More than 130 brethren attended the annual almoner’s dinner, which was held in Wellington Park, Leyland
After the meal the Provincial Grand Almoner Ernie Greenhalgh welcomed Peter Hosker, Provincial Grand Master, and the guest speaker Col Sylvia Quayle OBE. Ernie thanked everyone for attending the dinner and said he hoped the evening would prove to be both interesting and enjoyable.
Peter Hosker then said: 'In this Province, I think we can all be proud of our long history of Care and Charity. Indeed, it is now 163 years since our first Provincial charity was created, and we have come a long way since then. Our masonic care and charity is made up of four parts.
'One: a Provincial Care Structure serving the Province. Two: a Provincial Charity Structure serving the Province. Three: the West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity (WLFC) our own Provincial One Stop Charity, a professional and well managed charity with over £11,000,000 in funds. And four: our four main national charities operating under the banner of Freemasonry Cares.
'The excellent Provincial care and charity structures were put in place by my predecessor. In turn, in 2008, I was pleased to play a major part in bringing together the then seven Provincial charities to create our WLFC, our own Provincial one-stop-charity a professional and well managed charity with over £11,000,000 in funds.'
'Freemasonry Cares was launched in 2009, in partnership with the Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Lodges and promotes awareness amongst Freemasons and their dependants of the wide range of financial, healthcare and family support available from masonic charities and delivered by a central enquiry service.
'The Province of West Lancashire provides a dedicated care structure in support of brethren, widows and dependants who at times of sickness, personal distress or financial hardship are in need of masonic assistance. Our care structure is extensive and is overseen by AsstProvGM Ray Martland.
'Ernie Greenhalgh, was appointed last May, since then he has been a whirlwind of frenzied activity. His enthusiasm for the new presentation 'How do I get help' has been infectious and I am quite sure that as it rolls out the presentation across the Province, it will be well received. I have seen this excellent presentation, and I particularly like the video case studies which will appear on our Provincial website. Presently, the video running is a case study revealing the help and support received by a Preston family from the RMTGB.
'Invitations for the care presentation ‘How do I get Help’ now stand at 57 which is just over a third of Ernie's target of 160 during this masonic season. By the end of this month 14 presentations will have been given. The video has turned out to be a very powerful aid, particularly as it shows a family from our Province saying that Freemasonry has changed the lives of their whole family.
'Ernie is ably supported by his Deputy Paul Webster, Roy Pyne the administrative link with the Grand Charity, eight regional care officers, 24 local care officers, and by over 500 Craft and Royal Arch almoners. They make up the ground force - they bear the heat of the day. It is demanding work, and I thank them all for their substantial and tireless efforts.
'I wish to mention the Pastoral Care undertaken by our care structure. This can only be carried out by going to and visiting people - it cannot be done on the telephone. This enables the problem to be identified and help assessed. It breaks down into three separate areas. One: visiting people who are sick. Two: visiting people who have lost their partner and are lonely. Three: visiting those who need some form of help either financial or otherwise.
'It is essential that the Provincial Almoner and his team continue their good work, and are ready willing and able to help and support when people need our help.'
Ernie thanked Peter for his kind words and then said: 'Since I came into office some of you will remember my two favourite words ‘communications’ and ‘training’, well now I have a phrase to go with them ‘working in harmony’.
'I am delighted to see Barry Jameson and a number of charity stewards here as we start to work even closer than in the past. Together they will be supporting our team when the presentation ‘How do I get Help’ are given.
'But it does not stop there, our four central masonic charities are working ever more closely and the latest initiative is the coming together of both Welfare teams from the RMBI and the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. While we have always had a good liaison with Elaine Hanson and Claire Beaumont, I believe it will improve even more in the coming months.
'The West Lancashire project run by the RMBI for the benefit of elderly brethren and their dependants within our Province, has now been closed to new applicants. However, I am delighted to announce tonight that the trustees of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity have agreed to take over the role of assisting with third party top-up-fees, should the State not meet the full cost. On behalf of us all, I thank the WLFC for taking over what is becoming an area of concern within ‘Care’.
'While I have always had an admiration for the work carried out by SSAFA the armed forces charity which provides lifelong support for our servicemen and women, together with their families. Their volunteers who are the equivalent of our almoners have an excellent professional approach. In the care structure we continue to move forward, but still have some way to go before we achieve that high standard. So I was delighted when a senior speaker from SSAFA accepted my invitation to address you all tonight.'
Just before Ernie introduced Sylvia he thanked all the almoners for the dedication and hard work they have already put in during the year. He said this made him feel confident that their professionalism will shine through. He said they are well on target to reach the 160 presentations in this masonic season.
He concluded by saying to all the team, when presenting ‘How do I get Help’ the experience is something you should enjoy, our story and video have a very powerful message.
Ernie then introduced Colonel Sylvia Quayle saying she is a Freeman of the City of London, the first lady to be invited onto the board of trustees for the RMBI and earlier this year the Queen honoured her with the OBE for her charitable work.
Sylvia started by giving a short outline of SSAFA’s history which was founded in 1885. She then spoke about the work carried out by SSAFA, their training and how they go about helping individuals in need.
During her talk Sylvia said she realised that in comparison to SSAFA the masonic movement was small, but both organisations have the same ethos in helping and looking after its comrades.