A charity providing life-saving support has received a cash donation of nearly £10,000 from Berkshire Freemasons

This huge sum was gathered through a series of contributions from Berkshire Freemasons and given to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance in January 2019.

The bulk of the funds were from the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the Berkshire Masonic Foundation, while further funds were being provided by individual lodges in Berkshire.

Anthony Howlett-Bolton, the Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire, said: 'We are thrilled to continue supporting the Thames Valley Air Ambulance. Thanks to the tireless efforts of their doctors, paramedics and pilots, many lives of people in the Thames Valley are saved every year.'

Freemasons are very large contributors to the air ambulance charities; Berkshire Freemasons have contributed over £75,000 in the last ten years. Nationally, the contributions are in excess of £2 million.

Thames Valley Air Ambulance operates across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, providing frontline emergency car using four rapid response vehicles and one air ambulance.

Neil Harman, Director of Fundraising for Thames Valley Air Ambulance, said: 'We are very grateful to Berkshire Freemasons for their continuing generosity. Without support like this our crew would not be able to provide advance critical care and our life-saving work could not continue.'

For the fourth year running, Berkshire Freemasons have organised a toy appeal for underprivileged children, who are under the care of Reading Family Aid, and those seriously ill children in the three children’s wards at Royal Berkshire Hospital

With the support from the Provincial Grand Master Anthony Howlett-Bolton, the appeal was funded by a £6,000 grant from the Berkshire Masonic Charity (BMC). In addition to the financial support from the BMC, volunteers to deliver and purchase the toys came from several lodges within Berkshire.

The planning for this event started in October 2018 and once the orders were received, the sourcing of the toys began and following many diligent hours in front of a computer, several hundred different toys were ordered. The next step was the long task of cross-checking and boxing the toys up for delivery.

The first batch of toys were delivered to Reading Family Aid on 3rd December 2018. Reading Family Aid have over 1,700 children under their supervision throughout the Reading area and Ruth Perkins, chair of the charity, was overwhelmed by this support from Berkshire Freemasons. 

The toys for Royal Berkshire Hospital were delivered on Monday 17th December 2018 and on Christmas Day, they were given to children in the Lion and Dolphin Wards and the Buscot Baby unit. There was a huge range of toys, as well as computer games through to old-fashioned board games. The matron and nursing staff were overwhelmed by the generosity and the children and their families thoroughly enjoyed their individual gifts.

Emma Stone, from Royal Berkshire Hospital said: ‘These were wonderful gifts that help make Christmas Day for those children who had to spend it in hospital. Thank you for your generosity and thoughtfulness.’

PhD scholarship funding in Berkshire

To mark the University of Reading’s 90th year and the Pharmacy Department’s 10th year the Berkshire Freemasons are funding a PhD Pharmacy student with a grant of £15,000 from the Berkshire Masonic Charity (BMC). This postgraduate scholarship will be known as the Berkshire Masonic Charity Scholarship in Pharmacy, and the grant will be paid at £5,000 per year over 3 years

The first cheque for £5,000 was presented on behalf of the BMC by John Palmer, Secretary of the BMC, and Stan Crooks of Grey Friars Lodge No. 1101, the Berkshire Universities Scheme lodge, to Dr Becky Green, Head of the Pharmacy Department, in the presence of University of Reading Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell.

Shedload of help

Easter 2014 saw the callous theft of a shed from Sulhamstead and Ufton Nervet Primary School near Reading in Berkshire. The pupils' favourite toys were left strewn across the playground, with some being damaged beyond repair by the weather.

The Berkshire Masonic Charity (BMC) has stepped in and replaced the shed for the school at a cost of £1,500.

Class teacher Jane Evans said: 'We are delighted to have the new shed and we are very grateful for the help and support of the BMC.' David Jarvis, Provincial Almoner said 'It was a great privilege for the BMC to be able to help and to see the smiles on the faces of the children.'

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