Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire Freemasons have raised over £30,000 to help a local homeless charity purchase a much-needed new van, to enable it to expand its work within the community

The 3 Pillars Feeding The Homeless Trust in Peterborough were presented with the keys to a brand new van by Max Bayes, the Provincial Grand Master of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, on 11th April 2019, to be used across Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. This now allows the original van to be redeployed in Wellingborough to extend support to the homeless in that area.

The Trust has served the homeless community in Peterborough since 2016, offering a feeding station providing food, clothing, tents, sleeping bags and toiletries to those in need in the city. It can be found every Tuesday and Thursday at the rear of The Brewery Tap Pub, operating from the van in the car park.

Formed by local Freemasons Ged Dempsey and Mick Pescod, the charity has grown substantially with continued support from Freemasons, individuals and local businesses, and on any given night can be seen helping between 60 and 80 persons who have fallen on hard times.

It is so named `3 Pillars`, because like Freemasonry, it is built on the three principles of respect for others, charitable giving, and being true and honest to yourself and those in the community.

The work of the Trust epitomises these principles, as Co-Founder Ged Dempsey explains: ‘The charity illustrates the work of Freemasons within the community, with volunteers offering either their time as helpers or by making monetary or other donations of clothing, blankets or personal commodities that may be needed.

'Some of our volunteers are not Freemasons, but all work together for a common good and to benefit the wider public – the response has been overwhelming.’

However, the work of The Trust goes much further by liaising with other agencies such as the YMCA to help those who visit the feeding station to get off the streets and reintegrate again into society. Provincial Grand Master Max Bayes sees the work done here as vitally important, commenting: ‘You need to be able to `break the circle` from dependency, and to offer hope to people and a possible solution to their plight. It is vital any support must be a ‘hand up’ and not just a ‘hand out.’

The Trust have now helped to find accommodation for many distressed individuals, also providing bedding, kitchen utensils and equipment, and will make a donation to the YMCA to cover a short period of rent to help relieve the initial pressures associated with integration back into society.

More volunteers are always needed and The 3 Pillars Feeding the Homeless Trust can be contacted via their Facebook Page.

More than 200 disadvantaged children will experience life on a real working farm, thanks to a grant of £63,000 from Devonshire freemasons to Farms for City Children

The charity’s founders, acclaimed Warhorse author Sir Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare, Lady Morpurgo, were both at Nethercott to welcome members of the Devonshire Freemasons and also took time to read to the visiting children from an inner city Plymouth School a story from one of his latest books.

The charity welcomes over 3,000 primary school children and their teachers each year from disadvantaged urban areas to one of their three farms in Devonshire, Gloucestershire and Pembrokeshire.

During their seven day stay the children live and work on the farm, explore the countryside around them and find out where food really comes from. They also discover self-confidence as they conquer fears and grow in self-belief as they overcome challenges working as a team to get tasks done. They develop new friendships and learn to see a bigger, brighter future than they ever thought existed beyond their crowded city horizons.

For many of the visiting children the true cost of this fully immersive seven day stay is beyond their reach so the charity subsidises every single child’s visit by at least £300. 

The grant of £63,000 from Devonshire freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Tim Rose, Farm School Manager at the charity’s founding farm at Iddesleigh in Devon, said: 'We’re really grateful to Devonshire Freemasons for their generous grant. Each week we see children from inner cities blossom on the farm – they discover confidence, challenge themselves to achieve so much more than they think they could and revel in the great outdoors.'

Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, said: 'I’m delighted we were able to help Farms for City Children, who do outstanding work helping disadvantaged children from right across Devon and beyond. The experience they offer these children can be life-changing, including improved behaviour at school which can give them a chance to make the most of their education.

'Being a local resident it has often been my pleasure to be onsite when the children are there and have seen the benefit they gain from their time on the farm.'

Freemasonry hit a high note when Devonshire Freemasons became the first mixed male and female masonic choir in the country

Their first performance was held at the Annual Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in Torquay in April 2019.

Permission was sought from the Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury, who enthusiastically supported the formation of a choir which included women Freemasons.

The Devonshire Masonic Choir was formed in 2017 with male Freemasons only, although it was decided at their second AGM, by a majority, to include women Freemasons in their ranks.

The ladies have brought with them an extra dimension of sound, with their enthusiasm and ability adding to the total enjoyment of participation in song.

The aim of the Choir is to help raise much-needed funds for various masonic and non-masonic charities, whilst being able to entertain groups throughout Devon and also enjoying themselves.

Although still in their relative infancy, the Devonshire Masonic Choir has already performed at many charitable functions.

Published in Initiatives & Clubs

Hundreds of local children will be able to take part in the year-long Prince William Award experience, thanks to a £150,000 grant to the education charity SkillForce from Derbyshire Freemasons

Derbyshire Freemasons have committed to support SkillForce for the next three years, with a large part of the donation going towards supporting programmes for pupils in Derby.

The Prince William Award is currently being delivered in ten schools across Derbyshire to a total of 686 pupils, with SkillForce’s education programmes being predominantly delivered by former service personnel. SkillForce delivers the Prince William Award and its shorter SkillForce Prince’s Award in more than 300 schools nationwide, helping children and young people to boost their confidence, resilience, and self-esteem. 

The Prince William Award is the only one of its kind and the only Award in HRH The Duke of Cambridge’s name. It is a year-long experience for six to 14 year olds which was launched in 2017 and is now on track to be delivered to 13,000 children across the UK this academic year. 

Derbyshire Freemasons have previously supported SkillForce and made this latest grant as part of their commitment to encouraging opportunity, promoting independence and improving wellbeing. Representatives from the organisation visited pupils at Akaal Primary school in Derby on Friday 5th May to see the Award in action.

The grant from Derbyshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

SkillForce CEO, Ben Slade said: 'We’re extremely grateful to Derbyshire Freemasons for their very generous grant. They have supported us previously and this new donation means a great deal to us and the young people we work with around the UK, and especially in Derbyshire. We believe that every child deserves the chance to be the best that they can be and the money given by the Freemasons is helping us to continue to make sure that happens.'

Steven Varley, Provincial Grand Master of Derbyshire, said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support SkillForce in delivering the Prince William Award (PWA). It’s a great scheme that gives local children the chance to find out what they’re made of and to develop the confidence and resilience that will be hugely important for them as they grow into adulthood. It was so exciting to see out future interacting so well with the PWA and developing their confidence and abilities in what is a challenging world.'

Natalija, aged 6, said: 'I am really enjoying the PWA, it is helping me lots with my confidence. It was nice to meet the new people today and show them around my school.'

Rajvir, aged 7, said: 'It was interesting to hear about the freemasons and how they have different chains. The PWA has really helped me with my friendships and now I am able to get along with people better.'

At The Prince William Award inaugural graduation ceremony last year HRH The Duke of Cambridge Prince William said: 'At a young age, children need to learn the tools to deal with such challenges; the tools to develop their self-esteem, confidence and resilience to lead happy, healthy lives and to succeed and thrive.

'Good academic results are, of course important, but strength of character - the confidence to stand up and be counted and the ability to keep going in the face of adversity are essential if young people are to flourish.'

Yorkshire Freemasons have reaffirmed their longstanding commitment to Harrogate by continuing to stage their annual meeting in the spa town into the next decade

The Province of Yorkshire, West Riding has signed a five-year contract with Harrogate Borough Council to hold its Provincial Grand Lodge Meeting in the Royal Hall, whilst at the same time booking the Majestic Hotel for the next three years for its annual post-meeting celebration dinner. 

Whilst the first occasion the Royal Hall hosted the fraternity’s annual meeting was in 1937, its masonic links go back to the hall’s origins, including local benefactor, industrialist Samson Fox, and designers Robert Beale and Frank Matcham, who were all Freemasons. 

Additionally, Julian Clifford, the Royal Hall’s musical director for many years, and Alderman David Simpson, four times Mayor of Harrogate, who laid the foundation stone in 1902, were also members of the fraternity. 

Traditionally held on the first Tuesday in May, the annual meeting sees almost a thousand Freemasons from across the Province’s geographical area – south Yorkshire, west Yorkshire and parts of north and east Yorkshire - and further afield heading to Harrogate for the ceremony and dinner. 

Provincial Grand Master David Pratt said: 'Both the Royal Hall and The Majestic Hotel have become synonymous with our annual gatherings, and I’m delighted that this is set to continue. In previous years, Provincial Grand Lodge meeting were also held at the Majestic Hotel in addition to the Royal Hall. 

'The proximity of the pair to each other is another qualifying feature, as is the fact they are located in the town centre and can cater for the number of masons that attend each and every year.'

Matthew Hole, general manager of the Majestic Hotel – which is undergoing a major £15m refurbishment - said: 'For many years it’s been our pleasure to host the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding’s annual celebration dinner. Since first opening our doors more than 100 years ago, The Majestic Hotel has been the setting for many Masonic functions, in particular ‘ladies’ nights’. 

'We are very much looking forward to continuing our relationship with the Freemasons over the years to come.'

Harrogate Convention Centre director Paula Lorimer said: 'What fantastic news that the Freemasons are to continue their long and historic partnership with the Royal Hall. The new five-year contract is a huge vote of confidence in the venue’s facilities and team. We look forward to welcoming the Yorkshire Freemasons back to Harrogate next year.'

The West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity (WLFC) were quick to respond with a £25,000 grant when the 5th Blackpool Scout Group made a grant application for help in replacing their ‘worn out’ minibus

Initially, Scout Leader George Binns was hoping that the charity could provide some of the cost to buy a replacement minibus, so was over the moon when the WLFC decided to provide the full cost of a replacement vehicle. West Lancashire Provincial Grand Master, Tony Harrison, officially handed over of the keys for the minibus to George Binns at Blackpool.

Tony was accompanied on his visit to the Blackpool Scouts by local Freemasons Derek Parkinson, Duncan Smith, Steve Kayne (CEO of the WLFC), Mark Matthews and John Turpin. Also, in attendance was John Barnett MBE, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, representing Lord Shuttleworth, the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire.

On presenting the new bus, which will be used by all the Scout Groups in Blackpool, including the Adventure Scouts, Tony Harrison said: ‘I am delighted that the Freemasons of West Lancashire are once again able to support the local Scout group as we have in the past, when funds were provided to enable the group to refurbish their Blackpool headquarters.

‘Freemasonry and the Scouting movement have much in common, especially the aim of making good people better. It could be said that where Scouting ends, Freemasonry begins.’

The Scout Association membership is made up of both boys and girls, whose ages range from six through to 18 years. During their membership they develop life skills, camaraderie and lifelong friendships.

This grant is one of three headline grants made this year by the WLFC. The other donations made are: £35,000 to St Vincent’s School for the Blind, Liverpool and £10,000 to Zoe’s Place, Baby Hospice, Liverpool.

A £20,000 donation from Yorkshire Freemasons is assisting the Yorkshire Air Ambulance to save even more lives

The money, which has come from Yorkshire West Riding Masonic Charities Limited, has been used by the organisation to purchase an additional pair of night vision goggles. 

With up to one in 10 missions now taking place after dark, the grant will enable the pilots based at the Nostell Priory air support unit to fly to emergencies across the region – night and day.

To keep both of Yorkshire’s air ambulances in the air, the charity needs to raise £12,000 per day – the equivalent to £4.4 million per year – and Yorkshire’s two masonic provinces annually contribute to the flying costs. 

In recognition of this on-going financial support, the helicopters carry the masonic emblem of the square and compasses on their fuselages. 

David Pratt, the Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding – whose geographical area encompasses south Yorkshire, west Yorkshire and parts of north and east Yorkshire - said: 'We are incredibly lucky to be in a position where we can fund vital equipment for charities such as the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. 

'When we were told night vision goggles these were on their wish list, we immediately informed the charity that we would be delighted to purchase a set. 

'It was superb to revisit the air support unit and hear from pilots and staff the difference this purchase will make, and in particular that further lives will no doubt be  saved as a result.'

Steve Waudby, Chief Pilot from Yorkshire Air Ambulance, said: 'Once again we would like to say a big thank you to the Freemasons from the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding for their generosity. 

'If it wasn’t for the continued support of organisations, individuals and businesses, we would not be able to provide the life-saving service that we do. These night vision goggles will make a huge difference to our operation.'

Six Yorkshire organisations will share a £123,000 'major grants' windfall from the region’s Freemasons

The financial donations – which range in value from £10,000 to £38,000 – will be presented to the recipients at the Province of Yorkshire West Riding’s annual meeting, being held at Harrogate’s Royal Hall on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 7. 

Representatives from the six organisations will be presented with their individual cheques by their Provincial Grand Master, David Pratt, at the event which will be attended by hundreds of Freemasons from Yorkshire’s four counties and further afield. Those organisations receiving grants are: 

  • Martin House Children’s Hospice, based in Boston Spa, will receive £38,000 to buy a new specialist adapted vehicle to transport up to three children and a carer. It will also accommodate children in their increasingly more complex wheelchairs
  • The Northwest Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre – Green Meadows School, Guiseley – has been awarded £25,000 to help create and equip an outdoor play facility
  • Old Earth School, based in Elland, is being given £20,000 towards an all-weather sports pitch and running track for use by the school and the local community
  • Bramley Elderly Action, based in Bramley, will receive £20,000 to enable them to replace their existing 18-year-old minibus ensuring that immobile elders able to get out and about
  • Mission Trinity, based in Goole, is getting £10,000 to relocate and equip its food bank
  • Paces Sheffield, based in Sheffield, will receive £10,000 to purchase a range of specialist school equipment, enabling children to develop their skills and confidence to achieve maximum levels of physical, social and emotional independence. 

Provincial Grand Master David Pratt, said: 'It is an absolute honour to be able to present these six different, yet equally deserving, organisations with their grants, and I look forward to doing so at our Provincial Grand Lodge annual meeting in Harrogate. 

'This money has all been raised by individual Freemasons from throughout our Province and I am extremely grateful for their generosity and continued support of one of our three grand principles, namely charity. 

'Charity is, and always has been, at the heart of Freemasonry, and it will continue to be so for as long as our ancient and honourable institution exists.'

Sarah Smith from Martin House said: 'We are delighted to receive the support of the Freemasons, and this vehicle will make a huge difference to us. It will enable us to take children and young people on more trips and outings, helping them to enjoy more activities and make precious memories during their stays at Martin House.'

Berkshire Freemasons have made a generous donation of £6,400 to provide medical monitors to treat young children at Royal Berkshire Hospital

The funds will enable the Children’s' Wards in Royal Berkshire Hospital to purchase eight new monitors. This donation enables the two wards to have monitors are every bed as opposed to be eight short for monitoring every child. The monitors measure heart rates and oxygen levels.

The donation amounted to £6,400 and when combined with the toys donated to the children’s' wards at Christmas meant the total donated in the last four months is more than £11,000. This donation was made via the Berkshire Masonic Charity, which was set up to support good causes as well as the wider masonic family within the Province of Berkshire.

Susan Timperley, Matron for Paediatrics and Neonates, said: 'We are, as always, extremely grateful to the Berkshire Freemasons for their very generous donations. It doesn't matter if it's a toy, game or piece of medical equipment like these monitors, they all go to improving the stay of youngsters on our wards and make a big contribution to the work we do here.'

Anthony Howlett-Bolton, Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire, said: 'When we dropped off the Christmas gifts, we were talking to staff on the wards and asked 'What more can we do to help?'  They mentioned how useful it would be to have monitors at every bed, so we decided to support a funding bid to the Berkshire Masonic Charity which, after careful consideration, supported the application.

'It was a pleasure to visit the hospital, talk to staff and see how these monitors work and how they are such a valuable piece of equipment to will greatly assist the staff on the wards.'

Cubit Club, a highly successful new venture set up by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Worcestershire, is giving young and new Freemasons a chance to socialise with their fellow members from across the Province and attend events specifically designed to widen their knowledge of Freemasonry

The club was put together by two well experienced members, Paul Wong and Richard Macey, and was an immediate success. Applications flooded in from all parts of the Province, with membership now nearing 200 and continuing to grow.

Robert Vaughan, Provincial Grand Master of Worcestershire, said: ‘The Cubit Club was designed to make new Freemasons feel very welcome and it is working – we are delighted.’

A special Cubit tie has proved popular and enables members to recognise fellow ‘Cubiters’ when visiting lodges.

The bringing together of young minds has given the club a tremendous impetus and ideas are never in short supply. Alongside from visits to such places as Grand Lodge and the Jerusalem Lodge to sample the Bristol Workings, Classes of Instruction are being formed and all manner of social events are being planned.

Two club promotions have also raised substantial funds for Worcestershire Province’s five-year Festival 2022 campaign. Festival Ale was created by a Worcestershire brewery and has so far sold around 5,000 bottles.

Furthermore, 'Cubit Installation Gin' has exceeded all expectations. The club sent a bottle to all Installations across the Province to raffle and more than £10,000 has been raised for the festival.

A socially responsible programme of benefit for the community ranks highly among ventures planned for the autumn.

Published in Initiatives & Clubs
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