Silver Jubilee for medical research

The Masonic Samaritan Fund has marked its 25th anniversary by donating a combined £1.125 million to 13 medical research charities

Freemasons across England and Wales nominated the worthy recipients of the MSF Silver Jubilee Research Fund last year, and presentations for the successful nominees took place in the Provinces throughout 2015 in the presence of the Provincial Grand Masters.

The final presentations took place in December 2015, with donations made to a number of good causes. 

The Macular Society was presented with £100,000 for research into a cure for age-related macular degeneration, the biggest cause of sight loss in the developed world. £90,000 was presented to Parkinson’s UK to support its research into a solution for life-threatening swallowing problems that often develop in people suffering from the disease. And £100,000 was also presented to the British Heart Foundation for research into a deadly variation of a protein called titin that can cause sudden death.

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund

Royal Edward Lodge No. 892, Leominster, made its annual distribution of donations to local charities Saturday 12 September 2015

The following donations, totalling well in excess of £3,000 were distributed by the Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother Andrew Cowell: to Acorns Children’s Hospice, Echo celebrating its 25th anniversary of making a real difference to the lives of disabled people in Leominster and beyond, Kyre Riding for the Disabled, Marches Family Network, Megan Baker House, and Parkinson’s UK – the Worshipful Master’s choice made at his installation.

Andrew Cowell said that he and his fellow Freemasons place a great deal of emphasis on supporting local charities and organisations in the area.

Worshipful Brother Gareth Prosser, Charity Steward for Royal Edward for the last four years, mentioned that a sum of rising £15,000 has been awarded to local charities during that period, and that it was the wish of all at the Royal Edward Lodge to continue such support where needed.

The caring community

David Maddern and Geoff Tuck discuss the importance of the Grand Charity in bringing Freemasonry to a wider audience

Charitable giving has been a masonic tradition from the earliest days of Freemasonry, three hundred years ago. Since 1981, The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has supported members and their dependants in financial distress, as well as the wider community, with grants totalling more than £120 million.

This tremendous achievement has only been possible because of the generosity of Freemasons and their families. Wherever possible, the Grand Charity involves members in its activities, with Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Almoners and Grand Charity Stewards playing a crucial role in service delivery and fundraising.

David Maddern (Provincial Grand Charity Steward of Somerset) and Geoff Tuck (Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight) have been central figures in masonic charity in their Provinces for many years. They both understand the importance of involving the masonic community in Grand Charity activities and the positive effects this can have. 

With the Province of Somerset currently in Festival for the Grand Charity, David has encountered a perception that the Grand Charity does not support local communities, something that he believes could not be further from the truth. 

‘By involving Freemasons in the donations to non-masonic charities and projects, a true understanding of the Grand Charity is gained,’ he explains. ‘The annual cheque presentations to hospices and air ambulances are a great way to involve members from across the Province, especially as these fantastic services are close to the hearts of many.’

It is a priority for the Grand Charity that it supports the causes that matter to masons. Geoff remarks, ‘Details of the non-masonic grants have a positive ripple effect on members; they are recalled with pride and often lead to further financial and volunteering support for the charities.’ 

David echoes this point: ‘The charities that have received the largest donations from Somerset lodges are also charities that the Grand Charity has supported – Help for Heroes, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, and St Margaret’s Hospice. I would not be surprised if other Provinces were to report the same thing, as I sense that the Grand Charity’s actions inspire local masons to follow its lead.’

Provincial involvement with the supported charities can also help Freemasonry. ‘Being part of non-masonic grant-giving creates rare public opportunities to overcome prejudices, myths and unfair publicity,’ says Geoff. ‘As a result, I know of at least two gentlemen who have become masons, and innumerable others who now have a totally different and positive view of Freemasonry.’

Geoff sees the work of the Grand Charity in respect of non-masonic grants as an essential element in the future of the Craft and its reputation. ‘It is a clear demonstration that Freemasonry is an influence for good and something of which future members wish to be a part.’

It is important to The Freemasons’ Grand Charity that all masons feel involved with its work. To find out more, visit or contact your Provincial Grand Charity Steward and discover how you can get involved

Published in The Grand Charity

Specialist care for Parkinson’s

People living with Parkinson’s in East Lancashire now have access to a specialist nurse thanks to a £90,000 donation from the Grand Charity. Parkinson’s can make simple, everyday activities difficult for the 127,000 people in the UK living with the condition. 

The main symptoms are tremors, rigidity and slowness of movement, but tiredness, pain and depression are also common. There is currently no cure; the main treatment is medication, but surgical options are available for some. Parkinson’s UK chief executive Steve Ford said, ‘Parkinson’s is a complex condition which affects each person differently, so it’s vital people have access to a specialist. This new post will make a huge difference.’ 

For information and support, contact Parkinson’s UK: 0808 800 0303, 

Published in The Grand Charity

Stars in the their Eyes night raises funds for Parkinson's UK

Brother Gary Gassor, his friends, family and many of the members Jasper Tudor Lodge No. 4074 as well as members of the Maindee Martial Arts group put on a cabaret evening styled on the ‘Stars in their Eyes’ programme from times past.

Much hilarity was had by the almost 150 people who attended at Newport Masonic Hall. The event was organised to benefit Parkinson’s UK and the Province of Monmouthshire’s home charities festival. Several of the fund raising methods were innovative to say the least, ranging from text giving directly, to a football scratch card that raised £200.

Congratulations must be given to Brother Gary, his team and the brethren of the Jasper Tudor Lodge who participated, for their outstanding effort and training for the event to ensure the night was entertaining as well as rewarding. Also, without the hard work over several weeks by Gary’s daughters Emma and Leanne procuring sponsorship and support it would not have been anywhere near as successful as it was.

The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has just approved its first grants of 2014 totalling £842,500

Ranging from £10,000 to £100,000 each, they support nineteen significant causes across the UK.

Charities to receive funding include:

Speaking about the Major Grants programme Laura Chapman, Chief Executive at The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, said:

'The Freemasons’ Grand Charity seeks to help people in need, and we are dedicated to helping people who are socially disadvantaged, disabled, seriously ill, homeless, or facing economic and social deprivation. It is our hope that the positive impact of these grants will be felt by thousands of people facing difficulties.'

Quotes from the supported charities

'Red Balloon is extremely grateful to The Freemasons’ Grand Charity for donating £25,000 to our Bursary Fund for places at one of our Centres in Cambridge, Norwich, NW London or Reading, our mini Centre in Braintree or on Red Balloon of the Air. 

'This money will enable us to help the recovery of severely bullied children who hide under their duvets, depressed, self-harming and with suicidal thoughts unable to attend mainstream school. 

'The donation will help us to provide more children with a full-time education and therapeutic support, to get their life back.'

Dr Carrie Herbert MBE, Founder and President, Red Balloon Learner Centre Group                                           

'Raleigh International harnesses the passion and energy of young people to create positive change in very poor communities around the world.

'We are very grateful to The Freemasons’ Grand Charity for its support of our programme for disadvantaged young people – this will contribute to transforming lives abroad as well as in the UK.'

Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE, The Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor of London, Trustee of The Lord Mayor’s Appeal, Trustee of Raleigh International

 'We are extremely grateful to The Freemasons’ Grand Charity for their generosity in providing bursaries for high ability students from less advantaged backgrounds to attend our Inspiring Excellence Programme Courses which they would otherwise be unable to afford. 

'Far too many able young people substantially underachieve, creating a major block to improving social mobility in the UK. With the support of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity we are working to overcome this through inspiring young people to fulfil their potential.'

Richard Gould, Chief Executive, Villiers Park Educational Trust

'Mind is delighted to receive this significant contribution towards the development of a smartphone app for our Elefriends online support network. At, people with experience of mental health problems support each other in a safe and friendly space. This grant will mean that even more people with experience of mental health problems are able to give or receive peer support wherever and whenever they need it.'

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive, Mind

Further grant details

Medical research

The Blond McIndoe Research Foundation has received £50,000 to fund research into the development of stimuli responsive materials, which are able to detect and respond to changes in a healing burn and diabetic wounds to help the repair process.

Cancer Research UK has received £100,000 to fund Dr Thorsten Hagemann’s pancreatic cancer research at Barts Cancer Institute. The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund have both made grants of £50,000 towards the project.

The National Society for Epilepsy has received £50,000 to fund research into the genetic causes of epilepsy through exome DNA sequencing techniques.

The University of Leicester has received £33,000 to fund a clinical trial into the treatment of heart attack patients with the application of remote ischemic conditioning. The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund have both made grants of £16,500 towards the project.

Youth opportunities

Chetham’s School of Music has received £75,000 payable over three years to fund the school’s community outreach services in disadvantaged areas.

Envision has received £25,000 to fund a community project in Bristol aiming to develop the confidence and skills of young people.

Red Balloon Learner Centres has received £25,000 to fund bursaries for severely bullied children to attend specialist learner centres, to build their resilience before returning to mainstream education.

SkillForce has received £100,000 payable over two years to fund the Onto Next Steps programme in Norfolk and Kent. The programme will mentor and coach pupils who are at risk of exclusion from education, and face subsequent unemployment.

The Lord Mayor’s Appeal has received £50,000 to engage with disadvantaged young people by funding Raleigh International’s youth agency partnership programme in the UK.

Villiers Park Educational Trust has received £25,000 to fund bursaries to enable disadvantaged young people to attend educational courses for raising academic achievement and developing employability skills, to help them gain places at leading universities.

Vulnerable people

Carers UK has received £100,000 payable over two years to fund its national advice and information service; providing expert advice and support on financial and practical matters for the estimated 6.5 million carers in the UK.

Designability has received £25,000 to fund the manufacture of powered wheelchairs called Wizzybugs for disabled pre-school children, which help them to get around with their peers and to learn spatial awareness.

Fledglings Family Services has received £13,000 to fund the cost of printing 26,000 copies of a brochure that will help families to find the best specialist products for children with special needs.

Mind has received £40,000 to help train 720 peer-supporters and to fund the development of a smartphone application, aiming to increase peer support hours by 20%.

Parkinson’s UK has received £90,000 payable over two years to fund the salary and costs of a Parkinson’s nurse specialist in Lancashire.

Phab has received £10,000 to fund courses on inclusive living experiences and skills for independence for disabled people.

Shelter has received £25,000 to fund its advice service in Norfolk. In 2012/13 the charity saw a 47% rise in people seeking help, and 2,400 households in Norfolk faced eviction or repossession.

The Children’s Trust has received £13,000 to fund the salary of the online co-ordinator of the Brain Injury Hub; a resource providing accurate information and advice to families on childhood acquired brain injury.

The Queen Alexandra Hospital Home in Sussex has received £60,000 payable over two years to fund the occupational therapy department; providing residential, nursing and rehabilitation services to disabled veterans and their dependants.

Published in The Grand Charity
Friday, 16 September 2011 16:16


Parkinson’s UK has been awarded £250,000 from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, with each of the 48 Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Lodges donating £5,000 to their local Parkinson’s UK branch.

Grand Charity chief executive Laura Chapman said, 'Many of our members have experience of what it is like to live with this condition. Parkinson's UK has therefore received much support within the masonic community - a key factor for why it was selected for this national grant. We are delighted to be able to direct our support to local branches via local lodges.'

Teresa Forgione, major gifts manager at Parkinson's UK, added: 'We are delighted that The Freemasons' Grand Charity is supporting our work. Our local groups run a wide range of activities for people affected by Parkinson's, including Pilates classes and education days.'

Parkinson’s UK is asking people to sign up to its mission to help find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by the condition. Go to for more information.
Published in The Grand Charity
Friday, 16 September 2011 12:31


In recent years, Freemasonry and Parkinson's UK have built a strong relationship to help deal with this degenerative condition at both a research and community level, as Matthew Scanlan reports

Most readers will have heard of Parkinson’s and know that it is a degenerative condition. It selects its victims at random and affects people from all sectors of society – young and old, rich and poor – including many household names such as Deborah Kerr, Sir Michael Redgrave, Salvador Dali, Muhammad Ali and Pope John Paul II.

Initially described as shaking palsy, Parkinson’s was discovered in the early nineteenth century by an English physician named James Parkinson, after whom the condition is named. The precise cause of Parkinson’s remains undetermined, although it is known that it begins when sensitive nerve cells in the brain die off resulting in a lack of the chemical dopamine. Symptoms typically include the onset of tremors, distorted facial expressions, a difficulty in walking, a distinctive gait, and in extreme cases (when around 70 percent of the normal level of dopamine is absent) sufferers shake uncontrollably. Although Parkinson’s does not directly cause death, there is as yet no known cure and it is a lifelong condition where symptoms get progressively worse over time.

With around 120,000 people currently living with Parkinson’s in the UK, Freemasonry has long been a supporter of Parkinson’s UK (formerly called the Parkinson’s Disease Society). Since 1981, more than half a million pounds in grants has been approved by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity.

In 2007, it donated £170,000 for a three-year research programme carried out at University College London, into a gene called PINK1, which when mutated, can cause nerve-cell death and lead to Parkinson’s. This research has helped scientists understand more about why people who inherit faulty versions of the PINK1 gene are more likely to develop Parkinson’s. Researcher, Dr Emma Deas, commented: ‘We believe that understanding how changes in PINK1 function lead to nerve-cell death will allow us to develop new and better treatments.’

In addition to its research funding, the Grand Charity announced a major grant of £250,000 earlier this year, with the aim of aiding the charity across the country at local branch level. As Laura Chapman, chief executive of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity explains, there is a great deal of support for Parkinson’s UK by Freemasons: ‘Many of our members have experience of what it is like to live with Parkinson’s, either through a friend or family connection. Parkinson’s UK has received much support within the masonic community, a key factor for why it was selected for this national grant.’

It is hoped that by dividing this grant between local branches, many people across England and Wales will benefit from additional help. The Grand Charity recognises the important role Parkinson’s UK branches play within the local community, providing dedicated support and services.

‘We were delighted to receive this grant – £250,000 is a huge amount of money,’ says Teresa Forgione, major gifts manager at Parkinson’s UK, adding that it will be divided and distributed to various Parkinson’s UK branches across the country so that grass-root charity workers can make the best use of the funds as they see fit. Parkinson’s UK is allocating the money according to local needs, with decisions being taken by regional groups.

Forgione emphasises that Parkinson’s UK’s mission is not only to discover the initial causes of Parkinson’s and thereby find a cure, but also to improve the quality of sufferers’ lives, which is where this grant can really help. The condition not only affects physical movement but also presents a variety of debilitating problems such as tiredness, pain, depression and constipation.

As the symptoms exhibited and the speed at which the condition develops vary from person to person, so do the treatments differ. Drugs are most commonly used but in some instances surgery may be utilised in order to try and reduce physical shaking through deep brain stimulation, which is done by implanting electrodes into the brain.

Forgione notes that many sufferers find that simple exercise classes help reduce the side effects of Parkinson’s, including refl exology, yoga, Pilates and even Tango classes. Judith Green, 62, from Cornwall, reports that exercise classes have made a hugely positive difference to her life since she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

‘Thanks to Pilates and Zumba classes, I have regained my balance and confidence,’ she says. ‘My consultant couldn’t believe his eyes when I walked into his office without my walking stick. In my experience being active makes such a big difference. I have seen the same benefits for other people with limited mobility and I would recommend exercise classes to anyone with the condition. I only wish I had discovered them at an earlier stage.’

The Grand Charity grant will help to fund classes such as these, as well as patient therapies and other aspects of care, such as help with transportation. The money is also going towards funding new, specially trained Parkinson’s nurses. As Forgione concludes: ‘In short, this major gift will help people live with Parkinson’s and thereby improve the quality of their lives.’

For further information on Parkinson's UK, including how you make a donation, please visit their website.

Published in The Grand Charity
Friday, 16 September 2011 11:34

Pond Skippers

When brothers Mathew and Christian Cleghorn decided to row across the Atlantic Ocean for charity, little did they realise they would have to contend with lost rations, a capsized boat and a bird called Elton.

On 8 March 2011, brothers Mathew and Christian Cleghorn rowed into English Harbour, Antigua, having crossed the Atlantic Ocean in just over sixty-four days. Their arrival was greeted by the sound of ship horns, loud cheers and rounds of applause, marking the culmination of a dramatic and exhausting three-thousand, one hundred-mile journey.

This epic voyage was not undertaken on a whim. The brothers had embarked on their mammoth enterprise with one aim in mind – to raise as much money as possible for a charity that is dear to their hearts: Parkinson’s UK.

The masonic connection is Lewis Lodge, No. 872, in the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland. With Mathew and Christian initiated in 2007 and 2008 respectively, there is an extensive Cleghorn family connection with the lodge. Their uncle, John Cleghorn, is a Past Master and Provincial Officer and their cousin, also named John Cleghorn, is presently Junior Warden.

‘I really enjoy attending lodge meetings,’ explains Mathew. ‘Unfortunately I don’t get to them as often as I would like, as my job takes me to many far-flung places, not to mention spending two months on the Atlantic Ocean. I see the Atlantic challenge as an extension of my Freemasonry, as the whole aim
has been to benefit a worthy charity.’

Originally from the coastal town of Whitehaven, Cumbria, Mathew, 27, and Christian, 32, are no strangers to the high seas, both being ex-Royal Marines and highly trained in seamanship. But getting the project off the ground and into the sea was a feat in itself, requiring significant funding. It took nearly three years, but once the sponsorship began to materialise, the Cleghorns’ dream became a reality.

The journey began on 3 January 2011, when Mathew and Christian set off from Puerto de Mogán, Gran Canaria on Papa Delta, their twenty-three foot boat made in Dorset and Whitehaven. It was equipped with satellite-navigation devices, allowing it to be tracked twenty-four hours a day, while friends and relatives were kept informed via a daily blog and a map that pinpointed the Cleghorns’ position.

The journey provided a rare opportunity to view incredible wildlife; along the way, the brothers encountered whales, dolphins and sharks. For much of their journey they were befriended by a bird, which continually tailed them. The rowers are still not sure what species it was, but it became an honorary third member of the crew – so much so that, with the help of the children at Christian’s son’s junior school back home, it was christened ‘Elton’.

Naturally, the daily grind of rowing two hours on, two hours off, began to take its toll. But exhaustion was just the beginning of their challenges. At one point, they were nearly mown down by a passing commercial ship in rough seas; Mathew reported that he ‘was rowing like a man possessed’ to get out of the way, and the tanker eventually slid by about 150 metres away. They also suffered problems with steering, were blown completely off-course, and experienced as many extremes of emotions as they did changes of weather conditions.

Worse was to come when their food store – rations that provided essential energy for rowers burning five-thousand calories a day – was nearly destroyed in a storm. Luckily, the brothers were re-supplied by a passing Italian vessel.

The intrepid brothers even capsized and lived to tell the tale. With a violent sea creating waves seven to eight metres high, a combination of wind gust and changing direction tipped them over. Mathew, who was at the oars, was thrown out of his seat, hanging half out of the boat, while Christian was flung about inside the rear cabin. But the boat is designed to right itself, and their voyage continued.

After sixty-four days of drama and adventure, the Cleghorns finally made it to Antigua. Their feeling of euphoria and pride couldn’t be topped – until Mathew proposed to his girlfriend Colleen, and she said ‘yes’. Then the celebrations really began.

Mathew and Christian will never forget their experience, and know it has all been worthwhile. ‘If our journey across the pond has made just one more person aware of Parkinson’s and the daily suffering involved, then we have succeeded in our goal.’ Having raised £30,000, they are still short of their target to raise £50,000. Donations can be made by visiting:

Welcome to the Summer/Autumn edition of Freemasonry Today.  I first want to thank Michael Baigent who has retired, on behalf of all the readers, for the great job he did for us as editor of this magazine. I am delighted that he remains consultant editor and our thoughts and best wishes are with him in retirement. I would also like to thank Bill Hanbury-Bateman and Geoffrey Baber, who have retired from the Board of Grand Lodge Publications, for their enormous contribution to the magazine. I particularly wanted to highlight their tireless support during the merger of MQ magazine and Freemasonry Today. A merger that has evolved into the fantastic magazine we have today.

The first of the newly designed issues has been met with acclaim. What is particularly gratifying is the feedback from several members whose wives or partners have been interested enough for the first time to read the magazine and enjoyed it. One member even told me that, having read the magazine, his wife – for the first time – supported him being a Freemason.  This underpins our core philosophy that we should strive for the important support of our family and friends through open communication.

It is wonderful news that our new members’ website was launched at the end of July. This covers the magazine and latest news from around the Provinces and Districts. So we now have in our communications armoury the magazine, the members’ website – which is an open site – and the UGLE main site designed to direct the non-mason for more information.

We have a great cross-section of articles in this issue for you and your family’s interest. A balance has been sought between current stories and historical features to show how our past connects with our present.

For example, with the Rugby World Cup returning to New Zealand, you can read about the origins of the game to see why the principles that bond the Craft together have historically drawn rugby players from across the world to Freemasonry. Meanwhile, find out how brothers Mathew and Christian Cleghorn from Lewis Lodge managed to row across the Atlantic Ocean. Follow how they contended with lost rations, a capsized boat and a bird called Elton – in order to raise much-needed funds for Parkinson’s UK.

On the subject of fund-raising, there is a fantastic profile of two classic Ford enthusiasts Marc and Lee Lawrence. Freemasonry has been the driving force behind this father-and-son rally team who embarked on an epic journey across America in order to raise money for good causes.

Speaking of connecting our past with our present, we recently celebrated ten years of filming Spooks at Freemasons’ Hall. You can read about how the building, built in 1933, has been leading a double life for the last decade as both the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England and MI5’s fictional home. We are delighted that the building has become such a recognisable icon in the show. As programme producer Chris Fry recalls when he was shooting an episode: ‘I was on the phone and this couple walked past the front doors. One of them casually said, “That’s the Spooks’ headquarters.” I thought that was brilliant.’

Nigel Brown
Grand Secretary

Published in UGLE

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