Just one of the thousands of children of Freemasons supported by the MCF when life took a turn for the worse, Liz Willingham reflects on how different her life might have been without the support of the charity throughout her education
The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) is proud to champion the right for young people to access educational opportunities, regardless of difficult circumstances their family may face. Through grants to cover school costs and university scholarships, the MCF enables hundreds of young people every year to pursue their chosen careers.
When Liz Willingham was just 12 years old, she watched her father die of a stroke in the family’s garden. Now 47 years old, Liz says she recognises the crucial role played by the MCF afterwards. ‘I always remember it was Good Friday. It was just so sudden – he was only 55. If I recall, the Freemasons turned up at our door with support before anyone else.’
The process of dealing with a traumatic experience was hard, but Liz explains that the Freemasons were there through the entire journey.
‘The MCF got in touch with us and offered me a place at the Royal Masonic School for Girls, which was part of the charity at the time. I don’t even think we got in contact with them; it was just so proactively driven through the local masons.
‘The MCF financially supported me during my time at school right through to university, which made such a big difference. The family grief lasted a long time, and I was at a delicate stage in my life – just having the resources to fall back on gave me a lot of comfort.’
When Liz was given the chance to study Media and Communications at Bournemouth University, the MCF provided an additional grant to make sure she had the resources needed to complete her course.
‘I’ve run my own PR business for 19 and a half years now, and have had two children in between – I talk to them regularly about the support I received. Without the MCF’s support, who knows, I may not have started my business, met my husband or had our children!’
To watch Liz tell her story in her own words, visit the MCF’s YouTube channel at: www.youtube.com/masoniccharitablefoundation
The new issue of Better Lives is out now and focusses on the grants and support the MCF can provide when you are facing a crisis. To make sure you receive your copy of future issues of Better Lives magazine, please click ‘sign up’ at the bottom of the MCF’s homepage at www.mcf.org.uk