The Essex 500 Inspire Challenge winner for July 2021 for the best story using the Provincial Online Story Creation Wizard was Ilford Castle Lodge No. 7144 with Shaun Rayner’s winning entry of Calling All Frontline Heroes! (essexfreemasons.org.uk)
The prize of a £500 charitable donation was given by the Essex Freemasons Community Fund which itself had won the Pride of Essex ‘Team of Pride 2020’ Award for its supply of equipment to help frontline workers and volunteers in Essex during the pandemic.
Knowing that ‘every little helps’, Ilford Castle Lodge asked if the £500 prize could be shared so that they could support the Essex 2022 Festival with £150 for the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons’ charity which has pledged to spend £7 million supporting charitable works in Essex. Colin Felton, the Provincial Grand Charity Steward (ProvGChStwd), was delighted to help.
The remaining £350 has been donated to PTSD999 which is run entirely by volunteers and is the only organisation in the UK which supports all serving and retired, voluntary, family and friends of the emergency services and provides Trauma Response Awareness Training
Special Forces soldier and author Andy McNab CBE DCM MM, who served in many conflicts and was captured and tortured, is a Champion of PTSD999. Andy explained: 'Emergency Service workers are the everyday forgotten heroes. Through the course of a week they deal with stabbings, suicides, road deaths, murders, rape and terrorist attcks. 87% of Emergency Service workers suffer some form of mental trauma resulting in depression, loss of job and heartache at home. PTSD999 is working hard to support the way we deal with PTSD. I fully support them and our Emergency Services.'
In a recent interview actor Graham Cole OBE who played PC Tony Stamp in the Bill said: 'I really tried to put a heart inside the uniform, perhaps showing the pressures of the job. I’m still honoured to support the police and emergency blue lighters and am the proud President of PTSD999.'
It is no surprise to learn that the two founders of PTSD999 are Freemasons, who share the organisation’s core values of Integrity, Friendship, Respect and Charity.
Although small in numbers, Shaun Rayner’s winning entry is a 999 call for potential new members to join Ilford Castle Lodge 7144. Meeting at Harlow four times a year, three of which are on a Saturday, all the members are frontline key workers. So, if you are connected to the Emergency Services or are a Frontline Worker or just want to make new friends in Freemasonry with a focus on charity, please respond to Shaun’s 999 call and enjoy Ilford Castle Lodge’s Platinum Anniversary 2022 celebrations.