A better life
As the Masonic Charitable Foundation builds on a proud history laid down by the four charities, two families tell their stories about the masonic support they have received
When the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) launches in April, it will be the culmination of a major review that concluded last year as members of the four central masonic charities indicated their approval to consolidate their work under a new single organisation.
While the Foundation is new, the grants it makes will continue to support people like Geoff and his family (pictured above). Geoff was an active Freemason from West Lancashire, who suffered two strokes. ‘It was the worst time of my life,’ he says. ‘I thought I wouldn’t leave hospital.’
Geoff’s daughter Sue explains that the support he received meant he could return home. ‘The masonic charities helped us with everything from physio to all the equipment we needed at home. It wasn’t just the grant, it was the fact that Dad could be with his family again. Without the masonic charities it would have been impossible for him to come home.’
Making an impact
That a simple grant can reunite a family is testament to the impact the charities have had on so many lives. The story of Caroline and her children, David and Louise (pictured above), is another moving example. The family received support from the masonic charities after the unexpected death of Caroline’s Freemason husband Tony in 2011. ‘We were on a family holiday and Tony became poorly,’ says Caroline. ‘We took him to the hospital and discovered that he had melanoma. Within six weeks we lost him.’
The family was naturally concerned about the future. ‘As a 13-year-old losing your dad, it’s a very unstable time,’ says Louise, now 17. ‘I knew things were going to change and that was a massive worry.’ While the charities could not undo the tragedy, they could ensure that David and Louise were not otherwise disadvantaged.
‘The masonic charities helped David and Louise with their education,’ says Caroline. ‘David is now at the University of Oxford and Louise is applying for university thanks to them.’
Geoff, Caroline and their families are typical of the tens of thousands of masonic families who have received support from the charities. The launch of the Foundation will ensure that the same support continues to be available long into the future. The combined amount awarded by the previous charities to non-masonic causes in recent years has exceeded £3 million annually and the Foundation will continue to award a similar amount.
In 2014 a survey of Freemasons identified the causes that matter most to the membership. As a result, the Foundation’s community grant-making will focus on education and employability; financial hardship; health and disability; and social exclusion and disadvantage. Grants will also continue to be awarded to support hospices, air ambulance and rescue services, worldwide disaster relief appeals, and medical and social research for charities such as Anthony Nolan, which works to save the lives of those with blood cancer and blood disorders.
‘The support has enabled us to launch a project to improve survival and quality of life for transplant patients’, says Henny Braund, Anthony Nolan’s chief executive. The Foundation will award its first round of grants to charities over the coming months.
‘Dad could be with his family again. Without the masonic charities it would have been impossible.’
A stronger platform
The new Foundation also faces the challenge of combining fundraising activities. With only one central charity to support, new donations will be used to fund the full range of grant-making.
Later this year, one of the first Festivals in support of the Foundation will be launched in the Province of Buckinghamshire. ‘I am delighted that our 2021 Festival will be on behalf of the MCF,’ says Gordon Robertson, Provincial Grand Master. The Provinces of West Lancashire, Worcestershire and Essex will also launch Festivals for the Foundation over the next few years.
The new launch is exciting news. At its heart, however, the Foundation will continue a mission that is centuries old – using the generous donations of Freemasons to care for families like those of Geoff and Caroline.
The MCF’s Chief Executive David Innes shares his vision for the charity here
Business as usual
The MCF will become one of the largest charities in the country, assisting thousands of people each year as well as awarding millions of pounds to charities and medical research programmes.
Bringing together four charities is not easy, but Freemasons can be reassured that the Foundation will continue to provide the same types of support as currently available.
The Foundation will be in a position to offer an even wider range of grants. Support will continue to take the form of financial grants, along with advice and practical support.