Buckinghamshire’s Provincial Grand Master John Clark and Assistant Provincial Grand Master Gary Brodie have completed the first in a series of challenges undertaken by the Provincial Executive – raising over £6,000 on behalf of the Bucks 2021 Festival, in aid of the Masonic Charitable Foundation
The challenge was to row 26 miles in two canoes along the River Thames, one being rowed by PGM John Clark and his son Jack, the other by APGM Gary Brodie and Simon Williams, with Peter Lawrence following in a single canoe.
The rowers, accompanied by a support team, set off on Thames Paddle at 6am on 15th June 2019. As they reached each lock the support team plucked the canoes from the Thames and transferred them to the other side to allow them to continue their journey.
Along the way they were greeted by a host of well-wishers and supporters. At Cookham Lock, John Keeble, Grand Superintendent of Buckinghamshire, was waiting with his wife to offer his support, while at Boulter’s Lock they were greeted by Deputy Provincial Grand Master Hugh Doughas-Smith and John’s wife Sarah.
The weary, but jubilant, team arrived at their final destination many hours later to the cheers of a reception group. The glow of a job well done pervaded the air and with over £6,000 raised for the Bucks 2021 Festival, it was indeed a mammoth feat of endurance and tenacity.
A donation of £75,000 from Lincolnshire Freemasons has given a welcome early boost to a relief fund set up in readiness for the rebuilding of homes in and around Wainfleet after the floods
And in a surprise presentation to Steve Hallberg, Provincial Grand Master of Lincolnshire’s Mark Master Masons, the Mark Masons of Cumberland and Westmorland added a further £2,000 to the pot, taking the donation to £77,000.
The fund has been set up by the Lincolnshire Community Foundation, which is bringing together fundraising efforts behind the long-term recovery plan which will swing into action once the floodwaters have receded.
Already there have been about 500 people from a number of agencies working around the clock to provide an emergency response to the incident, which has forced the evacuation of almost 300 homes.
But it’s the recovery phase that will take time, and that’s where the Freemasons’ donation will be directed. Provincial Grand Master Dave Wheeler said: ‘To see anyone driven from their home by flooding is heartbreaking, especially when it’s in your own community.
‘The emergency response to the incident has been extremely effective through the days after the torrential rainfall followed by the breach of the banks of the River Steeping, but that is only part of the story. The recovery phase will be long, and will take considerable effort.
‘I’m pleased that we have been able to move so quickly in making this donation of £75,000. It underlines that Lincolnshire Freemasons are determined to help put the heart back into this part of Lincolnshire, and we have every confidence that the Lincolnshire Community Foundation will make sure the money is used effectively in making that happen.’
The donation is made up of three Masonic grants of £25,000 each, from The Province of Lincolnshire, the Mark Benevolent Fund, and the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The latter two are national charities subscribed to by Freemasons all over the country, including those in Lincolnshire.
James Murphy, Joint CEO of the Lincolnshire Community Foundation, said: ‘There are lots of people for whom properties in Wainfleet are their "forever home". We shall be doing what we can to return things to normal for this community. It’s when something like this happens that you find out how good a community is, and Wainfleet’s is particularly strong.
‘The Lincolnshire Community Foundation is working in partnership with the Recovery Coordinating Group to raise funds and support Wainfleet and the surrounding area. Money donated will help to relieve hardship, complete repairs, make good loss or damage, help to prevent the flooding happening again, and to improve the response in the event that it ever does. 100% of donations will be spent in and around Wainfleet.’
To donate online, please go to the Total Giving page at this link.
For over 30 years, Warwickshire Freemasons have been making annual donations in support of non-masonic charities who provide health and support to some of the most vulnerable adults and children in Warwickshire
In 2019, the Provincial Grand Master David Macey approved donations to 138 charities totalling £148,500. David met with 29 of these charities at the Tally Ho Conference and Banqueting Centre in Birmingham to personally present them with their cheques.
The High Sheriff of Warwickshire, Clare Sawdon, thanked the Provincial Grand Master and all the Freemasons of Warwickshire for their tremendous generosity which enables local charities to support the most vulnerable people in their local communities.
The donations were split across a number of categories to ensure that they make a difference across a wide range of organisations needing support. The largest being hospitals, hospices and rescue services with £5,000 each going to Acorns Children’s Hospice, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Myton Hospice and both of the region’s Air Ambulances.
Community and Education projects received a total of £25,500, going to charities ranging from specialist education to domestic violence and crisis centres.
Read the full list of recipients here.
Every spring and autumn, Freemasons from all across Devon meet to support local organisations and charities who require financial assistance – and this year was no exception with £26,000 donated to Schools, Youth Centres and locally-based charities including Hospices, Hospital Services and Cancer Charities
The money is raised through the ‘WAKE FUND’ a trust conceived by William Alexander Kneel, the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire from 1970 to 1984. Since the idea was initiated the fund has grown through the continued generosity of Devonshire Freemasons and wise investments which today stands at almost £2 million, from which the trustees distribute the income generated, currently £50,000 each year.
Since the first disbursement in 2001, almost £775,000 has been given to over 800 worthy non-masonic organisations and charities throughout Devon, selected by members of the 131 lodges based throughout the county.
On Friday 31st May 2019, Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master for Devonshire Freemasons, presented cheques to 23 deserving causes at a meeting held at the Masonic Hall in Plymouth. The charity representatives, accompanied by a member from their nominating lodge, were able to enjoy a superb reception and buffet, have a tour around the lodge building, ask any questions they wished and receive their cheques totalling the magnificent sum of £26,000.
Making the contributions, Ian Kingsbury said: ‘I am delighted that the Freemasons of Devon are able to continue to contribute to these important local causes many of which are totally run by volunteers and hopefully these donations will make a real difference to the lives of many people.’
Among the organisations that will benefit are:
- Parkinsons Plymouth
- Plymouth & District Guide Dogs
- Friends of Woodland School Plymouth
- Plympton & Plymstock Scout Troops
- Trevi House Rehab Unit Plymouth
- Hospital Radio Plymouth
- ATC Squadron 2171 Plymouth
- riends of Exeter Cathedral
- Exmouth in Bloom
- Ayrton’s Dream Exeter RDNE
- Gateway Homeless Action Group Sidmouth
- Devon & Cornwall Lupus Group
- Axminster Medical Practice
- Exmouth Sea Scouts
- Hospiscare Exeter
- HCPT the pilgrimage Trust Torbay
- SAMS Totnes
- PHABS Torquay
- Teignbridge Citizens Advice
- A.I.M.S Dawlish
- Families for Children Buckfastleigh
- St James Church Swimbridge
- Bishop Tawton Playing Fields
Following several months of building work, the new refurbished Berkshire Library and Museum of Freemasonry has been opened by their Provincial Grand Master Anthony Howlett-Bolton, in the presence of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton
Also in attendance for the opening was Dr Vicky Carroll, Director of the Museum of Freemasonry at Freemasons’ Hall in London, the Mayor of Wokingham and a number of invited guests.
The Library and Museum was started in 1896 at the Masonic Hall in Reading. It was created by the members of Grey Friars Lodge No. 1101 with assistance from members of other lodges in Reading. It was moved to the Berkshire Masonic Centre in Sindlesham in 1969, but space was not available, so all the contents were put into storage.
By 2002, a small, somewhat pokey, room was found and part of the contents were put on display, however, space was still at a premium, so the majority of the contents were kept in storage. This has all now been consolidated into two rooms in Sindlesham with state of the art display and racking with additional modern storage space developed elsewhere in the building.
When the Library and Museum moved to Sindlesham, it was funded by the sale of regalia donated to the Province and donations from individual masons and lodges. The then Librarian and Curator, Roger White, was still purchasing artefacts as when they became available so add to the collection.
The museum collections contain items of ceramics, glassware, regalia, jewels and a lot of other items such as horse brass, gavels, watches, paperweights, cufflinks and similar memorabilia. There is even have an American casket handle. There are about 3,500 items altogether some of which are more than 200 years old.
The library itself houses over 20,000 books on Freemasonry, including many rare editions – making the collection one of the largest in England. In addition to books, there are over 3,000 certificates, prints, postcards, photographs and other archival items, as well as a reference database in excess of 90,000 records. These collections continue to increase in size and provide a very valuable resource for reference and research by masons and non-masons alike.
Although the library was primarily established for the interest, education and information of its own members, it is also used by members of the general public wanting information on Freemasonry, or those researching the masonic membership of their ancestors. Equally, over the years, they have had a number of students using their resources to research materials for their academic degrees.
Anthony Howlett-Bolton, Berkshire’s Provincial Grand Master, said: ‘Whilst it has been something of a rollercoaster challenge to bring this project to fruition over several years, I am delighted that we have now succeeded in establishing this new facility and indeed as a consequence the provision of disabled access throughout the whole building.
‘All of this is a direct result of a very generous bequest from a former stalwart librarian Robin White whose unbounded enthusiasm resulted in the increase of the number of books from a few hundred to the sizeable number we hold today.’
Sir David Wootton, UGLE’s Assistant Grand Master, said: ‘In London, we are also of the firm view that it is important that we ensure that the history of Freemasonry and its rationale is more widely understood both by Freemasons and the wider community alike. To this end, we are taking significant steps to ensure that we play our part in raising the positive profile of Freemasonry with the full understanding that we have, have always had and will continue to have an important role to play in civil society as a whole.
‘With this in mind, it is pleasing to see that you have taken the opportunity to rationalise and fresh these facilities so as to make them more accessible to all. I understand that you have firm plans in mind to ensure that the inter-connected Library and Museum are open on a regular basis for much wider use and that whilst your library catalogue is already online, you intend to explore further the use of modern technology to enhance the users experience.’
A superb night was held at the Charles Lyne (Installed Masters) Lodge No. 2964 this month, as Monmouthshire Freemasons launched their 2024 Festival with a £50,000 donation to the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF)
The meeting included a presentation from Les Hutchinson, Chief Operating Officer of the MCF, on the work of the organisation before Richard Davies, Provincial Grand Master for Monmouthshire, presented Les with a cheque for £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. He also displayed to members the new festival tie and jewel.
Following the meeting, members were entertained by the talented group of young people from Chordis Caerllion. Richard Davies together with David Powell, Provincial Grand Master of the Mark Master Masons of Monmouthshire, were very proud to support Chordis Caerllion, as they presented them with new percussion instruments.
Thousands of men with prostate cancer will be able to avoid the damaging side effects of surgery thanks to a new research scanner that will be installed in Norwich
Thanks to fundraising by Norfolk Freemasons, a state-of-the-art Affymetrix Microarray Scanner will be used to differentiate between the majority of harmless prostate cancers, known as pussycat cancers, and the 10 per cent which are aggressive, known as tiger cancers.
The Freemasons raised not only the £144,000 needed for the scanner, which will be in a new screening laboratory at the University of East Anglia, but also another £46,000 for prostate cancer research.
On top of that, the Masonic Charitable Foundation have given a grant of £100,000 to further fund the research project.
Up until now there has been no way for doctors to tell the difference between the two types of the cancer, which led to tens of thousands of men having unnecessary operations with serious side-effects including incontinence and impotence.
Each operation costs the NHS £7,500 to perform, so there are also significant savings to be made from performing less unnecessary surgery.
The clinical research team behind the test, which is enabled by the scanner, is led by Professor Colin Cooper, who is developing the new test after a laboratory breakthrough made using artificial intelligence.
He is hoping to raise £2 million to continue his vital research into this condition over the next three years, to create the new clinical test.
Prof Cooper said: 'I am extremely grateful to Norfolk Freemasons for their generous grant, which will fund not only the scanner itself, but also the continuing research into prostate cancer. Many lives will be saved as a result and many unnecessary operations will be avoided, saving patients from some very unpleasant side-effects. There is a critical problem at the moment of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer.'
Prof Cooper had been working on the issue for 15 years, but it was only when he came to the University of East Anglia (UEA) he was able to get to the bottom of the issue. His research will be the only of its sort in the country, and could have ramifications worldwide.
Norfolk's Provincial Grand Master Stephen Allen, said: 'I'm delighted that we've been able to not only achieve our goal of buying the scanner, but we've raised more than double the amount needed. This will allow us to make a very significant contribution to Professor Cooper's ongoing research.'
Surrey Freemasons completed their 2019 Festival Appeal on 11 May 2019, with over 650 guests attending a banquet at Guildford Cathedral – as it was announced they had raised over £3.3 million for the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI)
Jonathan Spence, Deputy Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, was in attendance, alongside Ian Chandler, Provincial Grand Master for Surrey Freemasons, with his Executive organisers and members of the Province and their partners. The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) and RMBI Executives and Trustees were also present, including Managing Director Mark Lloyd and Chair Sir Paul Williams.
The RMBI was established in Surrey back in 1850 with the opening of the very first home in Croydon otherwise known as the 'Asylum for Worthy, Aged and Decayed Freemasons'. Nowadays, the RMBI is a charity providing affordable care facilities for the elderly across the UK. In Surrey they are lucky to have two RMBI homes – James Terry Court in Croydon and Shannon Court in Hindhead.
Paul Crockett, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Surrey and Chair of the Festival, said: ‘All of the people who work and volunteer in every home will make sure that our donations make a positive difference to people’s lives; helping to keep our loved ones feeling safe, preventing isolation and loneliness and wrapping that warm blanket of security around them.’
The Province has raised over £3.3 million over the last five years through its hard work and ongoing efforts. Various fundraising events have taken place during this time from descending down the longest and fastest zip wire in Europe raising over £35,000, and a charity ball and auction of celebrity memorabilia raising £55,000, to Ian himself completing a triathlon where he raised over £10,000.
Announcing the grand total of £3,313,470, Mark Lloyd said: ‘Sincere thanks to the Lodge Charity Stewards, fundraisers and members of the Province, and their Ladies, for all they have done over the years of the Appeal. Your enthusiasm and hard work is greatly appreciated and has certainly made a huge difference to the lives of a great many.’
Sir Paul Williams OBE, responding to the announcement of the grand total, said: ‘The per capita return of your last Festival has been massively increased from £387 to £532 for this, demonstrating that Surrey truly is committed to caring about the RMBI. Everything we do and achieve is made possible by the generous support of Freemasons and their families, so I would like to thank you on behalf of every person who will benefit from this tremendous display of support.’
Responding to Jonathan Spence’s toast to the Festival President, Ian Chandler said: ‘Everyone who has contributed to this appeal has done so in the knowledge that they were helping in providing a safe and comfortable home for the residents of all the homes, especially at James Terry Court and Shannon Court where we have all witnessed first-hand the quality of care.
‘Also, while giving priority to our appeal we have not ignored local charities who have received at least a quarter of a million pounds a year. Also, while giving priority to our appeal we have not ignored local charities who have received at least a quarter of a million pounds a year maintaining our support for the community of Surrey. This is something we should all be very proud of.’
The banquet was ended in magnificent style with a firework display over the Cathedral lawn brilliantly choreographed to the finale of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture.
The Human Milk Foundation has teamed up with SERV Norfolk to give mums across Norfolk access to donated breast milk – thanks to a £8,776 donation from Norfolk Freemasons to purchase the vital specialised breast milk storage fridge
This will give support to mothers in the community whose babies need short-term donor milk to help establish their own milk supply, or where they are unable to breastfeed for medical or practical reasons. The donor breast milk hub is the very first of its kind and will be located in Norwich.
Dr Natalie Shenker from The Human Milk Foundation said: ‘We are overjoyed to have received this support to establish the very first Human Milk Foundation donor milk hub. This will help more mothers across Norfolk to donate their milk, including those who have been sadly bereaved.
‘Donor milk will be more easily available to the hospitals in Norfolk caring for very sick or premature babies, for whom human milk can be lifesaving, as well as to mothers diagnosed with cancer or other illnesses that mean they cannot breastfeed. This will be a model which can be rolled out across the country.’
Transport will be provided by SERV Norfolk, whose blood bike volunteers currently carry blood, plasma, platelets, samples and vaccines to hospitals.
SERV Norfolk Operations Manager Colin Farrington added: ‘We have quietly been working on this project for a while, but the funding from Norfolk Freemasons means we can now move forward. It will also reduce the number of journeys to the milk banks in Cambridge and Hertfordshire currently made by the SERV Norfolk volunteers.’
Stephen Allen, Norfolk Freemasons Provincial Grand Master, presented the cheque to Dr Natalie Shenker from The Human Milk Foundation and Colin Farrington SERV Norfolk Operations Manager.
Stephen said: ‘We have previously supported SERV Norfolk with three bikes and local lodges have also given their own financial support. The donated breast milk hub is a first for Norfolk. We saw the need and are proud to fund the specialist fridge to get the service up and running and benefit the community.'
Excited interest and conversation filled the evening reception in Kings Heath on the 23rd May, as Worcestershire’s ‘Bring a Friend’ event attracted over 80 people – including 28 potential new members – many accompanied with their partners or sponsors
There were thoughtful presentations by Membership Officer Mike Dykes and his team who represented their experience since joining, whilst there were many questions and answers exchanged between guests and members.
The event was opened with a welcome by Worcestershire's Provincial Grand Master Robert Vaughan.
Local Freemason Alan Bolton, with restrained formality and good humour, added an introduction to the customary proceedings of the Festive Board, including an after dinner account of ‘The Masonic mumblings of a rural Rector’ by Rev Justin Parker.