£33k raised for Nepal Earthquake Appeal so far

In response to members of the Craft and the extent of the devastation caused by the earthquake in Nepal, the Council of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity opened a dedicated Relief Chest (E0129D)

This centrally administered service is for those who would like their donation for victims of the earthquake to be part of a co-ordinated masonic response towards search and rescue and relief efforts. This is in addition to the £50,000 donated in the immediate aftermath

Donations can be made online with a credit or debit card by clicking here.

Donations can also be sent by cheque payable to "The Freemasons' Grand Charity" to:

Relief Chest Scheme
60 Great Queen Street
London
WC2B 5AZ 

Please reference "E0129D" in any communication regarding this appeal.

Gift Aid donation forms are available here or by contacting the Relief Chest office on 020 7395 9246.

To make a donation via the telephone please phone 0207 395 9349 during the following times: Mon-Fri 10:00 - 13:00 and 14:00 - 16:00 (Fri 14:00 - 15:00).

All donations are gratefully received and will be credited to Relief Chest E0129D.

Find our more at: https://www.grandcharity.org/pages/nepal_earthquake.html#sthash.1BS3QuMr.dpuf 

Published in The Grand Charity

In response to members of the Craft and the extent of the devastation caused by the earthquake in Nepal, the Council of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has opened a dedicated Relief Chest (E0129D)

This centrally administered service is for those who would like their donation for victims of the earthquake to be part of a coordinated masonic response towards search and rescue and relief efforts. If anyone wishes to help assist the people affected by the earthquake, the Council is happy to receive donations to this Relief Chest for onward transmission at a later date to suitable projects.

Donations can be sent by cheque payable to "The Freemasons' Grand Charity" to:

Relief Chest Scheme
60 Great Queen Street
London
WC2B 5AZ

You must state that the payment is in support of the Nepal disaster relief work. 

Gift Aid donation forms are available here or by contacting the Relief Chest office on 020 7395 9246.

For donations via credit card, please visit the donation page or contact the Relief Chest office.

To make a donation via the telephone please phone the Relief Chest office on 0207 395 9349

Relief Chest office opening hours: Mon-Fri 10:00 - 13:00 and 14:00 - 16:00 (Fri 14:00 - 15:00).

Published in The Grand Charity

The Freemasons' Grand Charity has donated £50,000 to the Red Cross in response to the earthquake that has devastated Nepal this weekend

So far it has been reported that over 3,700 people have been killed and over 6,500 are injured. The earthquake, the worst to have hit in 81 years, measured 7.9 on the Richter Scale and struck the Kathmandu Valley at 6am on 25 April. More than 70 aftershocks have been felt and are still continuing, with further damage still a threat. It is estimated that 2 million people have been affected and 1.6 million displaced.

As search and rescue efforts continue, hospitals in the capital continue to function but are stretched to the limit. The humanitarian situation in towns and villages closer to the epicentre and beyond the Kathmandu valley is a major concern. Accessibility to and information from remote affected areas are major challenges, hampering search and rescue and relief efforts.

More information about the Red Cross relief efforts: http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/News/2015/April/After-the-earthquake-appeal-launched-for-Nepal 

Published in The Grand Charity

Incredible sum of £36,000 distributed to Leicestershire and Rutland charities

Twenty-three diverse local charities gathered at Freemasons' Hall in Leicester on Saturday 25th April for a presentation event to receive over £36,000 in generous donations from the Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association, The Freemasons' Grand Charity and the Leicestershire and Rutland Royal Arch Masons.

Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, based at East Midlands Airport, was given a total of £11,000. Charlotte Marson Fundraising Co-Ordinator for the charity said: 'A huge thank you to all the Freemasons for this very generous donation which will go a long way to help save more lives.' 

Other charities to benefit included:

Leicester Navy Training Corps is a voluntary youth organisation that trains young people in the ways and customs of the sea, using the methods and practices of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Commanding Officer, Matthew Taylor, said: 'A massive thank you to the Freemasons for the £1,500 donation which will provide opportunities for our cadets to go flying and off-shore sailing.'

Home Start Melton and Rutland which is a family support charity that helps parents to build better lives for their children. Chair of Trustees, Jane Loake, said: 'Thank you very much for the generosity of the Freemasons which will fund children to attend a Christmas Pantomime which for some children is a once a year enrichment activity in their lives something that they would not have the opportunity to do before.'

The Bradgate Park Trust which provides the maintenance and improvement of the public park received £1,000 towards the purchase of an off-road mobility scooter to enable greater disabled access to the park. Peter Tyldesley of the Trust said: 'The charity was set up in 1928 by Charles Bennion, a prominent Leicestershire Freemason, for the benefit of all the people of Leicestershire, and we are delighted to receive the donation from the modern Freemasons.' To receive the donation on behalf of the Trust was Col Robert Martin, Trustee of Bradgate Park, and also Charles Bennion, grandson of the benefactor, who was keen to learn of his grandfather's masonic connections and was fascinated to learn he was a Past Master of St John's Lodge No. 279 and Lodge Semper Eadem No. 3091, a Founder member of East Goscote Lodge No. 2865 and Provincial Grand Treasurer.

Radio Gwendolen which provides a 24-hour service of music, news and information specifically for patients of the General Hospital, Leicester. The donation of £1,500 will go towards the purchase of a dual CD player and equipment to allow the radio to be streamed on the internet. 

The Provincial Grand Master of the Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger, 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 our local charities helping children, young people, those with disabilities and the elderly.'

The full list of charities were:

Long Whatton and Diseworth Scout Group – £2,000
Leicester Navy Training Corp – £1,500
Hinckley and Bosworth Community Transport Scheme – £2,000
Women's Aid Leicestershire – £1,000
The Brain Tumour Charity – £1,514 (from the Lodge of the Holywell No. 7827)
South Leicestershire Scouts – £1,500
Radio Gwendolen – £1,500
Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance – £11,000 (including £4,000 from the Grand Charity)
Dogs for the Disabled – £1,000 (from Grey Friars Lodge No. 6803)
Cottesmore Scout Headquarters – £1,000
The Bradgate Park Trust – £1,000
PROSTaid – £264 (from the Lodge of Gratitude No. 6514)
Friends of Devonshire Court – £150 (from Wiclif Chapter No. 3078)
Bark Foundation – £200 (from the Royal Arch Masons)
Loughborough Cancer Self Help Group – £250 (from the Royal Arch Masons)
Mesothelioma UK – £250 (from the Royal Arch Masons)
Myeloma UK – £2,500
Leicestershire Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus – £1,665
Home Start South Leicestershire – £1,000 (including £500 from St Wilfrid's Lodge No. 8350)
RABI – £1,000 (including £500 from St Wilfrid's Lodge No. 8350)
The Well, Kibworth – £1,000 (including £500 from St Wilfrid's Lodge No. 8350)
Shopmobility Market Harborough – £1,000 (including £500 from St Wilfrid's Lodge No. 8350)
Home Start Melton and Rutland – £2,000

Sunday, 12 April 2015 12:25

Annual boost for Midlands Air Ambulance

A welcome annual award to Midlands Air Ambulance from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, was jointly presented by the Provincial Grand Masters for Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire

RW Bros Tim Henderson-Ross, the Rev David Bowen and Robert Vaughan presented Annie Newell, Fundraising Manager at Strensham air ambulance base, with a combined donation of £12,000 as part of Grand Charity's support to all 22 rescue services in England and Wales – financial support which since 2007 has totalled nearly £2m.

The country’s air ambulance service, without either government or National Lottery funding, relies on such voluntary donations to operate its critical role. Annie Newell, in her final year as Fundraising Manager, expressed her sincere gratitude for the continued commitment and generous support given to the charity by Freemasons over many years. Michelle McCracken will be taking over Annie’s responsibilities in September.

£30,000 has been donated to the Haven Breast Cancer Support Centre UK by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity

The donation has been awarded so as to maintain and expand the Welfare Benefits and Money Advice service available at Haven centres in London, Leeds and Hereford.

Such central financial assistance is in keeping with the local support given to the Hereford Haven over the past years by Herefordshire masons.

RW Bro the Rev David Bowen, Provincial Grand Master for Herefordshire, accompanied by VW Bro Mike Roff, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, represented Freemasons county wide at Hereford Haven, where they met the Centre Manager Frankie Devereux.

Rev David Bowen spoke highly of the truly supportive work undertaken by the Haven Centre, which is free at source, and entirely dependent on charitable giving.

David Bowen was pleased by the news that a new Haven centre will open on the Worcestershire Royal site in October, and was delighted to hear about the Haven’s Healing Garden to be seen at Chelsea Flower Show in May of this year. 

The Freemasons' Grand Charity has donated £20,000 in emergency aid following the severe tropical cyclone which hit Vanuatu in the South Pacific on Saturday, via the Red Cross

The cyclone has cause widespread destruction to one of the world's least developed countries. President Baldwin Lonsdale has appealed for immediate help, saying the storm has 'wiped out' all development of recent years and his country would have to rebuild 'everything'.

According to national statistics, 50% of the population are children, and therefore are more vulnerable to diseases.

There has been significant impact on livelihoods, with 13% of people already living below the basic poverty line. Over 80% of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihood.

The Freemasons' Grand Charity donation is being used towards delivering emergency assistance in Water/Sanitation, Health and Shelter.

Published in The Grand Charity

With half a million people in the UK living with Alzheimer’s, the Masonic Samaritan Fund and The Freemasons’ Grand Charity have been united in their desire to support groundbreaking research that will help identify new targets for treating the disease, with a staggering donation of £175,000 to Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The expert research team, led by Prof Clemens Kaminski at the University of Cambridge, want to understand the chain of events that occur right at the beginning of the onset of the disease. The scientists hope the knowledge gained from this vital research will offer new clues for treatment.

Freemasons from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cambridgeshire presented the generous donation at a cheque presentation in Professor Kaminski’s laboratory.

Ian Wilson, Director of Fundraising at Alzheimer’s Research UK who accepted the £175,000 donation said: “We are delighted that The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund have chosen to support Alzheimer’s Research UK’s fight to defeat dementia.

“Research holds the answers to find ways to prevent, diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, but it is massively underfunded. This huge contribution will fund two years of pioneering research at the University of Cambridge. As an independent charity, Alzheimer’s Research UK is completely reliant on the generosity of donors and this marvellous donation will take us all closer to a world free of dementia.”

Alzheimer’s disease, which affects memory and thinking, is characterised by the build-up of two toxic proteins – amyloid and tau. These protein clumps cause damage to nerve cells and lead to the symptoms experienced by those living with Alzheimer’s. But it is still not fully understood how these clumps of protein inflict damage on nerve cells. This generous support from the two Masonic charities will help Dr Kaminski and his team quite literally shine a light on the initial stages of Alzheimer’s.

Peter Sutton, Provincial Information Officer for Cambridgeshire Freemasons, said: “We are delighted to support Alzheimer’s Research UK in its mission to undertake pioneering research that brings us closer to a treatment for this cruel disease.

“Alzheimer’s is a disease that touches so many of us, family, friends and colleagues. All Cambridgeshire Freemasons look forward to following the progress of Professor Kaminski and his team as they strive to understand the fundamental basics underlying Alzheimer’s disease. Freemasons throughout the country are proud to be part of the fight against dementia.”

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund

The caring community

David Maddern and Geoff Tuck discuss the importance of the Grand Charity in bringing Freemasonry to a wider audience

Charitable giving has been a masonic tradition from the earliest days of Freemasonry, three hundred years ago. Since 1981, The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has supported members and their dependants in financial distress, as well as the wider community, with grants totalling more than £120 million.

This tremendous achievement has only been possible because of the generosity of Freemasons and their families. Wherever possible, the Grand Charity involves members in its activities, with Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Almoners and Grand Charity Stewards playing a crucial role in service delivery and fundraising.

David Maddern (Provincial Grand Charity Steward of Somerset) and Geoff Tuck (Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight) have been central figures in masonic charity in their Provinces for many years. They both understand the importance of involving the masonic community in Grand Charity activities and the positive effects this can have. 

With the Province of Somerset currently in Festival for the Grand Charity, David has encountered a perception that the Grand Charity does not support local communities, something that he believes could not be further from the truth. 

‘By involving Freemasons in the donations to non-masonic charities and projects, a true understanding of the Grand Charity is gained,’ he explains. ‘The annual cheque presentations to hospices and air ambulances are a great way to involve members from across the Province, especially as these fantastic services are close to the hearts of many.’

It is a priority for the Grand Charity that it supports the causes that matter to masons. Geoff remarks, ‘Details of the non-masonic grants have a positive ripple effect on members; they are recalled with pride and often lead to further financial and volunteering support for the charities.’ 

David echoes this point: ‘The charities that have received the largest donations from Somerset lodges are also charities that the Grand Charity has supported – Help for Heroes, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, and St Margaret’s Hospice. I would not be surprised if other Provinces were to report the same thing, as I sense that the Grand Charity’s actions inspire local masons to follow its lead.’

Provincial involvement with the supported charities can also help Freemasonry. ‘Being part of non-masonic grant-giving creates rare public opportunities to overcome prejudices, myths and unfair publicity,’ says Geoff. ‘As a result, I know of at least two gentlemen who have become masons, and innumerable others who now have a totally different and positive view of Freemasonry.’

Geoff sees the work of the Grand Charity in respect of non-masonic grants as an essential element in the future of the Craft and its reputation. ‘It is a clear demonstration that Freemasonry is an influence for good and something of which future members wish to be a part.’

It is important to The Freemasons’ Grand Charity that all masons feel involved with its work. To find out more, visit www.grandcharity.org or contact your Provincial Grand Charity Steward and discover how you can get involved

Published in The Grand Charity

Meeting of minds

Thanks to the research of Professor Susan Short, doctors could be using a common cold virus to shrink deadly brain tumours within five years. Sarah Holmes finds out how the Freemasons are supporting this groundbreaking work

There are six hundred and fifty kilometres of blood vessels in the human brain. If unravelled from London, they would stretch just short of Glasgow, yet coiled they fit into an organ just fifteen centimetres long. 

This incredible network keeps the brain’s one hundred billion or so nerve cells supplied with oxygen and nutrients. For decades, researchers have been investigating ways of using these blood vessels to administer life-saving treatments for complex diseases, including brain tumours. 

The current anti-cancer armoury relies on invasive treatments of brain surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which can cause debilitating side effects in patients. They range from hair loss and vomiting to the development of cancer in healthy tissues that have been exposed to radiation.  

By contrast, the pervasive network of blood vessels in the brain could allow doctors to send cancer-killing agents directly to the site of the tumour. It’s a targeted approach that could cut down recovery times significantly, but the treatment possibilities have remained underdeveloped as brain cancer research struggles to attract funding. 

Last year, however, new hope was instilled at the Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology. During a clinical trial of twelve NHS brain tumour patients, Professor Susan Short successfully delivered a commonly encountered, non-toxic virus capable of killing tumour cells, without harming healthy ones, directly to the brains of some patients. 

‘At present, the survival rates of brain cancer are not only disappointing, but the treatments themselves can also be harmful and invasive.’

Cerebral matters

It was a major breakthrough that brought the possibility of non-toxic brain cancer treatment one step closer to reality. Shortly after the clinical trial, Professor Short and her team were awarded a five-year grant worth £3 million, half of which came from The Brain Tumour Charity. Included in this was a joint contribution of £100,000 from the Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) and The Freemasons’ Grand Charity – a sum that enabled Professor Short to hire two more post-doctoral researchers.  

‘The research was recommended to us by distinguished cancer surgeon Charles Akle,’ says Richard Dunstan, Chairman of the Non-Masonic Grants Committee. 

‘We were fortunate enough to have him on our deciding committee and he spoke very highly of Professor Short, so that greatly boosted our confidence in her research.’

At present, the survival rates of brain cancer are not only disappointing, but the treatments themselves can also be harmful and invasive, explains Richard. 

‘If successful, this project could provide non-invasive and non-toxic forms of treatment that are an all-round safer option for brain cancer sufferers. In our view, that constitutes research of the utmost importance.’ 

For John McCrohan, Grants Director at the MSF, the fact that the project was being carried out in Leeds, away from the usual centres for funding, gave it extra significance. ‘It proves that not all high-quality research happens in London or Cambridge,’ he says. ‘We were eager to show the masonic community that our funding could be helping research happening right on their doorsteps.’

‘In Professor Short’s research, a harmless household pathogen is used, producing mild, flu-like symptoms at worst.’

The funding gap

It’s not the first time the Grand Charity and the MSF have combined to support a medical research cause, with previous contributions benefiting work with both prostate and ovarian cancer. This latest award, however, will help to find desperately needed treatments for a cancer that has been nationally overlooked for the past decade.

Between 2002 and 2012, brain cancer research received just £35 million in National Cancer Research Institute funding compared to the £351.5 million spent researching cures for breast cancer. As a result, survival rates have not changed much in the past forty years.

In fact, recorded cases of brain cancer have increased since the 1970s, rising twenty-three per cent for men and twenty-five per cent for women. Despite accounting for just one per cent of cancer diagnoses, brain tumours are responsible for three per cent of all cancer deaths each year. Such damning odds have driven development of The Brain Tumour Charity’s latest research strategy, A Cure Can’t Wait, which aims to secure at least £20 million of investment over the next five years. The hope is to attract more people like Professor Short into the field. 

‘I worked with patients suffering from brain tumours very early on in my career,’ says Professor Short. ‘I enjoyed it, but it was very obvious that more research was needed to improve the outcomes of their treatments. So when I started my PhD, I decided to apply the work to glioma.’

Glioma is a primary form of brain tumour made up of cells resembling the supportive glial cells in the brain and spine, and the focus of Professor Short’s latest research. 

It is one of the most aggressive and fastest-growing tumour types, with patients usually surviving for between twelve and eighteen months after diagnosis, depending on how advanced the tumour has become.

Over the next five years, Professor Short’s work will look at how harmless viruses can be used to help attack and diminish these primary tumours, as well as secondary metastatic varieties. Called oncolytic viruses, these parasitic agents can preferentially infect and kill cancer cells.

‘The aim is to develop a non-toxic form of treatment that can be used in conjunction with the traditional methods to increase the number of tumour cells that we kill,’ says Professor Short. ‘In theory, the viruses would be injected into the patient intravenously before being carried through their bloodstream to the brain where they could act on the tumour cells.’ 

The success of this theory has already been proved in the earlier clinical trial, and it’s an outstanding feat given the numerous biological obstacles that have developed to protect the brain from foreign agents – even if they are cancer-killing viruses.

The most complicated is the blood brain barrier, a unique protection system that prevents harmful pathogens from infiltrating the brain’s bloodstream. 

The second is the body’s own immune response against the virus while it is in circulation.   

‘We believe that at least some of the virus is carried intracellularly through the bloodstream and released only at the tumour site,’ explains Professor Short. ‘The immune cells, which are derived from bone marrow, protect the virus from antibody attack so that it can’t be neutralised before it reaches the brain.’

Professor Short theorises that once in the brain, the virus invades the tumour cells, causing them to explode and die. ‘There are two ways that the virus could act on the tumour cells,’ she explains. ‘Firstly it could be a direct toxic effect of the virus, which stops the tumour cells from being able to divide and grow so they die. The second is that the virus triggers a response from the local immune cells. This would encourage the immune cells to break down the tumour cell along with the virus.’

Known as immunotherapy, this form of cancer treatment is particularly advantageous for brain cancer sufferers because it lacks the painful side effects of conventional treatment. In Professor Short’s research, a harmless household pathogen called reovirus is used, producing at worst mild, flu-like symptoms in the patients. 

Ultimately, Professor Short hopes that the treatment will be available for all brain cancer patients through mainstream healthcare, although she estimates that this would be unlikely to happen for another two to three years. First, she aims to improve her understanding of how the virus attacks the tumour cells, before opening it up to more patients through clinical trials. 

Alongside this main tranche of research, Professor Short’s team will also be investigating ways to stop tumour stem cells from reseeding after radiotherapy, as well as improving their understanding of the cell-based delivery system of the virus. It’s early stages yet, and although the team can’t confidently calculate the impact the research will have on patient survival rates, Professor Short remains optimistic.

‘One of the nice things about this study is that it’s a completely new treatment option,’ she says. ‘So many other approaches to treating tumours haven’t worked, but this gives patients hope. It’s another positive step towards overcoming brain cancer.’ 

The case for research

Tim Clarke

Tim, forty, was diagnosed with a grade IV brain tumour in February 2011. The prognosis was not good, and he was told he probably wouldn’t survive beyond eighteen months. 

Even so, he went through the usual treatment process. Four years later, Tim is still here. ‘Nobody knows why I’m still around, and in a sense that makes it harder,’ he says. ‘There’s such a lack of understanding about the disease; even the treatments all seem a bit random. There’s no guarantee they will work. I have friends who were diagnosed and died within a year. Nobody can tell what’s going to happen, and that is what’s most frustrating.’

Tim hopes that with more essential research, brain cancer patients can someday be given the same odds of survival as other cancers. ‘When you don’t understand what’s happening inside your mind, it’s impossible to go forward. That’s where the research comes in.’

Cariss Evans

As a nurse, Cariss, twenty-nine, knew something wasn’t right when she kept suffering from bouts of intense déjà vu. ‘I could be driving the car, and all of a sudden my face would prickle with heat and this horrible feeling of panic would strike me,’ she recalls. 

It turned out to be a grade III oligoastrocytoma growing behind her eye. Cariss was devastated. In June 2014, she had brain surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible, before undergoing intensive rounds of radiotherapy and chemotherapy over the course of the rest of the year. ‘The treatment made me feel even worse than the tumour itself,’ she says. ‘It was such a gruelling process.’

The lack of understanding about what caused this disease was equally disheartening. ‘In the news, they put it down to bad luck, but there’s got to be a reason. That’s why research is so vital, so we can find out what causes brain cancer and treat it effectively.’

Published in Freemasonry Cares
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