A well-planned cooperative effort, ably supported by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), has enabled a significant £60,000 donation to be made to Thames Hospice, on behalf of the Freemasons of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire

This great example of fraternal cooperation resulted in a significant grant to support the construction of its new hospice in Bray near Maidenhead. 

After several weeks of planning, the Provincial Grand Masters of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, Anthony Howlett-Bolton and John Clark respectively, together with representatives of their Provincial Charities, met up with Debbie Raven, CEO of Thames Hospice, to formally present their combined donation in front of the site of the new hospice, which was from the Berkshire Masonic Charity, the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund and the MCF.

Serving both Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, Thames Hospice opened in 1987 but is now no longer able to keep up with the increasing number of people who need their care and services. As well as the increase in numbers, the charity is dealing with more complex and challenging medical conditions and, as a result, the decision was taken to build a larger facility. In 2017, planning permission was given to construct a new state of the art facility on land donated to the charity near Bray Lake. Inpatient rooms will increase from 17 to 28 and there will be more dedicated space to treat outpatients as well as to provide therapeutic and other activities.

This new Thames Hospice will open in 2020, with the £60,000 donation helping towards the building of two dedicated rooms in the £22 million facility. These rooms will be quiet areas for reflection and remembering loved ones as well as offering help and advice to families.

After the presentation ceremony, Debbie Raven gave an outline of how Thames Hospice is developing and some of its future plans. Once the new building is complete, there will be a permanent reminder of the contributions that the Freemasons of the two Provinces have made.

Debbie commented: ‘I cannot thank the Freemasons enough for their generous support towards our new Hospice. The donation comes on top of several others from their charitable funds and the incredible support they have given over many years. It will make a significant difference to our patients and their families.'

Together with Debbie, both Provincial Grand Masters acknowledged the cooperation and support given to this collaborative donation by the MCF and the continuing work they do in supporting the Hospice movement in England and Wales.

Anthony Howlett-Bolton, Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire, said: ‘Working together with our fellow Freemasons in Buckinghamshire and the MCF has allowed us to make a significant contribution to Thames Hospice to help them in the wonderful work they are doing to help families across our counties.’

John Clark, Provincial Grand Master of Buckinghamshire, commented: ‘The Freemasons of Buckinghamshire are delighted to be part of this joint initiative supporting the essential work performed by Thames Hospice. We look forward to establishing a long and fruitful relationship with them.’

The Magic Club of Great Britain brought its Change4Life 'How to Eat Healthy' show to Swanbourne Primary school in Swanbourne near Milton Keynes

The event introduced Freemasonry to parents at the school through a newsletter, letting them know it was sponsored by the Freemasonry Supporting Local Communities programme. 

The show was also supported by the local authority with ‘Change4life’ leaflets being supplied to every child on eating healthy for them to take home.

As well as lots of fun and laughter, in the show, local Freemason Eugene Matthias demonstrated how much fat children would consume if you had two packets of crisps a day for a term and how much sugar you would eat by drinking two fizzy drink a day for a term. 

All the teachers said this was a fantastic way to teach children about eating healthy, especially the amount of sugar in fizzy drinks and fats in foods. 

And it was also a great way to raise awareness of Freemasonry in Buckinghamshire and the fantastic charity and community with take place across the county.

A new lodge in Buckinghamshire has been established for Freemasons with an interest in caravanning, camping and motorhomes

Nomadic Lodge No. 9978 will meet several times a year both in Buckinghamshire and nearby counties.

The lodge meeting will take place in the nearest masonic hall to the chosen site and will be followed by a festive board or barbeque back at the campsite, which will be open to friends and family members who are attending the event.

The consecration was also unusual as it was held in a large marquee at the showground in Winslow on 14 June 2019, where many of the founders had gathered in an array of caravans and motorhomes. A spectacular ceremony was conducted by the Provincial Grand Master John Clark, with Michael Clanfield installed as the lodge’s Primus Master.

Over 160 attended the event and the lodge is keen to welcome members and guests from Buckinghamshire and further afield.

Buckinghamshire’s Provincial Grand Master John Clark and Assistant Provincial Grand Master Gary Brodie have completed the first in a series of challenges undertaken by the Provincial Executive – raising over £6,000 on behalf of the Bucks 2021 Festival, in aid of the Masonic Charitable Foundation

The challenge was to row 26 miles in two canoes along the River Thames, one being rowed by PGM John Clark and his son Jack, the other by APGM Gary Brodie and Simon Williams, with Peter Lawrence following in a single canoe.

The rowers, accompanied by a support team, set off on Thames Paddle at 6am on 15th June 2019. As they reached each lock the support team plucked the canoes from the Thames and transferred them to the other side to allow them to continue their journey.

Along the way they were greeted by a host of well-wishers and supporters. At Cookham Lock, John Keeble, Grand Superintendent of Buckinghamshire, was waiting with his wife to offer his support, while at Boulter’s Lock they were greeted by Deputy Provincial Grand Master Hugh Doughas-Smith and John’s wife Sarah.

The weary, but jubilant, team arrived at their final destination many hours later to the cheers of a reception group. The glow of a job well done pervaded the air and with over £6,000 raised for the Bucks 2021 Festival, it was indeed a mammoth feat of endurance and tenacity.

Buckinghamshire’s Assistant Grand Master Philip Blacklaw has visited The Princes Centre following the pledge of £4,000 towards the cost of a new kitchen, on behalf of BMCF (Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund)

In 2012, the centre at Princes Risborough was due to close before a community-led ‘Social Enterprise’ was established to take over the running of the centre and save it from closure.

In the years since, it has turned from a loss-making facility into a sustainable award-winning centre of excellence. Last year, the centre took on Bourne End Day Care Centre which was also faced with closure and together they provide day care for 140 clients including those with dementia, mental health issues, learning difficulties and the frail elderly.

Both centres provide award-winning care to vulnerable members of society, as well as enabling much needed respite for their full-time carers.

Members of Carrington Lodge No. 2421 in Buckinghamshire have supported the centres with both practical and financial assistance over the years.

As a special surprise on the 7th birthday of the centres, it was announced that they had been awarded The Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

Buckinghamshire’s Assistant Provincial Grand Master Phil Blacklaw joined up with the Winslow Rotary Club and the Lions Club of Winslow at St Laurence Church in Winslow to give a presentation to members of the local community

The event was organised by Reverend Lightbown to give an overview of the good work the three groups are involved with. Neil Smith of Winslow Rotary club was first up, followed by Tony Morley of the Winslow Lions.

Phil Blacklaw was last to speak, pointing out that all three organisations had similar charitable objectives and that they could all collaborate more in the future.

Phil then went on to present the work Buckinghamshire Freemasonry is involved with including charitable funding and community acitivies.

Afterwards they sat down together to discuss for a productive chat on how they could help each other.

Buckinghamshire Freemasons have donated £1,000 to buy new strips and footballs for the Waterhall Stars under 11 football team

George Watt and Sue Redband from Waterhall Stars attended a Buckinghamshire masonic cheque presentation event held in Aylesbury to report on the effect the donation had made to the junior football team.

The team, which draws its young players from a deprived area of Milton Keynes, were in need of a new strip which the grant from the Bucks Masonic Centenary Foundation (BMCF) has now allowed them to buy.

At the event, George explained to the audience the remarkable rise in morale experienced by the team, which culminated in cup success at the end of the season with the MKDDL Unde r11 Group winner’s trophy.

It was time for tea when Buckinghamshire Freemason Andrew Hough visited Buckingham Youth Centre to see the new kitchen and flooring which was installed courtesy of a grant of £2,000 from the Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund

The centre had previously suffered a burst pipe which had flooded several rooms and damaged the kitchen facilities beyond repair causing it to have to close temporarily.

Andrew was welcomed by Katie Cleminson, Deputy Youth Club Leader, and John Barnett, Director and Trustee, who gave him a tour of the centre and showed how the Buckinghamshire Freemasons donation had helped.

The Youth Centre is an award-winning charity which provides a safe place for young people between the ages of 11- 19 to socialise, play sports and learn new skills. It also provides work experience, Duke of Edinburgh placements and training and mentoring for young leaders.

The centre is used by a variety of groups including Young Carers and Clearly Speaking and the new kitchen facilities mean that the teaching of cooking skills to young people with Autism and Aspergers can continue.

The new kitchen also makes the centre more attractive to a wide variety of user groups which will ensure the important work of the centre will continue to be supported.

Buckinghamshire Freemasons have donated £1,898 to Harry’s Rainbow, a Milton Keynes-based charity which supports siblings and parents who have suffered a child bereavement, to buy two much-needed laptop computers

The grant, which comes through the Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF), will provide new laptops which will allow more efficient assistance to bereaved children and allow them to continue to provide assistance to families experiencing these very challenging circumstances.

This small charity provides a wide range of assistance including memory boxes and monthly Rainbow Group meetings, which allows bereaved children to meet and talk with others in similar circumstances.

The meetings help to bolster self-esteem and help children realise it is ok to smile and have fun. Harry’s Rainbow also provides free caravan holidays and trips with the aim of helping families to create some new happy memories.

Buckinghamshire Freemasons have donated £3,980 to the new Milton Keynes Cancer Centre, which will help provide all the furnishings and equipment for one of the single rooms

The donation comes via the BMCF (Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund), with the Cancer Centre due to admit its first patients in December 2019.

Buckinghamshire’s Assistant Provincial Grand Master Phil Blacklaw and BMCF representative Andrew Hough met with MK Hospital Trust fundraiser Paul Strong at the new Cancer Centre to see how work is progressing.

The new centre will provide treatment and a wide variety of support and information services for patients. The centre will also include a dedicated haematology-oncology ward for 24 in-patients including 16 single rooms with ensuite facilities. The centre will also allow a 22% increase in outpatient capacity and a 20% increase in haematology-oncology day cases.

The new facility will mean that far fewer patients will need to make difficult journeys to other hospitals and that their treatment and recovery will be in a state of the art centre, which has the capacity to allow patients dignity and privacy at a very difficult time.

Paul Strong, MK Hospital Trust fundraiser, commented: ‘We are extremely grateful for this donation from BMCF, which will pay for the furnishing and equipping of one of the single rooms on the in-patient ward. Also, just as importantly, having the backing of such a well-respected local organisation as the BMCF will help us to attract further support in the Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire area.’

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