Royal Edward Lodge No. 892, Leominster, made its annual distribution of donations to local charities Saturday 12 September 2015
The following donations, totalling well in excess of £3,000 were distributed by the Worshipful Master, Worshipful Brother Andrew Cowell: to Acorns Children’s Hospice, Echo celebrating its 25th anniversary of making a real difference to the lives of disabled people in Leominster and beyond, Kyre Riding for the Disabled, Marches Family Network, Megan Baker House, and Parkinson’s UK – the Worshipful Master’s choice made at his installation.
Andrew Cowell said that he and his fellow Freemasons place a great deal of emphasis on supporting local charities and organisations in the area.
Worshipful Brother Gareth Prosser, Charity Steward for Royal Edward for the last four years, mentioned that a sum of rising £15,000 has been awarded to local charities during that period, and that it was the wish of all at the Royal Edward Lodge to continue such support where needed.
Based in Warwickshire, the Riding for the Disabled Foundation (RDA) provides life-changing therapies to around 28,000 disabled children and adults every year - but without more trained volunteers to help, this vital service is under threat
In response, The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has donated £75,000 to fund a volunteer recruitment and training programme taking place over the next two years. With this donation, the RDA hopes to recruit and develop a further 2,000 volunteers. Importantly though, it will also give all of the RDA volunteers (approx. 20,000) access to an appealing, flexible, training pathway suited to all abilities, enrol 2,000 current volunteers on specific skill based training programmes, and support 200 volunteer coaches undertaking the UK Coaching Certificate qualification.
For over 40 years the RDA has used horses and ponies to provide therapy, achievement, and enjoyment to people with disabilities all over the UK. They take great pride in the exceptional standard of their instructors and volunteers.
Speaking about the donation Ed Bracher, Chief Executive for Riding for the Disabled Association, said: 'We are very, very grateful for this generous grant from the Grand Charity. RDA is an organisation that relies heavily on volunteers, and this money will allow us to make sure that we continue to do all we can to support existing volunteers and attract new ones. Thank you!'
The Major Grants Scheme is just one of the initiatives driven by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity which donates around £2.5 million to national charities every year.
A suitable horse
Riding for the Disabled Centre at Holme Lacy, Hereford, is searching for a suitable new horse. The previous occupant of the now empty stable was Gypsy, a horse sponsored by the Freemasons of Herefordshire
Freemasons wish to continue their two decade support of the centre, and recently donated £2,600 towards the purchase of a replacement horse. The original horse they sponsored was aptly named Mason.
The annual minimum cost of maintenance for each of the 13 horses stabled at Hereford RDA is £1,500. Like all centres, Hereford RDA depends on local financial and physical support in order to provide the much appreciated quality service of compassion and care.
The centre provides 250 sessions per week for their disabled clients. One such client is Nick Jones, now aged 35, who first attended the centre at Holme Lacy when aged six: he is now an Ambassador, voluntarily representing the centre at all public occasions.
The newly appointed manager, Lisa Millman, who has been at the centre for the past 21 years, warmly welcomed the Provincial Grand Master for Herefordshire the Rev David Bowen, and the Provincial Grand Charity Steward David Knowles. Lisa emphasised that as a charity, volunteers as well as financial donations are required. She is to contact the fifteen masonic lodges in Herefordshire seeking such physical support.
Rev David Bowen expressed how the quality of life of the individuals who attended the centre would diminish should the centre become non-viable – for some clients the visit to Hereford RDA was their only 'outdoor' activity. He promised continued support on behalf of Herefordshire Freemasons. The most recent donation had been match funded by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity.
Help for Hereford charities
At the annual distribution of donations to local organisations and charities held at Brook Hall Leominster on Saturday 15th June, the members of the Royal Edward Lodge No. 892 distributed cheques of between £250 and £1,000 to Hereford Breast Cancer Haven, the Robocap appeal, St Michael’s Hospice, Riding for the Disabled at Kyre, Megan Baker House, Leominster First Responders, and Leominster Scouts.
At the presentation, organised by the Lodge Charity Steward Gareth Prosser, W Bro Richard James, Past Master of Royal Edward, distributed the donations to those recipients present, including the Leominster Scouts.
Representing the Leominster Scouts, Mrs Sandra Hackley emphasised how grateful she was to receive the support of the Freemasons, as 'the Leominster Scouts are financially in a dire situation, and such support means a great deal.'
For well over a decade Herefordshire Freemasons have sponsored a named horse at the Riding for the Disabled Centre at Holme Lacy. One such horse was aptly called Mason.
The present horse, Gypsy, took part in the recent Paralympic procession in Hereford, and is a most suitable horse in the Holme Lacy stable for riders who suffer from cerebral palsy.
Presenting the annual donation to Janet Alderton, Manager of the RDA Centre, Mike Roff, the newly appointed Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Herefordshire, expressed the continued support of local Freemasons for the Centre’s excellent and significant work with the disabled.
In the photograph, Mike Roff is accompanied by the Yard Manager Helen Powell, with Gypsy back at the Centre following a few weeks of freedom 'in the fields'.
'Gypsy' is the 20 year old horse supported by the Herefordshire Freemasons at the Riding for the Disabled Association's Herefordshire riding school at Holme Lacy. When competing at the National Dressage Centre Hartpury College in Gloucester, it goes under it's full name of 'Hereford Masons Gypsy'.
In presenting the annual donation to the Janet Alderton, Centre Manager, Rodney Smallwood, Provincial Grand Master for Herefordshire, again praised the RDA for its wonderful and significant work with the disabled, and paid tribute to the 130 volunteers involved.
Rodney Smallwood was informed that there would shortly be an addition to the 14 horses in the stables at Holme Lacy: a sponsored mechanical horse was soon to be installed which would enhance the flexibility of exercise and experience possible for those who use the service, whose ages range from 2 to that of 90 years old.
Over the past decade Herefordshire Freemasons have sponsored a named horse at Holme Lacy Riding for the Disabled Centre. One such horse was aptly called Mason.
Gypsy is today’s current horse, which will soon be travelling with Instructor Helen Powell, to compete in the National Dressage Competition at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire.
Janet Alderton, Centre Manager at Holme Lacy, is particularly enthusiastic about the suitability of this year’s entry at Hartpury which will be entered under the official title of Hereford Masons Gypsy.
A trial canter on Gypsy under the instruction of Helen Powell was undertaken by Rodney Smallwood, Provincial Grand Master for Herefordshire, who promised his members’ continued support of Riding for the Disabled in Herefordshire.
HRH Princess Royal, National President and Patron of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) recently launched the Herefordshire RiDeAbility campaign at the Hereford Holme Lacy Campus.
Presented to the Princess Royal was Cliff Burkett, secretary of the Herefordshire Masonic Charity Association, who initiated interest and awareness among local masons in the work of the Herefordshire RDA.
There is an important role for women in Freemasonry as one Cheshire group has shown
Bridgegate Lodge No. 5961 in the Province of Cheshire was consecrated in 1944, meets at the Masonic Hall, Cheshire View, Christleton, Chester and continues to attract candidates at the rate of about two a year.
Until 1993, Bridgegate, like so many other Lodges, held Ladies Nights, looked after their widows and supported the Provincial Festivals and local charities.
Then, in 1993, Mrs. Sheila Cowell decided that if the men could go out and enjoy themselves, then so could the Ladies and, what is more, they could challenge their men’s charitable donations with donations of their own, so she founded the Bridgegate Ladies Circle.
At first, the Circle met at Sheila’s home, but as the interest grew, and space became restricted, they had to move to the new Masonic Hall at Christleton.
Starting a Ladies Circle has been done many times before, but Bridgegate Lodge’s Ladies Circle quickly became friends and discovered they had lots of fun doing their own thing, while at the same time fundraising for the charities, both local and Masonic, by arranging a variety of activities to suit all tastes.
In a surprisingly short period, membership had grown to around 40 and has remained about this level ever since. The membership comprises not just the wives of Bridgegate Lodge members, but also their friends, ladies of the brethren of other Lodges visiting Bridgegate and their friends.
It says a lot that such a disparate group should survive for so long and their programme of dining, fashion shows, jewellery displays, speakers, discussions and other social functions is obviously so well pitched that they neither become bored with it, nor feel themselves to be in any sort of a rut.
Each year since 1993, the ladies have donated between £800 and £1,200, usually to the Lodge Charity Steward on the occasion of the annual Ladies Evening. While the Lodge is the final arbiter of what happens to the money, the ladies have been given the opportunity by the Charity Steward to have their say in making donations.
The unique thing about all this is that this Ladies Circle are well aware that there is no mechanism from within the Masonic organisation for any formal recognition of their efforts and achievements, but they do it anyway and deserve a great big “well done and thank you” from us all.
After 13 years, Sheila has decided to retire from the Chair of the Ladies Circle and has handed the tiller over to Anne Reynolds and Diane Crank. Both Anne and Diane have been part of the development of the Ladies Circle for many years and there is no doubt that they are well able to carry on the good work started by Sheila. Both Anne and Diane have a vested interest in raising money because both their husbands are the current Master and Charity Steward of the Lodge.
Perhaps it is time for Freemasonry to be more inclusive of its women for, as Bridgegate Lodge have seen to their advantage, fund-raising of this sort has kept them up to the mark and helped the task of the Charity Steward.