To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force, the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War and the 75th Anniversary of the Dambusters Raid, Derbyshire Freemasons with special guest, Squadron Leader George 'Johnny' Johnson MBE DFM, made generous presentations to Derbyshire Air Cadets

‘Johnny’ was a 21-year-old Sergeant when he took part in Operation Chastise, where he was the bomb aimer in Lancaster AJ-T (T-Tommy) piloted by ‘Joe’ McCarthy RCAF, which conducted the first attack on the Sorpe Dam.

The Squadron was based in Lincolnshire but used the Derwent dams during training so he is no stranger to the county, albeit in those days he was seeing Derbyshire from the air. The connection to Derbyshire also includes Barnes Wallace, the engineer who designed the bouncing bomb and who was born in Ripley.

Looking for a fitting tribute to mark the various anniversaries, the Provincial Grand Master for Derbyshire Steven Varley decided to present all Air Training Corps Squadrons within Derbyshire a cheque for £1,000. In addition, the Squadrons each received a framed print of a Lancaster Bomber signed and presented by Squadron Leader Johnson, who at 96 years of age is the last surviving member of the aircrews that participated in the Dambusters Raid during the Second World War. These prints will no doubt be treasured by future generations of ATC cadets.

All of the donations were funded by the Provincial Grand Charity of the Province Of Derbyshire which regularly gives funding for many worthy causes throughout the County. All of the funds are collected from donations made by their members.

Flight Lieutenant Steve Broomhead RAFAC, Officer Commanding 1890 (Dronfield) Squadron ATC: ‘This is a fantastically generous gift that will certainly help as my Squadron is desperately trying to update our IT capability.

‘The IT is now such so important to the running of the Squadron both in our administration and in the gaining of cadet qualifications. The icing on the evening’s cake was receiving the signed print from, and meeting with, Johnny Johnson, such an inspiring gentleman.’

After the Presentations, Squadron Leader Michael Roe, RAF Rtd, gave an interesting talk about his long and distinguished flying career in the RAF. To cap it all, four lucky cadets will also receive a flight in an historic two-seater Chipmunk aircraft.

In a short but entertaining speech, Johnny Johnson paid tribute to those he flew with and told the cadets that they were the RAF’s future and that the future was looking to be in good hands. After the Presentations and speeches, Johnny Johnson was presented with a cheque for £1,000 for his own charity, Group 617.

The evening ended with a dinner for all present which included the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, Civic representatives of Derby and Derbyshire and representatives of the Royal Air Forces association along with the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association.

Wing Commander Andy Pass, Officer Commanding South & East Midlands Wing, commented: ‘This was an extraordinarily generous gift to the 15 Squadrons from across the county. The money will be of great benefit to the cadets at the Squadrons and it will be spent wisely on equipment that will greatly enhance the Squadron’s ability to deliver the World class cadet experience for which the RAF Air Cadets are renowned.’

A blue plaque, commemorating the life and works of Derbyshire Freemason Dr John Hollis Pigot, who was recognised for reviving Freemasonry in Derby, is now on display

The first recorded Freemasons lodge in Derbyshire was founded in 1732 and met at the Virgins Inn in Derby market place. As was customary in those days when lodges typically took the name if the establishment they met at, the Virgins Inn Lodge No. 104 came into being.

It was founded in 1732, only 15 years after the formation of the first Grand Lodge in London in 1717 and remained in existence for 44 years. It was formally erased in 1777 but became the springboard for Tyrian Lodge No. 253 which was founded in 1785 and is now the oldest remaining lodge in Derbyshire.

Dr Pigot was a founding member of Tyrian Lodge and its first Worshipful Master, a role in which he served for four years. He was also a founding member of the Derby Philosophical Society.

Derbyshire Freemasons are proud to see this commemorative plaque appear at the site of  Dr Pigot’s former house, believed to be the first such plaque known to have been placed on an historic site marking the life and achievements of a Freemason anywhere in England.

The plaque was formally unveiled by Steven Varley, Provincial Grand Master for Derbyshire, accompanied by members of the Derby Civic Society, a local councillor and the Mayor for Derby.

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Derbyshire have presented the Royal British Legion with a cheque for £1,400, which was raised by the sale of a special remembrance tie

The ties were sold to Derbyshire Freemasons, with the profits destined for charitable causes.

The tie depicts a poppy with the leaf pointing to 11am to represent the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The square and compasses point to 5am to represent the actual time that the armistice was first signed. The tie can only be worn by members during November as a mark of gratitude to our armed forces.

The cheque was presented by the Provincial Grand Master Steven Varley at an informal ceremony, following a talk by staff of their Drop In Centre in Derby explaining the important work undertaken in supporting ex-military personnel returning home.

Lilly Clements, Community Fundraiser for the Royal British Legion, said: ‘We are honoured that the Masons have chosen us to support the Poppy Appeal.’

As many people are now living beyond what was once considered a normal life span, there is an increasing awareness of age-related mental health problems, dementia being uppermost

The problem has recently been brought to the attention of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Derbyshire and the Derby-based Spencer Lodge No. 8773 to seek their practical help in assisting hospital clinical staff. The notice was brought by Mrs Val Haylett, recently appointed to the position of Hospital Governor for the City of Derby, and who retired from the NHS in 2014 after 26 years working at the Royal Derby Hospital.

Whilst attending last year, at a meeting during which radiology staff explained the frequent difficulties of encouraging anxious dementia patients to enter the tunnel of a MRI scanner, Val spoke of her practical experience and how she had witnessed distressed children in A&E departments and on wards, effectively comforted by being given a teddy bear. She suggested that they might well prove useful for distressed adult dementia patients.

Hitherto essentially for children, the teddy bears are regularly given to hospitals throughout Derbyshire by the Derbyshire Provincial Grand Charity and recently it gave the county’s hospitals the 50,000th teddy through the Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) scheme.

Responding readily to the dementia-related request, the Derbyshire Provincial Grand Charity set aside a sum of £1,000 to provide for supplies of TLC bears over a trial period of 12 months. These will be used for dementia patients at the London Road Community Hospital, the Royal Derby Hospital and outpatient departments.

A larger sum of £1,500 has also been presented directly from Spencer Lodge to the hospital for the purchase of more expensive and proven comforting aids, specifically for dementia patients.

Proof that the use of dolls and bears can bring great benefits to some dementia-diagnosed patients, particularly those in the latter stages, is supported by the charity Dementia UK through its Admiral Nursing section. It has been shown that simply giving a patient a doll to hold can be comforting and enjoyable, and possibly improve their verbal communication ability.

There were smiles all round when 400 children were treated to a visit to Derby theatre

Prior to the show, the day was made extra special when the children were entertained by the cast of the Derby Theatre's production of Peter Pan on 4th January 2017.

Provincial Grand Master for Derbyshire Steven Varley, accompanied by members of Derbyshire Freemasons, were also on hand to help, even distributing 400 ice creams to the children, all of whom have special needs and might not otherwise have had a chance to visit the theatre.

The event was organised and funded by Derbyshire Freemasons as part of their commitment to contribute to the community and to offer care and support for those in need.

If smiling happy faces were anything to go by, this day was certainly one to be remembered for the children.

To celebrate the United Grand Lodge of England's Tercentenary, Derbyshire Freemasons made awards to 14 charities in the county, totalling £25,000

The awards recognise the good work these charities do for local people and the impact their work has on the community. As well as a financial contribution, each charity was presented with a crystal award engraved with the charity name and the Derbyshire provincial logo.

Pictured on 26th July at Pride Park Stadium in Derby, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Derbyshire held their first ever Community Charity Awards ceremonial dinner.

Stepping Stones

The first award was to a Centre in Heanor who care for the elderly during the day. Stepping Stones provide transport to the centre where fresh hot meals and drinks are provided as well as entertainment and professional care. They were represented by Jo Dixon, Eileen Cheeseman and Julie Riley.

The Drop Inn

In 1999 in Belper, reports of the youth of the town causing trouble, taking drugs, taking part in vandalism and intimidation prompted one person to address the concerns of those young people. She didn't believe that they could all be so bad. That person was Andrea Fox and in 2000, The Drop Inn was founded where the young people set the ground rules and formulated the policies and since then it has grown and developed into what today is a Foundation for Youth Innovation. They were represented by Andrea Fox and Layton Davies.

Fairplay

In Chesterfield, Fairplay are a group whose aim is to improve the lives of children and young people with disabilities. They offer support to children and young people up to the age of 25 and to their parents and siblings. That support is in the form of play schemes, Saturday clubs, youth clubs, activity days, independent living groups, parent support groups and family trips for parents and siblings. Representing them at the event were Thomas Boden, Elaine Pauk, John Chambers and Heather Fawbert.

The Place Project

Housing expansion in villages brings all sorts of problems for schools, doctor's surgeries and shops. It also creates a need for somewhere for youngsters to play, and two years ago The Place Project was established as a community group to transform the run- down and underused recreation ground that serves the villages of Crich, Fritchley and Whatstandwell. Whilst the local Parish Council gave them a small grant over three years they realised that nothing would happen without hard work and a willingness to raise the money needed.

They are now on their way, progress is being made and a re-vamped playground and recreation ground are no longer just a pipe-dream. Representing the Group were Paul Yorke, Carole Bowskill and Ian and Caroline Pendleton.

Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre

Derbyshire Children’s' Holiday Centre were probably the oldest Charity amongst the recipients on the evening. Established in 1891, the Charity provides holidays for children from Derbyshire whose lives are such that they will benefit from a change to and respite from their daily lives. They were represented by Bill Tomlinson and David Harris.

The Hardy Group

“Life doesn't end when Dementia begins”

That is the opening line on the website of The Hardy Group, a thriving group of people living with dementia, as well as current and past carers who through their own experiences support each other along their journey with dementia.  A Foundation Derbyshire Awards winner in 2016, they were represented by Bernard Crowther and Dave Roberts.

Helen's Trust

Based in Bakewell in North Derbyshire and The High Peak, Helen's Trust is an end of life Charity which provides support to terminally ill people who wish to be cared for and to die at home. They fund and co-ordinate non-nursing care such as sitting services overnight and regular carer respite during the day.

Now in their 16th year, they work with respect, compassion and dignity and are motivated to go that extra mile for the beneficiary showing professionalism and a willingness to become engaged with and embedded in the local communities of North Derbyshire. Zoe Woodward and Debbie Fennell were there to collect their award.

Careline

In the Derbyshire Dales and based at St Oswald's Hospital in Ashbourne are a group called Careline. Careline offers a free telephone befriending service to people in the Derbyshire Dales. They aim to make people's lives better by calling those who feel in need of support – they could be elderly, less able to get out, recently bereaved, lonely or isolated but Careline offer friendship and a social interaction. Representing them were Annette Eley and Gordon Hart.

P3 Artemis House

People from all walks of life and through a variety of circumstances can find themselves homeless - the Erewash area is no different to many others. P3 Artemis House in Long Eaton provides a safe place for homeless adults to live and combines with it a personalised support package to tackle the root cause of their homelessness.. Erewash Borough Council work closely with them and often refer those in need to them. Representing them were Jo Fieldhouse, Christine Nutt, Kerry Dungavel and Katrina Bucklehurst.

Long Eaton and District Friendly Invalid and Handicapped Group

This group was recommended for their work in helping the disabled and those with an invalidity. They are called the Long Eaton & District Friendly Invalid & Handicapped Group who have been in existence for over 50 years. Their aim is to create an outlet not only for the handicapped but also for able-bodied elderly individuals who rarely get the opportunity to do anything or see anyone. Amonst the representatives were Mahrie Harvey, Kath Haywood, Beryl Ash and Marion Drage.

The Chapel-en-le-Frith Mobile Physiotherapy Service

Some years ago, a charity called The Chapel-en-le-Frith Mobile Physiotherapy Service was started whose objects were to promote and maintain a mobile physiotherapy service in the rural district of Chapel-en-le-Frith, and to make available treatment to patients physically incapable of attending hospital and who were not able to afford the cost of home treatment by a private physiotherapist.

That service has been welcomed by all those living in the area and is recognised as having made a difference to the lives of all those who use it. Representing the service was Lesley Boler.

The Bureau

In Glossop, North Derbyshire, is a charity called The Bureau or Glossop's Voluntary and Community Network. They believe that all members of the community will have both support needs of their own and a capacity to support others at various times in their lives – in some cases simultaneously.

They offer a huge range of services which include helping people who are struggling to manage, or live independently by accessing a wide range of local services. Julie Farley, Cheryl Pike, John Harris and Martin Gallagher were there to collect their award.

Shoutout

Shoutout is an inclusive group in South Derbyshire for people with additional needs, and also for their families and friends. They aim to encourage people of all abilities to come together on equal terms and to encourage inclusion within the wider community. Representing them were Kia Higham, Sue Dixon, Kim Coe and Robert Coe.

Staunton Harold Sailability Trust 

The final award went to the Staunton Harold Sailability Trust - a relatively new charity who offer sailing to children with physical or mental disabilities. Whilst the charity may be new it will continue the work of the sailing club at Staunton Harold who have been supporting sailing for children and young adults with varying disabilities for the past 15 years. Representing them were Kevin and Lesley Needham and Richard and Jackie Tivey.

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