Shropshire Freemasons have stepped forward to help their communities in their efforts to face and overcome the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, by both providing £44,300 to help local food banks and turning their hands to making and distributing PPE to local care homes
The Shropshire Masonic Charitable Association, to which all members contribute, has set aside a sum of £10,000 to help with this work. And individual Lodges (there are 36, spread across the County) are adding to that amount daily. Already several have given a total of £7,500, and in addition local Lodges have donated a total of £6,800 to 12 individual food banks.
One Shrewsbury Lodge, The Salopian Lodge of Charity, has set aside a further sum of up to £20,000 to provide a van to the Shrewsbury Food Hub to replace their rental vehicle. The money will be used in two main areas: to help the local food banks meet the increased demands for their services, and the manufacture and supply of protective face visors to help meet any shortage in care and nursing homes of this vital safety equipment. Work has started over the last few days and will go on for as long as it’s needed.
The help for food banks is by way of grants to any registered with the Shropshire Food Poverty Alliance. To date, food banks in all corners of the County have received up to £1,000 each to help them meet the needs of those who are struggling to provide for themselves and their families. Meanwhile, practical help with facial protection is also being provided. In the north of the county, Andy McGuiness, with financial support from his local Lodge and the fund, is using his 3D printer to produce the face shields, which are offered to all the County’s care and nursing homes.
The fund will provide a further printer and materials to help him make them and his fellow members are helping with distribution. They are sorely needed: Master of Roden Lodge, Paul Radcliffe, was met with tears of gratitude at one home who received some of Andy’s masks.
And over in Telford, Keith Woodville, with the help of local volunteer group Makerpace and the father and son Paul and Luke Hart and the support of his employers RBSL have also been hard at work with their printers. The fund’s money will help to buy any more printers and materials that are needed to meet demand. Deputy Grand Superintendent for Shropshire, Dave Kettle, is co-ordinating the Provincial PPE project.
As Dave puts it: 'We have now produced and delivered some 2,000 protective visors for as many as 45 care and nursing homes across Shropshire and Telford. We are happy to be able help relieve their need for protection for their residents and their amazingly dedicated staff, and I’m anxious to hear from any other homes who think we may be able to help.'
Shropshire's Provincial Grand Master Roger Pemberton said: 'I am enormously proud of all our members for stepping forward in so many ways to demonstrate the practice of one of masonry’s core principles: compassion. The work being done throughout the county is a great example of masons being a part of their community, as they have done for 300 years.'