Thousands of young people with disabilities and special educational needs will be able to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards thanks to a grant of £35,000 from Cambridge Freemasons
The huge grant from the Isaac Newton University Lodge will add to the £300,000 strategic partnership between the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) and the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), the Freemasons' charity, with the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.
Overall, an estimated 30,000 young people with disabilities and special educational needs will now be able to take part in the Award scheme as a result of the partnership, which will ensure that young people with diverse difficulties and disabilities will be able to build crucial skills and become more independent; it aims to offer students the same experiences available to their peers in mainstream education.
The Cambridge-based Lodge is primarily for past and present members of Cambridge University and the donation reflects the 35 years that His Royal Highness served as the University’s Chancellor.
The Duke of Edinburgh, who founded the Awards in 1956, was himself a Freemason, having been introduced to Freemasonry in 1952 at the age of 31 by his father-in-law King George VI.
Simon Duckworth OBE DL, Trustee of Isaac Newton University Lodge, said: 'It seems fitting that the Lodge, established in 1861 for the benefit of Cambridge undergraduates, should make this first and powerful gesture. As a university that has made excellence and opportunity at the heart of its tradition, this support to a world-renowned Awards scheme that has done so much to give young people invaluable experiences and self-confidence echoes the values we cherish.
'This donation is a tangible way for the members of Isaac Newton University Lodge to express our respect and gratitude for all that HRH The Duke of Edinburgh accomplished in his long life. We hope this will encourage other Lodges to support such a good cause.'
Les Hutchinson, Chief Executive of the MCF said: 'Achieving a Duke of Edinburgh Award is a life-changing experience, particularly for those with physical or learning difficulties, who can find themselves excluded from outdoor activities due to a lack of accessible equipment or trained support staff.
'I’m enormously grateful to the members of Isaac Newton University Lodge for this generous donation which will help us to support a remarkable project founded by a remarkable man who was himself a Freemason.'