Motorcycling Freemasons in Hampshire, many dressed as Santa, delivered 1,500 presents to the local charity SCRATCH, which will distribute them to youngsters this Christmas
The Widows’ Sons Masonic Bikers Association (Southern Chapter) also presented a cheque for £2,153 for the charity’s Christmas Complete project.
Boxes were placed in Masonic centres across the county where toys were donated by Freemasons, whilst some lodges also raised money through raffles. The bikers, led by the Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Mike Wilks, then set off from the Province’s HQ to Southampton where the donations were handed over.
SCRATCH (Southampton City Region Action to Combat Hardship) was formed in 1999 to relieve the effects of poverty in the area. Last Christmas the charity gave parcels of toys to almost 2,000 children and young people across Hampshire.
A spokesman from SCRATCH said the support from the Freemasons was ‘amazing’ and added: ‘Donations of over £2,000 will allow us to purchase items when we have shortages for particular age groups.’
Mike Wilks said: ‘As Freemasons we are committed to helping our communities. Our members raise money for many charities and good causes but it is especially at this time of year we think of those less fortunate than ourselves.
‘It’s an honour to support SCRATCH and assist them with the wonderful work they do in our communities. We hope our donations will make Christmas a little easier for children and young people.’
Hampshire and Isle of Wight PGM Michael Wilks visited the Tall Ships Youth Trust at Gunwharf Marina, Portsmouth, in July, and presented £22,000 donated to the charity by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF)
The donation will support young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). Wilks talked to the young people who had recently arrived to start their adventure and were looking forward to playing their part in assisting the crew, whatever the weather and sea conditions.
CEO Richard Leaman explained, ‘This bursary will allow us to get 50 NEET young people on board our vessels for sail training.
'We are immensely grateful to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for their generosity and support.’
On what was one of the warmest days of the year so far, Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes joined Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Michael Wilks at Hampshire and Isle of Wight's Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in Southampton
One of the highlights of the day was the official handover of the Tercentenary banner from the Province to RW Bro Philip Bullock - Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire.
The specially commissioned banner has now been carried through the Provinces of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney and Hampshire and Isle of Wight and on 19th July it will be formally handed to RW Bro Richard Merritt, Provincial Grand Master for Dorset.
This year not only marks the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England but also the conclusion of the Masonic Samaritan Fund 2017 Wiltshire Festival, which provides the ideal excuse to hold a celebration lunch in Trowbridge’s Civic Centre on Saturday 23rd September 2017.
Helping with sight loss in the uk
Hampshire and Isle of Wight PGM Michael Wilks presented a cheque for £50,000 from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity to the Macular Society to roll out the Daily Living Champions volunteer scheme across the UK. Daily Living Champions demonstrate high- and low-tech equipment that can help people affected by sight loss to complete tasks that others take for granted.
Age-related macular degeneration affects central vision and is the most common cause of sight loss in the UK. The Macular Society helps anyone affected by central vision loss, and its 15,000 members make it the largest patient group in the sight loss sector.
SkillForce makes a difference
A team of students from Fareham worked tirelessly as part of the SkillForce 24 Hours to Make a Diﬀerence challenge, with the task of refurbishing North West Fareham Community Centre in readiness for a unique charity fête. SkillForce is an educational charity that works in partnership with 10,000 young people throughout 150 schools in England and Scotland.
Michael Wilks, Provincial Grand Master for Hampshire and Isle of Wight, represented The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and attended the opening together with representatives from Hampshire councils, schools and public services. ‘The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has, over the past six years, made grants of £240,000 to SkillForce, which is a national charity with a local presence, and the local team has received £90,000 of the £240,000,’ explained Michael. A selection of year 8, 9 and 10 students from The Henry Cort Community College also attended the charity fête and enjoyed a broad range of activities.
The ceremony began with the dedication of a new lodge banner, followed by a talk tracing the Economy’s history. Former mayor David Sermon, a Past Master of the lodge, presented a copy of his book about the lodge, Men, Not Walls, Make the City, to the current mayor of Winchester.
Peter Small, the only member who also attended the 200th anniversary meeting, was given an engraved firing-glass to mark 50 years in masonry. Also present were Provincial Grand Master Michael Wilks, his Chaplain, the Reverend Bill Whitfield, and Director of Ceremonies Ian Preece.