The long march to Llandudno
Lest it be thought that senior masons everywhere are content to sit back and let the youngsters bear the brunt of the fund raising stunts, here is an account of the marathon trek from Shrewsbury to Llandudno in the words of Shropshire’s Deputy Provincial Grand Master Roger Pemberton, who walked the 120 or more miles in just five days
Each year on the first Saturday in June, the Friends of RMBI care home Queen Elizabeth Court at Llandudno host a summer fete to raise money for the benefit of the residents. Every seventh year, the Province of Shropshire gives North Wales a well deserved sabbatical by taking on the responsibility of arranging the day. 2013 was just such a sabbatical year and Shropshire had been well prepared.
The Shropshire Steering Committee headed by Simon Aucott, the Provincial Grand Charity Steward, employed a number of initiatives to raise money within the Province. There were competitions, raffles, donations and ticket sales... and then some bright spark suggested a sponsored walk from Shrewsbury to Llandudno.
As the crow flies it’s not that far, but via the Severn Way, Offa’s Dyke Path and the North Wales Coastal Path it turned out to be just short of one hundred and twenty miles of up, down and up again.
The walk was advertised as a five-day stroll with the Deputy Provincial Grand Master. That turned out to be something of a misstatement – it was more like a five-day yomp through rain and mist, up mountain and down dale. Seven men and three dogs left Freemasons’ Hall in Shrewsbury on the Bank Holiday Monday to walk the twenty two miles to Four Crosses, near Welshpool. There, in the pouring rain, we bid goodbye to the Provincial Grand Master who had walked the first day with us.
Day Two saw us hit the Offa’s Dyke Trail, through the hills above Oswestry to finish in a very damp Ceiriog Valley. On the third day we were fortunate to have sunshine for the first half of our walk through the beautiful Vale of Llangollen, finishing in Ruthin. The penultimate day was spent climbing the mist-shrouded Moels (Bare Hills) of the Clwydian Range and finishing at Rhuddlan.
Our final twenty miles from Rhuddlan to Queen Elizabeth Court were completed at a sprightly pace along the North Wales coastal path from Rhyl. For the last leg, with most of us on our last legs, we were joined by blind W Bro Clive Jones who walked the entire distance. W Bro John Yarwood, who started at the same time as the main party, completed the walk in just four days!
Now that very nearly all of the pledged money is in, it looks as though our walk has raised just under £6,500 towards the magnificent total of £50,000 presented to the Chairman of the Friends of Queen Elizabeth Court at a celebratory dinner at St George’s Hotel on the evening of the fete. A sizeable proportion of this was raised by Melvin Gough, a retired surveyor who, after 120 or so miles, surveyed Llandudno with relief and announced his retirement from charity hill walking!
Walkers were: Kim March, Roger Pemberton with Callie the Springer Spaniel, Mike Pemberton, Myles Pemberton with Ben the Springer Spaniel, Melvin Gough, John Yarwood and terrier. On the first day, Peter Taylor was among the group of ‘support walkers’ and on the last day, Clive Jones.
Would we do it again? Yes of course we would!
Website brings friends together
The Friends of the RMBI has launched a new website for the 2013 Annual Charity Ball. The website supported ticket sales for the annual event, as well as bringing together all information relating to the Friends of the RMBI in one place.
The Friends of the RMBI is a small group of masons who raise money for the Good Neighbour Fund. Through their efforts and the generosity of the fraternity, these masons have raised more than £500,000 to date. The Good Neighbour Fund is used primarily to provide holidays for recipients of a relief grant from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. RMBI organises four holidays each year in Bournemouth, Eastbourne, Westcliffe-on-Sea and Llandudno.
The culmination of each year’s fundraising activity is the Friends’ Annual Charity Ball. This year the ball was held on Saturday 8 June at The Grange City Hotel, London with a champagne reception and dinner plus entertainment, music and dancing.
For more information please visit www.frmbi.org
A friend in need
The RMBI needs continuous financial support to carry out its invaluable work
The RMBI helps around 400 older Freemasons and their dependants each year, supporting people who are unable to pay full care fees. Whether they have run out of personal savings or receive local authority support that covers only part of the total cost of their care, the RMBI can make up the shortfall, providing charitable support to the value of around £5 million a year.
Most of this amount is received from the funds raised by RMBI festivals, as well as through generous donations from individuals and voluntary groups. This invaluable financial support ensures that they are able to continue helping those in need.
Recent outstanding contributions include the very successful Walk the Province initiative that was set up as part of the East Lancashire 2015 RMBI Festival, which many local masons have participated in. The festival has raised over £1 million for the RMBI and hopes to exceed this over the coming years.
The Friends of the RMBI is a small group of Freemasons who, for over 30 years, have been raising money specifically for the Good Neighbour Fund, and through their efforts, and the generosity of the fraternity, have raised £565,392 to date. The Fund is used primarily to provide holidays for recipients of a relief grant from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. It can also be used on a discretionary basis to assist those in immediate need.
During his year as President of the Friends of the RMBI, Buckinghamshire Provincial Grand Master Gordon Robertson has seen donations to the charity reach a record £50,000.
He explained: ‘Our role has been to encourage members to organise events and inspire everyone to be as generous as possible. This fantastic amount will enable the fund to continue to help those whose lives have been changed in many ways.’
Good friends and neighbours
The Friends of the RMBI charity ball raised £35,000 for the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution's The Good Neighbour Fund
With the ball held in June at the Grange Hotel in London, a cheque was presented to the President of the RMBI, Brigadier Willie Shackell, by Grand Secretary and President of the Friends of the RMBI, Nigel Brown.
The Friends of the RMBI was formed in 1973 with an annual charity ball to provide extra funds for Thee Good Neighbour Fund. Over the years it has raised more than £550,000.