Every Spring and Autumn, Freemasons from all around Devon meet to support local organisations and charities who require financial assistance, amongst those included are schools, youth centres and locally based charities including hospices, hospital services and cancer charities
The money is raised through the ‘WAKE (William Alexander Kneel Endowment) Fund’, a trust conceived by William Alexander Kneel, the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire from 1970 to 1984.
Since the idea was initiated, the fund has grown through the continued generosity of Devonshire Freemasons and wise investments which today stands at almost £2 million, from which the trustees distribute the income generated, currently £50,000 each year.
Since the first disbursement in 2001, almost £725,000 has been given to over 760 worthy non-masonic organisations and charities throughout Devon, selected by members of the 133 masonic lodges based throughout the county.
On 23rd November 2018, Nicholas Ball, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, presented cheques to 25 deserving causes, held at Uffculme Masonic Hall.
The charity representatives accompanied by a member from their nominating lodge were able to enjoy a superb reception and buffet, a tour around the lodge building, ask any questions they wished and receive their cheques totalling £25,000.
Making the contributions, Nicholas Ball said: ‘I am delighted that the Freemasons of Devon are able to continue to contribute to these important local causes many of which are totally run by volunteers and hopefully these donations will make a real difference to the lives of many people.’
Among the organisations to benefit this year are:
- The Care of the Next Infant, Plymouth
- Plymouth Hospital Ion Chef Appeal
- Lee Moor Village Hall
- Friends of Plympton St. Maurice Guildhall
- Friends of Erme Primary School
- Parkinson’s UK, Plymouth
- South Brent Brownies
- Hatherleigh Primary School PTFA
- D’Arts Exeter
- Woodbury Community Playing Fields
- Southwest Multiple Sclerosis Centre, Exeter
- Sense DeafBlind Group, Exeter
- Health & Local Food for Families, Axminster
- Devon Racqueteers Para Badminton Club, Exeter
- Raleigh Federation of Schools, Budleigh Salterton
- Force Cancer Care, Exeter
- Crediton RFU
- Cruse Bereavement Care, Newton Abbot & Torbay
- Torbay Holiday Helpers Network
- Forde Park Pavillion, Newton Abbot
- Torbay Sea Cadets
- Kingsbridge in Bloom
- Mid Devon Messenger
- South Molton Meddlers
Devonshire Freemasons have donated £1,000 to help with care for Frazer Wilton, an extremely brave boy who has a rare disease where five-six children are diagnosed with late-infantile Batten Disease each year in the UK
Five-year-old Frazer is one of the 30 to 50 affected children in the country. Eddie presented the donation and a teddy to Frazer alongside David and Yvonne Wilson.
Yvonne Wilson had a mission throughout 2018 to help the Wilton family and held a Sunday Luncheon at Jordan Lodge to raise some funding, which was matched on the day from the Jordan Lodge Benevolent funds to raise £1,000.
Eddie Bowcott, of Jordan Lodge No. 1402 in Torquay, said: ‘We hope that Frazer will have a wonderful Christmas with minimal suffering and this little help will assist his mum and dad to finance the ongoing burden of cost that has to be found for Frazer’s comfort and daily challenging welfare.’
Members of Blundell’s School Masonic Lodge have met at the school in Devon for the first time since the lodge was consecrated in 1934
The event in 2017 was arranged to coincide with the Tercentenary of the world's first Grand Lodge for Freemasons last year, and to mark the occasion members of Blundell's Lodge No. 5467 wanted to celebrate it in a unique way.
This led to the idea of approaching Blundell's School, and so with the help of the lodge's Senior Warden Craig Cox and his wife Sarah the permission of the Head of Blundell's Nicola Huggett was obtained and plans were set in motion.
The logistics of such an event was never going to be easy to arrange, but the outcome was a marvellous afternoon and evening culminating in 116 members and their partners sitting down for a gourmet dinner in the main dining room of the school.
Nicola Huggett and Richard Swarbrick, Chairman of the Old Blundellian Club, were guests of honour and both the Worshipful Master of the lodge John Shepherd and the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Ian Kingsbury were each delighted to present the Head with a cheque for £1,500 – making a total of £3,000 to mark the celebrations of the Tercentenary.
This donation enabled year 11 students at the school to assist with projects identified by Community Learning International, who currently operate five learning centres in district towns of rural Luang Prabang in Laos, where they provide opportunities for children to develop their skills and knowledge.
This aid has now reached the children in Laos and the delight on their faces and the knowledge that without this sort of help the education of the children would be much poorer has made the project worthwhile in the eyes of everyone who took part.
Devonshire Freemason John Prichard raised £1,000 last year when he showed his true metal and undertook a wing walk
After discussion with the members of his lodge, Lord Roborough Lodge No. 5789, who meet at the Mount Edgcumbe Masonic Hall in Plymouth. the money was donated to HeartSWell, a charity based in Derriford Plymouth committed to support heart patients, their families and carers throughout Devon, Cornwall and the Scilly Isles.
The charities Chairman Clem Spencer was asked to use the money towards making a defibrillator available to St. Mary’s Church in Plymstock, which is one of several placed around Devon by HeartSWell. This was fitted into a community case and installed on the outside wall of the Church Hall and made available to the whole community.
On 22nd September 2018, Clem Spencer was proud to announce that it had been used to save the life of a gentleman who had been taken ill on that day and that without the defibrillator being available it was very likely he wouldn’t have survived.
The members of Lord Roborough Lodge all agreed that the money could not have better spent and they felt equally proud to have been responsible for saving a life.
People in East Devon living with dementia and other degenerative conditions will be offered ‘armchair adventures’ and ‘musical life stories’ as part of an expanded reminiscence service, thanks to a £44,000 grant from Devonshire Freemasons to the Action East Devon charity
The Forget Me Not project will see trained volunteers and project staff run themed sessions for people with early onset dementia, helping them to collect music associated with their life stories. Music is downloaded onto portable personal music players, including headphones which can accommodate hearing aids.
The Armchair Travel sessions takes participants on an armchair tour of a chosen country, including music, large screen videos, food, celebrations, clothing and decorations from the destination country.
Memory boxes are provided for those with sensory impairment and memory loss, containing a collection of objects from the 1930’s to the 1970’s. The boxes are based on a theme such as Christmas Past, Looking Good, Staying Healthy, Royalty, In the Kitchen, School Days, Travels and Holidays, Tools and Gadgets, Home Front. The items are textured, scented, colourful and noisy, appealing to all the senses and prompting participants to share stories and compare past experiences.
Dementia is now the leading killer in the United Kingdom. Dementia rates in East Devon are far higher than the national average, which makes Forget Me Not such an essential service to people in the area.
Charlotte Hanson, Chief Executive of Action East Devon, said: 'We’re very grateful to Devonshire masons for their generous grant which will help us to make sure older people in East Devon continue to have their stories valued and that they and their families and carers are supported throughout their lives.
'This year we are celebrating Action East Devon’s 20th birthday and we are very excited to be able to carry on this work for a further three years.'
The £44,000 donation comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, commented: 'We’re very pleased to be able to help Action East Devon with this very valuable project to help people with dementia.
'Dementia rates in Devon being much higher than the national average, it’s especially important that we look at providing new services both for people with dementia and for their families and carers.'
Devonshire Freemasons have donated £5,000 to the Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education to go towards purchasing play, sports and electronic equipment which can immediately benefit their students
Ian Kingsbury, the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, was inspired by a presentation given by Steve Morton, Director of Development for the Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education, outlining the Academy’s aims and development plans for the future academy which is to be relocated to a new site in Exmouth.
When he came back to Devonshire he had a desire to help those who are affected by this very difficult sensory disability. To this end, he approached the Devonshire Freemasons Benevolent Fund Committee for help and they immediately responded by giving him a cheque for £5,000.
Accompanied by Dr Reuben Ayres, the Devonshire Provincial Grand Charity Steward, Ian paid a visit to the school which is currently based in Exeter. Here he met up again with Steve Morton and Appeals Manager Sarah Shaw and presented them with the cheque to purchase the equipment, which can also be transferred to the new school when the time is right.
The Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education has been located in Exeter for over 190 years and the current location is a property purchased many years ago which is no longer fit for the needs of the deaf students. The property and the land has now been sold and the proceeds will partially fund the new academy which is being been built with all the latest facilities available to the architects, to give the students what they really require.
All the students have additional needs, including multi-sensory disabilities, autism, epilepsy and physical disabilities which is why, when designing the new building, so much thought has gone into making each part of the facility user friendly. It is planned that completion of the new building will be within 18 months from now.
When presenting the cheque Ian Kingsbury said: 'Young people all need us to be there to help them grow for the future, none more so than those with a lack of hearing who are denied the normal things that we take so much for granted in the world we live in.'
Steve Morton added: 'One of the most important things we give to our young people is the gift of confidence; confidence to achieve whatever they wish to in life and to have pride in who they are.
'Donations enable us to provide our staff and students with the tools to succeed, but a gift, particularly one from such a well respected source, tells our students that others have confidence in them too. This is invaluable and on their behalf I sincerely thank the Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire.'
Martha Wilkinson, Chief Executive of Devon Community Foundation, was delighted to be presented with the cheque by Ian Kingsbury, the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Freemasons.
Martha commented: 'Thank you once again to Devon Freemasons for their generous and continued support. The donation further enables Devon Community Foundation to help fund local groups that may not otherwise receive the vital income they need to survive.
'These local community groups play an essential role in the lives of residents who are most in need and the bringing together of communities as a whole.'
The generous gift brings the total donated over the last four years to almost £35,000 and will be allocated to the Foundation’s Community Grants, supporting hundreds of voluntary and community groups offering local people in need a helping hand.
Ian Kingsbury, who was accompanied by the Devonshire Provincial Charity Steward Dr Reuben Ayres and Barry White, said: 'It is a delight for us as Freemasons to be able to assist such a worthwhile and important local organisation, helping them to reach out to those most in need in our local communities.'
Some examples of the groups that receive grants from the Community Grant pot:
Torbay - supporting a series of workshops for older women, empowering them to become involved in a range of activities, helping to build confidence and friendships
East Devon - addressing social isolation of older people through a range of activities that will engage with people of all ages, encouraging inter-generational opportunities and access to services and support networks, increasing health and wellbeing
North Devon - purchasing of reading manuals to assist those who are unable to read to improve their reading skills, enhancing their life and social opportunities and helping to raise confidence and self esteem
Mid Devon - supporting general running costs for work which addresses homelessness in mid Devon, ensuring that those most at risk have somewhere warm and safe to live
South Hams - contributing to the setting up of a new men's shed, encouraging men to get together to make items for the good of the community, promoting social inclusion and a sense of self worth
With the Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire entering a five-year festival this year, the Widows Sons South west Chapter were keen to add their support
How best to raise money for the Festival and combine motorbikes? That’s when their secretary Michael O'Meara came up with the idea to attempt the Saddlesore 1,000; the first of the Ironbutt Endurance Runs. Their aim was to ride 1,000 miles in 24 hours. A tough ordeal driving that far in such a short space of time, whilst sat on a tiny seat exposed to the elements.
The route was worked out, the date confirmed and a target was set to raise £1,000, however due to the generosity of family, friends and members the day the ride took place they had already raised £1,500 for the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF). In fact, this figure will eventually exceed £2,000.
The day finally came on Saturday 25th August 2018 and they met at Exeter Services with family and friends to see them on their way. They headed north towards Glasgow, stopping only for fuel, then turned east to Berwick on Tweed, when they arrived they were greeted by a piper, drummer and members from the Northumberland and Durham Chapter of the Widows Sons.
They then headed south on the return leg of the journey, accompanied by the Northumberland and Durham Chapter riders, stopping off at the Angel of the North for a photographic record of the occasion.
Continuing south they met up with members of the Yorkshire Chapter who had a small food package for each of the riders and rode with them part of the way, finally stopping for coffee at Peterborough Services just before midnight having racked up 791 miles in under 15 hours. Topped up, they set off once again heading south, skirting London before picking up the M4 heading west to Bristol. They arrived back at Exeter Services at 04.44 hours in the morning having travelled 1,099 miles in 19 hours 45mins.
It was a great achievement for Jim Hayward, Gary Thomas, Tom Kingman and Michael O’Meara. They had a day riding the length and breadth of the country, meeting friends old and new and doing what they love best as Widows Sons – but more importantly they raised funds for the MCF, whose hard work helps countless people and supports charities both masonic and non-masonic around the country.
A £10,000 grant from the Provincial Grand Chapter of Devonshire has benefited 53 Memory Cafes in the county
Memory Cafes offer practical and emotional support, information, guidance and friendship to people living with dementia and their carers.
Rachel Johnstone, trustee of Devon Memory Cafe Consortium, said: ‘This grant has given hundreds of people moments to remember.’
Grand Superintendent Simon Rowe added: ‘Memory Cafes, which are largely run by volunteers, make a personal difference to the lives of people affected by dementia – and this is a cause very close to the hearts of Freemasons.’
Simon Wills, General Manager of Babbacombe Model Village in Torquay, Devon, had invited Ian to view the latest introduction to their collection – an exact replica of the iconic Freemasons' Hall building in Great Queen Street. Ian was also featured in his dress regalia as part of the new model demonstration.
These models had taken many months to build and also included in their new City display is a model of Mark Masons Hall.
The village, which has been open since 1963, houses hundreds of model scenes of famous and iconic buildings which can be found around the country, surrounded by waterfalls and water features and includes over 13,000 miniature residents who live there.
Simon also kindly offered to donate 50% of the entrance fee from Devonhsire Freemasons and their families to help fund the MCF Masonic Charitable Foundation Devonshire Festival 2023.