Emergency help at Sussex hospice

In the early hours of 11 July, a fire took place at St Michael’s Hospice in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex.

Twenty three patients with progressive life-limiting illnesses were evacuated, along with one family member and nine members of staff. In the days following the incident, three patients died, two of whom had been treated for smoke inhalation. 

The Grand Charity responded with an emergency grant of £5,000 to help with immediate recovery efforts. Since 1987, St Michael’s has been part of the Grand Charity Hospice Scheme and has received more than £84,000. The Province of Sussex also donated £5,000 via the Sussex Masonic Charities. 

Perdita Chamberlain, St Michael’s head of fundraising, said, ‘We would like to thank the Sussex Freemasons and the Grand Charity for their continued support and their incredibly generous donation.’ Hospice CEO Celia Pyke-Lees praised the nursing team, calling them ‘true heroines’ on the night of the fire. 

Consultant physician James Dennison added, ‘I was very pleased to hear that both the Province of Sussex and the Grand Charity had quickly responded. It is wonderful to see Freemasonry in action like this.’

Published in The Grand Charity

More than £1m for West Wales

The Province of West Wales has raised £1,079,614 in its Festival for the Grand Charity, which was announced at an event in Llanelli attended by Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes. Among other guests were President of the Grand Charity Richard Hone, Chief Executive Laura Chapman and Provincial Grand Master Stephen Hookey, who said: ‘The appeal was launched in May 2009 at a time when the global recession had taken hold and austerity was to become a watchword for several years to come. Thanks to your generosity in these difficult times, the figure for which we aimed has been surpassed significantly.’

Published in The Grand Charity

The reinterment of Richard III

The Province of Leicestershire and Rutland and the Grand Charity have donated £15,000 to Leicester Cathedral Charitable Trust for the reinterment of Richard III. The contribution went towards the £2.54 million appeal, which has funded a tomb and alterations to the cathedral, including a new chapel. 

David Monteith, Dean of Leicester Cathedral, said, ‘We were delighted to have had the support and interest of the Freemasons from the very start of this project on both a national and local level.’

Sharing the experience

Shine, a national charity that supports people with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, has received £35,000 from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. The grant will fund a development coordinator to manage the Shine40Plus network, which helps people aged 40 and over who are affected by these conditions to make connections and to share their experiences and knowledge with one another. 

The Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, Dr Vivian Thomas, said, ‘It is wonderful to be able to help bring people together, ensuring they receive the guidance and support they need to move into the next stage of their lives with happiness and a sense of belonging.’ 

Shine CEO Jackie Bland added, ‘This generous grant will fund the post for one year. This network is the first of its kind in the country to support older survivors of spina bifida and hydrocephalus.’

Published in The Grand Charity

Air support for Manx motorcyclists

Each year, two helicopters are brought to the Isle of Man to provide emergency cover for riders during the Tourist Trophy (TT) and Manx Grand Prix (MGP) motorcycle races. Each event spans around two weeks, and another helicopter covers the four-day Southern 100 Races

For several years, a Grand Charity donation to Air Ambulances has been provided via the Province to update the race helicopters, known locally as AirMeds. This year £4,000 was passed on to Dr David Stevens, medical director of the Isle of Man Motorsport Medical Services, to assist in the purchase of a monitored defibrillator for each helicopter.    

Friday, 04 September 2015 01:00

New floor for Durham Cathedral's Great Kitchen

New Great Kitchen floor for Durham

A stone-laying ceremony has been held in the Great Kitchen of Durham Cathedral, during which the Dean Michael Sadgrove was presented with a cheque for £136,000 from the masonic community for the Open Treasure development project. Individual masons and lodges raised £121,000; £10,000 was donated by the Grand Charity; and £5,000 by Durham Benevolence.

Golfers everywhere invited to take part in Festival Family Fun Day organised by the Province of Shropshire

The event, on Saturday 1st October 2016, is to be held at Cleobury Mortimer Golf Club in the far south of one of the most beautiful parts of England. It is open to masons, their friends, and families (including juniors), and starts at 10am. The organisers are looking for teams of four, and the cost will be £45 per head, including refreshments at the end of the day.

The golf day is the brainchild of Mike Charles, Shropshire's Masonic Golf Club Secretary. All money raised during the day will go to the The Freemasons' Grand Charity.

Shropshire's 34 lodges are currently 'in Festival', with a target of £1m to be raised by 2019. Mike is keen that as many as possible take part, and he will gladly assist by bringing people together. His email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mike also hopes that as many people as possible from outside the borders of Shropshire may want to take part. Please would all golfers, PGMs, Communications Officers, Facebook users, Charity Stewards and lovers of beautiful countryside pass the word. You can also keep up with news by following @shropshiremason on Twitter.

Come and enjoy a great day out, or even make a weekend of it. Climb Clee Hill and view Cleobury's crooked church spire, clearly designed by the same architect who built Chesterfield Cathedral. Or you can simply enjoy the golf in a glorious setting. 

Cash donation to help fire-stricken hospice

In the early hours of Saturday morning, twenty three residents of St Michael’s Hospice in St Leonards-On-Sea, Sussex, were evacuated following an explosion and fire. Three patients have since died following the evacuation, two of which were being treated for smoke inhalation.

The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has donated £5,000 to support the Hospice during this difficult time. Since 1987, St Michael’s has been part of the Grand Charity Hospice Scheme and has received over £84,000 in total.

The emergency grant will help the Hospice’s recovery needs by funding emergency supplies such as blankets and food, the relocation of patients and repairs.

The Province of Sussex, a long-time supporter of St Michael’s Hospice, has also indicated that it will be making an emergency grant to the cause.

Published in The Grand Charity
Wednesday, 10 June 2015 10:42

Pro Grand Master's address - June 2015

Quarterly Communication

10 June 2015 
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren, in the middle of May I was at the Grand Charity Festival in West Wales and, as you have heard, what a great success it was. It exemplified how good we, as masons, are at raising money and, dare I say, also at celebrating the achievement at the end of the road. A wonderful evening was had by all. However, I have said many times in the past that charity is not our raison d'être, but it is certainly a most important by product of how we are all taught to live our lives.

In this regard I have always thought that the Charge after Initiation is the best possible rule to guide us through life. It lays out quite clearly the duties that we owe to God, our neighbours and ourselves, how we should respect the laws of the country in which we live, whether the country of our birth or the country where we currently reside, how we should behave as individuals and then points out the other excellencies of character that we should adhere to.

Whenever I deliver this Charge it never fails to strike home to me the important message that it contains. At a personal level, I find the piece 'by paying due obedience to the laws of any State which may for a time become the place of your residence or afford you its protection' extremely pertinent. This is as a result of having delivered this Charge on the evening of 9/11 and I have to admit to having stumbled a bit when I got to that section and I am still always reminded of those dreadful events every time I hear this Charge delivered.

Brethren, as we all know, any member of the public can acquire a copy of our ritual simply by going into a shop and making the purchase. We have no concerns in that regard, as there is nothing therein that we are not happy for them to know about. I would go further. I believe there are certain passages that we should be proud to show to non-members, most particularly members of our families, and top of my list would be the Charge to the Initiate, with a close second being the Charity Charge, although that, perhaps, needs a bit of explanation.

Brethren, 2017 is fast approaching and the run up to it, as well as the celebrations during the year, are surely the right time to show our pride in being a member of our wonderful Order. We have improved our public image immeasurably over the last 20 years and now is the time to really push this aspect hard. We have so much to shout about – our history, our charity, our enjoyment and our code of conduct being just a few. Of course any organisation with 200,000 members is going to have a few rotten apples, but we most certainly have no more than our fair share and I suspect we have a great many fewer than most equivalent sized organisations.

Brethren let’s approach our tercentenary with both pride and confidence.

Letters to the Editor - No. 33 Spring 2016

Increased perceptions

Sir,

Further to Bob Needham’s letter in the last issue, I too read the recent article by the Pro Grand Master with great interest as I have thought for many years that the Charge to the Initiate is one of the best pieces of our ritual, so much so that during my year as Master I asked for Provincial approval to give each new member a copy on their first night. My reasons were firstly, I was aware that on going home after initiation candidates get asked what went on and can find it difficult to properly convey, whereas if we give them the Charge to take home specifically for this purpose, they feel much happier. Also, as most of us remember very little about our initiation, it gives each new member a chance to read and reflect on our principles. 

So, I had the Charge printed on vellum-type paper and from then on each new mason was presented with one, duly signed by the Master and the two Wardens. This practice proved to be a great success and I commend it to other lodges.

Roger Foulds, Lodge of Agriculture, No. 1199, Yatton, Somerset

Sir,

I read with great interest the letters headed ‘Changing Perceptions’ in the winter edition of the magazine. It led me to reflect on how many readers appreciate the enormous breadth of the Craft.

Three weeks after being initiated into Rhyddings Lodge, No. 5205, in East Lancashire I arrived in Aden to join my first operational squadron as a co-pilot on Beverley transport aircraft. I there quickly discovered the existence of Lodge Light in Arabia, No. 3870. There was also a Scottish lodge on the other side of the harbour in Little Aden. 

Arrangements were eventually made for me to be Passed and Raised there, as a visitor, in Light in Arabia. The regular membership was made up of both European and local brethren who lived and worked in Aden. There were also a number of transitory service people like me. 

But it was the range of religions and cultures that made Light in Arabia truly remarkable. Sitting down in the lodge, besides we Christians, there would be Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus and Parsee Indians. 

To witness all these brethren enjoying the masonic ritual together and afterwards sitting down together at the Festive Board was really quite something and made plain the true universality of Freemasonry: something I will never forget.

Bryan Lamb, Old Blackburnian Lodge, No. 7933, Blackburn, East Lancashire


Letters to the Editor - No. 32 Winter 2015

Changing perceptions

Sir,

I have always enjoyed reading Freemasonry Today and I found the latest edition aligns to my views on how we should depict Freemasonry. I read the comments by Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes, where he comments that any member of the public can purchase a copy of the Charge after Initiation, adding that ‘there is nothing therein that we are not happy for them to know about’. 

I hold a view that we as Freemasons are far too modest about our society. 

As we approach the celebration of 300 years of modern Freemasonry, shouldn’t we make a point of removing the doubts and speculation at large with regard to Freemasonry by taking it upon ourselves to replace them with knowledge and truth?

Bob Needham, Colne Lodge, No. 2477, Wivenhoe, Essex

Published in Speeches

Picking up the pieces

After the smoke has cleared and the flood waters receded, teams of British Red Cross volunteers are now on hand across the UK to give victims vital emotional support. Sarah Holmes investigates how masonic funding has helped this service to roll out nationally

When the Telford family home caught fire in September 2014, Michelle and her five children got out with nothing but the pyjamas on their backs. ‘It was awful watching the black smoke billow out of the house,’ remembers Michelle. ‘All I could think was “What am I going to do? Where are we going to live?” ’

A plug in a bedroom sparked the blaze, which quickly engulfed the house along with a lifetime’s worth of possessions. Nothing could be saved. Fortunately, the family didn’t have to deal with the consequences alone. Within minutes, a British Red Cross Fire and Emergency Support Service (FESS) vehicle – one of a national fleet part-funded by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity – arrived on the scene to offer the family hot drinks, clean clothes and a safe place to sit away from public view. ‘The volunteers stayed with us for a good couple of hours until they knew we had somewhere to go,’ says Michelle. ‘I was so grateful for their help.’ 

Michelle is just one of the many people who have received support from the FESS, which has evolved over the years to help victims through such emergencies as fire, flood and road collisions.

‘In an emergency situation, very few of the blue light agencies have capacity to look after the emotional needs of survivors,’ says Simon Lewis, head of emergency planning and response at British Red Cross. ‘Quite often, families are left to deal with the consequences alone. That’s where the British Red Cross comes in.’

‘The emergency services know they can rely on a Red Cross volunteer not to make silly mistakes or try to play the hero.’ Simon Lewis

On-call care

Founded in 1993 in Berkshire, the British Red Cross FESS set out to provide emotional and practical support for victims in the wake of a fire. It worked in cooperation with the national fire service, with volunteers trained in first aid responding to call-outs from the incident officer. The service relied on specially adapted vehicles that contained everything from a shower and toilet, to a telephone and household staples such as nappies. But at a cost of £50,000 per vehicle, most funders were reluctant to commit to the level of investment needed to help the service flourish. That’s where the Grand Charity stepped in. 

‘We heard about a service the Red Cross was hoping to trial, which would provide much-needed assistance to people in the aftermath of personal tragedy. It sounded exactly like the type of thing we wanted to fund,’ says Katrina Baker, Head of Non-Masonic Grants at the Grand Charity. 

The Grand Charity provided an initial grant of £300,000 in 2000, allowing the Red Cross to set up 10 support services across the UK. ‘We used the money to buy 13 new vehicles and train 800 volunteers, so it essentially kick-started the service,’ recalls James Hickman, senior trusts and statutory fundraiser at British Red Cross.  

‘Rather than making do in a marquee, a Fire and Emergency Support Service vehicle acts as a fully equipped base for our volunteers to provide timely, high-quality care. It’s a fantastic presence at local events like the London to Cambridge Bike Ride, but crucially it allows the British Red Cross to respond to major incidents like the east coast storm surge in December 2013 when evacuees of the floods most needed our help.’ Simon Holmes, Cambridgeshire emergency response and resilience manager, British Red Cross

Serving changing needs

It was a starting point, but as the occurrence of domestic fires almost halved by 2011, the role of the British Red Cross service needed to change. Diversifying its remit, the FESS began to support NHS ambulances, providing assistance at major incidents with its fully equipped First Aid Units. Today, the Grand Charity’s UK, non-emergency grants have exceeded £650,000, and the Red Cross has been able to deploy 20 new emergency vehicles.

‘We’ve reached over 90,000 people, and that’s as a direct result of the Grand Charity funding,’ says Hickman. ‘It’s their flexibility that makes the partnership so valuable. They are responsive to our needs and willing to work with us to establish which region will benefit most from their support.’

Cambridgeshire is one region that benefited from a new First Aid Unit in 2011. Peter Sutton, the Provincial Information Officer, says: ‘We have raised £1.2 million for the Grand Charity, so our local Freemasons can feel real pride that we have contributed to making this support possible.’ 

The Red Cross is playing an ever-more vital role in the emergency response sector. Just last year, volunteers assisted communities devastated by the UK winter floods, helping to evacuate people as well as delivering food, blankets and first aid.

Lewis attributes the success of the service to its volunteers – who are trained in providing first aid and emotional support on joining the team – but also to the relationship between the Red Cross and the emergency services: ‘Trust is vital in any fast-moving situation. The emergency services know they can rely on a Red Cross volunteer not to make silly mistakes or try to play the hero.’

British Red Cross in the UK

While the foreign relief efforts of the British Red Cross are well advertised through its public appeals for funds, the charity actually spends more at home in the UK than it does abroad. In fact, in 2013 the Red Cross spent £28.1 million responding to UK emergencies compared to £25.7 million spent on overseas support during the same period. The relationship between the Red Cross and Freemasonry has always been a strong one, with Freemasons in the UK donating more than £2 million over the past 30 years – vital funds that have supported Red Cross services and relief efforts both at home and abroad.

Published in The Grand Charity
Page 5 of 22

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