Critical prostate analysis in East Anglia

The Grand Charity has awarded a £100,000 grant to the Cancer Genetics team at the University of East Anglia to help fund research that will focus on distinguishing between aggressive and non-aggressive forms of the disease. Lead researcher Professor Colin Cooper explained that a critical problem in clinical management is an inability to distinguish this at the time of diagnosis. 

‘The Grand Charity award will allow us to tackle this critical question head-on through the analysis of large amounts of information already obtained from prostate cancer patients,’ said Cooper. The grant supports part of an ongoing study previously funded by the Grand Charity with two grants of £50,000, bringing the total donated to this project to £200,000. 

Published in The Grand Charity

Fresh boost for Devon Air Ambulance

Devon Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury and Provincial Grand Charity Steward Barry White have presented a cheque for £4,000 to Devon Air Ambulance on behalf of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity.

This brings the total presented to the service by the Grand Charity since 2007 to £47,000, and more than £105,000 when adding presentations made by individual lodges throughout Devonshire in the same period.

Tracy Owen from Devon Air Ambulance said that the service costs around £5.5 million each year to maintain. From this autumn, the air ambulance will be extending its operational hours to midnight. 

Making a visible difference

As the four main masonic charities combine to form the Masonic Charitable Foundation, we have published four new infographics to celebrate their work.

They give a quick historical overview of each charity, as well as explaining some of the real differences they have made through their charitable support.

These can be seen on the Charitable Works page of the UGLE site.

Published in Freemasonry Cares

Nearly £50k of donations distributed in Leicestershire

Representatives from 33 diverse local charities attended Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester on Saturday 27th February 2016 as recipients of awards totalling £43,537 from the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons

Amongst those receiving donations from the kind generosity of the members of the fraternity were:

Heart Link (East Midlands Children's Heart Care Association) received £1,000 to help provide facilities for children with heart defects, their families and providing much needed valuable medical equipment at Glenfield Hospital. Gill Smart, Treasurer of Heart Link, said: 'We are very grateful for this donation which will go towards paying for a latest 4D scanner so that children which a heart defect can have a better quality of life and help the families.'

CHICKS, Country Holidays for Inner City Kids, is a national children's charity providing free respite breaks to disadvantaged children from all over the UK. Kelly Tones, said: 'This money will go towards funding breaks in our new retreat in Derbyshire giving children the opportunity to be involved with activities such as rock climbing and horse riding and let them live their lives and let them be kids again.'

Toys on the Table provides new toys and gifts at the holiday season for those children in Leicester and Leicestershire, regardless of faith, who might otherwise not receive anything. On receiving £1,000 from the Freemasons, Terry Watts, Chairman of the Trustees, said: 'Last Christmas we gave 4,000 children around 8,000 toys. We thank the Freemasons for this donation which will enable us to purchase toys and make certain that no child is left without.'

Melton Community First Responders received a donation of £1,000. It provides voluntary support to the East Midlands Ambulance Service and serves Melton Mowbray, Asfordby and many of the surrounding villages. Peter Scott said: 'On behalf of all of the community of Melton thank you to the Freemasons for their donation. Last year we provided over 19,000 hours on call and attended more than 2,000 patients. As we have been going for 12 years our defibrillators are getting old and therefore this donation will go towards paying for a new defibrillator which will enable us to continue our work.'

The Dove Cottage Day Hospice, which is situated in Stathern, offers palliative day care to those living with advanced progressive life limiting illness received a total donation of £1,000. Chris Gatfield, Registered Manager and Founder of Dove, said: 'Thank you to the Freemasons very much indeed for this wonderful donation. We are a comparatively small hospice started 20 years ago to serve the people in rural communities. We couldn’t do any of this without the support of organisations such as the Freemasons which is very much appreciated.'

Leicestershire and Rutland 4x4 Response, which provides a network of volunteers that are able to respond to situations likely to cause danger to the general public, received a donation of £500. Chairman Simon Dale said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for the donation. Leicestershire and Rutland 4x4 Response are a group of volunteers that help out the emergency services. We are 100% self funded and this money will be used for training our responders.'

Loughborough Group for People with Disabilities received a donation of £500 from the members of Beacon Lodge which meets in Loughborough. Tony Wilkinson from the charity said: 'Thank you so much to the Freemasons for this money. We are very humbled and grateful to receive this donation which will go towards a trip to Lourdes, France and repairs to our minibus.'

Rainbows Children’s Hospice received £3,338 from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. Dana Simons, Appeal Manager at Rainbows said: 'We are now needing over £5 million pounds each and every year to run the hospice to provide one to one care, respite stay, palliative care, symptom control, end of life care and bereavement support. Sadly that need never goes away and we are increasing our services and extending them for cancer patients and new born babies. Thank you to the Freemasons for this donation which we are extremely grateful.'

On behalf of the Westfield Community Development Association, Dave Roberts received a donation of £1,000. He said: 'We have 65 volunteers delivering over 300 hours a week many of which are centred on our elderly, disabled and socially isolated projects. Thank you to the Freemasons for this generous gift which is help support these projects in the the Hinckley and Bosworth area. It really is an important contribution to the work that we do and it is much appreciated.'

Upon receiving a donation of £2,000 Diane Morgan, Director of the Hinckley Homeless Group said: 'We are small charity that runs a hostel, Lawrence House, for homeless young people aged between 16 and 25 in the Hinckley area. We have lost our statutory funding recently and the trustees would like to thank the Freemasons for this generous donation which will go towards providing the cost of the project workers which really are the key to the success of Lawrence House.'

On behalf of Voluntary Action Rutland, Director Lindsay Henshwaw-Dann received a donation of £1,500 from the Enderby Lodge. She said: 'Thank you so much to the Freemasons for this donation which we are so pleased to receive. We have had our funding slashed by half and this money will allow us to complete the furnishing of a new counselling room at our centre in Oakham which will be used by community groups and other charities.'

Rutland Sailability were given £500 from the Beacon Lodge. Chairman of Rutland Sailability Martin Sutcliffe said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for this generous donation and their help. We provide facilities at Rutland Water for people will all varieties of disabilities to enjoy the sport of sailing. This money will go towards training a small group of people representing Team GB at the World Championships in Holland.'

Other charities receiving funds included Lady Gretton, Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire, who received £1,000 on behalf of the Lord-Lieutenant's Award for Young People 2016 which seeks to identify, celebrate and reward the very best examples of achievement by young people in Leicestershire. Upon receiving the donation, Lady Gretton replied ‘We thank the Masons most sincerely for the wonderful support for these awards which recognises young inspirational people in Leicester and Leicestershire for bravery, sport, and volunteering.'

ENRYCH Leicestershire and Derbyshire, based in Coalville, received £1,000. Sonia Lear, Volunteer and Social Event Coordinator, said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for this generous and wonderful donation. Our small charity was formed to support adults with physical disabilities to enjoy leisure and learning activities. This donation will enable us to continue recruiting volunteers that do wonderful work and are the lifeblood of our charity.'

People's Accessible Transport for Harborough (PATH) received a donation of £1,000. Michael Cheeseman, from PATH, said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for this generous donation which will enable PATH to continue to function for a few more years. There is a major shortage of community transport and this funding will support our buses to help mobilise isolated elderly, disabled and vulnerable people in the Market Harborough area.'

A total of £500 was presented to Lutterworth-based Heartsafe by the Head of the Royal Arch Masons Peter Kinder. Heartsafe aims to ensure that every young person passing through secondary education in the County schools is provided with training in Emergency Life Support, including vital cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Dr Doug Skehan said: 'We are run by a group of volunteers who spend time in schools. We have a modest amount of administration costs and therefore are very grateful to the Freemasons for their generous donation.'

David Hagger, the Head of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, concluded the meeting by applauding all the charities and their volunteers who give their time to such good causes: 'I’m proud that the Freemasons have been able to make a major contribution to society by supporting charities particularly those helping many children and young people in the local community.'

Help for St Michael’s

In a visit to St Michael’s Hospice Hereford, the Rev David Bowen, Provincial Grand Master of Herefordshire, met patient and Past Master of Delphis Lodge, No. 7769, Colin Tudor and his wife Gill. 

Colin had for some time been a fundraiser for the Macmillan Renton Unit and St Michael’s Hospice. Following a period of chemotherapy treatment, Colin walked across mid-Wales for these charitable concerns.

While he was there, David Bowen, accompanied by Mike Roff, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Herefordshire, presented the hospice with a £3,343 donation from the Grand Charity.

Over the years, the Province of Herefordshire has presented some £70,000 to the hospice, helping towards the current £3.2 million refurbishment.

Quarterly Communication

9 March 2016 
An address by VW Bro James Newman, Deputy President-designate, and David Innes, Chief Executive

James Newman

RW Bro Deputy Grand Master and brethren, firstly thank you very much for unanimously approving the changes to the Book of Constitutions a few minutes ago. These changes, in essence, facilitate the creation of the Masonic Charitable Foundation and its strong links to Grand Lodge by the appointment of a President and Deputy President.

Indeed brethren, to paraphrase that part of our initiation ceremony, which specifically relates to charity, if you had not approved the changes, 'the subject of this presentation would have to have been postponed'.

Happily, it is now only three weeks until the official launch of our new charity. MCF, which I am sure it will be known as, will open for business on 1 April. Despite the date being April Fools' Day, for those of us involved, it will be no joking matter. 

Your new charity has been established following a long and very thorough review of how the four central masonic charities currently operate, could work together in the future and how best they can collectively serve the masonic community in particular. The Bagnall Report in 1973 made quite a number of recommendations, some of which were implemented, but many others were not, as they were not felt appropriate at that time.

In those intervening 43 years, some attempts have been made to further integrate masonic charitable support but with little success. More importantly, both the Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund have been successfully established and society and Freemasonry have both changed beyond recognition, so another major review was long overdue.

So why has this review succeeded in getting to such an advanced stage. As with all things, especially in Freemasonry, it's all about people and their willingness to compromise and work for a better solution.

In traditional masonic style, I will start at the top. Deputy Grand Master, we would like to offer our sincere thanks to you, for all your active support and encouragement throughout this whole process as well as your guidance through the black, or perhaps I should say, dark blue hole, that is masonic politics. Although not planned, it is entirely appropriate that you, as the Ruler responsible for charity affairs, should be in the chair at this particular meeting.

With so many Provincial Grand Masters present today, it is also an ideal opportunity to thank you all, and your predecessors, for both your foresight and your patience. Some years ago, you collectively identified the need for change. Your concept of the future has helped us shape what has now been developed and many of you have made, and continue to make, valued contributions to the process.

As you will realise, I am making this presentation on behalf of my fellow Presidents, both present and past. We have worked together now for a good number of years on this review, had some robust discussions along the way but always came back to the overriding objective – how do we create the best, long term and the most efficient solution to provide charitable support and protect our fundraising activities.

Whilst the Presidents have set the policies and persuaded and sometimes had to cajole their Trustees to support the review’s recommendations, I hope you will all agree that we owe a big debt to our four Chief Executives and their respective staff teams for the professional manner in which they have approached this review, and indeed, are now implementing it. 

Change can often be difficult, but our staff have been magnificent throughout and no matter what uncertainty they face for their own futures , they have ensured that the standard of service that you all have come to expect, has been maintained at a consistently high level.  

By now I hope you are all aware of the main reasons why the review came to the conclusion that consolidating the charities, by creating an overarching parent charity, was the best and most sustainable solution for the future. The rationale for what we have done is to make best use of the money you all so generously donate and to have a structured and flexible system of support carried out in the most efficient way.

To do this, we will create a single charitable fund with as few restrictions as possible on how we spend it, which will allow us to react to the specific demand or need for support at any point in time from the masonic and non-masonic community. Of course, the existing funds of each of the charities will continue to be spent for the purposes for which they have been raised, as David will explain shortly.

Therefore, I am delighted to hand over to David, our new Chief Executive, who has the unenviable task of knitting all this together, so that he can tell you about our vision for the future and how we plan to realise it.

David Innes

RW Deputy Grand Master and brethren all, as I am sure you appreciate only too well, the creation of the new Masonic Charitable Foundation is a very significant milestone in the evolution of charitable support, both within and by the masonic community. Although James has said I have an unenviable task, I feel deeply honoured to have been given the opportunity to lead this new charity during its all-important formative years – particularly as I am not a Freemason.

The logo of our new charity depicts a charitable heart at the centre of the widely recognised square and compasses symbol. It is our firm intention that MCF will become extremely well known and appreciated as a force for good by all Freemasons and their families, as well as by the wider charity sector and the public at large. At the same time, the MCF logo must become instantly recognisable as the symbol of masonic charity within the widest possible audience. We will all be working hard to ensure this happens.

I have also used our new logo to explain to staff the structure that we shall be implementing when the charities consolidate next month. The heart symbolises the core function of the charity, namely the provision of beneficial support to the masonic community. It also represents the continuation of the practical support provided to the Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodges, in particular to Provincial Grand Almoners and Provincial Grand Charity Stewards who will remain as important as ever to the success of the new charity.

Similarly, the advice and support team will continue to be an integral element of this support network, operating as it does right in the heart of the masonic community. In time, we hope to expand our direct support by introducing new services – such as the Visiting Volunteer initiative – which we are currently piloting in a number of Provinces.

The heart also symbolises the extensive support available to the wider community through a variety of grants to other charitable causes and, when required, in response to natural disasters. The size and scale of the new charity will enable us to enter into major partnerships with other national charities, and to develop long term programmes of support of national significance, that will have a real and high profile impact. We shall also continue providing support to Lifelites and all the fantastic work it does in children’s hospices.

Another element of the operational support we provide to the masonic community and beyond, is our care homes. These will continue to be a very important part of what we do but, after 1 April, will be run by a separate charitable company within MCF known as RMBI Care Company. This company will have its own board of directors but will be fully accountable to the MCF Board.

Having decided to group all our current operations together for what I hope are obvious reasons, I am delighted that Les Hutchinson has been selected to be the Chief Operating Officer of our new charity and he is already hard at work.

The square underpins all these activities and represents the finance, secretariat and Relief Chest functions. The creation of a unified finance team will ensure that the very significant assets of the new charity are properly managed within all the appropriate regulations, and we are indebted to Chris Head for his help in getting this critical element up and running. Whilst we will be delighted to receive donations via any route, we would much prefer that the generous contributions of the Craft are made through the Relief Chest. It will also continue to deliver the valuable service that is already well-established on behalf of lodges, Provinces and festival appeals, and will be at the centre of our technological revolution.

Festival appeals will continue to be the main source of funding for MCF. During the first few years, those festivals that have already launched on behalf of one of the current four charities will continue to raise funds that will only be available for use according to the charitable objects of that particular charity.

However, this year will see the first MCF festivals launching in the Provinces of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. The funds raised will be available for use according to need across the full spectrum of charitable support.

The third element of the MCF logo is the compasses.

I have described these as setting the key parameters for MCF and ensuring that our communication messages encompass everything we do. Specifically those working in this area will help set the strategic direction for the charity, devise ways to evaluate its performance and facilitate communication with all our stakeholders.

As a new charity, it is vitally important to create a vision, determine KPIs and monitor the effectiveness of all that it does, particularly the use of our resources. It is also important that we look to identify new opportunities in which the MCF, on behalf of Freemasonry, can increase its support to the masonic community and beyond. I’m delighted that Laura Chapman is bringing her considerable experience of masonic charitable support to bear in this important area.

One of the reasons for moving away from the current model of four separate charities was to simplify the message about what the central masonic charities actually do and for whom. We are determined to use the move to a single charity, with a single brand, as an opportunity to deliver a single and effective message to the widest possible audience. The MCF Communications Committee, very ably supported by Richard Douglas, is already hard at work refining a strategy that will cover all activities of the charity and will utilise the complete range of communication channels. The good old fashioned paper materials, like the leaflet that you were given as you arrived for this meeting, will still have an important role to play. Increasingly we will also embrace and exploit digital technology and social media. Beyond that there is also a need to support the Grand Lodge strategy for Freemasonry in the 21st century, and to increase awareness of Freemasonry amongst the charity sector and the wider community.

With the deadline of 1 April rapidly approaching, you will be delighted to hear that the first phase of what I see as a three phase consolidation process is nearly complete.

Having been formally appointed to my new position in December last year, I have focused on ensuring that the required foundations are in place. This has been mainly about developing a new, integrated organisation structure and systems suitable for the future. Another key task has been the formal TUPE consultation process in respect of the transfer of staff to the new charity. This is a time-consuming but vital step, and one that needs to be done properly and carefully. This phase is nearly complete and will see all staff from the three grant-making charities, as well as a few staff from the RMBI, transfer to MCF on 1 April. At the same time, the remainder of the RMBI staff will be transferring to the new RMBI Care Company.

Phase 2, between April and July this year, will see the actual reorganisation itself. Again, in full consultation with staff, it will involve changes to team structures and the physical relocation of staff within the office accommodation. It is quite likely that many employees will have a new line manager and will need to get used to different ways of working.

The transition from four charities to one has, as one of its main purposes, the improvement of the support and services provided to our many and varied stakeholders. This period of transition will be very challenging for everyone involved and I would wish to add my own tribute to the way in which all the staff have worked to bring about this major evolution in the way masonic charity is delivered. I have stressed from the outset that retaining their experience and expertise is vital to achieving change. I know that the staff and Trustees share my determination to prevent any disruption to, or degradation of, the services we provide. In particular, the needs of our beneficiaries will remain paramount throughout and I am absolutely determined that we do not drop the ball in the process – although I’m very happy for Wales to drop it a few times on Saturday!!

Following the reorganisation, there will need to be a period of bedding in. I anticipate this third phase beginning as the masonic year resumes and staff return from their summer holidays. It is my aim that, by December, all new working practices, policies and procedures are totally bedded in, the new grant-making software is fully operational and MCF is firmly established.

Looking beyond this year, I see 2017 as being a busy year for all concerned. In addition to delivering ‘business as usual’, MCF will be supporting the many and varied tercentenary celebrations in conjunction with Grand Lodge.

However, some things won’t change, such the wide range of support provided by the Masonic community for financial, health and family related needs. The simple difference will be that help will be available from a single source, via a single application process that uses standardised eligibility criteria. There will no longer be the need to remember what the four different charities do and risk applying to the wrong one in the wrong way. Further details are provided in the leaflet, which also contains all the relevant contact details for MCF and these are valid now.

Another thing that won’t change is our support to the wider, non-masonic community. Through MCF, Freemasons will continue to support registered charities that help those facing issues with education and employability, financial hardship, age related challenges, health, disability, social exclusion and disadvantage. Support will also continue to be available for the advancement of medical and social research, hospices throughout England and Wales, the air ambulance and other rescue services, as well as disaster relief appeals.

All in all, we anticipate no real change to the support available but a simpler, easier to understand, easier to access, more efficient and more responsive organisation delivering that support – which is considerable.

Each year, support is provided to over 5,000 Freemasons and their families which last year amounted to £15.5 million. In addition to the support given to the masonic community, MCF will also look to allocate between three and a half and five million pounds per year to non-masonic causes. There will also be extra money available next year to commemorate the Tercentenary and further details will be made available in due course.  We would welcome your support in ensuring that these messages are communicated to all those who need to hear them.

I hope you will deduce from what I have said that this is an exciting and busy time for Masonic charity.  The formation of MCF is good news for beneficiaries, good news for donors and good news for the wider community beyond Freemasonry.

Thank you for listening.  I will now hand back to James who will tell you how MCF will be governed and remain accessible to its membership.

James Newman

Thank you David. Before we finish this short presentation, it's important you all know how MCF is to be governed and how you and the Craft generally are all to be represented.

A Trustee Board has been formed, has already met three times and meets again tomorrow. It has representatives from each of the four current charities and an excellent mix of skills. We have set up a number of committees, who are already hard at work advising on new integrated policies, assisting the executive team and making recommendations to the Trustee Board.

So far, I am glad to say that all is going well, everyone is still talking to each other and there is, of course, lots of brotherly love!

So how will all of you and the Craft be represented and be able to get your views across to the new Trustee Board and executive team? The membership of MCF will consist of the Trustees themselves plus two appointees from Metropolitan Grand Lodge and two from each Province. These nominees will be approved at each Metropolitan or Provincial meeting so that you will all know who they are and can, therefore, ask them to represent your views. There will be at least two members' meetings each year, one of which will be outside London.

Brethren, I mentioned earlier the charity address in the NE corner during our initiation ceremony. That address to the candidate, clearly sets out that charity is one of the key principles of being a mason, one of which we should all be proud of. 

That is why today is such a red letter day for Freemasonry in general and masonic charity in particular. We are about to create a very large and we hope nationally recognised, charity, which will become a beacon for us all. The funds we shall have at our disposal have been built up by our predecessors over two and a quarter centuries, and we owe it to them and our current donors and beneficiaries, to make it a success.

Deputy Grand Master and brethren, on behalf of everyone associated with MCF, we hope that you have found this presentation useful and that you will now spread the word about MCF across your Provinces and down here in London. Thank you for listening and we look forward to updating you later in the year.

Published in Speeches

On medical grounds

Freemasonry is helping to fund pioneering work into lung cancer and leukaemia treatments. Aileen Scoular found out more at the UCL Cancer Institute Research Trust

When 18-year-old Gareth King was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in November 2013, time was of the essence. ALL’s rate of progression can be so swift that any delay could be fatal. And so Gareth found himself in the local hospital on the same evening as his diagnosis, being given an urgent blood transfusion. As soon as he was stable, Gareth was transferred to The Christie, a specialist NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, and a frightening two years for the King family began.

Like thousands of cancer patients diagnosed every year, for Gareth and his mother Sandra the biggest fear was that of the unknown. Cancer attacks with stealth and, despite some pioneering treatments, some types of cancer simply refuse to respond.

Leukaemia is one of them and ALL is the single most common form of childhood cancer. Each year in the UK, 400 adults and 300 children are diagnosed with ALL and of these, 100 adults and 30 children will have an aggressive sub-type called T-cell ALL. Its sufferers are at particular risk of chemo-resistance and relapse.

Lung cancer is another disease that continues to confound cancer experts. It is now the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK, and the most common cause of cancer death. Often diagnosed at a very late stage, more than 42,000 cases of lung cancer are confirmed every year and some 35,000 lives are claimed because of its ability to develop rapid resistance to treatment. 

Research is desperately needed into treatment for both diseases, which is why two recent donations from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) have been welcomed with open arms by the UCL Cancer Institute Research Trust (CIRT). 

UCL CIRT is a small charity whose role is to source seed funding for research projects that have the potential to become self-sustainable. 

UCL is currently one of the UK’s leading research universities and, together with the University of Manchester, it formed Cancer Research UK’s first Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence in 2014. 

The UCL Cancer Institute’s ambitious intentions are well matched by the masonic charities’ commitment to cancer-related medical research. 

As a result, in November last year the Grand Charity donated £60,000 to help fund pioneering research into immunotherapy as a potential treatment for lung cancer, while a sum of £100,000 from the MSF will enable a research team to explore new treatments for ALL and, in particular, T-cell ALL.

Exploring immunotherapy

Research into the use of immunotherapy in treating lung cancer struck a particular chord with Dr Richard Dunstan, Chairman of the Non-Masonic Grants Committee, and his committee colleague, retired surgeon Charles Akle.

‘We chose this research project for several reasons,’ explains Richard. ‘Lung cancer is still extremely common but the outlook is dreadful – it really hasn’t improved despite all the new treatments. We probably won’t see the full impact of social changes in smoking for at least another 20 years, and younger people are still not listening. Surgery isn’t always logical because the lung has a very rich blood supply, so any tumours will spread like wildfire, and radiotherapy and chemotherapy can cause many unpleasant side effects. As a GP, I witnessed those side effects in my patients.’

Richard and Charles describe immunotherapy as ‘extraordinarily exciting’ because it involves arming the body’s own defence mechanisms against the cancerous cells. This, in turn, creates the potential for personalised immunotherapy treatments.

In this project, tumour and blood samples from 10 patients with operable grade 1-3 lung cancer will be studied in micro-detail to understand how, and why, the lung cancer cells are not being detected and destroyed by each patient’s own immune system. The same patients will be enrolled in a parallel clinical trial called TRACERx, so that cell analysis can be compared with clinical outcomes.

The project will involve a team of researchers, including Professor Charles Swanton, chair in personalised medicine at the UCL Cancer Institute and co-director of the UCL/Manchester Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence, and Dr Sergio Quezada, who is the TRACERx immunological lead. 

‘I visited UCL and we assessed the application carefully,’ adds Richard. ‘It’s potentially very exciting for lung cancer, and it has a huge application for other cancers, too. Immunotherapy could be the breakthrough we need in cancer treatment, and we’re proud to make such a significant contribution to its development.’

Investigating gene editing

Elsewhere in the Institute, haematologist Dr Marc Mansour is working on another research project related to targeted cancer therapies. His team’s study was nominated by Metropolitan Grand Lodge for a Silver Jubilee Research Fund grant. 

‘We are always keen to support medical conditions that affect people of all ages,’ says John McCrohan, Grants Director and Deputy Chief Executive of the MSF. ‘Family lies at the heart of Freemasonry. To know that the donations the masonic community entrust us with can potentially help young people with illnesses such as leukaemia will reassure our donors that we are fulfilling their wishes.’

Mansour and his team have discovered that T-cell ALL patients who develop chemotherapy resistance are often missing a gene called EZH2 in their leukaemia cells. The loss of this gene could be the key to identifying safer, more effective treatments and, by targeting specific genes with pre-tested drugs, the leukaemia cells could be destroyed without harming the rest of the body. 

Thanks to the MSF’s donation, Mansour’s team will be able to create genetically identical leukaemia cells, with and without the EZH2 gene, using pioneering genome engineering techniques. They can then test how and why some genes in T-cell ALL prevent the chemotherapy agents from working. Simultaneously, a library of up to 2,000 FDA-approved drugs will be tested to see which ones successfully destroy the EZH2-deficient precursor cells while leaving normal cells unharmed.

‘ALL is a “blameless” cancer,’ observes Mansour. ‘Most of the time, it’s a genetic abnormality. We know that a lot of children are born with abnormal cells in their blood – sometimes they develop into leukaemia, and sometimes they simply burn out.’

Mansour hopes that his findings in T-cell ALL will also be relevant to acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a condition common in the over-65s that has similarly poor survival rates. ‘It’s very satisfying to know that our findings could have wider benefits.’

Thanks to the support of the Freemasons, both projects have the potential to save lives. ‘We’re very glad to be able to support them,’ says Richard. ‘Every year, Freemasons donate money towards research into cancer but it is our great hope that the day will come when our help in this area is no longer needed.’

Find out more at www.ucl.ac.uk/cancertrust

Coping with the diagnosis

Gareth King was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in November 2013, aged 18, and received a bone marrow transplant in June 2014. His mother Sandra, whose late partner was a Freemason, recalls the experience and the support she received from the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB)

‘Gareth’s diagnosis was completely unexpected and made more challenging because he has Asperger syndrome. His treatment took place at The Christie in Manchester, a specialist NHS cancer hospital, about two hours from our home. This was difficult because I have two younger sons, one of whom has autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

‘Gareth’s diagnosis came after a few weeks of symptoms, including tiredness, a very sore throat and unexplained bruising, and was followed by a blood transfusion and intensive chemotherapy. It was a very frightening time. I was trying to keep my younger sons in school, but I also needed to be with Gareth in hospital. Without help, I simply couldn’t have coped. 

‘The RMTGB offered support and helped fund my travel and childcare costs. They’ve been an important part of our lives, and the local almoner keeps in touch regularly. 

‘Gareth’s second round of chemotherapy worked and he had a bone marrow transplant in June 2014. He’s now back at college studying for a BTEC in Sport, and although the treatment saved his life, there are permanent side effects: his spleen stopped working, he tires easily, and it has affected his IQ and ability to concentrate.’ 

‘It was a very frightening time. Without help I simply couldn’t have coped.’ Sandra King

Devonshire proud to help

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire has match-funded the Grand Charity in order to present £2,000 to ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

Established in 1944, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity last year gave over 5,000 grants and funded another 72 charities to provide vital services to soldiers in need, giving veterans and their families the support they need through times of crisis.

The Devon Soldiers’ Charity Fundraising Committee is equally active, raising more than £63,000 last year and giving grants of over £70,000 to assist 109 individuals in need of help.

When presenting the cheques, Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, said: ‘To be able to support the soldiers who have served the citizens of this country so selflessly is very humbling.’

Upon receiving the cheques Col Robert Jordan MBE said: ‘We are deeply grateful for this generous donation.’

Valued support  for palliative care

The Freemasons’ Grand Charity continued to support hospices with a total donation of £600,000 in 2015. Across England and Wales, 245 adult and children’s hospices have received funding to provide essential services to those affected by terminal or life-limiting illness. 

Among those to receive assistance are Dorothy House Hospice in Wiltshire, Hope House Children’s Hospice in Shropshire, and the Marie Curie Cardiff and the Vale Hospice.

Chief Executive of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity Laura Chapman said: ‘Every year, Freemasons and their families work together to raise funds to ensure the incredible work of hospices can continue. The dedicated care they provide is highly valued by local communities and Freemasons believe strongly in supporting this.’

Fundraising coordinator Tania Wood at Dove Wood Hospice, another Grand Charity funding beneficiary, said: ‘Your continued support really does help us to make a positive difference to the lives of local people in palliative care. With your help we’re able to plan ahead effectively, ensuring that our patients receive both expert medical care and emotional support.’

Published in The Grand Charity

Taking the lead with canine partners

Canine Partners helps people with disabilities to enjoy greater levels of independence by providing assistance dogs. The charity has received a £50,000 grant from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity for its new Midlands training centre based at Osgathorpe in Leicestershire. Leicestershire and Rutland PGM David Hagger said, ‘We are very happy to make this substantial grant to Canine Partners to help improve the training facilities at the centre here in Leicester. The joy and practical support these dogs bring to their owners is life-changing and invaluable.’ A new building will provide accessible accommodation for all attendees, enabling Canine Partners to train around 80 individuals each year.

Published in The Grand Charity
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