Earlier this summer, Buckinghamshire Freemasons John Waller and Martin Robinson of St Giles Lodge No. 8555, walked the route of Hadrian’s Wall, coast to coast from Newcastle to Bowness on Solway – covering a distance of almost 100 miles
The first part of the walk was from 3rd to 5th June 2018, but by day three both John and Mark were suffering from bad blisters and, in John’s case, a pulled leg muscle. They had to stop the walk and return home in very low spirits.
However, undeterred, they resumed again on 14th of July 2018, completing the walk three days later. They arrived in Bowness, again with some nasty blisters but feeling happy that they had completed the journey, which at times had seemed impossible, and raised almost £600.
The walk was in aid of MK Act which is the chosen charity of this year’s St Giles Master’s Charity. MK Act deals with domestic violence intervention services in Milton Keynes.
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.'
The Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Foundation (BMCF) have donated £1,800 to install a new public access defibrillator in Buckingham
Andrew Hough, Secretary of the BMCF, was present to see the defibrillator installed, which will serve the local community as well as a growing number of local businesses.
The money for this project came from the voluntary BMCF donation of £3 per member which is levied once a year in addition to the lodge subscription. The committee meet several times a year to review applications for worthwhile causes in Buckinghamshire.
Geoff Shaw, who runs the Buckingham AED Project, commented: 'The unit you so kindly sponsored is now up and running, live and registered with the Ambulance Service.'
Buckinghamshire Freemasons have donated £5,000 to Different Strokes, to assist the charity in their work to support and improve the lives of younger stroke survivors
Historically, stroke support has focused on those over the age of 65, but every year 25,000 people of working age and younger suffer a stroke. Often, they receive limited rehabilitation, emotional and practical help which they need to rebuild their lives.
The organisation seeks to help in a variety of ways including exercise and peer support groups, practical information on matters such as benefits and returning to work. They also offer an information line and collaborate with other organisations which champion the voice of the stroke survivor.
Austin Willett, Strategic Business Manager for Different Strokes, commented: 'We’re really grateful to the Buckinghamshire Freemasons for the grant they have given us. This will allow us to continue to provide quality services to younger stroke survivors and their families at a time when they most need help.
'As a charity that relies on the generosity of individuals and organisations to fund our services, it’s fantastic to know that the Freemasons recognise the impact of our work and are so supportive towards us.'
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.
There was a large gathering of Freemasons from all across Buckinghamshire at Newton Longville Free Church, as they came together to attend a coffee morning in response to a letter which had been received alerting them to the situation of two-year-old Dexter Ward
Dexter is going blind due to infantile glaucoma, a rare condition unrelated to adult glaucoma, but still has a little sight. His mother, Julie- Ann, has been training in reading braille and is anxious to start teaching Dexter as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, both the NHS and the Royal National Institute of Blind People are unable to provide a braille machine on loan until Dexter reaches five years of age. By this time, he is expected to be completely blind, making the teaching more difficult.
Sue Sparling, and other representatives from the Church, got together to organise a coffee morning, raffle and bring and buy to help towards raising the £1,700 cost of a basic machine. It was at this point that it came to the attention of Buckinghamshire’s Assistant Provincial Grand Master Phil Blacklaw.
Phil put out the call to invite any Freemasons who were able to support the event to attend. On the day, there was an excellent attendance of members from both the north and south of the Province including Tom Davies, Provincial Grand Tyler for Buckinghamshire. Tom presented Dexter’s mother with £500 towards the machine explaining that the money was raised by his restoration and recycling of Masonic regalia. Winslow Lions Club also made a generous donation of £500.
By the end of the morning, the event had surpassed the target allowing Dexter’s family to purchase a Tiger Cub braille embosser which costs £3,700 and will enable him to use it well into his teenage years and beyond. Dexter’s mother was astonished and delighted by the turnout, expecting that the event would only make a contribution to the target amount.
The Braille embosser has now been purchased and is being used to print braille books by Dexter’s parents. After the event, Dexter’s parents sent a letter of thanks: ‘The picture shows Dexter sitting next to the Braille embosser. The embosser is like a big dot matrix printer which punches the dots on to paper or clear acetate.
‘Dexter is holding one of his favourite Mr Men books. It is the first book we have converted to braille for him. We type the words into the braille software which then converts it into the dots and then feed a clear sheet of acetate into the embosser which punches the braille on to it. We then cut the side off the book, insert the acetate pages and then rebind the book.
‘Dexter loves his new book which will be the first of many. We would very much like to thank everyone for their generosity in helping a little boy access his favourite books.’
Buckinghamshire Freemasons opened their doors to the public on 19th August 2018 with an Open Day at Bletchley Masonic Centre
The event was well-attended by a host of visitors and local masons and their families, as well as the Mayor of Milton Keynes, Councillor Martin Petchey. Visitors were able to take guided tours of the Temple and Museum and ask those all those curious questions they wanted to know the answer to.
The tour team showed over 70 members of the public around who were interested in joining Freemasonry. As well as 10 men's lodges, Bletchley also boasts a thriving women's lodge.
Amongst the exhibitors were representatives of Medical Detection Dogs, who explained to visitors about the work of the dogs in detecting a variety of cancers and other illnesses. Other stands showcased literature written by local Freemasons about the craft, whilst the new Buckinghamshire Masonic Waistwatchers Group was represented alongside the Bucks Masonic Clay Pigeon Shooting Association.
Another successful part of the day was the attendance of representatives from The Graham Fulford Charitable Trust, who were there to offer free blood tests for prostate cancer.
Working tirelessly, they completed 170 PSA tests during the event. Among those taking advantage of the service was Councillor Petchey, who commented: 'It is fantastic to hear that six lives have been saved over the last three years of PSA testing provided by Buckinghamshire Freemasons.'
Buckinghamshire Freemasons held its 11th Young Carers Summer BBQ on 24th June 2018 and with 184 people in attendance, made it the highest visited event since it began
The event was created as a chance to offer young carers, up to 16 years old, the chance to be ‘children’ again for the day. These children normally spend their home lives helping and supporting parents or siblings with mental or physical disabilities, meaning they spend their time caring rather than playing.
The Young Carers Summer BBQ is an event that allows the attending children to spend the day with other young carers playing and enjoying themselves, with help for their families provided by Young Carers MK and Freemasons from a number of lodges including St Martin's Lodge No. 2812.
The event is paid for by Buckinghamshire Freemasons under the Freemasonry in the Community funds and ensures that the entire event is free of charge for the families and the charity itself.
Highlights on the day included a petting zoo, where children got the opportunity to meet dogs, ducks, donkey, sheep, lamb and pigs, whilst additional entertainment was provided by a local DJ, two face painters who came and made the children feel like superheroes or princesses, as well as a bouncy castle and sling shot run. Finally, the event included many games such as skittles, a coconut shy and bubbles.
Nicholas Hills Sands-Potter, Event Organiser for Buckinghamshire Freemasons, said: 'Buckinghamshire Freemasons are delighted to be able to serve young careers in the community.
'This year we had families that hadn't engaged with the charity for over four years come along to the event and were finally given the chance to leave the house and not feel like they will be looked at or treated differently. To be able to organise this means a lot to all local Freemasons.'
Milton Keynes Food Bank has received a donation of £3,000 from Buckinghamshire Freemasons
A certificate for the funds, donated via the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), was presented by Andrew Hough, MCF representative, and Mike Clanfield, Provincial Charity Steward for Buckinghamshire.
Milton Keynes Food Bank is an independent charity established to provide local families and individuals with essential food supplies at a time when they need it most, covering the days or sometimes weeks before other parts of the social care infrastructure can come into play.
The grant received has been used towards the transportation costs for the charity's gifted vehicles, which are used for delivering the emergency food parcels to their 12 serving centres across Milton Keynes.
Members of Haddenham Lodge No. 8944 in Buckinghamshire once again played their part in the local community, when they were in full cooking mode on the barbecue at the annual Haddenham Beerfest on 7th July 2018
As well as the usual enormous selection of ales, lagers and ciders there was a Pimms tent, a wine tent, and a non-alcoholic bar for the designated drivers. The kids were not forgotten either, with activities and soft drinks to keep them occupied through the afternoon.
Perhaps the best attraction this year was the 6m by 4m big screen erected at the back of Haddenham Middle School for the football fans to watch the World Cup match between England and Sweden.
Gazebos were erected, rugs laid down and canvas seats set up, as the sun shone brightly as it has so often in recent years to welcome more than 3,500 visitors. This was all backed up by a live stage, featuring local bands, a full food court area, including a fish and chips van, fresh pizzas, ice cream and the famous Haddenham Lodge barbecue.
For more than a decade, Haddenham Lodge has manned and operated the barbecue. During the afternoon, 600 burgers and sausages were cooked and served which raised more than £1,500 for local charities and good causes.
Martyn Broughton from the Festival Committee said: 'The Freemasons are part of the institution that is the Haddenham Beerfest and produce their high quality burgers and sausages, whatever the weather. Every penny that they make from their barbecue goes to local charities and we are extremely grateful for their continued support.'
Lee Buckingham, Charity Steward for Haddenham Lodge, said: 'The Haddenham Beerfest is becoming quite a famous local institution and we in the local lodge are extremely proud of our involvement in helping to make the Beerfest such a popular day in the village calendar.'