esteem and other vital life and work skills, empowering them to become role models within their own communities. 

Derbyshire Freemason Adrian Clarke, Worshipful Master of Bradelei Lodge No. 9205, and his brother-in-law Flight Lieutenant Chris Lyndon-Smith (Red 4) were acutely aware of this very worthy charity and inspired the lodge to make a much welcome contribution to the Trust. The funds principally came from the fundraising from Adrian’s Lodge Ladies Evening, where the Red Arrows had generously donated some of the raffle prizes.

When match funded by the Provincial Grand Charity of Derbyshire Freemasons, they were pleased to be able to present the Jon Egging Trust with a donation of £1,700. They were then invited to make the presentation at RAF Scampton where the Red Arrows are stationed and met with the pilots and ground crew.

This donation is a fitting preface to even more Derbyshire masonic support for organisations associated with the RAF taking place this year in the Province. In October 2018, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Derbyshire will be making substantial donations to the each of the Air Training Core units in Derbyshire.

St Thomas Lodge No. 2583 in Derbyshire has donated £2,000 to Swanwick School and Sports College to enable them to purchase a much-needed minibus

The school identified that a new nine-seater minibus was required for school outings, which could be driven by all school personnel, and would offer more flexibility for an enhanced programme of activities for the children.

A programme of fundraising followed through various events, including a parachute jump, and a substantial amount of money was raised, but despite these efforts there was still a shortfall. The lodge became aware of the school’s need and offered their assistance.

They donated £2,000 and this was match funded by the Derbyshire Provincial Grand Charity to raise £4,000 and enable the school to purchase the minibus.

Swanwick School and Sports College is a community special school providing high quality education for around 80 children between the ages of 5 and 16. The school caters for children with a wide range of social and educational needs.

A blue plaque, commemorating the life and works of Derbyshire Freemason Dr John Hollis Pigot, who was recognised for reviving Freemasonry in Derby, is now on display

The first recorded Freemasons lodge in Derbyshire was founded in 1732 and met at the Virgins Inn in Derby market place. As was customary in those days when lodges typically took the name if the establishment they met at, the Virgins Inn Lodge No. 104 came into being.

It was founded in 1732, only 15 years after the formation of the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717 and remained in existence for 44 years. It was formally erased in 1777 but became the springboard for Tyrian Lodge No. 253 which was founded in 1785 and is now the oldest remaining lodge in Derbyshire.

Dr Pigot was a founding member of Tyrian Lodge and its first Worshipful Master, a role in which he served for four years. He was also a founding member of the Derby Philosophical Society.

Derbyshire Freemasons are proud to see this commemorative plaque appear at the site of  Dr Pigot’s former house, believed to be the first such plaque known to have been placed on an historic site marking the life and achievements of a Freemason anywhere in England.

The plaque was formally unveiled by Steven Varley, Provincial Grand Master for Derbyshire, accompanied by members of the Derby Civic Society, a local councillor and the Mayor for Derby.

Ripple effect

Mason Barry Oakley explains why the Province of Derbyshire is offering prostate screenings in masonic halls – just one initiative being undertaken around the country to raise cancer awareness

Already the most common cancer among men, prostate cancer in the UK has now overtaken breast cancer in women in terms of mortality, with figures at the start of 2018 revealing nearly 12,000 deaths annually. Prostate cancer is now the third deadliest form of the disease behind lung and bowel cancers, and Prostate Cancer UK reports that by 2030 it could become the most common form of all diagnosed cancers.

In the latter half of 2017, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Derbyshire launched a prostate-screening initiative for its 2,800-plus members. The programme required a team approach, relying upon the support of the Queen’s Hospital in Burton-on-Trent, which is led by MacMillan consultant urological surgeon Jyoti Shah together with a number of specialist nurses. 

FAMILIAR SURROUNDS

In Shah’s experience, most men tend to avoid prostate examinations in hospital or recognised clinical environments. So the surgeon decided to take the screening programme to more familiar surroundings for those being examined: masonic halls. 

The approach proved highly successful, with the team visiting masonic halls in Burton-on-Trent, Long Eaton, Chesterfield and Buxton in 2017. The second phase of the screening programme commenced in May 2018, and, at the time of writing, 363 Derbyshire masons had been examined, with 14 diagnosed as having the disease. 

As part of the screening process, blood samples are taken and evaluated in a lab to look for certain proteins, called prostate-specific antigens (PSAs), that are present in all men. Abnormally high levels of PSAs are an indicator that cancer may be present in the prostate gland, but apparently certain non-cancerous conditions can also raise PSA levels.

The initiative is part of a much wider health campaign called ‘Inspire Health: Fighting Prostate Cancer’ that founder Shah, assisted by MacMillan advanced nurse practitioner Sarah Minns and a team of nurses, has been spearheading throughout Derbyshire.

IMPROVING OUTCOMES

‘For those men who have been screened and diagnosed, the cancer has been detected in time for effective treatment to commence and has probably saved lives,’ says Shah. ‘Without screening, the cancer would go undetected and continue to develop, giving rise to a potentially negative, life-threatening outcome.

‘Screening programmes can create a positive ripple effect. The word gets spread, which encourages more to come forward for screening. And the more who come forward, the sooner we can detect any presence of the disease and create positive outcomes.’

In backing the project, Derbyshire Provincial Grand Charity Steward Michael Hitchcock says, ‘We have been only too willing to support financially from our Provincial charity fund what is a potentially life-saving initiative. And despite the fact that charges would not be asked for, we felt it only right that a donation should be made on behalf of the Province.’

Medical research surrounding prostate cancer continues in many centres of excellence throughout the world, particularly in the UK, with the aim of further perfecting screening, diagnosis and treatment.

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Derbyshire have presented the Royal British Legion with a cheque for £1,400, which was raised by the sale of a special remembrance tie

The ties were sold to Derbyshire Freemasons, with the profits destined for charitable causes.

The tie depicts a poppy with the leaf pointing to 11am to represent the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The square and compasses point to 5am to represent the actual time that the armistice was first signed. The tie can only be worn by members during November as a mark of gratitude to our armed forces.

The cheque was presented by the Provincial Grand Master Steven Varley at an informal ceremony, following a talk by staff of their Drop In Centre in Derby explaining the important work undertaken in supporting ex-military personnel returning home.

Lilly Clements, Community Fundraiser for the Royal British Legion, said: ‘We are honoured that the Masons have chosen us to support the Poppy Appeal.’

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