Being the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, you may be expecting some pearls of DC wisdom in my article. However, I wanted to convey a personal message to try and show how each time you make a donation to charity, it can have a massive impact of someone’s life
On the 26th March my son, a young West Kent Mason, finally finished treatment for leukemia. That day marked the end of over three years of chemotherapy, hospital admissions and various other medical procedures. At every stage of his treatment he has benefited, both directly and indirectly, from charitable work the Province, Lodges and individual Masons’ conduct.
He was diagnosed on 23rd December 2017 and rushed to Darent Valley Hospital. We spent a very long week there, whilst they did everything possible just to keep him alive and able to be transferred to a specialist hospital. The treatment here consisted mainly of regular blood and platelet transfusions. Due to the number of transfusions, these were fairly regularly couriered in by SERV Kent – Bloodrunners, a charity supported by West Kent Masons. There were also frequent visits to the on-site M&S Foodhall (apparently leukemia makes for sudden urges for blueberry muffins!) and, whilst navigating the corridors, I would see plaques, signs and thank you notes on walls for donations made by the Province, West Kent Lodges and Masons. These included items such as portable DVD players and games consoles as well as medical equipment all purchased thanks to donations made to Alms collections, and charitable appeals from the Province and individuals. Items such as the Accuvein, which is an especially needed piece of equipment as it makes the often difficult process of vein location far easier. This is especially useful in the treatment of cancer patients and others in regular need of intravenous treatment. Christmas Day saw the arrival of gifts to lift the spirits of those staying in hospital. Again, West Kent Masons played their part and put smiles on faces on a difficult day.
After a week at Darent Valley we were then transferred to The Royal Marsden in Sutton, where we were housed in the Teenage Cancer Trust Unit. This excellent facility is funded mainly by donations including those from West Kent. Again, equipment that is sorely needed for the well-being of patients has been supplied by West Kent Masons and is in constant use. Chemotherapy for patients is manufactured on site and is made according to individual requirements. That fact still amazes me and is only possible thanks to donations made to Cancer Research, a charity heavily supported by West Kent Masons.
Eventually treatment was able to be given on a Day Care basis rather than continual stays in hospital. This was shared between The Royal Marsden and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich. The young person’s oncology department at QE is supported by the Chartwell Cancer Trust which continues to have excellent support from the Province, West Kent Lodges and West Kent Masons over the years.
Probably the most memorable and kindest donation that directly benefited my son was being able to attend the Barkaways Ferrari Day in June 2018. At that time the chemotherapy was particularly nasty, and his spirits were very low. Thanks to the generosity of a West Kent Mason, we got to spend a Saturday looking at millions of pounds worth of cars, see how they are restored and understand why you should never have an accident in one (unbelievably expensive!). My son had a rare smile on his face from the moment we got there to the moment I told him I was definitely not buying a Ferrari.
So, if you have read this far you can see that your charity donations have made a real impact on someone’s life. That impact has further ripple effects that would surprise you. For example, your charity has helped my son beat cancer, he is now a Fellowcraft in my lodge, I will be able to enjoy Masonry with him, my wife will enjoy meeting nights watching whatever she wants on TV and my youngest son will enjoy free reign over the PlayStation.
Please continue to make charitable donations, especially in these difficult times. Every time you put into the Alms collection, buy a raffle ticket or donate to the 2026 Festival you are making a difference. The amount you donate doesn’t matter; every pound helps someone like my son. For that I will be eternally grateful.
West Kent Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies: Daniel Unthank