Children missing out as masonic families struggle to cope with the prolonged economic downturn
The effects of the recession are still being felt by many masonic families. Enclosed with this edition of Freemasonry Today is the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB) 2010-2011 Annual Review. The document reveals that the RMTGB accepted 30 percent more new cases in 2010 compared with 2009. In total, 1,820 children and young people received support in 2010, and the trend shows no sign of reversing.
Not surprisingly, the number of financial distress cases has risen as the economy struggles to recover from the recent global financial turbulence. Children can do little to escape the effects of monetary hardship and often, despite the best efforts of their parents, miss out on opportunities that in previous years had been taken for granted – frequently with life-changing consequences.
The general rise in the cost of living, government cuts to local services such as libraries, school travel and the education maintenance allowance, coupled with a significant increase in tuition fees, mean that the cost of raising children is continuing to increase rapidly.
The RMTGB exists to ensure that financial hardship does not impact on the general welfare or education of children from masonic families. RMTGB chief executive Les Hutchinson is keen to stress that support is available for children and young people who may be affected. ‘It is a tragedy that it is so often the children who suffer most because of financial situations completely beyond their control,’ he says. ‘Even temporary financial difficulty lasting a few months can have life-changing consequences for children.’
READY AND WILLING TO HELP
Despite the increase in cases, and the higher costs of living, Hutchinson stresses that the generosity of Freemasons means that the RMTGB is in a strong position to assist those children and young people who most need help. ‘I would urge anyone struggling to support their children financially during this time to contact the RMTGB or their lodge almoner.’
Les Hutchinson, chief executive of the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB), has been invested as president of the Old Masonians Association (OMA)
The OMA, which currently has about 1,000 members, keeps alive the memory of the Royal Masonic School for Boys, while encouraging an interest in the work of the RMTGB, its successor. It was founded in 1886 and, 125 years later, Hutchinson is proud to continue to strengthen the links between the modern charity and its ‘Old Boys’.
TalentAid, a scheme launched by the RMTGB to support the ambitions of talented young people, celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. The scheme was established in 2001 in response to a growing awareness that some families were making huge financial sacrifices to support their children’s ambitions to develop a career in sport or the performing arts.
RMTGB Chief Executive Les Hutchinson said: ‘Over the past decade we have awarded around £3 million in TalentAid grants to over 250 young people whose talent has been so exceptional that it represents their best career prospect.’
Cyclist Luke Gray has been supported since 2007. He is a prime example of the scheme’s ongoing success, having developed his sporting abilities into a high-achieving career. Currently 19 years old, he is ranked third in the world for his age in cyclo-cross, and hopes to compete in the 2016 Olympics.
For help and advice, download an information sheet and application form at www.rmtgb.org
The continuing support the RMTGB provides to young people is only possible due to the donations that are often inspired by the imaginative fundraising activities of Freemasons.
This summer has witnessed prime examples of such imagination, with three incredible journeys being made to raise money for the RMTGB.
To mark the launch of the 2016 Festival, John Donoghue from the Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight cycled over 500 miles to deliver Festival details to every masonic centre in the Province.
After four days of cycling, John said: ‘I thought it would be an eye-catching way to highlight the Festival and hope it marks the start of a successful period of fundraising for the RMTGB.’
John had previously donated a kidney to his daughter, making his journey even more remarkable. He is hoping his endeavours will raise in excess of £20,000 towards the Festival Appeal.
Manuel Mouzo and his son Sebastian walked the El Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage across northern Spain. Manuel, from Rochester in East Kent, said: ‘I had always wanted to make this spectacular journey and raising money for the RMTGB made the experience even more enjoyable.’
Their twenty-six-day journey has so far raised £1,000.
Buckinghamshire Freemasons organised the Rock Ride, a 1,500 mile cycle ride from Gibraltar to Stowe School. Nine cyclists took part in the journey which lasted fourteen days and involved climbs totalling twice the height of Mount Everest. As well as helping a number of other charities, the Rock Ride has so far raised over £22,000 for the 2010 Festival in support of the RMTGB.
Les Hutchinson, RMTGB Chief executive, commented: ‘These remarkable fundraising journeys show the charitable nature of Freemasonry at its very best. I am extremely grateful to everyone who raises funds for the RMTGB. We rely heavily on these important initiatives to support our lifechanging work, particularly during these difficult times.’
Go to www.rmtgb.org for further information about the work of the RMTGB and fundraising.