Celebrating 300 years

People facing homelessness in the Western Bay area of South Wales will have greater support fighting through legal and administrative bureaucracy, thanks to a grant from South Wales Freemasons

Shelter Cymru, the Welsh people and homes charity, has been awarded £20,000 to help deliver a unique project entitled 'Housing Support Plus' working across the Western Bay covering Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

The grant from South Wales Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

This grant will support a vital personal service for people facing homelessness, supporting them at a very difficult time and giving them reassurance. It will see a new Housing Advocacy Volunteer Coordinator recruiting and training volunteers who will themselves directly support more than 200 people or families every year.

The service is aimed at people who are not sufficiently aware of their rights around housing and benefit issues and who need additional support to engage with caseworkers. There is also a special focus on practical issues such as arranging pre-meetings to ensure paperwork is completed, taking notes and providing individuals with a meeting record and information on next steps and actions. 

Michelle Wales, Campaigns Manager at Shelter Cymru, said: 'We greatly welcome this grant from South Wales Freemasons. It will help us to provide essential support to people who often do not have a roof over their heads and who are struggling with bureaucracy.'

Speaking at a presentation in Cardiff, Provincial Grand Master of South Wales Freemasons, Gareth Jones OBE, said: 'We are very pleased to be able to support Shelter Cymru, who carry out excellent work with some of the most vulnerable people in our community.'

Monday 14 May 2018 proved to be a memorable day for members of the Lodge of Saint Mark No. 8479 in Dorset, with 92-year- old, World War II veteran Ray Fuller being installed as their Worshipful Master

Ray joined the Royal Navy as a 17-year-old in 1943 and served on HMS Illustrious. The carrier's aircraft attacked targets in Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies and took part in the Battle of Okinawa.

In early 1944, the aircraft of HMS Illustrious and USS Saratoga joined forces to strike a naval base at Sabang in northern Sumatra.

Nearly 80 Brethren gathered in the village of Kinson to see Ray take the chair, which created a fantastic atmosphere on this remarkable evening. It wasn't Ray’s first time in the chair though having previously been Master of Bisley Lodge No. 2317 in Surrey, but that didn't detract from making this a special occasion for him. Over £700 was also raised for three charities during a bumper raffle.

Giving a moving response to the visitors toast was one member who had travelled down in a minibus from Surrey. He had known Ray since they were seven-years-old and they're both proud holders of the Burma Star, a military medal awarded to those who served in World War II.

The Provincial Grand Master for Dorset, Richard Merritt, commented that it was a remarkable coincidence that it was Ray's second time in the chair and that he was the 46th Master, as doubling this figure equalled Ray's exact age.

He went on to add that having made enquiries with UGLE, Ray was one of the oldest brothers to be installed into the chair of a lodge.

Over the past year, Manchester Freemasons have given £55,000 in donations to non-Masonic charitable organisations and on 3 May 2018 hosted a Giving Evening at Manchester Hall where cheques were presented to a number of exceptional organisations from Greater Manchester

The 109 attendees included Brethren, their guests and representatives from the good causes they have supported. The Provincial Grand Master of East Lancashire, Sir David Trippier, and The Lord Lieutenant for Greater Manchester, Warren Smith, were both in attendance.

Each of the organisations receiving donations had laid out a stand in the Goulburn Lodge Room and the evening began with the guests navigating their way around the room, learning about the amazing services they provide to the larger community, whilst enjoying the drinks reception and canapés. 

The focus of the evening then turned to the Goulburn Dining Room, where the donations would be presented. As everyone made their way into the room, the Drum Corps of the Manchester Army Cadets demonstrated their new instruments that were bought for them earlier this year, with help from a grant from the East Lancashire Masonic Charity. This part of the evening was hosted by Stephen Thomson and Tony Stephenson, District Charity Stewards for the Manchester Districts.

The guests were formally welcomed by Chris Welton, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for Manchester Districts, and then Sir David Trippier spoke about the commitment Manchester masons have to supporting their local community and commended the achievements attained, often voluntarily, by the organisations they aim to help as Freemasons.

Warren Smith was then introduced to the podium and, describing Manchester masons as philanthropists, praised the valuable contribution they make to the community. A number of representatives from the organisations that received donations gave short talks on the difference the money they have received has made on the lives of people in their area. 

The lodges and chapters were then invited to present their cheques to their beneficiaries and the following donations were made to:

Finally, two cheques were presented on behalf of Manchester Masons – first to Challenge 4 Change and the second to the Lord Lieutenant’s charity – The Duchy of Lancaster.

The evening was closed by Chris Welton, who declared it to have been a great success and commended the hard work and dedication displayed by Stephen Thomson and Tony Stephenson in delivering this momentous event.

A donation of £1,700 from Harrogate Freemasons has helped Harrogate District Hospital launch a 'comforting' initiative for relatives of patients at the end of their lives

Harrogate and Claro Lodge No. 1001 secured £1,700 from the Province of Yorkshire West Riding’s Provincial Grand Master’s Charity Fund, to kick start the 'Comfort Bags' scheme. Set up by Harrogate District Hospital & Community Charity and Harrogate District Palliative Care Team, the bags are helping enhance both dignity and practical support throughout end of life for patients and their relatives, in the acute hospital setting.

Each year, more than 600 patients spend their last days and hours in the Harrogate District Hospital and Ripon Hospital.

The bags, which contain a blanket, travel pillow, toothbrush and toothpaste, tissues, notebook and pen, hand lotions and essential toiletries, a free meal voucher and a free parking permit, provide very practical items to help improve the comfort of relatives staying for long periods, or overnight with patients who are in the last days of life. These are items they may well forget to bring with them when they’re in a hurry or didn’t expect to stay long.

Feedback from relatives has been very positive and grateful for the additional support this scheme has provided.

John Birkenshaw, Charity Steward of Harrogate and Claro Lodge, said: 'We are really proud to support this innovative scheme which will bring much needed comfort and support to both patients and relatives at a time when it is needed the most.'

Initial funding was used to launch the bags, however ongoing funding is vital to continue to provide this service. Current projections suggest this will require approximately £5,000 per year to fund 300 comfort bags.

The donation from Harrogate Freemasons will make a set the scheme on a firm road ahead and the donation will be used to continue to fund the contents of the comfort bags.

The Past Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland RW Bro Derek Buswell celebrated 60 glorious years as a Freemason on 12th April 2018

At the meeting of the Lodge of the Flaming Torch No. 4874, the Provincial Grand Master David Hagger, supported by his Provincial Officers, presented Derek with a certificate celebrating his 60 years continuous service to Freemasonry.

Derek was Initiated into Freemasonry in the Lodge of the Flaming Torch on 10th April 1958 and was its Master in 1971.

He subsequently became Master of the Leicestershire and Rutland Lodge of Installed Masters No. 7896 in 1984 and the Lodge of Research No. 2429 in 1987. Derek was a Founder of the Gayton Taylor Lodge No. 9176 which meets in Leicester in 1986.

He is also an Honorary member of Chetene Lodge No. 9516 in the Province of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire and a joining member of of Good Neighbour Lodge No. 8378 in the Province of East Kent.

Derek was appointed Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies at the Craft Annual Investiture in 1986, and was installed as Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland in 1989, continuing for 13 years until 2002.

During this time, Derek oversaw the 2001 Festival for the Grand Charity which raised £1.875 million, Freemasonry in the Community Week, the launch of Leicestershire and Rutland's Provincial website, the launch of the Leicester Square newsletter predecessor Masonic News and the first open day at Freemasons' Hall in Leicester followed by many future modernisations including the installation of stair lifts, a new heating system and the bar in the front lounge.

David Hagger said: 'It was a great pleasure for me as Provincial Grand Master on behalf of the Province to present Derek with a 60 year certificate of service. Derek has had a very distinguished career in Freemasonry, not only in this Province but also Freemasonry in general.

'His dedication to Freemasonry has been second to none. I wish him good health to enjoy many more happy years in Freemasonry.'

David Kenneth Williamson Lodge No. 9938 held its first meeting outside of London at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, to conduct a quintuple Passing ceremony on behalf of the three Universities Scheme Lodges in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland

The lodge is the Installed Masters Lodge for the Universities Scheme and whilst consecrated in London in 2016, it was agreed that the lodge meet around the English constitution to undertake second and third degree ceremonies on behalf Universities Scheme lodges.

The meeting was held in the very decorative surroundings of the Holmes Lodge Room on 4th May 2018 and was opened in due form by the Master Oliver Lodge, Grand Director of Ceremonies, with 66 Brethren in attendance, including David Kenneth Williamson, Immediate Past Master, Sir David Wootton, Assistant Grand Master, David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, David Pratt, Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire, West Riding, Peter Kinder, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, and Derek Buswell, Past Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland.

The five candidates David Hames of Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448, Jonathan Haslam and David Veryan Jones of Castle of Leicester Lodge No. 7767, and Marat Guysin and Steven Brian Szukielowicz of Lodge of Science and Art No. 8429 were Passed to the degree of a Fellowcraft in a superbly conducted ceremony.

Sir David Wootton, President of the Universities Scheme, provided an update on the Scheme and made mention of a recent audit undertaken of all Scheme lodges to help identify those who may benefit from extra help and support. He also highlighted the four strategic aims the Scheme was pursuing, namely: 

  • Providing support to lodges and producing ‘know how’ guides on topics such as lodge finance and ritual. Also suggesting to Lodge Almoners that they could focus on understanding their student members and when they have exams coming up, when they are graduating, and celebrating their successes. 
  • Talent transfer - how to assist members to find a new masonic home after leaving university.
  • The Royal Arch – the Scheme now has five Royal Arch Chapters and is looking at how best to develop this important part of the Scheme. 
  • Overseas - students from districts graduation in England and helping Districts attract students in their home countries.

Also mentioned was the important work of the New and Young Masons Clubs (NYMC) and that the Scheme was increasing its engagement with NYMC both on a local and national level to ensure that with items, such as talent transfer, both groups can work together. He also referenced the links with the Association of Medical, University and Legal Lodges (AMULL). 

David Kenneth Williamson, Past Assistant Grand Master, concluded: 'It was a perfect demonstration of how a multiple ceremony can be done without detriment to the candidates, and brought much credit to the lodge.' 

The Brethren retired to the Holmes Lounge were they were welcomed with reception drinks before a four-course dinner.

After grace, Mo Afsa, of Old Mancunians’ with Mount Sinai Lodge No. 3140 in Manchester, presented the DKW Loving Cup to the lodge. Under the watchful eye of David Kenneth Williamson, whose initials the cup bears the name, as Founder President of the Universities Scheme, the Loving Cup circulated around the room. There being six members of Apollo University Lodge No. 357 present, Paul Grier rose to claim the Cup on behalf of that lodge and announced that the next meeting would be held on Saturday 2nd June 2018. 

Published in Universities Scheme

Edward Sherrier Lodge No. 6757, in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, held an historic meeting on the 4th May 2018 when they conducted a quadruple Passing ceremony for the first time in their 70 year history

In recent years, a large number of members has left the lodge with a growing list of ceremonies to conduct, leading potentially towards a long wait to becoming a Master Mason.

The lodge therefore agreed to pass four of their members to the Second Degree. Neil Rathbone, Paul Johnson, David Walters and Kevin Rider were Passed in a single ceremony after being granted dispensation by the Provincial Grand Master David Hagger.

Lodge Secretary Rob Surman said: 'It proved a most successful and hugely enjoyable for the candidates and participating Brethren alike, as well as our large group of visitors from the neighbouring Province of Warwickshire. The evening concluded in fine form and conviviality at the Festive Board.'

West Lancashire Freemasons have donated two new BMW 'blood bikes' to charity North West Blood Bikes

The donation was in response to an appeal by North West Blood Bikes for help in replacing their ageing fleet of motorbikes, which led to two new bikes being purchased and equipped by the Freemasons at a cost of £40,000.

The Provincial Grand Master of West Lancashire Tony Harrison, along with two of his Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Kevin Poynton and David Winder, and Steve Kayne, the CEO of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, formally handed over two new liveried BMW R1200RT-P motorbikes to the North West Blood Bikes team.

North West Blood Bikes Fleet Manager Simon Hanson said: 'Since my appointment I have been working with Honda, BMW and multiple charities and local businesses to replace the fleet of 12 liveried motorbikes, as they had mostly done over 80,000 miles and in some cases were over eight years old.

'This very generous donation by the Freemasons in West Lancashire completes my renewal plan and they, along with the other new motorbikes, will greatly reduce the number of breakdowns we have been having with our old fleet. It will also increase our ability to support the NHS out of normal hours (7pm to 2am) in the week and 24/7 at weekends.'

The motorbikes have been built to a specification that is, effectively, the same as that for police vehicles. The only difference is the blood bikes are fitted with a special carrying rack to transport medical items and the police blue paintwork is replaced with orange.

In officially handing over the two vehicles, Tony Harrison said: 'I am delighted to be able to present these motorbikes on behalf of the Freemasons in West Lancashire to North West Blood Bikes, as they will help them in the vital role they play in supporting the NHS in their work.'

On average, North West Blood Bikes respond to over 1,000 calls a month, which their 350 volunteers action using their own motorbikes and cars, and the liveried motorbikes. The 12 liveried motorbikes are used for calls that involve motorway journeys and long distances, as well as during rush hour and moving urgent blood samples and other lifesaving items.

The East Lancashire Masonic Charity has donated £50,000 to fund the Patient Information Zone in the new Diabetes Centre at the Manchester Hospitals Complex

The £50,000 donation will help make a difference to diabetes patients from across the North West of England. The donation, in support of Manchester Royal Infirmary Charity’s Diabetes Appeal, will help the hospital to relocate its Diabetes Centre into a more vibrant and spacious patient-friendly building and continue to be a leading centre for Diabetes care.

The Manchester Diabetes Centre is recognised around the world for its high-quality clinical care and cutting-edge, world leading research. It is one of the first dedicated diabetes centres in the UK, providing care to 4,000 patients across the North West each year.

The current Diabetes Centre is cramped and outdated, meaning the hospital’s medical professionals are unable to offer the breadth of treatment, research and care that they want to their patients.

The substantial donation will contribute towards the Charity’s Appeal to vastly improve the patients experience when being treated at the new Diabetes and Endocrinology Centre. Relocating to a larger facility will mean an increase of clinical capacity, reduction of waiting times and the ability to adapt the care to the diverse needs and lives of the hospital’s diabetic patients. This friendlier, less clinical environment, will also improve the quality of transition of care for young patients from child through to adult services, which is a major concern.

Maurice Watkins CBE, Chairman of Manchester Royal Infirmary Hospital Charity’s fundraising board, said: 'We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of the East Lancashire Freemasons. Our aim is to ensure that the Manchester Diabetes Centre continues to be a world-class facility, pioneering treatment and care for chronically ill patients in the North West and beyond. The Freemason’s support is invaluable in helping us to provide a brighter future for these patients and their families.'

The Appeal also plans to relocate the hospital’s Endocrinology Services to the new and purposely designed Diabetes facility. Currently, despite the close clinical connection of the two specialities, the hospital’s Endocrinology and Diabetes services are located in different areas of the hospital site. Housing the two linked services in one central location will ensure optimal patient care, clinical outcomes and patient experience.

Sir David Trippier, the Provincial Grand Master for East Lancashire, said: 'Freemasons are delighted to have provided vital financial support for the most worthy cause of Diabetes Care in the North West. Diabetes is an illness that has serious implications so we are keen to support this project which will ultimately benefit an immense number of people, from children to the elderly, for now and well into the future.'

lodges meeting at Eliot Hall in Winslow have teamed up with the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF) to provide a small fleet of 4X4 vehicles to serve all areas of rural Buckinghamshire

Provincial Grand Master John Clark, assisted by Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Graham Dearing and Phil Blacklaw, presented the latest addition of three vehicles, which have been placed to serve the Buckinghamshire communities of Winslow, Marlow and Thame/Haddenham. 

Community First Responders (CFR) are all highly trained volunteers who do not get paid for the many hours they give in support of their communities. Neither do they receive support from the NHS or local government. 

The First Responders live and work in the community they serve and are able to start life-saving treatments prior to the arrival of an ambulance in a wide variety of medical emergencies such as stroke, choking and serious injuries. They can also reach emergencies and transport medical staff from the air ambulance landing point. In rural areas it is often difficult to reach incidents in the Responder’s own cars and an off-road capability is invaluable.

Steve Acton, the CFR for the Winslow area and a member of Saxon Lodge No. 9735 at Eliot Hall, first highlighted the need over two years ago. Since then the BMCF and Winslow lodges have worked together to build the fleet and extend the area of Buckinghamshire covered.

The fundraising has been boosted by the generous bequest of the late Rodney Meerza, who was also a Winslow Mason.

The vehicles provided all have the 4X4 capability, essential at some incidents on local farms and bridleways, and are fitted with scene lighting bars for night use, as well as alley lights to enable the user to see street numbers easily at night. 

Over the past few months, all three vehicles have been regularly called on to assist in areas of heavy snowfall or muddy conditions and have helped to save lives in times of medical emergency.

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