Around 50 Buckinghamshire Freemasons attended the first Memorial Day march to be held by Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Town council on 11th November 2018
Local Freemasons from Bletchley look after the Memorial Gardens so we were pleased to accept the invite. Buckinghamshire’s Assistant Provincial Grand Master Phil Blacklaw lead the silent march, with over 100 people joining, which included the local community and friends and family of local masons.
Amongst the wreath layers were Freemason Javaid Iqbal, who is a retired Lt. Col from the Pakistan army, and new Entered Apprentice Muhindo Mowavingi.
After the ceremony a bugler played The Last Post which added to the atmosphere. The local community were then invited to the Bletchley Masonic Centre where food and drink was provided.
The Memorial service was watched live from the cenotaph and the room joined in with the two minutes silence.
Bletchley Park Lodge No. 9518 in Buckinghamshire has presented Willen Hospice with a cheque for £1,500, which has been raised over the past year by a number of raffles and events held at the lodge
Carolyn Green, the Community Fundraiser for Willen Hospice, received the donation from the Master of the lodge Rob Marston in front of a new addition to the grounds of Willen Hospice, The Tree of Life. Designed and conceptualised by local artist and blacksmith Will Jones, the installation will allow family members to dedicate a leaf on the tree to a loved one and provide a place of quiet contemplation within the grounds.
The leaves, which are made of stainless steel, are individually engraved and remain on the tree for a year and can then either remain on the tree or be returned to the family as a keepsake. Carolyn commented that the tree was one of many ways of supporting the work of the hospice and asked Rob to extend her thanks to the members of Bletchley Park Lodge.
Rob chose Willen Hospice as his charity for the year following their exceptional support and treatment of his late wife in the final stages of her struggle with cancer.
Buckinghamshire Freemasons have presented the charitable trust Harry's Rainbow with a donation for £2,500
Andrew Hough, Buckinghamshire's Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) Representative, and Mike Clanfield, Buckinghamshire's Provincial Charity Steward, visited Odette Mould and Emma Gilead from Harry's Rainsbow to present them with a certificate to mark the donation, which comes through the MCF.
Harry's Rainbow support children and young people in Milton Keynes and surrounding areas who have been bereaved of a family member. This is done in many ways including providing memory boxes with books and information relevant to their circumstances.
They hold a Rainbow group once a month which provides children with the opportunity to spend time with others going through similar circumstances, thus helping them feel less isolated and lonely. It includes activities that can help build self-esteem and confidence as well as instilling that it’s okay to have fun and smile.
The families are also able to have holidays in a Rainbow home based in Camber Sands free of charge and they organise ad-hoc trips in the school holidays, with all trips that they provide free to both the children and families.
The links formed by Roman Way Lodge No. 9533 in Buckinghamshire with local schools has benefitted Merebrook Infant School, with the donation of £1,000 to establish a ‘Forest Schools’ initiative
The ‘Forest Schools’ initiative aims to build confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in the school, outdoors and in the natural environment.
Graham Mitchell from the lodge worked closely with Merebrook’s Head of School Tracy Hurwood to establish the project. Roman Way’s Secretary Mick Hull then approached the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund for support for the scheme, which has provided clothing and equipment to allow the project to go ahead.
Merebrook Infant School in Milton Keynes has 128 students between the ages of four and seven years, amongst whom there is a high percentage of disadvantaged and looked after children. The donation will ensure that all children will be able to benefit from the initiative.
Head of School Tracey Hurwood commented: 'This is a very generous donation from Buckinghamshire Freemasons and will make such a difference to the children. We are all extremely grateful.'
Earlier this summer, Buckinghamshire Freemasons John Waller and Martin Robinson of St Giles Lodge No. 8555, walked the route of Hadrian’s Wall, coast to coast from Newcastle to Bowness on Solway – covering a distance of almost 100 miles
The first part of the walk was from 3rd to 5th June 2018, but by day three both John and Mark were suffering from bad blisters and, in John’s case, a pulled leg muscle. They had to stop the walk and return home in very low spirits.
However, undeterred, they resumed again on 14th of July 2018, completing the walk three days later. They arrived in Bowness, again with some nasty blisters but feeling happy that they had completed the journey, which at times had seemed impossible, and raised almost £600.
The walk was in aid of MK Act which is the chosen charity of this year’s St Giles Master’s Charity. MK Act deals with domestic violence intervention services in Milton Keynes.
The Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF) have sponsored the under 11 team at Waterhall Stars Football Club with a grant of £1,000 for kit and equipment
Waterhall Stars was established in 1995 and has teams in the Milton Keynes Border Counties and Milton Keynes Development District League. The club is run entirely by volunteers and funded by parents and sponsors.
Their aim is to provide an opportunity for children to enjoy playing football in a safe and friendly environment.
The under 11 team, managed by George Watts, have won numerous Summer tournaments and have started this season in great shape, winning two and drawing one in their first three games.
Club Chairman Viv Dixon commented: 'The club operates on the simple principle of providing football for all in a fun, safe, structured and sociable environment that will enable each child to develop and reach their own potential.'
The Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Foundation (BMCF) have donated £1,800 to install a new public access defibrillator in Buckingham
Andrew Hough, Secretary of the BMCF, was present to see the defibrillator installed, which will serve the local community as well as a growing number of local businesses.
The money for this project came from the voluntary BMCF donation of £3 per member which is levied once a year in addition to the lodge subscription. The committee meet several times a year to review applications for worthwhile causes in Buckinghamshire.
Geoff Shaw, who runs the Buckingham AED Project, commented: 'The unit you so kindly sponsored is now up and running, live and registered with the Ambulance Service.'
Buckinghamshire Freemasons have donated £5,000 to Different Strokes, to assist the charity in their work to support and improve the lives of younger stroke survivors
Historically, stroke support has focused on those over the age of 65, but every year 25,000 people of working age and younger suffer a stroke. Often, they receive limited rehabilitation, emotional and practical help which they need to rebuild their lives.
The organisation seeks to help in a variety of ways including exercise and peer support groups, practical information on matters such as benefits and returning to work. They also offer an information line and collaborate with other organisations which champion the voice of the stroke survivor.
Austin Willett, Strategic Business Manager for Different Strokes, commented: 'We’re really grateful to the Buckinghamshire Freemasons for the grant they have given us. This will allow us to continue to provide quality services to younger stroke survivors and their families at a time when they most need help.
'As a charity that relies on the generosity of individuals and organisations to fund our services, it’s fantastic to know that the Freemasons recognise the impact of our work and are so supportive towards us.'
With generous donations from a number of lodges, Buckinghamshire Freemasons have purchased a new first response vehicle for the market town of Winslow
Steve Acton, Winslow Community First Responder, and also a local Freemason of Saxon Lodge No. 9735, and Dave Cave, Community Engagement Training Officer (South Central Ambulance Service), were officially presented with the new response vehicle from Phil Blacklaw and Tony Robinson, the Assistant Provincial Grand Masters of Buckinghamshire.
This vehicle was purchased with the generous donations from the lodges that meet at Eliot Hall Masonic Centre in Winslow and the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund. It replaces the first response vehicle which went operational in April 2015. As its predecessor, it had 4x4 capability to assist in rural locations and adverse weather conditions.
Buckinghamshire freemasons and Eliot Hall Masonic Centre have been great of support of Winslow community first responders and through their continued support in providing funding for this vehicle and equipment, they are helping to provide lifesaving skills and equipment to reach local people who are suffering a medical emergency prior to the arrival of an ambulance.
The new response vehicle is bigger than its predecessor, as it is now equipped with specialist lifting equipment and can be sent to assist casualties who have fallen and require specialist equipment to get them up, which certain community first responders are trained to do, with Steve Acton being one of them.
It carries the usual lifesaving equipment and medical gases as the other vehicle did also soon it is hoped to have the latest communication equipment installed, with funds still being sought after.
There was a large gathering of Freemasons from all across Buckinghamshire at Newton Longville Free Church, as they came together to attend a coffee morning in response to a letter which had been received alerting them to the situation of two-year-old Dexter Ward
Dexter is going blind due to infantile glaucoma, a rare condition unrelated to adult glaucoma, but still has a little sight. His mother, Julie- Ann, has been training in reading braille and is anxious to start teaching Dexter as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, both the NHS and the Royal National Institute of Blind People are unable to provide a braille machine on loan until Dexter reaches five years of age. By this time, he is expected to be completely blind, making the teaching more difficult.
Sue Sparling, and other representatives from the Church, got together to organise a coffee morning, raffle and bring and buy to help towards raising the £1,700 cost of a basic machine. It was at this point that it came to the attention of Buckinghamshire’s Assistant Provincial Grand Master Phil Blacklaw.
Phil put out the call to invite any Freemasons who were able to support the event to attend. On the day, there was an excellent attendance of members from both the north and south of the Province including Tom Davies, Provincial Grand Tyler for Buckinghamshire. Tom presented Dexter’s mother with £500 towards the machine explaining that the money was raised by his restoration and recycling of Masonic regalia. Winslow Lions Club also made a generous donation of £500.
By the end of the morning, the event had surpassed the target allowing Dexter’s family to purchase a Tiger Cub braille embosser which costs £3,700 and will enable him to use it well into his teenage years and beyond. Dexter’s mother was astonished and delighted by the turnout, expecting that the event would only make a contribution to the target amount.
The Braille embosser has now been purchased and is being used to print braille books by Dexter’s parents. After the event, Dexter’s parents sent a letter of thanks: ‘The picture shows Dexter sitting next to the Braille embosser. The embosser is like a big dot matrix printer which punches the dots on to paper or clear acetate.
‘Dexter is holding one of his favourite Mr Men books. It is the first book we have converted to braille for him. We type the words into the braille software which then converts it into the dots and then feed a clear sheet of acetate into the embosser which punches the braille on to it. We then cut the side off the book, insert the acetate pages and then rebind the book.
‘Dexter loves his new book which will be the first of many. We would very much like to thank everyone for their generosity in helping a little boy access his favourite books.’