A kind-hearted Northumberland Freemasons has been rewarded for his tireless, unpaid charity work in the community, with a prestigious national award
Norman West, a Freemason of 43 years, of Holy Cross Lodge No.3679, which meets at Wallsend Masonic Hall, recently travelled to Mansion House, London, to receive the much coveted Order of Mercy award from the League of Mercy Foundation, for his work as Almoner for the Northumberland Freemasons, a position that he has held for the past 14 years.
During his time as Almoner of the Northumberland Freemasons, Norman has worked very closely with the Richard Henry Holmes Benevolent Fund, the Northumberland Masonic Charity Association and the national Masonic Charitable Foundation. His role involves being responsible for coordinating the distribution of masonic charity money and aid to masons and their dependents when in social or pecuniary distress, as well as supporting a significant number of non-masonic charities each year.
On an annual basis he travels far and wide, on a purely voluntary basis, to meet with applicants for masonic support and their families or friends, to ensure the right type and level of charitable support is provided in as timely a manner as possible. He actively encourages involvement in charity with feedback and case reports that bring to life the value of the work he is engaged in. Additionally, he is instrumental in seeking recommendations for support for non-masonic charities; in championing their causes during meetings of the Trustees; and in distributing funds to the various charities when approved.
Norman’s greatest strength is his 'personal touch' when meeting RMBI/MCF support applicants and their families. He goes out of his way to find out about the background to each case and makes difficult judgements about the types and level of support that would be needed to relieve the distress in individual cases. Once the charity has directed its care, Norman keeps in close contact with the applicants, ensuring a friendly face on a regular basis with a watchful eye on their needs and a readiness to step in and arrange additional support if circumstances change.
The League of Mercy Foundation was established by Royal Charter on 30th March 1899 and re-established as a charity, registered in England, on 30th March 1999. It was originally established to create a large body of voluntary workers who would assist with the maintenance of voluntary hospitals and “otherwise relieve sickness and suffering” and now rewards the admirable work of up to fifty people annually, who have given seven years or more voluntary service, by presenting them with the prestigious Order of Mercy award for distinguished voluntary service, which is a silver gilt representation of the original design depicting Joshua Reynolds’s figure of 'Charity'.