Freemasons in Leicestershire and Rutland are celebrating a magnificent milestone in their charitable donations to the local community during the last five years

As they approach their 300th anniversary, figures released today show that Freemasons based in Leicestershire and Rutland, despite the recent economic downturn, have donated to over 400 different charities to the sum of £800,000.

Just under a third of the money donated went to healthcare charities, whilst those charities supporting children and youth received a quarter of the funding. Other charities were also supported who focus on social welfare, education, disability, elderly, culture, sport, religion, homeless and animals.

Freemasonry is one of the biggest contributors to UK charities, including both masonic and non-masonic causes. It encourages members to take a moral and ethical approach to life, helping them become the best that they can be. It seeks to reinforce the principles of kindness, honesty, fairness, tolerance and integrity.

The donations include those given by the Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association, the Royal Arch Masons and Mark Master Masons.

Some of their recent donations include £10,000 to Warning Zone, the Leicester based interactive life skills centre, for an e-Safety zone, £15,000 to Leicester Cathedral for the reinterment of Richard III, £25,000 to the Leicester Children’s Holiday Centre Mablethorpe for play equipment and £50,000 to the new Centre for Medicine at the University of Leicester.

Other major beneficiaries include the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, LOROS Hospice, Rainbows Children's Hospice, and PROSTaid.

David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland said: 'All of our members are encouraged to give to charity but should always be within their means and it is entirely up to each member how much they wish to contribute. The money donated is raised by the members themselves from such events as ladies' nights and other social occasions where family and friends get together.'

He continued: 'I'm incredibly proud and thank all our members for their philanthropy and generosity by contributing this amazing amount of money to local communities reinforcing the role that Freemasonry has always and continues to play in society.'

Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons held a grant award ceremony at Freemasons' Hall, Leicester on Saturday 26th September 2015 where 24 local charities were gifted a total of £92,845

Among the charities receiving awards was the University of Leicester. Dr Kevin Harris, Interim Dean of the Medical School, was pleased to receive an award for £50,000 towards the building of the new Centre for Medicine which will provide a state of the art academic research and teaching environment for medical students. Dr Harris said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons of Leicestershire and Rutland for this generous gift. This will be the newest and most advanced medical school in the country and not only will it train the next generation of doctors and healthcare professionals it will also promote the health of the local population.'

LOROS Hospice, who care for over 2,500 people across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, were granted £8,363. John Knight, Chief Executive of LOROS, said: 'Thank you to the Freemasons for this donation which will go straight to the work of the organisation for the whole of Leicestershire and Rutland.'

Within the region, other charities received donations included:

Ashby-de-la-Zouch

Home Start North West Leicestershire, based in Ashby, which supports families with a child under the age of five who have been experiencing difficulties with family life, received a donation of £600 to purchase 40 Christmas Hampers. Scheme Manager Pamela Moretta said: 'It will be so nice at Christmas to be able to take each family that we home visit a Christmas Hamper full of goodies.'

Coalville

MRC Community Action, which is based in Coalville, received a donation of £1,200 to provide social and therapeutic activities for those over 60 years of age affected by acute loneliness, social isolation, poor physical or mental health. Operations Manager, Lesley Massey said: 'This is going to provide to start to delivering services on a Sunday in the Marlene Reid Centre including transport, entertainment and food.'

Leicester

The Harley Staples Cancer Trust received a donation of £2,112, raised in part by the Wyggeston Lodge which meet in Leicester, to provide a years rent for ‘Harley’s Caravan’ allowing families with children suffering from cancer to spend quality time together at the seaside and away from hospital. Upon receiving the donation, Jamie Staples said 'A massive thank you to all the Freemasons for this donation. We have had 25 families stay in our Caravan this year and we now don’t have to worry about the rent for next year as it is now sorted.’

Leicester-based the Laura Centre, which offers specialist bereavement counselling to parents whose child has died and to children or young people who have been bereaved of a parent or significant person, received a donation of £2500. Co-founder Gail Moore said: 'On behalf of everyone at The Laura Centre and the children and families we were founded to serve, I would like to thank the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons for this extremely wonderful gift.'

Loughborough

Loughborough based charity Leslie Edwards Trust received £2,000, including £1,000 from the members of Beacon Lodge who meet in Loughborough, which will provide lip reading classes to help people with hearing difficulties across Leicestershire including Loughborough, Market Harborough, Melton Mowbray, Coalville and Hinckley.

Home Start Charnwood was granted £1,000. Director, Elena Folkes, said: 'A huge thank you on behalf of Home Start Charnwood for such a generous donation which will go towards training a volunteer to support a family in need.'

The Castle Donnington Volunteer Centre (CDVC) received £1,500 towards the cost of a volunteer co-ordinator. Chair of the CDVC, John Williams, said: 'There are a lot of people that become isolated and this donation will go a very long way to assist with our Help@Hand service to help people in their homes.'

Lutterworth

Lutterworth Community Transport Community Bus Scheme who was granted £2,000 which will provide enough funds for weekly lunch and social activities for those that are socially isolated in Walcote. Stephen Jeffries said: 'We are enormously dependent on funding and this award will continue to help us to keep the operation going.'

St Mary's Church at Broughton Astley who was granted £2,000 to provide a new heating system. Rev Sharon Constable said: ‘I would like to thank the Freemasons of Leicestershire and Rutland very much for this donation. Having a new heating system is going to make such a difference so that we can offer our space, not just as a place to worship, but also for the whole community to use.'

Melton Mowbray

Somerby based Mount Group Riding for the Disabled was granted a total of £2,000 by St Mary’s Lodge, who meet in Melton Mowbray, towards the cost of upgrading a riding simulator. Peter O’Connor from the charity said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for this generous donation. We provide riding facilities for disable children and adults and this donation will go a long way to help with out with upgrading our riding simulator which allows children and adults who want to ride but do not have the confidence to get on a real animal.'

Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, David Hagger, said: 'Freemasonry is one of the biggest contributors to UK charities and the generous donations we have given locally were raised by our members themselves through contributions and social events. We continue to raise funds for a large variety of good causes as well as contributing to society and these grants are a wonderful example of the generosity of Freemasons.'

Over the festive period a band of determined and enthusiastic brethren from the Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blue Club undertook a unique and historic feat, visiting 12 different lodges across 12 different evenings in December

The lodges visited were:

1st December - Jason Lodge No. 7716 (Leicester)
4th December - Highcross Lodge No. 4835 (Leicester)
5th December - Edward Sherrier Lodge No. 6757 (Lutterworth)
9th December - Castle of Leicester Lodge No. 7767 (Leicester)
11th December - Beacon Lodge No. 5208 (Loughborough)
12th December - Rothley Temple Lodge No. 7801 (Leicester)
13th December - Old Oakhamians No. 8033 (Oakham)
15th December - Lodge of the Golden Fleece No. 2081 (Leicester)
16th December - Temperantia Lodge No. 4088 (Leicester)
17th December - Reynard Lodge No. 9285 (Loughborough)
18th December - St Peter's Lodge No. 1330 (Market Harborough)
19th December - Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448 (Leicester)

The event was organised by Samuel Harris (Lodge of the Golden Fleece), and was conceived not only as an enjoyable test of endurance (and waistlines), but also to achieve three specific aims:

  • To introduce brethren to the joys of visiting and meet other masons across the Province, by providing a unique opportunity to attend any of the 12 lodges during this period knowing there were a group of likeminded individuals also attending
  • To raise awareness of the Light Blue Club and its aims across the Province and
  • To raise a significant amount of money for LOROS Hospice as one of the designated charities

Over the course of the event, over two dozen individual brethren took part at various stages, including a few who had only been in the Craft for a matter of weeks but were keen to take part. Indeed, one brother who was initiated at one of the meeting, then came to visit another first degree ceremony the day immediately after his own!

In total, visits under the guise of the 12 lodges accounted for over 60 individual visits during the period, with the Light Blue Club attended meetings across the Province, from Leicester to Loughborough and Lutterworth, from Oakham to Market Harborough.

The brethren were overwhelmed with the warm welcome and hospitality they received at every lodge, and enjoyed seeing a wide variety of ceremonies performed, as well as the peculiarities and traditions unique to each Lodge either in the meeting or at the Festive Boards.

Every degree was witnessed at least one, as well as an Installation, although due to the time of the year, Christmas dinner was more often than not the menu of choice! The brethren enjoyed being able to explain to other junior Freemasons the aims of the Light Blue Club, the events put on, and how much they enjoy meeting and socialising with others across the Province. As a result, many more are now aware of the club and intend to get involved in the future.

Samuel Harris was supported in organisation of the event by Karl Coles (Edward Sherrier Lodge), and both deserve full credit for their commitment being the only members who managed to attend all 12 lodges. By the end of the final visit, both stated they would be happy if they never had to see turkey on the menu again!

Over £800 has been raised so far for LOROS, with contributions still coming in.

The Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448, which is the Universities’ Scheme lodge for the University of Leicester, welcomed another five new members at their Christmas meeting on 19th December 2014 held at Freemasons' Hall, Leicester

These five new members take a very special place in the history of Wyggeston Lodge, being part of an ever growing number of young Freemasons to have joined since 2011 when the lodge joined the Universities’ Scheme

Three of the members are either undergraduate or postgraduate students at the University of Leicester whilst the others work and live locally. The Lodge now has 47 members in total, with an age range between 21 and 90 and an average age of 45.

The festivities continued at the festive board where the lodge members and visitors, including the Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blue Club, enjoyed a traditional Christmas dinner with an interjection of rousing christmas carols and songs including 12 Days of Christmas and Good King Wenceslas.

Through the generosity of those at the meeting, over £240 was raised for LOROS Hospice, a local charity that cares for over 2,500 people across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, and the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance.

Classic car runs have become major fund-raising events for Masons, bringing out families and friends in a community day out which involves vehicles and their owners from many parts of the country. 

During the summer, the Leicestershire & Rutland Freemasons’ Classic Car Run took place, when 30 pre and post-war classics assembled for the event. The older cars included a 1934 Rolls Royce, a 1933 Aston Martin and a Lanchester. 

For the second year, the wartime Willys Jeep, together with driver and passenger in wartime uniform, took part. The post-war classics ranged from a 1948 Allard and included Rolls Royces, Jaguars and a Ferrari. 

The run was started by entertainer Engelbert Humberdinck and Lady Gretton, the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire. After being waved off, the cars took a circuitous route to Grimsthorpe Castle, 40 miles away near Bourne in Lincolnshire, quite an onerous run for some of the more elderly vehicles! 

This year the runners were raising money for LOROS and the Ruby Rainbow Appeal by sponsorship for the journey. Over the past four years, classic car events held by Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons have raised more than £17,000 for local and national charities. 

This year they were hoping to raise more than £5,000, and one participant has already raised more than £1,000 for sponsorship of his classic car in this event.

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