Young people leaving the care system in Milton Keynes will be given the support they need, thanks to a £45,000 grant from Buckinghamshire Freemasons to the charity Volunteering Matters
The grant, which comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), will fund the award-winning Grandmentors programme, which will see volunteers aged 50 and over trained to provide mentoring for young people leaving care during their transition into adulthood and independence.
Every year 10,000 young people over the age of 16 leave care in the UK. More than 60 per cent were taken into care due to abuse or neglect, and many have grown up without the significant personal and developmental benefits of a grandparent figure in their lives. The Grandmentors project is inspired by the accepting and nurturing relationship between a young person and a grandparent. This life changing volunteer programme is already running in six areas across the UK, and has now come to Milton Keynes.
The launch event for the project, held at Milton Keynes Civic Chambers, was in partnership with Computer Xplorers Bucks. Attendees got involved in Lego robotics and coding, which helped potential mentors and mentees to meet each other in a relaxed, fun and innovative way.
Oonagh Aitken, Chief Executive of Volunteering Matters, said: ‘We’re very grateful to Buckinghamshire Freemasons for their generous grant, which will help young people leaving the care system. Our vision is that every care leaver in the country has access to a Grandmentor, should they choose, and we’re deeply thankful to the Freemasons for helping us to work towards that vision.’
Phil Blacklaw, from Buckinghamshire Freemasons, said: ‘I’m very pleased we’re able to help fund the Grandmentors programme. Young people leaving care are already most likely to have been victims of neglect and abuse in childhood and they then find themselves on their own at 18 years of age with little or no help from anyone. Giving them someone to rely on at that crucial stage can be life-changing.’
Buckinghamshire Freemasons have presented Thames Valley Air Ambulance with a grant of £4,000
Thames Valley Air Ambulance provides emergency medical care 365 days a year, up to 19 hours per day, for around two million people who live, work and travel in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire. Their paramedics, doctors and pilots are highly trained and ready for any eventuality, delivering advanced care by road as well as by air, night and day, all year round.
Since opening in 1999, Thames Valley Air Ambulance has evolved from being a fast method of transporting patients to hospitals, to the current model of care which brings hospital level treatment to the scene of an incident. Equipped with the iconic red helicopter, four critical care response vehicles, specialist doctors, paramedics and pilots, cutting-edge technology and advanced medication, they are at the frontline of saving lives.
The grant, which was donated by the Masonic Charitable Foundation, will go towards funding the service, enabling their helicopter and critical care response vehicles to reach more people across Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire. They provide advanced training for their paramedics and doctors, using specialist equipment such as a state-of-the-art simulation suite and real-life manikins.
The simulation suite enables the crews to practice treating patients in a variety of different emergency scenarios, replicating the conditions they would find in real life including noise, weather and smells.
Hugh Douglas-Smith, Buckinghamshire’s Deputy Provincial Deputy Grand Master, Phil Blacklaw, Assistant Grand Master, Andrew Hough, MCF Representative, and Mike Clanfield, Provincial Charity Steward, attended the Air Ambulance office based in Stokenchurch. Adam Panter, Director of Operations, then gave them an insightful demonstration of the simulation suite, explaining how the service works and who they help.
Buckinghamshire Freemasons have donated £1,300 to the Buckinghamshire Military Museum Trust, which will be used to purchase a fully computerised ‘Modes’ system to enable them to document and record exhibits preserved in Buckingham Old Gaol Museum
Andrew Hough, Buckinghamshire’s Masonic Charitable Foundation representative, presented the donation from the Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund to Lt Col Simon Wilkinson, Chairman of the Buckinghamshire Military Museum Trust, who also received a further donation from Mark Buckland of Grenville Lodge No. 1787.
The grant will allow the trust to meet Arts Council Accreditation requirements and enable those interested in stored items to access them and increase knowledge and accessibility for the public.
The Buckinghamshire Military Museum Trust exists to preserve and perpetuate the traditions of the former County Regiments raised in Buckinghamshire, including the Royal Buckinghamshire Yeomanry/ Hussars, The Royal Bucks (King’s Own) Militia, The Buckinghamshire Battalions and other auxiliary military forces. It does this to contribute to the understanding and appreciation of their role in the cultural heritage of the county.
It is interesting to note that Buckinghamshire’s first Provincial Grand Master, the 3rd Lord Carrington, was Colonel of The Royal Bucks Kings Own Militia from 1881 to 1886. In fact, Carrington Lodge No. 2421 is named after him.
The Masonic Centre in Buckingham was part of the Royal Bucks Hussars headquarters and is still decorated with 19th century Royal Bucks Hussars musicians’ swords.
Buckinghamshire Freemasons Eddie Irwin and Tom Davis have presented a cheque for £1,000 to Spread a Smile, to help with the fantastic work the charity does entertaining seriously ill children and teenagers in hospital
They visit some of London’s biggest hospitals, organising 21 hospital visits a month, with magicians, artists, singers, poets, face-painters, fairies and therapy dogs. This enables them to see over 500 patients per month – reaching over 6,000 young people every year.
Josephine Segal, Spread a Smile Co-Founder, said: ‘We are very grateful to Eddie and Tom on behalf of the Freemasons of Buckinghamshire for making this generous donation.
'This money will allow us to send entertainers into hospital to see children who are seriously and terminally ill and to bring a smile to their face when they really need it.’
Buckinghamshire Freemasons have donated £2,000 to buy a number of picnic benches in the Millennium Wood, which is located in Swanbourne Park
The money has come from the Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF) and means that the area has now been transformed, having being previously overgrown, into an attractive spot for all to enjoy.
During the summer, a picnic and music event was held in the Millennium Wood, which was opened by The Hon Mrs Betsy Duncan Smith who thanked Buckinghamshire Freemasons for their donation.
Around 50 Buckinghamshire Freemasons attended the first Memorial Day march to be held by Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Town council on 11th November 2018
Local Freemasons from Bletchley look after the Memorial Gardens so we were pleased to accept the invite. Buckinghamshire’s Assistant Provincial Grand Master Phil Blacklaw lead the silent march, with over 100 people joining, which included the local community and friends and family of local masons.
Amongst the wreath layers were Freemason Javaid Iqbal, who is a retired Lt. Col from the Pakistan army, and new Entered Apprentice Muhindo Mowavingi.
After the ceremony a bugler played The Last Post which added to the atmosphere. The local community were then invited to the Bletchley Masonic Centre where food and drink was provided.
The Memorial service was watched live from the cenotaph and the room joined in with the two minutes silence.
Bletchley Park Lodge No. 9518 in Buckinghamshire has presented Willen Hospice with a cheque for £1,500, which has been raised over the past year by a number of raffles and events held at the lodge
Carolyn Green, the Community Fundraiser for Willen Hospice, received the donation from the Master of the lodge Rob Marston in front of a new addition to the grounds of Willen Hospice, The Tree of Life. Designed and conceptualised by local artist and blacksmith Will Jones, the installation will allow family members to dedicate a leaf on the tree to a loved one and provide a place of quiet contemplation within the grounds.
The leaves, which are made of stainless steel, are individually engraved and remain on the tree for a year and can then either remain on the tree or be returned to the family as a keepsake. Carolyn commented that the tree was one of many ways of supporting the work of the hospice and asked Rob to extend her thanks to the members of Bletchley Park Lodge.
Rob chose Willen Hospice as his charity for the year following their exceptional support and treatment of his late wife in the final stages of her struggle with cancer.
Buckinghamshire Freemasons have presented the charitable trust Harry's Rainbow with a donation for £2,500
Andrew Hough, Buckinghamshire's Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) Representative, and Mike Clanfield, Buckinghamshire's Provincial Charity Steward, visited Odette Mould and Emma Gilead from Harry's Rainsbow to present them with a certificate to mark the donation, which comes through the MCF.
Harry's Rainbow support children and young people in Milton Keynes and surrounding areas who have been bereaved of a family member. This is done in many ways including providing memory boxes with books and information relevant to their circumstances.
They hold a Rainbow group once a month which provides children with the opportunity to spend time with others going through similar circumstances, thus helping them feel less isolated and lonely. It includes activities that can help build self-esteem and confidence as well as instilling that it’s okay to have fun and smile.
The families are also able to have holidays in a Rainbow home based in Camber Sands free of charge and they organise ad-hoc trips in the school holidays, with all trips that they provide free to both the children and families.
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.'
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.