It started with a Facebook appeal from Clacton District Hospital then went viral - and it worked after the message reached local Freemasons - members of Clactonian Lodge, who responded to the urgent request to help patients isolated by the Covid-19 pandemic
The person behind the appeal, Emma Blowers, Paediatric Services Lead and the rest of her team were called in to help when the virus began to change lives, but for the patients, many of whom had been transferred from nearby Colchester Hospital to recover from non-Covid related conditions, it meant lockdown and isolation.
Access to TV and other communal rooms stopped overnight leaving 'patients to look at four walls' and that was when Emma acted and asked the question – 'is there anyone out there who can supply us with old TVs or radios?'
Steve Peperrell, who saw Emma’s appeal on Facebook, responded immediately with members of Clactonian Lodge agreeing to donate £500, a sum match funded by the Essex Freemasons Community Fund – a total of £1,000 and enough to buy three new TVs and stands for patients at Clacton Hospital.
'The members agreed to help immediately,' said Steve, 'Clacton is our local hospital and we as Freemasons are very much involved with the local community, so we were pleased to help and hope it has made a real difference to patients who had to put up with their own particular kind of lockdown.'
Brenda Heywood and Diane Davies, currently recovering at Clacton Hospital, were in full agreement – the new TVs have made a difference. They are seen pictured with Emma Blowers, together with members of the nursing team and Clactonian Lodge and Assistant Provincial Grand Master Graham Dickerson and Colin Felton, Provincial Grand Charity Steward at a special presentation ceremony.
'We are very grateful to Clactonian Lodge,' said Emma Blowers. 'The TV’s have given some normality to patients who had to be kept in isolation in groups of six to protect them from the pandemic. It was especially good because they had a connection with the outside world. The biggest thing was that it enabled them to watch historic events such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, which they would have missed.'
Essex Freemasons donate more than £1 million each year to help local charities. In the last 12 months an additional £100,000 has been used for Covid related support and helping local Lodges such as Clactonian support dozens of different causes across the county.