Dorset's Vespasian Lodge No. 8099 held a 'race night' at Branksome Masonic Hall, attended by a number of members, family and friends where they were able to support local, worthy charitable causes, including The Crumbs Project and Macmillan Caring Locally with a £275 donation to each

Macmillan Caring Locally is a small local charity which supports the Macmillan Unit at Christchurch Hospital. The Macmillan Unit is a specialist palliative care ward built in 1974 and was the first of its kind in the country. Although the charity has the Macmillan name, it is in fact an independent charity with no connection to the national organisation Macmillan Cancer Support.

In partnership with the NHS, the charity supports 16 in-patient beds at the Macmillan Unit Christchurch, a 15-person Day Centre, 12 Specialist Palliative Care Sisters who look after up to 450 patients living at home in their local community, and three Specialist Palliative Care Sisters who support patients at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

Every year there are more than 1,600 referrals to the Macmillan Unit. Macmillan Caring Locally also funds the multi-disciplinary teams at the Macmillan Unit which include the Family Support Team, Rehabilitation Team, Complementary Therapy, Welfare benefits advice and Chaplaincy. 

Vespasian Lodge was pleased to support Macmillan with a donation of £275 which was presented by Dorset Freemason Steve Spender to Neal Williams, Trust Secretary, who was accompanied by two members of the dedicated team from the unit at Christchurch Hospital.

The Crumbs Project was founded by the late Anne Gardner, whose daughter Liz at the age of 17 started hearing voices which tormented her for the rest of her adult life. Crumbs sprang from the need for those in long-stay care to have a structured programme of support to encourage their learning and professional development. The Crumbs Project is charity which provides supported vocational training for adults with learning disabilities, mental health issues and stabilised addictions. It specialises in vocational training within the hospitality, catering, housekeeping and administration sectors.

The Crumbs team works closely with trainees supporting them into either paid or voluntary work placements. In order for The Crumbs Project to become a self-sufficient charity, the team also provide a wide range of food services, including; buffets, hot food, cakes, snack pack and wedding catering. Their ultimate aim is to help vulnerable people live a life of independence.

Vespasian Lodge was pleased to support the Crumbs Project with a donation of £275 which was presented by Steve Spender to Leanne Miller, Operations Manager, who was accompanied by other members of her team and some of the Trainees from the training centre. 

Mark Burstow, Communications Officer for Dorset Freemasonry, said: ‘This is an incredible effort by Vespasian, supporting two wonderful, local non-masonic charities. This typifies the kind of support Dorset Freemasons regularly provide to their local communities.’

Dorset Freemason John Howland proudly presented a donation of £1,000 to Poole Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which was raised by members of Northbourne Lodge No. 6827

John appreciates the remarkable work conducted by the NICU and reflected: ‘When I became Master of Northbourne Lodge, I realised I had an opportunity to repay them in some small measure for not only saving my granddaughter's but also my daughter’s life.’

John’s 13-year-old granddaughter Hannah, who was born prematurely at 26 weeks in 2005, was present when the cheque was handed over to staff nurse Felicity Metcalfe.

Poole NICU cares for babies requiring special care, whether it is due to pre-maturity, illness at delivery or health problems during the baby’s stay at hospital. The money will go towards procuring one of nine much needed £3,000 state-of-the-art ‘Hot Cots’, which are vital in enhancing the NICUs on-going success in safeguarding premature babies.

Dorset’s Provincial Grand Master Graham Glazier said: ‘This work by Northbourne Lodge is a terrific embodiment of the values of Freemasons all over the UK. We believe in playing a key role in our communities and regularly give time and money to charitable ventures.’

Dorset Freemasons stepped up to the mark when a 'recovery café' run by the Essential Drugs & Alcohol Service (EDAS) in Poole needed extra funds

Members of the Lodge of Meridian No. 6582 and St Aldhelm's Lodge No. 2559, Magnaura Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine and the Dorset Provincial Grand Master’s Discretionary Fund joined together to fund an information system which will allow the cafe to widen the services it provides.  

The Serenitea Café provides an alcohol-free social environment for people in recovery, as well as members of the public. Dorset Freemason Mark Burstow and Lionel Turner of Magnaura Conclave visited the cafe to find out more about its work.

Mark Burstow, who also acts as the Province's Communications Officer, said: ‘A key element of our activities as Freemasons is to play an active part in our communities and support charitable activities such as these. The support that Serenitea will offer is invaluable helping individuals to cope whilst on their path to recovery.’

Kate Allard, of EDAS, said: ‘This donation will help us provide events that members of the community can enjoy in a safe space; we are very grateful for this generous donation.’

The Master of Dorset’s United Service Lodge No. 3473, Roger Barnes, handed over a cheque for £305 to the Weymouth and Portland Veterans Hub in February 2019

The Veterans Hub was set up to try and make services to former troops more accessible and any profits made from the café at the Hub go towards continuing the hub's work. On Mondays, they close to the public so organisations such as the Lantern Trust and SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, can come together in one place to provide a 'one-stop' hub for people seeking help.

Since its birth the hub has continued to grow and now provides food and drink for veterans and the local community of Wyke and surrounding areas.

The latest donation now brings the total amount given to the Hub by United Service Lodge to just under £1,000.

Wayne Ingram, a member of United Service Lodge, plays an active part of this project as their ambassador and can often be seen chatting to those who enter its doors. The money raised by the lodge will go towards sculpturing the garden area with the intention to provide veterans and members of the community a place to rest, relax and grow their own vegetables in a walled, safe environment.

A Dorset lodge have shown their continued commitment to a children’s palliative care unit by making the latest of five donations to Gully’s Place at Poole Hospital 

Vespasian Lodge No. 8099, based at Branksome Masonic Hall in Poole, have supported Gully’s Place, a purpose-designed space to provide a palliative care area contained within the children’s unit of Poole Hospital, since 2015. The suite was opened in 2010 and was named after a major benefactor, Diane Gulliford, who is a dance teacher from Poole. The suite is funded purely from donations to the Gully's Place Trust Fund.

The aim of the suite is to provide privacy and dignity for patients and their families and is used for patients requiring palliative and end of life care; for children/young persons and their families who decide to remain in hospital during the terminal stages of illness; for children/young persons and their families who do not have time to go home as death is imminent and as a transition to home area for children with complex health needs. 

The latest cheque was presented to Ken Mackenzie who is the resource Co-Ordinator for the Children’s Ward of the hospital and represents the fifth in a series of donations made by the Lodge to Gully’s Place which now exceeds £2,500.

Provincial Grand Master for Dorset Graham Glazier said: ‘I'm delighted Vespasian have been able to support this wonderful cause. It takes over £30,000 to run this suite along with a similar suite in Dorchester every year and their support is characteristic of our masonic values.

'We believe in playing a key role in our communities and give time and money to charitable ventures.’

Amphibious Lodge No. 9050 in Wimborne, Dorset, have showed their commitment to the care of the wider community by supporting a local charity, The Greenwood Club, with a donation of £510

The Greenwood Club is part of the Dorset Area for Outstanding Natural Beauty project 'Stepping into Nature'. They aim to provide positive shared experiences and memories for those living with dementia and their amazing carers. The members learn green woodworking skills, rural crafts and cooking outdoors in relaxing woodland surroundings.

Amphibious Lodge Charity Steward Stew McKell met with the Club at their site in the woods of Holton Lee, where he spent some time with the group and then presented the cheque to volunteer Jill Hooper.He was asked by several of the carers how the monies were raised and he explained how Dorset Freemasons raise money through a number of ways such as events and raffles to help support local charities.

The Provincial Grand Master of Dorset Graham Glazier said: 'I am delighted that Amphibious Lodge have decided to support such a worthy local charity.

'The Greenwood Club activities are designed to help individuals with dementia gain a sense of achievement, which is terrific for their self confidence and independence.'

On New Year's Eve, Peter Boyd, Immediate Past Master of Ashley Lodge No. 6525, presented a cheque for £2,950 to Janine Golding of the charity SPRING, which stands for ‘supporting parents and relatives through baby loss’

This was Ashley Lodge’s nominated charity during Peter's year as Master, with a large proportion of the monies raised donated under the Gift Aid scheme, increasing the benefit to SPRING by more than £500; giving total in excess of £3,450.

SPRING is part of Poole Hospital Charity and supports parents and relatives through baby loss. Everything they do is to benefit bereaved parents and relatives who experience the loss of a baby. They offer support for baby loss that occurs at any stage of pregnancy, at, or just after birth – whatever the circumstances and however long ago.  

Graham Glazier, Provincial Grand Master of Dorset, said: 'I am proud that Ashley Lodge has been able to assist SPRING, a great local charity helping to support bereaved families at their lowest ebb.’

SPRING’s services include: emotional and practical support at the point of loss; professional counselling; open support meetings for parents and relatives; and ways to remember their babies. They are also there to support bereaved parents through subsequent pregnancies.

They work closely with medical professionals, and others who come into contact with parents and relatives whose babies die. By sharing their experience, they help ensure bereaved parents are treated sensitively and with genuine care.

It was a tale from across the pond as David Wakely, Secretary of Beaminster Manor Lodge No. 1367 in Dorset, received an email from Ben Headley, of Franklin Lodge No. 20 in Connecticut, America

Ben identified that he had found a wooden plaque bearing the name of Beaminster Manor Lodge and with the name of a W Bro Toby dated 1873. He provided a photograph of it hanging in an antiques shop in Niantic, Connecticut. His quest was to establish if the artefact was of importance to the lodge and if so, to inform David if there was anything he could do to help repatriate it to its rightful owners.

David recognised it as a similar plaque for a W Bro A Butler dated 1885 which had hung in the lodge dining room for many years. He sent a photograph of their plaque and confirmed that they would be most grateful that, if they covered all of the costs, would he be able to arrange to purchase and ship the item back to Beaminster. In the true spirit of Freemasonry they declined all offers of reimbursement and merely requested that they would like to ‘present’ it in their lodge first and then send it off. 

It turned out that the plaque was purchased at an estate sale in Mystic, Connecticut, and as some American troops had been stationed in Beaminster during World War Two and the lodge premises had been requisitioned during the war, its possible it was ‘requisitioned’ at the same time.

Coincidentally, Beaminster Manor Lodge had by this time started on a refurbishment and redecoration of their lodge room. When turning out a cupboard, they discovered three more plaques all from the late 1800’s. The lodge believe that it may have been the practise for the lodge to present a plaque to the Worshipful Master at the end of his term of office. It is then quite possible, upon his death, that the plaque could have been passed to the family.

As promised, the plaque was duly presented at the Franklin Lodge meeting in September 2018 and was recorded with a photograph of the event. It was then dispatched in late October and at the Beaminster Lodge meeting on 13th November they duly repatriated the plaque to the lodge and similarly, had a photograph taken to record the event. This was then sent off to the Franklin Lodge with grateful thanks.

Beaminster Manor Lodge have now arranged all five plaques, which now hang in a row above and behind the Worshipful Master’s chair in the lodge – a fitting conclusion to the memory of those Past Masters. All involved are deeply indebted to the members of Franklin Lodge, to Ben Headley, their Worshipful Master Joe Giancaspro and to their Secretary Daniel Rzewuski.

An impromptu meeting was held underwater between three lodges at the bottom of The National Diving & Activity Centre on 14th October 2018

Michael Wilson, Senior Warden and Master Elect of Ashley Lodge No. 6525 in Dorset, donned his diving gear to meet with Luke Sibley, Master of Arthurian Lodge No. 5658 in the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight, and John DeLara, Past Master of the Loyal Berkshire Lodge of Hope No. 574 in Berkshire, to help Michael celebrate his 70th Birthday at a depth of 70 metres for 70 minutes, whilst raising funds for the charity DDRC Healthcare, the Diving Diseases Research Centre in Plymouth.

In the event, the depth and duration were slightly exceeded with 71.2 metres for 78 minutes. The temperature at the bottom of the quarry was 6C and on the wind and rain swept surface it was a balmy 15C. Following the dive, refreshments comprised numerous mugs of hot chocolate and lashings of Old Jamaica ginger cake soaked in rum and cream. 

To date, over £400 has been donated to DDRC Healthcare by the British Sub-Aqua Lodge No. 8997, Ashley Lodge, Arthurian Lodge, Loyal Berkshire Lodge of Hope and Fins and Flippers Swim School in Poole, Dorset.

An intrepid group of veteran soldiers, who are suffering the mental and physical effects of their service, are heading across the continent to Greece and back, thanks to a grant from Dorset Freemasons

The Veterans in Action (VIA) charity were awarded £25,000 from Dorset Freemasons last year for the Veterans Expedition Overland project, which comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation. As a result, four Land Rovers left Freemasons' Hall this month on for an overland expedition driving from the UK to Greece and back, a journey of 7,000 miles passing through 14 different countries.   

Veterans in Action helps veterans who have suffered the effects of war or who have found the transition to civilian life difficult. VIA also works to enable people to understand more about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and veterans' mental health issues. VIA uses the outdoors, centre-based projects, adventurous activities and expeditions to help veterans re-build their confidence, self-esteem, and self-belief. The charity was one of four to be nominated by Freemasons in Dorset, with local people voting to decide the level of their award.

Work started on the vehicles in November 2017, with a group of veterans from all over the UK, plus serving personnel from the local Tidworth Garrison, coming together once a month to work on first stripping the vehicles then fixing and preparing them for the overland expedition. To date, over 50 veterans and serving personnel have taken part in the project.

These vehicles will give longevity to the project and will be used to train veterans in all aspects of expedition planning, off road driving and active expeditions. Mini expeditions are currently being planned which are aimed at the local military garrison Tidworth in Wiltshire, where there are 15,000 troops and their families.   

In 2019, after the expedition returns from Greece, Veterans In Action plan to do a year-long road trip around the UK to raise awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. They hope to raise funds to buy a property which will be set up as a veterans retreat which will include many workshops and outdoor activities.

Following the Dorset Freemasons' grant, VIA were also awarded £10,000 from AVIVA, £10.000 from The Veterans Foundation and £10,000 from the National Lottery. They have also received sponsorship from many companies which include Maltings 4x4, All Makes 4x4, Terrafirma 4x4, UPOL, Raptor Paint, Premier Group, Curry's/KnowHow, Teng Tools and Regatta Outdoors, as well as individual masonic lodges from across Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset.

Billy MacLeod, Chief Operations Officer of Veterans In Action, said: 'The initial support of the grant of £25,000 from Dorset Freemasons made the Veterans Expeditions Overland project a reality. That's why we've decided to set off on our expedition from Freemasons' Hall. On our return we'd like the chance to visit as many lodges as we can around the country to show them what their support has achieved'.

Mark Burstow from Dorset Freemasons said: 'We're very pleased to be able to support Veterans in Action, who do outstanding work with veterans who are living with the effects of war. Our service personnel have given a great deal to our country and it's only right that we give something back to them.’

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