In March, brethren from Apollo University Lodge No. 359 (Oxford) and Loge Robert de Sorbon (Paris) attended a meeting at Freemasons’ Hall, Cambridge, followed at the June meeting with a friends and family garden party. The celebration of the anniversary was held in July, at which the principal guest was the Deputy Grand Master, Jonathan Spence.
The prime purpose of the meeting was to make the substantial charitable donations that the lodge had decided should be the main way in which it celebrated its anniversary year.
The lodge has donated £1,000 for each year of its existence, with £50,000 going to the Grand Charity through the Provincial Festival, £50,000 to other masonic charities and £50,000 to a number of non-masonic charities drawn from suggestions and requests from lodge members.
Past Masters of the lodge presented cheques to the Assistant Grand Master, David Williamson, the Metropolitan Grand Master, Russell Race, and to the Presidents of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institute (RMBI), Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) and the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB).
The Provincial Grand Master received the cheque for his Festival on behalf of the Grand Charity.
Unknown to him, Jersey Provincial Grand Master Kenneth Rondel – a guest at the dinner – had secretly commissioned two cakes to be made in the same dimensions as Brian’s full dress regalia. The cakes were made by Mrs Natalie Jordan and took nine hours to create – an extraordinary effort as the cakes looked so much like the real thing.
The two-hour-long games included indoor and outdoor activities such as darts, skittles, boccia, indoor archery and golf, giving both generations
a chance to chat and mingle. Provincial Grand Master Gordon Robertson said, ‘The judges were amazed at the way all the pupils at the school were inspired by ihelp to help others. They developed their ideas to fit the aims of the competition, particularly the way they worked together as a team to have fun helping others. Their efforts mirror perfectly Freemasonry’s aims of friendship, decency and charity. We started the ihelp project to show that youngsters do so much for the Bucks community. They are our future.’
The students beat Stokenchurch Scouts into second place, who won £1,000 for regenerating a local graveyard. The finals were held at the Beaconsfield Masonic Centre, and all the finalists received £250 for reaching the last stage. A total of £14,000 was available, and heats were organised at various masonic centres around the Province.
Lodge Master Roger Farris, pictured above at the lodge’s anniversary celebrations, declared, ‘One of the principal philosophies of Freemasonry is charitable work in the community and we were delighted to be able to support St Luke’s as it celebrates its 40th anniversary.’ Una Moran, director of St Luke’s fundraising, echoed Roger’s sentiments, ‘The Freemasons have been great supporters of St Luke’s and this donation is extremely important to us. It costs £700 per hour every day of the year to simply maintain the service we provide and a donation like this means so much to our work now and in the future.’
There are around 900 Freemasons in Sheffield and 26 different lodges, but Britannia Lodge, No. 139, is the city’s oldest. ‘Freemasons do a tremendous amount of good work and offer their brethren real camaraderie. I hope Britannia Lodge will celebrate its 500th anniversary,’ resolved Roger.
In recent years, the RMTGB has held its AGM in various Provinces away from London. As a result, an increasing number of Freemasons and members of the public have been able to hear about the life-changing charitable support that the RMTGB is able to provide.
This year’s meeting was held at the Langstone Cliff Hotel in Dawlish under the chairmanship of Michael Penny, Provincial Grand Master for Devonshire. The RMTGB’s President and Chief Executive, together with members of Council and staff, explained the work of the charity to over 200 guests, including the Lord Lieutenant of Devon and the Lord Mayor of Exeter.
The presentations highlighted how the RMTGB’s annual expenditure, which this year amounted to over £9 million, makes a positive and lasting difference to more than 1,800 children and grandchildren of masonic families, all of whom have suffered a distress such as the death of a parent or have been adversely affected by unemployment or redundancy.
Talking about Talent
The RMTGB’s TalentAid scheme, which this year celebrates a decade of providing support to those who are exceptionally gifted in music, sport and the performing arts, was also highlighted at the meeting.
During an interlude in proceedings, Clio Williams, a former beneficiary of the scheme, delivered an operatic performance to demonstrate the very high level of ability that TalentAid encourages and supports.
The RMTGB’s ongoing support for those with no connection to the Craft was also promoted at the meeting, including the Choral Bursary and Stepping Stones schemes, as well as the in-kind support provided to the separate charity Lifelites. This charitable organisation supplies valuable entertainment and educational technology to children’s hospices.
Thanks to the generosity of Freemasons in the Nottingham area, more than 200 children with disabilities were able to enjoy all the fun of the fair.
Members came from three lodges – Edwalton Lodge, No. 8214, and St Giles Lodge, No. 4316, both from Nottingham, and the Showman’s Lodge, No. 9826, from Loughborough. They worked with The Showmen’s Guild to make this fun day a reality.
Gordon Cowieson of Edwalton Lodge said, ‘The Showmen’s Guild has been really generous once again in opening up the fairground at Bramcote Hills Park a day early in support of children with special needs. In addition to experiencing the rides, the children also get to enjoy the usual hot dogs, beefburgers, candyfloss and ice cream.’
Peter Barratt, also of Edwalton Lodge, added, ‘The lodges involved raise funds throughout the year to cover the cost of running the event and then give generously of their time on the day to make sure it is a safe and enjoyable occasion for all.’
A key supporter of the event was the Nottingham masonic charity Teddies for Loving Care (TLC), which gave a donation towards running costs. TLC also had a stall at the fairground and ensured that every child who attended left with their own teddy bear. Also enjoying the day were the Provincial Grand Master for Nottinghamshire, Robin Wilson, and his wife Margaret, plus the Mayor of Broxtowe.
To mark the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen the
£100,000 of the total will be allocated to major grants; the rest will be for minor grants under £5,000. John Clayton, the Provincial Grand Master in announcing the decision, said “It is fitting that an organisation such as the Freemasons, which instils a moral and ethical approach to life: and teaches and practices concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need, should mark the Diamond Jubilee of The Queen by making available these grants. In the last 25 years the Province has given over £2.5M to support local non-Masonic causes”.
Applications for grants, from recognised organisations, must have the support of a Lodge or Chapter in the Province, and will normally be for capital projects or to purchase equipment. Eligibility for grants will be in line with the existing rules, consequently, applications will not be considered for revenue projects or to sponsor individuals.
Certificates to mark the Diamond Jubilee will be presented to recipients of the grants at an event to be held at the Royal Armouries in
Phase 1 of the re-build at RMBI care home James Terry Court, Croydon has been officially opened.
The event was attended by over 40 representatives from the Province of Surrey, the Association of Friends and the RMBI.
RMBI President Willie Shackell opened the event and welcomed all attendees. Willie spoke about the history of the RMBI which started in East Croydon with its first Home named ‘Asylum for Worthy, Aged and Decayed Freemasons’ in 1850. He went on to explain why the re-build of James Terry Court was necessary as the original Home was looking tired and needed to adapt to the ever changing needs of older people.
Thanks were given by Willie Shackell to Dennis Vine who had overseen the development of the Home in his role as Co-opted Trustee, to the residents of the Home for their patience with the building works and to the staff for providing high quality care during the re-build. Julian Birch, Regional Property Operations Manager who sadly passed away in October was remembered for all his efforts in the re-build of the Home
The Association of Friends and the Province of Surrey, Metropolitan Grand Lodge and the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight were also thanked for their generous and continued support of the Home and the RMBI.
Eric Stuart-Bamford, PGM of the Province of Surrey went on to speak about his appreciation and gratitude to Home Manager Di Collins and the staff at the Home for the services they provide to the residents. Mr Stuart-Bamford also recognised the support that the Association of Friends provide to the Home.
The event saw the official opening of the Lounge and Library by Eric Stuart-Bamford and also of the Therapy Room by Libby Stuart-Bamford. The Therapy Room was built using the generous donation provided by The Grand Stewards’ Lodge as part of their 275th anniversary celebrations.
Those present were given a tour of the new building and ended with canapés and refreshments.
Over the past decade Herefordshire Freemasons have sponsored a named horse at Holme Lacy Riding for the Disabled Centre. One such horse was aptly called Mason.
Gypsy is today’s current horse, which will soon be travelling with Instructor Helen Powell, to compete in the National Dressage Competition at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire.
Janet Alderton, Centre Manager at Holme Lacy, is particularly enthusiastic about the suitability of this year’s entry at Hartpury which will be entered under the official title of Hereford Masons Gypsy.
A trial canter on Gypsy under the instruction of Helen Powell was undertaken by Rodney Smallwood, Provincial Grand Master for Herefordshire, who promised his members’ continued support of Riding for the Disabled in Herefordshire.
Rodney Smallwood, Provincial Grand Master for Herefordshire is piloting the county’s Masons in a sustained and dedicated programme of support for Midlands Air Ambulance.
At a recent meeting with Annie Newell Community Liaison Officer at Midlands Air Ambulance base at Strensham, Rodney Smallwood presented a donation of £25,000.
An annual national grant, this year totalling £192,000 from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity which is distributed countrywide, formed part of this local donation, with the remaining £21,000 being the amount raised for the Air Ambulance within Herefordshire’s Masonic Lodges.
Such continued support over the years, both nationally and locally, has been acknowledged by Midlands Air Ambulance with the display of the Masonic Square & Compass logo on the tail fin of their three distinctly coloured helicopters.
Rodney Smallwood praised Midlands Air Ambulance staff for their dedication and expertise, and these sentiments were echoed by the Provincial Grand Masters of Gloucestershire, R W Bro Adrian Davies, and Worcestershire R W Bro Richard Goddard, both present on this occasion, who also presented donations to the Air Ambulance.