Looking to the future
The Masonic Samaritan Fund is supporting treatment and research into curing complex medical conditions
The majority of the MSF’s grant-making is to cover the associated costs of a diagnosed health or care need. However, the charity also funds medical research projects that aim to improve the treatment for many of the illnesses and disabilities affecting masonic families and the wider community.
Richard Penelrick was diagnosed with Ataxia-Telangiectasia (A-T), a rare and progressive genetic disorder for which there is no cure, when he was sixteen years old. A-T has weakened Richard’s immune system, leading to frequent chest and lung infections, and placed him at significantly increased risk of developing cancer. He was wheelchair-bound by the end of his teens, and the condition is generally fatal to patients by the time they reach their late twenties.
Richard’s family have looked after him through increasing disability and challenging care needs. His masonic guardian, John Pritchard, said, ‘The impact of A-T on individuals and their families is devastating. We not only have to cope with providing twenty-four-hour care for Richard, but we must be ready at any time to face the prospect of a severe illness or his possible death.’
Support for A-T sufferers
In partnership with the Province of Devonshire, the MSF has given support to Richard and his family. Margaret, his mother, has received respite care grants for several years, allowing her time to rest from the day-and-night care she provides for her son, while Richard has received a bespoke wheelchair, tailored to his needs. Margaret said, ‘It is very pleasing to see Richard in a wheelchair that helps with his medical needs and allows him to still use his own physical capabilities. I would like to thank all involved throughout this application.’
There is currently no cure for A-T, which affects one in forty thousand young people in the UK. The MSF has donated £49,695 to the A-T Society, a charity that seeks funding for medical research to explore routes to potential cures for A-T. Society chief executive William Davis, said, ‘This generous grant from the Masonic Samaritan Fund has enabled the charity to fund exciting research that may not only impact on people living with A-T, but could go on to advance treatments and even promote a cure for other genetic diseases and cancer.’
How to make an application
In support of helping to alleviate delays for treatment or surgery, the MSF provided more than two hundred medical grants to Freemasons and their dependants during 2013 at a cost of just over £1.5 million. The support provided covered a wide range of medical conditions and the Fund’s new online Eligibility Calculator can tell you if you’re likely to qualify for a grant. Visit www.msfund.org.uk/eligibility-calculator and answer ten simple questions to receive an immediate decision as to your eligibility to make a full application to the Fund.