A very welcome and deservedly non-masonic lunch for new charity Hounds for Heroes was accomplished and made possible on Sunday 22nd July 2012 by 63 brethren, wives, family and friends of Semper Fidelis Lodge No. 5867, who all enjoyed a ladies' luncheon at the Bookham Grange Hotel and County Club in the very leafy part of Surrey - National Trust grounds being adjacent to the hotel venue. £2,000 was raised for this worthy cause.
The charity was chosen by WM Bro Neville West, PProvGReg, and is recognised as a services charity and whose head office is in Ramsdean, Hampshire. Hounds for Heroes was founded by ex-Royal Navy Chief Petty Officer Allen Parton in 2010.
The weather from the start was perfect for all the attendees to congregate on the large patio and even make a short stroll around the very well kept flower garden.
The function was due to have both Allen Parton as well as his dog EJ, however we learnt late Saturday that this was not possible. The WM's eldest daughter Mrs Lynda Mellor, herself a very enthusiastic and fund-raising volunteer, stepped in and provided us with a most interesting and informative talk about the function, aims and potential of the charity.
The aim of the charity is to provide fully trained assistance dogs to injured persons of the three armed forces together with the major three civilian emergency groups: police, ambulance and fire brigade.
To achieve this, labrador pedigree puppies are obtained, at usually 16 weeks of age, and allocated to the puppy walkers to be trained in basic discipline, control and awareness. Then at 12 to 14 months they are further trained to the special needs for the intended person who will have the dog for the rest of its normal 8 year working life. All costs are fully borne by the charity itself - no cost to the beneficiary.
The aims and goals of the charity are focused on enablement and independence, coupled with an enhanced quality of life for so many of our injured personnel.
Statistics show that there are currently 900,000 service people with a disability, so the founding of this charity has a long road ahead!