Thursday, 07 March 2013 00:00

Charity for all

As smaller charities struggle in the current economic climate, Tabby Kinder finds out how Freemasons on a local and national level are keeping community projects in business

In 2012, donations to charity in the UK fell by twenty per cent, with £1.7bn less being given by British people between 2011 and 2012.

A report by the Charities Aid Foundation and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations suggests that small and medium sized charities are suffering most as voluntary donations – rather than National Lottery or state funding – tend to make up a larger proportion of their total income. The report, which surveyed 3,000 people, says that charities in Britain now face a ‘deeply worrying’ financial situation.

The Freemasons recognise the importance of supporting smaller charities. These charities may be small, but their projects and services can provide lifelines for people – meeting very specific needs that fulfil priorities often overlooked by the public sector and larger charities.

Since 1981 The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has donated more than £50 million to national charities, with grants going towards funding medical research, helping vulnerable people and supporting youth opportunities. It now sets aside £100,000 every year for small donations of between £500 and £5,000 to under-funded causes around the country, which often prove vital to their continued operation.

The charity’s allocation for providing minor grants to small charities doubled from £50,000 to £100,000 in 2010 following a marked increase in the number of applications the charity was receiving from smaller organisations. ‘It was clear that the increase in applications was a result of the economic climate, with smaller charities finding themselves worse off,’ says Laura Chapman, Chief Executive of the Grand Charity, pleased by the decision to increase the grant budget. ‘It meant we could reach out to more smaller charities, making a bigger impact during what has clearly been a difficult year.’

Helping small and community-focused causes is not just the domain of the Grand Charity. Local Provinces and lodges donated a huge amount to charity in 2012, around £5 million of which was reported by local newspapers. ‘Freemasons are community-minded and this is demonstrated by the local lodges that frequently donate to smaller charities,’ says Laura.

Neil Potter, Provincial Information Officer at the Provincial Grand Lodge of Nottinghamshire, believes that contributing to small causes is not only hugely beneficial to the community, but is also a way for Freemasons to show what they stand for.

‘Charitable giving is a great opportunity to break down the barriers that seem to have been put up over the years regarding the public and masonic relationship, and to let everyone know exactly what we do,’ says Neil. ‘Our main concern is helping people who are less fortunate than us – and it all comes from the members’ pockets. We make voluntary contributions, hold fundraising events and enjoy doing it.’

Freemasonry Today spoke to four charities that have received invaluable financial support from Freemasons in 2012.

‘The grant we received from the Freemasons is being used in the rehabilitation through sports training programmes’ Edwin Thomas

The British Ex-Services Wheelchair Sports Association
Funded by the Grand Charity

The British Ex-Services Wheelchair Sports Association (BEWSA) enables injured ex-service personnel to take part in sports, building friendship and camaraderie. BEWSA describes itself as ‘not an organisation for the disabled, but of the disabled’.

‘The Grand Charity has long supported charities that provide help and assistance to ex-members of the Armed Services,’ says the Grand Charity’s Laura Chapman. ‘It is a popular cause within Freemasonry. Through our minor grant funding we aim to support small charities that fulfil needs not easily accessible elsewhere, just like BEWSA.’

In May last year, the Grand Charity donated £1,500 to the charity, enabling nationwide support to continue for active disabled veterans. ‘The grant we received from the Freemasons is being used in the rehabilitation through sports training programmes,’ says Edwin Thomas, BEWSA chairman.

One weekend a month, the charity books the sport facilities at the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering RAF centre in Cosford, West Midlands, and ex-service wheelchair users are invited to join in wheelchair sporting events.

‘If they are comfortable in their chosen sport and wish to take training to the next level, then BEWSA is there to provide the encouragement, the training and the sports equipment required to participate,’ says Thomas.

JustDifferent
Funded by the Grand Charity

JustDifferent is a perfect example of a small organisation carrying out big work,’ says Laura. Toby Hewson, who has cerebral palsy, founded the charity to change social attitudes towards disability. It runs workshops in schools that are delivered by disabled young adults employed by the charity.

‘Today’s young people are tomorrow’s employers, policymakers and educators. JustDifferent believes that changing attitudes in the young is the best way to achieve long-term social change,’ says Laura. 

‘Harassment, bullying and discrimination are all sadly part of our society,’ says Karen McLachlan, fundraiser at JustDifferent. ‘The workshops give young people the capacity to challenge discrimination. Our work encourages and educates young people to be understanding and tolerant.’

JustDifferent has received acclaim for its techniques and schoolchildren engage with the workshop presenters with open-minded enthusiasm. Katie, a Year Six pupil, told the workshop presenter: ‘At first I felt sorry for you, but by the end of the workshop I felt more confident to talk to people like you. It changed my attitude towards disabled people.’

A grant of £5,000 made to the charity in May has helped the workshop reach 1,388 children.

‘To teach young people that disabled people can achieve, participate and lead is the ultimate goal of JustDifferent – and this is something the Grand Charity is very happy to support,’ says Laura.

Great North Air Ambulance Service
Funded by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham

Durham Freemasons have provided regular funding for the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) over the years. While GNAAS has become a leading healthcare charity, its funding relies entirely on voluntary donations. ‘We receive no lottery or government funding, but we’re proud to say that when we receive donations, one hundred per cent goes towards providing the life-saving service,’ says Mandy Drake, deputy director of public liaison at the charity.

Michael Graham, Provincial Information Officer at Durham, believes support for the charity comes from a personal feeling within the Province: ‘With many lodges in rural areas, a lot of our members have first-hand experience of, or have witnessed, the amazing job that air ambulances do,’ he says. ‘Our members are always very keen to support GNAAS.’

Michael estimates that the Durham Province has donated more than £25,000 to GNAAS. ‘We purchased two rapid response vehicles at around £12,000 each, and the Mark Degree bought another, so there are three units that are totally funded by the Freemasons,’ he says proudly.

Funding air ambulance charities is a very popular cause with Freemasons, demonstrated by the Grand Charity’s air ambulance grant programme, which is strongly supported throughout the Provinces.

The Lenton Centre
Funded by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Nottinghamshire

Around twenty per cent of the charities supported by the Nottinghamshire Province in 2012 had lost council funding. This was true of The Lenton Centre, a swimming pool and community leisure facility that Nottingham City Council decided to close down due to budget cuts, despite strong local opposition.

Following a campaign, The Lenton Community Association took over the centre, with funding from private donors and charitable organisations. The centre is run as a social enterprise and last year received £20,000 from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Nottinghamshire to fund a multi-use children’s area.

‘It’s a charity that we consider is doing a lot to help local people,’ says Neil Potter, Provincial Information Officer in the Province. ‘With local authorities having such restraints on their budgets, they find it increasingly difficult to support local charities, so our involvement in the community is becoming more important each month.’

Nicci Robinson, project manager of the children and young people’s team based at the centre, says the donation will help create a games area that can be used for sports such as football and cricket. ‘It’s a substantial chunk of what we need. The money has helped get a long-held dream off the ground.

It has kept us going through a very difficult time, while also aiding development and keeping our other activities for young people going.’

‘With local authorities having restraints on their budgets, our involvement in the community is more important’ Neil Potter

Letters to the editor - No. 22 Summer 2013

 

Sir, it was most interesting to read the article by Tabby Kinder, but more especially to note the ‘coinage’ on the collection plate – these consisted of fifty-, twenty-, ten- and two-pence pieces, with a few £1 coins. It reminded me of having motored from Durham to Cumbria with a brother so that my friend might obtain permission to send around a plate at the Festive Board for his particular charity. 

 

On the journey home I mentioned that I thought he would have collected more than the £74 he gained, there having been approximately seventy members present. He was rather displeased at my comment saying that he would have been happy with only £7.

 

I had meant to make an observation rather than a criticism, however. I cannot help but remember that when I joined Freemasonry in 1978 it seemed a customary donation was £1 for the then known alms. Yet, the vast percentage of Freemasons still put £1 in the collection these days. Compared to those days, £1 can’t buy you a cinema ticket, a pint of beer and so on, but £1 in the collection is still the norm? I agree with the remarks Neil Potter of Nottingham makes but I know we could and should do better.


Gordon Graves, Lodge of Progress, No. 8259, Chester-le-Street, Durham

 


 

Published in Features

Arranging the opportunity to present cheques to the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) resulted in a very pleasant interlude for a group of Durham Freemasons at the distinctive Rockcliffe Hall Hotel at Hurworth near Darlington. The Provincial Grand Master Eric Heaviside was joined by Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Webster and Provincial Grand Secretary Phil Rann, plus 3 representatives of Agricola Lodge No. 7741 as cheques totalling £8,000 were presented.

This combined fund-raising and thank you reception was held in the magnificent setting that is the hotel's Victorian building and grounds, and recognised its own association with GNAAS – the hotel's favoured charity.

The sequence of events included an explanation of how the Air Ambulance is both funded and administered, some harrowing case histories and innovative money-raising ideas. It was hoped that one of the aircraft from nearby Durham Tees Valley Airport would make an appearance, and eventually the late morning sun dispersed the lingering mists and allowed GNHAA to land in the grounds. Everyone was able to meet the crew and examine the aircraft in detail.

Mandy Drake, deputy director of fundraising for GNAAS, said: 'Once again we find ourselves indebted to the Freemasons who have come forward with yet another generous donation.

'As a mark of gratitude for their ongoing support we have added the Freemasons’ logo onto our aircraft.'

Agricola Lodge members Trevor Dent, Philip Twizell and current Worshipful Master Richard Tait were thanked for their contribution of £3,000. This resulted from the sale of refreshments at their handily located premises in Old Elvet on Durham Miners' Gala days, with a further £4,000 from the Freemasons' Grand Charity and £1,000 from Durham Benevolence.

Friday, 12 October 2012 12:01

Clash of the Titans Raises £2,000

The inaugural Province of Northumberland versus the Province of Durham charity rugby match, the Northumberland Masonic Rugby Club (Wok Smugglers), in support of the year-long campaign for Byker Masonic Hall's 2012 two chosen charities, are pleased to advise that through their combined efforts the Evening Chronicle Sunshine Fund and the Teenage Cancer Trust are looking healthier to the tune of £2,000.

Over a year in the planning, the long-awaited rugby match took place at Ryton Rugby Club on Saturday 30 June 2012, rearranged from the original venue at Novocastrians Rugby Club due to storms of biblical proportions hitting the North East of England two days previously.

Both teams were presented to W Bro David Lillie who represented the Province of Northumberland, with W Bro George Clark being in attendance on behalf of the Province of Durham. The game itself ended in a fine victory for the Northumberland representatives, who ran out 62 – 10 winners.

Man of the match awards chosen by the rival teams gained approval by a healthy crowd of 150 or so hardy souls. Durham’s number 2, Adam Hill, and Northumberland’s 19, Dan O’Sullivan, received the respective accolades. O’Sullivan’s staggering haul of four tries and four conversions totalling 28 points marked him out as the superior player on the pitch. Credit should go to the mascots and ball boys for the day, Ethan White, Ethan Lavender and Mason Miller, who ensured a flowing game never flagged. A special mention should go to referee Alan Dickinson for officiating a game of novices with little knowledge of the game rules.

The after match celebrations were held at Byker Masonic Hall, where a well attended evening saw an emotional presentation of the Alice Gingell Memorial Trophy to Captain Mick Prior and Vice Captain Frazer Hill by the Gingell family.

The evening raised even more money for the charities by those very generous attendees, where players, wives and partners enjoyed a magnificent evening of fun and entertainment to round off the day.

Another story to come out of the match was when W Bro Andrew Smith's son Peter put his weight behind the event. Peter Smith had carried the Olympic torch through Prudhoe on Saturday 16th June and brought the torch along on the day. Peter agreed to have his photo taken of the torch with those who attended in exchange for a donation towards the Evening Chronicle Sunshine Fund. Peter was keen to help this worthy charity as he has been a recipient of their efforts in the past. He raised £120 which will be added to the ongoing campaign.

Durham Cathedral’s campaign to install Automated External Defibrillators in the Cathedral Church and its precincts is well underway thanks to a grant from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham of £1,600.

A defibrillator is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses and treats Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  

In other situations, where defibrillators have been placed in the community, it has been shown to greatly improve survival rates, and with the Cathedral situated at the top of the Bailey, where access is sometimes restricted, we hope that the installation of defibrillators will allow for a quick and timely response should there ever be an emergency.  

The Dean of Durham Cathedral, The Very Rev Michael Sadgrove said, “The sanctuary knocker on Durham Cathedral’s north door reminds us of the Cathedral’s important role, throughout history, as a ‘safe place‘. Today, we extend our ministry of welcome to over 600,000 visitors every year, and their safety is of the utmost importance to us. As such, we are committed to equipping our building and preparing our staff and volunteers to deal with emergency situations, including the onset of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. We are so grateful to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham for their generosity, which could one day mean the difference between a life lost and a life saved.”

Malcolm Wilkinson, a Cathedral Guide and Steward, and member of the Benevolent Committee of the Province of Durham was the crucial link between the two organisations. He said, “I was delighted to take to the committee the request for the grant towards the cost of the defibrillator. There has been a long association between Freemasons and the Cathedral, both of which I am privileged to serve. In an emergency, I know how important this equipment might be and I’m so pleased the Freemasons of Durham have been able to help towards the cost of providing it.”

Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Webster said, “Freemasons have been supporting Durham Cathedral for many centuries and when we heard of the desire to make this lifesaving equipment available in the Cathedral, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham was very pleased to assist by supplying sufficient funds to buy a defibrillator for the benefit of all who worship and visit there”.

Key Account Coordinator for St John Ambulance Commercial Training Division, Tom Dawson said, “St John Ambulance are committed to promoting the installation of defibrillators in as wide a variety of locations as possible and providing training of both CPR and use of defibrillators, and we are delighted to work at a local level with Durham Cathedral to consider the installation of defibrillators and the training of staff.”

On Tuesday 8th May 2012, the Chairman of the Provincial Benevolent Committee, AsstPGM John Webster accompanied by WBro Malcolm Wilkinson, the Benevolent Representative of Lodge Stewart No4261 attended the Cathedral where they presented a defibrillator to The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove MA FRSA DL, Dean of Durham Cathedral.

The Provincial Grand Chapter of Durham held a special convocation on Friday 18th November at the Masonic Hall, Alexandra Road, Gateshead. For this meeting 12 companions from The Provincial Grand Chapter of Bristol including their Grand Superintendent EComp Alan Vaughan travelled to Durham where they were accommodated overnight at a local hotel.

Having set off at 6.30am they arrived in Gateshead at 1pm where they immediately proceeded to 'ransack' the Chapter Room which had been carefully set up in the Durham format, before practicing their ceremonial making a few adjustments to fit into the Gateshead building. All Lodges and Chapters in the Province of Bristol meet in one city centre Masonic Hall.

It was only earlier this year when Supreme Grand Chapter authorised the demonstration of the unique Bristol ceremony and this was the first time in over 200 years it was performed outside of the Province of Bristol. Much of the equipment including a series of coloured "veils" had been specially constructed by the Bristol Companions for the occasion. Durham's Past Deputy GSupt Derek Warneford was the lead Durham organiser of the occasion and he evidenced skills akin to ‘Blue Peter’ in constructing a pair of white pillars made from MDF, carpet inner rolls, 2 footballs and copious amounts of mastic and emulsion paint!

By 6pm when the Provincial Grand Chapter of Durham Officers of the year and Officers of Supreme Grand Chapter had processed to their places the main Lodge room at Gateshead was full for this ‘sell out’ occasion. After a short historic introduction by their Grand Superintendent the Bristol Demonstration Team entered and gave an excellent demonstration of ‘The Passing of the Veils and a Bristol Exaltation Ceremony’ with a Chapter of Industry No. 48 Companion, Ian Knighting acting as the candidate. This was a challenging role as the exaltee had questions to answer on the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason degrees as he passed through a series of veils towards the Chapter room and exaltation ceremony. It was a further challenge as Knighting is clearly an uncommon name in the South West and Ian answered questions without hesitation no matter what name he was given!

The 120+ Durham Companions present were then entertained by an extremely well delivered exaltation ceremony. They noticed significant differences between the Durham and Bristol ceremonies, perhaps the most significant was the absence of any lectures. In Bristol most of the information in our lectures is delivered within the main body of their exaltation ceremonial.

The Provincial Convocation was followed by a 4 course meal and in fitting with the convivial nature of the evening the toasts were announced by EComp Stephen White, ProvGDC of Bristol leaving our own ProvGDC EComp John Watts only to introduce the Grand Superintendent of Bristol when he responded to the visitors toast. During his response EComp Vaughan presented a set of Bristol Cufflinks to the Grand Superintendent, Provincial Principals, Director of Ceremonies and the representative candidate EComp Ian Knighting for their assistance in making the evening such a success.



Wednesday, 14 December 2011 09:58

Community Chest

With the Relief Chest Scheme celebrating its 25th anniversary, Freemasonry Today looks at how the scheme makes giving easier for Freemasons around the UK

Launched in 1986, the Relief Chest Scheme provides administrative support for the fundraising activities of masonic units. The Freemasons’ Grand Charity operates the scheme for free, enabling masonic organisations to manage their charitable donations more efficiently by offering individual chests that can be used to accumulate funds for charitable purposes. The scheme maximises the value of charitable donations by pooling funds to ensure that they earn the best possible rate of interest and by claiming Gift Aid relief on all qualifying donations. By taking on this administrative function the scheme saves valuable time and resources involved in lodge fundraising.

The scheme is particularly useful to Provinces running charitable fundraising campaigns, including festivals, with Provinces able to request that the Relief Chest Scheme open special chests. ‘Following our very successful 2010 RMBI Festival, we decided to maintain the culture of regular charitable giving by making use of the Relief Chest Scheme, which had not been previously used by our Province,’ explains Eric Heaviside, Durham Provincial Grand Master. ‘The scheme is a very efficient way to generate funds, as it not only makes giving regularly easy but also provides the opportunity for tax recovery via the Gift Aid allowances. All of this is professionally managed by the Relief Chest Department in The Freemasons’ Grand Charity office in London.’

With over four thousand chests, the scheme is helping Freemasons give charitable support to the people who need it most. Grahame Elliott, President of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, explains how the scheme has evolved over the years, ‘When the idea for the Relief Chest Scheme was announced in September 1985, it was hoped that it would provide a simple and effective way for lodges to give to charity. Lodges would be able to give practical proof of an ever-increasing attachment to the first two of the grand principles on which our order is founded – brotherly love and relief. Twenty-five years later, it is clear to me that the scheme has successfully met these aims, evolving as an excellent way of helping lodges to spend less time on the administrative work involved in processing donations, giving them more time to spend on other important activities.’

With over £14 million donated to charitable causes via the Scheme in 2010, it is hoped that this success will continue, assisting the masonic community in its charitable giving for many years to come.

To find out more, go to www.grandcharity.org



Provincial supporters

Provincial Grand Masters from around the UK give their experiences of working with the Relief Chest...
‘We opened our Relief Chest in the name of the Provincial Benevolent Association principally to take advantage of the Gift Aid tax reclaim facility. In addition, by utilising the expertise of the team we have been able to develop a much more efficient and thorough analysis of donations. The Province looks forward to our continuing association with the Relief Chest team and thanks them for their ongoing advice and assistance.’
Rodney Wolverson
Cambridgeshire Provincial Grand Master

‘Relief Chests have proved an immense boon to London charity stewards and treasurers in easing the administration of charitable giving. For our big appeals – the RMBI, the CyberKnife and the Supreme Grand Chapter’s 2013 Appeal – the support given by the Relief Chest team is vital.’
Russell Race
Metropolitan Grand Master

‘The record-breaking success of the 2011 Essex Festival for the Grand Charity was not only due to the generosity of the brethren, but also to the support we received from the Relief Chest Scheme. The scheme’s online reports and personal support made the tracking of donations, interest accumulated and Gift Aid recovery
a seamless operation for our administration.
That information enabled us to keep the lodges and brethren informed of their totals.’
John Webb
Essex Provincial Grand Master


Relief chest breakdown

Who can receive a donation from a Relief Chest?
• Charities registered with the Charity Commission
• Any organisation holding charitable status
• Any individual in financial distress
The benefits provided by the Relief Chest Scheme:
• Interest added to your donation: A favourable interest rate is earned on funds held for each Chest and no tax is payable on interest earned
• Tax relief: The Gift Aid Scheme means HMRC gives 25p for every £1 donated to a Chest, where eligible
• Easy depositing: Make donations by direct debit, cheque and the Gift Aid Envelope Scheme
• Ease of donating to charities: Once a donation is authorised, the payment is made by the Relief Chest Scheme
• Free: There’s no direct cost to Relief Chest holders
• Easily accessible reports: Annual statements are provided, plus interim statements and subscribers’ lists are available upon request
• Additional help for Festival Relief Chests: Comprehensive performance projection reports and free customised stationery are available      




Published in The Grand Charity
Sunday, 01 May 2011 16:11

Lending a helping hand

Matthew Scanlan reports on a pilot scheme

The comedian Bob Hope once quipped, ‘If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.’ And as every Freemason knows, Freemasonry places great emphasis on a generous heart and charitable giving, even though not every member is aware of the charitable help that is available to both himself and his loved ones. Therefore, in the wake of a recent pilot scheme which was specifically launched to help raise awareness of the work of the masonic charities, Freemasonry Today decided to speak with those involved to see how the initiative went.

In September 2009 the four main masonic charities – the Freemasons’ Grand Charity, the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and the Masonic Samaritan Fund – launched a joint pilot scheme called Freemasonry Cares to try and better inform members about their work.

For seven months the provinces of Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Durham and Yorkshire West Riding piloted the scheme, which focused on informing members and their dependents, as well as lapsed members (those who may have fallen on hard times or who have become too infirm to attend meetings), about the wide range of charitable help and support that they are eligible to apply for in times of need. And in all instances the message was simple: if you have a masonic connection and you are experiencing financial or healthcare problems, contact Freemasonry Cares.

Key initiatives

In the words of Eric Heaviside, the Provincial Grand Master of Durham, ‘One of the most surprising things we discovered with Freemasonry Cares was just how many brethren and their families were totally unaware of the potential guidance and assistance available to them. Many simply go to their lodge and afterwards put away their regalia, and that’s it. And many in the province didn’t realise what they were entitled to; for some it never occurs to them to even seek advice in this regard.’

To tackle this shortfall in knowledge, a specially produced booklet was distributed throughout the four pilot provinces to members and widows of deceased masons. The booklets addressed commonly posed questions relating to both eligibility and the type of help available; help that typically ranges from purely financial related issues such as funeral costs or education support, to healthcare and family support, including hospital treatment, respite care and child maintenance. And in every province the booklets seem to have proved an unqualified success.

A key initiative of the scheme, information about which was also featured in the booklets, was the setting up of a confidential helpline number and this also appears to have won universal approval. For as Eric Heaviside once again explained, ‘One of the problems we frequently encounter is that a lot of our people are very proud people and they don’t want to call on charities. But we have tried to explain that it’s Anyone who wishes to contact Freemasonry Cares should ring the confidential helpline number: 0800 035 6090 more of an entitlement and not charity as such, and that appears to have helped somewhat’.

John Clayton, the Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire West Riding, also noted that because calls made to the helpline number are dealt with in strict confidence, a greater number of masons have been encouraged to come forward and enquire about possible help, far more than was the case in the past.

He also pointed out that in the case of Yorkshire West Riding where there were already wellestablished charities such as Provincial Grand Master’s Fund, which in 2009-10 donated £425,662 principally to non-masonic charities, they have noticed an upturn in charitable applications by as much as sixty percent since the launch of the Freemasonry Cares scheme in the autumn of 2009. Therefore it was generally agreed that even in provinces such as this, the new initiative can not only better inform masons and their dependents about the good work of the charities, but it can also provide a boon for public relations.

The conclusion of the Provincial Grand Master of Cambridgeshire, Rodney Wolverson: ‘the initiative was very good, well presented and well thought out, and overall it was received very well, but most importantly, it also shows that Freemasonry really does care’.

This optimism is also borne out by the facts. For during the pilot year the number of grants awarded in the four test-case provinces saw an increase of thirty-six percent on the previous year, compared to a thirteen percent average increase across the rest of the country. Consequently, the initiative is now being rolled out nationally and over the next eighteen months provinces across England and Wales will be invited to introduce Freemasonry Cares in the hope that the pilot success can be repeated across rest of the country.

Published in Freemasonry Cares
A project launched in 2008 culminated last December when Durham Provincial Grand Master Eric Heaviside presented The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) with the third of three Ground Response Vehicles to complement the services fleet of three helicopters.
In summer 2008, Durham Province was selected by the Freemasons’ Grand Charity to trial a match-funding scheme of up to £5,000 for a local charity.
In only a few months, lodges and individual masons throughout the province raised £10,000 in excess of the £5 million target, which was made up to £20,000 by the Grand Charity.
During the 2008 Provincial meeting, GNAAS members attended and expressed their wish to purchase a road vehicle, to be equipped similar to the GNAAS aircraft for use by the medical air crew when technical or weather conditions prevented the helicopter taking off .
A new vehicle was out of reach, but when a six-month old Skoda VRS Octavia Cleveland police traffic car became available, it was purchased and rebranded with the GNAAS logo – as well as a square and compass logo ‘Donated by Freemasons’ on the rear windows.
A further appeal by Durham Mark Provincial Grand Master Peter Croft to the Mark Masons Fund of Benevolence resulted in them purchasing outright a second vehicle.
A celebratory dinner was held to mark the end of the Durham Festival which was attended by the Deputy Grand Master, the Mayors of Durham and Sunderland, and over 400 Freemasons and their partners as well as representatives from the RMBI.

The Festival raised £3,002,839 for the RMBI through many interesting and enjoyable ways including country galas, sporting events, dinner dances, vehicle rallies, flower festivals, go-karting, concerts, family fun days, sponsored events – golf, trekking, cycle rides – as well as donations from individual Freemasons. RMBI.

The monies raised will be used to ensure that the RMBI continues to provide high quality care to its residents. RMBI.

To conclude the event the Provincial Grand Master, Eric Heaviside, thanked all those who had contributed to the Festival’s success and presented certificates to the Masters of the three lodges raising the highest amounts.

Published in RMBI
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:30

Jonathan Spence Visits Durham Home

Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence has visited the Durham Freemasons retirement apartment complex at Boundary Court, Bishop Auckland. He was accompanied by Oliver Lodge, Grand Director of Ceremonies.
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