Tuesday, 12 September 2017 00:00

Grand Secretary's column - Autumn 2017

From the Grand Secretary

Normally, July and August are quiet months in which we relax and prepare ourselves for the new masonic season ahead. Such a period of calm has been noticeably absent this year, however, as you will discover by reading this issue of Freemasonry Today.

Your Rulers have been particularly busy travelling the globe to support our District activities, as well as enjoying the many events throughout England and Wales, which have been so successful through your hard work. These events may not have been relaxing, but they have certainly been reinvigorating.

I know the Masonic Charitable Foundation would wish me to thank you for your efforts in getting people to vote for the recipients of 300 grants totalling £3 million in celebration of our 300 years and the charity’s foundation. Over 177,000 votes were cast, of which more than 85 per cent were from non-masons. It has been a really positive and successful way of engaging with the community at large, and the charity will shortly be announcing the 300 fortunate beneficiaries of its grants.

We now eagerly anticipate the Grand Ball on 30 September and the culmination of our Tercentenary celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall on 31 October in a successful year that bodes well for the future.

CLUBBING TOGETHER

In this autumn issue of Freemasonry Today, we look forward to building upon our strong foundations with the Essex Cornerstone Club. Mixing social with community and educational events, the club has already attracted 150 younger members from the masonic community in Essex. Hosting activities ranging from paintball and family days to charity runs, the founding members are now exploring how technology could help create a national or even international network of young Freemasons.

Of course, innovation isn’t the sole property of younger people. Our piece on Music in Hospitals reveals how live music can spark important memories and emotions for the elderly. We travel to a care home in Surrey to see jazz musician Phoebe Gorry performing to a captivated audience. Thanks to the latest funding from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the initiative is being rolled out in care homes across the country, allowing staff to have a more detailed understanding of their residents and provide improved levels of care.

For Freemason Iestyn Llewellyn, the immediate future will be spent pounding the streets as he aims to complete four marathons to mark his 40th birthday. Our profile on Iestyn reveals how he was inspired to push himself beyond his comfort zone when he discovered Daisy’s Dream, a charity providing support and advice for children facing the news of the terminal illness or death of a loved one.

Being a mason has allowed Iestyn to mix with like-minded people in an environment where he feels he belongs. While the work his lodge does for charity is crucial, it’s the brotherly love that keeps Iestyn coming back. All of which points to an exciting and positive future for us all.

Willie Shackell
Grand Secretary

‘Thank you for your efforts in getting people to vote for the recipients of 300 grants totalling £3 million’

Published in UGLE
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 00:00

Masonic funding is building bridges

Thanks to masonic funding, more WellChild Nurses like Rachel Gregory can help young people with exceptional health needs move from hospitals back into their homes, as Steven Short learns

Yesterday I travelled to deepest Lincolnshire for a home visit,’ says Rachel Gregory. ‘One of my children is starting school in September, so we had a final sign-off meeting to ensure everything is in place, and everyone is able to properly support his needs. We thought he might have to go to a special school – but he’s going to a mainstream school; it’s amazing.’

Rachel is a WellChild Nurse and her Lincolnshire child is one of around 100 under her team’s care. There are some 100,000 children and young people in the UK living with serious illness or exceptional health needs. Many of them spend months or even years in hospital because there is no support enabling them to leave.

The WellChild Nurse programme was established in 2006 to provide specialist support that makes it possible for children to be cared for at home. There are currently 32 WellChild Nurses across the UK. Employed by the NHS and funded by WellChild, these paediatric nurses help children and their families with issues such as ventilator-assisted breathing, physical and learning disabilities, tube-feeding, seizure management and chronic debilitating pain.

Rachel, a WellChild Long Term Ventilation Nurse Specialist, is based at Nottingham Children’s Hospital. Her role is part-funded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), which has just awarded the charity a grant of £110,000 to fund a similar post in Derbyshire. Rachel, like her fellow WellChild Nurses, not only supports children with complex medical needs and potentially life-limiting conditions, but also provides support to their families.

The grant is the latest in a relationship between the charity and the MCF that spans almost two decades. ‘WellChild is a well-respected organisation, and there is clearly a demand for its services,’ says Les Hutchinson, Chief Operating Officer at the MCF. 

Every year, the MCF gives more than £5 million to charities across England and Wales. Its latest grant to WellChild Nurses brings the total figure awarded to the charity to £240,000. ‘This is one of our larger grants, built on a relationship of trust and understanding, and seeing the impact of their work over a number of years,’ Les explains.

‘We wanted to fund provision in Derbyshire as there is a clear need. WellChild has already identified 90 children in the area in urgent need of support,’ he says. ‘Not only does this care-at-home model constitute a tremendous saving for the NHS, it also means that children are able to experience life as a child, to do things they would miss out on if they were in hospital – like going to school, sleeping in their own bedroom, going on family outings.’

TAILORED CARE

Rachel, like the other WellChild Nurses, responds to the needs of individual children and their families. She will be involved in planning and coordinating a child’s transition from hospital to home – it’s estimated that 12 per cent of children in paediatric intensive care beds could be looked after at home were there enough support for them. She will ensure that necessary equipment, care and support are in place for the child and their family. Rachel is also able to provide practical respiratory nursing care at home.

Besides dealing with these practical issues, her job has an emotional element to it too: ‘My role can be very supportive. Some of the children’s medical needs are complex, and caring for them at home can be stressful for parents. Families are often under a considerable amount of pressure.’

While no two working days are the same, for Rachel, they always begin by checking her work phone for texts and emails. ‘I always have a look first thing to see if anything has occurred overnight,’ she says.

After seeing her own two children off to school, Rachel grabs breakfast on the run and usually arrives at work by 8.30am. ‘Some days I might be office-based, doing paperwork, writing reports and making phone calls,’ she says. ‘I might have a child coming in for review, and some days we have a multidisciplinary outpatient clinic, headed up by our consultant, during which we will see existing patients and meet newly diagnosed children and look at their needs and support.’

Those outpatient appointments number some 10,000 a year, according to Jo Watson, lead nurse for Derby Children’s Hospital, where the new WellChild Nurse will be based. ‘We manage inpatient and outpatient services here, as well as the children’s emergency department,’ says Jo. ‘Many children with complex needs don’t have a formal diagnosis and because of the way the NHS is currently funded, there is no defined care pathway for them… there are gaps in service.’

‘Not only does this care-at-home model constitute a saving for the NHS, it also means children are able to experience life as a child…’ Les Hutchinson

BEST PRACTICE

The funding of the WellChild Nurse will, says Jo, ‘allow us to provide better coordinated care for those children with numerous illnesses who need attention from different hospitals and healthcare professionals.’ Jo hopes that, as well as coordinating this care, the new WellChild Nurse will network with their peers to bring best practice back to Derbyshire. ‘The grant is about enhancing the quality of care we offer. It’s a leadership role.’

Along with being a bridge between families and the hospital and community teams, Rachel provides training for anyone who may need to help with a child’s care – from family members to school teachers to Brownie leaders. She also organises and conducts sleep studies in the child’s home overnight.

‘Breathing difficulties often happen at night, so we do sleep studies to make sure oxygen and carbon dioxide levels are where we want them to be,’ says Rachel. ‘We make sure ventilators are working, and if anything is wrong we make necessary changes, perhaps trying new forms of ventilation or new regimes. All of this can now be done at home, rather than necessitating a hospital stay.’

If no such study demands her attention, Rachel heads home. ‘Then it’s time for teenage homework – I change my hat as I walk through the door and turn back into a mum.’

Find out more at: www.wellchild.org.uk

Support for Sophie

One of the children supported by WellChild Nurse Rachel Gregory is 11-year-old Sophie. She and her twin sister Erica were born at 24 weeks and have cerebral palsy. Sophie’s condition is more severe than her sister’s and she has a number of conditions including epilepsy, chronic lung disease and scoliosis, which requires 24/7 care. Sophie is ventilated at home and her family attends to her many medical needs.

‘Rachel has been instrumental in keeping Sophie at home,’ says Leanne Cooper, mum to the twins and nine-year-old Kyla. ‘She is a constant support and the link between us and many of the healthcare professionals we deal with. She makes sure everything runs smoothly for Sophie, ensuring she is at the centre of all decision-making so she can live a full life.’

Leanne is a member of the parental advisory group that works with WellChild to help shape its strategy. She is also one of the parents who started the ‘#notanurse_but’ campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the level of medical care parents provide for their children at home.

‘Years ago, many of the children we work with would not have survived their conditions,’ says Rachel. ‘In the past 10 years, things have really changed and long-term ventilation at home is much more viable. Technology and medical decision-making have really advanced, meaning our children can now live full and fulfilling lives at home.’

Published in Freemasonry Cares

Perfect arrangement

Musicians such as Phoebe Gorry are bringing comfort to vulnerable adults right across the country. Masonic funding will allow Music in Hospitals to find an even bigger audience, as Matt Timms finds out

Singer Phoebe Gorry shoots a glance at her guitarist before turning to the audience: ‘This one’s my favourite. It’s called Tea for Two.’ Popularised by Doris Day in the 1950 film of the same name, it’s an unusual favourite for a 28-year-old jazz musician to have. Then again, this isn’t your usual performance. In a quiet corner of Surrey, Gorry is reeling off classics for elderly residents at the Royal Cambridge Home.

The concert is one of many that are taking place in care homes (including RMBI homes), hospitals and hospices across the country. They’re the work of Music in Hospitals, a charity that has brought live music to vulnerable adults and children for more than half a century. With the help of a £60,048 grant from the Masonic Charitable Foundation – the latest in a line of donations from the masonic charities over the years – there is now funding for another 216 concerts over a three-year period.

‘Research has shown that live music can help to reduce levels of pain, stress and anxiety, as well as provide moments of joy for those who have lost their independence or feel isolated,’ says Emily Winchester, senior fundraising officer at Music in Hospitals, adding that music has an inherent ability to generate an emotional response in the listener. ‘Musicians like Phoebe provide stimulating and therapeutic enjoyment for hundreds of elderly people in care homes across the country.’

Judging by today’s performance, Gorry is a welcome addition to the home. There are singalongs and plenty of requests – particularly from a cheeky couple in the corner. There is also dancing between staff and residents, and an opportunity to revisit treasured memories while making new ones too.

‘The residents love it,’ says Gaye Wyeth, who is the housekeeper and activities manager at the home. ‘I’ve been here for 26 years and remember a time when there were hardly any activities at all – never mind this.’

Now there’s flower arranging, birthday teas and even a version of the Olympics – with straws and paper plates instead of a javelin and discus. Yet the Music in Hospitals concerts, according to Wyeth, are a house favourite because they’re so varied.

‘Live music can help to reduce levels of pain, stress and anxiety, as well as provide moments of joy’ Emily Winchester

SOUL MUSIC

‘We have some artistic residents here who have always appreciated music,’ says the home’s manager, Rory Belfield. ‘One of our residents, Joyce, loves today’s music, but we have plenty of diverse tastes. Some like jazz, some folk, others opera – the whole range.’

The music is enjoyable but it’s also therapeutic. Active participation serves as a form of physiotherapy, through clapping, tapping and moving in time to the music. Positive changes to patients’ mood and self-esteem can also make a real difference to their well-being. In addition, and most noticeably at this home, music sparks memories and emotions, meaning staff can understand more about an individual.

Gorry has been a professional singer for 10 years, since graduating from the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, and was introduced to Music in Hospitals through a friend.

Music in Hospitals’ chief executive Steve Rowland-Jones says that potential musicians are assessed against their musicianship, breadth of repertoire and communication skills. Since 2013, auditions have been conducted within healthcare environments to gauge how musicians engage with audiences and deal with the vagaries of such settings.

Often, musicians will take on the role of friend or listener as they chat to patients about the memories the music may have sparked. It’s an important part of the experience, and one that is welcomed by patients.

‘It’s intimate,’ says Gorry. ‘I can engage with an audience in a way I can’t do at, say, a wedding when everybody’s a bit drunk and I’m in the background. Over the past year, I’ve become a much better performer. It has changed the way I sing. Now I think about how to communicate a song simply, without overcomplicating it.’

SPECIAL MOMENTS

As well as in care homes, Gorry has performed in hospitals and special-needs schools. She says her experience with the charity has given her memories that will last a lifetime. One of the most moving was when a nurse in a children’s ward asked her to sing for an eight-year-old girl.

‘She hadn’t been responsive for a long time and, with her mum and sister by her side, my guitarist and I were able to wake her up and help make eye contact. At that point, her mum started crying. She said it was the most stimulated she’d seen her for a really long time. Moments like that make it all worthwhile.’

Close harmony

With the help of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), Music in Hospitals aims to reach 5,400 elderly people. David Innes, CEO of the MCF, says that the benefits of the service are clear to see and the work itself is closely aligned with the masonic ethos:

‘At the heart of everything we do lies one of the basic principles by which all Freemasons conduct their lives – an ingrained duty to care for those who are less fortunate. From its earliest days in the 1700s, Freemasonry in England and Wales has been concerned with the care of orphans, the sick and the aged, and this grant is a continuation of that principle into the modern day.’

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - NO. 40 WINTER 2017

Perfect arrangement

Sir,

We were interested to read your article ‘Perfect Arrangement’ in the autumn edition of Freemasonry Today. We are a husband and wife duo (keyboard player and female vocalist) who for the past four years have been entertaining in various venues and at masonic events in the Lake District and Lancashire. We also perform at care and residential homes and find it very rewarding.

We agree with the article that live music can be beneficial. Some of these homes specialise in dementia care and it is amazing how many residents remember the words to the music that we play. Staff and residents often end up dancing and clapping away.

We are now looking at working in homes for adults with learning difficulties.

Mike Langdon, Bela Lodge, No. 7576, Milnthorpe, Cumberland & Westmorland

Published in Freemasonry Cares
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 00:00

New apprentices for York Minster

The ongoing restoration and maintenance of York Minster is in safe hands, thanks to new stonemasonry apprenticeships funded by the MCF

Three apprenticeships are being introduced over three years at York Minster with the support of £170,000 from the MCF. Each apprentice will learn their craft by working in the Minster’s Stoneyard and studying at York College.

The first apprentice to benefit is 27-year-old Lewis Morrison, who joined the Minster in August 2016. ‘I have an arts-based background and was looking for a career that was practical and creative,’ he explained. ‘I knew I wanted to work in the heritage sector and jumped at the opportunity to work at one of the world’s great medieval cathedrals. The apprenticeship offers me the opportunity to develop my skills alongside some of the country’s most talented craftspeople.’

MCF Deputy President and Chairman James Newman visited York Minster to present staff with a certificate for the grant. He said: ‘Being a Yorkshireman myself, I personally feel the significance that this building plays in many people’s lives. It is an honour to support this project and ensure the longevity of York Minster.’

John David, master mason at York Minster, said: ‘We’re hugely grateful to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for the donation. The funding allows us to provide young people with specialist training, while investing in the fabric and future of this ancient building.’

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 00:00

The MCF hit the road to celebrate Tercentenary

Over the past few months, the MCF has travelled up and down the country attending events to celebrate the Tercentenary year

From fun days to horse races, open days to classic car rallies, Masonic Charitable Foundation staff have been lending a hand and joining in with Tercentenary festivities. The MCF Human Fruit Machine quickly became a star attraction at the events and was enjoyed by both young and old, with winners receiving an MCF teddy bear as a keepsake.

The events were a fantastic way to celebrate the 300th anniversary of UGLE, as well as a chance to explain the charitable side of Freemasonry to members of the public. They also allowed staff members to talk to people who have benefited from the work of the charity and to spread the word to those who may need support in the future.

Encouraged by Freemasons’ engagement with the MCF over the past few months, the charity’s Chief Executive David Innes looks forward to the rest of this Tercentenary year

One of the major initiatives to commemorate the 300th anniversary of UGLE has been the MCF Community Awards – Tercentenary Fund. This unique initiative saw each Province and Metropolitan Grand Lodge select a number of charities within its borders to be eligible for a range of grants from £4,000 to £25,000. The masonic and non-masonic communities were then invited to vote, and we were staggered by the response, with more than 177,000 votes cast over the six-week period.

Thank you to all who voted and promoted the awards – you have made a tremendous difference to 300 charities across England and Wales. We know from our research that the awards have helped the public to gain a much better understanding of the philanthropic nature of Freemasonry, and this can only help us all as we move forward.

‘The Community Awards have helped the public to gain a much better understanding of the philanthropic nature of Freemasonry…’

Alongside the Community Awards, it has been wonderful to be part of many other celebrations. MCF staff have attended Tercentenary events across the country over the past few months, meeting many of you along the way. It has been a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of the work that we do, reach out to those who may need our support and have some fun.

As we enter the final quarter of the year, one of our priorities is to ensure that our members have a greater role in our governance. As the voice of the Craft, it is vital we keep members at the heart of our decisions to ensure we remain relevant to our beneficiaries.

Those same members are our representatives in the Provinces and they do an excellent job raising awareness of us as an organisation. Our second members’ meeting, held in June, was a brilliant opportunity to exchange information and ideas.

Whether you’ve voted in our awards or donated to support our work, I thank you for all your efforts and hope you enjoy the rest of this Tercentenary year. Looking to the future, the new strategy for the MCF will be finalised by the end of 2017; I look forward to sharing it with you.

Breaking down barriers to learning for disadvantaged children, education charity Achievement for All has received its largest ever donation from the MCF

The Masonic Charitable Foundation has awarded a £240,000 grant to Achievement for All. The funds will support a project that will operate across England and Wales, directly helping 2,000 vulnerable children at 48 schools in each Metropolitan and Provincial area.

Richard Hone, President of the MCF, presented the grant to Professor Sonia Blandford, founder and CEO of Achievement for All, at a family fun day held at Royal Windsor Racecourse in July. The event attracted more than 10,000 people, who joined the Provinces of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire to celebrate UGLE’s Tercentenary year. Members of staff from the MCF and Achievement for All were there to witness the presentation.

Richard said: ‘The MCF is proud to give £240,000 to help Achievement for All with their hugely important work with disadvantaged children. I am very pleased to present Professor Blandford with this certificate, which commemorates our support. I congratulate her on the outstanding work of her organisation and wish Achievement for All every success in the future.’

Professor Blandford told the audience: ‘We are delighted that the Masonic Charitable Foundation has donated such a significant amount to our charity, the impact of which will reach thousands of children and their families across the 48 Provinces. We will be sharing progress of our partnership over the next two years.’

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 00:00

MCF support helps Aimee to the top of the class

A core part of the Masonic Charitable Foundation’s work focuses on supporting educational opportunities for children and grandchildren of Freemasons who are under 25 years old and in full-time education

Learning is a crucial part of growing up. Unfortunately, some families struggle to support their children through their education, often due to redundancy, bereavement, ill health or a family breakdown.

When Aimee was 10 years old, her father was diagnosed with cancer. Just two years later, he died at the age of 45. The period that followed was difficult both emotionally and financially for the family, but Aimee’s grandfather Frederick – a Freemason, as her father had been – supported them.

By the time Aimee reached university, Frederick’s savings had run low, so he turned to the MCF. The charity provided a laptop as well as grants for accommodation, travel and other expenses, allowing Aimee to focus on her studies. She graduated from Cardiff University with first-class honours in psychology and has since gone on to complete a PhD.

‘I’m extremely grateful for all of the support from the MCF,’ says Aimee. ‘They have been fantastic and have enabled me to pursue a career I really love. I’ve also been accepted to study for a doctorate in clinical psychology.’

After almost 230 years of masonic support for children and young people through the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, the beginnings of an MCF alumni are now emerging. The charity is incredibly proud to be able to help launch young people onto their chosen educational or career paths.

Sunday 10th September saw the annual pilgrimage of runners and fundraisers flocking to the North East to take part in the largest half marathon in the world – the annual Great North Run

This spectacle is watched and participated in by people from all over the world and encapsulates the human spirit with many dressing up in outrageous fancy dress before pounding 13.1 miles of pavement – all in the name of charity.

This year, amongst the 57,000 participants, an orange glow was visible amongst the Batmen and Robins, dinosaurs, women in wedding dresses, cavemen, munchkins and even a man carrying a full-size race bike… on his back!

The orange glow was coming from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) shirts worn by 28 Durham Freemasons running for that very cause. Many had just taken up running for this occasion and had worked for months in preparation for the big day.

It all paid off though as the group managed to raise over £39,000 towards their 2021 Festival, in aid of the MCF.

Ewan Gordon and Oxfordshire Provincial Junior Grand Warden Dale Osborne clocked up the miles in the name of charity, as they walked from Oxford to Freemasons’ Hall

The intrepid pair started their journey on Saturday 5th August along the Thames Path, managing around 20 miles a day, and have helped to raise £3,000 for the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) in the process.

Five days later and having completed their journey outside Freemasons’ Hall on Thursday 10th August, they were greeted by David Innes, MCF Chief Executive, and Les Hutchinson, MFC Chief Operating Officer.

You can sponsor the pair by clicking here

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