London Freemasons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation have donated £50,000 to London-based specialist charity Autistica, to aid research and testing in the home environment of a widely used tool to help young autistic children communicate at school
This new study is the first of its kind, led by parents, to assess the use of PECS, the Picture Exchange Communication System, in the home. The project celebrated recently with a visit to Queensmill School in Shepherds Bush, West London, a leading school for autistic children.
More than one in four autistic people speak few or no words. PECS, a series of picture cards, is widely used in schools for children with communication problems, and can help children make requests for important needs. This study is part-funded by London Freemasons, in addition to funding from a major donor and other small trusts and foundations.
Jo, whose son Freddie struggled to speak when he was younger, said: 'We knew that intervening early was key to improving his communication skills, but it felt like time was ticking to find something that worked. There was a lot of trial and error. I hope this research will mean other parents won’t have to face the same lack of guidance we did.'
Sixty four young children will take part in the study led by Dr Vicky Slonims from Evelina Children’s Hospital and King’s College London. Half will use PECS, half will not. Parents will record requests made by their children in an app and a small body camera will be worn by the child to show researchers how they are communicating. If PECS is found to be effective, it could become part of crucial early intervention training offered to parents of children with speech delays.
Dr. James Cusack, Director of Science at Autistica, explains: 'We’re very grateful to London Freemasons for their generous grant. When minimally verbal children reach school age, they can show very little improvement in speech of communication skills. It’s therefore essential that we give parents and children the evidence-based tools they need as early as possible.'
Adrian Fox, from London Freemasons, visited Queensmill School with Autistica to celebrate the launch of the project, said: 'I’m really pleased we’ve been able to support this excellent project from Autistica. This is essential research that could transform the lives of thousands of autistic children and their families across the country and around the world.'
After the huge success of last year’s event, Lifelites Chief Executive Simone Enefer-Doy is once again taking on an epic nationwide road trip to raise money for life-limited and disabled children in hospices
Simone left the office on Great Queen Street on the morning of 10 May 2019 in a London Fire Brigade BMW i3, kindly organised by the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London. She was also accompanied by Widows Sons outriders and a classic Ronart.
Dubbed ‘Lift for Lifelites returns’, the 3,000 mile trip will see Simone visit a landmark in every Province in England and Wales in a variety of weird and wonderful modes of transport provided by Freemasons, Widows Sons and other volunteers.
Landmarks will include Bleinheim Palace, Goodwood and the National Space Centre, as well as some slightly quirkier venues such as the British Lawnmower Museum. Confirmed modes of transport so far include a Tuk Tuk, a steam train, a Lamborghini, a quadbike, a DeLorean, a classic Rolls Royce and many more.
All the money raised will go towards the charity’s work donating and maintaining life-changing technology to life-limited and disabled children in hospices across the British Isles. This technology gives them the opportunity to play be creative, control something for themselves and communicate, for as long as it is possible.
Simone said: 'We are a very small, but very hard working charity and are determined to do all that we can to impact the lives of children who don’t have the same opportunities that we do due to the confines of their condition. Every moment is precious for these children and their families, and we want to make sure they can make the most of every second. This is only possible with the support of the Provinces.
'We were absolutely blown away by the support we received last year. Provinces pulled out all the stops and we can’t thank them enough. Will this year be even bigger and better?'
London Freemasons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation have donated £60,000 to London-based charity Coram Voice, giving thousands of disabled children and young people in the care system a chance to be able to have a say in how they live their lives
Through Coram Voice, children and young people with disabilities are provided with a specialist advocacy service enabling them to be heard and to exercise their rights. With highly experienced, independent advocates, Coram Voice is able to represent the feelings and wishes of young people, ensure the service is accessible using specialist methods of communication and train professionals through specialist courses and expert disability casework support.
The grant from London Freemasons will allow the charity to help an estimated 2,000 more young people over the next three years, giving children and young people with disabilities equal access to advocacy as other children in the care system.
More than 75,000 young people in England are currently in care. Those with disabilities are especially vulnerable to abuse of their rights and to their voices not being listened to. Children with disabilities are also three times more likely to be abused, but thanks to this new funding, Coram Voice can continue to work to alleviate these risks.
Andrew Dickie, Head of Services at Coram Voice, said: 'We’re very grateful to London Freemasons for their generous grant, which helps us make a positive, life-changing impact for more children and young people in care. Every child should have a voice and disabled children have as much right as other children to express their feelings and contribute to key decisions about their lives.'
Adrian Fox of London Freemasons said: 'We’re proud to have supported such a worthwhile cause. The trust and familiarity that Coram Voice builds with the people it works with is inspiring, and changes a lot of lives for the better. Their work is vital to so many vulnerable people, and our grant will help them to reach more children without a voice.
'This is another example of Freemasons supporting the London community.'
A vital advice and information service which helps women with breast cancer to cope with financial problems arising from their condition will continue, thanks to a £47,000 grant from London Freemasons
The grant of £47,000 comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, and will allow Breast Cancer Haven's Welfare, Benefits and Money Advice Service to carry on for another year, helping cancer patients across London and beyond. This service has been extremely popular and has made a huge difference to the lives of many vulnerable patients and their families.
People like Breast Cancer Haven visitor Ramila Parma, from Wembley, received invaluable support from the Charity following her breast cancer diagnosis. Since the Money Advice Service first began in May 2012, it has helped 853 cancer patients and secured close to £450,000 for them.
There are an estimated 55,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK, including 350 men. Four out of five of them will be affected financially, these financial pressures come at the worst possible time, as patients are coping with a life-threatening illness as well as trying to keep life as normal as possible for children and other family members.
Investigating entitlement to benefits, filling in forms and appealing against decisions is an exhausting process, which is often combined with pressure from banks and mortgage lenders.
The grant from London Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Hannah Daws, Fundraising & Communications Director at Breast Cancer Haven, said: ‘We’re very grateful to London Masons for their generous grant, which will make a huge difference to the lives of many vulnerable patients and their families.
‘Having cancer is hard enough, but when you are living on very little money and not knowing where to turn, it can be desperately tough. Our new Welfare Benefits and Money Adviser is providing vital individual money advice and information, available free to cancer patients across the UK.’
Adrian Fox, from London Freemasons, said: ‘I’m very pleased we were able to help Breast Cancer Haven. Thanks to them, people can concentrate on dealing with the problems of cancer rather than the problems of poverty.’
London Freemasons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation have donated £5,000 to support East London-based charity, It’s Your Life, to improve life chances of children, young people and adults through three innovative and proven programmes delivered by inspirational mentors
One Programme, called the It's Your Community Project, engages with women from BAMER backgrounds who are taught to sew and practice their English skills, and to gain a certificate in citizenship and local democracy. One woman said that It's Your Life has 'helped show us how we can encourage our children to learn and to do something in the future – we want to show them they can learn anything'.
Another programme, It's Your Future, gives young people the social and emotional skills that promote engagement with learning, prevent exclusion and reverse poor attainment at school. One boy said 'It's Your Life has completely changed my confidence and I wish I could have stayed longer'.
Frankie Taylor from the charity said: 'We are really grateful for the support of London masons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is helping us to support some of the most marginalised and vulnerable families and young people.'
Tony Shields, Metropolitan Grand Lodge Charity Steward, commented: 'Our members are delighted to support this very worthwhile charity as it provides opportunities for those who are vulnerable and marginalised to gain the skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty and disadvantage.
'This is another example of Freemasons supporting the London community.'
To mark Ken Rayment’s 90th birthday on 28th February 2019, the Manor Class of Masonic Instruction members, both old and new, came along to celebrate his special day
Ken has been involved with the Manor Class of Masonic Instruction for 32 years and is the current Chairman.
Manor class is a weekly class of instruction at the Bletchley Masonic Centre, which is open to all Freemasons and assists them to learn and develop their emulation ritual. They practice a different degree ceremony each week.
Although Ken is a member of Post Curam Otium No. 4921 in London, he resides in Buckinghamshire.
Alongside enjoying a birthday buffet, Ken was presented with a fine 15-year-old Malt Whiskey and an engraved glass to commemorate this milestone. Buckinghamshire Freemason Colin Milton also produced a framed certificate of thanks.
Ken's masonic knowledge knows no bounds, and he can usually answer the most obscure questions without even referring to his extremely well-worn and ritual book.
A number of Freemasons have been honoured in HM The Queen’s New Year Honours list 2019, which recognises the outstanding achievements of people across the United Kingdom
Charles Pearson was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to West Mercia Police.
Charles has been a special constable for 45 years, holding the rank of a Sergeant, serving his community in Shropshire with postings to Bridgnorth, Much Wenlock and presently, Church Stretton. In May 2014, he was awarded the Freedom of Much Wenlock for services to the local community, with 40 years police service in the town of Much Wenlock.
He was initiated into Caer Caradoc Lodge No. 6346 in Shropshire in 1997 and joined West Mercia Lodge No. 9719 three years later, where he is the current Master.
In 2012, Charles was named Past Provincial Senior Grand Deacon for Shropshire and in 2017 was promoted to Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works.
Thomas Clive Johnson
Clive Johnson was awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal (QFSM) for Distinguished service to Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service.
Clive joined the Westmorland Fire Service as a Retained Firefighter in 1968 and was based at Staveley where he lives. In 1974, the Fire Services of the region amalgamated and then became the Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service.
Clive continued his service at Staveley until he retired on 31st May 2018, having achieved the high rank of Station Watch Manager. To mark his retirement having completed 50 years of exemplary service, he and his wife Julie were invited to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, hosted by Her Majesty.
He was initiated into Eversley Lodge No. 4228 in 2001 in the Province of Cumberland & Westmorland. In 2016, he received Provincial Honours when he was appointed Provincial Senior Grand Deacon.
Bill Edward Bowen
Bill Bowen was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community of Oswestry in Shropshire.
This included actively serving in The Lions Club of Oswestry for 44 years and being honoured in the Lions Clubs International organisation as District Governor which necessitated training in Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii.
Bill also served as Churchwarden at the Parish Church of St. Oswald for 25 years, followed by 14 years as a licensed local minister in the Church of England. He also organised a Christian Men's Fellowship Breakfast for 22 years and served as Chaplain to the RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital for 15 years. In fact, he is still serving in all these different organisations.
Bill was initiated in 1986 into the Lodge of St Oswald No. 1124 in Oswestry in the Province of Shropshire and was made Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 2014.
Michael Goldthorpe was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to Naval Personnel.
Michael served in the Royal Navy from 1978 until 2010, reaching the rank of Commander. His most recent activity has been as CEO of the Association of Royal Navy Officers and the Royal Navy Officers Charity.
He was initiated into Pinner Hill Lodge No. 6578 in Middlesex in 1989, although the lodge has since been erased. Michael is also a member of Fortitude Lodge No. 6503 in the Province, where he is their current Master, and was appointed Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works in 2018.
Francis Wakem QPM
Francis Wakem was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to victims of crime.
This involved working with the charity Victim Support, which provides emotional and practical support to victims of crime, since it was founded 30 years ago, originally as a serving police officer and later as a volunteer.
Francis remains an active volunteer in Wiltshire and in London where he serves on committees dealing with governance of the charity.
Francis was initiated into Corsham Lodge No. 6616 in Wiltshire in 1976 and went on to serve as Provincial Grand Master in the county for over 10 years (March 2004 - October 2014).
Frank Handscombe was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to Judo in the community in South Molton, North Devon.
Frank is a 4th black belt and has been involved with South Molton Judo Club for 38 years, where he has served as chief instructor and principal.
Frank was initiated into Temple Bar Lodge No. 5962 in Hertfordshire in 1961 and later joined Loyal Lodge of Industry No. 421 in Devonshire, where he gained Provincial honours including Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 2005 and Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 2006.
In 2009, he was given Grand Lodge honours when he was named Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies.
Trevor (Tex) Calton
Army Cadet Force Major Tex Calton has been awarded an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen in the annual New Year Honours list.
Tex enjoyed a successful military career of 26 years with the last eight serving as the Bandmaster of the famous Black Watch Regiment. He retired from teaching music in schools at the end of 2013 and now serves in the Army Cadet Force in the rank of Major, as National Music Advisor.
Tex became a Freemason in 1988 when he joined Phoenix Lodge in Berlin. On being posted to Tern Hill, near Market Drayton, he joined St Mary’s Lodge No. 8373 in 1992. Tex was given Provincial honours in Shropshire when he was named Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon in 2014.
Cheshire Freemason Steven Leigh was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to local businesses and the economy in Yorkshire.
Steven has had an impressive business career, including the flotation of his company to a full listing on the London Stock Exchange in 1993, and running it as Chief Executive.
Steven will celebrate 50 years as a member of the Lodge of Harmony No. 4390 in November 2019, a month after taking the Chair of the Lodge as Master for the second time (previously in 1976). He was also Director of Ceremonies from 1978 – 1983, following in the footsteps of his father, George Leigh, who was Director of Ceremonies of the lodge for many years.
Reg Dunning was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to education and the community in Sandbach, Cheshire.
Reg has been a Governor of two local schools for over 40 years concurrently and has been the parade marshal for the Royal British Legion in Sandbach for over 60 years.
92-year-old Reg is an honorary member of Penda Lodge No. 7360 and Sanbec Lodge No. 8787 in Sandbach. He joined Freemasonry in April 1955 when he was initiated into Kinderton Lodge No. 5759 in Middlewich.
Tony Brian Arthur Rowland
Tony Rowland has been awarded an MBE for services to undertaking and the community in Surrey.
Tony is a Funeral Director who has supported bereaved families through their grief for 65 years and has done voluntary work for many local charities and community projects. He became an apprentice at the age of 15 in 1953 and is now, at the age of 80, still working full-time.
Tony is a member of Croydon Sincerity Lodge No. 7575 in Surrey, where he was made a Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer in 2016.
On 10th November 2018, in a full Grand Temple at Freemasons’ Hall, Victoria Rifles Lodge No. 822 hosted an event to mark the Centenary of the Armistice
Victoria Rifles Lodge, based in London, is one of the 37 Circuit of Service Lodges which exist to promote comradeship and fraternal contact between military masons. Given the sacrifice of so many of members in the First World War it’s appropriate that such a Lodge should have hosted the Armistice Centenary Meeting.
The lodge’s streamlined Installation meeting, and subsequent theatrical presentation, was conducted in the presence of the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes. The Past Metropolitan Grand Master Russell Race and six Provincial Grand Masters were also in attendance.
The Pro Grand Master was escorted into the temple, accompanied by a banner procession featuring all the Circuit of Service Lodges. The banners and banner men filed either side of a Vickers machine gun, placed on a raised platform in the centre of the hall, manned by four Silent Sentinels, symbolising the moment ‘the guns fell silent’.
The Worshipful Master, Capt James Milne, extended a warm welcome to all present and was proclaimed as Worshipful Master of the lodge for a further year. Before the lodge was closed its members voted to donate £9,000 to the Royal Hospital Chelsea Scarlets Appeal and a further £9,000 to Veteran’s Outreach Support.
The Armistice Commemoration Event then began with the entrance of seven Chelsea Pensioners to the tune of ‘The Boys of the Old Brigade’.
The Lodge Director of Ceremonies, Jamie Ingham Clark, then asked all those present wearing Hall Stone Jewels on behalf of their lodges to rise. With over 500 members standing, he then presented the Worshipful Master with the lodge’s jewel, his address epitomising the whole occasion.
He said: ‘I now have pleasure in investing you with the Hall Stone Jewel, which was presented to this Lodge by the MW the Grand Master in recognition of our contribution towards what was then called the Masonic Peace Memorial, the building we are now in.
‘The medal is suspended by the Square and Compasses, attached to a ribband, the whole thus symbolising the Craft's gift of a Temple in memory of those brethren who gave all, for King and Country, Peace and Victory, Liberty and Brotherhood.’
Actor and guest speaker Simon Callow CBE then commenced with the ‘Sound and Light show’ with readings of renowned war poetry and letters sent between a mother and a son fighting on the Western Front.
The members were then subjected to a sound and light show, with the Vickers gun at its epicentre, resembling an artillery bombardment. The barrage increased in noise and intensity becoming a completely immersive 360-degree experience. A flash and bang emanated from the gun, signalling an eerie silence and from the ceiling of the Grand Temple, a cascade of poppy petals floated gently from above.
Following the formal Act of Remembrance including The Last Post, Two Minute Silence, Reveille and Dedication, the Circuit Banners fell in and after the bugle call of ‘Men to Meal’ there was a recession in silence led by the Silent Sentinels. As the members filed out, they were each invited to place a poppy next to the machine gun as a personal tribute to the fallen. This remarkable meeting further consolidated the powerful bond that exists between English Freemasonry and Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. Lest we Forget.
On the following day, Remembrance Sunday, over 40 members of Circuit of Service Lodges participated in the official ‘March Past’ at the Cenotaph in Central London, each wearing armbands that attested to their membership.
Queen Victoria’s Rifles served with distinction in the First World War as the 9th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles). Its two active Battalions were awarded 27 Battle Honours.
Officers and Men were awarded: 1 Victoria Cross, (Lt Woolley was the first soldier or officer of the Territorial Force to be so awarded). 7 Distinguished Service Orders, 40 Military Crosses, 18 Distinguished Service Medals and 141 Military Medals. Of two Battalions with an average strength of some 700 all ranks each: Queen Victoria’s Rifles lost, Killed or Missing in Action, 170 Officers and 1,395 Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Riflemen.
Four Freemasons took on the ‘Five Peaks Challenge' in September 2018 to raise over £2,200 for the charity Dogs for Good
The challenge entailed climbing and descending the highest peaks of the home nations of England (Scafell Pike), Wales (Snowdon), Scotland (Ben Nevis) and Northern Ireland (Slieve Donard), and the highest peak in the Republic of Ireland (Carrauntoohil). In just five days, the four members, all in their fifties, drove 1,800 miles and climbed over 10,000 metres.
The four members who completed the task were: Stuart Lutes, Charity Steward of La Belle Sauvage Lodge No. 3095 in London, Mark O’Shaughnessy and Jeff Wall, Secretary and Junior Deacon respectively of Bodina Lodge No. 9121 in Hertfordshire, and Eddie Higgins, of Mariners’ Lodge No. 168 in Guernsey.
Dogs for Good is a life-transforming charity, creating partnerships between people living with disability, including children with autism, and specially-trained assistance dogs.
So far, over £1,700 has been raised by online donations with La Belle Sauvage Lodge boosting this by making a generous donation of £500.
You can sponsor the Challenge by clicking here
Metropolitan Grand Secretary David Swain has taken to the skies as part of a sponsored tandem skydive, in aid of Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London’s Lift for Life appeal
After the success of last year’s event, James Macdonald, of Gresham Lodge No. 7651 in London and a skydiving instructor, organised a second event. This appeal will see London Freemasons buy two super-aerial platforms for the London Fire Brigade at a cost of £2.5 million, which when online, will be the highest of any platforms in Europe.
The call went out on social media and through the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London website and a number of members quickly signed up to take part. Following in the footsteps of Metropolitan Grand Inspector Mark Stollery, who took part last year, Metropolitan Grand Secretary David Swain was keen to be involved.
With the places booked, the members went to work to raise money for this very worthy cause. The combined total so far stands at almost £13,000.
When the day came, the nervous group arrived bright and early to an airfield just north of Peterborough, where James Macdonald was waiting to give them a full safety briefing and an outline for the morning. Once complete, everyone donned their jumpsuits, collected a ridiculous looking hat and met their instructors ready to board the aircraft.
Tentatively, the group boarded the aircraft and were quickly flying up to the exit altitude of 13,000ft. The nerves were growing, but the camaraderie in the cosy light aircraft helped maintain a relatively jovial mood. Beautiful views from the plane were soon forgotten however, as the door opened, letting in a cool breeze and an element of realised fear.
One by one, the group and their instructors edged towards the door and rolled out, exiting high above the Peterborough skies, reaching speeds of 130mph on the way down. After about 45 seconds the parachutes were deployed and the noisy, overwhelming excitement of freefall became the peaceful bliss of flying under their parachutes.
After circling around for about five minutes and taking in breath-taking views, everyone landed safely on the landing area, all sporting some of the biggest smiles they’d ever experienced. As if the skydiving wasn’t enough, Scott Moffat of Veritas Lodge No. 4983, got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend, who had also just jumped. Thankfully, she said yes.
Those who took part included David Swain, Scott Moffat, Paul Skipper of Old Foresters Lodge No. 7726, Alasdair Brown of Hampden Lodge No. 2427, Frederico Pessoa of Bee Hive Lodge No. 2809, Chris Griggs of Cholmeley Lodge No. 1731 and Maria Jeffery on behalf of Lloyds Lodge No. 5673.
After the event, David Swain said: 'The tandem skydive in support of our Lift for Life appeal for the London Fire Brigade was very well organised and slickly executed. Blessed with perfect skydiving weather, clear skies and great visibility, it was a fantastic experience and one I would recommend to anyone. Grateful thanks to James MacDonald and all at UK Parachuting for a seamless day.'
If you'd like to donate to the cause, please click