Shoring up in Somerset

Flooding in England and Wales caused widespread damage and disruption to many communities during the winter. Somerset masons, backed by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and other Provinces, came to the rescue with help for the Somerset Community Foundation.

Grand Charity President Richard Hone, QC approved a £20,000 emergency grant for the British Red Cross in support of its UK flood relief efforts.

The grant was backed by a special appeal among Somerset masons, who raised more than £175,000 for the Somerset Masonic Flood Recovery Fund, becoming one of the four main donors to the local appeal. Other Provinces also sent generous donations. 

The Grand Charity is working closely with masons in other affected areas of England and Wales to establish the best way to offer further support. In parallel with support for wider relief efforts, the charity will assist individual eligible masons who have been affected by events, and their dependants, by providing Masonic Relief Grants to relieve hardship.

In response to an urgent appeal launched by the British Red Cross, the President of The Freemasons' Grand Charity, Richard Hone QC has today approved a £30,000 emergency grant in support of their flood relief efforts in the Balkans

In response to an urgent appeal launched by the British Red Cross, the President of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, Richard Hone QC has approved a £30,000 emergency grant in support of their flood relief efforts in the Balkans.

Since 13th May 2014, strong winds, low temperatures and extremely heavy rains in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) have caused large-scale flooding. So far, 44 people have been reported killed, although government officials expect this figure to increase as the water recedes. 

Speaking about the donation, Richard Hone QC, President of the Grand Charity said: 'With so many people facing hardship and danger in the Balkans, we know that Freemasons are eager to support the emergency relief efforts of the Red Cross. Hundreds of their staff and volunteers are already providing life-saving support in the region, and we hope that this donation will make a real difference to many of the people in need of assistance.'

Ben Webster, Disaster Response Manager for the British Red Cross said: 'The Red Cross is delighted to have received such a generous donation from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. Three million people across Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia have now been affected by the floods, which are the worst ever recorded in the region. 

'These funds are a valuable contribution towards the Red Cross response, helping us provide food, water, and shelter to some of the tens of thousands of people who have had to leave their homes and in the long term, support them to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.'

The floods have triggered more than 3,000 devastating landslides, which have buried houses and disturbed landmines laid during the regional conflict in the 1990s. More than 350,000 people in the region are estimated to be without water or electricity, and more than 100,000 homes are thought to have been destroyed. This means that hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and urgently need hygiene kits, mattresses and blankets. The emergency grant from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity will help with the provision of thousands of these supplies.

Visit the British Red Cross Balkan flooding Appeal page for more information.

Find out more at the Grand Charity website here.

Published in The Grand Charity

As flooding continues to affect many areas of England and Wales causing widespread damage and disruption to many communities, the President of the Freemasons’ Grand Charity, Richard Hone QC has approved a £20,000 emergency grant for the British Red Cross in support of their UK flood relief efforts

This emergency grant from the Freemasons’ Grand Charity is in addition to £30,000 previously donated to support relief and recovery efforts in the badly hit area of Somerset. The Somerset Community Foundation received £28,500 and the Burnham-on-Sea Area Rescue Boat received £1,500.

Speaking about the donation, Richard Hone QC, President of the Grand Charity said: 'As gale force winds, torrential rain, tidal surges and flooding continue to affect large areas of Britain, it is clear that people in the affected areas need urgent support. Freemasons care deeply about their local communities and we hope that this donation will assist many of the people whose lives have been devastated by this ongoing disaster.'

The British Red Cross have been providing a great deal of support in the affected areas by providing emergency shelters, food, first aid, advice and emotional support.

Simon Lewis, head of UK emergency planning and response, said: 'Our teams of emergency response volunteers have been on a heightened state of alert to support any requests for help. The severe weather is set to continue so we will monitor the situation and are always ready to help when called upon.'

The Grand Charity is also working closely with Freemasons in the affected areas of England and Wales to establish the best way to offer further support. In parallel with support for wider relief efforts, the Freemasons’ Grand Charity will be assisting individual eligible masons affected by events, and their dependants, through Masonic Relief Grants which are given to relieve hardship.

Published in The Grand Charity

Staffordshire support: In challenging conditions, Staffordshire masons have raised £1,675,000 for The Freemasons’ Grand Charity

Staffordshire’s five-year Festival culminated in a dinner held at Keele University in September, during which Dr Alexander Stewart, Provincial Grand Master, announced the £1,675,000 total. The five hundred members and guests at the event included David Williamson, Assistant Grand Master. Richard Hone QC, President of the Grand Charity, thanked the Provincial Grand Master and Staffordshire masons for raising such a wonderful amount. 

Alexander said, ‘It has been our intention to raise as much as we could to further the marvellous work of the Grand Charity. It has been a difficult time financially for many of our members and our numbers have fallen in the past ten years. We set no target and I am so proud of all our members and their families for their generous support and the enormous efforts they have all made.’

The money raised will be used to assist the Grand Charity’s important work helping people in need. 

Published in The Grand Charity

Flood relief for india

Heavy monsoon rains have caused flash floods in the state of Uttarakhand in India. Reports indicate 800 deaths, although unofficial claims suggest the death toll may be as high as 5,000. In the immediate aftermath, 97,000 people were rescued, with more than 1,250 houses reported as damaged or washed away. The flood is believed to have been the heaviest and deadliest in this region for 80 years. 

The president of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, Richard Hone, has approved an immediate emergency grant of £35,000 to the Red Cross to assist with the recovery. Around 450 roads have been completely destroyed by 15 landslides, making it nearly impossible for people to move to safer areas. Laura Chapman, chief executive of the Grand Charity, stated: ‘It is hoped that this donation will bring help and assistance to the many people who need it in the affected region.’

The Emergency Grants for Disaster Relief is just one of the initiatives driven by the Grand Charity, which donates more than £2.5 million to national charities every year. 

Published in The Grand Charity

Raising the bar in Cambridgeshire

The twenty-seventh annual Festival for The Freemasons’ Grand Charity was held in September at Queens’ College, Cambridge, under the presidency of Rodney Wolverson, Provincial Grand Master of Cambridgeshire. Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes was in attendance, to acknowledge the impressive £1,283,164 raised by Freemasons in Cambridgeshire.

Grand Charity President Richard Hone was thrilled with the generosity shown, remarking: ‘It has been an honour to attend this wonderful event in Cambridge, showcasing the culmination of this festival on behalf of the Grand Charity. The total amount raised is truly inspirational, especially considering the many economic pressures of recent times. Thank you to all those who worked so hard to raise these funds, we will ensure they are put to good use helping people in need.’

Published in The Grand Charity
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 01:00

changing of the guard

Freemasons pay tribute to retiring Grand Charity president Grahame Elliott’s ‘dedication and vision’, while welcoming his successor, Richard M Hone

Grahame Elliott, CBE, retired as president of the Grand Charity on 25 April 2012, and has been succeeded by Richard Hone, QC. The new president first joined the Council of the Grand Charity in 1997, initially serving for nine years during which time he was chairman of the Finance Committee and  was instrumental in bringing about a major revision of the charity’s constitution. After a gap of five years, Richard’s re-appointment in June 2011 was much welcomed by the other council members. Initiated in Apollo University Lodge in 1968, he is a senior circuit judge at the Central Criminal Court in London.

Grahame Elliott has served on the council for the past nine years, the first three as a member appointed by the Provincial Grand Master for East Lancashire, whose Province held the charity’s festival in 2004.

As president, Grahame has led the charity with much dedication and vision. He has joined with the other presidents of the central masonic charities to develop a closer working relationship, made easier by the charities’ move into Freemasons’ Hall. The Council of the Grand Charity wishes both Richard Hone and Grahame Elliott much success for the future.

Published in The Grand Charity

Annual General Meeting of The Freemasons' Grand Charity 

13 June 2012 
An address by the President of the Grand Charity, Richard Hone, QC, and the Chief Executive, Laura Chapman 

President (Richard Hone, QC):

Deputy Grand President and members, welcome to what for the Grand Charity is its 32nd Annual General Meeting, and which is my first as President, after serving nine years on the Council between 1997 and 2006. I want to start by paying tribute to the work of my predecessor, Grahame Elliott, who in his six years of office saw the 25th and 30th anniversaries of the founding of The Grand Charity. It is really the man himself I want to praise because he presented such a genial and friendly face of the Charity that will long be remembered, especially by the Provinces, which he often visited. Like all good leaders, he does have his idiosyncrasies and his ability to go off script is unrivalled, but we loved him for it. Perhaps most importantly, he played a key role in moving the four charities in to a single office space in Freemasons’ Hall which has created a sea change of mutual co-operation between our four charities, upon which it will be my happy task to build. On behalf of the Council of the Grand Charity and the staff for whom he cared so deeply, I extend our warmest good wishes to Grahame Elliott in his retirement. He is a hard act to follow but it is reassuring to know that he remains part of the team as a Past President.

I have mentioned the move of all four charities in to the new purpose built offices here at Freemasons’ Hall. The physical proximity means that it is much easier for inter-communication – we are after all in the same business – organising Masonic charity from cradle to grave. One of the most striking things I have noticed since my return to Grand Charity last year, has been the inauguration of Freemasonry Cares as a form of umbrella for all four charities. Yes, Freemasons really do care, and the way in which we care is exemplified by the Royal Masonic Institution for Girls and Boys, by the Masonic Samaritan Fund, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and The Grand Charity. The four Presidents now meet regularly and I am particularly excited that over the next five years, over which I hope to serve as President of the Grand Charity, we foresee a culmination of co-operation, the integration of some of our common services under Freemasonry Cares, as well as cross fertilisation of resources and more joined-up thinking about what we are doing. What is fundamental is to maintain the individual identities of the Charities and the proud traditions of the existing institutions built up over nearly 300 years, but to make sure that the excellent work that we do is delivered more efficiently and without duplication. This on-going process has been enormously promoted by the truly fraternal co-operation between the four Presidents and, most importantly, their chief executives, so you may be assured, it is a consensual exercise, promoted by working together in one location. I am not a great one for slogans – the day job rather puts a stop to that – but what I do want to promote is a sense that Masonic charity as a whole is a terrific force for good. We should all draw strength from that and make sure the public properly understands the good we do. Masonic charity represents over £20 million a year. My task as President of the Grand Charity is to ask continuously: how can we make it even better? I for one shall never forget that, important as London is, our heartland is in the provinces. One only has to look at the recent Grand Charity Festivals in Essex and South Wales to see where our greatest support lies. We must never forget the provinces.

The past year has once again been good for the Charity. The cost of Masonic grants to individuals and families for their daily living costs, amounted to £5.3m. Grants to non-Masonic charities have continued to be given in a way that we all hope everyone approves. I am particularly pleased that the non-Masonic grants in 2011 reached nearly £3m. This is what we must build on, to dispel the myth that Freemasons exist only to look after our own. I repeat the refrain: We are a terrific force for good. One of my tasks as President is to ensure that every member should feel a real sense of pride in the fantastic support we give to national charities and also to emergency grants for international relief where we are acknowledged to be leaders in the field: “He who gives quickly gives twice” was an aphorism of one early Grand Master. It was good to read that we are strongly commended in the recent report entitled: The Future of Freemasonry.

We are most grateful to Grand Lodge for allowing us to hold our Annual General Meeting during this Quarterly Communication. I sense there is a real enthusiasm for the work of the Grand Charity and in spite of these really difficult economic times, involving real family hardship, the report for last year shows that I take over a Charity in a good state. Long may that flourish. I am sure that we were all enthused by the marvellous events of the Diamond Jubilee with the concepts of dedication and service to others which resonate so strongly with Freemasonry and our unwavering support of the Grand Master and Her Majesty the Queen. That is why I am so pleased that we are giving support to the Prince’s Trust. I look forward to reporting an even better year in 2013.

Item 3 on the Agenda concerns the 25 non-Masonic Grants set out on pages 7 to 12, but before seeking their approval, I should like, with your permission Deputy Grand President, to ask Laura Chapman, the Charity’s Chief Executive to say a few words.

Chief Executive (Laura Chapman):

Deputy Grand President and members – As the President has just emphasized, Freemasonry is a terrific force for good and that is nowhere more evident than in the grants that the Grand Charity gives to national charities. The decisions on which charities to support are easy for the Council to make because they are driven by the views of the Craft on the causes you want to support and the impact you wish to achieve.

Masons are very clear that you wish to support people in need, who are vulnerable and coping with terminal illness, disability and frailty or who are excluded from participating fully in society because of ill health or disadvantage. You want your charitable support to be given to people, not to animals, the environment or the arts.
And, not surprisingly as many of you are businessmen, professionals or simply careful with your pennies, you want your charitable investment to make a maximum return both for the individuals concerned and for society as a whole, by helping those ‘at risk’ to help themselves rather than becoming dependant on the state for long term welfare support.

Of those at risk, unemployed youth, now nearly 22% of 15 to 22 year olds in the UK are particularly vulnerable. Disproportionately represented in this group are some of the most disadvantaged and excluded young people in this country, who, even in the most prosperous economies, are less likely to find employment.
Presented for your approval today is a grant for £250,000 to the Prince’s Trust to help address the crisis of youth unemployment. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales set up The Prince’s Trust in 1976 and today it is one of the UK’s leading charities in supporting young people who face the greatest challenges to become financially and socially independent.

The Grand Charity’s quarter of a million pound grant will fund projects to help these young people to find sustainable employment or re-engage with education. Five thousand pounds of this grant will be distributed to each of the 47 Masonic Provinces and the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London to present for the relevant project in their area, thereby creating local publicity for Masonic charitable giving.

The Council of the Grand Charity is especially pleased in this year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to be able to recommend a grant that is so closely associated with the work of the Royal Family and embodies so faithfully the force for good that is Freemasonry. The President will now seek your approval for this and the other non-Masonic grants recommended by the Council.

Non-Masonic Grants approved at the Grand Charity’s Annual General Meeting 

13 June 2012 

a.  £50,000 to Cancer Research UK to fund a research project on pancreatic cancer at Barts, London.

b.  £60,000 over two years to Diabetes UK to fund a research project on Type 1 diabetes at King’s College, London.

c.  £50,000 over two years to Barnardo’s to fund the salary of a project worker in the service aimed at preventing sexual exploitation in Plymouth.

d.  £60,000 over two years to Buttle UK to fund the development of the Quality Mark for Care Leavers in higher education.

e.  £16,000 to CHICKS to fund the salary of a supervisor to work with disadvantaged children at residential retreats in Devon.

f.  £25,000 to Children our Ultimate Investment UK to fund the Teens and Toddlers programme in Manchester.

g.  £30,000 to Outward Bound to fund a bursary scheme enabling disadvantaged young people to participate in three week adventure activity courses.

h.  £20,000 to Street League to fund the A-Z Academy programme in Croydon.

i.  £250,000 to The Prince’s Trust to be distributed to Provincial and Metropolitan Grand Lodges for local presentations to fund work-related activities for disadvantaged young people.

j.  £25,000 to Calvert Trust Kielder to fund bursaries for severely disabled adults at an outdoor activity centre.

k.  £55,000 to Combat Stress to fund community outreach teams to support ex-Service personnel with mental health problems.

l.  £90,000 over two years to Dementia UK to fund a Chief Nurse post to develop training for specialist dementia nurses.

m.  £25,000 to Dogs for the Disabled to fund the PAWS service for children with autism.

n.  £50,000 to Help for Heroes to fund the development of therapeutic gardens at four recovery centres for wounded Service personnel.

o.  £25,000 to the Huntington Disease Association to fund the regional care advisory service in the north west of England.

p.  £18,000 to I Can to fund a primary school project supporting children who struggle with speech and language skills.

q.  £25,000 to Jubilee Sailing Trust to fund a bursary for a severely disabled crew member.

r.  £12,000 to Living Paintings Trust to fund a catalogue of Touch to See books for pre-school children.

s.  £30,000 to Music in Hospitals to fund live concerts for older people in healthcare settings.

t.  £10,000 to PHAB to fund residential outdoor activity courses for disabled young people.

u.  £30,000 to the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity to fund a family support worker in Manchester.

v.  £22,000 to Rett UK to fund a Family Guide publication for families who have a child with Rett Syndrome.

w.  £25,000 to Special Olympics UK to fund the salary of the volunteer development manager.

x.  £25,000 to TB Alert to fund a project to raise awareness of the rising prevalence of tuberculosis amongst local organisations which work with vulnerable people.

y.  £30,000 to Young Minds to fund the development of the charity’s use of internet technology to provide support services to young people with mental health problems.

Published in The Grand Charity
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