Funds given by Freemasons to help victims of Wainfleet’s summertime flooding are being used to good effect in and around the town
So far more than £55,000 has been given to 61 families whose homes were inundated when the River Steeping burst its banks.
The funds were made of up £25,000 each from the Province of Lincolnshire, The Mark Benevolent Fund, and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, topped up with donations from other Provinces which had also experienced flooding, and understood the need for a sustained response.
And on a Lincolnshire Day visit to the Coronation Hall in the village, the Provincial Grand Master for Lincolnshire Dave Wheeler said he was confident the funds were being given to the right people in the right way.
At the ‘sharp end’ of delivery is Sue Fortune, Joint CEO of the Lincolnshire Community Foundation which is managing and co-ordinating the appeal funding. She has met many of the families face to face and said: 'Phase 1 involved giving £500 to each home which the water had got in to. Phase2 started at the beginning of September, and is offering up to £1,000 to alleviate specific hardship.'
The money is not being divided equally, says Sue, but is being distributed equitably. 'Some people need the money more than others, and some haven’t asked for financial support on the basis they believe others are worse off and need the money more,' she said.
Sue said a face-to-face approach had been made available to support those affected, rather than leaving it to online applications. 'As well as needing money, people needed to have someone they could talk to; to feel someone cared. That, and having the Coronation Hall to go to where people could access various support agencies, have been a fundamental part of the success of the recovery process.'
Sue freely shared her mobile phone number with the families, resulting in calls as early and 7.30am and as late as 9pm. She also spent a considerable time at the Coronation Hall in the town, which became a ‘flood hub’; a focal point for residents. Those calls and meetings yielded some tough stories, such as the couple who were due to exchange contracts for a house sale the day after the floods and families who lost everything. “We listened to all the stories, and responded equitably,' she said.
Face-to-face meetings also helped signpost the villagers to people with specialist knowledge who were able to get things done. A grants panel was formed, with Sue as mediator, to offer financial support to help bring Wainfleet back to, as close as possible, to the way it was before the flood. Sue’s fellow Joint CEO James Murphy added: 'There was naturally a significant degree of emotional distress. Being here in person provided the reassurance of proactivity; that there was a person they could talk to.'
After meeting Sue, James, and the residents at a Lincolnshire Day get-together in Coronation Hall Dave Wheeler said: 'We have been so reassured that the money we have donated has gone absolutely to the right people and the right places. The process we have heard of today is fantastic. All of Lincolnshire’s Freemasons can feel as proud as I do of what’s been achieved with our financial help. I am in awe of the work that’s been done here since the flooding; it’s superb.'
80 members from Cambridgeshire and its neighbouring Provinces attended an Emergency Meeting of the Cambridgeshire Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge No. 9927 on 19th September for a unique event within the history of the Province – their Provincial Grand Master William Dastur was the Candidate for Initiation
The acting officers for the ceremony at Freemasons’ Hall in Cambridge were members of 10 out of the Province's 30 lodges, who had made the highest bids to participate.
A very enjoyable evening saw the acting officers (and the Initiate) perform an impeccable ceremony and raise a total of well over £2,500 for Cambridgeshire's Festival 2023, in aid of the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
Through the generosity of Lincolnshire’s Freemasons, the Masonic Charitable Foundation has been able to support Age UK Lindsey with a donation of £63,000
The life-changing donation is part of a £1 million project called Later Life Goals, launched nationwide to support the charity’s work in reaching out to enhance the lives of many hundreds of lonely and vulnerable older people.
In Lincolnshire this year alone that translates to one-to-one intervention on behalf of 262 people undergoing major transitions in their lives such as bereavement, serious health diagnosis, or a partner moving to a care home.
Age UK Lindsey works across East and West Lindsey and North Lincolnshire, helping to make later life a fulfilling and enjoyable experience by providing a range of direct services, advice, and domestic support. This can include help to access benefits, liaising with care agencies, or simply a weekly befriending visit.
Service Manager Sue White said demand for the services they were able to provide continued to flood in: ‘We have an average of 200 new referrals for our information and advice service every month, and 30 new requests for our befriending help on top of that. Our services are always up to capacity, and so many callers have nowhere else to go.
‘We can’t thank you enough for this donation; it will help us to sustain our services to people who otherwise might have no help at all.”
Dave Wheeler, Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master, said: ’The work of Age UK Lindsey is vital for so many people in rural Lincolnshire. I’d urge brethren to volunteer to help with the befriending service. It involves an hour week of a chat over a cup of tea, but it can be a lifeline for someone.'
‘Donald’ isn’t the real name of the man in this story, but the story itself is all too real. Donald and his landlord wanted his story to be shared to show how Age UK Lindsey, with the support of Lincolnshire’s Freemasons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, had turned his life around.
Serious financial problems, and the worry they brought, were making Donald ill. He wasn’t sleeping and he couldn’t see a way around his difficulties.
Eviction was a very real threat, but his landlord, (let’s call him John), didn’t want it to come to that. He told us: ‘Donald is in his 70s, and relies on his state pension and a relatively modest housing benefit award. His financial situation was causing him distress and anxiety.’
John contacted Age UK Lindsey, at which point volunteer Pam Cox entered the story. John said: ‘Donald and I met her two or three times, and she was instrumental in getting him a higher level of attendance allowance and improved pension credit, which allowed him not only to clear his rent arrears, but made him £150 a week better off.’
Pam, who volunteered to help Age UK for six months almost ten years ago, and has never left, said there was as much as £1m in unclaimed benefits in the system. ‘But the application process can be very difficult,’ she said. ‘Even if you understand the system, and how to fill in forms, it can take as long as two hours to complete one application, and that can be a barrier to people applying.’
John said: ‘I really cannot stress enough just how magnificent the work of Age UK Lindsey has been. I’m full of admiration for the organisation, and Pam Cox in particular. It’s an excellent organisation, and its work can’t be commended highly enough.’
Donald, given such vital support, is now very happy with this life. The anxiety has gone, and with a smile on his face he was able to say: ‘I’ve just been to see the doctor. He says I’m 400% better than I was. I’m cheerful again.’
Warwickshire Freemasons have been busy over the past months fundraising to present a £10,000 donation to the 2nd Warwick Sea Scouts
On 13 December 2018, the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, in his capacity as President of the Scout Association, formally opened the new jetties at the Headquarters of the 2nd Warwick Sea Scouts in St Nicholas Park, Warwick, on the River Avon.
On a chilly but sunny day, the jetties were opened with all due pomp and ceremony and afterwards, the Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire Freemasons David Macey presented a cheque for £1,000 to Janette Eslick, New HQ Fundraiser, towards the next phase of the ‘Building a Future’ project.
This event inspired local Freemasons Steven Price and Peter Round from Alderson House to go to new lengths to support such a valuable and valued organisation in the local community. Steve had long wanted to establish a community fund at Alderson House to support local charities and enhance their profile in the community. This seemed the ideal opportunity to do so.
They agreed a nominal target of raising £2,000 for the Sea Scouts and the Province of Warwickshire agreed to match whatever was raised. The Provincial Grand Master also undertook to take the project to London in the hope that the United Grand Lodge of England would match fund and make the donation really worthwhile.
In the past six months, the Freemasons at Alderson House raised just short of £3,200 and as promised the Provincial Grand Master took it to London and they agreed match funding. Finally, the Province of Warwickshire not only match funded the total but enhanced it to a round £10,000.
The cheque for £10,000 was presented to the Sea Scouts by David Macey, at Alderson House on 22 of September where it was received with very grateful thanks.
As part of the Tercentenary celebrations back in 2017, Norfolk Freemasons decided to create a single source containing a definitive written historical record of all their lodges
To that end a small committee was formed with the aim of gathering together and compiling all available histories into a single document. The overriding brief being that the histories included must have been produced by and for the Lodges – their own histories, in their own words.
The resultant three-volume history of their individual lodges provides a comprehensive overview of Freemasonry in Norfolk and includes all available material to 31st December 2018.
Ahead of Grand Lodge Quarterly Communications in September, the Provincial Grand Master for Norfolk Stephen Allen, together with other members of the Norfolk Provincial Executive and two members of Norfolk Blues, their group for newly joined Norfolk Freemasons, were pleased to present a copy of the Compiled History of Norfolk Lodges to Martin Cherry, Librarian at the Museum of Freemasonry, at Freemasons' Hall.
Martin Cherry said: 'It was a real pleasure to meet Stephen and his team to receive this fantastic record of Norfolk Freemasonry into the Museum collection.'
11 September 2019
A talk by RW Bro Stephen Blank, Provincial Grand Master for Cheshire and Chairman of the Hermes ‘To Be’ working party
I am grateful to have the opportunity to say a few words about Project Hermes which will revolutionise the work of the Lodge Sec and Chapter Scribe Ezra. From now on I will just refer to the Lodge Sec but please understand this applies to Chapters as well. I will also lapse occasionally and only say ‘Provincial’ when I mean ‘Metropolitan’ and ‘District’ as well!
It is perhaps a little strange that I find myself involved with the workings of the Lodge Sec. In my 40+ years as a Freemason, I have been Lodge Treasurer, Lodge DC – actually I still am – Provincial DC, DepGDC, APGM, DGS and now Provincial Grand Master - but never Lodge Sec. However, all my various jobs have served to make it clear to me that the most important job is that of Lodge Secretary; it is very rare to find a good and successful Lodge that does not have a good Secretary.
After that flattery, and as a matter of interest, would those of you who are or have been Lodge Secretaries put their hands up? Okay, so for the benefit of those who are not, a little bit of explanation may be helpful.
UGLE maintains all of our details, including those of past members, on a database system called ADelphi, which is Greek for brother. This records our Lodges and Chapters, the offices we have held within them and, if relevant, our Provincial and grand rank. It records your passing and raising dates and the number of your grand Lodge certificate. Of course, it also records your contact details and your Lodge’s details, such as Lodge officers and where and when the Lodge meets.
It is a web-based system available to MetGL, Provinces and Districts. Typically, only the ProvGSec, PGM and designated Met / Prov / District leaders have access plus Prov office staff or volunteers.
ADelphi is ‘fed’ by all the various forms which the Lodge Secretary has to prepare; the form M/P/A for new candidates, the Annual Return, the Installation Return. The Annual Return is created by ADelphi and is the basis for the request for payment of dues that UGLE - and many Provs / Dists - make every year to every Lodge and Chapter. The Secretary also has to create the summons for each meeting.
In doing all of these tasks, the Sec has to ensure all of his work complies with the Book of Constitutions. And when it doesn’t, he gets an email from his Provincial office – or Prov office gets an email from Registrations dept here at GQS and then Prov office emails Lodge Sec telling him to put it right.
Two examples of problems that the Lodge Sec can encounter. Rule 158: if someone applies to join a Lodge but doesn’t live or work in that Province, the Lodge Sec has to make enquiries of that person’s local Province. How the other Province responds – and when – is out of his control.
Let’s look at rule 163 specifically rule 163(c). When an existing member wants to join a new Lodge, the joiner must obtain clearance certificates to show to the Lodge Sec that he doesn’t owe subs to another Lodge because, if he does, rule 163(d) says that the new Lodge is liable.
That means the Sec must be told all the Lodges of which he is and has been a member, whether within the same Province or not. Some of those Lodges may have closed. And for some of us, remembering all the Lodges we are and have been members of can be a problem. When I applied to join my first Cheshire Lodge, I forgot one and started life in trouble with my Prov office! But this information is all on ADelphi; the catch being that the Lodge Sec does not have access to ADelphi and, thanks to GDPR, even ProvGSecs don’t have access to other Provinces’ data.
Last year, the process whereby PGMs apply for grand ranks for their members was automated via ADelphi. There are, as you might imagine, rules as to who is eligible which are very convoluted. In the original system, emails and forms went in to GQS and if you transgressed, as I did - accidentally - in one year, I received a polite letter two weeks later suggesting that I rethink. Then I had to revisit my plans in a hurry. In the new system, the PGM does it online and his request to the mw the gm is validated as he enters it. This saved me and those who manage the process within UGLE a huge amount of time.
The GSec wants the same ability for Lodge Secs when it comes to creating their summons, at least for matters covered by the BoC. When the Sec enters a potential joining member, any decent modern computer system should instantly look him up and flag him as ‘clear’ i.e. not in arrears anywhere in the constitution. It should ‘talk’ the Sec through the application process. Rather than relying on the Prov office to key in a candidate’s name and address or date of birth from a handwritten form, the candidate himself should do it and have it validated by the Lodge Sec.
We should do the standard id checks to protect ourselves and our members and capture photos while we’re at it as well. Updating Lodge records should be made easy and flow straight from the summons – so if a resignation is on the summons, the resignation process is triggered – copy to Prov retrieval officer - and once confirmed after the meeting, the member doesn’t appear erroneously on the next annual return. So, the annual return will be accurate.
My Province’s reported exaltation numbers for 2018 changed only last month as a form relating to an exaltation in 2018 was finally submitted correctly by the se in July! This makes monitoring progress in anything like real time very hard. Hermes will make this virtually impossible and, perhaps more importantly, there will be no reason any more for the Lodge Sec to delay.
So, I hope you are all convinced this is worthwhile; how are we going about it?
The present version of ADelphi went live in the summer of 2015 which is more or less when I became PGM of Cheshire. It is fair to say that the launch did not go well. As I have been involved in trying to make computers work in organisations for over forty years – although always from the business perspective rather than the technical side – I found myself becoming very voluble about its shortcomings. When you do that in freemasonry you usually find yourself on a committee charged with sorting matters out and that is exactly what happened to me.
That committee, the ADelphi senior user group was set up at the end of 2016 by RWBro David Macey and is now chaired by RWBro Ian Chandler. It records and prioritises developments of new features and bug-fixes requested by Provinces or UGLE and has been bringing about improvements to ADelphi ever since.
In 2018, the GSec presented his proposal to the BGP, to extend ADelphi’s availability to Lodge Secs where, I am told, it was readily accepted. But we had learnt the lesson from the ADelphi launch and did not rush into coding. Instead UGLE formed a steering group and recruited two people to work exclusively on Hermes: tony Keating, a project manager, and Nigel Codron, a business analyst and senior Middx freemason.
One early decision was that we would not, in fact, extend ADelphi itself to Lodge Secs. ADelphi was designed as a tool for Provinces, aimed at people who would work with it all day every day. Instead we would commission a new web-based system designed to be intuitive for Lodge Secs, we call it the Hermes front-end or just Hermes.
We will provide on-line training, but the expectation is that this will be as easy to use as amazon or your on-line banking system. The two systems, Hermes and ADelphi, will talk to each other so updates by Lodge Secs will require validation by UGLE or Prov offices before they actually update ADelphi. But if we get the summons creation right, there won’t be a need for too much validation.
A second early decision was that, before we started creating new digital processes, we should make sure we understood the existing paper processes, especially who does what and where interactions with BoC take place.
Well, I said ‘paper processes’, but that implies they existed on paper. In fact, they exist in a bio-computer running on the oxford classics operating system – UGLE’s Deputy Grand Secretary Graham Redman! – so, we have spent many months carefully documenting the ‘as-is’ processes as we call them by talking at length to brother Redman himself, bro Andy Croci in registrations and a sample of Provincial, Lodge, and Chapter Secretaries.
A third early decision was that we could not engage simultaneously with every one of the forty-seven Provinces and MetGL not to mention the Districts overseas. So, we formed a small group termed the pilot Provinces consisting of MetGL, Hampshire and the isle of Wight, Cheshire and Bristol plus the Districts of Cyprus and eastern archipelago who in turn formed their own little consulting groups of selected Lodge Secretaries and Chapter Scribes E. These are the ones we consult on a regular basis to keep us ‘real’, as they say.
The results of documenting the ‘as-is’ processes can be viewed on flowcharts with swim-lanes for each relevant department.
The complexity of all of this meant that we were only ready to start thinking about the new way forward at the end of June at which point a working party was formed, known as the 2b working party and, since I was out of the room at the time, I was designated its chairman. As well as Tony, Nigel and myself, the members of the working party are: Richard Gardiner, Neil Tomkinson, Prity lad and David bell.
Richard fulfils a dual role; he is a pivotal member of the ADelphi senior user group, designated the Provincial and metropolitan user representative, but he is also a senior member of MetGL and an experienced met Lodge and Chapter Secretary. I will come back to the position of MetGL in a minute. Neil Tomkinson is the ADelphi guru from UGLE’s ICT department; Mrs Prity lad is director of member services and David Bell is the interim finance director of UGLE.
What became clear very quickly is that significant changes will also be required to ADelphi itself which is why Neil Tomkinson’s presence on the 2bwp is critical. He regards it as so important that he put on a tie especially for this photo – the first time he’s worn one in 20 years, he said. Many of the changes needed were already logged as feature requests with the ADelphi senior users’ group and have been passed over to form part of the Hermes requirements catalogue.
UGLE’s overall strategic imperative is to start our membership growing again and Hermes has to contribute to this, and more directly than just by making the Lodge Secretary’s life easier, important though that is. This is Prity’s department. More and more new members are finding us via the internet rather than traditional routes and we must be able to track what works and what doesn’t. We also have to retain them. We want to capture more information such as where the candidate heard about us, members’ attendance or, more significantly, non-attendances at meetings, a key indicator of problems building up.
Many Provinces send particular letters to candidates at certain stages of their masonic journey; the updated ADelphi system will be ‘told’ by Hermes when it has happened and then do this automatically or at least prompt the Province to action.
For the first time ADelphi will interface with UGLE finance by creating requests for payment for dues, registration fees and dispensations together with bacs references for each as they are generated.
On an opt-in basis, it will interface with Provinces’ finances as well. Mentioning that, can I give a big thankyou to my colleague PGMs up here? I sent out a questionnaire via bUGLE on 19 July with a series of questions about how they charge their Lodges, asking for a reply by 31 July. Every single craft Province responded within the time scale. This was greatly appreciated and enabled the 48 responses to be analysed by my office manager, Liz wright, so they could be discussed in detail at the 2bwp meeting on 6 august last.
When those of us in the Provinces consider the changes that Hermes will bring, it’s easy to overlook the effect on MetGL. Yes, it’s a lot bigger than any of us with 30,000 + members. But it is MetGL that will see the biggest change brought about by Hermes. Once upon a time, London’s Lodges were dealt with by UGLE itself and that of course included all their registration processes i.e. feeding ADelphi. When ‘London’ was devolved into MetGL these processes were left with UGLE – where they remain today. When Hermes is launched, MetGL will govern all of its own processes just like the Provinces – only bigger.
This working party has been tasked by our GSec and CEO with thinking outside of our current boxes. Our ideas and plans will of course be discussed with and validated by the DepGSec, the registrations department and the pilot Provinces before any coding starts. When we have obtained a consensus on the ways forward from that relatively small group, a process that is well under way, they will be exposed to all Provinces for their comments.
We anticipate that changes to the book of constitutions will be required and a separate committee has been set up to consider and draft them; I will leave you to guess who the chair of that committee is! Of course, the final decisions will rest with BGP and this, the grand Lodge
Let me finish with two examples of the new approach we are planning. Rule 158 may be tricky to administer but can flush out timewasters. There are people who start applying but then go radio silent. A few years later they decide to have another go and apply to a different Province. There are even people who are initiated in one Province, stop attending, then try and get initiated again somewhere else. GDPR prevents one Province from having access to the records of another Province.
We propose to have a database of enquiries available nationally, so anyone expressing interest via a website or open day will have his basic details captured and held for, say, 10 years. If the PMO assigns him to a Lodge those details form the basis of his application form. If it goes nowhere, it will be noted but he will remain on the database and if he approaches another Province or Lodge, those details will appear.
Clearance certificates are a little tricky because neither ADelphi nor Provinces record details of payments within Lodges; they only deal with payments by Lodges. So, we propose that as part of each attendance register that the Lodge Sec populates after each meeting – using a dropdown list of members – he also marks any members who are in arrears according to his Lodge’s bylaws. The existence of this flag will be picked up by any other Lodge he applies to join and the applicant invited to ‘check his records’.
The fourth and final session of the Provincial Prostate Cancer Screening programme running in Nottinghamshire was accomplished at Worksop Masonic Hall on 27th June 2019
The Head of the Urology Department at Burton on Trent Hospital, Miss Jyoti Shah, and her team undertook the testing ably supported by Nottinghamshire’s Provincial Almoners, namely: Urban Burrows, Provincial Grand Almoner, Keith Hollingworth, David Snowden, Ron Nuthall and Paul Freeman.
The idea for a Nottinghamshire testing programme was born early in 2017 when Urban, on a visit to London, heard that a Province was considering Prostate Cancer Screening for its members. Picking up on their initiative, he made enquiries, subsequent to which the Graham Fulford Trust was contacted. The Trust, on payment of a fixed fee per examination, would carry out a PSA blood test; however, the team had discovered information indicating that a blood test was not 100% conclusive. Further enquiries identified that Jyoti and her team performed the same blood test plus an internal examination of the prostate gland – a far more dependable check.
As Jyoti was in the process of planning a Prostate Cancer Screening Campaign for the Province of Derbyshire (as part of her remit for a Nationwide Screening Service) the Derbyshire Almoner, George Frost, was contacted and the Nottinghamshire Almoner’s team were invited to attend sessions at Derby and Burton. After discussion, Urban and the team realised that it was a feasible scheme for Nottinghamshire, so a proposal was put to their Provincial Grand Master Philip Marshall who immediately embraced the proposal and gave the team the go-ahead.
A fundraising campaign was launched to cover the cost of the examinations, such was the reaction that not only were the cost of 400 examinations covered (the original number of requests from members wishing to undertake the test), but also sufficient funds to make a donation to Jyoti’s Prostate Cancer Research Programme and to both the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Branches of Blood Bikes who would support the programme.
The four two-day screening sessions took place in Masonic centres across the Province: West Bridgford; Nottingham; Mansfield; and finally Worksop. In order to allow Jyoti to concentrate on the medical aspects of the sessions, the Almoners’ team, supported by two of very willing helpers, undertook all the planning. This approach maximised the number of examinations performed per session, more in fact than the original expectations. All the Masonic centres and their staff kindly made for rooms available to provide refreshments free of charge.
Of the 400 Freemasons examined, 10% have had a follow-up examination, of which four individuals have started treatment. Four lives have been saved, which is a massive outcome for the campaign.
Grateful thanks for their donations the overall Campaign fund go to the Provincial Charity Committee, Lodges, Other Orders and Units, local Regalia Stores, together with a number of individuals. Furthermore, the Hall Companies for the use of their facilities and of course, the 400 examinees for their generosity.
The Province’s success has been proven and their knowledge will be shared – three other Provinces have already asked the Nottinghamshire Almoners’ team to give them guidance on how to effect a similar campaign. Because of this Campaign, the Province of Nottinghamshire hope that more individuals have been made aware of this disease, its symptoms and what to do. Jyoti also expressed her hope that more men will be happy to talk openly about Prostate Cancer to their spouses and other men.
The summer break may have seen many Freemasons relaxing and enjoying the fine weather, but David Macey, Provincial Grand Master for Warwickshire, had other ideas when he decided to jump out of a plane to raise £11,000 for charity
The Province of Warwickshire is in the early stages of its 2023 Festival and working hard to raise money to support the excellent work of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The Provincial Grand Master is always one to lead from the front, which led him to search for an opportunity to raise a healthy sum of money for the Festival whilst aiming to inspire the Province to hit and exceed the Festival target.
Jumping from a perefectly serviceable aircraft seemed a suitable way to raise the profile of the Festival to new heights, so early in 2019 the plans were laid and preparations for a summer skydive commenced. David set himself an ambitious target of £10,000, with confidence that the members of Warwickshire would rise to the occasion.
Finally the day came and David, with a band of supporters, fought through difficult driving conditions to Langar Airfield in Nottinghamshire hoping for a break in the weather to give enough time for the jump to happen.In spite of hopes and optimism, the wind and rain thwarted the first attempt and it was not safe to jump.
Several weeks went by with the excitement and trepidation growing, until in July 2019 a window in the weather was found and the team made their way to Nottinghamshire once again. This time conditions were perfect. David completed his training and his instructor chosen, much to the amusement of the assembled crowd, with the Provincial Grand Master being rather tall and his instructor much less so, once in tandem, the instructors feet would never touch the floor.
The jump was an experience of a lifetime, with David's first words on landing being, 'I've got to do that again', although his wife Sandra didn't seem so sure. The exhilaration of the skydive was only increased as the fundraising soared past the target, finishing with £11,000 going to the Festival and the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
The full video of the skydive can be seen here.
Having seen Buckinghamshire’s Provincial Grand Master John Clark put through 26 miles of intense rowing along the River Thames to raise £7,000 for charity back in June 2019, two double kayaks used for the challenge have now been donated
John Clark completed the challenge alongside Assistant Provincial Grand Master Gary Brodie to raise the money in aid of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The kayaks they used on the day have now been handed over to the Jubilee River Riverside Centre to help people with disabilities get on the water.
As a result of the initial donation from the Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund, in conjunction with the Slough Masonic Centre, the Jubilee River Riverside Centre have applied for further funding for additional Kayaks designed specifically for people with disabilities.
Moving forwards, the Slough Masonic Centre plan to work closely with the Riverside Centre to help with its work in sports, youth work and for tackling environmental issues.
If you would like to support The Paddle Challenge you can donate by clicking here.
Four Swansea Freemasons set out on a gruelling 175-mile one-day ‘Home from Home’ ride from Llandudno to Porthcawl to raise funds for the 2021 festival, in aid of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI)
Simon Francis, Derek Johnson, Jason Thomas and Richard Owen – all members of an informal cycling club – had come up with the idea of cycling between two RMBI homes during the planning of the upcoming festival events.
The day of the ‘Home from Home’ event on 22 June 2019 was sunny with a cooling breeze, and after a 4.30am start at the Queen Elizabeth Court RMBI nursing home in Llandudno, the team set off at a relatively gentle pace towards Blaenau Festiniog. There a respite from the energy-sapping gradients of Snowdonia was taken before a gentler run down to Machynlleth and then Aberystwyth.
However, the mid-Wales stage of the ride was more challenging than expected. Organiser and lead rider Simon Francis commented: ‘The combination of steady headwinds and relatively gentle but long climbs made this stage a real test of endurance and toughness for all the riders.”
Fortunately, the rest of the journey via Ammanford and Swansea was easier. The team was joined for the last 35 miles by Alison Aberdeen, the manager of the Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court Nursing Home in Porthcawl, which was also their ultimate destination.
Simon commented that: ‘Everyone had to dig deep to get the ride done in one day – it was very challenging, and it was an honour to have had such a team to do it with. Without exception everyone performed admirably and it was fantastic that we were able to raise £12,500 for such a good cause.’
The cheque for the money raised from the ride was presented by the group to the Provincial Grand Master of South Wales Gareth Jones and Chairman of the 2021 Festival Sir Paul Williams, at the PGM’s Summer Ball held in Brangwyn Hall on 29 June, where it was gratefully received.
Simon concluded: ‘Events like these, where members capitalise on a passion or a skill to raise much-needed funds, are really important.
'Not only do we set ourselves a challenging personal task, but in doing so we are able to raise a significant amount of money, in this case for the RMBI, and to support our Province in reaching its £5 million target during our festival period.’