Bury Freemasons, the East Lancashire Masonic Charity and the Masonic Charitable Foundation have come together to support Grace’s Place – a children’s hospice located in Radcliffe – with a grant of £5,000 to fund a cuddle cot and special cuddle blanket
This will helps families who have just lost a young child to spend precious hours, even days, together during the grieving process, taking after life care to another level.
The presentation was made by Chris Eccles, the Bury District Charity Steward, accompanied by the Provincial Grand Charity Steward Steve Clark. The Hospice has fantastic facilities to make this very difficult time for children and families as pleasant as possible.
With the final pieces of equipment now in place, the Hospice is proud to announce it has now opened its doors.
A spokesperson from Grace's Place said: ‘Over the last year the building has been transformed to make sure families feel comfortable here – we’ve got children’s and family bedrooms, a toy-filled play area and space for mums and dads to relax.
‘We’ve also got a state-of-the-art sensory room – fantastic for children to develop their motor and communication skills – or just to chill out in. And a Snowflake Room, a private and peaceful room where bereaved families can spend time together and say their last goodbyes.’
Learning for life
More than 70 young people in and around Swindon who face social barriers are receiving a major boost to their education, thanks to a £50,000 grant from Wiltshire Freemasons. Peter Watts talks to the inspiring teenagers who are improving their career prospects with the Villiers Park Educational Trust Scholars Programme
Over the past 10 years, hundreds of young people from deprived or difficult backgrounds have been able to achieve their full potential thanks to the work of the Villiers Park Educational Trust. The pioneering four-year Scholars Programme is run by the trust, a social mobility charity that targets high-ability children from disadvantaged backgrounds by providing them with regular mentoring sessions. The programme also pays for them to go on residential trips and workshops designed to improve their confidence, motivation, resilience and employability, as well as giving them the chance to enjoy opportunities that they may not otherwise have been made aware of. A £50,000 grant from Wiltshire Freemasons via the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) will fund one of these mentoring positions in Swindon for two years. ‘This generosity allows our mentors to continue doing their amazing work,’ says deputy director of development Rosie Knowles. ‘It’s particularly great for us to have the Freemasons commit to more than a single year of funding, as we are focused on immersive long-term interventions.’
The charity currently operates in Swindon, Hastings, Bexhill, Tyneside, East Lancashire, Crawley and Norfolk, and hopes to widen its offering to other areas if more funding becomes available. There are four mentors in Swindon, who support children through their GCSEs and A-levels. ‘The mentors build up fabulous relationships,’ says Knowles. ‘They provide support and guidance and help young people develop skills to become more rounded individuals. Everything is built around developing these skills, as this is what empowers them to thrive and be self-sufficient in their success.’ The children are also able to give something back. ‘We encourage them to run self-led and inquiry-led projects in their schools,’ says Knowles. ‘This creates a ripple effect and a culture of positive learning. These young people really are incredible.’
Rahul Vital, 19
My family is from India and we moved to Swindon when I was five. My mum and dad had to drop out of school at a young age, which was why I was scouted for Villiers Park. In India, you weren’t rewarded for good work at school, but were punished for bad work – quite different to here in England.
The importance of education was made clear to me by my parents. I was encouraged to learn an instrument, take up art and do sports. I was approached by Villiers Park in year 9 and assigned a mentor, who helped me prepare for exams and job interviews, and create a CV. I also met other students on residential trips. I am now studying cancer biomedicine at University College London. Aspects of that came from a Villiers Park residential, where we learnt about cellular biology. I knew I wanted to do medicine or something with the sciences and these courses reinforced that decision.
The programme helped with a lot of the stress I had at A-level. My mentor, Becki, would talk about how we were doing. She reassured me and I got an A* and 3 As. It’s definitely given me confidence. I wasn’t good at presentations, but going to these classes, learning to speak effectively and doing personal statements has been a lot of help. As a result of this I would definitely be willing to do something similar to help others. It was such a relief, so it would be great to do that for somebody else.
Jaime Hessell, 16
None of my family had been to university, but now I really want to go – that’s because of Villiers Park. I have taken as much from it as possible because I feel so lucky to be involved. I was shy before and it’s given me more confidence. I can now talk in front of the other Scholars and their parents.
I always enjoyed school, but Villiers Park has shown me new things. We did a workshop and that gave me an interest in sociology, which is what I want do at university. We learn a bit of everything. It has given us a wider understanding of what is out there, beyond just maths and English. I am currently doing AS-levels and next year will do A-levels in maths, sociology and environmental studies.
My mentoring sessions with Becki and Julie have been incredibly helpful. Through Villiers Park, I joined the INVOLVE project, which has meant teaching maths to year-7s. I want to be a teacher, so it’s given me more of an understanding of what it’s like, what a stress it is but also how rewarding it can be. I had lower-ability students, and one of my pupils didn’t know her three times table, so I taught her every week until she was able to recite them. I also like to show them why you need maths for different things, such as architecture and business.
Acacia Baldie, 17
I live with my mum and my brother and we moved to Swindon just before the Villiers Park Scholars Programme started. I think the trust chose me because I was doing okay at school and they saw my potential. I love school, but had always thought university would be too expensive and you had to be very smart to go. I changed my mind after learning a bit more. We have regular mentor sessions where you learn employability and interview skills, and exam preparation tips. You also have paid-for residential trips where a specialist in your subject will talk to you. The mentors have all been really supportive, and explain everything clearly. They ask you about yourself and what you need help with. It’s life skills, the sort of thing school and college doesn’t focus on.
I am doing four A-Levels this year: fine art, textiles, biology and geography. My plan is to do Korean studies at university – I have identical offers from SOAS and Sheffield. Why Korea? I really liked the language and enjoy Korean shows. Plus I have Korean friends and I love the history and culture. My mentor helped me choose my subjects. I originally wanted to teach English in Korea but my mentor made me realise I should focus on what I enjoy, which was the culture.
Jordan Jones, 18
I was the first in my family to go to university and Villiers Park is about showing more options to people like me. Some of my peers weren’t looking at university, but I wanted to be an architect, so I knew I had a different career path. Villiers Park approached education in a different way to schools. They didn’t judge us, they were interested in how we got there and in how we used creative thinking. At school you have to appease all the people around you, but Villiers Park takes you out of that and allows you to be your own person and to flourish.
I went to Villiers Park thinking architecture was for me, but I looked at university courses with my mentor, Becki, and realised I wanted to be more involved in the design and maths of why a building works, so I am now studying civil engineering. I was so grateful, because I would have barrelled into a course and found out it wasn’t for me. I started at Plymouth University in September. It’s a challenge, but I have the structure of how to revise and study from Villiers Park, and it’s nice to have that ongoing support. A lot of people I know never had it at all, so I’m just grateful I got it in the first place.
For details, visit www.villierspark.org.uk
‘The mentors have all been really supportive, and explain everything clearly. They ask you what you need help with. It’s life skills, the sort of thing school doesn’t focus on’
A superb night was held at the Charles Lyne (Installed Masters) Lodge No. 2964 this month, as Monmouthshire Freemasons launched their 2024 Festival with a £50,000 donation to the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF)
The meeting included a presentation from Les Hutchinson, Chief Operating Officer of the MCF, on the work of the organisation before Richard Davies, Provincial Grand Master for Monmouthshire, presented Les with a cheque for £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. He also displayed to members the new festival tie and jewel.
Following the meeting, members were entertained by the talented group of young people from Chordis Caerllion. Richard Davies together with David Powell, Provincial Grand Master of the Mark Master Masons of Monmouthshire, were very proud to support Chordis Caerllion, as they presented them with new percussion instruments.
More than 700 lonely people in North East Lincolnshire are being helped to a better quality of life thanks to the volunteers of charity Friendship at Home, who have been supported with the first instalment of a £15,000 donation from the region’s Freemasons
The charity, based in the Annie Chapple Centre in Aspen Court in Cleethorpes, was set up to reduce loneliness and isolation and improve the quality of life for older people. It offers one-to-one befriending of older people in their own homes, as well as running social mornings and afternoons, exercise activities, telephone befriending and a range of dementia support services including a dementia choir.
Operational Manager Lyse Stephenson said the charity, which supports people over 60, was finding an increase in demand for its services from those with dementia. She said: ‘Dementia cuts people off, and we need to help them to be integrated – but the demand for our services is overwhelming.'
She said the charity was inundated with calls to support group work, adding: ‘It does work so well, but with predictions that one in three of us will suffer problems with dementia, we need more volunteers to meet the huge demand we face.’
Currently there are 175 volunteers, but more are needed, said Lyse. ‘More volunteers would enable us to offer help and support to greater numbers of people – and we have helped thousands in the 13 years the charity has been running.’
Pete Tong is the Freemasons’ Provincial Charity Steward in Lincolnshire. He said: ‘The work of the MCF is an important element of the Freemasons’ support for causes in the community – both masonic and non-masonic. The MCF gave £8.5m to more than 400 charities last year; all of it money given by Freemasons themselves. And we topped that up with more than £100,000 to a further 150 non-masonic good causes in the historic county of Lincolnshire.’
Lyse added: ‘The Freemasons’ donation is so important to us alongside the other funding streams and supporters. It will be used to help us to cover running costs so that we are able to concentrate on the people who matter most – our service users.’
Leicestershire & Rutland Freemasons, from St. Mary's Lodge No. 7164, gathered to enjoy the talented renditions of a young tuba player, Olly Douglas
Olly is 14-years-old and plays for the National Youth Orchestra and Uppingham School Concert Band. He recently received a grant from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) to support the purchase of a professional standard instrument and also to be provided expert tuition.
Olly’s father Stefan Douglas, a member of St. Mary's Lodge, based in in Melton Mowbray, asked Olly to play his tuba at the festive board as a thank you to the lodge and Freemasonry as a whole for the support he has received in developing his musical career. He was only too delighted to oblige and gave a flawless rendition of the Hindemith Tuba Sonata and then, to lighten the mood, the theme from The Muppets.
Stefan Douglas spoke over dinner about the importance of the Talent Aid programme within the MCF and how it supports many gifted and talented young adults. He also expressed his sincere gratitude to all Freemasons who support the MCF through their charitable donations.
The Master of St Mary’s Lodge, Michael Brooman, said: ‘Helping the members understand the local work of the MCF alongside their national work is vital to ensuring the ongoing support of the Foundation.’
In attendance was the Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire & Rutland, Peter Kinder, and Tony Molyneux, who both supported Olly’s application.
Surrey Freemasons completed their 2019 Festival Appeal on 11 May 2019, with over 650 guests attending a banquet at Guildford Cathedral – as it was announced they had raised over £3.3 million for the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI)
Jonathan Spence, Deputy Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, was in attendance, alongside Ian Chandler, Provincial Grand Master for Surrey Freemasons, with his Executive organisers and members of the Province and their partners. The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) and RMBI Executives and Trustees were also present, including Managing Director Mark Lloyd and Chair Sir Paul Williams.
The RMBI was established in Surrey back in 1850 with the opening of the very first home in Croydon otherwise known as the 'Asylum for Worthy, Aged and Decayed Freemasons'. Nowadays, the RMBI is a charity providing affordable care facilities for the elderly across the UK. In Surrey they are lucky to have two RMBI homes – James Terry Court in Croydon and Shannon Court in Hindhead.
Paul Crockett, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Surrey and Chair of the Festival, said: ‘All of the people who work and volunteer in every home will make sure that our donations make a positive difference to people’s lives; helping to keep our loved ones feeling safe, preventing isolation and loneliness and wrapping that warm blanket of security around them.’
The Province has raised over £3.3 million over the last five years through its hard work and ongoing efforts. Various fundraising events have taken place during this time from descending down the longest and fastest zip wire in Europe raising over £35,000, and a charity ball and auction of celebrity memorabilia raising £55,000, to Ian himself completing a triathlon where he raised over £10,000.
Announcing the grand total of £3,313,470, Mark Lloyd said: ‘Sincere thanks to the Lodge Charity Stewards, fundraisers and members of the Province, and their Ladies, for all they have done over the years of the Appeal. Your enthusiasm and hard work is greatly appreciated and has certainly made a huge difference to the lives of a great many.’
Sir Paul Williams OBE, responding to the announcement of the grand total, said: ‘The per capita return of your last Festival has been massively increased from £387 to £532 for this, demonstrating that Surrey truly is committed to caring about the RMBI. Everything we do and achieve is made possible by the generous support of Freemasons and their families, so I would like to thank you on behalf of every person who will benefit from this tremendous display of support.’
Responding to Jonathan Spence’s toast to the Festival President, Ian Chandler said: ‘Everyone who has contributed to this appeal has done so in the knowledge that they were helping in providing a safe and comfortable home for the residents of all the homes, especially at James Terry Court and Shannon Court where we have all witnessed first-hand the quality of care.
‘Also, while giving priority to our appeal we have not ignored local charities who have received at least a quarter of a million pounds a year. Also, while giving priority to our appeal we have not ignored local charities who have received at least a quarter of a million pounds a year maintaining our support for the community of Surrey. This is something we should all be very proud of.’
The banquet was ended in magnificent style with a firework display over the Cathedral lawn brilliantly choreographed to the finale of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture.
Thousands of men with prostate cancer will be able to avoid the damaging side effects of surgery thanks to a new research scanner that will be installed in Norwich
Thanks to fundraising by Norfolk Freemasons, a state-of-the-art Affymetrix Microarray Scanner will be used to differentiate between the majority of harmless prostate cancers, known as pussycat cancers, and the 10 per cent which are aggressive, known as tiger cancers.
The Freemasons raised not only the £144,000 needed for the scanner, which will be in a new screening laboratory at the University of East Anglia, but also another £46,000 for prostate cancer research.
On top of that, the Masonic Charitable Foundation have given a grant of £100,000 to further fund the research project.
Up until now there has been no way for doctors to tell the difference between the two types of the cancer, which led to tens of thousands of men having unnecessary operations with serious side-effects including incontinence and impotence.
Each operation costs the NHS £7,500 to perform, so there are also significant savings to be made from performing less unnecessary surgery.
The clinical research team behind the test, which is enabled by the scanner, is led by Professor Colin Cooper, who is developing the new test after a laboratory breakthrough made using artificial intelligence.
He is hoping to raise £2 million to continue his vital research into this condition over the next three years, to create the new clinical test.
Prof Cooper said: 'I am extremely grateful to Norfolk Freemasons for their generous grant, which will fund not only the scanner itself, but also the continuing research into prostate cancer. Many lives will be saved as a result and many unnecessary operations will be avoided, saving patients from some very unpleasant side-effects. There is a critical problem at the moment of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer.'
Prof Cooper had been working on the issue for 15 years, but it was only when he came to the University of East Anglia (UEA) he was able to get to the bottom of the issue. His research will be the only of its sort in the country, and could have ramifications worldwide.
Norfolk's Provincial Grand Master Stephen Allen, said: 'I'm delighted that we've been able to not only achieve our goal of buying the scanner, but we've raised more than double the amount needed. This will allow us to make a very significant contribution to Professor Cooper's ongoing research.'
More than 200 disadvantaged children will experience life on a real working farm, thanks to a grant of £63,000 from Devonshire freemasons to Farms for City Children
The charity’s founders, acclaimed Warhorse author Sir Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare, Lady Morpurgo, were both at Nethercott to welcome members of the Devonshire Freemasons and also took time to read to the visiting children from an inner city Plymouth School a story from one of his latest books.
The charity welcomes over 3,000 primary school children and their teachers each year from disadvantaged urban areas to one of their three farms in Devonshire, Gloucestershire and Pembrokeshire.
During their seven day stay the children live and work on the farm, explore the countryside around them and find out where food really comes from. They also discover self-confidence as they conquer fears and grow in self-belief as they overcome challenges working as a team to get tasks done. They develop new friendships and learn to see a bigger, brighter future than they ever thought existed beyond their crowded city horizons.
For many of the visiting children the true cost of this fully immersive seven day stay is beyond their reach so the charity subsidises every single child’s visit by at least £300.
The grant of £63,000 from Devonshire freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Tim Rose, Farm School Manager at the charity’s founding farm at Iddesleigh in Devon, said: 'We’re really grateful to Devonshire Freemasons for their generous grant. Each week we see children from inner cities blossom on the farm – they discover confidence, challenge themselves to achieve so much more than they think they could and revel in the great outdoors.'
Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, said: 'I’m delighted we were able to help Farms for City Children, who do outstanding work helping disadvantaged children from right across Devon and beyond. The experience they offer these children can be life-changing, including improved behaviour at school which can give them a chance to make the most of their education.
'Being a local resident it has often been my pleasure to be onsite when the children are there and have seen the benefit they gain from their time on the farm.'
London Freemasons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation have donated £50,000 to London-based specialist charity Autistica, to aid research and testing in the home environment of a widely used tool to help young autistic children communicate at school
This new study is the first of its kind, led by parents, to assess the use of PECS, the Picture Exchange Communication System, in the home. The project celebrated recently with a visit to Queensmill School in Shepherds Bush, West London, a leading school for autistic children.
More than one in four autistic people speak few or no words. PECS, a series of picture cards, is widely used in schools for children with communication problems, and can help children make requests for important needs. This study is part-funded by London Freemasons, in addition to funding from a major donor and other small trusts and foundations.
Jo, whose son Freddie struggled to speak when he was younger, said: 'We knew that intervening early was key to improving his communication skills, but it felt like time was ticking to find something that worked. There was a lot of trial and error. I hope this research will mean other parents won’t have to face the same lack of guidance we did.'
Sixty four young children will take part in the study led by Dr Vicky Slonims from Evelina Children’s Hospital and King’s College London. Half will use PECS, half will not. Parents will record requests made by their children in an app and a small body camera will be worn by the child to show researchers how they are communicating. If PECS is found to be effective, it could become part of crucial early intervention training offered to parents of children with speech delays.
Dr. James Cusack, Director of Science at Autistica, explains: 'We’re very grateful to London Freemasons for their generous grant. When minimally verbal children reach school age, they can show very little improvement in speech of communication skills. It’s therefore essential that we give parents and children the evidence-based tools they need as early as possible.'
Adrian Fox, from London Freemasons, visited Queensmill School with Autistica to celebrate the launch of the project, said: 'I’m really pleased we’ve been able to support this excellent project from Autistica. This is essential research that could transform the lives of thousands of autistic children and their families across the country and around the world.'
Hundreds of local children will be able to take part in the year-long Prince William Award experience, thanks to a £150,000 grant to the education charity SkillForce from Derbyshire Freemasons
Derbyshire Freemasons have committed to support SkillForce for the next three years, with a large part of the donation going towards supporting programmes for pupils in Derby.
The Prince William Award is currently being delivered in ten schools across Derbyshire to a total of 686 pupils, with SkillForce’s education programmes being predominantly delivered by former service personnel. SkillForce delivers the Prince William Award and its shorter SkillForce Prince’s Award in more than 300 schools nationwide, helping children and young people to boost their confidence, resilience, and self-esteem.
The Prince William Award is the only one of its kind and the only Award in HRH The Duke of Cambridge’s name. It is a year-long experience for six to 14 year olds which was launched in 2017 and is now on track to be delivered to 13,000 children across the UK this academic year.
Derbyshire Freemasons have previously supported SkillForce and made this latest grant as part of their commitment to encouraging opportunity, promoting independence and improving wellbeing. Representatives from the organisation visited pupils at Akaal Primary school in Derby on Friday 5th May to see the Award in action.
The grant from Derbyshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
SkillForce CEO, Ben Slade said: 'We’re extremely grateful to Derbyshire Freemasons for their very generous grant. They have supported us previously and this new donation means a great deal to us and the young people we work with around the UK, and especially in Derbyshire. We believe that every child deserves the chance to be the best that they can be and the money given by the Freemasons is helping us to continue to make sure that happens.'
Steven Varley, Provincial Grand Master of Derbyshire, said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support SkillForce in delivering the Prince William Award (PWA). It’s a great scheme that gives local children the chance to find out what they’re made of and to develop the confidence and resilience that will be hugely important for them as they grow into adulthood. It was so exciting to see out future interacting so well with the PWA and developing their confidence and abilities in what is a challenging world.'
Natalija, aged 6, said: 'I am really enjoying the PWA, it is helping me lots with my confidence. It was nice to meet the new people today and show them around my school.'
Rajvir, aged 7, said: 'It was interesting to hear about the freemasons and how they have different chains. The PWA has really helped me with my friendships and now I am able to get along with people better.'
At The Prince William Award inaugural graduation ceremony last year HRH The Duke of Cambridge Prince William said: 'At a young age, children need to learn the tools to deal with such challenges; the tools to develop their self-esteem, confidence and resilience to lead happy, healthy lives and to succeed and thrive.
'Good academic results are, of course important, but strength of character - the confidence to stand up and be counted and the ability to keep going in the face of adversity are essential if young people are to flourish.'