Celebrating 300 years

A Ladies Night hosted by Newton Lodge No. 6129 in Devon has helped to raise £1,000 for Rowcroft Hospice

Tony Cane, Master of the lodge, and his wife Chris, presented the cheque to the hospice with the money raised from a raffle draw and auction at the Ladies Night, together with donations. The hospice provides specialist care to patients with progressive, life limiting illnesses in South Devon.

Debbi Shotton, Rowcroft’s Community Fundraising Officer, said: 'This is such a generous donation and it was lovely to be the Ladies Night nominated charity. Every year, we care for over 2,000 patients and their families.

'We provide comfort, support and specialist services in our patients’ homes, in the community and at our Inpatient Unit in Torquay. Donations like this help us to enable families to share precious and joyful moments when they are needed most.'

Devon Freemasons have donated over £100,000 to Rowcroft Hospice since 1984 and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Devonshire Freemasons have presented children and staff at Leigham Primary School with a brand new piece of high tech medical equipment which could save the life of someone in the school or the wider community

The defibrillator costing £1,200 including training costs and was kindly donated by the members of the Lodge of St. George No. 2025 who meet in Plymouth, Devonshire, using monies from their charitable fund.

It was presented to the children and Headmaster Andrew Swainson by Worshipful Master of the lodge Gerald Sealey and Charity Steward Paddy Young.

Many of the staff have already received training in how to use the defibrillator in the event of it ever being needed.

The Teignbridge Masonic Widows Association in Devonshire had a slight difference to their monthly meeting when they were joined by Almoners of all the lodges in the area

They had sent out an invite to join them for lunch in appreciation of the support given by all the members of the lodges where their husbands had been members.

On this occasion, 31 members were joined by 12 lodge Almoners who were treated to a talk on the life and times of Joyce Grenfell by the chairman of the Torbay Civic Society, Ian Hannaford. He told the story of how Joyce was a niece of Lady Astor, who was the first female Member of Parliament and represented Plymouth in the early 20th century which meant Joyce was a frequent visitor to the Devonshire region.

The total membership of the Teignbridge Masonic Widows Association is 43; they meet monthly and four times a year treat themselves to a lunch similar to the one they treated the Almoners to.

Their hard-working committee consists of Chairwoman Marion Johnson, Vice Chairwoman Val Wright, Secretary Mary Purchase, Treasurer Pat Wolfenden and Mentor Ann Briddock.

Published in Initiatives & Clubs

It was a unique evening at Saint Nicholas Lodge No. 6377 in Ilfracombe on Wednesday 21st March 2018 where Ron Thompson, aged 97, was installed as Worshipful Master in a fine ceremony carried out by his predecessor Terry Bridges

Ron was also taken by surprise on the night when he was presented with a 70 Year Certificate of Service to Freemasonry on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Ian Kingsbury. Ron was also given the rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden and presented with the badge and jewel of that office.

Ron was initiated back in February 1948 in a double initiation with his elder brother. They were initiated by their father in Pro Minimis Lodge No. 5180 which met at Freemasons' Hall in London. Ron became Master in 1960 and again in 1972.

When he moved to Devonshire in 1997, the lodge elected him to Honorary Membership. Ron also received London Grand Rank in 1975 and was Exalted in Pro Minimis HRA Chapter on 26th January 1956.

Ron joined Saint Nicholas Lodge and Davie HRA Chapter 3721 in 1997, but resigned as he moved to Essex where he joined Gunfleet Lodge No. 6884 and Le-Soken Chapter No. 2949. Having returned to Devon two years later, he rejoined both St Nicholas Lodge and Davie Chapter.

Ron was installed as MEZ of Davie Chapter in 2005 and appointed as Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in 2009.

Last year, he served as Senior Warden in Saint Nicholas Lodge and the brethren were delighted when he agreed to become their Master.

Freemasons from both Cornwall and Devonshire Provinces have joined together to present a life changing state of the art mobility scooter to a young Freemason

Sean Mitchell-England, aged 33, who lives in Plymouth, is a young member of St. Stephen’s Lodge No. 9147 meeting across the Tamar Bridge in Saltash, Cornwall. Sean has been struggling with severe health issues over the last few years which rapidly progressed into exacerbated hyper mobility and fibromyalgia. In this extremely short space of time, Sean has gone from being a fit and healthy young man to literally being bed ridden due to the severe pain he has to endure each day.

Following the relentless dedication of John Pritchard, a local visiting volunteer on behalf of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), the process for acquiring the funds from the MCF for the chair has been relatively straightforward. What has been difficult and quite a complicated process was to have the chair custom built to suit Sean’s specific needs. The chair, having cost almost £4,000, will without any shadow of doubt be an absolute life changer for Sean. Having already taken delivery of it and with a few days of practice, it’s already making a massive impact with his mobility.

Sean said: 'I cannot thank John Pritchard enough for his persistence in assisting me with my claim; he has worked tirelessly to aid me and my family. Now I have this marvellous chair it will enable my wife Dominique and my two young daughters Ophelia and Talulah the added benefit of quality family time with me. I now have the means of unhindered mobility.

'Without the help and assistance of the Masonic Charitable Foundation I honestly have no idea what we would have done. Having struggled to work due to my fatigue and illness my daily living costs spiralled out of all control and as the sole earner in the family with a new born baby, I soon became unable to repay my mounting debts. At first depression set in followed by additional health issues together with further incurred costs and additional debt, which resulted in my embarrassment of having to declare myself bankrupt. I was at the lowest point of my life and I honestly knew of no other options. Things also became so bad we had to sell our personal items of any real value just to live. At that time, we thought we had no one to help us, not even family members could assist, and we ended up being given care parcels by the local authorities.'

Hearing Sean and his family’s plight, David Sands, the Worshipful Master of St. Stephens Lodge, stepped in to offer some advice. Following a few meetings together with John Pritchard, along with a few essential emails and phone conversations, it wasn’t long before the Masonic Charitable Foundation offered assistance. The Masonic Charitable Foundation have also helped Sean with his application for his Personal Independence Payment, which he was unable to complete himself due to chronic fatigue and pain he suffered.

John Pritchard commented: 'On meeting Sean it was obvious to see he and his young family were in desperate need of help. Not only was Sean unwell but he was completely embarrassed by his situation and I knew we would do everything to assist. Having made the initial enquiry with the MCF it wasn’t long before a plan of action was in place. Following the initial assessment it was clear that funds were needed urgently, which included food and even school uniforms for the girls. The Masonic Charitable Foundation assistance was exceptional and a termly allowance was agreed which included some ballet lessons for Ophelia. In my opinion the support I’ve received in dealing with the case on behalf of Sean and his family has been outstanding.'

Graham Bennett, the Provincial Grand Almoner for Cornwall stated: 'The working relationship between the Provinces of Cornwall and Devonshire  have been outstanding. The bond we’ve struck up together for this application, greatly assisted by the United Grand Lodge of England was essential to ensure the smooth application process would be signed off without any delay. My sincere thanks go to the brethren from Devonshire who have helped create a perfect result for a serious problem. To meet Sean and see him with his mobility chair is very humbling and shows what an incredible charity the MCF is.'

Having been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, Sean has seen numerous doctors and a rheumatologist who initially explained what long-term complications he might expect. He has also received many treatments and therapies, but none have really helped and only made the condition worse or more painful for him.

Dominique, Sean’s wife added: 'Our youngest daughter Talulah turns two years old in a couple of days and Sean has not really been out of the house with her, for virtually 95% of her life. We cannot begin to express what a difference this mobility chair is already making, it’s absolutely amazing. We are now able as a family to enjoy the simple task of going to the shops. To see Sean enjoy his mobility and independence after so long of not being able to do anything, is very emotional. To all those who have helped us, particularly the brethren and the MCF, we will be forever grateful. We have been given an amazing opportunity to grow as a family once again.'

To conclude, Sean insisted on the final word: 'I have given my story as my way of thanking the MCF and the people who have worked with me during the last few years, as they are our unsung heroes in my eyes and have made such a big impact on my hopeless situation. I am starting to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel thanks to Freemasonry.'

As part of their annual support of Hospices throughout the country, Devonshire Freemasons have donated over £1,000 to Children’s Hospice South West’s Little Bridge House in Barnstaple, North Devon

The Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Ian Kingsbury presented a certificate denoting £1,083, given on behalf of the Devonshire Freemasons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, to Ann Juby from the hospice.

Little Bridge House is one of three Children’s Hospice South West hospices offering home from home care and support for families across the South West region. Each hospice offers respite, emergency and end of life care for local children who are not expected to live until adulthood, as well as support for the whole family including a dedicated sibling service.

Devonshire Freemasons have been long-term supporters of Children’s Hospice South West and along with individual donations made by many of their 133 lodges that meet throughout the county and the MCF, together have donated over £100,000 to the hospice since it opened in 1995.

On receiving the certificate, Ann Juby, Trusts and Grants Fundraiser for the Hospice, said: ‘The Freemasons fundraising over the years for Children’s Hospice South West has been incredible and we are extremely grateful for the support.

'It costs £3.4 million each year to run our Little Bridge House hospice and these costs are met almost entirely by voluntary donations. Support such as this is vital to ensure that we can continue to make the most of short and precious lives well into the future. Our thanks to the Freemasons and the many Lodges who support us.’

Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury said: 'It is always very sad when a child is taken from us without ever having the chance to reach their potential. If in some way we as Freemasons can contribute to their care at this moment in their short lives, then we can continue to hope that one day cures can be found.

'It was wonderful to meet some of the people who give so much of their time and energy in caring for the children.’

Over 50 Freemasons from the Provinces of Cornwall and Devonshire assembled in the Cornish seaside resort of Bude for the annual installation meeting of Granville Chapter

The members and guests were delighted to be able to welcome the leaders of both provinces, David Pascoe from Cornwall and Simon Rowe from Devon. The Masonic Hall was packed to near capacity to witness the installation of E Comp Charles Yelland as MEZ of the Chapter.

Also elected and installed to serve alongside him for the next 12 months were Derek Prouse as H and Mike Johns as J. This is the second year running that three companions living in Devon have held the top offices in a Cornish chapter.

After their installation, the Principals appointed and invested their team of officers to work with them. The appointments always include a Secretary, Treasurer, Charity Steward and an Almoner, and these posts were filled by Keith Taylor, John Weller, Mike Johns and Barrie Rose respectively.

After the main meeting, a celebration dinner was held in the refectory and a toast was proposed to the three newly installed Principals. The MEZ replied on behalf of the Principals, and thanked everyone for attending and supporting a very special and happy occasion in the life of Granville Chapter.

A raffle and bottle draw was also held during the meal and raised £310 for Masonic charities.

Eight Devonshire charities benefited from a series of special MCF Community Awards from Devonshire Freemasons after an unprecedented public vote, with 178,801 people in England and Wales participating

The MCF Community Awards are a major part of UGLE’s 300th anniversary celebrations. The Masonic Charitable Foundation is distributing £3 million to 300 charities across the country, with the public vote deciding on the level of awards, which range from £4,000 to £25,000.

Presentations to the charities were made in September at a special ceremony in Plymouth by Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury on behalf of the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Find out more about the thinking behind the MCF Community Awards here.

The final journey of the Provincial Tercentenary travelling banner made its way through Cornwall on Saturday 14th October, terminating with a Civic Parade through the streets of St. Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly

The Provincial travelling banner has been specially designed by all eight Provinces that make up the South West region. Each of these Provinces have enjoyed being the custodian of the banner throughout its entire journey arriving at many special locations.

The final leg was supported by the Provincial Grand Masters for Cornwall, RW Bro Stephen C Pearn, and Devonshire, RW Bro Ian Kingsbury, together with a special guest, the United Grand Lodge of England's Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton.

Despite the arrival of the impending Storm Ophelia, the weather, whilst overcast, remained dry and warm. Proceedings started with a bumper lunch at The Mermaid Inn on St. Mary’s Quay, followed by an enthusiastic Civic Parade in full Masonic regalia through the streets, which was supported by local islanders.

The parade continued its way through the streets until it reached Godolphin Lodge No. 7790, where those who had paraded assembled in the Lodge room together with several lady guests to hear an historic oration by the Provincial Orator for Cornwall, W Bro Mike Murton.

The special events then concluded with a Festive Board held in the stunning conservatory at the Star Castle Hotel.

For the first time since it was founded in 1934, members and guests of Blundell’s Lodge, No. 5467, held their meeting in Blundell’s School in Tiverton, Devon

The event took place by permission of school head Nicola Huggett, who was guest of honour alongside Richard Swarbrick, chairman of the Old Blundellian Club.

Lodge Master John Shepherd and Devonshire Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury each presented Huggett with a cheque for £1,500.

The £3,000 will help fund a project in Laos that is organised by Community Learning International, and supported by Blundell’s School, which helps provide opportunities for children to develop their skills and knowledge.

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