Members of Valle Crucis Lodge No. 8951 in Llangollen, in the Province of North Wales, visited Ysgol Rhiwabon comprehensive school to present a cheque for £1,000 towards their minibus appeal

Ysgol Rhiwabon enjoys significant success in sport through its strong PE department. The staff rely on a minibus to transport teams to local and national sporting events helping to support young people's physical fitness and overall wellbeing.

The new minibus will also be used to pick up older members of the community who wish to attend school concerts and events. There is also provision for local primary schools to borrow the minibus whenever it is available to support the educational and sporting opportunities of younger learners.

Lodge member Tim Garlinge said: 'On behalf of Valle Crucis Lodge, we are delighted to support this minibus appeal. It will be used for local community events, travelling to special occasions and educational visits. Ysgol Rhiwabon operates within the heart of our local community and we wish them well with the new minibus.’

Headteacher Mrs Melanie Ferron-Evans said ‘Ysgol Rhiwabon is a warm and vibrant learning community for 11 to 16 year olds. We want our students to be successful academically but of equal importance is that they become well rounded young adults who can go on to make a success of themselves in whatever they choose to do.

‘We are very grateful to the members of Valle Crucis Lodge and North Wales Freemasons for their generous support.’

A North Wales centre for palliative care has been awarded a £19,000 contribution from North Wales Freemasons towards a new pilot project supporting young people experiencing grief following a bereavement

This ground breaking new Dramatherapy project at St Kentigern Hospice in St Asaph, Denbighshire, will allow young people in the local community to express their feelings of grief in a safe environment.

The project has caught the imagination of North Wales Freemasons who have been able to award the grant of £19,000 through the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Dramatherapy is a form of psychological therapy. It provides a way of communicating through stories, music, pictures, fairy tales and metaphors. Theorists suggest it could be a useful way of helping children who are going through bereavement deal with their grief.

St Kentigern Hospice is well experienced in the delivery of bereavement support and has a well-established service available for families and children. However, in the catchment area of the hospice there is a paucity in the variety of support offered.

Dinah Hickish, Consultant Nurse at St Kentigern Hospice, commented: ‘The team are exploring new ideas of how to engage with young people effectively and a drama therapy group will provide an environment outside school and home, to work alongside other young people with similar experiences, before during and after loss. We believe giving young people the opportunity to express themselves in a creative way in a safe and therapeutic environment will be invaluable.

The eight-bed in-patient hospice is currently undergoing a £2.5m expansion and redevelopment of their St Asaph site which will update their facilities for future generations, increase capacity by 50% and include a community café. The start of this new project will coincide with the opening of the Hospice and the hospices silver milestone of their 25th anniversary of delivering specialist palliative care.

David Thomas, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, and Phil James, Provincial Grand Charity Steward, were given a guided tour of the redevelopment and congratulated Hospice Counsellor Merith Shorter for coming up with such an innovative way to benefit the bereaved young people of the local community.

David Thomas said: ‘On behalf of North Wales Freemasons, I am delighted to present a cheque for £19,000 to fund this project. Over the past two decades, St Kentigern Hospice has worked incredibly hard to provide and develop a comfortable and loving environment for people requiring acute care and families needing support following a bereavement.

‘I wish the hospice team every success with this project and hope that many young people will benefit from this new service.’

Merith Shorter added: ‘We are incredibly grateful to North Wales Freemasons for their support which will ensure this project will be available to benefit the young community of this North Wales area.’

The British Red Cross has launched a pilot scheme in North Wales to help people build independence and better links with their communities and reduce unnecessary hospital admissions. The move comes thanks to a £84,460 grant from North Wales Freemasons

The Pathways to Better Health service aims to help over-50s in Conwy and Denbighshire who have been identified as needing extra support due to a pattern of frequent hospital attendance or calls to the emergency services.

The project will help people who call 999 or go to emergency departments (ED) more than 12 times a year, many of whom are among the most vulnerable members of our communities with few alternative sources of help. They may have multiple, complex needs including loneliness, social isolation or drug and alcohol dependency issues.

Figures for 2017 show that frequent attenders accounted for 86,000 Welsh ED attendances costing £36.4 million to the NHS.

The scheme, which runs for a year, will enable trained Red Cross staff to work in partnership with emergency services and ED teams to find people who could benefit, and refer them to the service.

The project team will then work with people to identify the root causes of their frequent attendance, and support them to develop coping strategies. By providing emotional and practical support, helping to build confidence, and signposting to other services in their community that could help, the team will aim to increase a person’s health and well-being, independence and resilience.

It is hoped this will reduce the number of calls to the emergency services and visits to the NHS, saving money, freeing up resources and improving the lives of those who are helped by the project.

In a previous pilot project in Swansea, the results revealed 96 per cent of people helped reported a positive change in emotional health, a 70 per cent positive change in physical health and a 69 per cent positive change in reducing loneliness and isolation.

The pilot, which was launched by the British Red Cross in November 2017, covered the Western Bay area in Wales including Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea. It helped 22 people for 16 weeks and resulted in a huge reduction in 999 calls and hospital attendances from the participants.

The grant from North Wales Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Stanislava Sofrenic, Independent Living Operations Manager for Red Cross Wales said: 'We are thrilled to have launched this scheme in North Wales. I’d like to thank North Wales Freemasons for their generous donation, which has enabled us to set up this invaluable scheme.

'Our smaller pilot project in Swansea demonstrated that early intervention with people who use NHS and emergency services frequently has a significant impact both on improving their lives and reducing pressures on NHS and emergency services’ resources. We are looking forward to working with our partner organisations over the next 12 months and helping people across Conwy and Denbighshire.'

John Hoult, Provincial Grand Master for North Wales, said: 'We’re very pleased to be able to support the fantastic work being done by the British Red Cross in North Wales. This will have a huge impact on the users of the emergency services and will make a big difference to improving their lives.'

TAPE Community Music and Film, a community arts charity which uses collaborative film production as a platform for which it provides inclusive, person-centred, creative support, training and engagement for people of all ages, have been given a £2,000 donation by North Wales Freemasons

The grant will expand their inclusive model which sees people from across all communities coming together each week to work together on a shared and equitable basis and will assist use of 360 filming and VR to provide better access to specific services and the wider community, particularly those with an ASD diagnosis and/or social anxieties.

In addition, the grant will provide on-set support, using technology such as iPads and Bluetooth headphones to create a more inclusive environment and support greater involvement in all aspects of the filmmaking process, for people with additional support needs.

North Wales Freemasons have donated £1,000 to Y Canol School, which will be used to buy two wheelchair platform swings

Y Canol offers primary age provision for children with complex and severe learning difficulties. Based in Gwersyllt, Wrexham, Y Canol is an integrated part of Ysgol Heulfan, located in the heart of the infants and junior school.

North Wales Freemasons were given a guided tour of the school and an insight into the dedication and commitment of the teachers.

Phil James, North Wales Masonic Benevolent Association (NWMBA) Vice Chairman, said: ‘We were initially approached to ask if we could help to buy a wheelchair platform swing. We are delighted to present a cheque for £1,000 which will fund the purchase of two swings.’

Kathy Jones, Assistant Headteacher of Y Canol, said: ‘This donation allows those children who are otherwise unable, to share in the enjoyment of a swing alongside their able bodied friends. We are very grateful for the support and generosity of North Wales Freemasons.’

North Wales Freemason John Llewelyn Pritchard has been selected to play for Wales in the first walking football over 60's World Cup at Leyton Orient in June 2019

John is a member of the Amlwch Town walking football team on Anglesey in North Wales, as well as a member of Twrcelyn Lodge No. 6944. He has enjoyed great success in the FA People's Cup and the Welsh Premier League, playing for Connah's Quay.

John said: 'To be playing the game that I have loved all my life at 62-years-old is a fantastic feeling, the camaraderie within the squad is brilliant; not forgetting the new friends that I've made which include members from the fraternity.'

North Wales Freemasons have given £500 to Clwyd Special Riding Centre in Llanfynydd, Wrexham

The money will be used to help with the servicing and maintenance costs of their state of the art, mechanical horse which is used within the ongoing CELT project.

After a successful application to the Big Lottery Fund, work started on Project CELT to develop a new learning and therapy room, barn and round pen. The project will provide a fully accessible service to those with complex needs who may previously have been unable to attend.

Local members visited the Centre to present the cheque and were treated to a guided tour of the facility. David Thomas, Chairman of North Wales Benevolent Association, said: 'It has been a very humbling experience to see the fantastic work carried out by Clwyd Special Riding Centre for those with additional needs.'

Ann Lambert, Chairman of Trustees at Clwyd Special Riding Centre, said: 'On behalf of all the Trustees and everyone who benefits from attending at the Centre for one of the many wonderful activities we are able to offer, I would like to thank North Wales Freemasons for their kind and generous support.'

North Wales Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards No. 8865 have donated £400 to Blind Veterans UK

Allan Powell, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of North Wales, and David Gibbison, Senior Warden of the lodge, visited the Blind Veterans' training and rehabilitation centre in the coastal town of Llandudno.

After an initial assesment, veterans return to Llandudno for holidays, respite and nursing care, as well as fitness and mobility.

The cheque for £400 was presented to Blind Veterans UK resident Billy Baxter.

The Province of North Wales is delighted to support Audio Descriptive Commentary (ADC) for blind and partially sighted supporters at Wrexham Football Club with a £1,200 donation

Working in conjunction with ADC provider Alan March Sports,  the donation has funded the specialised training of local volunteers who are now able to provide this vital service.

Inspired by a presentation at the Centre of Access to Football in Europe (CAFÉ) in Paris, Steve Gilbert, a committee member of Wrexham Disabled Supporters Association (DSA), first proposed the concept to Wrexham FC.

Level Playing Field, a charity that campaigns for good access for all fans, said Wrexham was helping many ‘blind and partially sighted fans enjoy the beautiful game’.

Mike Hughes has been a Wrexham football fan for more than 40 years and a season ticket holder for the last five. He has two genetic eye conditions which means he sees in ‘washed-out colour’ and not in focus.

Mike said: ‘My match day experience isn’t the same as everybody else’s. I can see the ball travelling, but I don't really have any idea of who does what, player's numbers or player's names.’

Newly trained ADC Commentator Alex Carter said: ‘It is completely different to average football commentary; you have to make sure from minute one to minute 90 you're telling that viewer where the ball is, who is doing what and what happened, which can be quite frantic.’

Alan Fox, a Wrexham fan for over 50 years, is another one of the volunteers. He said the hardest part has been turning from supporter to commentator: ‘You have to remind yourself that at the other end of the receiver there's a blind fan who needs to know what's going on.;

North Wales’ Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Thomas said: ‘It has been a pleasure working with all parties involved to deliver this service for blind and partially sighted fans of all ages within our local community.’

That’s my boy

When Lincolnshire Freemason Gary Hurst was raised to the Third Degree, the ceremony was performed by his father Glyn, who travelled from North Wales

Gary always wanted to follow his father into Freemasonry and was initiated into Olive Union Lodge No. 1304 in Horncastle in November 2017, watched by his father. 

But when his raising was being planned, Olive Union’s Master David Clarke had the idea that Glyn might like to perform the ceremony.

Gary said: ‘Whilst fathers initiating, passing and raising their sons is commonplace, the opportunity to do it not only in a different Lodge to your own, but also in a different Province was an exciting prospect for Dad, and after a few telephone conversations – including checking both lodges were using the same ritual and even language – the scene was set for him to take control.’

Glyn travelled from North Wales on the day of the ceremony, arriving in plenty of time to meet David face-to-face and run through the ceremony schedule with Olive Union’s Director of Ceremonies to ensure everything came together perfectly. 

Gary added: ‘With the lodge opened in the Second Degree, David handed the gavel over to Dad, who put the questions to me and then carried out the raising, assisted by Olive Union members. 

‘We’d been planning for Dad coming back to see my raising ever since I was initiated, but having him in the chair made it extra special. I know I speak for both of us in sending thanks to everyone who made it possible.’

Gary’s a serving member of the Royal Air Force and has settled in Lincolnshire. His father Glyn is a member of Pennant Lodge No. 7348 in North Wales, where he is Past Provincial Grand Charity Steward.

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