Dunkirk Memorial House situated at Bishops Lydeard near Taunton is the only Care Home in Somerset run by the Royal British Legion (RBL). All of the residents have connections with the Armed Forces and their ages range from 51 to 101
Purchased from the NHS in 1984, then part of the Tone Vale Psychiatric Hospital, it was extended and modernised in 1985 and can accommodate 90 residents, 30 of which receive specialised care in a purpose built dementia unit. The building is set in several acres of gardens and incorporates a rose garden and small lake. Many Freemasons in Somerset have connections with the Armed Services either directly or through a relative or friend and have a strong affinity for the RBL.
Anticipating that due to the pandemic the annual poppy appeal would this year yield considerably less than previously, the Provincial Grand Master David Medlock, decided that the Province should make a special appeal to support the RBL here in Somerset.
Assistant Provincial Grand Master Martin Slocombe through David Sidwell who is the RBL Acting County Parade Marshal and Worshipful Master of Sir Isaac Newton Lodge No. 9801, contacted RBL County Chairman Major Robert McDonald and he recommended Dunkirk Memorial House as the recipient of the appeal.
The result? An amazing £12,376 was raised which included donations from 63 Craft Lodges, 5 from Mark, Chapter and Rose Croix as well as Provincial support from the Royal Arch, the Mark Degree, Somerset Masonic Charity and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons' Charity.
Just before Christmas, in a tent erected outside the building, home manager Anne Lewin was presented with a Freemasons Footprint plaque by Graham Puddy of Rural Philanthropic No. 291 to commemorate the occasion. She told Compass: 'A huge thank you to the Somerset Freemasons – a donation as large as this can make a real difference to our resident’s quality of life. We will use it for things that are not funded by the RBL including building a Pagoda in our wonderful rose garden so that our residents can enjoy the shade in the summer months.'
County Chairman Maj. Robert McDonald said: 'I too would sincerely like thank the Freemasons for this most generous contribution, it’s absolutely tremendous and will mean so much for our residents.'
Graham added: 'Charity and community are a big part of Freemasonry and on behalf of all Somerset Freemasons I present you with this plaque which I hope you will be able to put on display.'