Pie’d and tested

From the classic steak and kidney to the delicious apple and blackberry, families have been enjoying pies for years and last week was no different as the nation celebrated British Pie Week

Pies have become a symbol of British comfort food at its best and can be traced in history as far back as 2,500 BC. Usually enjoyed with lashings of gravy, spoonfuls of mashed potato or smothered in custard, the pie has at times come under fire for its high fat content. However, a recent paper published on the Open Heart website has criticised the guidelines issued in the 1980s which advised people to avoid eating fatty foods.

The paper questions whether saturated fats are as bad as we have been led to believe, and suggests that the link between fat and the increased risk of death may not to be valid.

Residents at Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) care homes certainly agree that eating meals containing butter and cheese as part of a balanced diet has been an enjoyable part of growing up. In fact, older people who consumed pies as part of their diet prior to the guidelines issued in the 1980s are amongst those living longer today.

Recipes and Reminiscences, the cookbook produced by the RMBI, contains 50 of the favourite recipes from residents and staff. Many of the recipes included in the cookbook contain dishes that were a nation favourite in their era, including Woolton Pie, a classic wartime dish of the 1940s that encouraged people to use whatever vegetables were available to them during the rationing period to create family meals.

At the RMBI, we place great importance on providing our residents with food that they grew up with and enjoy, including new dishes they have come to love. We create menus that provide residents with healthy and nutritious food for a balanced diet, including well-loved pie dishes.

Debra Keeling, Deputy Director of Care at the RMBI, said: 'We strive to deliver a high quality of life for all of our residents, and providing enjoyable food and drink is essential to this. Our residents are encouraged to put their menu ideas forward to ensure that we are catering to their individual tastes.

'British Pie Week is a great opportunity to bring our residents together through their mutual love of food.'

To mark British Pie Week, care home residents of the RMBI took part in a variety of pie-related activities – including tasting and baking sessions and recipe sharing – organised by our care homes’ Activities Coordinators.

Published in RMBI
Friday, 06 March 2015 00:00

Grand Secretary's column - Spring 2015

From the Grand Secretary

We are delighted at the response to the first Membership Focus Group survey with 5,265 of you taking part. Please do read the very interesting results in this issue on page 16, as they reveal how members cherish mutual respect and moral values while still embracing fun and enjoyment.

The Membership Focus Group survey is a classic example of involving members in the future of Freemasonry – not least members at lodge and chapter level. Our ability to communicate with individuals in order to seek their views is increasingly important to ensure the success of our organisation going forward. 

It is therefore crucial that we recognise that it is right and proper to talk openly about our membership and to feel proud of that membership. To that end, we must meet the challenge to find a simple manner of communicating our unique offering to new members, as well as to family, friends and acquaintances. Actions speak louder than words and we are increasingly convinced that the challenge of communicating what Freemasonry means will be met by members at lodge and chapter level. 

In this issue of Freemasonry Today, we talk to masons who are sharing the message at a local level. Our profile of Somerset’s Adair Club reveals how combining a modern outlook with traditional values can ensure new recruits to Freemasonry feel part of their Province. Meanwhile, we look at the masonic contributions to sports charity Street League that are giving unemployed young people career direction by encouraging them to use the team-building skills found in football.

Our feature on the pioneering work being carried out in RMBI care homes shows how residents can be made to feel more secure. The charity is finding that, whether it’s memories of flying with Franklin D Roosevelt or pretending to be Father Christmas over the phone, life stories can be used to better understand and care for its residents.

Looking further back, the spirit of Freemasonry is revealed in a fascinating document held by the Library and Museum. We learn about the hundreds of Freemasons held at Ruhleben internment camp in Germany during World War I and the launch of a campaign to send food parcels to their aid. It is just one of the many stories in this issue of Freemasonry Today that show why we should be proud to be members of this fraternal organisation.

Nigel Brown

Grand Secretary

‘Actions speak louder than words and we are increasingly convinced that the challenge of communicating what Freemasonry means will be met by members at lodge and chapter level.’

Published in UGLE
Friday, 06 March 2015 00:00

Creating a new charity for Freemasonry

Helping together

In an open letter, the presidents and chief executives of the four masonic charities explain how combining their efforts under a single entity will enable better support for masons, their families and the wider community

‘The future of the charities is fundamental to the existence and success of Freemasonry,’ commented then Assistant Grand Master Lord Cornwallis following the 1973 Bagnall Report into the work of masonic charity. 

Cornwallis’ statement remains as true today as it did then, and it has been firmly in the minds of the presidents, trustees and chief executives of the four central masonic charities as they have undertaken a further major review. 

The charities each offer a specific area of support to Freemasons and their families. The Freemasons’ Grand Charity supports Freemasons and their dependants in financial need; the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys helps children and young people from masonic families in distress; the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution provides residential care; and the Masonic Samaritan Fund offers access to a range of health-related services.

Change and cooperation

Throughout their long history, the charities have supported hundreds of thousands of Freemasons and their families. They have also demonstrated their willingness to embrace change as both society and Freemasonry have evolved. 

Since co-locating to Freemasons’ Hall, the divisions between the four charities have lessened. However, the presidents remain focused on considering a more effective way of providing the best possible support to the Craft. 

Following an extensive review, the presidents are proposing that all charitable activities should be consolidated to form a new, single charity to support Freemasons, their families and the wider community. 

The charities have a positive record of working closely together. They have already aligned some of their charitable support activities, and created a unified advice and support team to assist those seeking help. The amalgamation of many administrative functions has also reduced duplication, creating a more streamlined service for beneficiaries and donors without compromising their full range of support. 

Despite increased cooperation and cross-charity initiatives such as Freemasonry Cares, the continuing existence of four separate organisations – each with its own distinct processes for providing support – has hindered the development of a truly joined-up and consistent approach. This causes problems for those who need to apply to more than one charity, as they may be required to meet differing criteria and receive separate payments for each type of support. 

The presidents’ recommendation for a single charity will further reduce duplication and move towards the provision of a ‘whole-family, cradle-to-grave’ approach. Freemasons and their families will continue to benefit from the current full range of assistance through a simpler and more readily accessible process. 

The presidents and trustees are committed to maintaining the valuable contribution that the charities make to the wider community. Collectively, millions of pounds are awarded each year to a huge range of local, national and international causes, yet masonic generosity remains a largely untold story. Combining the non-masonic activities of the charities would enable a more effective way of demonstrating that Freemasons care about the wider world.

Fundraising impact

The presidents also considered the impact that a single charity would have on fundraising. Through successive generations, support has been received from masonic donors, Festival Appeals and in many other ways, such as legacies. The charities continue to rely on the generosity of Freemasons for the majority of their income and are extremely grateful for every donation. 

Maintaining four separate charities, however, means that funds are ring-fenced for individual charitable purposes. For example, funds raised for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys can only be used to support children and young people. A single charity with a combined, wider remit could channel support to where it is most needed. 

The recommendations confirm that Festival Appeals will continue to be the principal mechanism for raising funds. Appeals concluding up to and including 2021 will continue to benefit the existing charities. Festivals concluding from 2022 onwards will benefit the new single charity and its wider remit. 

As Festival Appeals are typically held for five years, a period of transition will be necessary with appeals for the existing charities and the new charity running simultaneously. Donors can be reassured that all donations to the existing charities will continue to be used solely for the purpose for which they were originally given. 

As reported by the Pro Grand Master at the Quarterly Communication in December 2014, the Grand Master and Provincial Grand Masters have received a comprehensive briefing on the review. The Grand Master and all those who have been briefed have given their full support to the proposal. The next step is for each charity to invite their members to consider the proposals. 

Over the coming months, each of the charities will make its own plans to ensure that its members are fully consulted on the proposals. The presidents and trustees hope that members of their charities will share the enthusiasm for the proposed way forward. 

The presidents are determined to retain the involvement of members of the Craft in governance arrangements. The final membership structure is yet to be confirmed, but the vision includes an effective means for the Craft to play a part in the future of the charity. 

Should the proposals be approved, it is envisaged that the new charity will become operational during 2016, beginning a new chapter in the long and proud history of masonic charity. 

The proposals: a singular vision

· The presidents of the central masonic charities have recommended that the charities be consolidated into a new, single organisation. 

· The new charity will provide the full range of support currently available to Freemasons and their families. 

· A new name (yet to be determined) will be given to the consolidated charity, which will support both masonic and non-masonic giving. 

· The new charity will become operational in 2016. 

· All Festivals concluding in 2022 and beyond will support the new charity, with existing Festival Appeals continuing as planned. 

· A single president, trustee board, chief executive and staff will administer the new charity, with members of the Craft included in its governance.

‘Throughout their long history, the charities have demonstrated their willingness to embrace change as both society and Freemasonry have evolved.’

Letters to the Editor - No. 30 Summer 2015

Charitable support

Sir,

I found the initiative [the proposal of a single masonic charity] of the presidents and chief executives of our four charities very encouraging. As a fumbling almoner, I have struggled from time to time deciding as to where I should be directing my enquiries. I have always found the staff very helpful, but I am sure that an efficient single enquiry channel must be of benefit, not only to us, but to the cause of efficiency within the organisation.

We all love our charities and will, I am sure, continue to support them in whatever form they eventually finish up, but times change and we have to change with them. 

I wish the charities a happy and successful outcome to their deliberations.

Peter Dodd, Old Epsomian Lodge, No. 3561, London

Published in Freemasonry Cares

Forward with focus

As the Membership Focus Group gathers opinions about the future of Freemasonry and proposals circulate about the combination of the four masonic charities, Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes looks ahead

Over the past forty-odd years we have fought hard to ensure that our public image is continually improving. It would be ridiculous to claim that we have won all these battles or that we have convincingly won the war, but we have undoubtedly made significant progress in many areas. We will not be giving up on any of these battles, but in addition we are very much concentrating our efforts on knowing as much as possible about our membership, and what we can do to stabilise numbers and increasingly attract high-quality members.

The Membership Focus Group (MFG) has made great strides in gathering essential information and assessing membership trends. We are presently considering governance, leadership, image and branding needs, as well as recruitment and retrieval – all vital to the success of any organisation. 

The MFG is keen to have the views of members on a number of subjects essential to the future of the Craft and is setting up a series of surveys to be conducted over the coming months that will allow all members to express their views. So far, I understand that more than 7,400 members have signed up and I encourage more to do so.

Some ideas put forward may appear trivial, but it is so often something apparently trivial that introduces a debate that widens and becomes a cornerstone. One such idea came from a chance comment from a Deputy Provincial Grand Master about the word ‘recruitment’ having connotations of press-ganging into the services. Rather than talking about recruiting new members, why not think about ‘attracting’ them? This may appear to be just semantics, but I believe it is rather more than that and could be very relevant.

The point I am making is that nobody should consider any idea too small to put forward. The worst that can happen is that it is not implemented – you won’t be demoted! A word of warning on this: I will be hugely unpopular with the Grand Secretary if his department is flooded with emails, so please express your ideas by using the free text boxes that will be incorporated into future surveys.

Modernising the Charities

Another area in which there has been much activity is the organisation of our four main charities. In 2008 several PGMs made representations to the Rulers about how they would like to see the charities modernised. A Grand Master’s Council Charity Committee was set up under the chairmanship of the Deputy Grand Master, at that time myself but soon to be Jonathan Spence, who has overseen the vast majority of the Committee’s work. The charities themselves had already made an important start by agreeing to come together under one roof and they are, of course, now all in Freemasons’ Hall in London.

The Committee has been working extremely hard, together with the charity presidents and their chief executives, to come forward with a formula that will suit the charities for many years to come. 

I am pleased to announce that the Grand Master has now received a comprehensive briefing on the review that has taken place, as have the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters. This is the first major review to have taken place since the Bagnall Report of forty-one years ago.

The Grand Master and all those who have been briefed have given their full support to the proposal to consolidate the four existing main charities into a new overarching charity, managed by a single board of trustees under a single chief executive officer, with a single team of staff. Further details will be made available via the individual charities, Provincial and District Grand Masters, and through future editions of Freemasonry Today. 

At the Annual General Meeting of the Grand Charity, to be held in conjunction with the September 2015 Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge, members, after a period of consultation, will be invited to endorse the proposals in respect of the changes required to the constitution of the Grand Charity. Similar activity will be required at appropriately convened members’ meetings for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and the Masonic Samaritan Fund.

The review sets out to ensure that the provision of charitable support remains central to the future of Freemasonry, but is enhanced by moving to a demand-led, whole-family, cradle-to-grave model, which will be more appropriate for the twenty-first century. 

‘Some ideas may appear trivial, but it is often something apparently trivial that introduces a debate that widens and becomes a cornerstone.’ 

Published in UGLE

Investing in the future

RMBI care homes Queen Elizabeth Court in Llandudno and Prince Michael of Kent Court in Watford have been recognised with a prestigious award for their care of people living with dementia

The Butterfly Service status is a nationally recognised ‘kitemark’ awarded by Dementia Care Matters to identify care homes that are committed to delivering excellent dementia care and providing residents with a high quality of life.

Only a handful of care homes in the UK have been awarded the status, and Queen Elizabeth Court and Prince Michael of Kent Court now join four other RMBI care homes around the country to have received the award. 

RMBI care homes Devonshire Court in Leicester, Shannon Court in Surrey, Barford Court in Hove and Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court in Essex have also received the Butterfly Service status.

Debra Keeling, RMBI Deputy Director of Care Operations, said, ‘To have been awarded the Butterfly Service status is testament to the dedication of our care home staff providing exceptional care. We have made a substantial investment in dementia care training for staff and hold regular events and initiatives for our residents as part of our drive to support their welfare and wellbeing.’

Debra believes that the award demonstrates the RMBI’s commitment to delivering innovative care techniques to maintain the highest quality of life for its residents, as well as putting solid foundations in place to continue to provide excellent care as the number of those with dementia increases over the next few years.

‘As a charity we have been working closely with Dementia Care Matters since 2009, and with a number of other specialist dementia providers to deliver our dementia care strategy,’ said Debra. ‘Dementia Care Matters works with care providers with the aim of improving the quality of life for residents of care homes – not only for those with dementia, but also for the other residents living in the same home.’

 

Published in RMBI

GREAT BRITISH CARE

The RMBI was delighted to be recognised for a second time at the Great British Care Awards last year with seven shortlisted nominations, and for the first time in the Third Sector Care Awards with one nomination

The Great British Care Awards celebrate excellence across the care sector and pay tribute to those who have demonstrated outstanding excellence in their field of work.

Congratulations go to Joanne Pinkney at Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court, Essex, who was shortlisted for the Ancillary Care Worker award. The home also made the shortlist for the Care Innovator award – an achievement likewise enjoyed by the first RMBI Day Service at Barford Court in Hove – as well as the Creative Arts accolade in the Third Sector Care Awards. 

In addition, Jane Baldwin, Learning and Development Officer for the South, made the shortlist for the Great British Care Awards Care Trainer accolade; Erisilia Antohe from Prince Michael of Kent Court in Watford for Frontline Leaders; Sandra Robson from Scarbrough Court in Northumberland for Putting People First; and Sue Goodrich from Prince George Duke of Kent Court in Kent for Care Home Activity Organiser. 

To add to these achievements, Jane Geraghty, Care Support Worker at RMBI care home Queen Elizabeth Court in Llandudno, was announced as the winner of the Excellence in Dementia Care Award at the Wales Care Awards 2014. 

Published in RMBI
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 00:00

Pro Grand Master's address - December 2014

Quarterly Communication

10 December 2014 
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren, a lot goes on during a period of 12 months in Freemasonry. Much of this all our members see in their lodges, as well at Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Lodges and Grand Lodge. However what is not seen is all the work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that all runs smoothly and, even more importantly, that the Craft is fit for purpose for the future.

Over the last 40 odd years we have fought hard to ensure that our public image is continually improving. It would be ridiculous to claim that we have won all these battles or that we have convincingly won the war, but we have undoubtedly made significant progress in many areas. We will not be giving up on any of these battles, but in addition we are very much concentrating our efforts on making sure that we know as much as possible about our membership and what we can do to stabilise membership numbers and increasingly attract natural leaders and high quality members.

The Membership Focus Group under the chairmanship of the Deputy President of the Board of General Purposes, RW Bro Ray Reed, has made great strides in gathering essential information and assessing membership trends. We are presently considering governance, leadership, image and branding needs, as well as recruitment and retrieval, all vital to the success of any organisation. The MFG is keen to have the views of members on a number of subjects essential to the future of the Craft and is setting up a series of surveys to be conducted over the coming months which will allow all members to express their views. So far, I understand that over 5,500 members have signed up and I encourage more to do so.

Some ideas put forward may appear trivial, but it so often that which appears trivial that introduces a debate which widens and becomes, dare I say, a cornerstone. One such idea has been put to me by Bro Reed and came from a chance conversation that he had with a certain Deputy PGM, who shall remain nameless but his Province has a county town called Lincoln! Amongst several very useful points that he made was that the word “recruitment” has connotations of press ganging into the services and that, rather than talking about “recruiting” new members, why not think about “attracting” them. This may appear to be just semantics, but I believe it is rather more than that and could be very relevant.

The point I am making is that nobody should consider any idea too small to put forward. The worst that can happen is that it is not implemented – you won’t be demoted! A word of warning on this – I will be hugely unpopular with the Grand Secretary if his department is flooded out with emails so please express your ideas by using the free text boxes that will be incorporated into future surveys.

There have also been a number of changes within the secretariat and those working in this building. As most of you will have noticed by now, we are leading up to a very major event in 2017 and this is going to take a huge amount of organisation. For this reason it was decided to ask the Grand Secretary to concentrate his time and efforts on the purely masonic side of his current role and to separate away the operational side of the building, along with the finance and IT departments, which will be run by a Chief Operating Officer, Nicola Graham-Adriani who has been working for us here for over 13 years, latterly as Deputy Chief Executive.

Brethren, this meeting of Grand Lodge marks a watershed by having the Paper of Business circulated electronically. This was not as easy as it may sound, as, amongst other things, it required changes to the Book of Constitution. A team led by VW Bro James Long and including the current Grand Pursuivant have spent many hours ensuring that the circulation went smoothly and I congratulate all of them on doing so.

Another area where there has been much activity is the organisation of our four main Charities. In 2008 several PGMs made representations to the Rulers about how they would like to see the Charities modernised. A Grand Master’s Council Charity Committee was set up under the chairmanship of the Deputy Grand Master, which at that time was myself, but was soon to become RW Bro Jonathan Spence who has overseen the vast majority of the Committee’s work. The Charities themselves had already made an important start by agreeing to come together under one roof and they are, of course, now all in this building.

The Committee has been working extremely hard, together with the Charity Presidents and their Chief Executives, to come forward with a formula that will suit the Charities for many years to come. 

I am pleased to announce that the MW The Grand Master has now received a comprehensive briefing on the review that has taken place, as have the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters. This is the first major review to have taken place since the Bagnell Report of 41 years ago.

The Grand Master and all those who have been briefed have given their full support to the proposal to consolidate the four existing main Charities into a new overarching charity managed by a single board of Trustees under a single Chief Executive Officer with a single staff team.

Further details will be made available via the individual Charities, Provincial and District Grand Masters, and through future editions of Freemasonry Today. 

At the Annual General Meeting of The Grand Charity, to be held in conjunction with the September 2015 Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge, members, after a period of consultation, will be invited to endorse the proposals in respect of the changes required to the constitution of The Grand Charity. Similar activity will be required at appropriately convened members meetings for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and the Masonic Samaritan Fund.

The review sets out to ensure that the provision of charitable support remains central to the future of Freemasonry, but is enhanced by moving to a demand-led, whole family, cradle-to-grave model, which will be far more appropriate for the 21st century. I congratulate all those involved in this review and commend their recommendations to you.

Brethren, I have spoken for rather longer than usual, but I trust that you will agree that some important issues have been covered and I believe that it is right for Grand Lodge to be kept up to date on such matters.

Last year I mentioned that I was expecting a tiring Christmas with my grandchildren. It wasn’t just them who were exhausting. My three sons, who are all in their thirties, passed my two grandsons on the stairs. One set were on their way to bed, the other on their way to open their stockings. I leave it to you, brethren, as to which lot was going in which direction!

Whoever you spend your holiday period with, may I wish you all a very happy and relaxing time.

Published in Speeches

Recipes and Reminiscences

The RMBI’s Recipes and Reminiscences cookbook is the perfect way to bond with loved ones during the festive season

Created from recipes contributed by the residents and staff of RMBI care homes, Recipes and Reminiscences explores how food is linked to memory and brings people together through their life experiences. In many cases, a person with dementia can vividly recall memories from the past, so focusing on longer-term memories, through reminiscence, is a good therapeutic tool. 

Recipes and Reminiscences is a journey through time, with popular recipes from the 1940s to the present day. The book looks back over the years and includes a foreword by star of The Great British Bake Off, Mary Berry.

From beef stew and fruit cake, to baked Alaska and chocolate cupcakes, the book collects together more than fifty of the nation’s favourite recipes that have stood the test of time. 

Recipes and Reminiscences is available to purchase online from www.rmbi.org.uk 

Published in RMBI

Connecting with cafe culture

A pioneering initiative by the RMBI is showing how reminiscence can play an integral part in dementia care

Previously underused space at Prince Michael of Kent Court in Watford has been developed into a café with a 1950s theme. It provides a relaxed and homely environment and has shown that people living with dementia, when given the right setting, are more able to participate in daily life activities. 

The café aims to create familiarity. The decor and memorabilia help residents to recall memories, while also boosting interaction with other café users. The residents, staff and visitors contribute to its success by baking and holding events, to which all residents are invited. This has helped to break down the barriers between those living in the dementia support unit and those living in other parts of the home.

The idea for the café initially came from the home’s management team and an application was then made for a grant from the government’s dementia care pilot project. The project group consisted of residents, staff, visitors and a local contractor, and everyone had a part to play in its development, from choosing the wallpaper and furnishings, through to plumbing and decorating. Residents enjoyed helping out with key decisions and designing the new space. 

Since opening the café in April 2014, the impact has been remarkable. Alan Russell, whose aunt is a resident at the home, said, ‘The new café is wonderful. It provides a peaceful area for visitors and residents to relax in a homely environment.’

Published in RMBI

On their bikes at Connaught Court

Connaught Court, the RMBI home at York, has teamed up with Get Cycling to take residents with dementia on weekly companion cycle rides, part funded by the locally based Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Family members and staff have enjoyed cycling on tandem tricycles around the grounds of Connaught Court and are now planning a series of rides along riverside cycle paths and to the local park. Get Cycling CEO Jim McGurn said, ‘This is very much a pilot programme so we can learn from our experiences… It could be used across the country and be the start of many dementia cycling groups.’

For more information, contact Jim McGurn on 07720 846611 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Published in RMBI
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