Seven marathons in seven days

Bristol Freemason Bill Doody ran seven marathons in seven days in support of the Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) and the NSPCC. Fundraising on behalf of the Province of Bristol’s 2019 Festival Appeal for the MSF, he covered more than 183 miles in one week. Bill began his incredible challenge by running from Bristol to London, finishing off with the London Marathon on 13 April. 

He visited several lodges and attended meetings at Wiltshire, Berkshire, West Kent and Freemasons’ Hall in London. 

Go to www.justgiving.com/samaritan for more information

A tribute to Hugh Stubbs

It is with great sadness that the Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) reports the passing of Hugh Stubbs. Following a short illness, he passed away on 31 January 2014. Hugh was first appointed to the Board of the MSF in September 1996. For five years, he was Chairman of the Grants Committee and spent three years on the Board of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity. Hugh then returned to the MSF in 2007, where he served for six years as President of the Board of Trustees until his retirement in April 2013. 

During his fourteen years with the Fund, Hugh dedicated his time, energy and experience on behalf of those in need. He was instrumental in many of the changes that have seen the Fund continue to develop to meet the evolving needs of its beneficiaries. The MSF Counselling Careline is the most recent initiative introduced under his enthusiastic leadership. Hugh will be sadly missed by all those who had the privilege to know and work with him.

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund
Thursday, 05 June 2014 01:00

MSF Counselling Careline meets demand

Counselling careline demand

The MSF Counselling Careline was launched in January 2013 in order to help people negotiate change in their lives and proactively deal with problems. Following a bereavement, or perhaps retirement, redundancy or family breakdown, the MSF Counselling Careline can connect callers with a qualified and experienced counsellor.

The MSF Counselling Careline offers up to six face-to-face or telephone counselling sessions. Since the launch, two hundred and forty-four people have had access to this vital support line at a total cost of £151,808. 

Freemasons, their wives, partners, widows and dependants can access the free and confidential helpline by calling the Grants Team on 020 7404 1550, who will issue callers with an individual reference number and access to the Careline. 

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund
Thursday, 05 June 2014 01:00

MSF's consultation and assessment grants

During 2013, the Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) announced that small grants are available to fund initial consultations and occupational therapist assessments for those waiting in excess of eight weeks on the NHS or local authority

Since then, two hundred and thirty-two people have received a consultation and assessment grant at a total cost of more than £92,000. 

Applying for a grant is simple, with no forms to complete or financial assessment required. Enquiries can be made by calling Grants Team Administrator Hema Chouhan (pictured) on 020 7404 1550

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund

In safe hands

The first year of a research project exploring the reasons behind stillbirths is being funded by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund. Sophie Radice finds out more about this pioneering work  

The heartbreak of losing a baby during pregnancy and birth affects one in four pregnant women in the UK each year, yet comparatively little is known about why this occurs. When babies are lost, the families usually have a desperate need to know why it happened and are often disappointed by the lack of knowledge or interest. ‘That’s why Tommy’s was set up in 1992 by two obstetricians working in the maternity unit at St Thomas’ Hospital in London,’ explains Jacqui Clinton, Tommy’s health campaigns director.

Tommy’s funds research into pregnancy problems, and provides information and a dedicated midwife telephone helpline – a heavily used service that received three thousand six hundred calls and emails last year from mums and dads wanting advice, and bereaved parents in need of support. The charity now funds three research centres in the UK run in partnership between hospital and university experts, based at St Thomas’, London; the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh; and St Mary’s, Manchester. 

Uncovering complications

When a baby dies after twenty-four weeks of gestation it is called a stillbirth. Every year in the UK more than four thousand babies are stillborn; many deaths remain unexplained, although it is estimated that abnormalities in the placenta – essentially a baby’s life-support machine – occur in forty per cent of cases. In 2009, the Manchester Placenta Clinic was set up with the aim of detecting these abnormalities. 

The centre combines specialised antenatal care for pregnancies affected by fetal growth restriction with frontline research into why the condition occurs and how it might be treated. The Freemasons’ Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) are donating £42,000 towards new Tommy’s research that will pioneer a method of MRI scanning to build a detailed picture of fetal development that doesn’t place the baby at risk. The Freemasons will support one year of the three-year research programme, enabling Tommy’s to seek match grants for the remaining period. 

‘Every year in the UK more than four thousand babies are stillborn; it is estimated that abnormalities in the placenta occur in forty per cent of cases.’

A founding member of the Manchester clinic, Dr Ed Johnstone explains this novel method of looking at placentas in vitro: ‘For MRI scanning, we have taken advantage of a new technology that uses oxygen as a contrast agent to provide unique, non-invasive biomarkers in compromised pregnancies. We are then able to look in much more detail at the placentas of the pregnant women at different gestational stages and assess the complications that are linked to different placental problems by the blood oxygen concentration.’

Seeking answers

Adrian Flook is one of the trustees of the MSF and has a personal connection with Tommy’s. ‘My own daughter was born at St Thomas’ eight years ago. My wife was not a young first-time mother and we were anxious about that. We did our research and found that St Thomas’ was considered one of the best places to give birth for mothers who might have complications.’ Adrian is full of praise for Tommy’s. ‘They deserve their excellent reputation because the team that took care of us was amazing. I’m really proud that the Freemasons have donated to such an interesting and worthy cause.’ 

Susan Harper-Clarke, from Teddington, is another beneficiary of Tommy’s. She had experienced the agony of two late miscarriages at nineteen weeks and twenty-two weeks; tests showed that she had what’s known as an ‘incompetent cervix’, despite being healthy and free of risk factors. After some online research she found the Tommy’s website and the Preterm Surveillance Clinic at St Thomas’ Hospital. ‘I wasn’t even pregnant yet and was so grateful to be taken seriously,’ says Susan. ‘It gave me real confidence that Tommy’s would support my third pregnancy fully. I hadn’t been given any information or help with the other pregnancies and no one seemed interested in finding out why this had happened to us.’

Under the team’s care, Susan gave birth to her son, Thomas, at thirty-eight weeks in July 2012. Her story is just one of many as Tommy’s works towards its target to halve the number of babies that die during pregnancy or birth by 2030.

Unconditional support

Sanjukta Chaudhuri, from Beaconsfield, has benefited from St Thomas’ expertise. After three miscarriages, the first in 2000, she was put in touch with the Preterm Surveillance Clinic, London. She describes the clinic’s Professor Andrew Shennan as ‘the eternal optimist’.

At eighteen weeks, during her fourth pregnancy, her membranes bulged and the potential for the onset of infection was high. There was no opportunity to save the pregnancy so she requested to be induced rather than wait for nature to take its course. Now knowing what the problem was, Sanjukta was recruited to take part in a trial at St Thomas’ and had an abdominal stitch inserted before becoming pregnant again. Care at the clinic included having her cervix measured every other week and the fetal fibronectin test – the result of which showed she was no longer a high-risk patient.

Professor Shennan delivered Sanjukta’s son, Oisin, by caesarean in January 2013, and after three days she was able to take him home. She says of being a mum: ‘It’s unconditional love. I can never repay what Tommy’s has done for me.’

Published in Freemasonry Cares

Back to life

When illness or financial problems strike, pride can inhibit some masons from asking for support. Tabby Kinder finds out how Freemasonry Cares is ensuring masons and their dependants are helped quickly, simply and in confidence

With a flurry of winter coats and woollen gloves, David Blunt and his wife wrap up against the chilly January day. David positions himself onto a shiny electric scooter – a vehicle that, for him, makes leaving the house possible. The couple are beginning the trip to their nearby hospital in Rugby for a routine check-up. 

It’s a journey they have made a couple of times a month since an illness left David with severe disabilities almost five years ago. 

For David, acknowledging that he needed support in the form of the scooter was a challenge that took a while to overcome. ‘When I first came out of hospital I just didn’t admit my disabilities,’ he says. ‘I struggled for months before I admitted defeat and asked for some help.’ According to Warwickshire Assistant Provincial Grand Master Trevor Sturt, David’s situation is by no means unique: ‘His case is a classic example and one that was likely to have slipped through the net had Freemasonry Cares not existed.’ 

Freemasonry Cares is a joint initiative between the four national masonic charities – The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB), the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) and the Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) – to provide charitable support, financial and otherwise, to masons and their families. 

While this support has always been available, a need was recognised at the heart of the organisation to make assistance more accessible, both to those who aren’t sure if they are eligible for help, and to those who are embarrassed to even ask for it. So far, it’s proving a huge success in getting people like David vitally important support. 

David’s old scooter, gifted to him several years ago by the son of an old friend, urgently needed replacing, and after speaking to his lodge Almoner in the autumn of 2013, he was directed to the Freemasonry Cares hotline. ‘The MSF was then able to pick up his case, assess his needs and grant him the new mobile scooter he’s using today,’ Trevor says. 

Regaining independence

In the course of just a few months, the MSF then went on to replace David’s bath with an accessible shower unit, and also granted his wife an adjustable chair, easing the problems she has with her own mobility. ‘Accepting help through Freemasonry Cares was a psychological step for me, as well as a financial and physical one,’ says David. ‘My wife’s quality of life has been greatly improved by the support, particularly for her sanity now I am able to get out of the house. The scooter gives me the freedom to go out, get to appointments and meet people almost every day of the week.’ 

‘People can just call one number... It’s the simple approach that encourages people to understand there’s no harm in asking for help.’ Jess Grant

David’s story highlights the importance of not just communicating the support available to masons but also streamlining how enquiries are handled by the masonic charities. ‘The process is a lot more simple than it used to be,’ says Jess Grant, one of the core team of just three people responsible for planning and administering the initiative. ‘Now, people aren’t put off by wondering what charity is right for them or if they would even qualify, because they can just call one number and have instant access to everything on offer. It’s the simple approach that encourages people to understand there’s no harm in asking for help.’ 

Jess attributes the success of Freemasonry Cares so far to the confidential nature of the scheme that allows masons, their family members and widows to ask for support anonymously if they so choose – and many do. ‘It’s a voice on the end of the phone rather than a familiar person who they might have known for thirty years,’ says Jess. ‘We wanted to remove any obstacle that might stop someone from making that initial approach.’ 

For Jess, Freemasonry Cares is definitely working: 

‘We get calls from people who have been gearing themselves up for some time to phone, especially in the cases of widows who may feel they’re doing their late husband a disservice by admitting to not being able to cope. But the calls are coming in greater numbers and the charities are supporting more people than ever.’ 

The enquiry level in David’s Province of Warwickshire is now running at around fifteen calls per month – three times higher than the number of calls made to the charities in the previous year. ‘We’ve had eighty-one enquiries processed in this Province this year, which is a ten-fold increase in assistance given by the charities to our members, already proving that Freemasonry Cares is encouraging the people who need help to ask for it,’ says Trevor.

Paul, a mason in Surrey (whose name has been changed by request), admits straightaway that he would not have asked for support unless he was able to do so privately. ‘When you have cancer it takes over your whole life and everyone you meet just wants to talk about it,’ he says. ‘The lodge is one of the few places I can go where nobody really knows my situation; it’s a relief.’ 

Easing the strain

Paul first discovered he had metastasized bowel cancer four years ago, adding a huge burden to his family responsibilities of being a single father to his seven-year-old daughter and the sole carer of his elderly mother. 

‘It was alright at first, the government provided some basic support and the NHS have been able to manage my cancer,’ he says. ‘It’s good in the most important way, because I’m still alive, but ongoing treatment has really stretched me financially as I’m not able to work and my savings have completely disappeared.’

Just weeks after being encouraged by his lodge Almoner to put in a phone call to Freemasonry Cares, the Grand Charity was able to give Paul a £5,000 lump sum towards his general living costs. ‘I was resistant at first but the application process was simple. Julia Young from the RMTGB welfare team came round and we spoke for over an hour. I had been living on the edge of what I could afford every month, but this grant means I have a buffer so I can worry a little less about my outgoings and a little more about myself and my family.’ 

The RMTGB was able to provide Paul with a termly payment of £600 to pay for music lessons, clothes, school trips and holidays for his young daughter. ‘I was amazed and so grateful, it was more than I ever expected to receive, and being able to pay for my daughter’s Christmas presents without worrying was such a relief,’ says Paul. ‘Julia provided a friendly face without being someone I would need to see every day and that was important to me – we’re a bit resistant, us blokes! But as soon as I’d made the first contact, the whole thing became a little less daunting.’

‘My advice to someone reading this would be to just pick up the phone,’ says Jess, explaining that there is no such thing as an insignificant grant. ‘Somebody may call us up and need major heart surgery that costs £50,000, whereas someone else may call and say they need a mobility aid to get down the driveway. Both of these things can have a huge impact on someone’s quality of life, and we always strive to provide individual support in a reassuring and confidential manner.’

Care hotline

Freemasonry Cares offers free and confidential guidance on the wide range of financial, healthcare and family help available to masons and their dependants. To contact Freemasonry Cares or apply for support, contact your lodge Almoner, call 0800 035 60 90 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To find out if you may be eligible for support from the masonic charities, you can answer some easy questions at www.freemasonrycares.org/decider.php

Surrey rank and file

Bob Jenkinson, Provincial Grand Almoner for Surrey, is a huge advocate of the Freemasonry Cares initiative and wants more people to receive the help they need. ‘We grabbed the opportunity to offer Freemasonry Cares to the brethren in Surrey because we recognised the same problems as The Freemasons’ Grand Charity – that the rank and file mason often doesn’t have a clue what any of the charities are about and even less idea of how to get support from them,’ he says. 

Since adopting Freemasonry Cares and promoting it in meetings and literature across the Province, Surrey has seen the number of enquiries made to the charities increase by around twenty per cent on the previous year. ‘We’ve had about fifty enquiries to the Freemasonry Cares hotline this quarter, and I’m personally getting twice as many calls from people asking me to initiate contact for them, so the push has really generated an understanding of what the masonic charities are there to do,’ says Bob. Masons in Surrey have received almost £1 million in grants since the launch of the initiative in the area a year ago – up £160,000 on the previous year.

Published in Freemasonry Cares
Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00

MSF donates nearly £50,000 to A-T Society

Looking to the future

The Masonic Samaritan Fund is supporting treatment and research into curing complex medical conditions

The majority of the MSF’s grant-making is to cover the associated costs of a diagnosed health or care need. However, the charity also funds medical research projects that aim to improve the treatment for many of the illnesses and disabilities affecting masonic families and the wider community.

Richard Penelrick was diagnosed with Ataxia-Telangiectasia (A-T), a rare and progressive genetic disorder for which there is no cure, when he was sixteen years old. A-T has weakened Richard’s immune system, leading to frequent chest and lung infections, and placed him at significantly increased risk of developing cancer. He was wheelchair-bound by the end of his teens, and the condition is generally fatal to patients by the time they reach their late twenties. 

Richard’s family have looked after him through increasing disability and challenging care needs. His masonic guardian, John Pritchard, said, ‘The impact of A-T on individuals and their families is devastating. We not only have to cope with providing twenty-four-hour care for Richard, but we must be ready at any time to face the prospect of a severe illness or his possible death.’

Support for A-T sufferers

In partnership with the Province of Devonshire, the MSF has given support to Richard and his family. Margaret, his mother, has received respite care grants for several years, allowing her time to rest from the day-and-night care she provides for her son, while Richard has received a bespoke wheelchair, tailored to his needs. Margaret said, ‘It is very pleasing to see Richard in a wheelchair that helps with his medical needs and allows him to still use his own physical capabilities. I would like to thank all involved throughout this application.’     

There is currently no cure for A-T, which affects one in forty thousand young people in the UK. The MSF has donated £49,695 to the A-T Society, a charity that seeks funding for medical research to explore routes to potential cures for A-T. Society chief executive William Davis, said, ‘This generous grant from the Masonic Samaritan Fund has enabled the charity to fund exciting research that may not only impact on people living with A-T, but could go on to advance treatments and even promote a cure for other genetic diseases and cancer.’

How to make an application

In support of helping to alleviate delays for treatment or surgery, the MSF provided more than two hundred medical grants to Freemasons and their dependants during 2013 at a cost of just over £1.5 million. The support provided covered a wide range of medical conditions and the Fund’s new online Eligibility Calculator can tell you if you’re likely to qualify for a grant. Visit www.msfund.org.uk/eligibility-calculator and answer ten simple questions to receive an immediate decision as to your eligibility to make a full application to the Fund.  

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund

Dr Shamima Rahman is pioneering a new means of diagnosis that is opening up astonishing prospects in understanding a devastating hereditary condition. Andrew Gimson finds out how the Masonic Samaritan Fund became involved

Aged just thirty-nine, Jason Brincle fell ill in March 2010. ‘He’d been perfectly healthy up to that point. He lived with his partner, and apparently had an epileptic fit in the middle of the night. It initially looked like a stroke. His speech and mobility were affected: the usual signs for a stroke,’ recalls his father Geoff. ‘A month after that, some tests gave us the devastating news that he had MELAS syndrome, which is one of the most severe variants of mitochondrial disease. You can imagine how difficult it is when you’re told there is no treatment and no cure.’

The mitochondrion is the part of a cell that converts food into energy. Its failure is like a power cut, with devastating effects for organs that need large supplies of energy, such as the brain, eyes, ears, kidneys, liver, heart and other muscles. The disease is hereditary.

Jason recovered enough to return to work as a manager with a charity in October of that year, but had a second attack in November. ‘The final blow was in early 2011: a particularly bad attack that took his sight. Obviously I was visiting every day,’ says Geoff. ‘He was in Salford Royal Hospital, about ten miles away. His sight came back to a degree, but was replaced by hallucinations and nightmares to the point where he had to be sectioned at one time.’

In April, Jason died. ‘As a parent, you feel guilty: could I have done more? This mitochondrial disease, we’d never heard of it. It’s horrendous. It’s so cruel. It affects about one in six thousand five hundred people. When we knew Jason had MELAS, it was obvious his mother had died from it twelve years before. On her death certificate it said “stroke”. She suffered for eight years – she couldn’t walk, talk, eat or hear.’

A life ebbing away

Like most people with first-hand experience of the disease, Geoff is a strong supporter of research: ‘When nature goes wrong, science has to correct it.’

Rachel Kean, who is twenty-four, has been diagnosed with MELAS, but has few symptoms. She inherited the disease from her mother, who has no symptoms. But her mother’s sister suffered and died from the condition, with ‘truly brutal’ effects including heart and kidney failure, severe hearing impairment and ‘very many miscarriages’.  She too is an ardent supporter of research and says that UK charity the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign ‘are incredibly supportive of patients – truly wonderful’. 

Val Wintle, who is fifty-three, began noticing the symptoms of mitochondrial disease when she was thirty-two and was diagnosed at the age of thirty-six. It affects her mobility and her eyesight, and she feels constantly tired: ‘I would say I haven’t got a life. I can’t travel – I’d get too tired. I don’t really feel that I’m part of this world. I had plans and hopes and aspirations. My husband took early retirement to look after me. I wouldn’t be able to cope on my own. I’ve just seen my life ebb away from me, if you see what I mean. Slowly it gets worse and worse and worse.’

John McCrohan is Grants Director of the Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF), which has given £30,000 to the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign to help fund research by Dr Shamima Rahman of University College London (UCL). For the past twenty-two years, the MSF has helped individuals with the cost of their medical treatment, but three years ago it decided to also support research into the conditions from which they suffer. 

‘We have seen families struggling with the effects of muscular dystrophy and related neuromuscular conditions [such as mitochondrial disease], so we wanted to see if there was any good research out there. When Dr Rahman’s application came through, the research committee was very keen. Dr Rahman is herself a very talented researcher and is supported by a network at University College Hospital,’ says McCrohan.

‘We have seen families struggling with... muscular dystrophy and related neuromuscular conditions [such as mitochondrial disease], so we wanted to see if there was any good research out there.’ John McCrohan

‘Next generation’ technology

Dr Rahman is grateful for the support and hopes it will be possible to form a long-term relationship with the MSF. ‘This is an orphan group of disorders,’ she says. ‘It’s very difficult to get funding for rare diseases. These are devastating diseases, almost invariably life-threatening, very difficult to diagnose, and very, very difficult to treat.’

About one in five thousand babies is affected by mitochondrial disease. But the condition presents itself in many different ways, and has most often gone undiagnosed. ‘Next generation’ gene sequencing technology is changing that. It can identify the many different nuclear gene defects that underlie mitochondrial disease in childhood. But it is a very complex technology, requiring advanced computing, so Dr Rahman and her team have outsourced the actual sequence alignment to computer experts at UCL with whom they have a very close relationship. 

In Dr Rahman’s experience, a different gene is responsible for mitochondrial disease in each family that she sees. It is likely that more than a thousand different genes cause the disease, so finding the exact causative gene in any family is akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. The ‘next generation’ sequencing, which sequences all twenty thousand genes simultaneously in an individual, typically shows an average of twenty thousand changes in each person, and the real challenge is to determine which two of these changes are causing the disease in that person.

Having once been able to diagnose five per cent of cases of mitochondrial disease in babies and young children, Dr Rahman and her team can now detect fifty per cent. Because generating energy is so important, at least seven per cent of genetic function is devoted to supporting our mitochondrial function. She does not expect to be able to trace the myriad forms of mitochondrial disease back to only a few underlying causes, predicting that eventually more than a thousand genes will be linked to mitochondrial disease. 

Timing is everything

After reading medicine at Oxford, Dr Rahman soon discovered the subject that has dominated her work: ‘My interest in mitochondrial disorders was kindled just over twenty years ago when I first joined the metabolic team at Great Ormond Street Hospital. The challenges both then and now are to provide accurate and prompt diagnoses, and to develop effective treatments.’

The past few years have witnessed great advances in genetic diagnosis for mitochondrial diseases, with the discovery of more than one hundred disease genes. ‘But it is likely that several hundred more genes will be linked to mitochondrial disease in the future,’ says Dr Rahman. ‘Our long-term goal is to translate this genetic knowledge into curative treatments for children with these challenging diseases.’

In one astonishing recent case, the detection by Dr Rahman and her colleagues of the rare mitochondrial disorder from which a fifteen-year-old girl was suffering enabled the patient to be treated with the B vitamins biotin and thiamine, with an immediate and dramatic improvement in symptoms. This early treatment was essential to avert permanent brain damage or death. 

 ‘The challenges [of mitochondrial disorders] are to provide accurate and prompt diagnoses, and to develop effective treatments.’ Dr Shamima Rahman

The patient is currently doing well at school.

The more one learns about mitochondrial disease, the more worthwhile Dr Rahman’s research appears, and the more deserving of long-term support.

About the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign has pioneered the search for treatments and cures for fifty years, and is dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults affected by muscle-wasting conditions. Statutory income accounts for just five per cent of the charity’s funds, so its work relies on voluntary donations from individuals, groups and grant-making bodies. To find out more, visit www.muscular-dystrophy.org 

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund
Friday, 06 December 2013 00:00

Grand Secretary's column - Winter 2013

I am delighted to report that the bicentenary celebrations of the Royal Arch in October were a major success. His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, in his capacity as First Grand Principal, announced that the donated and pledged amount to the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Appeal for the Royal College of Surgeons had reached £2 million. 

The members were congratulated by His Royal Highness for this superb effort and the president of the College, Professor Norman Williams, was also present to add his profuse thanks. I believe this milestone event in the history of the Royal Arch has been a wonderful boost to the Order.

At the beginning of the appeal I wrote that we were justly proud to be the major benefactor to the Royal College of Surgeons. The Royal Arch Masons Appeal will further help the College’s successful research fellowship scheme, which supports surgeons in undertaking a research project. The reality is that our contributions will help to save lives and improve the quality of life for us, our children and our grandchildren.

Freemasonry maintains strong relationships across the medical profession. In this issue of Freemasonry Today, we explore how the Masonic Samaritan Fund has been funding groundbreaking research into the genetics of MELAS syndrome, a devastating hereditary condition. And on a more personal note, we chart the life of Dr George Penn, a regimental captain, much-loved country doctor and committed lodge member who was educated at the Royal Masonic School for Boys.

Elsewhere, we report on how Freemasonry and karate are coming together at the Shotokan Karate Lodge, with the humility and respect needed in Freemasonry equally at home in the dojo. David Williamson reflects on a career as an airline pilot and his role in driving the Universities Scheme as he approaches retirement from the position of Assistant Grand Master. And we find out how the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution is helping the older generation cross the digital divide by giving them access to online technology.

I wish you and your family an enjoyable festive season as we look forward to 2014. 

Nigel Brown
Grand Secretary

‘The reality is that our contributions will help to save lives and improve the quality of life for us, our children and our grandchildren.’

Published in UGLE

Eligibility goes online

The Masonic Samaritan Fund has launched online tools to help Freemasons and their dependants.

The MSF’s new online Eligibility Calculator has been created to help potential applicants to the Fund understand its eligibility criteria. The simple tool enables anyone considering applying for a health or care grant to receive a quick and confidential assessment of whether they are likely to be eligible.

Answering ten questions could be the first step to stopping the frustration and worry of a long wait or huge expense to receive the health and care support you or a loved one needs. The calculator asks applicants about their masonic connection, the type of grant required and their household finances. It also explains what steps are necessary in order to make an application.

The calculator offers an additional route for Freemasons and their dependants to make an approach to the Fund. However, potential applicants are still encouraged to make direct contact with the grants team at any stage for advice. There’s nothing to lose by consulting the Eligibility Calculator; even those who don’t need assistance right now will benefit from knowing whether the MSF can help, should they or their loved ones need support in the future.

Staying in touch by email

The Eligibility Calculator isn’t the only digital tool developed by the MSF. Each month, the MSF circulates an e-newsletter that links to news from the Fund and stories of the people and medical research projects that have received help. 

Stay in touch by signing up today at www.msfund.org.uk

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund
Page 6 of 9

ugle logoSGC logo