Following a meeting at Mount Edgcumbe Hospice in Porthpean Road, St. Austell, David Leaity, the recently appointed Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Cornish Freemasons, attended to present a significant grant donation of £18,975 in support of the charity Cornwall Hospice Care

David, supported by Mike Pritchard, Provincial Grand Charity Steward of Cornwall, met with Cornwall Hospice Care Chief Executive Paul Brinsley together with Major Gifts Manager Paul Jones and Senior Nurse Claire Collings. 

The grant is part of the Masonic Charitable Foundation Grant Scheme and will assist with new wide-ranging support options for Cornwall Bereavement Friendship Groups run by Cornwall Hospice Care and CRUSE Bereavement Care, throughout Cornwall. 

Paul Brinsley, Chief Executive of Cornwall Hospice Care, was delighted to receive the grant and was humbled by the continued and generous support the Hospice community receives from the Cornish Freemasons, year on year.

Paul Jones, Major Gifts Manager, commented: 'Cornwall Hospice Care is very grateful for the ongoing benevolence of the Freemasons in Cornwall. With this latest grant, we are able to set up bereavement support groups in the county, alongside our partner CRUSE Cornwall. This will help individuals to learn new ways of coping with their emotions in bereavement and to have the opportunity to explore their feelings related to grief and bereavement in a safe environment.'

Last year Cornwall Hospice Care and CRUSE Cornwall contributed to research which showed that in Cornwall almost half of those people asked (six hundred and five people) who were bereaved, didn’t feel they had enough support in bereavement. Friends and family were the main sources of support and whilst this is invaluable, there was little or no opportunity for support from trained counsellors or specialist support workers.

The grant will enable the delivery of telephone support, friendship groups in the community and group support. These groups will provide important social interaction where bereaved people can be welcomed and access one to one meetings with trained volunteers, receive advice and information, social support and further one-to-one support if required.  

Each group will also work in collaboration with other agencies to maximise resources and skills. Trained volunteers will deliver skilled, sensitive support to improve wellbeing by providing comfort, hope and encouragement during this difficult period of adjustment. Helping more recently bereaved people to be reintegrated with the community and feel less isolated. 

David Leaity remarked: 'On behalf of the Freemasons of Cornwall, their families and friends, and of course the Masonic Charitable Foundation, it is a huge honour and privilege to continue to support our local Hospices. The dedication from all at Cornwall Hospice Care and CRUSE Cornwall is something to behold. Our Masonic fraternity here in Cornwall and beyond is very proud to support all local communities and charities.'

Mike Pritchard added: 'Once again, we see our values proudly displayed by further charitable support being made by the members of our Masonic organisation here in Cornwall.We are absolutely delighted the grant has been awarded from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, to help and support Cornwall Hospice Care and CRUSE Cornwall.'

Parents who need to provide their seriously ill children with round-the-clock care will be able to take a much-needed rest thanks to a £7,600 grant from East Lancashire Freemasons

The grant to Lagan's Foundation will help provide trained carers to offer parents of children with severe heart and feeding issues some vital support and respite. Lagan's will use the money to recruit and train new carers so that more families can benefit from the breaks that the charity offers.

Caring for a seriously ill child over an extended period can take a major toll not just on the health of the parents, but also on their relationship. Being able to take a break allows them to get some desperately-needed rest and spend time with each other and with siblings, who inevitably lose out in terms of parental attention.

Lagan’s Foundation was founded by Bolton-based Carren Bell after she lost her baby daughter Lagan from a heart defect in 2011. The charity now operates nationally. As well as giving parents a break, the Foundation gives parents and guardians the necessary support and information, offers bereavement help when necessary and campaigns to increase awareness of the use of breast milk donation and usage.

The grant from East Lancashire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Carren Bell, Chief Executive of Lagan's Foundation, said: ‘Local authorities, health services and most importantly families and their children, are reliant upon our expertise and the dedication of our carers. This donation will improve the lives of people at their most difficult time and we and they are immensely grateful for it.”

Steve Clark, East Lancashire Charity Steward, added: ‘I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support Lagan’s Foundation. They provide invaluable help and support to parents who often give up everything to help their children and who benefit enormously from the chance to re-charge their batteries.’

A North Wales centre for palliative care has been awarded a £19,000 contribution from North Wales Freemasons towards a new pilot project supporting young people experiencing grief following a bereavement

This ground breaking new Dramatherapy project at St Kentigern Hospice in St Asaph, Denbighshire, will allow young people in the local community to express their feelings of grief in a safe environment.

The project has caught the imagination of North Wales Freemasons who have been able to award the grant of £19,000 through the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Dramatherapy is a form of psychological therapy. It provides a way of communicating through stories, music, pictures, fairy tales and metaphors. Theorists suggest it could be a useful way of helping children who are going through bereavement deal with their grief.

St Kentigern Hospice is well experienced in the delivery of bereavement support and has a well-established service available for families and children. However, in the catchment area of the hospice there is a paucity in the variety of support offered.

Dinah Hickish, Consultant Nurse at St Kentigern Hospice, commented: ‘The team are exploring new ideas of how to engage with young people effectively and a drama therapy group will provide an environment outside school and home, to work alongside other young people with similar experiences, before during and after loss. We believe giving young people the opportunity to express themselves in a creative way in a safe and therapeutic environment will be invaluable.

The eight-bed in-patient hospice is currently undergoing a £2.5m expansion and redevelopment of their St Asaph site which will update their facilities for future generations, increase capacity by 50% and include a community café. The start of this new project will coincide with the opening of the Hospice and the hospices silver milestone of their 25th anniversary of delivering specialist palliative care.

David Thomas, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, and Phil James, Provincial Grand Charity Steward, were given a guided tour of the redevelopment and congratulated Hospice Counsellor Merith Shorter for coming up with such an innovative way to benefit the bereaved young people of the local community.

David Thomas said: ‘On behalf of North Wales Freemasons, I am delighted to present a cheque for £19,000 to fund this project. Over the past two decades, St Kentigern Hospice has worked incredibly hard to provide and develop a comfortable and loving environment for people requiring acute care and families needing support following a bereavement.

‘I wish the hospice team every success with this project and hope that many young people will benefit from this new service.’

Merith Shorter added: ‘We are incredibly grateful to North Wales Freemasons for their support which will ensure this project will be available to benefit the young community of this North Wales area.’

Lonely and isolated older people in Holborn, Covent Garden and Bloomsbury will be helped back into community life, thanks to a grant of £77,827 from London Freemasons

The Holborn Community Association Befriending Scheme brings isolated older people together with volunteers from across the community to meet once a week, have a conversation and enjoy activities including sport, games and art. The aim is to help 120 isolated older people locally and build long-lasting relationships across the community. 

Loneliness is increasingly recognised as having a detrimental impact on people’s emotional, physical and mental health. Nationally there are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK. In the south of Camden, over 45 per cent of older people live alone, and some areas within the community rank in the top 10-20 per cent of lonely older people in the country.

The Befriending Scheme is part of Holborn Community Association's programme of work for older people. For 30 years, HCA has brought older people together through sport, drama and art activities for everyone over 55 as well as providing day centre care for older people with dementia.

Research has shown that one in five older people are lonely and identified that many older people who live alone rarely see friends, family or neighbours, sometimes going months without having a meaningful conversation with another person. Reports also suggest that loneliness is as bad for a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and those who feel lonely are also more likely to suffer from ill health.

The grant from London Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales. 

Paul Crozier, Director of the Holborn Community Association, said: 'We’re very grateful to London Freemasons for their generous grant, which will allow us to support people who are lonely and isolated in the middle of the UK’s largest city. Our Befriending Scheme gives older people the chance to talk and interact with others. It has a huge impact on isolated older people’s health, how they feel about themselves and how much they feel part of the community around them.'

Adrian Fox, from London Freemasons, said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help the Holborn Community Association with their excellent project. Loneliness can lead to depression and a range of physical and mental illnesses. It’s very sad to think that people living in the midst of a city of nearly nine million people can spend months at a time without having a single meaningful conversation with another human being.'

Hundreds of lonely older people in Cornwall will be helped to become more connected to their communities, thanks to a grant of almost £78,000 from Cornwall Freemasons to Royal Voluntary Service
 
The grant will fund a specially-designed programme which will provide over 200 older people in the area with new opportunities to build social connections and relationships. It will also allow the charity to give more vulnerable older people a link to the community through a Community Companions volunteer who will visit them at home, supporting them with practical help and getting out and about.
 
Loneliness and social isolation can affect everyone, but older people are particularly vulnerable after the loss of friends and family or reduced mobility. A report by Age UK reported that there are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK, and half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all. Reports also suggest that loneliness is as bad for a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and those who feel lonely are also more likely to suffer from ill health. 
 
Surveys conducted by Royal Voluntary Service amongst older people in Cornwall found that just over three quarters (77 per cent) are experiencing loneliness and two thirds (66 per cent) feel they need more help with getting to GP appointments or social activities. 
 
The grant from Cornwall Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Stephen Pearn, Provincial Grand Master for Cornwall Freemasons, said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Royal Voluntary Service with their excellent programme of support for older people.

'Loneliness and social isolation is a real problem in our society, having a serious impact on physical and mental health and quality of life. Ending the social isolation of older people is a major priority for both the Royal Voluntary Service and Freemasons.'

Lisa Knight, Operations Manager for Royal Voluntary Service, said:  'We’re very grateful to Cornwall Freemasons for their generous grant, which will help us build on our existing work supporting older people in Cornwall, organise monthly social activities and recruit volunteers toprovide companionship and practical support to older people in their homes.'

Mike Pritchard, Provincial Grand Charity Steward of Cornwall Freemasons, added: 'Being involved and working with so many different charities within our local communities here in Cornwall, has been an absolute pleasure for me. This latest grant will be a significant boost for the Royal Voluntary Service, here in Cornwall. This will enable them to reach more individuals normally confined to their homes and socially isolated.'

Devonshire Freemasons have given the Exeter based charity Balloons a grant of £10,500 over three years to help in the support of the very worthwhile work they undertake

Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Freemasons, and Dr. Reuben Ayres, Provincial Grand Charity Steward, visited the offices of Balloons to present them with a certificate denoting the grant which was funded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) where they met up with Sara Bennett Balloons CEO who kindly showed them round the offices while explaining the work they do with bereaved children and young people in Exeter, Mid and East Devon.

Balloons was first conceived by a small group of healthcare professionals who didn’t have anywhere to refer bereaved children for specialist support. They applied to the lottery who supplied start-up funding back in February 2007. Their services provide grief support to children and young people between the ages of 5 & 25 throughout Exeter, Mid and East Devon. They give one to one support sessions, activity days, family events together with a telephone helpline and training for professionals. They also provide support before an expected bereavement, helping the children to prepare for life without a loved one.    

When presenting the certificate denoting the £10,500 given by the Freemasons of Devonshire and the MCF Ian Kingsbury said that after listening to the stories of support and help that are given by the team at Balloons to so many young children he is more than gratified that this sum of money will in some small way enable the much needed work to continue long into the future.

Sara Bennett replied ‘We are absolutely delighted to have been granted funds from the Freemasons of Devonshire. We are a small and local charity and as such we rely heavily on the generosity of our donors to support our work, and are delighted that the freemasons have seen the value of what we do. In 2018 we provided one to one support to 161 children and young people, and with this injection of funds we know that we will be able to continue to support grieving children when they are at their most vulnerable going forwards. Thank you’

Some of the comments by the children who have received the help from the team at Balloons were:

‘Since Mummy died, talking to my Balloons lady is really good because she doesn’t mind if I get upset but Daddy really minds. He says he wants me to be happy’ – demonstrating the need for a neutral third person for the child to talk to
 
‘Since Dad died my feelings are all over the place. I feel like hurting people. I don’t hit anyone, but I say mean things…working with Balloons is helping me a lot. No one can bring Dad back but I can get my feelings out and look at them and understand them a bit better’

The British Red Cross has launched a pilot scheme in North Wales to help people build independence and better links with their communities and reduce unnecessary hospital admissions. The move comes thanks to a £84,460 grant from North Wales Freemasons

The Pathways to Better Health service aims to help over-50s in Conwy and Denbighshire who have been identified as needing extra support due to a pattern of frequent hospital attendance or calls to the emergency services.

The project will help people who call 999 or go to emergency departments (ED) more than 12 times a year, many of whom are among the most vulnerable members of our communities with few alternative sources of help. They may have multiple, complex needs including loneliness, social isolation or drug and alcohol dependency issues.

Figures for 2017 show that frequent attenders accounted for 86,000 Welsh ED attendances costing £36.4 million to the NHS.

The scheme, which runs for a year, will enable trained Red Cross staff to work in partnership with emergency services and ED teams to find people who could benefit, and refer them to the service.

The project team will then work with people to identify the root causes of their frequent attendance, and support them to develop coping strategies. By providing emotional and practical support, helping to build confidence, and signposting to other services in their community that could help, the team will aim to increase a person’s health and well-being, independence and resilience.

It is hoped this will reduce the number of calls to the emergency services and visits to the NHS, saving money, freeing up resources and improving the lives of those who are helped by the project.

In a previous pilot project in Swansea, the results revealed 96 per cent of people helped reported a positive change in emotional health, a 70 per cent positive change in physical health and a 69 per cent positive change in reducing loneliness and isolation.

The pilot, which was launched by the British Red Cross in November 2017, covered the Western Bay area in Wales including Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea. It helped 22 people for 16 weeks and resulted in a huge reduction in 999 calls and hospital attendances from the participants.

The grant from North Wales Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Stanislava Sofrenic, Independent Living Operations Manager for Red Cross Wales said: 'We are thrilled to have launched this scheme in North Wales. I’d like to thank North Wales Freemasons for their generous donation, which has enabled us to set up this invaluable scheme.

'Our smaller pilot project in Swansea demonstrated that early intervention with people who use NHS and emergency services frequently has a significant impact both on improving their lives and reducing pressures on NHS and emergency services’ resources. We are looking forward to working with our partner organisations over the next 12 months and helping people across Conwy and Denbighshire.'

John Hoult, Provincial Grand Master for North Wales, said: 'We’re very pleased to be able to support the fantastic work being done by the British Red Cross in North Wales. This will have a huge impact on the users of the emergency services and will make a big difference to improving their lives.'

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.’

On Sunday 2nd June 2019, three intrepid Freemasons from Devon set out to conquer the beaches which formed the landing places of the Second World War Normandy Landings on 6th June 1944

Steve Robertson and Chris Wollacott, both members of St. Thomas Lodge No. 4198 in Exeter, and Ian Morton, of Lodge Virtue & Honour Lodge No. 494 in Axminster, met up before boarding the Poole ferry to Cherbourg. But even before they set sail disaster struck, when Steve’s bike wheel shed a spoke (possibly due to the weight of his baggage) – luckily they found a friendly repair shop owner who opened up on a Sunday evening just to help them. Chris then arrived on an electric bike advising them that he had left his charger at home and had to complete the journey without the aid of batteries.

The bad luck didn’t stop there either, for as they disembarked in Cherbourg Ian skidded on a slippery patch, he was badly bruised and suffered a dislocated finger. They spent five hours in the local French A&E department before eventually starting off, on the first leg of their journey to Sainte –Mere- Eglise some 35 miles away. They passed military vehicles of all descriptions, Jeeps, Tanks, Troop Carriers and Halftracks full of personnel dressed in uniforms from the 1940’s all waving to them.

First stop was Utah Beach where they laid a poppy cross on the memorial then on to Carentan where they met serving US Rangers who were re-enact the scaling of the cliffs at Pointe-Du-Hoc to attack the German gun emplacements, waving them goodbye they moved on to Omaha Beach having ridden 38 gruelling miles by the time they arrived.

The next morning 6th June, D-Day they visited the large German gun battery at Longues Sur Mer which was taken by the Devonshire Regiment back in June 1944, then onwards to Arromanches where they witnessed almost the whole population wearing period military uniforms, attended a memorial service and watched a flypast of Dakotas as well as marching bands and D-Day Darlings singing songs of the period before moving on to Gold Beach and Juno Beach where they also laid poppy crosses, only covering 22 miles that day. Juno Beach holds a very special place in Steve’s family history as his father was there on D-Day and the platoon he was with liberated the first house on French soil after landings took place. 

While at Juno Beach they met Steven Dean, Project Manager of the new British Memorial, and also chatted to some veterans of the invasion and afterwards carried on their journey to Sword and then the Pegasus bridge. This leg of the journey was in their words ‘brutal’ due to the very, very, strong headwinds and rain but became easier when they turned to cycle down the canal to Ouisterham and back to the ferry for the return journey.

After four days of cycling and not a lot of sleep they were all looking forward to a restful night as they journeyed back across the channel only to find the majority of the other travellers were returning troops who snored the whole way back!

Steve, Ian and Chris enjoyed their adventure cycling a total of 153 miles over the four days they were in France, but it was the opportunity of being a part of the commemorations of the D-Day landings which will live with them forever, while also raising nearly £1,500 which will be donated to the MacMillan Cancer Charity and the Devonshire Masonic Festival on behalf of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF).

The sun was out and the sunblock was on, as 20 cyclists from the Provincial Grand Lodges of Leicestershire & Rutland, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire gathered in Leicester on Saturday 29th June 2019 for this year’s 83 mile Charity Cycle Ride – raising £7,000 in support of the Rainbows Children’s Hospice and the Masonic Charitable Foundation

To wish them good luck on their journey, Helen Lee-Smith, Head of Individual Giving from Rainbows, said: ‘Thank you so much to all of those taking part today, yet again the support from the Freemasons is essential to Rainbows Children’s Hospice.’

Also there to wave them off was the Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire & Rutland Freemasons, David Hagger, who said: ‘We are all extremely proud of the work we do to support Rainbows and the Masonic Charitable Foundation and thank all of those riders for raising such a fantastic amount today.’

On the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures well in excess of 33 degrees Celsius, 20 cyclists including Freemasons, friends and family set off from Freemasons’ Hall in Leicester early in the morning before the sun was at its strongest. The route took the four groups out from Leicester and on towards Loughborough before heading through Shepshed and onto Derby in the first leg of the journey of over 33 miles.

The first stop was at the Masonic Hall in Derby, where tea, coffee, bacon sandwiches and much needed water were in abundance. The break was very much appreciated as the day was beginning to warm up, however time was of the essence, and it was not long before the next leg out through Long Eaton and on to Nottingham.

By now the temperatures were soaring, but that did not stop the determined cyclists to battle the searing heat and traffic as they arrived at the Masonic Hall in Nottingham for a rest in the shade and to restock with supplies.

The afternoon sun meant that water stops were frequent, but with determination and hard work, the cyclists made their way from Nottingham back into Leicestershire; finally finishing at Freemasons’ Hall in Leicester at around 6pm.

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