People living with multiple sclerosis (MS) in Buckinghamshire will benefit from a grant of £30,000, which will provide over 850 hours of physiotherapy to members of the Chilterns MS Centre

Regular physiotherapy and support can help those with MS to maintain mobility, cope with their disability and achieve an improved quality of life. On average, the Centre offers 256 hours of physiotherapy a week through one-to-one care and group exercise sessions. There are just over 110,000 people diagnosed with MS in the UK and approximately 850 in Buckinghamshire, of which 550 of them are members of the Chilterns MS Centre.

Many people using the Centre feel that it really makes a difference to their everyday lives. One of their members, Sue, said: 'Thanks to the fantastic physiotherapy I have had, I managed to appear in my daughter’s wedding photos without my walking aids. A year ago that just wouldn’t have been possible, so you can never know how much this means to me. Thank you for being a lifeline to me and so many others.'

The grant from the Buckinghamshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Robert Breakwell, Chief Executive of Chilterns MS Centre, said: 'We are delighted that Buckinghamshire Freemasons have made this very generous grant to support our physiotherapy service. As a small charity, we rely on grants like this to continue to treat and support people living with MS in the local area, and to keep them independent for as long as possible.'

Barry Sparks, Provincial Grand Secretary for Buckinghamshire Freemasons, said: 'We’re very pleased to be able to help the Chiltern MS Centre, who do outstanding work for people living with MS. The regular physiotherapy they provide can make a huge difference to their quality of life and extend their capacity for independent living.'

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.'

Doncaster Freemasons have given a £5,000 boost to a charity providing a valuable counselling service to disadvantaged young people in Doncaster

The money, via the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), will fund Doncaster Housing’s service in supporting young people at risk of homelessness, for a further 12 months.

Stuart Shore, Chief Executive of Doncaster Housing for Young People, said: 'Virtually all of our clients come from disadvantaged backgrounds in Doncaster, and we provide support at a time of crisis in their lives. Our core purpose is supporting young people who are at risk of homelessness, but our clients often have a range of support needs and many experience mental ill health.  

'Our counselling service is really important in helping young people address often deep-seated issues in their lives and this, in turn, helps provide the stability for them to sustain a tenancy and cope with independent living.'

Graham Bailey, the Master of Danecastre Lodge No. 4843 in the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, said: 'We are delighted that our funding has ensured the continuation of this important service for another year.

'Charity is at the heart of Freemasonry and we are always keen to support organisations such as Doncaster Housing for Young People, whose work is making a huge, positive difference, to the lives of young, vulnerable people across Doncaster.'

West Lancashire Freemasons have donated £19,449 to Willowbrook Hospice in Merseyside

The donation was made by the Masonic Charitable Foundation on behalf of West Lancashire Freemasons, which follows the hospice's bid for a grant to fund a special project. As a result, a visit was arranged from the St Helens and Prescot Group from within the Province of West Lancashire to mark the donation.

Willowbrook was chosen as a recipient in order to aid in the creation of ‘Willowbrook Connections’. This is a three-phase project to aid carers and family members who need support before, during and after the loss of a loved one. Particular emphasis will be placed on assisting children and male relatives, two groups who are often reluctant to seek help.

Specifically, the project will provide a ‘Kids Shack’ where children between the ages of 5 and 16 can come along to after school hours, get to know each other, and take part in activities together. Support will be on hand from trained staff who will engage with the children and help support them in those difficult times.

A similar project will create a ‘Men Shed’, designed to help and support male relatives who are often unwilling to talk about their difficulties.

The St Helens and Prescot Masonic Group has supported Willowbrook since its foundation and donations from the group, as well as from individual lodges and chapters, are an important aid in funding this essential and important local service. Although the hospice does receive aid from central government and the local health authority, this only provides a small percentage of the large sum they require each year to function.

Neil Wright, Willowbrook Hospice CEO, detailed that the hospice costs £4.5 million annually to run and that government support of just £1.5 million left a very large funding deficit. Neil explained that this shortfall had to be filled by appealing for voluntary aid and support from the local and wider community. Money, he said, was raised by various means, with donations and legacies forming a very important part of this fundraising, supplemented by the hospice lottery and income from the hospice.

The Masonic visitors were welcomed by the Chairman of the trustees Alan Chick, who gave a short explanation of the work done by Willowbrook and thanked the Freemasons for their generous donation.

The ‘Willowbrook Connections’ project was then explained by Family Support Therapist Jan Barlow, who explained that she would now be enabled to provide full time support and much more care and therapy for bereaved relatives. She stressed how ‘Willowbrook Connections’ would also provide continuing support for family members of terminally ill patients both pre and post bereavement.

On behalf of the visitors, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Tony Bent paid tribute to the excellence of the care provided by the hospice and praised the staff for their commitment to delivering that care.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Freemasons have donated £15,000 to help local charity Macmillan Caring Locally purchase a new minibus

The charity, which provides palliative care at Christchurch Hospital and in the community, had been fundraising to purchase the vehicle. 

Following a public vote held by the Masonic Charitable Foundation, it was awarded a grant which it put towards the bus. The bus will be used to take terminally ill people out on trips and excursions.

Freemasons Leon Whitfield, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight, and Rodney Dale joined the Mayor of Bournemouth Lawrence Williams and his Mayoress wife Elaine at the handover, together with staff and volunteers.

Lin Sharp, Capital Appeal Director at Macmillan Caring Locally, said: 'We are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded £15,000 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation. We are overwhelmed by the wonderful support of the community that has made this possible. 

'Part of the service that is offered at our hotel and at the Macmillan Unit Day Centre is the opportunity to go out for trips around the local area using a minibus. These excursions take guests to the beaches, local towns and other scenic locations where they can relax and enjoy themselves out in the fresh air for a few hours during the day.'

Leon Whitfield said: 'We are delighted to continue our support for the Macmillan Caring Locally team. Their contribution in the local community is invaluable and this minibus will enhance the work they already do.'

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.'

Just getting started

With the Tercentenary celebrations raising awareness and improving perceptions, Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes believes there has never been a better time to be a Freemason

It has been an enormous privilege to have been Pro Grand Master during the Tercentenary year. At the outset, Provinces and Districts were asked to concentrate on coming up with events in their own jurisdiction that their brethren could join in and enjoy. Dare I say, they all did this in spades, and I include our groups of lodges in that.

Quite rightly, there was often a significant charitable aspect to these events. I should add here that this was greatly enhanced by the imaginative input from the Masonic Charitable Foundation with its multitude of grants across the Provinces. The Rulers and past Rulers have endeavoured to meet your requests and wherever we have been, brethren have looked after us with incredible kindness and generosity. Thank you all so much.

Since our last communication, we have had the Grand Ball and our major celebratory event at the Royal Albert Hall. The events of 29 to 31 October were a resounding success, and I must single out Keith Gilbert and his team for the superb administrative arrangements throughout. Diane Clements and the museum staff managed to collect, catalogue and display the many gifts brought by the 133 Grand Masters from around the world amazingly quickly. These are now all displayed in the museum.

A JOB WELL DONE

Finally, thanks to James Long and his team, who took us all by surprise at the Royal Albert Hall with an amazing and uplifting performance of masonry across the three centuries. The whole London experience was beyond my expectations, and from the comments we have had since, it astounded all our hundreds of visitors from overseas. Well done indeed.

Brethren, has there ever been a better time to be a Freemason? I really believe that during the year we have learned so much about how to talk about our Freemasonry with non-members, helped enormously by the Sky documentary, which has opened our eyes and made the general public more receptive. I would love us to have had more editorial control over the end product, but that would, perhaps, have defeated the object. Nonetheless, I think we can go forward from here with enormous self-belief and pride.

We head now into 2018, continuing the work of the Improvement Delivery Group and capitalising on the great successes of 2017, rewarding those who have worked so hard throughout the year. We will also be remembering the fact that it is 100 years since the end of World War I, after which Freemasons’ Hall was built as the Masonic Peace Memorial to recognise the sacrifice of more than 3,000 English Freemasons who fell in that conflict.

‘I think we can go forward from here with enormous self-belief and pride’

Published in UGLE

The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) is proud to nurture and invest in young people with exceptional talents within the masonic community – such as violinist Helena – through its TalentAid scheme

Most people can only dream of having a real talent in the performing arts, sports or music. Some of us are lucky enough to have enough skill to enjoy a friendly game of rugby at the weekends or a sing-along at a piano at family gatherings, but exceptional talent that can turn a hobby into a career is rare. 

If you are the child or grandchild of a Freemason, TalentAid could help your dreams become reality. Helena was only three years old when she first picked up a violin. By 11, she was an accomplished musician and had been accepted into the under-11s National Children’s Orchestra. However, when Helena’s mother struggled to meet the costs of her training, she turned to the MCF’s TalentAid scheme for support. 

‘Mum found it difficult to pay for me to go to orchestra rehearsals in London every Saturday. Things like travel and food added up to a large overall cost that she couldn’t manage. This was on top of tuition and orchestra fees – so it was just all too much,’ she says.

Helena’s grandfather was a Freemason and she would read the publications that were sent to him. ‘Mum saw the TalentAid scheme in one of the magazines and decided to apply for financial support – it was the best decision she ever made!’ 

YOUTH OPPORTUNITY

The MCF covered Helena’s fees for the under-12s National Children’s Orchestra and workshops to hone her talent. At 13, Helena was accepted into the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and later into the National Youth Orchestra of Britain, both of which the MCF helped to fund. 

‘The MCF was unbelievably kind when it found out that I’d been playing on a rented violin. They bought me my own violin when I was 18, and I still play on it all these years later. Since graduating from the Royal College of Music, I have been lucky enough to travel the world with the European Union Youth Orchestra, play with the BBC’s Philharmonic Orchestra and record film scores with the Philharmonia Orchestra. I’m hugely grateful for the MCF’s support. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.’

If you are applying for support for the 2018-2019 academic year, TalentAid applications are still open but will close on 31 March 2018. All completed applications will be reviewed in July 2018.

Applications for support for the 2019-2020 academic year will open in November 2018. 

If you would like to find out more about the TalentAid Scheme, visit www.mcf.org.uk/talentaid, or call 020 3146 3333. You can also head over to the MCF’s YouTube channel, where Helena tells her TalentAid story: www.youtube.com/masoniccharitablefoundation

It’s never fun to think about our own mortality, yet one third of adults in the UK die every year without having made a will – known as dying intestate

If you die intestate, a set of inflexible rules dictates how your estate will be distributed and to whom. You’ve worked so hard during your life to attain the savings, property and belongings that represent your personal wealth – why would you not want to decide who gets what after you’re gone? 

Under intestacy rules, any unmarried partners or stepchildren are ignored, regardless of how loving or long the relationship may have been. Even if you plan to leave everything to your spouse, without a will, your loved one becomes responsible for attaining ‘grants of letters of administration’ via the probate registry, which involves an interview and a great deal of bureaucratic form-filling. Not only will this process delay the release of funds, it is also likely to place added strain on your loved one. 

It might also be useful to know that if you leave at least 10 per cent of your taxable estate to charity, you could reduce any inheritance tax liability against your estate, but you can’t leave a gift to charity without a will. 

Mark, a Freemason, recently decided to leave a gift to the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) in his will after learning first-hand the life-changing difference the charity can make for those facing difficulty. ‘The MCF has been a comforting support for me and my children during my recent divorce and I am eternally grateful,’ he says. ‘I owe a lot to my brethren for their guidance and endless support during this period. I have only been a Freemason for two years, but the impact that both Freemasonry and the MCF have had on my life meant I wanted to give back in any way I could.

‘I decided to leave a legacy to the MCF, to show my children that there are more important things in life than our own wants and needs – helping to provide stability for disadvantaged or vulnerable members of society is one of them. My advice to those considering leaving a legacy to the MCF is to make sure your family will be provided for first, then think of how you could benefit the lives of those less fortunate than yourselves, both now and in the future.’

If you’re still not sure you’re ready to make your will, take a look at the Masonic Charitable Foundation’s website, which has lots of information about will-making and legacy-giving, and a useful downloadable guide. The MCF even provides an online will-making service in collaboration with Law Vault, available at www.mcf.org.uk/legacy.  

So why not look after yourself, those you love and the causes you support now? Make a will.

For more information about the MCF’s online will-making service, to request a copy of the new Leaving a Will: Your Essential Guide, or to ask a question about leaving a legacy to charity, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 020 3146 3332.

With support from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), the Bendrigg Trust is able to help people with complex disabilities, like Jason, enjoy outdoor activities with the rest of their family

Poppy, who’s now four, is all about getting muddy, while Lilly, who is six, is more into dancing,’ says Liz with a smile. ‘We’re an outdoor family and love doing lots of activities,’ she explains. ‘I’m not one to lie in bed all day,’ adds Jason, Liz’s husband. 

Behind Jason and Liz, framed by large glass windows, are the idyllic grounds of the Bendrigg Trust, situated within calm Cumbrian countryside. Jason and Liz are on a family holiday here – at this specialist outdoors centre for people with disabilities and disadvantages – with their daughters, Lilly and Poppy. 

SIDE BY SIDE

Looking at the couple sitting side by side on the sofa, it’s not immediately apparent that Jason is disabled. Yet motor neurone disease has left him almost fully paralysed, and it is now slowly taking away his speech. Looking closer you might spot his motorised wheelchair, or the ceiling hoist that moved him onto the sofa.

Jason’s diagnosis was devastating for the family, and the Masonic Charitable Foundation has supported them since he was diagnosed. ‘The daily living grants take pressure off us financially and mean the girls can enjoy normal childhood activities, like horse riding and swimming,’ says Liz.

The MCF has also supported the Bendrigg Trust, and worked in partnership with it to organise a weekend of activities for the family, who were among the first to stay in the new, fully accessible accommodation block, Acorn House. A £40,000 grant from the MCF funded ceiling-hoist equipment in the block – equipment that is vital for many of the Trust’s services and activities. 

‘We are very limited with the sort of places we can go and the type of holidays we can go on, because as Jason is so severely disabled, he requires a lot of equipment such as hoists, lifts, accessible vehicles and buildings,’ says Liz. ‘The Bendrigg Trust has everything we need – you don’t get many places as fully accessible as this.

‘Without the funding from the MCF we wouldn’t be able to provide the services we do,’ explains Nick Liley, Principal of the Bendrigg Trust. ‘Our activities are fully inclusive so we can work with people who have the most complex disabilities. We hear constantly about the benefits our activities have on people when they go back into their home environment – their confidence is often improved and they’re able to physically do more.’

Watch the MCF’s three-part mini documentary Making Memories, which follows the family on their adventures at the Bendrigg Trust and highlights just how much support from the masonic community has meant to them and the charity: www.mcf.org.uk/makingmemories

For more about the Bendrigg Trust, visit: www.bendrigg.org.uk

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