Shoring up in Somerset

Flooding in England and Wales caused widespread damage and disruption to many communities during the winter. Somerset masons, backed by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and other Provinces, came to the rescue with help for the Somerset Community Foundation.

Grand Charity President Richard Hone, QC approved a £20,000 emergency grant for the British Red Cross in support of its UK flood relief efforts.

The grant was backed by a special appeal among Somerset masons, who raised more than £175,000 for the Somerset Masonic Flood Recovery Fund, becoming one of the four main donors to the local appeal. Other Provinces also sent generous donations. 

The Grand Charity is working closely with masons in other affected areas of England and Wales to establish the best way to offer further support. In parallel with support for wider relief efforts, the charity will assist individual eligible masons who have been affected by events, and their dependants, by providing Masonic Relief Grants to relieve hardship.

Devonshire art  group success

An initiative by Devonshire mason Cyril Reed has drawn upon the wealth of artistic talent in Freemasonry, including widows of masons and those with close family ties. As a result, a group was formed to exhibit artworks, with profits going to charity. Several exhibitions have already been held, raising money for both masonic and non-masonic charities.

Lodge raises £10,000 for West Wales festival

A team of West Wales Provincial Officers took over Aeron Lodge, No. 7208, which meets at Aberaeron, with Provincial Grand Master Eric Mock leading and raising Nigel Jones in a ‘Cash for Ritual’ deal. But it was value for money – the lodge handed over £10,000 for the 2015 Festival on behalf of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity.

Tour de Yorkshire

Yorkshire is to host the start of this year’s Tour de France in July, so Martyn Bolt of Woodsmoke Lodge, No. 9317, suggested a cycle event navigating the boundary of the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding to raise funds for the 2017 RMBI Festival.

In the style of the Tour de France, the 280-mile Provincial Perimeter Pedal will be broken into stages as the route takes in 23 masonic halls after setting out from Tapton Hall in Sheffield.

The charity cycle will take place over the three days of the August bank holiday weekend, enabling many more riders to join the core group for part of the journey as they approach or leave a masonic hall. 

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Making waves for WaterAid

Edward Williams, aged 27, a member of Lodge of Three Grand Principles, No. 441, Province of Cambridgeshire, is attempting to swim the 20 miles between Ireland and Scotland in August in support of WaterAid. In 2006 he swam solo across the English Channel, raising more than £60,000 for prostate cancer research.

The founder of coaching company Elite Swimming Academy, Edward is undertaking what is considered by many to be the most challenging channel swim in the world. Only 19 people have swum the North Channel before, and the current record time for the swim (set in 2013 by Michelle May of the USA) is nine hours, 35 minutes. Edward is aiming to complete the swim in less than 12 hours. 

Grand Master’s  historic visit  to Gloucester  Cathedral

Paying his first ever visit to Gloucester Cathedral, the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, was made welcome among local brethren at their annual church service. 

The Grand Master first lunched at the masonic hall in Stroud, accompanied by Dame Janet Trotter, Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, and the High Sheriff, the Hon Hugh Tollemache. They were hosted by Provincial Grand Master Adrian Davies and his wife Angela. 

Following a further civic engagement at Brockworth, the Duke arrived at the cathedral with the Mayor of Gloucester, together with county and civic leaders. The congregation was welcomed by the Dean, the Very Reverend Stephen Lake, and lessons were read by Deputy Provincial Grand Master Tim Henderson-Ross and the PGM. The Grand Master presented the Dean with a cheque for £20,000 towards the cathedral restoration fund, representing £10,000 each from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and Gloucestershire Freemasons.

Bugler trio installed

Of the four Armed Services, the Royal Marines is by far the smallest, and so the bugler branch of the Royal Marines Band Service is possibly the smallest branch of all. So it was a rare event when three former Royal Marine buglers were installed as the three Principals of Brent Chapter, No. 1284, in the Province of Devonshire.

First Principal Norman Minto was a Corporal Bugler; Second Principal Den Challis, a Drum Major; and Third Principal Stuart Burgess, a Bugler. In addition, Scribe E of the Chapter, Martin Heskins, was also a Royal Marine Corporal Bugler. 

Technology  boost for  the blind

Henshaws Society for Blind People has received a £50,000 grant from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity to support its assistive technology programme across its college and centres in Manchester, Merseyside, Harrogate, Knaresborough and Newcastle. 

The society gives expert support and training to anyone affected by sight loss and other disabilities, and the grant will help to provide a wireless network at its college, as well as broadband in the community houses. The funds will also subsidise the salary of the assistive technology coordinator over three years. Henshaws’ chief executive, Nick Marr, said, ‘The support committed by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity will make a huge difference to the lives of our college students.’

Sir David Trippier, East Lancashire Provincial Grand Master, said, ‘I am delighted that we are supporting Henshaws. It is a wonderful college.’

Published in The Grand Charity

Shalom house help

In January, Provincial Grand Master Eric Mock and Andrew Wood of Cambrian Lodge, No. 464, attended Shalom House hospice in St Davids to present a plaque to senior nurse Alison Burrows. 

The plaque acknowledges the efforts of the brethren of Cambrian Lodge and the Provincial Charity Committee, who raised money for the purchase of a new bed – to which the plaque will be attached. Masonic support is particularly welcome, as the hospice receives no government funding.

Farewell to old sessions

The Central London Masonic Centre has completed the sale of Old Sessions House (above) and is now the owner of the new Clerkenwell Centre. Stephen Ayres, Centre Chairman, said, ‘It should be less expensive on operating and maintenance costs, considerably more flexible for both masonic and commercial business and much more accessible, particularly for those with restricted mobility.’

Stephen explained, however, that there were some issues with the new building, and some reconfiguration may be needed to satisfy masonic needs. He added: ‘We have already put in hand some of the changes needed, which should answer the majority of the problems.’

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