Celebrating 300 years

People facing homelessness in the Western Bay area of South Wales will have greater support fighting through legal and administrative bureaucracy, thanks to a grant from South Wales Freemasons

Shelter Cymru, the Welsh people and homes charity, has been awarded £20,000 to help deliver a unique project entitled 'Housing Support Plus' working across the Western Bay covering Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

The grant from South Wales Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

This grant will support a vital personal service for people facing homelessness, supporting them at a very difficult time and giving them reassurance. It will see a new Housing Advocacy Volunteer Coordinator recruiting and training volunteers who will themselves directly support more than 200 people or families every year.

The service is aimed at people who are not sufficiently aware of their rights around housing and benefit issues and who need additional support to engage with caseworkers. There is also a special focus on practical issues such as arranging pre-meetings to ensure paperwork is completed, taking notes and providing individuals with a meeting record and information on next steps and actions. 

Michelle Wales, Campaigns Manager at Shelter Cymru, said: 'We greatly welcome this grant from South Wales Freemasons. It will help us to provide essential support to people who often do not have a roof over their heads and who are struggling with bureaucracy.'

Speaking at a presentation in Cardiff, Provincial Grand Master of South Wales Freemasons, Gareth Jones OBE, said: 'We are very pleased to be able to support Shelter Cymru, who carry out excellent work with some of the most vulnerable people in our community.'

A donation of £1,700 from Harrogate Freemasons has helped Harrogate District Hospital launch a 'comforting' initiative for relatives of patients at the end of their lives

Harrogate and Claro Lodge No. 1001 secured £1,700 from the Province of Yorkshire West Riding’s Provincial Grand Master’s Charity Fund, to kick start the 'Comfort Bags' scheme. Set up by Harrogate District Hospital & Community Charity and Harrogate District Palliative Care Team, the bags are helping enhance both dignity and practical support throughout end of life for patients and their relatives, in the acute hospital setting.

Each year, more than 600 patients spend their last days and hours in the Harrogate District Hospital and Ripon Hospital.

The bags, which contain a blanket, travel pillow, toothbrush and toothpaste, tissues, notebook and pen, hand lotions and essential toiletries, a free meal voucher and a free parking permit, provide very practical items to help improve the comfort of relatives staying for long periods, or overnight with patients who are in the last days of life. These are items they may well forget to bring with them when they’re in a hurry or didn’t expect to stay long.

Feedback from relatives has been very positive and grateful for the additional support this scheme has provided.

John Birkenshaw, Charity Steward of Harrogate and Claro Lodge, said: 'We are really proud to support this innovative scheme which will bring much needed comfort and support to both patients and relatives at a time when it is needed the most.'

Initial funding was used to launch the bags, however ongoing funding is vital to continue to provide this service. Current projections suggest this will require approximately £5,000 per year to fund 300 comfort bags.

The donation from Harrogate Freemasons will make a set the scheme on a firm road ahead and the donation will be used to continue to fund the contents of the comfort bags.

The Past Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland RW Bro Derek Buswell celebrated 60 glorious years as a Freemason on 12th April 2018

At the meeting of the Lodge of the Flaming Torch No. 4874, the Provincial Grand Master David Hagger, supported by his Provincial Officers, presented Derek with a certificate celebrating his 60 years continuous service to Freemasonry.

Derek was Initiated into Freemasonry in the Lodge of the Flaming Torch on 10th April 1958 and was its Master in 1971.

He subsequently became Master of the Leicestershire and Rutland Lodge of Installed Masters No. 7896 in 1984 and the Lodge of Research No. 2429 in 1987. Derek was a Founder of the Gayton Taylor Lodge No. 9176 which meets in Leicester in 1986.

He is also an Honorary member of Chetene Lodge No. 9516 in the Province of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire and a joining member of of Good Neighbour Lodge No. 8378 in the Province of East Kent.

Derek was appointed Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies at the Craft Annual Investiture in 1986, and was installed as Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland in 1989, continuing for 13 years until 2002.

During this time, Derek oversaw the 2001 Festival for the Grand Charity which raised £1.875 million, Freemasonry in the Community Week, the launch of Leicestershire and Rutland's Provincial website, the launch of the Leicester Square newsletter predecessor Masonic News and the first open day at Freemasons' Hall in Leicester followed by many future modernisations including the installation of stair lifts, a new heating system and the bar in the front lounge.

David Hagger said: 'It was a great pleasure for me as Provincial Grand Master on behalf of the Province to present Derek with a 60 year certificate of service. Derek has had a very distinguished career in Freemasonry, not only in this Province but also Freemasonry in general.

'His dedication to Freemasonry has been second to none. I wish him good health to enjoy many more happy years in Freemasonry.'

Edward Sherrier Lodge No. 6757, in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, held an historic meeting on the 4th May 2018 when they conducted a quadruple Passing ceremony for the first time in their 70 year history

In recent years, a large number of members has left the lodge with a growing list of ceremonies to conduct, leading potentially towards a long wait to becoming a Master Mason.

The lodge therefore agreed to pass four of their members to the Second Degree. Neil Rathbone, Paul Johnson, David Walters and Kevin Rider were Passed in a single ceremony after being granted dispensation by the Provincial Grand Master David Hagger.

Lodge Secretary Rob Surman said: 'It proved a most successful and hugely enjoyable for the candidates and participating Brethren alike, as well as our large group of visitors from the neighbouring Province of Warwickshire. The evening concluded in fine form and conviviality at the Festive Board.'

West Lancashire Freemasons have donated two new BMW 'blood bikes' to charity North West Blood Bikes

The donation was in response to an appeal by North West Blood Bikes for help in replacing their ageing fleet of motorbikes, which led to two new bikes being purchased and equipped by the Freemasons at a cost of £40,000.

The Provincial Grand Master of West Lancashire Tony Harrison, along with two of his Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Kevin Poynton and David Winder, and Steve Kayne, the CEO of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, formally handed over two new liveried BMW R1200RT-P motorbikes to the North West Blood Bikes team.

North West Blood Bikes Fleet Manager Simon Hanson said: 'Since my appointment I have been working with Honda, BMW and multiple charities and local businesses to replace the fleet of 12 liveried motorbikes, as they had mostly done over 80,000 miles and in some cases were over eight years old.

'This very generous donation by the Freemasons in West Lancashire completes my renewal plan and they, along with the other new motorbikes, will greatly reduce the number of breakdowns we have been having with our old fleet. It will also increase our ability to support the NHS out of normal hours (7pm to 2am) in the week and 24/7 at weekends.'

The motorbikes have been built to a specification that is, effectively, the same as that for police vehicles. The only difference is the blood bikes are fitted with a special carrying rack to transport medical items and the police blue paintwork is replaced with orange.

In officially handing over the two vehicles, Tony Harrison said: 'I am delighted to be able to present these motorbikes on behalf of the Freemasons in West Lancashire to North West Blood Bikes, as they will help them in the vital role they play in supporting the NHS in their work.'

On average, North West Blood Bikes respond to over 1,000 calls a month, which their 350 volunteers action using their own motorbikes and cars, and the liveried motorbikes. The 12 liveried motorbikes are used for calls that involve motorway journeys and long distances, as well as during rush hour and moving urgent blood samples and other lifesaving items.

The East Lancashire Masonic Charity has donated £50,000 to fund the Patient Information Zone in the new Diabetes Centre at the Manchester Hospitals Complex

The £50,000 donation will help make a difference to diabetes patients from across the North West of England. The donation, in support of Manchester Royal Infirmary Charity’s Diabetes Appeal, will help the hospital to relocate its Diabetes Centre into a more vibrant and spacious patient-friendly building and continue to be a leading centre for Diabetes care.

The Manchester Diabetes Centre is recognised around the world for its high-quality clinical care and cutting-edge, world leading research. It is one of the first dedicated diabetes centres in the UK, providing care to 4,000 patients across the North West each year.

The current Diabetes Centre is cramped and outdated, meaning the hospital’s medical professionals are unable to offer the breadth of treatment, research and care that they want to their patients.

The substantial donation will contribute towards the Charity’s Appeal to vastly improve the patients experience when being treated at the new Diabetes and Endocrinology Centre. Relocating to a larger facility will mean an increase of clinical capacity, reduction of waiting times and the ability to adapt the care to the diverse needs and lives of the hospital’s diabetic patients. This friendlier, less clinical environment, will also improve the quality of transition of care for young patients from child through to adult services, which is a major concern.

Maurice Watkins CBE, Chairman of Manchester Royal Infirmary Hospital Charity’s fundraising board, said: 'We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of the East Lancashire Freemasons. Our aim is to ensure that the Manchester Diabetes Centre continues to be a world-class facility, pioneering treatment and care for chronically ill patients in the North West and beyond. The Freemason’s support is invaluable in helping us to provide a brighter future for these patients and their families.'

The Appeal also plans to relocate the hospital’s Endocrinology Services to the new and purposely designed Diabetes facility. Currently, despite the close clinical connection of the two specialities, the hospital’s Endocrinology and Diabetes services are located in different areas of the hospital site. Housing the two linked services in one central location will ensure optimal patient care, clinical outcomes and patient experience.

Sir David Trippier, the Provincial Grand Master for East Lancashire, said: 'Freemasons are delighted to have provided vital financial support for the most worthy cause of Diabetes Care in the North West. Diabetes is an illness that has serious implications so we are keen to support this project which will ultimately benefit an immense number of people, from children to the elderly, for now and well into the future.'

lodges meeting at Eliot Hall in Winslow have teamed up with the Buckinghamshire Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF) to provide a small fleet of 4X4 vehicles to serve all areas of rural Buckinghamshire

Provincial Grand Master John Clark, assisted by Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Graham Dearing and Phil Blacklaw, presented the latest addition of three vehicles, which have been placed to serve the Buckinghamshire communities of Winslow, Marlow and Thame/Haddenham. 

Community First Responders (CFR) are all highly trained volunteers who do not get paid for the many hours they give in support of their communities. Neither do they receive support from the NHS or local government. 

The First Responders live and work in the community they serve and are able to start life-saving treatments prior to the arrival of an ambulance in a wide variety of medical emergencies such as stroke, choking and serious injuries. They can also reach emergencies and transport medical staff from the air ambulance landing point. In rural areas it is often difficult to reach incidents in the Responder’s own cars and an off-road capability is invaluable.

Steve Acton, the CFR for the Winslow area and a member of Saxon Lodge No. 9735 at Eliot Hall, first highlighted the need over two years ago. Since then the BMCF and Winslow lodges have worked together to build the fleet and extend the area of Buckinghamshire covered.

The fundraising has been boosted by the generous bequest of the late Rodney Meerza, who was also a Winslow Mason.

The vehicles provided all have the 4X4 capability, essential at some incidents on local farms and bridleways, and are fitted with scene lighting bars for night use, as well as alley lights to enable the user to see street numbers easily at night. 

Over the past few months, all three vehicles have been regularly called on to assist in areas of heavy snowfall or muddy conditions and have helped to save lives in times of medical emergency.

As many people are now living beyond what was once considered a normal life span, there is an increasing awareness of age-related mental health problems, dementia being uppermost

The problem has recently been brought to the attention of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Derbyshire and the Derby-based Spencer Lodge No. 8773 to seek their practical help in assisting hospital clinical staff. The notice was brought by Mrs Val Haylett, recently appointed to the position of Hospital Governor for the City of Derby, and who retired from the NHS in 2014 after 26 years working at the Royal Derby Hospital.

Whilst attending last year, at a meeting during which radiology staff explained the frequent difficulties of encouraging anxious dementia patients to enter the tunnel of a MRI scanner, Val spoke of her practical experience and how she had witnessed distressed children in A&E departments and on wards, effectively comforted by being given a teddy bear. She suggested that they might well prove useful for distressed adult dementia patients.

Hitherto essentially for children, the teddy bears are regularly given to hospitals throughout Derbyshire by the Derbyshire Provincial Grand Charity and recently it gave the county’s hospitals the 50,000th teddy through the Teddies for Loving Care (TLC) scheme.

Responding readily to the dementia-related request, the Derbyshire Provincial Grand Charity set aside a sum of £1,000 to provide for supplies of TLC bears over a trial period of 12 months. These will be used for dementia patients at the London Road Community Hospital, the Royal Derby Hospital and outpatient departments.

A larger sum of £1,500 has also been presented directly from Spencer Lodge to the hospital for the purchase of more expensive and proven comforting aids, specifically for dementia patients.

Proof that the use of dolls and bears can bring great benefits to some dementia-diagnosed patients, particularly those in the latter stages, is supported by the charity Dementia UK through its Admiral Nursing section. It has been shown that simply giving a patient a doll to hold can be comforting and enjoyable, and possibly improve their verbal communication ability.

Freemasons' Hall in Manchester held its official open evening on 15th January 2018 to celebrate its multi million-pound refurbishment

The grand evening included a drinks reception, tour of the centre, speeches from key personnel and the unveiling of the new Masonic plaque to commemorate the opening evening.

Guests in attendance included the Provincial Grand Master for East Lancashire Sir David Trippier, accompanied by his wife Lady Trippier, and the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes, who officially opened the new Masonic Centre.

The majority of the building now hosts spectacular weddings, events and business meetings. However, the Freemasons have retained dedicated accommodation located on the 3rd floor.

A memorial dedicated to the Freemasons that made the supreme sacrifice and lost their lives in World War II has also been re-homed within the centre. The memorial was moved from the ground floor hall of the building and features an eternal light above as a standing tribute and focal area within the establishment.

The United Grand Lodge of England celebrated its Tercentenary in October 2017 and the official opening is a reflection on how Freemasons have adapted throughout the years, taking on a much more contemporary direction.

Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons have donated £22,595 to 19 local charities at a special awards ceremony at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, on 13th January 2018

The charities receiving the awards included those helping and assisting others in the local communities with disabilities, children who are deprived or have limited life expectancy and the elderly suffering from dementia.

Rainbows Children’s Hospice, based in Loughborough, received a total of £2,145 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the Lodge of the Argonauts No. 8210 which meets in Leicester. Gary Farnfield, Leicestershire Community Fundraiser for Rainbows, said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for the wonderful donation. This money will help us to create special memories for families whilst they are with us.'

A £1,000 donation from the Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association was also given to Shepshed-based Steps, a conductive education centre, which provides an innovative learning process for children with motor disabilities to develop in the same way as their able-bodied peers.

Camp Charnwood, based at Beaumanor Hall in Woodhouse Eaves, which provides five day holidays for Leicestershire youngsters aged between 7 and 16 with T1 Diabetes, also received a donation of £1,000.

The NHS charity Raising Health for the Advanced Dementia Care Wards at the Evington Centre received a donation of £1,500. 

Lindsay Woodward, the Charitable Funds Manager for Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, said: 'Thank you so much to the Freemasons. We have two lovely courtyard areas which we wish to turn into dementia-friendly gardens including activity sheds which will engage a person and make them feel more calm and cope with their dementia.'

Step Out Youth Club, which operates in South Wigston, offers children different activities in a safe area, received a donation of £500 to provide new classes for cooking and growing vegetables to emphasise healthy eating. Carl Walters from Step Out said: 'Step Out has 60-80 kids at present from 8 to 16 years old and they are now learning how to cook healthily.'

Harborough Community Bus is a small charity local to Market Harborough which runs minibuses for community groups and certain individuals who would otherwise have some difficulty getting out. The charity received a donation of £1,000.

John Feavyour, Chairman and Trustee of the Harborough Community Bus, said: 'It costs about £12,000 per year to run the Community Bus including fuel and safety checks and all the rest of it. This donation will pay for a whole month.' 

Voluntary Action South Leicestershire, which is dedicated to improving  lives in the Harborough District and the wider community of Leicestershire, also received a £1,000 donation. Hannah Currington, Carers Delivery Officer, said: 'The group meets in Market Harborough, but because we are open to all of the Harborough District one of our main costs is transport. Lots of the kids live up to 12 miles out and if the voluntary drivers didn’t physically go and get them, they just wouldn’t be unable to come. This £1,000 will go largely to supporting the reimbursement of the voluntary drivers.'

Stathern-based Dove Cottage Day Hospice received an award of £500. Dove Cottage offers quality palliative day care to people living in north east Leicestershire, Rutland and south east Nottinghamshire to fund improved services. 

Chris Rowley, Charity Director of Dove Cottage Day Hospice, said: 'During the last 12 months, we have been running dementia workshops for both dementia sufferers and their carers. This donation is very gratefully received from the Freemasons which will go towards working with people with dementia.'

The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland David Hagger said: 'Freemasons have always been deeply involved in charity; from its earliest days the organisation has been connected with caring for orphans, the sick and the elderly. We are thrilled to continue to support our local communities by making donations to these worthy charities.'

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