The Freemasons' Grand Charity AGM - June 2012

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Annual General Meeting of The Freemasons' Grand Charity 

13 June 2012 
An address by the President of the Grand Charity, Richard Hone, QC, and the Chief Executive, Laura Chapman 

President (Richard Hone, QC):

Deputy Grand President and members, welcome to what for the Grand Charity is its 32nd Annual General Meeting, and which is my first as President, after serving nine years on the Council between 1997 and 2006. I want to start by paying tribute to the work of my predecessor, Grahame Elliott, who in his six years of office saw the 25th and 30th anniversaries of the founding of The Grand Charity. It is really the man himself I want to praise because he presented such a genial and friendly face of the Charity that will long be remembered, especially by the Provinces, which he often visited. Like all good leaders, he does have his idiosyncrasies and his ability to go off script is unrivalled, but we loved him for it. Perhaps most importantly, he played a key role in moving the four charities in to a single office space in Freemasons’ Hall which has created a sea change of mutual co-operation between our four charities, upon which it will be my happy task to build. On behalf of the Council of the Grand Charity and the staff for whom he cared so deeply, I extend our warmest good wishes to Grahame Elliott in his retirement. He is a hard act to follow but it is reassuring to know that he remains part of the team as a Past President.

I have mentioned the move of all four charities in to the new purpose built offices here at Freemasons’ Hall. The physical proximity means that it is much easier for inter-communication – we are after all in the same business – organising Masonic charity from cradle to grave. One of the most striking things I have noticed since my return to Grand Charity last year, has been the inauguration of Freemasonry Cares as a form of umbrella for all four charities. Yes, Freemasons really do care, and the way in which we care is exemplified by the Royal Masonic Institution for Girls and Boys, by the Masonic Samaritan Fund, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and The Grand Charity. The four Presidents now meet regularly and I am particularly excited that over the next five years, over which I hope to serve as President of the Grand Charity, we foresee a culmination of co-operation, the integration of some of our common services under Freemasonry Cares, as well as cross fertilisation of resources and more joined-up thinking about what we are doing. What is fundamental is to maintain the individual identities of the Charities and the proud traditions of the existing institutions built up over nearly 300 years, but to make sure that the excellent work that we do is delivered more efficiently and without duplication. This on-going process has been enormously promoted by the truly fraternal co-operation between the four Presidents and, most importantly, their chief executives, so you may be assured, it is a consensual exercise, promoted by working together in one location. I am not a great one for slogans – the day job rather puts a stop to that – but what I do want to promote is a sense that Masonic charity as a whole is a terrific force for good. We should all draw strength from that and make sure the public properly understands the good we do. Masonic charity represents over £20 million a year. My task as President of the Grand Charity is to ask continuously: how can we make it even better? I for one shall never forget that, important as London is, our heartland is in the provinces. One only has to look at the recent Grand Charity Festivals in Essex and South Wales to see where our greatest support lies. We must never forget the provinces.

The past year has once again been good for the Charity. The cost of Masonic grants to individuals and families for their daily living costs, amounted to £5.3m. Grants to non-Masonic charities have continued to be given in a way that we all hope everyone approves. I am particularly pleased that the non-Masonic grants in 2011 reached nearly £3m. This is what we must build on, to dispel the myth that Freemasons exist only to look after our own. I repeat the refrain: We are a terrific force for good. One of my tasks as President is to ensure that every member should feel a real sense of pride in the fantastic support we give to national charities and also to emergency grants for international relief where we are acknowledged to be leaders in the field: “He who gives quickly gives twice” was an aphorism of one early Grand Master. It was good to read that we are strongly commended in the recent report entitled: The Future of Freemasonry.

We are most grateful to Grand Lodge for allowing us to hold our Annual General Meeting during this Quarterly Communication. I sense there is a real enthusiasm for the work of the Grand Charity and in spite of these really difficult economic times, involving real family hardship, the report for last year shows that I take over a Charity in a good state. Long may that flourish. I am sure that we were all enthused by the marvellous events of the Diamond Jubilee with the concepts of dedication and service to others which resonate so strongly with Freemasonry and our unwavering support of the Grand Master and Her Majesty the Queen. That is why I am so pleased that we are giving support to the Prince’s Trust. I look forward to reporting an even better year in 2013.

Item 3 on the Agenda concerns the 25 non-Masonic Grants set out on pages 7 to 12, but before seeking their approval, I should like, with your permission Deputy Grand President, to ask Laura Chapman, the Charity’s Chief Executive to say a few words.

Chief Executive (Laura Chapman):

Deputy Grand President and members – As the President has just emphasized, Freemasonry is a terrific force for good and that is nowhere more evident than in the grants that the Grand Charity gives to national charities. The decisions on which charities to support are easy for the Council to make because they are driven by the views of the Craft on the causes you want to support and the impact you wish to achieve.

Masons are very clear that you wish to support people in need, who are vulnerable and coping with terminal illness, disability and frailty or who are excluded from participating fully in society because of ill health or disadvantage. You want your charitable support to be given to people, not to animals, the environment or the arts.
And, not surprisingly as many of you are businessmen, professionals or simply careful with your pennies, you want your charitable investment to make a maximum return both for the individuals concerned and for society as a whole, by helping those ‘at risk’ to help themselves rather than becoming dependant on the state for long term welfare support.

Of those at risk, unemployed youth, now nearly 22% of 15 to 22 year olds in the UK are particularly vulnerable. Disproportionately represented in this group are some of the most disadvantaged and excluded young people in this country, who, even in the most prosperous economies, are less likely to find employment.
Presented for your approval today is a grant for £250,000 to the Prince’s Trust to help address the crisis of youth unemployment. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales set up The Prince’s Trust in 1976 and today it is one of the UK’s leading charities in supporting young people who face the greatest challenges to become financially and socially independent.

The Grand Charity’s quarter of a million pound grant will fund projects to help these young people to find sustainable employment or re-engage with education. Five thousand pounds of this grant will be distributed to each of the 47 Masonic Provinces and the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London to present for the relevant project in their area, thereby creating local publicity for Masonic charitable giving.

The Council of the Grand Charity is especially pleased in this year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to be able to recommend a grant that is so closely associated with the work of the Royal Family and embodies so faithfully the force for good that is Freemasonry. The President will now seek your approval for this and the other non-Masonic grants recommended by the Council.

Non-Masonic Grants approved at the Grand Charity’s Annual General Meeting 

13 June 2012 

a.  £50,000 to Cancer Research UK to fund a research project on pancreatic cancer at Barts, London.

b.  £60,000 over two years to Diabetes UK to fund a research project on Type 1 diabetes at King’s College, London.

c.  £50,000 over two years to Barnardo’s to fund the salary of a project worker in the service aimed at preventing sexual exploitation in Plymouth.

d.  £60,000 over two years to Buttle UK to fund the development of the Quality Mark for Care Leavers in higher education.

e.  £16,000 to CHICKS to fund the salary of a supervisor to work with disadvantaged children at residential retreats in Devon.

f.  £25,000 to Children our Ultimate Investment UK to fund the Teens and Toddlers programme in Manchester.

g.  £30,000 to Outward Bound to fund a bursary scheme enabling disadvantaged young people to participate in three week adventure activity courses.

h.  £20,000 to Street League to fund the A-Z Academy programme in Croydon.

i.  £250,000 to The Prince’s Trust to be distributed to Provincial and Metropolitan Grand Lodges for local presentations to fund work-related activities for disadvantaged young people.

j.  £25,000 to Calvert Trust Kielder to fund bursaries for severely disabled adults at an outdoor activity centre.

k.  £55,000 to Combat Stress to fund community outreach teams to support ex-Service personnel with mental health problems.

l.  £90,000 over two years to Dementia UK to fund a Chief Nurse post to develop training for specialist dementia nurses.

m.  £25,000 to Dogs for the Disabled to fund the PAWS service for children with autism.

n.  £50,000 to Help for Heroes to fund the development of therapeutic gardens at four recovery centres for wounded Service personnel.

o.  £25,000 to the Huntington Disease Association to fund the regional care advisory service in the north west of England.

p.  £18,000 to I Can to fund a primary school project supporting children who struggle with speech and language skills.

q.  £25,000 to Jubilee Sailing Trust to fund a bursary for a severely disabled crew member.

r.  £12,000 to Living Paintings Trust to fund a catalogue of Touch to See books for pre-school children.

s.  £30,000 to Music in Hospitals to fund live concerts for older people in healthcare settings.

t.  £10,000 to PHAB to fund residential outdoor activity courses for disabled young people.

u.  £30,000 to the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity to fund a family support worker in Manchester.

v.  £22,000 to Rett UK to fund a Family Guide publication for families who have a child with Rett Syndrome.

w.  £25,000 to Special Olympics UK to fund the salary of the volunteer development manager.

x.  £25,000 to TB Alert to fund a project to raise awareness of the rising prevalence of tuberculosis amongst local organisations which work with vulnerable people.

y.  £30,000 to Young Minds to fund the development of the charity’s use of internet technology to provide support services to young people with mental health problems.

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