A well-planned cooperative effort, ably supported by the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), has enabled a significant £60,000 donation to be made to Thames Hospice, on behalf of the Freemasons of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire

This great example of fraternal cooperation resulted in a significant grant to support the construction of its new hospice in Bray near Maidenhead. 

After several weeks of planning, the Provincial Grand Masters of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, Anthony Howlett-Bolton and John Clark respectively, together with representatives of their Provincial Charities, met up with Debbie Raven, CEO of Thames Hospice, to formally present their combined donation in front of the site of the new hospice, which was from the Berkshire Masonic Charity, the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund and the MCF.

Serving both Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, Thames Hospice opened in 1987 but is now no longer able to keep up with the increasing number of people who need their care and services. As well as the increase in numbers, the charity is dealing with more complex and challenging medical conditions and, as a result, the decision was taken to build a larger facility. In 2017, planning permission was given to construct a new state of the art facility on land donated to the charity near Bray Lake. Inpatient rooms will increase from 17 to 28 and there will be more dedicated space to treat outpatients as well as to provide therapeutic and other activities.

This new Thames Hospice will open in 2020, with the £60,000 donation helping towards the building of two dedicated rooms in the £22 million facility. These rooms will be quiet areas for reflection and remembering loved ones as well as offering help and advice to families.

After the presentation ceremony, Debbie Raven gave an outline of how Thames Hospice is developing and some of its future plans. Once the new building is complete, there will be a permanent reminder of the contributions that the Freemasons of the two Provinces have made.

Debbie commented: ‘I cannot thank the Freemasons enough for their generous support towards our new Hospice. The donation comes on top of several others from their charitable funds and the incredible support they have given over many years. It will make a significant difference to our patients and their families.'

Together with Debbie, both Provincial Grand Masters acknowledged the cooperation and support given to this collaborative donation by the MCF and the continuing work they do in supporting the Hospice movement in England and Wales.

Anthony Howlett-Bolton, Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire, said: ‘Working together with our fellow Freemasons in Buckinghamshire and the MCF has allowed us to make a significant contribution to Thames Hospice to help them in the wonderful work they are doing to help families across our counties.’

John Clark, Provincial Grand Master of Buckinghamshire, commented: ‘The Freemasons of Buckinghamshire are delighted to be part of this joint initiative supporting the essential work performed by Thames Hospice. We look forward to establishing a long and fruitful relationship with them.’

A charity providing life-saving support has received a cash donation of nearly £10,000 from Berkshire Freemasons

This huge sum was gathered through a series of contributions from Berkshire Freemasons and given to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance in January 2019.

The bulk of the funds were from the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the Berkshire Masonic Foundation, while further funds were being provided by individual lodges in Berkshire.

Anthony Howlett-Bolton, the Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire, said: 'We are thrilled to continue supporting the Thames Valley Air Ambulance. Thanks to the tireless efforts of their doctors, paramedics and pilots, many lives of people in the Thames Valley are saved every year.'

Freemasons are very large contributors to the air ambulance charities; Berkshire Freemasons have contributed over £75,000 in the last ten years. Nationally, the contributions are in excess of £2 million.

Thames Valley Air Ambulance operates across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, providing frontline emergency car using four rapid response vehicles and one air ambulance.

Neil Harman, Director of Fundraising for Thames Valley Air Ambulance, said: 'We are very grateful to Berkshire Freemasons for their continuing generosity. Without support like this our crew would not be able to provide advance critical care and our life-saving work could not continue.'

For the fourth year running, Berkshire Freemasons have organised a toy appeal for underprivileged children, who are under the care of Reading Family Aid, and those seriously ill children in the three children’s wards at Royal Berkshire Hospital

With the support from the Provincial Grand Master Anthony Howlett-Bolton, the appeal was funded by a £6,000 grant from the Berkshire Masonic Charity (BMC). In addition to the financial support from the BMC, volunteers to deliver and purchase the toys came from several lodges within Berkshire.

The planning for this event started in October 2018 and once the orders were received, the sourcing of the toys began and following many diligent hours in front of a computer, several hundred different toys were ordered. The next step was the long task of cross-checking and boxing the toys up for delivery.

The first batch of toys were delivered to Reading Family Aid on 3rd December 2018. Reading Family Aid have over 1,700 children under their supervision throughout the Reading area and Ruth Perkins, chair of the charity, was overwhelmed by this support from Berkshire Freemasons. 

The toys for Royal Berkshire Hospital were delivered on Monday 17th December 2018 and on Christmas Day, they were given to children in the Lion and Dolphin Wards and the Buscot Baby unit. There was a huge range of toys, as well as computer games through to old-fashioned board games. The matron and nursing staff were overwhelmed by the generosity and the children and their families thoroughly enjoyed their individual gifts.

Emma Stone, from Royal Berkshire Hospital said: ‘These were wonderful gifts that help make Christmas Day for those children who had to spend it in hospital. Thank you for your generosity and thoughtfulness.’

PhD scholarship funding in Berkshire

To mark the University of Reading’s 90th year and the Pharmacy Department’s 10th year the Berkshire Freemasons are funding a PhD Pharmacy student with a grant of £15,000 from the Berkshire Masonic Charity (BMC). This postgraduate scholarship will be known as the Berkshire Masonic Charity Scholarship in Pharmacy, and the grant will be paid at £5,000 per year over 3 years

The first cheque for £5,000 was presented on behalf of the BMC by John Palmer, Secretary of the BMC, and Stan Crooks of Grey Friars Lodge No. 1101, the Berkshire Universities Scheme lodge, to Dr Becky Green, Head of the Pharmacy Department, in the presence of University of Reading Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell.

Shedload of help

Easter 2014 saw the callous theft of a shed from Sulhamstead and Ufton Nervet Primary School near Reading in Berkshire. The pupils' favourite toys were left strewn across the playground, with some being damaged beyond repair by the weather.

The Berkshire Masonic Charity (BMC) has stepped in and replaced the shed for the school at a cost of £1,500.

Class teacher Jane Evans said: 'We are delighted to have the new shed and we are very grateful for the help and support of the BMC.' David Jarvis, Provincial Almoner said 'It was a great privilege for the BMC to be able to help and to see the smiles on the faces of the children.'

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