The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) is proud to nurture and invest in young people with exceptional talents within the masonic community – such as violinist Helena – through its TalentAid scheme

Most people can only dream of having a real talent in the performing arts, sports or music. Some of us are lucky enough to have enough skill to enjoy a friendly game of rugby at the weekends or a sing-along at a piano at family gatherings, but exceptional talent that can turn a hobby into a career is rare. 

If you are the child or grandchild of a Freemason, TalentAid could help your dreams become reality. Helena was only three years old when she first picked up a violin. By 11, she was an accomplished musician and had been accepted into the under-11s National Children’s Orchestra. However, when Helena’s mother struggled to meet the costs of her training, she turned to the MCF’s TalentAid scheme for support. 

‘Mum found it difficult to pay for me to go to orchestra rehearsals in London every Saturday. Things like travel and food added up to a large overall cost that she couldn’t manage. This was on top of tuition and orchestra fees – so it was just all too much,’ she says.

Helena’s grandfather was a Freemason and she would read the publications that were sent to him. ‘Mum saw the TalentAid scheme in one of the magazines and decided to apply for financial support – it was the best decision she ever made!’ 


The MCF covered Helena’s fees for the under-12s National Children’s Orchestra and workshops to hone her talent. At 13, Helena was accepted into the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and later into the National Youth Orchestra of Britain, both of which the MCF helped to fund. 

‘The MCF was unbelievably kind when it found out that I’d been playing on a rented violin. They bought me my own violin when I was 18, and I still play on it all these years later. Since graduating from the Royal College of Music, I have been lucky enough to travel the world with the European Union Youth Orchestra, play with the BBC’s Philharmonic Orchestra and record film scores with the Philharmonia Orchestra. I’m hugely grateful for the MCF’s support. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.’

If you are applying for support for the 2018-2019 academic year, TalentAid applications are still open but will close on 31 March 2018. All completed applications will be reviewed in July 2018.

Applications for support for the 2019-2020 academic year will open in November 2018. 

If you would like to find out more about the TalentAid Scheme, visit, or call 020 3146 3333. You can also head over to the MCF’s YouTube channel, where Helena tells her TalentAid story:

It’s never fun to think about our own mortality, yet one third of adults in the UK die every year without having made a will – known as dying intestate

If you die intestate, a set of inflexible rules dictates how your estate will be distributed and to whom. You’ve worked so hard during your life to attain the savings, property and belongings that represent your personal wealth – why would you not want to decide who gets what after you’re gone? 

Under intestacy rules, any unmarried partners or stepchildren are ignored, regardless of how loving or long the relationship may have been. Even if you plan to leave everything to your spouse, without a will, your loved one becomes responsible for attaining ‘grants of letters of administration’ via the probate registry, which involves an interview and a great deal of bureaucratic form-filling. Not only will this process delay the release of funds, it is also likely to place added strain on your loved one. 

It might also be useful to know that if you leave at least 10 per cent of your taxable estate to charity, you could reduce any inheritance tax liability against your estate, but you can’t leave a gift to charity without a will. 

Mark, a Freemason, recently decided to leave a gift to the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) in his will after learning first-hand the life-changing difference the charity can make for those facing difficulty. ‘The MCF has been a comforting support for me and my children during my recent divorce and I am eternally grateful,’ he says. ‘I owe a lot to my brethren for their guidance and endless support during this period. I have only been a Freemason for two years, but the impact that both Freemasonry and the MCF have had on my life meant I wanted to give back in any way I could.

‘I decided to leave a legacy to the MCF, to show my children that there are more important things in life than our own wants and needs – helping to provide stability for disadvantaged or vulnerable members of society is one of them. My advice to those considering leaving a legacy to the MCF is to make sure your family will be provided for first, then think of how you could benefit the lives of those less fortunate than yourselves, both now and in the future.’

If you’re still not sure you’re ready to make your will, take a look at the Masonic Charitable Foundation’s website, which has lots of information about will-making and legacy-giving, and a useful downloadable guide. The MCF even provides an online will-making service in collaboration with Law Vault, available at  

So why not look after yourself, those you love and the causes you support now? Make a will.

For more information about the MCF’s online will-making service, to request a copy of the new Leaving a Will: Your Essential Guide, or to ask a question about leaving a legacy to charity, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 020 3146 3332.

With support from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), the Bendrigg Trust is able to help people with complex disabilities, like Jason, enjoy outdoor activities with the rest of their family

Poppy, who’s now four, is all about getting muddy, while Lilly, who is six, is more into dancing,’ says Liz with a smile. ‘We’re an outdoor family and love doing lots of activities,’ she explains. ‘I’m not one to lie in bed all day,’ adds Jason, Liz’s husband. 

Behind Jason and Liz, framed by large glass windows, are the idyllic grounds of the Bendrigg Trust, situated within calm Cumbrian countryside. Jason and Liz are on a family holiday here – at this specialist outdoors centre for people with disabilities and disadvantages – with their daughters, Lilly and Poppy. 


Looking at the couple sitting side by side on the sofa, it’s not immediately apparent that Jason is disabled. Yet motor neurone disease has left him almost fully paralysed, and it is now slowly taking away his speech. Looking closer you might spot his motorised wheelchair, or the ceiling hoist that moved him onto the sofa.

Jason’s diagnosis was devastating for the family, and the Masonic Charitable Foundation has supported them since he was diagnosed. ‘The daily living grants take pressure off us financially and mean the girls can enjoy normal childhood activities, like horse riding and swimming,’ says Liz.

The MCF has also supported the Bendrigg Trust, and worked in partnership with it to organise a weekend of activities for the family, who were among the first to stay in the new, fully accessible accommodation block, Acorn House. A £40,000 grant from the MCF funded ceiling-hoist equipment in the block – equipment that is vital for many of the Trust’s services and activities. 

‘We are very limited with the sort of places we can go and the type of holidays we can go on, because as Jason is so severely disabled, he requires a lot of equipment such as hoists, lifts, accessible vehicles and buildings,’ says Liz. ‘The Bendrigg Trust has everything we need – you don’t get many places as fully accessible as this.

‘Without the funding from the MCF we wouldn’t be able to provide the services we do,’ explains Nick Liley, Principal of the Bendrigg Trust. ‘Our activities are fully inclusive so we can work with people who have the most complex disabilities. We hear constantly about the benefits our activities have on people when they go back into their home environment – their confidence is often improved and they’re able to physically do more.’

Watch the MCF’s three-part mini documentary Making Memories, which follows the family on their adventures at the Bendrigg Trust and highlights just how much support from the masonic community has meant to them and the charity:

For more about the Bendrigg Trust, visit:

While spring may be the traditional time for change, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) is continually looking for ways to refine the way it works for the benefit of supporters and beneficiaries, according to Chief Executive David Innes

Over recent months, MCF staff, trustees and representatives from the masonic community have been working to create a strategy for the next five years. We have a clear vision for the future, which will see us enhance our support and services, improve our ways of working and raise our profile.


Just as important as our plans is the manner in which we hope to deliver them. We have developed three core values to guide us. Firstly, being responsive to need; to listen and provide appropriate support to the communities with which we work. Secondly, making a difference; to be compassionate and dedicated to changing people’s lives in ways that have a positive impact. Thirdly, striving for excellence; to always work in a professional and innovative way to provide the best possible support to our beneficiaries and donors. 

Another development is our new Charity Grants programme, designed to fund projects covering specific areas of need in society and to enable charities to more easily identify whether they are eligible for support. The programme will also see us increasing our funding for charities that need support with day-to-day running costs. 

Around 85 per cent of charities in England and Wales have incomes below £500,000, and for these, a small grant for day-to-day costs can have a big impact. 

‘Thanks to you, thousands of masonic families can now afford to pay their bills and play an active role in society’


None of these innovations and improvements would be possible without your ongoing support. We have already seen the launch of five more Festival appeals in support of our work; I have had the privilege of attending many of these launches and have been inspired by the interest and enthusiasm from everyone I have met in the Provinces. 

Thanks to you, thousands of masonic families can now afford to pay their bills and play an active role in society, and others can access life-saving treatment or quality care services.

As always, if you need support, or know of somebody who does, please do not hesitate to contact us on our enquiry line (0800 035 60 90). If we are unable to assist you directly, we will always direct you towards other organisations that may be able to help. 

I hope that the spring of 2018 is a positive time for you and your families, and wish you all the very best for the rest of the year.


Read the MCF’s interactive impact report at Issue 3 of Better Lives magazine is at

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 00:00

Gifts from around the world on display

Grand Masters from more than 100 foreign Grand Lodges brought gifts from around the world to Freemasons’ Hall for the Tercentenary celebrations

The Tercentenary is over but not forgotten. When you visit the Library and Museum there is a colourful reminder in a display of some of the many gifts presented by overseas Grand Lodges.

A set of Russian dolls depicting the Rulers and the Grand Secretary caught the sense of fun and celebration on the day. In a very different vein, an antique collecting box from the combined Scandinavian Grand Lodges contained a scroll showing that every member had made a donation to the Masonic Charitable Foundation (£44,500 in all), emphasising the spirit of generosity that was present throughout the events. 

In all, more than 100 Grand Masters from across the world made presentations, with the Library and Museum of Freemasonry team managing to have all their gifts unwrapped, listed and on display by the time the Grand Master arrived to view them after the welcome ceremony.

Published in UGLE
Tuesday, 13 March 2018 00:00

Support for families in Fiji

A $50,000 (£17,566) contribution has come from the Masonic Charitable Foundation to help needy families in remote areas of Fiji in the South West Pacific area of lodges

UGLE Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton, on a Tercentenary visit to the island, made the announcement. He was accompanied by Grand Director of Ceremonies Oliver Lodge.

‘It is not the first donation we have made in this part of the world. Following Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016, Freemasons gave $65,000 (£22,825), some of which came from Freemasons here, some from the charity foundation in London,’ said David.

South West Pacific Grand Inspector and Lodge of Fiji member Ross McDonald added, ‘Locally, we will identify where the need is and normally we give direct to that need, so we are certain that we are giving the best value for every dollar that goes in.’

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 00:00

Year's feed for Carshalton horses

The Diamond Centre for Disabled Riders in Carshalton, Surrey, welcomed two members from Surrey Province to celebrate their award of £15,000 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation

Steve Axon, chairman of the riding centre trustees, said, ‘The £15,000 will be spent on 3,000 bales of hay, a year’s feed for our 29 horses and ponies.’

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 00:00

Churchill college finishes year in style

The final event of the Cambridgeshire Tercentenary year was a dinner hosted by Provincial Grand Master William Dastur, as 300 diners gathered at Churchill College in Cambridge

Representatives of the four charities selected for the Masonic Charitable Foundation Community Awards were in attendance as guests of honour, together with local dignitaries. 

The PGM presented the Community Awards certificates for £25,000 to Cam Sight, £15,000 to Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, £6,000 to Maggie’s Wallace Centre and £4,000 to Stars Cambridgeshire Children’s Bereavement Support Service. Entertainment on the night was provided by Covent Garden buskers ZHL Strings.

The Masonic Charitable Foundation has given a grant of £31,000 to the Canterbury Cathedral Trust to support training for a young stonemasonry apprentice

East Kent PGM Geoffrey Dearing presented a cheque to the Dean of Canterbury, the Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis. Canterbury has seven apprentices – four stonemasons, a painter/decorator, scaffolder and chef.

The laying of a commemorative flagstone in Ripon Cathedral formed an integral part of the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding’s annual service of thanksgiving

It is engraved: ‘The Province of Yorkshire, West Riding and the Masonic Charitable Foundation supported restoration work in the Cathedral to mark 300 years of Freemasonry 1717-2017.’

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