More than 200 disadvantaged children will experience life on a real working farm, thanks to a grant of £63,000 from Devonshire freemasons to Farms for City Children

The charity’s founders, acclaimed Warhorse author Sir Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare, Lady Morpurgo, were both at Nethercott to welcome members of the Devonshire Freemasons and also took time to read to the visiting children from an inner city Plymouth School a story from one of his latest books.

The charity welcomes over 3,000 primary school children and their teachers each year from disadvantaged urban areas to one of their three farms in Devonshire, Gloucestershire and Pembrokeshire.

During their seven day stay the children live and work on the farm, explore the countryside around them and find out where food really comes from. They also discover self-confidence as they conquer fears and grow in self-belief as they overcome challenges working as a team to get tasks done. They develop new friendships and learn to see a bigger, brighter future than they ever thought existed beyond their crowded city horizons.

For many of the visiting children the true cost of this fully immersive seven day stay is beyond their reach so the charity subsidises every single child’s visit by at least £300. 

The grant of £63,000 from Devonshire freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Tim Rose, Farm School Manager at the charity’s founding farm at Iddesleigh in Devon, said: 'We’re really grateful to Devonshire Freemasons for their generous grant. Each week we see children from inner cities blossom on the farm – they discover confidence, challenge themselves to achieve so much more than they think they could and revel in the great outdoors.'

Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, said: 'I’m delighted we were able to help Farms for City Children, who do outstanding work helping disadvantaged children from right across Devon and beyond. The experience they offer these children can be life-changing, including improved behaviour at school which can give them a chance to make the most of their education.

'Being a local resident it has often been my pleasure to be onsite when the children are there and have seen the benefit they gain from their time on the farm.'

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.'

Hundreds of local children will be able to take part in the year-long Prince William Award experience, thanks to a £150,000 grant to the education charity SkillForce from Derbyshire Freemasons

Derbyshire Freemasons have committed to support SkillForce for the next three years, with a large part of the donation going towards supporting programmes for pupils in Derby.

The Prince William Award is currently being delivered in ten schools across Derbyshire to a total of 686 pupils, with SkillForce’s education programmes being predominantly delivered by former service personnel. SkillForce delivers the Prince William Award and its shorter SkillForce Prince’s Award in more than 300 schools nationwide, helping children and young people to boost their confidence, resilience, and self-esteem. 

The Prince William Award is the only one of its kind and the only Award in HRH The Duke of Cambridge’s name. It is a year-long experience for six to 14 year olds which was launched in 2017 and is now on track to be delivered to 13,000 children across the UK this academic year. 

Derbyshire Freemasons have previously supported SkillForce and made this latest grant as part of their commitment to encouraging opportunity, promoting independence and improving wellbeing. Representatives from the organisation visited pupils at Akaal Primary school in Derby on Friday 5th May to see the Award in action.

The grant from Derbyshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

SkillForce CEO, Ben Slade said: 'We’re extremely grateful to Derbyshire Freemasons for their very generous grant. They have supported us previously and this new donation means a great deal to us and the young people we work with around the UK, and especially in Derbyshire. We believe that every child deserves the chance to be the best that they can be and the money given by the Freemasons is helping us to continue to make sure that happens.'

Steven Varley, Provincial Grand Master of Derbyshire, said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support SkillForce in delivering the Prince William Award (PWA). It’s a great scheme that gives local children the chance to find out what they’re made of and to develop the confidence and resilience that will be hugely important for them as they grow into adulthood. It was so exciting to see out future interacting so well with the PWA and developing their confidence and abilities in what is a challenging world.'

Natalija, aged 6, said: 'I am really enjoying the PWA, it is helping me lots with my confidence. It was nice to meet the new people today and show them around my school.'

Rajvir, aged 7, said: 'It was interesting to hear about the freemasons and how they have different chains. The PWA has really helped me with my friendships and now I am able to get along with people better.'

At The Prince William Award inaugural graduation ceremony last year HRH The Duke of Cambridge Prince William said: 'At a young age, children need to learn the tools to deal with such challenges; the tools to develop their self-esteem, confidence and resilience to lead happy, healthy lives and to succeed and thrive.

'Good academic results are, of course important, but strength of character - the confidence to stand up and be counted and the ability to keep going in the face of adversity are essential if young people are to flourish.'

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.'

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) welcomed members from across the globe to join the Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Kent, and Pro Grand Master, Peter Lowndes, for this year’s Craft and Royal Arch Annual Investitures at Freemasons' Hall

Investiture week saw the District Support Team of Lister Park and Louise Watts taking the opportunity to organise a number of District-centric events. On 24th April 2019, new District Grand Masters and Provincial Grand Masters were given a guided tour of Freemasons’ Hall, followed by a presentation and luncheon with the Chief Operating Officer of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, Les Hutchinson, and Senior Grant Officers.

A Workshop for District Grand Secretaries filled the afternoon before the day was concluded by a Fellowship Gathering for all District members, with their wives and significant others, in the Vestibules area outside the Grand Temple. It was a relaxed and informal evening hosted by Dr Jim Daniel, UGLE’s Past Grand Secretary, who gave a short and amusing welcome speech, alongside Willie Shackell CBE, another Past Grand Secretary, the Rt Hon Lord Wigram, Past Senior Grand Warden, and Bruce Clitherow, Past Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies.

Following the Royal Arch festivities on 25th April 2019, District Grand Masters and their guests were then invited to join the Grand Secretary, Dr David Staples, for a relaxed drinks evening.

As a result of an organisational restructure at UGLE in January 2019, the department for Member Services, under the Directorship of Prity Lad, has a renewed focus on attracting new members and engaging with its existing membership.

Comprised of three key functions, the Registration Department, District Support and External Relations, they are committed to a common goal of making UGLE an organisation that is fit for purpose and an efficient headquarters for its members.

Prity Lad, UGLE’s Director of Member Services, said: ‘Being our first opportunity this year to welcome and entertain our District guests, these events were hugely important to us. It is our commitment to work in partnership with the Districts more closely than ever by creating a function of expertise, training and events and to support and raise the profile of the charitable work which our Districts are engaged in.

‘It was a huge honour for me to meet with many of those who attended and I look forward to working together over the next coming months. I would also like to give grateful thanks to Jim, Willie, Lord Wigram and Bruce for supporting this inaugural event, which we intend to be the first of many.’

Published in UGLE

The Blackpool Opera House Theatre, in the winter gardens, was the grand setting for a spectacular ‘night with the stars’ to raise £14,141 for the West Lancashire MCF 2021 Festival and a further £5,000 for the charity Care after Combat

West Lancashire’s Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, together with his wife Maureen, were joined by Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) Chief Executive David Innes and his wife, Annemarie. Local civic leaders, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Blackpool, Councillor Gary Coleman and his wife Councillor Debbie Coleman, were joined by over 1,000 Freemasons along with their partners and members of the public, to enjoy the show which was hosted by comedian Jim Davidson.

Among the stars performing were Freddie ‘Parrot Face’ Davies, star of Opportunity Knocks and vocalists Emilie Jasmine and Adam Lacey, who sang songs from Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables. Lynn Fox also performed many hits from the 60's before the Chorley Croft and Culcheth Pipe Band closed the first half of the show. 

In the second half, over 90 members of the George Formby Society performed some of their famous songs, Meet the Folkers then entertained the audience with traditional Irish folk music and comedian Mick Miller closed the show to thunderous applause.

At the end of the performance Jim Davidson thanked the audience for supporting his charity – Care after Combat – with a wonderful cheque for £5,000.

The West Lancashire MCF 2021 Festival Vice President David Winder expressed his thanks to the organisers, performers and audience. He revealed that the show had raised £14,141 for the Festival.

After the show, Tony and Maureen Harrison hosted a reception at Blackpool Masonic Club, where the Mayor and Mayoress, were also given a tour of the lodge rooms.

East Lancashire Freemasons have presented Burnley Football Club with a grant of £19,200 to help support their ‘Kicks’ programme

At the end of 2018, Burnley Football Club made a successful application to the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which came through East Lancashire Freemasons, for the grant. This was presented to the during half time at their home game against Cardiff City on 13th April 2019 by East Lancashire's Deputy Provincial Grand Master John Farrington and Provincial Grand Charity Steward Steve Clarke.

Kicks is one of Burnley FC’s flagship community programmes, part of BFCitC, and is designed to engage young people 11-19 who are at risk of being involved in anti-social behaviour and crime. It organises activities in a number of venues and these are predominantly football-based.

The grant will enable Burnley FC to introduce new sports such as cricket, dance and boxercise which it is hoped will also engage more girls.

Over 720 Leicestershire & Rutland Freemasons and guests attended their eagerly awaited Sportsman’s Dinner on 21st March 2019, with former England cricketer Phil Tufnell the guest speaker, and helped to raise over £70,000 to support the Leicestershire & Rutland 2022 Festival and the Masonic Charitable Foundation

The event was held at the Leicester Tigers rugby ground on Welford Road and hosted by Roger Dakin, former England Hockey goalkeeper, with attendees enjoying an evening of fun and entertainment in support of the 2022 Festival.

The evening began with convivial drinks served in the Legends VIP and Final Whistle bars before being seated ready for the entertainment to begin. Roger Dakin delighted the audience with his famed jokes and stories throughout the night.

Aside from an entertaining evening, the more serious side was to raise money for worthy causes, which began with silent auctions for many items of signed sporting memorabilia and relaxing events for family and friends.

A live auction was held, with lots including a holiday to Antigua, tickets to the Monaco Grand Prix and a painting by artist Ben Mosley, with former England Test Cricketer Ed Giddins stepping into the hot seat as the auctioneer.

England and Middlesex left-arm spin bowler Phil Tufnell then took to the stage to recount some of his more famed sporting events throughout the course of his career as a sportsman, and then subsequently his foray into television on shows such as Question of Sport, Strictly Come Dancing and his reign as King of the Jungle on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

The evening was a huge success, with over £70,000 being raised, which included the proceeds of the live and silent auctions. 

David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire & Rutland, said: ‘I would like to praise and thank the organisers of this event, to raise over £70,000 in support of such worthy causes is a testimony to the generosity of all who attended.’

Small charities will now be able to apply for multi-year grants to cover basic running expenses and other core funding costs, following a major policy shift at the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) – one of the largest grant-making charities in the country

Until recently, the MCF, in common with many other charitable foundations, has tended to concentrate on project-based funding, which generally provides more measurable results. The MCF also gives one-off unrestricted grants of up to £5,000 to small charities for general charitable purposes. 

However, having identified the growing issue of smaller charities facing difficulties due to lack of core funding, the MCF has bucked the trend amongst similar grant-giving bodies to address the issue and has expanded its current programme of non-ring-fenced grants.

The new grants are available to charities with an income of no more than £500,000 a year, often much less, and will be for a maximum of £5,000 per year over three years. The first round of these extended unrestricted core funding grants has just been announced for 22 small charities. It is hoped that these multi-year unrestricted funding grants will help sustain charities, enabling them to deliver services to those most in need. The MCF aims to monitor and evaluate these grants, and hopes to share any learning within the sector regarding the effectiveness of this grant-giving.

Funded by freemasons, their families and friends, the Masonic Charitable Foundation is the national freemasons’ charity. In 2017, the MCF provided grants of more than £5.6 million to 770 national, regional and local charities across England and Wales.

David Innes, Chief Executive of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, said: 'There are many small charities that struggle with basic running costs. Project-based funding is fine, but if they can’t pay the electricity bill or put petrol in the car, delivering services to clients can be difficult if not impossible.

'Many charities cease their vital activities because this kind of funding is not available. This is why the MCF’s new core funding initiative, on behalf of the Freemasons of England and Wales, is so important.'

Thousands of people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe whose lives have been devastated by Cyclone Idai will be given access to clean water, as well as tarpaulins, plastic sheets and other emergency supplies, thanks to a grant from the Masonic Charitable Foundation

The money is being donated to Plan International UK which is working to help survivors, including young women and children, who are at particular risk.

The grant from the Freemasons will provide jerry cans, water purification tablets and buckets to thousands of people who have lost everything and are at risk of potentially-deadly waterborne diseases.

Over 750 people have died in the three countries on the south-east coast of Africa with Mozambique suffering the highest human fatalities. As the death toll continues to rise, over 260,000 children have been affected in the country and at least 350,000 people are at risk from rising flood waters. In Malawi, close to a million people have been affected with nearly half a million being children.

Plan International UK is a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). The DEC brings together 14 leading UK aid charities in times of crisis, to maximise the impact and help children and families who need it most.

The Masonic Charitable Foundation is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Ebbie Muhire (28) is sheltering at a church in southern Malawi with five family members including her youngest child, a three-year-old toddler.

'The challenges we are facing are mainly crowded and unpleasant sleeping areas and poor sanitation and hygiene facilities because our utensils were damaged in the rain and now we are all using same equipment.' Ebbie says. 'The children, especially the young ones are at risk of getting sick.'

Tanya Barron, Chief Executive of Plan International UK, said: 'We’re hugely grateful to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for supporting our disaster response in Southern Africa. This generous grant will make a big difference to thousands of people affected by this devastating cyclone and help get their lives back on track.'

David Innes, Chief Executive of the Masonic Charitable Foundation' said: 'Cyclone Idai has devastated the lives of many thousands of people, with, as usual, women and children bearing the brunt of the suffering. I’m very pleased that the Masonic Charitable Foundation was able to move so quickly and provide funds for Plan International UK’s vital work at the heart of the disaster zone.'

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