'A force for good,' was how Dame Janet Trotter, Lord Lieutenant for Gloucestershire, described Freemasons in the county and the wider area

Dame Janet was responding to the announcement at a celebratory gala at the DeVere Cotswolds Water Park Hotel that both national and local charities would be benefitting to the tune of £1.75 million, following a five year fund-raising drive by Gloucestershire Freemasons.

‘This money goes beyond masonic charities,’ said the Provincial Grand Master for Gloucestershire, Tim Henderson-Ross. ‘It will benefit the wider Gloucestershire community, hopefully helping to dispel the myth that Freemasons only look after themselves.

‘Gloucestershire masons have risen to the challenge, delivering a tremendous result. In so doing, you will help those less fortunate than ourselves; spreading a little happiness and, all being well, leaving the world better than we found it.’

To mark her retirement from office, the Provincial Grand Master presented the Lord Lieutenant with a cheque for £5,000, destined for a charity of her choice. Dame Janet disclosed she was currently championing a new charity – the Cyber Trust – which seeks to protect those most at risk in the area of personal cyber and online security. 

Holding the cheque aloft, she said: ‘I promise this will be positively used, particularly in the county’s schools.’

The Masonic Annual Charity Event (MACE) came to Melton Mowbray Bowling Club on 10th August 2018, bringing together 14 Provinces from around the country

MACE is an annual national inter-provincial bowling competition and was hosted by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Leicestershire & Rutland. Rather frustratingly, the day experienced the first rain after weeks of warm fine weather, but undeterred by showers in the afternoon, a good day of bowling was completed with Gloucestershire emerging as winners after a close-fought final against Sussex, who will be next year’s hosts.

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Leicestershire & Rutland produced £4,000, boosted by a generous raffle and auction, to add to the £45,000 already raised by MACE since it began eight years ago.

Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire & Rutland David Hagger was on hand to present cheques to their two worthy charities, Rainbows and Dove Cottage, who expressed their delight at such meaningful support for the fantastic work they do. 

Published in Initiatives & Clubs

A 15-year-old son and grandson of two Bristol Freemasons has completed four endurance challenges in six weeks to raise over £5,000 for a national prostate cancer charity

When Dr Richard Hayes was suddenly and unexpectedly diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer in April this year, his grandson Edward felt pretty powerless and didn’t know what to do to help, so he decided to undertake a series of challenges to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK. A retired GP, Richard was having an annual PSA blood test due to a family history of the disease.

Even though he had no symptoms, his PSA level was a little bit raised, which prompted referral to a specialist. The specialist turned out to be a member of his own lodge in Bristol, but unfortunately after he was investigated it was shown that the cancer had already spread to his bones.

Edward spoke to his teachers at Beechen Cliff School in Bath about what he could do to try and raise money. As Edward recalls: 'My school organises lots of outdoor activities and the teachers organise training and supervision to allow us to take part in a number of events. Normally, we would do one or two of these, but this year I thought I would do the Ten Tors, The March for Men, National Three Peaks Challenge and Centurion Challenge all together, to try to raise money to support Prostate Cancer UK and make sure that more people are aware of this disease and try to help men get diagnosed earlier so that they can be treated.'

For the Ten Tors, Edwards was the leader of his team which involved hiking 35 miles over the rough terrain of Dartmoor at the end of May 2018, visiting 10 different nominated tors in under two days. In the middle of June, he took part in The March for Men in Bristol. Organised by Prostate Cancer UK, it gives families the opportunity to walk in support or in memory of someone they know with prostate cancer. Edward did this walk with the rest of his family, but to make sure it was a proper endurance challenge he ran the whole 10K course twice.

In the last weekend in June, Edward completed the National Three Peaks Challenge with lots of other pupils from his school. This involved climbing the three highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales over one weekend – Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Mount Snowdon. They walked 23 miles and climbed the overall total of 10,052ft.

The last challenge was the school’s annual Centurion Challenge. This event has been running at the school for 50 years now and is a 100 mile walk from Bath to Hungerford and back. It must be completed within 48 hours in order to be a “Centurion”. Yet because it was so hot this year, for safety reasons, the walk was shortened to 50 miles in 24 hours. 

Edward added: 'I was really disappointed because I wanted to do the full 100, but the teachers had to make sure we were all safe. Even though he’s on chemotherapy at the moment, my grandpa got to watch me come in at the finish and gave me a massive hug. We were both a bit tearful. I had a big blister on my heel, but I managed to complete the course in 8hrs 57 minutes.

'My dad is a Freemason in Bristol and last year he was Provincial Senior Grand Warden, so when they heard about grandpa’s illness, lots of the people in Bristol lodges sent me sponsorship money to support my fundraising. It’s brilliant what fundraising support the Bristol masons have given me and I hope that I can join my grandpa’s lodge when I’m old enough.

'When I got home after the Centurion Challenge, my great uncle Roy, who is a Freemason in Gloucestershire, presented me with an old ice axe. He was one of the first young people to do the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award in 1959 and went on an expedition to Greenland with Sir John Hunt and Sir Edmund Hillary, who were both famous mountaineers. This was the axe that he took on that expedition and he gave it to me to celebrate successfully finishing these challenges. I’m really grateful to everyone who has sponsored me for doing these four events, to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK.'

Prostate Cancer affects one in eight men in the UK. A man who has a father or brother who has been diagnosed, is two and a half times more likely to also be affected. You can contribute to the fundraising initiative here.

Builder, plumber, security officer and transport manager; these are some of the varied lines of work followed by recent candidates to Royal Lebanon Lodge No. 493 in Gloucestershire

They are all keen to progress through the lodge too. In fact, at their installation meeting in November 2018, there will be 'light blues' in the six offices from Inner Guard to Master, which means it will be the first time they have stepped into the role – with not a Past Master in sight.

'Four short years ago, we were in the doldrums and contemplating a shorter calendar,' said current Master John Owen. 'But thanks initially to Andy Fautley (lodge Secretary) and his positive action, we reinvented the lodge instead.'

Andy and John have each done a two-year stint to oversee this remarkable turnaround, resulting in an abundance of candidates to the point of considering dispensation applications for additional meetings to help cope with the workload.

John was deliberating on the current lifeforce which is surging through the lodge, stressing that these days, they actively encourage members to visit other lodges, especially the newest members. Recent visits include Belfast, Birmingham and Glasgow, with upcoming trips to Dublin and Gibraltar, whilst regular social gatherings in local restaurants have also proved popular with the members and potential candidates alike.

Colin Pulman, the Master Elect, said: 'I am looking forward to continuing this 'can-do' spirit of lodge development, ensuring a very special year with many visitors to help it go with a bang.'

Sunday, 12 April 2015 12:25

Annual boost for Midlands Air Ambulance

A welcome annual award to Midlands Air Ambulance from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, was jointly presented by the Provincial Grand Masters for Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire

RW Bros Tim Henderson-Ross, the Rev David Bowen and Robert Vaughan presented Annie Newell, Fundraising Manager at Strensham air ambulance base, with a combined donation of £12,000 as part of Grand Charity's support to all 22 rescue services in England and Wales – financial support which since 2007 has totalled nearly £2m.

The country’s air ambulance service, without either government or National Lottery funding, relies on such voluntary donations to operate its critical role. Annie Newell, in her final year as Fundraising Manager, expressed her sincere gratitude for the continued commitment and generous support given to the charity by Freemasons over many years. Michelle McCracken will be taking over Annie’s responsibilities in September.

Gloucestershire garden party marks foundation milestone

Dame Janet Trotter, the Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire and president of the Gloucestershire Community Foundation (GCF), held a garden party to celebrate the GCF’s 25th anniversary, together with the foundation’s chairman, Dr Roger Head, and trustees. 

The event was held at the house and gardens of Highnam Court. There were many Gloucestershire Freemasons among the guests, including PGM Tim Henderson Ross and his wife. They enjoyed afternoon tea and heard from some of the inspiring groups who have received funding from the GCF. Dame Janet explained how the GCF is strategic in directing its funding, working with the donating bodies to ensure funds get to the right people. 

Health awareness with Sir Steve

Together with the Gloucester Citizen, local charity CRY, which heightens awareness of the cardiac health of youngsters involved in sport, was looking to raise the sum of £7,000. Gloucestershire’s then PGM Adrian Davies stepped in with the £2,000 required – the cost of screening sessions for 200 young sportsmen and women. Charity patron and five-time Olympic rowing champion Sir Steve Redgrave was present at the University of Gloucester School of Sport and Exercise in Longlevens to draw attention to the screenings on offer.

Triple boost for air ambulance

The Provincial Grand Masters for Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire collectively presented a combined donation of £12,000 to Midlands Air Ambulance from the Grand Charity.

Air ambulances, without either government or National Lottery funding, rely on voluntary donations to be able to operate. Annie Newell, fundraising manager for Midlands Air Ambulance, expressed her sincere gratitude for the continued masonic commitment. 

The logo of the masonic square and compass is displayed on the tail fins of the air ambulance based at Strensham, Worcestershire.

Published in The Grand Charity
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 17:57

Grand Master's address - April 2014

Craft Annual Investiture 

30 April 2014 
An address by the MW The Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent, KG 

Brethren, I want to start by saying a very warm welcome to you all, and to thank you for re-electing me as Grand Master at the last meeting in March. I particularly congratulate all those that I have had the pleasure of investing today.

Whether you have been appointed to or promoted in Grand Rank, I want to emphasise that two of your key tasks are recruitment and retention. It has become clear from the research carried out by the Membership Focus Group chaired by the Deputy President of the Board of General Purposes that these tasks are more important than ever before. I am particularly concerned to hear that very few members recruit at all, and that there is an unacceptably high loss rate after each of the three degrees and indeed during the first ten years of membership.

The Membership Focus Group has been formed to analyse the statistics and to make proposals to stem the loss of members. It is already clear that the Mentoring Scheme will play a vital role going forward. It is therefore important that Lodge Mentors appoint appropriate personal mentors to look after each new candidate, rather than trying to do all the mentoring themselves. I look to you all, as Grand Officers, supporting the Mentoring Scheme.

Naturally, I expect you will also be good examples to others whatever their rank – not only in your good conduct and supportive approach but also by demonstrating your enjoyment of Freemasonry.

Yesterday evening I hosted a dinner for Provincial and District Grand Masters. The support of and direction from your respective Provincial and District Grand Masters is paramount and I am pleased to hear how closely they, in turn, are working with the Centre, here at Freemasons’ Hall. This inclusive approach is core to the future of the English Constitution.

I continue to hear of the good work done by the Provinces in their local communities and no better example has been the help given to the victims of the recent floods, especially in the West Country. This good work was supported when I recently had the opportunity to visit two Provinces. In Gloucestershire where I also attended their annual service in Gloucester Cathedral and also in Cornwall. I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the members I met in both Provinces.

Finally Brethren, I want to express our thanks to the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for the smooth running of the impressive ceremony that you have just witnessed, as well as to the Grand Secretary and his staff for all their hard work leading up to today’s investiture.

Published in Speeches

Help when it's needed

While harder to quantify than fundraising, pastoral care is an integral part of Freemasonry. Caitlin Davies finds out about the compassionate support that masons are giving to fellow members and their families around the UK

'The phrase “pastoral support” gets used a lot,' says Mark Smith, Provincial Grand Almoner for Gloucestershire, ‘because it’s our duty. There’s a perception that Freemasonry is an inward-looking organisation – it’s not, it’s outward looking and founded on the principles of charity and benevolence. There’s the ritualistic aspect and the social side, but at its core it’s about helping those less fortunate than ourselves.’

Mark co-ordinates eighty Freemasons in Gloucestershire who ‘keep a caring eye’ on lodge widows, assist the elderly through times of illness, and look out for bereaved children and grandchildren. ‘What they need is someone to talk to, care and guidance,’ he says. ‘I might not have all the answers, but I know people who do.’

Central to pastoral care is the masonic network; if someone dies then ‘others will know the family’s circumstances, approach us and we ask if help is needed’. And do people say yes? ‘Undoubtedly they do. Just to have someone to chat to can be a great sense of relief, because there can be a huge amount of anxiety,’ says Mark.

A common source of anxiety is state benefits. The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution has a specialist advice team, providing free guidance on benefits and issues like care homes. ‘But older people can be confused and frightened about the system,’ explains Mark. ‘My experience is that it’s increasingly difficult to actually speak to somebody about benefits – you make calls, you get put on hold, you get told to speak to someone else and so on.’

Mark points to pension credit as a good example. ‘I have experience with my own father, I’m tenacious and I will get there in the end but I can see why someone older feels it’s not worth it and doesn’t bother to claim. People don’t know what they’re entitled to, and some have limited income.’

Yet unlike fundraising – for both masonic and non-masonic charities – it’s harder to measure the pastoral support that goes on. In Gloucestershire, the Provincial Grand Master set a fundraising target of £1 million in five years. In February this year the Province reached £1.6 million and recently gave £14,000 to seven local charities. Grants are measured, statistics are produced, but there is no means of quantifying community support and so the wider membership has little idea of the work that goes on.

Added to the lack of data is the sensitive nature of pastoral care. ‘Most people are too proud to let anyone know about the support they’ve received,’ explains Mark. ‘And the confidentiality of the job means their stories are often not told, especially if it’s financial help. They are too embarrassed to put their hand up and say, “I’ve received support.” There are misconceptions about Freemasonry and misconceptions within Freemasonry, so it’s sometimes difficult to share the positive stories.’

Support network

But Teresa Mills Davenport, from Newcastle upon Tyne, is happy to bear testament to how the masons helped her during a time of grief. One Saturday morning in the summer of 2010, her husband Rob set off on a bike ride. Teresa went about her normal business, taking care of her twenty-seven-year-old son Michael, who has severe learning disabilities, autism and epilepsy, and eleven-year-old Bobby.

An hour and a half later, there was a knock on the door. She opened it to find two policemen. When one said, ‘Teresa?’ she instantly knew what had happened. Rob, her husband of nearly twenty-one years, had been killed on his bike. Over the coming days she was full of despair, afraid of the future and how she would take care of her sons. But, she says, ‘I’m a strong believer and every night I talked to Jesus.’ She also discovered another kind of help in the form of the Widows Sons, an International Masonic Motorcycle Association founded in 1998 that Rob had recently joined. ‘The day Rob joined I said, “What’s that all about then?” He said it gives help to widows and orphans of Master masons and I said, “OK then.” It’s ironic, isn’t it.’ Teresa contacted Terry Fisk, a close friend of Rob’s and a brother in his lodge, as well as two other masons, Martin Coyle and Tom Parker. ‘I turned to Rob’s brothers and they couldn’t do enough to help me. They gave me emotional and financial support. I had to claim benefits and it was all new to me. They even took us to inquests.’

A couple of months later, Teresa had an idea. She would create a road-safety awareness group for motorcyclists: Dying to Ride. Martin advised her to contact Carl Davenport, the founder of Widows Sons in America. ‘I emailed him and I thought, “Well, he’ll help – he’s a mason and I’m a widow asking for help.”’ Carl replied that he would do everything he could to promote the group. The two kept in touch and then Teresa went to visit. ‘It was like a fairytale,’ she says, and in March 2011 they got married.

Dying to Ride now has three thousand, one hundred and seventy-eight members. ‘I don’t want to see others go through this, to get that unexpected knock on the door…’ Teresa explains, her voice breaking as she struggles to compose herself. ‘What I’m doing comes from a personal point of view.’

Nothing secret

The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB) is helping the family too, contributing money for Bobby’s school uniform and a new laptop, and paying for private respite for Michael. A financial grant also came from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, to help with the family’s living costs before Teresa remarried. ‘The Freemasons have been brilliant. People say they are a secret society. I say there is nothing secret about them at all. I always defend masons because people haven’t got a clue – I’d be lost without them. The best thing Rob ever did was to become a mason, and then a Widows Son.’

For Mark, providing help where it’s needed is all about supporting others while achieving your potential. An electrician with his own business and a young family, his role as Provincial Grand Almoner is voluntary. Mark’s motivation is the fact that he is helping people who often don’t know where to go for support. ‘We make a real difference. If Freemasonry wasn’t there, they would have nowhere else to turn,’ he says, adding, ‘Freemasonry enables people to be the best they can. It has given me the opportunity to do this job and develop my skills.’

Extra bond

Malcolm Roy Elvy, Worshipful Master of the Elizabethan Lodge, No. 7262, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, has experienced the Freemasons’ community spirit. His desire to become a mason came out of curiosity: ‘I wanted to know if there was something there for me, an extra bond.’

Malcolm was born with syndactyly, meaning the digits on his hands and feet were fused. When he was four years old his legs were amputated, and after skin grafts and surgery his hands were partially separated to give him some ability to grip. Until he was twelve he spent most of his time in Great Ormond Street Hospital, where he joined the Scouts and went abseiling, hiking and sailing.

At twenty-one Malcolm started a transport company, although becoming an HGV driver wasn’t easy. So, Malcolm’s a determined man? ‘I’ve had no option. There was a lot of discrimination towards disabled people.’

After Malcolm joined the lodge, supported by Freemason Max Preece, he says he found a new bond of friendship: ‘I don’t belong to any religious organisation and it gave me that bit extra – I suppose you would call it spiritual depth, a bond that crosses all boundaries. I’ve been given support in all manner of ways. I got a lot of help at home, people visiting, and regular phone calls. When you’re ill you have to struggle on and the Freemasons were always there.’

Published in Freemasonry Cares
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