Essex Freemasons to sponsor nursing degree apprentices

Tuesday, 01 June 2021

Raili had always wanted to support other people with care, comfort and compassion as a nurse

With nothing more than the inspiration of Florence Nightingale who said: 'Starting a job and working hard is how to be successful', Raili entered the new apprenticeship degree nurse training scheme at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAHT) in Harlow and Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) just three weeks before the first wave of Covid-19 in 2020. Little did Raili then know that Essex Freemasons would soon play a big part in supporting her.

As the enormity of the pandemic hit home, Old Chelmsfordian Lodge members held meetings on Zoom to plan their response. They asked: 'Why can’t we sponsor a nurse?' and were directed to ARU which saw no reason why not over the four-year training period. One Lodge member, a retired police officer, had joined PAHT as a porter and met Raili, an apprenticed nurse who had no support network, was a single mother living on a minimum wage with no recourse to government funding, desperately needing support and help with car maintenance. Raili ticked all the boxes.

ARU suggested helping with equipment, study material and medical journals with £1,000 for each of the four years considered as both appropriate and feasible. Some members set up a regular standing-order, others donated lump sums. The Essex Freemasons Community Fund (EFCF) added £500 and pledged £1,500 over the next three years.

After meeting Raili at Chelmsford Masonic Hall and learning just how beneficial the Lodge financial support is to her, Lee Taylor, an Assistant Provincial Grand Master and Colin Felton, the Provincial Grand Charity Steward, thanked the Lodge members for their initiative and decided to make this a new Essex-wide sponsorship project. Lee has already contacted the seven other Federation of School Lodges in Essex to ask if they will each consider similarly sponsoring an apprenticed nurse for £500 pa, with a further £500 match-funded from the EFCF, for each of the four years.

The Worshipful Master of Old Chelmsfordian Lodge, Gary Payne said: 'This is what Freemasonry is all about. It is the good work which is not usually publicised'. Lodge Secretary, Rob Bates, added: 'Now the project is off the ground it is very rewarding to see someone develop and benefit from Freemasonry'. Raili gave her heartfelt appreciation saying: 'This has made me feel more confident, with a no-stress drive to work I am able to focus on the task of achieving my degree. You have all made my year with this help and I am grateful. Again, I really can’t say thank-you enough.'

So, in the future if you receive care, comfort and compassion from a Registered Nurse with a BSc (Hons), it may be from one who completed their Nursing Degree Apprenticeship with Sponsorship from the Essex Freemasons.

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