Wednesday, 14 September 2016 01:00

Why the membership comes first

Here to help

Having had a career in the army and charities that has focused on safeguarding the welfare of others, Willie Shackell, new UGLE Grand Secretary, wants to ensure that Freemasons have all the support they need

Did you always want to be in the army?

Well, the first thing one has to decide is what career best suits you. In my early days, I couldn’t make up my mind whether I wanted to be a vicar or be in the army, but I ended up joining the latter. 

I went off to Sandhurst in 1960, was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1962, then went to the University of Cambridge from 1963 to 1966, which was paid for by the army. What a lucky chap. I came out as a young officer, having been a student for three years. It took me some time to settle back into army life, but fortunately I had a very persuasive Commanding Officer.

I then went off to the Naval Staff College and did a couple of tours in Germany as a Major before getting promoted and going off to Nigeria to the staff college in Jaji. I was 39 and the placement was an indication for me that I wasn’t in the top flight of Lieutenant Colonels. Throughout one’s career, one’s got to accept that there are people better than you and it’s a great lesson in life.

I got promoted in 1988 to Colonel and was made responsible for the army’s Welfare, Conditions of Service and Casualties Procedures. The Gulf War took place during that period and it was the first time in my army career that I’d had a large degree of autonomy. I brought in computer networks and extra staff and we ran a very successful operation. I was appointed CBE for this work, promoted to Brigadier and went to command a brigade up in York, before becoming the first Director of Reserve Forces and Cadets. Realising I wasn’t going to be a General, I retired at the age of 52 having had a great career and absolutely no regrets – I would recommend it to anyone. 

What did you do after leaving the army?

My attention was directed towards charities when I came to leave the armed forces. I felt I had an empathy with that side of life, having dealt with service welfare and enjoyed that aspect of work. 

I moved on to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) and my first job was to set up a contract for SSAFA to run the community health services in Germany. We had a very successful partnership with Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital and the Army Medical Service. I ran the department for three years, then supported the volunteer network and managed the housing assets for five years. My last five years on the staff were spent as Company Secretary, and I finished as the Vice Chairman of Trustees. During this time, I also held a number of posts in the voluntary sector.

When I retired from SSAFA, I applied to become the UGLE Grand Secretary. I was interviewed, but got a letter saying I hadn’t got that particular job. 

I was, however, rung up a little bit later and asked if I would be the President of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI). It was a total surprise, I can tell you, but I said yes and what a marvellous experience it was.

What was your agenda coming into the RMBI?

I suppose it’s rather like my agenda on joining any organisation. I go in, look at it for three months, and then decide what my goals are. There were a lot of plans for rebuilding care homes to bring us into the 21st century – I took the opportunity to go to all the care homes because I believed I couldn’t discuss change unless I’d visited them all.

I then looked at the trustee board. My feeling was that we needed to have more people with the right skills and I wasn’t bothered whether they were Freemasons or what gender they were. It was a culture change for the RMBI, but my reasoning was accepted and we brought our first lady on to the board. We put more emphasis on accommodating those with dementia, improved fire safety and updated the homes. It was a major undertaking costing about £35 million, but we had tremendous staff support and it all needed to be done.

After six years, I felt that I had achieved what I set out to do and when asked to do another four years I said no. I was then made President of the Masonic Samaritan Fund, taking over from Hugh Stubbs, who had been a quite outstanding president. I just had to keep the ship ticking along, which gave me time with my fellow charity presidents to start work on planning the formation of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. My task was to coordinate the governance and then bring together the grant-making activities of the four charities.

Having retired as President of the Masonic Samaritan Fund on the formation of the Masonic Charitable Foundation at the end of April, I then got a phone call asking if I would take on the position of Grand Secretary on an interim basis. I spent a weekend chewing it over with my wife before accepting it on a three-day-a-week basis and on the understanding that I was fully accountable to the board. I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

What is your approach as Grand Secretary?

Communication is the key to most things. Certainly at the United Grand Lodge of England, one of the first things I’m trying to do is to improve the internal communications. We’ve got a good team; we’ve just got to talk among ourselves a bit more.

My first goal is to get the trust and respect of the people here. Until you’ve got that, you’re not going to achieve a great deal. And probably the second most important thing I’ve tried to do is to make sure everyone understands that we’re all here as servants of Freemasonry. We’re here to support the many volunteers working in Provincial and District offices as well as any other Freemason with a problem – we’re the paid staff and our job is to help members promote the values of masonry out in the field, to understand it, to enjoy it and to have fun. 

‘I’m in the comfortable position of not doing the job for a career... but because I love Freemasonry.’ Willie Shackell

A lot of the administration of the building is done by the Chief Operating Officer, whereas I’m involved in the administration between the Provinces, the lodges and Great Queen Street. Freemasons should see me as the person they contact and I’m very content in that role. I’m in the comfortable position of not doing the job for a career or because I need to be employed but because I love Freemasonry and believe I can contribute to our future.

Why did you become a Freemason?

I joined Freemasonry back in 1963. My dear old dad had been a mason for many years; he became one before the war. Dad was in the Infantry, which hadn’t been very pleasant, and there were no counselling services for people like him. You just had to get on with life and re-establish yourself. After the war, life wasn’t easy. Dad was a teacher, which wasn’t particularly well paid, and as a child I could feel the tension. But whenever he went off to one of his masonic meetings with his little brown bag, he’d come back relaxed. It was noticeable.

I joined my father’s lodge at 22 in 1963. I found that wherever I was in the world, there was masonry. I joined the Grand Lodge of British Freemasons in Germany and went through the Chair; in Nigeria I joined the Northern Nigeria Lodge in Kaduna; when I went to Northern Ireland with my Territorial Army regiment, I attended the Belfast Volunteers Lodge; and in the Netherlands I joined a French Constitution Lodge. 

What do you want to have achieved by the time you leave?

I’d like to have improved the systems and internal communications and to have run a happy ship. We know people will grumble at us because we’re the headquarters, but we’re here to support them.

An American at the Naval Staff College once said to me, ‘You appear a really laid-back guy, but I can tell you’re paddling like mad underneath that water!’ Maybe he was right. I think I always want to do the best I can. I’ve never had a problem with accepting responsibility – I think I’m better at that than the fine detail. I’ve always had a vision as to what I want to achieve, and I’m a believer that as you aim for a goal the detail will get sorted as you get nearer to it.

Published in UGLE

Craft brewing

Members of Thorpe Bay Lodge in Southend have been making and selling their own bitter to raise money for charity. Imogen Beecroft raises a glass to Lest We Forget

People couldn’t believe it when we told them what we were doing, but I don’t see why it’s surprising. We’ve got so much experience between us – maybe not with brewing beer, but definitely drinking it!’ Gordon Goodall, then Charity Steward of Thorpe Bay Lodge, No. 4803, smiles as he explains how his charity fundraising plan grew into something much larger. Last February, he decided the lodge should brew beer to sell at their Poppy evening in November to support military charity SSAFA and the Royal British Legion

Unsurprisingly, the plan was an instant hit and lodge members Andy Rogers, Stephen Bateman and Paul Bates jumped at the chance to get involved. However, as none of the team had ever brewed a beer before, they knew they would need some expert help. Gordon approached several microbreweries in the area, but finally struck gold with Wibblers Brewery, based in the Essex countryside. 

Wibblers head brewer Phil Wilcox says, ‘I have an understanding of Freemasonry through my godfather and have always appreciated the charity work they do. These are both fantastic charities, so we were very happy to help.’

Wibblers on board, the four men headed to the brewery for a hard day’s work. With Phil’s guidance, the masons finalised their recipe and set to work creating their drink: a classic English bitter with a malty taste and nutty finish. By all accounts, the day passed cheerfully, aside from a slight tussle over who would climb into the hot, cramped mash tun and shovel 300kg of grain out of it. 

‘We told our friends and they told theirs, and suddenly we were selling out.’ Gordon Goodall

Laughing, Andy says: ‘As soon as this job came up, Gordon said, “Oh my back, I can’t go in there.” Steve said he wasn’t feeling up to it, and Paul started complaining about his arm. So muggins here got lumbered with the job of getting into the tun.’

But it wasn’t all hard graft. As Stephen says: ‘The great thing about brewing is that at a certain point you just have to let the beer do its thing. So we got the barbecue out and decided it was time to try some of Phil’s other beers.’ Once the beer was fermented and sent away for bottling and labelling, all the team had to do was sell it. 

Aptly named Lest We Forget in honour of fallen servicemen, the bitter was promoted by the brewers in the lead-up to their Poppy night, which they opened up to non-masons. As a result of their campaigning, more than 80 people attended the event, and pretty soon they were receiving regular orders for cases of the beer. 

Social brewing

The four masons used their lodge’s social media accounts to sell the beer, crediting the Master of the lodge with reaching out to his connections in the pub trade. But, as Gordon says: ‘It was mainly word of mouth – we told our friends and they told theirs, and suddenly we were selling out.’

Indeed, Lest We Forget has been a success by almost any measure: they’ve sold 2,000 litres so far, over half of their stock, and are planning on heading back to Wibblers to brew a second batch soon. They have raised £3,000 for the armed forces charity SSAFA and the Royal British Legion, and expect to net at least £4,500 in total. 

So are the masons surprised by how successful the beer has been? Paul certainly isn’t: ‘Freemasonry is a very sociable pastime, and we do like a beer – so I knew we’d have a reasonable audience to sell to. We’ve been well looked after by Wibblers, and we’ve got a good network of contacts, so I’m not surprised it’s done so well, really.’ Andy is quick to add, ‘I’m not surprised how well it’s sold, but I am surprised that we managed to make such a nice beer!’ 

‘Making the beer has solidified the foundations of our lodge for the future – we’re going onwards and upwards.’ Andy Rogers

It seems that the quality of the beer is something everyone can agree on. Andy loves it, although acknowledges, ‘it’s not great for my waistline’, while Gordon gives it perhaps the ultimate accolade: ‘Even my wife, who doesn’t particularly like beer, says she thinks it’s quite tasty.’ And Phil, the expert brewer, admits that he has to keep putting money aside to give to the masons for the bottles he’s sampled.

Although the ultimate aim of this project was to raise money for charity, the team have noticed that it’s had a more far-reaching positive effect for Thorpe Bay Lodge. Gordon explains: ‘We’ve had some struggles as a lodge in the past, but this has really galvanised our members and pushed us to try new things. Of course, the serious message behind the beer is that we must not forget the people who fought for us in conflicts, but there is also the aspect of having fun and trying something different.’ 

Andy agrees: ‘Making the beer has solidified the foundations of our lodge for the future, and we’re just going to go onwards and upwards.’

New batch

As well as uniting the current members of Thorpe Bay Lodge, Lest We Forget has also secured some new recruits: ‘As a result of this project, and people seeing what Freemasonry is all about, we’ve got four people lined up to join our lodge next year, which is great,’ explains Stephen. 

Although they’ve nearly sold their entire first batch, Gordon reassuringly explains that this won’t be the end of Lest We Forget. ‘Because it’s been so well received we’re going to do it again on a bigger scale. We’re hoping to brew it in barrels now we know how quickly it’s selling. It seems like this beer might be the ideal thing to centre our 2022 Festival around, and hopefully some of the other masonic centres will pick it up too.’

With talk of selling at a few masonic centres and even going national one day, the project is a triumph. As Paul says: ‘It speaks for itself: it’s a damned good beer at a damned good price and it’s for a good cause.’ What’s not to like? 

Phil Wilcox explains the art of brewing

Malted barley and warm water are mixed in a mash tun. It sits for an hour and a half while the starch in the grain turns into sugar. The grain is removed and the solution is boiled with hops, for bittering. At the end of the boil, more hops are added for flavour and aroma. The liquid is chilled and placed, with yeast, in a fermenter: it’s left while the sugar turns into alcohol. After a week (lager takes around seven weeks to ferment, while cider can take up to three months) the beer is ‘crash chilled’ and bottled.

A microbrewery has helped ‎Freemasons‬ in Essex ‪create a ‪special Remembrance beer to raise money for military charities

Wibblers Brewery lent their expertise to create the Lest we Forget beer for members of Thorpe Bay Lodge at their annual Lodge Poppy evening on November 11.

Wibblers, which has just opened a new brewery in Southminster, helped create the Lest we Forget beer.

The bitter was the idea of members of Thorpe Bay Lodge who created the beer to keep the members happy at their annual Lodge Poppy evening on November 11.

'Wibblers were fantastic but the beer has been so well received that there is real talk that it could qualify for a CAMRA award and we are now thinking that we could offer it to Freemasons across Essex with all profits going to local charities and other good causes.'

Read the full article here: 

Published in More News

Ten years on the road for Widows Sons

The Widows Sons Masonic Bikers Association celebrates its 10th year in the UK this year. Since its formation, the association has grown rapidly and now boasts hundreds of members in chapters throughout the UK. Members from the UK and Europe recently came together in July for their annual rally in the Ribble Valley in Lancashire. 

In the past, the bikers have distributed Easter eggs and Christmas gifts to children’s homes and adult centres, and backed Help for Heroes and SSAFA. They also visited Ypres in Belgium in remembrance of brethren who fell in World War I, in an event which culminated with laying a wreath at the Menin Gate.

Published in More News

Gibraltar cycle marathon raises £240,000

Masons and their families were among a large group of people who converged on the Wycombe Wanderers ground at Adams Park, High Wycombe, to welcome back the RockRide 2 cyclists who had battled searing temperatures across Spain and France – covering more than 1,500 miles from Gibraltar to Bucks on a charity ride.

Three of the team were masons who, along with another dozen cyclists, helped to raise over £240,000 for their nominated charities. Among the welcoming crowd was Buckinghamshire PGM Gordon Robertson. 

Charities that benefited included the SSAFA, the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust and the Bucks Masonic Benevolent Fund.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 00:00

The Queen's New Year's Honours list 2014

A number of Freemasons have been honoured in HM The Queen's New Year's Honours list 2014

David Mark Spofforth, OBE

After graduating from Durham University and training in the City, Mark joined the family practice in Sussex where he has worked for 30 years, including two periods as Managing Partner.

He is the immediate Past President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants having served on Council for 18 years and chairing various committees, and served on the Takeover Panel. Mark spent 6 years making weekly broadcasts on local BBC Radio on financial matters, wrote a monthly column for Accountancy Age on practice management, and has lectured internationally on accountancy topics, including at the 2010 World Congress of Accountants.

His international experience includes a 6 year period on the International Accounting Education Standards Board, a standard setting body of IFAC, and visits to regulators and other professional bodies on every continent. He is now a Technical Advisor to the IFAC Board.

Away from professional life Mark has a partner, Veronica, and a son and a daughter. Mark’s daughter Gemma has recently retired as an elite swimmer, having competed in the Beijing and London Olympics; in August 2009 she became World Champion and continues to hold the World Record for the 100m backstroke event. His son, Peter works for a Corporate Finance company in the City.

Mark is currently Junior Warden of the Chartered Accountants Livery Company, and has also been Master of the Horners, another City Livery Company. He is a governor of Sion School in Worthing, and is Trustee of the Thalidomide Trust.

Peter Clive Crawford Pitt, MBE

Peter travelled the world accompanying widows of fallen soldiers on pilgrimages to military memorials close to where their husbands had been killed. He said the trips were a 'frightening experience' for the women but offered some form of comfort.

He was thrilled but surprised to have been honoured. 'I thought I was far too old for it,' he said.

'I'm 80 now and thought when you get to my age you don't get these things.'

In church the organist congratulated Dr Pitt on his MBE saying, 'I have never heard of anyone getting the OBE and the MBE at the same time.'

'How come?' I said. 'Over Bloody Eighty and the MBE!'

Dr Robert David Taylor Sillett, MBE

'It has been a great honour for me to have been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours. The citation is for services to the community and helping others.

'All my many friends in Freemasonry both Provincially, Nationally and Internationally have been very supportive of one aspect of my work since retirement in 2001. It was very clear to me at the time that there was a void in my life that needed filling. Raising money for Down Syndrome Education International has been one area and I thank all those Freemasons who have helped me raise a lot of money through my presentations in several degrees.

'Serving the needs of others was constantly in my mind during my professional career at Christ’s Hospital. My challenge on retirement was to continue this ambition in as many areas as possible. I shall continue to focus my mind on helping those in need bearing in mind those prophetic words of Abraham Lincoln ‘No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child’.'

Richard Brian Sutherland, MBE

Richard, honorary chairman of the board of trustees at Birtenshaw School, has been awarded an MBE for services to education and the community in Bolton.

He is a Past Master of Anchor and Hope Lodge No. 37 and Supera Moras Lodge No. 3326. He is also a Member of Antiquity Lodge No. 146.

The Birtenshaw school moved to its new multi-million pound site, in Bromley Cross, in September 2012 and Mr Sutherland was instrumental in bringing the building of the new school from dream to reality. At that time, after 21 years serving Birtenshaw as trustee and six years as chairman, he stepped down from the role and a plaque was unveiled to reveal the school hall would be known as Richard Sutherland Hall as a mark of his commitment.

Richard, who retired as Chief Executive of Bolton Health Authority in 1994, said 'I would like to thank everyone for the opportunity of working at Birtenshaw. The MBE belongs to Birtenshaw and the other charities who have put up with me for so many years.'

Maj (retired) David Malcolm Davies, BEM, TD*

David lives in Porthcawl and has been branch secretary of SSAFA Mid Glamorgan for 12 years, and a caseworker in the Bridgend division. He was previously a teacher and also worked in the accounts department of a law firm until retirement last year.

He has 5 very busy grandchildren and his hobbies include reading, gardening, walking and charity work.

Graham Phillip Ellis, BEM

Father-of-three Graham, of Puffers Green, Harlow, has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds after more than 30 years of fundraising for a number of different charities.

His first challenge was the London Marathon in 1981 and just last month he completed a 100 km trek in one of the toughest terrains in the world, the Sahara Desert. The chartered surveyor was in the desert when the letter informing him of the honour arrived at his home.

He said: 'I have been fundraising for so long that I thought I had missed out on something like this so I’m chuffed. I’m half expecting for there to be some mistake!

'It’s lovely and my family are very proud. The letter arrived while I was in the Sahara so I got home and saw the letter was there from the Cabinet Office. It has been more than 30 years of fundraising and I am pleased to be recognised. It’s really nice.'

Graham, who has five grandchildren, added: 'I have been well supported throughout the years; it has been great. The Sahara was fantastic, an amazing experience and very tough. It’s kind of hard to put into words really.'

The British Empire Medal was reintroduced in 2012 to reward sustained, local contribution and innovative, high-impact work.

Joseph John Gildea, BEM

Landlord Joseph has been awarded the British Empire Medal for his tireless charity work.

For over 10 years Joe has raised in excess of £107,000 in memory of his daughter Angela, who died from breast cancer when she was just 32 years old.

Since 2002 Joe and his regulars have been raising funds for the Countess of Chester Breast Care Unit, with regulars jumping out of planes, climbing mountains and even racing around Chester Racecourse dressed as turkeys in the annual Turkey Trot.

In September 2012 Joe's pub, nicknamed ‘the little pub with a big heart’, was voted the most charitable pub in the UK by trade paper The Morning Advertiser. He recently retired, but hopes to continue with charity work.

Andrew Harold Osborne, BEM

'I am deeply honoured to be awarded this decoration.'

'I was appointed a trustee of the Faversham United Municipal Charities by the Faversham Borough Council in 1970 and subsequently a co-opted trustee by my fellow trustees. 

'In 1970 the Charity was in a sorry state with little and often misused funds, and trustees who had closed the almshouse chapel, demolished the spires and whose main aspiration seemed to be to demolish the remainder of the building or hand it over to the Council and close the charity.

'I am proud to have been a member of a revitalised board of trustees who under the guidance of Harry Woodman, their new clerk, succeeded in turning around the finances of the charity and saving the building and its endowments for the benefit of Faversham. In 1987, 16 new modern almshouses were added to the estate.

'Last year the final step in this transformation was achieved with the agreement of the Charity Commissions to a new trust scheme which swept away the previous outdated and obsolete trusts and amalgamating the 32 separate charities under one modern scheme called Faversham Municipal Charity 2010.

'This new scheme is still bedding down and I hope to remain a trustee to see this work completed. The next major task is to remodel the old building to provide all units with separate bedrooms, improve disabled access, thermal and sound insulation and generally bring the flats up to a high standard to last for the next 150 years.'

Other brethren to receive honours included Sir Roger Gifford (Knight Bachelor), Lt Col Victor Joseph Garth Matthews (OBE), Paul Victor Dedman (MBE) and David Malcolm Davies (BEM).

Published in More News

In the space of one week the Provincial Grand Almoner has staged two key events in the Province of West Lancashire

The first was the annual care dinner in Leyland where the guest speaker Col Sylvia Quayle OBE spoke about the work of SAFFA. The second was a presentation made at Poulton le Sands Lodge No. 1051 by James France of The Freemasons' Grand Charity, which clearly demonstrated to the almoners and brethren present the far-reaching and important work undertaken by the central masonic charities, and the Grand Charity in particular.

The Freemasons' Grand Charity is, of course, one of the four central charities which also includes the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and the Masonic Samaritan Fund.

However, the Grand Charity is specifically a grant-making organisation which was created to be a focus for non-masonic grants. It also helps Freemasons and their families who are in a difficult financial situation, and other masonic charities in times of need. In the 30 years of its existence the Grand Charity has made grants totalling well over £117,000,000.

During 2013 alone almost 2,000 people were assisted by the Grand Charity with approved Masonic Relief Grants totalling £3,700,000.

James detailed two cases where help had been given and which showed the absolutely crucial role played by almoners in visiting brethren and dependants or widows, and gently establishing their circumstances to assess need.

In making non-masonic grants the charity seeks to make a significant difference to people in real need by supporting issues that Freemasons and their families are concerned about. They do this by supporting projects that achieve a long-term impact in the community.

During 2012, £2,500,000 million was donated to charities across England and Wales. One of the specific criteria for the making of a grant is that the application is from a nationwide charity. Charities that serve only a local area are not eligible for support from the Freemasons' Grand Charity and are advised to seek funding from local or Provincial sources, thus emphasising the importance of continuing to support to the full the West Lancashire Freemasons' Charity.

The kind of support given by the Freemasons' Grand Charity to non-masonic causes includes: medical research, including treatment for Multiple Sclerosis and Cancer Research; help and support for vulnerable people; funding to provide youth opportunities; and hospices.

Each year grants are available to all hospice services in England and Wales that receive less than 60% of their income from the NHS.

Air Ambulances: last year marked over £1,000,000 in total donations for Air Ambulance services given by the Freemasons' Grand Charity.

Emergency grants for disaster relief: the Grand Charity also seeks to respond when disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding occur throughout the world.

However, whilst there is no doubt that support for non-masonic causes is extremely important, the 'bread and butter' of the grant-giving arm of the Grand Charity is that of Masonic Relief Grants.

From the perspective of Freemasons in West Lancashire such Masonic grants over the last 12 months have totalled 166 amounting to £347,910. Expanded over the last full five years this figure increases to 1145 grants and a total amount of £2,324,793!


There are a number of causes of particular importance to the Masonic community, but one that stands out is help for Services personnel. Since 2008, the Grand Charity has donated £650,000 to charities that support the Armed Forces. In 2010, the largest Grand Charity grant of this type was awarded to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Forces Help, one of £250,000 to support their excellent work helping past and present members of the Armed Forces and their families.

The grant has been well received by both the masonic community and local branches of SSAFA, providing funding across the country at a local level. Money was distributed to every Province with many cheque presentations taking place during the autumn period.

Grahame Elliott, President of the Grand Charity, said: ‘Over the last few months whilst attending various events in my capacity as President, I have heard from numerous members who wished to express their happiness at this grant. The sheer volume of support for SSAFA and the work they carry out has been outstanding. Clearly, supporting the Armed Forces is an important cause for the masonic community, which the Council has recognised and gladly done its best to acknowledge.’

General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue, SSAFA chairman, added: ‘We are very grateful to The Freemasons’ Grand Charity for this generous grant. It will go directly to our branches who assist veterans of all ages and their dependants. The recent and current conflicts mean that our services need to be tailored to ensure that they remain relevant to the needs of our clients of all ages.’

SSAFA provides a reliable, caring and trusted service to more than 50,000 people each year. The association’s 7,000 volunteers help with problems and concerns ranging from those of a practical nature, such as employment or mobility problems, to emotional issues, such as loneliness.

The Grand Charity began funding SSAFA Forces Help back in 1981, and in 2008 donated £100,000 towards the opening of two SSAFA Norton Homes, one in Birmingham and one in Surrey. The two homes provide short-term accommodation so that families can stay nearby whilst visiting their loved ones at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham and the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court, Surrey.

The houses were designed as a ‘home from home’ and are the first of their kind in the UK. The homes were so well received that SSAFA was awarded ‘Best Disability Charity’ for this project in 2009.

In 2009, the Grand Charity also funded the following charities: Combat Stress, The Colonel’s Fund Grenadier Guards, King Edward VII’s Hospital Sister Agnes, Royal Air Force Charitable Trust, Royal Hospital Chelsea Appeal and the Colonel’s Fund Scots Guards, which received £50,000 each.

The Grand Charity considers it vital to fund charitable projects which are of importance to the Craft. A strong relationship has grown between SSAFA Forces Help and the Grand Charity, and it is hoped that this will continue to provide support to many Servicemen and women and their families, for years to come.

Please visit the Grand Charity online – our new website has launched and contains more information than ever before:

Published in The Grand Charity
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 16:00

Guernsey aids Help For Heroes and the SSAFA

Guernsey aids the Services

Two Service charities, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association and Help For Heroes, have received cheques from the brethren of Guernsey and Alderney in a ceremony at the Masonic Centre, St Martin’s. Provincial Grand Master Jurat David Hodgetts presented the cheques to Ben Remfrey of Help For Heroes and John Silvester of SSAFA totalling more than £8,000.

Wednesday, 01 September 2010 16:41

£250,000 Grand Charity Aid For Forces

A new annual grant initiative is being provided by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity - £250,000 to a major national charity, the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Forces Help. The money is to be divided and distributed to branches throughout the country, providing funding at a local level.

Over the past year, The Grand Charity has received numerous requests from individual members asking us to donate to charities supporting the Armed Forces. The Council selected SSAFA Forces Help as the first recipient of a grant under the new initiative to support their excellent work in helping current and former members of the Armed Forces and their families.

A Grand Charity spokesman said: ‘We believe that the people on the ground know best where to direct these funds, which will assist hundreds of servicemen and women past and present, and their families.’

Published in The Grand Charity
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