A well-planned cooperative effort, ably supported by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), has enabled a significant £60,000 donation to be made to Thames Hospice, on behalf of the Freemasons of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire
This great example of fraternal cooperation resulted in a significant grant to support the construction of its new hospice in Bray near Maidenhead.
After several weeks of planning, the Provincial Grand Masters of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, Anthony Howlett-Bolton and John Clark respectively, together with representatives of their Provincial Charities, met up with Debbie Raven, CEO of Thames Hospice, to formally present their combined donation in front of the site of the new hospice, which was from the Berkshire Masonic Charity, the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund and the MCF.
Serving both Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, Thames Hospice opened in 1987 but is now no longer able to keep up with the increasing number of people who need their care and services. As well as the increase in numbers, the charity is dealing with more complex and challenging medical conditions and, as a result, the decision was taken to build a larger facility. In 2017, planning permission was given to construct a new state of the art facility on land donated to the charity near Bray Lake. Inpatient rooms will increase from 17 to 28 and there will be more dedicated space to treat outpatients as well as to provide therapeutic and other activities.
This new Thames Hospice will open in 2020, with the £60,000 donation helping towards the building of two dedicated rooms in the £22 million facility. These rooms will be quiet areas for reflection and remembering loved ones as well as offering help and advice to families.
After the presentation ceremony, Debbie Raven gave an outline of how Thames Hospice is developing and some of its future plans. Once the new building is complete, there will be a permanent reminder of the contributions that the Freemasons of the two Provinces have made.
Debbie commented: ‘I cannot thank the Freemasons enough for their generous support towards our new Hospice. The donation comes on top of several others from their charitable funds and the incredible support they have given over many years. It will make a significant difference to our patients and their families.'
Together with Debbie, both Provincial Grand Masters acknowledged the cooperation and support given to this collaborative donation by the MCF and the continuing work they do in supporting the Hospice movement in England and Wales.
Anthony Howlett-Bolton, Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire, said: ‘Working together with our fellow Freemasons in Buckinghamshire and the MCF has allowed us to make a significant contribution to Thames Hospice to help them in the wonderful work they are doing to help families across our counties.’
John Clark, Provincial Grand Master of Buckinghamshire, commented: ‘The Freemasons of Buckinghamshire are delighted to be part of this joint initiative supporting the essential work performed by Thames Hospice. We look forward to establishing a long and fruitful relationship with them.’
Buckinghamshire’s Assistant Grand Master Philip Blacklaw has visited The Princes Centre following the pledge of £4,000 towards the cost of a new kitchen, on behalf of BMCF (Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund)
In 2012, the centre at Princes Risborough was due to close before a community-led ‘Social Enterprise’ was established to take over the running of the centre and save it from closure.
In the years since, it has turned from a loss-making facility into a sustainable award-winning centre of excellence. Last year, the centre took on Bourne End Day Care Centre which was also faced with closure and together they provide day care for 140 clients including those with dementia, mental health issues, learning difficulties and the frail elderly.
Both centres provide award-winning care to vulnerable members of society, as well as enabling much needed respite for their full-time carers.
Members of Carrington Lodge No. 2421 in Buckinghamshire have supported the centres with both practical and financial assistance over the years.
As a special surprise on the 7th birthday of the centres, it was announced that they had been awarded The Queens Award for Voluntary Service.
The links formed by Roman Way Lodge No. 9533 in Buckinghamshire with local schools has benefitted Merebrook Infant School, with the donation of £1,000 to establish a ‘Forest Schools’ initiative
The ‘Forest Schools’ initiative aims to build confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in the school, outdoors and in the natural environment.
Graham Mitchell from the lodge worked closely with Merebrook’s Head of School Tracy Hurwood to establish the project. Roman Way’s Secretary Mick Hull then approached the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund for support for the scheme, which has provided clothing and equipment to allow the project to go ahead.
Merebrook Infant School in Milton Keynes has 128 students between the ages of four and seven years, amongst whom there is a high percentage of disadvantaged and looked after children. The donation will ensure that all children will be able to benefit from the initiative.
Head of School Tracey Hurwood commented: 'This is a very generous donation from Buckinghamshire Freemasons and will make such a difference to the children. We are all extremely grateful.'
The Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF) have sponsored the under 11 team at Waterhall Stars Football Club with a grant of £1,000 for kit and equipment
Waterhall Stars was established in 1995 and has teams in the Milton Keynes Border Counties and Milton Keynes Development District League. The club is run entirely by volunteers and funded by parents and sponsors.
Their aim is to provide an opportunity for children to enjoy playing football in a safe and friendly environment.
The under 11 team, managed by George Watts, have won numerous Summer tournaments and have started this season in great shape, winning two and drawing one in their first three games.
Club Chairman Viv Dixon commented: 'The club operates on the simple principle of providing football for all in a fun, safe, structured and sociable environment that will enable each child to develop and reach their own potential.'
With generous donations from a number of lodges, Buckinghamshire Freemasons have purchased a new first response vehicle for the market town of Winslow
Steve Acton, Winslow Community First Responder, and also a local Freemason of Saxon Lodge No. 9735, and Dave Cave, Community Engagement Training Officer (South Central Ambulance Service), were officially presented with the new response vehicle from Phil Blacklaw and Tony Robinson, the Assistant Provincial Grand Masters of Buckinghamshire.
This vehicle was purchased with the generous donations from the lodges that meet at Eliot Hall Masonic Centre in Winslow and the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund. It replaces the first response vehicle which went operational in April 2015. As its predecessor, it had 4x4 capability to assist in rural locations and adverse weather conditions.
Buckinghamshire freemasons and Eliot Hall Masonic Centre have been great of support of Winslow community first responders and through their continued support in providing funding for this vehicle and equipment, they are helping to provide lifesaving skills and equipment to reach local people who are suffering a medical emergency prior to the arrival of an ambulance.
The new response vehicle is bigger than its predecessor, as it is now equipped with specialist lifting equipment and can be sent to assist casualties who have fallen and require specialist equipment to get them up, which certain community first responders are trained to do, with Steve Acton being one of them.
It carries the usual lifesaving equipment and medical gases as the other vehicle did also soon it is hoped to have the latest communication equipment installed, with funds still being sought after.
lodges meeting at Eliot Hall in Winslow have teamed up with the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF) to provide a small fleet of 4X4 vehicles to serve all areas of rural Buckinghamshire
Provincial Grand Master John Clark, assisted by Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Graham Dearing and Phil Blacklaw, presented the latest addition of three vehicles, which have been placed to serve the Buckinghamshire communities of Winslow, Marlow and Thame/Haddenham.
Community First Responders (CFR) are all highly trained volunteers who do not get paid for the many hours they give in support of their communities. Neither do they receive support from the NHS or local government.
The First Responders live and work in the community they serve and are able to start life-saving treatments prior to the arrival of an ambulance in a wide variety of medical emergencies such as stroke, choking and serious injuries. They can also reach emergencies and transport medical staff from the air ambulance landing point. In rural areas it is often difficult to reach incidents in the Responder’s own cars and an off-road capability is invaluable.
Steve Acton, the CFR for the Winslow area and a member of Saxon Lodge No. 9735 at Eliot Hall, first highlighted the need over two years ago. Since then the BMCF and Winslow lodges have worked together to build the fleet and extend the area of Buckinghamshire covered.
The fundraising has been boosted by the generous bequest of the late Rodney Meerza, who was also a Winslow Mason.
The vehicles provided all have the 4X4 capability, essential at some incidents on local farms and bridleways, and are fitted with scene lighting bars for night use, as well as alley lights to enable the user to see street numbers easily at night.
Over the past few months, all three vehicles have been regularly called on to assist in areas of heavy snowfall or muddy conditions and have helped to save lives in times of medical emergency.
Buckinghamshire Freemasons have presented Willen Hospice with two new Rise and Recline chairs
The chairs will assist in helping patients experiencing pain by allowing them to adjust position and help prevent falls by assisting with seating and rising. They will also reduce strain to medical staff by making transfer and the provision of care easier.
Phil Blacklaw, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for Buckinghamshire, and Andrew Hough, Honorary Secretary to the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF), were in attendance for the presentation. Buckinghamshire Freemasons have long supported the hospice which, in the past year alone, has treated over 1,000 patients with terminal illness.
Susan O’Dell, Trust Fundraiser of Willen Hospice, commented that the BMCF's support has contributed to their efforts to make a real difference for patients reaching the end of their life, ensuring they receive the comfort, dignity and respect deserved and ensuring that their end of life experience is as pain-free and comfortable as possible.
It was back to school for a party of Winslow Freemasons in Buckinghamshire when they attended the presentation of a specially adapted minibus at Furze Down School
Freemasons from the Eliot Hall Masonic Centre in Winslow, representatives of the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund and the Lady Taverners gathered together to hand over the minibus to the school, situated on the edge of the town.
The minubus was funded by the Lady Taverners alongside a donation of £3,500 by Winslow Freemasons, who asked all their lodges and chapters to help contribute – which was then matched by the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund to help raise £7,000.
Furze Down School, which has over 100 students with complex special educational needs between the ages of 2 and 19, admits students from a wide area of Buckinghamshire. The new minibus has special adaptations to enable wheelchair users to have access to it including a lift to the rear entrance doors and seats which can be reconfigured to allow several wheelchair users to travel securely. Previously, such students would have to travel separately from their more able- bodied classmates when out on trips and visits.
Despite the inclement weather, the students enthusiastically gathered for photographs during the handover to their Headteacher Alison Rooney. This was followed with a lively assembly in which the students thanked those present and all those who had worked to make it possible.
The children had also made cards to express their appreciation which were presented to representatives of Eliot Hall and the Centenary Fund.
Practical support for MS sufferers
Buckinghamshire masons have joined the battle to help hundreds of Thames Valley people hit by multiple sclerosis (MS), which attacks the central nervous system and can lead to patients virtually becoming prisoners in their own bodies.
The Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund, which helps local non-masonic charities, donated £15,000 to the new Chilterns MS Centre in Aylesbury, which was opened by actor Sir David Jason in September 2012. The centre’s chief executive, Jo Woolf, says some 260 patients are treated each week, receiving practical support to face up to the disease.
The donation has paid for vital equipment to enable a new building to become operational immediately, without having to wait months to raise money for the badly needed kit. Equipment includes communications devices, training-room furniture, a fully equipped kitchen and landscape gardening for the surrounding area.