East Kent goes the extra mile

After five years of dedicated fundraising, the Provincial Grand Lodge of East Kent celebrated the close of its 2014 Festival for The Freemasons’ Grand Charity

East Kent announced that more than £3.65 million had been raised, a total well above the Province’s target. ‘All the money for this appeal has been raised by the members of the Province and I was delighted to announce the culmination of their efforts at our celebratory dinner in Folkestone,’ said Provincial Grand Master Geoffrey Dearing. ‘I know that our donation will help to change the lives of thousands of people in need. I am so proud of all our members and their families for their generous support and the huge efforts they have made.’

More than five hundred Freemasons, their wives, partners and friends joined the celebration at Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone in June 2014, including Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence; President of the Grand Charity Richard Hone, QC; and the Grand Charity’s Chief Executive Laura Chapman. Speaking about the Festival, Richard said he was tremendously grateful to the Province and their families for their contributions. With grants totalling millions of pounds each year, the Grand Charity assists thousands of people in both the masonic and wider community. Without the support of Freemasons and their families, this would not be possible.

Published in The Grand Charity

Learning to explore

Powered wheelchairs are enabling young children with mobility-restrictive conditions to explore and learn

Children under the age of five with conditions that restrict mobility, such as cerebral palsy or spinal muscular atrophy, can find themselves missing stimulation and interaction with other people. 

To help to overcome this, engineers at UK charity Designability have created Wizzybugs. These powered wheelchairs for under-fives give young disabled children the independence they need to develop alongside more able-bodied children.

The Grand Charity recently donated £25,000 to Designability to fund the manufacture of six Wizzybugs. The chairs will be available to families across the UK through a free loan scheme, with each serving at least three children in its lifetime.

Published in The Grand Charity

Fun day  for Norfolk

Norfolk masons had a successful Family Fun Day at North Walsham Rugby Club in Scottow in aid of the Grand Charity 2016 Festival. The main attractions were the running performances and exhibits of the Norwich and Norfolk Re-enactment Society. 

Bob the Builder made a personal appearance and both Norfolk’s society magazines turned up to cover the event. 

Specialist care for Parkinson’s

People living with Parkinson’s in East Lancashire now have access to a specialist nurse thanks to a £90,000 donation from the Grand Charity. Parkinson’s can make simple, everyday activities difficult for the 127,000 people in the UK living with the condition. 

The main symptoms are tremors, rigidity and slowness of movement, but tiredness, pain and depression are also common. There is currently no cure; the main treatment is medication, but surgical options are available for some. Parkinson’s UK chief executive Steve Ford said, ‘Parkinson’s is a complex condition which affects each person differently, so it’s vital people have access to a specialist. This new post will make a huge difference.’ 

For information and support, contact Parkinson’s UK: 0808 800 0303, www.parkinsons.org.uk 

Published in The Grand Charity

Lift for Somerset air ambulances

Somerset Freemasons have presented Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance with a £2,000 grant from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, part of more than £1.5 million donated by the charity since 2007, providing funding to every air ambulance service in England and Wales. The cheque was presented by Sam Mayer of Gerard Lodge, No. 8999, on behalf of Somerset Freemasons, supported by Dave Gleeson. 

Published in The Grand Charity

It’s not every day that half a dozen Freemasons, including a Deputy Provincial Grand Master, are to be found at 6.30am congregating in a dark supermarket car park...

Well, not unless they’re gathering to start the biannual Walk2Welshpool 25-mile charity walk, that is.

So it came to pass that on Thursday October 9th a small but intrepid group of masons gathered in a rainswept Church Stretton in the masonic Province of Shropshire – the starting point for a challenging day’s hill walking.

The Walk2Welshpool is a sponsored walking event organised and administered by the Salopian Lodge of Charity No. 117, and in particular by the aptly named W Bro Kim March.

On this occasion the aim was to raise enough funds to pay for an Automatic External Defibrillator to be installed at Freemasons’ Hall in Shrewsbury. According to the British Heart Foundation, around 60,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur annually in the UK. Sadly, fewer than 10% of the victims survive to return home. If every victim received timely CPR and defibrillation the survival rate would rise to an impressive 75%. Freemasons’ Hall in Shrewsbury lends itself to having an AED: it’s a busy year round meeting place in an area prone to ‘ambulance delaying’ traffic congestion.

This project was very generously sponsored by other lodges and orders in the Province and further boosted by a £200 donation from our welcoming masonic hosts, Powis Lodge No. 7355. The walking group is also supported by its own version of International Rescue or ‘Thunder Brothers 1 & 2’ as they are appreciatively known, namely W Bro Marshall Cale and Bro Dave Woods, both members of the Salopian Lodge of Charity No. 117.

There’s some good news too for The Freemasons' Grand Charity, as the excess funds will go to this very worthy cause via the Province of Shropshire’s 2019 Festival Appeal. Nearly £1,800 has thus far been pledged.

Ranging from master mason to Deputy Provincial Grand Master, the group dutifully started the walk bang on time at 6.30am. The weather was certainly no respecter of rank!

Within minutes the first of four climbs was under way in the foulest of weather conditions. Clearing Rectory Woods (so dark it evoked fond memories of Mole and Ratty’s Wild Wood adventures in Wind in the Willows) the group forged their way through a near 1,000 feet of ascent to the top of the Long Mynd. In a style that would have made the grand old Duke of York terribly proud, an immediate descent ensued only to rise up again to the Stiperstones ridge – the second sustained climb of the day. 

Up until that point the group had been facing directly into stinging westerly winds for several hours in very open countryside. Mercifully the weather thereafter moderated, so a good speed across a rain sodden field section could be maintained. Up onto scenic Rorrington Hill and down into the village of the same name, then a two-mile tour on quiet country lanes to Marton and the welcome sight of the village shop. ‘Sorry, all the hot pies have been sold,’ was the shopkeeper’s lament. Never mind! Only one last long climb and we’ll be home, but not so dry!

Long Mountain seemed to take forever to surmount – it just goes on and on. Towards the summit the ‘Four Crosses’ road junction with its leaning milepost has been a traditional photo stop for previous walks. Walkers gathered round the milepost in a state of abject shock. Not only was the milepost no longer on the lean, but the remainder distance to Welshpool had apparently diminished – someone with a collection of Working Tools had clearly been at work!

The Welsh market town of Welshpool soon came into view and an hour later all had safely arrived, weary but happy, at the Masonic Hall. Another customary photograph and then off to a nearby hostelry-cum-B&B to revive, shower and change for the Installation Meeting of Powis Lodge No. 7355.

The warmest of masonic welcomes, a very good Installation Meeting and a hearty festive board later and the walkers were well and truly ready for their beds. Two of the group stayed overnight in Welshpool for the pleasure of walking back again to attend evening meetings. Perhaps they’re from Barking!

East Kent Freemasons raise £3.65 million for The Grand Charity

Freemasons in the Province of East Kent celebrated a major fundraising campaign on Saturday 28th June 2014, when a cheque for more than £3.65 million was presented to one of the organisation’s four major charities, The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, which has donated more than £120 million to support people in need since 1981. 

This fantastic achievement has just been published by the Daily Mail online with a reach of 1.9 million people. 

Festival President and guests at the Province of East Kent’s closing dinner for The Freemasons’ Grand Charity’s 2014 Festival.

'We are tremendously grateful to the members of the Province and their families for their contribution to our funds.

'Their hard work and dedication to fundraising means that The Grand Charity can continue to help communities with grants to medical research, support for vulnerable people, youth opportunities, hospice services, air ambulances, Freemasons and their dependents in financial need, and disaster relief work world-wide.' – Richard Hone, QC, President of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity 

Each year The Grand Charity provides grants totalling nearly £8 million, most of which are for individuals and charities across the whole of England and Wales.  In the five years since the Province of East Kent started is special appeal for the Charity, grants given locally have included £117,000 to cover the salaries of two Marie Curie nurses in Kent over three years and £120,000 to train apprentice stonemasons at Canterbury Cathedral.

'All of the money for this appeal has been raised by the members of the Province. I was delighted to be able to announce the culmination of their efforts and present a cheque to the President, Richard Hone, QC, at our celebratory dinner in Folkestone on Saturday night.  

'I know that our donation will help to change the lives thousands of people in need and I am so proud of all our members and their families for their generous support and the huge efforts they have made.' – Geoffrey Dearing, Provincial Grand Master for East Kent

Cure and care

By funding groundbreaking medical research and supporting the care and treatment of cancer sufferers, Freemasons make a real contribution towards fighting the disease

Every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer, and more than one in three people in the UK will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime. In the words of Cancer Research UK, ‘One day we will beat cancer. The more research we do, the sooner that day will come.’ 

Having donated more than £3 million to cancer-related medical research, the Grand Charity has demonstrated that masons share this belief, too. Due to improvements in cancer detection and treatments, survival rates in the UK have doubled in the past forty years. This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without dedicated researchers and their discoveries.

The Grand Charity has funded pioneering research into the study of cancer at the molecular level, as precision targeting of individual cancers is a powerful weapon in the fight against the disease. Grants to Ovarian Cancer Action (£1 million, 2008-2012) and to the Institute of Cancer Research (£1 million, 2004-2014) are recent examples. Both organisations have made vital discoveries relating to genes and proteins that are particularly important in the  understanding of the development of ovarian, prostate and testicular cancers. 

The Grand Charity has donated nearly £6 million to charities that offer the highest level of care to those affected by cancer. These grants have helped to improve the lives of thousands of sufferers and their families through expert medical, practical and emotional support provided by the funded charities. 

The Grand Charity gave £446,000 to fund three CLIC Sargent support workers over five years, providing an invaluable lifeline to children with cancer, and their families, whose lives have been turned upside down by the disease.

Emotional support

In the wake of the deep emotional turmoil resulting from a diagnosis, and the debilitating side effects of treatments such as chemotherapy, there is an urgent need for emotional support, counselling and complementary therapies. This range of vital care is available free for breast cancer sufferers and their families from The Haven charity. In 2008, the Grand Charity gave £250,000 to fund the development of one of its three therapeutic day centres (Havens) in Leeds, where visitors can build their strength to cope with and fight the disease. 

The Grand Charity also supports end-of-life care for people with cancer and other diseases. Putting patients and families first, Marie Curie Nurses provide high-quality care and support for the terminally ill at the end of their life, in the place of their choice. Currently, a £117,000 grant is funding the salaries of two Marie Curie Nurses for three years. During 2012-2013, Marie Curie Nurses provided more than 1.3 million hours of nursing to 30,080 patients, along with much-needed support for their families.

The funding given by Freemasons is invaluable. It not only provides help for sufferers, but is also an investment in the fight to conquer this disease.

Find out more about The Freemasons’ Grand Charity by visiting www.the-grand-charity.org  

Published in The Grand Charity

Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, visited the Royal Hospital Chelsea to open a newly refurbished berth funded by a £50,000 donation from the Grand Charity made in 2009

This grant was approved by the Grand Charity in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the installation of the Duke as the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, who also serves as Grand President of the Grand Charity.

The Duke opened the berth prior to taking part in the Chelsea Pensioners’ 322nd annual Founder’s Day Parade on 5 June as Reviewing Officer – an event  that commemorates the founding of the Royal Hospital by King Charles II in 1682. 

‘I was most interested to learn of the enormous efforts made to establish the Royal Hospital as a beacon of excellence in the domain of care,’ said the Duke. ‘Most impressive are the new berths in the Long Wards, which now enable In-Pensioners [full-time residents] to enjoy accommodation that’s been built to the highest modern specifications, and yet remains in keeping with its historic surroundings.’

The Chelsea Pensioner who will reside in the ‘Freemasons’ berth’ is 77-year-old Gordon ‘Sandy’ Sanders. ‘I’ve been moved from the 17th to the 21st century,’ he said. ‘My new accommodation is nothing short of fantastic!’ 

Freemasons have contributed to the Royal Hospital Chelsea charity over a number of years, including donations for the recently opened Margaret Thatcher Infirmary, which provides 24-hour nursing care. 

‘I was most interested to learn of the enormous efforts made to establish the Royal Hospital as a beacon of excellence in the domain of care.’ Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent

Published in The Grand Charity

Fiji aid for water-starved schools

Following destructive hurricanes and severe flooding in Fiji in recent years, local brethren have assisted schools facing water shortages in remote areas of both the main and outer islands. Many schools have continuing shortages as they rely on water from rain, streams and bores.  

With a Grand Charity donation of £5,000, Fiji brethren have donated 12 water tanks to schools, at a value of £11,000. Ross McDonald, the Grand Inspector of the South West Pacific Group of Lodges, said that the schools were in areas with poor communities that rely on subsistence crops for income and were unable to meet these costs.

Published in The Grand Charity
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