One of the key figures of the suffragette movement, Annie Besant, was not only a socialist, rights activist, author and orator, but also one of the founders of the society of Co-Freemasonry, which has evolved into the present day The Order of Women Freemasons organisation
This was one of the interesting facts revealed by Geraldene Greenhalgh from The Order of Women Freemasons in an absorbing talk she gave to West Lancashire Freemasons at Barrow-in-Furness Masonic Hall. The host lodge was Lonsdale Lodge of Installed Masters No. 9422.
Geraldine is a Senior Grand Warden in The Order of Women Freemasons and holds responsibility for Lancashire. She further explained how Annie had become head of the Order and had led a public march through the streets of London by her members, dressed in their regalia, during one of the important demonstrations in support of the campaign for universal suffrage.
Previously the lodge had been opened, the business conducted and duly closed before Geraldene was then welcomed into the lodge room to give her talk. She was not the only woman in attendance as the wives and partners of Lonsdale members were also admitted to enjoy the oration. Amongst the attentive onlookers was the Provincial Grand Master of West Lancashire Tony Harrison who was accompanied by his wife Maureen together with Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger and his wife Beryl.
Geraldene outlined how the Order was founded and its subsequent history. It shares many of the principals of Freemasonry and its ceremonies reflect those performed by their male counterparts. The first head of the order in 1908 had in fact been a man, the Rev Dr. William Cobb. Since 1912, the Grand Masters have all been women and in 1920, it was decided to restrict admission exclusively to females which continues to this day.
One of the principal objects of The Order of Women Freemasons, which is open to all faiths, is charity. It was revealed that the ‘Race for Life’ fundraiser in aid of Cancer UK in 2016 saw the Order raise £100,000 for the campaign. Recent years have also seen donations of £100,000 each to charities in aid of Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer research. In its centenary year in 2008 donations of £250,000 had been made to Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK. Rather than a levy on the members, the Order relies on charitable funds being raised at social events. A Gentleman’s Festival replaces the Ladies Night held by Craft lodges.
The Order, which now boasts 6,000 members in this country and abroad in 350 lodges, is administered from premises in Pembridge Gardens in Notting Hill which were left to them by a member. Their Grand Lodge meetings are held in Birmingham and regularly attract over 1,000 members.
In addition to the Craft, The Order of Women Freemasons also has a degree equivalent to the Holy Royal Arch Chapter as well as several other orders. Geraldine added that women who wished to enjoy Freemasonry could also join The Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons which also only admits women as members.
The lodge’s Master Bill Edmonds thanked Geraldene for a talk which had proved both informative and interesting and kept everyone enthralled throughout.
From Land’s End to John O’Groats
Brian Smailes, a member of Wharncliffe Lodge, No. 1462, in the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, has just completed a walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats for Cancer Research UK.
On the last four days of his walk, Brian encountered gale force winds and driving snow in Scotland, but he completed the journey in an impressive 26 days and nine hours.
Freemasons of Bedfordshire recently presented 49 different charities with donations totalling £72,061
Lodge members from across Bedfordshire raised the funds over the past 12 months and gave it to charities and good causes such as Diabetes UK, Cancer Research UK, Bedfordshire Games, Keech Hospice Care, Help for Heroes, Autism Bedfordshire, Alzheimer's UK, Luton and Dunstable Hospital, Bedford Hospital, Midshires Search and Rescue Organisation, Bedfordshire Scouts and Sue Ryder.
The event was held on 26th February at the Luton Masonic Centre with around 160 people in attendance. Each of the charities were presented with their cheques by the representatives from the supporting lodges or the Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Bedfordshire, Michael Sawyer, who said: 'All the money that we raise comes from Freemasons themselves and it gives them great pleasure to be able to contribute to these charities and the wonderful work that they do.'
Each charity representative present at the event responded with expressions of their gratitude and how important the Bedfordshire Freemasons donations are in helping them reach their targets for support.
Dave Binch, 45, of Elliott Lodge, No. 8569, relived his youth at the annual TT motorbike event on the Isle of Man to raise funds for charity. The father of two from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, has raised more than £13,000 for Cancer Research UK and the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB).
The former semi-professional rider reached speeds of 150mph around the 37.73-mile circuit. Hours later, he ran the entire course in eight-and-a-quarter hours, which included tackling a 2,034-foot mountain at 2am. Isle of Man Provincial Grand Master Keith Dalrymple presented him with a cheque for more than £1,500 and further funds came from the Manx Hamond Chapter Rose Croix to go to the RMTGB.
Cure and care
By funding groundbreaking medical research and supporting the care and treatment of cancer sufferers, Freemasons make a real contribution towards fighting the disease
Every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer, and more than one in three people in the UK will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime. In the words of Cancer Research UK, ‘One day we will beat cancer. The more research we do, the sooner that day will come.’
Having donated more than £3 million to cancer-related medical research, the Grand Charity has demonstrated that masons share this belief, too. Due to improvements in cancer detection and treatments, survival rates in the UK have doubled in the past forty years. This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without dedicated researchers and their discoveries.
The Grand Charity has funded pioneering research into the study of cancer at the molecular level, as precision targeting of individual cancers is a powerful weapon in the fight against the disease. Grants to Ovarian Cancer Action (£1 million, 2008-2012) and to the Institute of Cancer Research (£1 million, 2004-2014) are recent examples. Both organisations have made vital discoveries relating to genes and proteins that are particularly important in the understanding of the development of ovarian, prostate and testicular cancers.
The Grand Charity has donated nearly £6 million to charities that offer the highest level of care to those affected by cancer. These grants have helped to improve the lives of thousands of sufferers and their families through expert medical, practical and emotional support provided by the funded charities.
The Grand Charity gave £446,000 to fund three CLIC Sargent support workers over five years, providing an invaluable lifeline to children with cancer, and their families, whose lives have been turned upside down by the disease.
In the wake of the deep emotional turmoil resulting from a diagnosis, and the debilitating side effects of treatments such as chemotherapy, there is an urgent need for emotional support, counselling and complementary therapies. This range of vital care is available free for breast cancer sufferers and their families from The Haven charity. In 2008, the Grand Charity gave £250,000 to fund the development of one of its three therapeutic day centres (Havens) in Leeds, where visitors can build their strength to cope with and fight the disease.
The Grand Charity also supports end-of-life care for people with cancer and other diseases. Putting patients and families first, Marie Curie Nurses provide high-quality care and support for the terminally ill at the end of their life, in the place of their choice. Currently, a £117,000 grant is funding the salaries of two Marie Curie Nurses for three years. During 2012-2013, Marie Curie Nurses provided more than 1.3 million hours of nursing to 30,080 patients, along with much-needed support for their families.
The funding given by Freemasons is invaluable. It not only provides help for sufferers, but is also an investment in the fight to conquer this disease.
Find out more about The Freemasons’ Grand Charity by visiting www.the-grand-charity.org
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has just approved its first grants of 2014 totalling £842,500
Ranging from £10,000 to £100,000 each, they support nineteen significant causes across the UK.
Charities to receive funding include:
Blond McIndoe Research Foundation £50,000
Cancer Research UK £50,000
Epilepsy Society £50,000
University of Leicester £16,500
Chetham’s School of Music £75,000
Red Balloon Learner Centres £25,000
The Lord Mayor’s Appeal £50,000
Villiers Park Educational Trust £25,000
Carers UK £100,000
Fledglings Family Services £13,000
Parkinson’s UK £90,000
The Children’s Trust £13,000
The Queen Alexandra Hospital Home £60,000
Speaking about the Major Grants programme Laura Chapman, Chief Executive at The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, said:
'The Freemasons’ Grand Charity seeks to help people in need, and we are dedicated to helping people who are socially disadvantaged, disabled, seriously ill, homeless, or facing economic and social deprivation. It is our hope that the positive impact of these grants will be felt by thousands of people facing difficulties.'
Quotes from the supported charities
'Red Balloon is extremely grateful to The Freemasons’ Grand Charity for donating £25,000 to our Bursary Fund for places at one of our Centres in Cambridge, Norwich, NW London or Reading, our mini Centre in Braintree or on Red Balloon of the Air.
'This money will enable us to help the recovery of severely bullied children who hide under their duvets, depressed, self-harming and with suicidal thoughts unable to attend mainstream school.
'The donation will help us to provide more children with a full-time education and therapeutic support, to get their life back.'
Dr Carrie Herbert MBE, Founder and President, Red Balloon Learner Centre Group
'Raleigh International harnesses the passion and energy of young people to create positive change in very poor communities around the world.
'We are very grateful to The Freemasons’ Grand Charity for its support of our programme for disadvantaged young people – this will contribute to transforming lives abroad as well as in the UK.'
Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE, The Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor of London, Trustee of The Lord Mayor’s Appeal, Trustee of Raleigh International
'We are extremely grateful to The Freemasons’ Grand Charity for their generosity in providing bursaries for high ability students from less advantaged backgrounds to attend our Inspiring Excellence Programme Courses which they would otherwise be unable to afford.
'Far too many able young people substantially underachieve, creating a major block to improving social mobility in the UK. With the support of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity we are working to overcome this through inspiring young people to fulfil their potential.'
Richard Gould, Chief Executive, Villiers Park Educational Trust
'Mind is delighted to receive this significant contribution towards the development of a smartphone app for our Elefriends online support network. At www.elefriends.org.uk, people with experience of mental health problems support each other in a safe and friendly space. This grant will mean that even more people with experience of mental health problems are able to give or receive peer support wherever and whenever they need it.'
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive, Mind
Further grant details
The Blond McIndoe Research Foundation has received £50,000 to fund research into the development of stimuli responsive materials, which are able to detect and respond to changes in a healing burn and diabetic wounds to help the repair process.
Cancer Research UK has received £100,000 to fund Dr Thorsten Hagemann’s pancreatic cancer research at Barts Cancer Institute. The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund have both made grants of £50,000 towards the project.
The National Society for Epilepsy has received £50,000 to fund research into the genetic causes of epilepsy through exome DNA sequencing techniques.
The University of Leicester has received £33,000 to fund a clinical trial into the treatment of heart attack patients with the application of remote ischemic conditioning. The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund have both made grants of £16,500 towards the project.
Chetham’s School of Music has received £75,000 payable over three years to fund the school’s community outreach services in disadvantaged areas.
Envision has received £25,000 to fund a community project in Bristol aiming to develop the confidence and skills of young people.
Red Balloon Learner Centres has received £25,000 to fund bursaries for severely bullied children to attend specialist learner centres, to build their resilience before returning to mainstream education.
SkillForce has received £100,000 payable over two years to fund the Onto Next Steps programme in Norfolk and Kent. The programme will mentor and coach pupils who are at risk of exclusion from education, and face subsequent unemployment.
The Lord Mayor’s Appeal has received £50,000 to engage with disadvantaged young people by funding Raleigh International’s youth agency partnership programme in the UK.
Villiers Park Educational Trust has received £25,000 to fund bursaries to enable disadvantaged young people to attend educational courses for raising academic achievement and developing employability skills, to help them gain places at leading universities.
Carers UK has received £100,000 payable over two years to fund its national advice and information service; providing expert advice and support on financial and practical matters for the estimated 6.5 million carers in the UK.
Designability has received £25,000 to fund the manufacture of powered wheelchairs called Wizzybugs for disabled pre-school children, which help them to get around with their peers and to learn spatial awareness.
Fledglings Family Services has received £13,000 to fund the cost of printing 26,000 copies of a brochure that will help families to find the best specialist products for children with special needs.
Mind has received £40,000 to help train 720 peer-supporters and to fund the development of a smartphone application, aiming to increase peer support hours by 20%.
Parkinson’s UK has received £90,000 payable over two years to fund the salary and costs of a Parkinson’s nurse specialist in Lancashire.
Phab has received £10,000 to fund courses on inclusive living experiences and skills for independence for disabled people.
Shelter has received £25,000 to fund its advice service in Norfolk. In 2012/13 the charity saw a 47% rise in people seeking help, and 2,400 households in Norfolk faced eviction or repossession.
The Children’s Trust has received £13,000 to fund the salary of the online co-ordinator of the Brain Injury Hub; a resource providing accurate information and advice to families on childhood acquired brain injury.
The Queen Alexandra Hospital Home in Sussex has received £60,000 payable over two years to fund the occupational therapy department; providing residential, nursing and rehabilitation services to disabled veterans and their dependants.
A Cancer Research UK trial looking into new ways of treating prostate cancer has been given a £1,500 funding boost from the Somerset Farmers’ Lodge
The donation, raised during the term of office of WM Richard Hill through a variety of fundraising events, will specifically support Cancer Research UK’s STAMPEDE clinical trial.
Cancer Research UK says that Somerset is an important hub for cancer research. Of the thousands diagnosed with cancer every year in the Somerset area, many patients from local hospitals such as Taunton - Musgrove Park, are participating in UK-wide trials to directly improve the lives of people with cancer.
WM Richard Hill stated that: ‘Cancer Research UK is making huge and on-going strides in the fight against cancer. The clinical research such as the STAMPEDE programme is an essential step into finding new ways of preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer, and is enabling doctors to test the newest discoveries in cancer treatment and offers patients the latest available treatments. Too many of us have lost friends and family to cancer. Research holds the key to cancer treatment and ultimately to a cure. Cancer Research UK is conducting vital work and deserves all our support.
Dawn Harrison, Cancer Research UK’s local fundraising manager for Somerset, said: ’I would wish to thank the Somerset Farmers’ Lodge for the wonderful gift of £1,500.00, supporting the clinical trials. Cancer Research UK has made enormous progress in the fight against cancer and continues to do so because of the support we receive from the general public, however, we have only been able to do this thanks to the dedication and commitment of people like the Somerset Farmers’ Lodge without whom we would not be able to fund our vital research.
For further information on Cancer Research UK, contact Dawn Harrison on 07850 669067 or click here: bit.ly/cruktaunton
Telling the world
While the role of Freemasons in raising funds for worthy causes is crucial, the Grand Charity believes it is also important to publicise its work to a wider audience
The Freemasons’ Grand Charity works hard to raise awareness of the generosity of masons. In recent years it has seen an increase in the number of publicity mentions it has received and was included more than six hundred times in the regional press (newspapers, online media and radio) and charity websites/publications last year.
This level of coverage is made possible by the Grand Charity working closely with Provincial and Metropolitan Information and Communication Officers, who are responsible for gaining a great deal of recognition for the charity’s work in regional press.
For example, news of the Grand Charity’s support for air ambulances was publicised more than one hundred and forty times, featuring on ITV news online and several radio stations. The hospices programme also received frequent recognition, with more than one hundred mentions in regional press.
The Grand Charity also works closely with the charities it funds, many of which show their thanks through public recognition. The £50,000 donation to Help for Heroes in 2012, to fund therapeutic gardens at a recovery centre for wounded service personnel, was highlighted on BBC radio. In addition, a plaque acknowledging the support of Freemasons was placed in the gardens upon completion.
Many other charities include messages of thanks to Freemasons for their support in their own charity publications, websites, press releases and social media. News of the Grand Charity’s grant to Cancer Research UK last year received more than one thousand ‘likes’ on its Facebook page.
In the news
During 2013, the Grand Charity has spent time promoting its Masonic Relief Grants programme to a wider audience. The charity has been working with Mark Smith, Provincial Grand Almoner of Gloucestershire, to raise awareness of the valuable community service Almoners carry out by providing help, guidance and pastoral support in often very difficult and challenging circumstances.
Mark was interviewed live on BBC Radio Gloucestershire about the work of the Almoner and the support given by the central masonic charities. Mark spoke eloquently about his role and how Freemasonry provides a wide range of support for people in need and that ultimately this is of great benefit to society as a whole.
The Grand Charity would like to thank Mark for his help in publicising the work of the central masonic charities and, most importantly, for highlighting the work carried out by Almoners across England and Wales. The role of lodge Almoner is voluntary and one that requires a great deal of dedication – without their commitment it would be impossible for the Grand Charity to assist the thousands of people it helps each year.
Other highlights for the Grand Charity have included recognition of its work by The Guardian online in an interview with Jackie Bailey, head of outreach at the Spinal Injuries Association, and also during an interview on BBC Radio Manchester with Ben Fewtrell, a family support worker at the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity. Both Jackie and Ben’s roles are largely funded by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, which was acknowledged.
The Chairman of the Leyland and District Group of Freemasons, Stewart Seddon, welcomed the newly installed Mayor of South Ribble, Councillor Dorothy Gardner and her consort Cllr Melvyn Gardner together with representatives from 19 local charities to the group’s fourth annual Giving Day
After welcoming the guests to Leyland Masonic Hall, Stewart said he was amazed, although not altogether surprised, that the Giving Day has snowballed. He said at the first event in May 2010, presentations were made to just seven charities, with a further four having been assisted during the course of that year. The sum donated at that time amounted to £30,052 which included grants from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and funding was matched by the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity.
Stewart continued by saying: 'Even though we are in the midst of a recession, we are announcing donations amounting to over £154,000 to 31 non-masonic charities'.
Stewart then introduced some of his colleagues who were taking part in the event: 'Ray Martland (Assistant Provincial Grand Master), Paul Renton (Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals), Chris Blackwell (Leyland Group Vice Chairman), Mike Pinckard (group secretary), John Lucas (group treasurer), Eric Hart (Leyland Group Local Care Officer), Andy Sumner (group publicity officer) and Glynn Wrennall (Group Charity Steward) who, along with his wife Eunice and brother John, organised the day’s event and produced the brochures.'
He then introduced Derek Rooney (Publicity Officer - West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity) who explained the structure and the workings of the WLFC.
Ray next announced the names of the charities and the details of the donations they were to receive - and in some cases already had received.
Manchester Royal Eye Hospital £125, Alder Hey Family House Trust £450, Babybeat £200, St Catherine’s Hospice £4,146, Gurkha Welfare Trust £225, Galloway’s Society for the Blind £250 Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust Charitable Fund £250, Bowel Cancer UK at Rosemere £257, Bowland-Pennine Mountain Rescue Team £400, McMillan Nurses £650, Derian House Children’s Hospice £4,776, Rosemere Cancer Foundation, £2,294, Southport Offshore Rescue Trust £787.10, Leonard Cheshire Disability £1,000 plus Gift Aid, Lancashire and South Cumbria Kidney Patients Association £1093.50, The Legacy – Rainbow House £2,430, Diabetes UK £1,200, Teddies for Loving Care £2,060, North West Air Ambulance £15,187.10, Masonic Hall Appeal £300, West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity £12,864.84.
Each recipient gave a brief summary of the work they do in the community - some of which were quite heartbreaking to hear.
The Leonard Cheshire Disability homes in Garstang and Windermere cheques for £500 each plus Gift Aid was money raised from a sponsored walk along the 46 miles of the Preston to Kendal Canal by John Wrennall.
Other charities who have received donations prior to the Giving Day this year are: The Masonic Samaritan Fund £15, Medicine and Chernobyl £50, Eccleston Scouts £125, Eccleston Brownies £125, East Lancashire Hospice £200, St Saviours Church £250, Donna’s Dream House £250, Urology Dept RPH £250, East Lancashire Masonic Benevolent Fund £450, Space Centre £500, Hutton Grammar School £750, Royal College of Surgeons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal £2,790, Cancer Research UK £50,100.
Ray Martland then gave a cheque for £250 from the Leyland and District Group to the Mayor, Cllr Dorothy Gardner for her nominated charities which are Babybeat, St Catherine’s Hospice and Hope-4-Justice.
Dorothy then addressed the Leyland Freemasons present and thanking them for their generosity she made a specific mention of the many recipients of donations, how grateful they were for them and how contributions such as those made would have life changing results for many people. She then spoke about her chosen charities, giving the particular example of Hope-4-Justice which is a charity that helps to provide rescue, rehabilitation, education and public awareness with regard to child prostitution in Penwortham.
The Giving Day event was formerly closed with Chris Blackwell, vice chairman of the group thanking the representatives of the charities for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend. Many of the guests were given a tour of the Masonic hall.
The total donations to non-masonic charities during the past 12 months from the Leyland and District Group including The Grand Charity was £154,043.50
The total donations to masonic charities were £16,319.84 making a grand total of £170,363.34
A donation of £1,848 was presented to Maria Parker, Area Voluntary Manager of Cancer Research UK, by W Bro Don Preddy and his wife Shan. The money had been raised by members of the Arrow Lodge during Don’s year as Master.
In all, about £4,000 was raised for Don and Shan’s chosen charities for the year – Cancer Research UK and Midlands Air Ambulance – through a number of enjoyable social events, including a Midsummer Magic garden party at their home and an Autumn Apples lunch.
Maria Parker sincerely thanked Arrow Lodge for their much appreciated effort and support, and emphasised that Cancer Research UK relies heavily on such sponsorship and goodwill.
W Bro Preddy expressed his thanks to all members of Arrow Lodge, and members of other lodges who supported the events, for their great support for his fund raising events during his year, enabling the Lodge to raise such a significant sum. He particularly thanked W Bro David Duggan for all his work as Social Secretary of the Lodge.