Careline providing support

In the last edition of Freemasonry Today we announced the launch of the MSF Counselling Careline. We are pleased to reveal that thirty people have already made use of the service. The MSF Counselling Careline provides Freemasons and their dependants with the opportunity to speak with professional counsellors. The service is free and confidential and can be accessed following a single call to the MSF.

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund

Mason leads limb loss parliamentary group backed by PM

After receiving support from the MSF to buy a new prosthetic leg, Freemason Vernon Leigh has been selected as the northwest representative of the Associate Parliamentary Limb Loss Group, backed by David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Vernon met with MPs to discuss the provision of prosthetics direct to the NHS, avoiding the ‘postcode lottery’.

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund

Historic badge of honour

A masonic emblem of professional excellence in healthcare hints at the history of the MSF

A key part of masonic history has been caught on camera as Her Majesty the Queen left hospital in March. The nurse escorting the Queen out of the ward at King Edward VII’s Hospital was photographed wearing the signature belt buckle and masonic jewel that shows she trained at the Royal Masonic Hospital, London.

The MSF was established in 1990 to take on the role of the Samaritan Fund at the Royal Masonic Hospital and since the closure of the hospital six years later, the MSF has maintained the spirit and ethos of the original Samaritan Fund. King George V and Queen Mary opened the Royal Masonic Hospital in 1933, and a School of Nursing was established there in 1948. It quickly gained a reputation for producing highly skilled nurses whose silver belt buckles became a distinctive honour amongst the profession.

Call 020 7404 1550 to support the work of the MSF

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund

Armed forces day out

It was a special day out for Richard Penelrick and his mother, Margaret, when they attended the Armed Forces Day national event celebrations on Plymouth Hoe, Devon.

Almoner John Pritchard and Master John Speak of Lord Roborough Lodge, No. 5789, Plymouth, in the Province of Devonshire, in partnership with the Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF), arranged the visit.

Richard, aged 35, is the son of Allen Penelrick, who was a member of Lord Roborough Lodge. He has ataxia telangiectasia (A-T) and was presented with a special wheelchair with a power-pack from the MSF in 2009. Margaret Penelrick is also receiving assistance via the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution Care Advice Team.

Helping women in Bombay

During a recent visit to the District of Bombay, Richard Douglas, Masonic Samaritan Fund Chief Executive, saw clear evidence that Freemasonry does care. Richard witnessed an example of the help provided by local masons through Haig-Brown Lodge, No. 3829, which supports the Goa branch of the Association for Social Health in India, a refuge for women of all ages. Lodge members donated water purification equipment and dried food for use by the residents.

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 13:00

Pro Grand Master's address - December 2012

Quarterly Communication
12 September 2012
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes


I have recently finished the two yearly Regional Conferences that I have with Provincial Grand Masters. These are relatively informal affairs and cover a wide range of subjects. I find them extremely useful and they are kind enough to say the same – but, of course, what else could they say!

One theme that ran through them all was a determination to see our numbers on the increase by 2017. Indeed, in one or two cases, this has already started.  This means that perhaps we are getting some things right.

I have said frequently that we must not be looking for new candidates simply for the sake of increasing numbers, but if we can start this increase with the right candidates there should be a knock on effect.

Enthusing new members is of paramount importance and we heard from Brothers Soper and Lord at the September Quarterly Communication about the work of the Universities Scheme. Following that talk I have asked the Universities Scheme Committee to think about how best we can implement some of the principles that were mentioned, across the whole Craft.

Recruiting and retaining young candidates is our most important task and I am confident that those who have made the Universities Scheme successful can help us with this important challenge. However this is not just down to them and we must all pull our weight in this respect.

Brethren, in November I visited my Great Grandfather’s mother Lodge in Hertfordshire and a splendid occasion it was, with an almost faultless 2nd Degree Ceremony being performed. I can almost hear you all thinking that they would have spent hours rehearsing. Not so, as they didn’t know that I was coming.

The reason for mentioning this today is that in the Reply for the Visitors the Brother speaking referred to the Craft as an altruistic society. Altruism is one of those words that I have often heard used and possibly even used myself without having been completely sure of its meaning. The dictionary definition is “regard for others as a principle of action”. Rather a good description for a lot of what Freemasonry is about.

If we can instil this ethos into our candidates, we won’t be going far wrong. Of course it is not all that we are about, but it is not a bad starting point, as it should naturally lead to a practice of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, which in itself leads on to our charitable giving, which seems to be second nature to us.

During this year the Festivals for our Charities in our Provinces have raised a total of nearly £10m, of which Leicestershire and Rutland raised £1.7m for the RMBI; Warwickshire raised £3.16m for the MSF; Cambridgeshire £1.285m for the Grand Charity and Devonshire £3.836m for the RMTGB. In these troubled economic times this, Brethren, is remarkable and I congratulate all those concerned.

I hope that our membership, as a whole, are far more familiar with the activities of all our Charities than might have been the case 20 or so years ago. The promotion of their activities by the Charities is excellent and the Freemasonry Cares campaign has enlightened many people at home and abroad about what support is available.

Whilst 3 of our Charities are Masonic in their giving, and there is nothing to be ashamed of in that - quite the contrary in my view, the Grand Charity, of course, has a wide brief for giving to non Masonic bodies, provided that they are also Charities. Not everyone appreciates this aspect, or how much money is involved and we should be quick to point it out.

Brethren, since 2007 we have had excellent and amusing talks on the past at the December Quarterly Communication from Brothers Hamill and Redman and we should be proud of our history, but it is of paramount importance that we look forward and ensure that we go from strength to strength in the future in both numbers and our usefulness to the society in which we live.

Brethren, I wish you all a very relaxing break over Christmas, particularly if, like me, you will be having your Grand Children to stay.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 01:00

Restoring independence

Susan Beaumont has been confined to a wheelchair for the past 10 years. Although she lives independently she remains, at 34 years of age, reliant on her parents for both physical and financial support. Susan has limb girdle muscular dystrophy – a progressive condition that causes weakness in her hip, thigh and shoulder muscles – making it increasingly difficult for her to manage in a self-propelled wheelchair. Her mother, as primary carer, spends the majority of each day with Susan, while her parents remain on call at night in case she is unwell or there is an unforeseen household emergency.

Paul Healey, Almoner of Susan’s father’s lodge, applied to the Masonic Samaritan Fund in the hope of securing a grant to supply a powered wheelchair. The application was successful and Susan is now enjoying a new-found freedom and increased independence without the need to rely on others to push her around. One of her first outings was to the Provincial carol service held at the Penistone Parish Church, near to her home. Susan is now hoping to acquire a car through the Motability scheme that can be driven from her wheelchair, thereby further increasing her independence and mobility.

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund
Thursday, 15 March 2012 00:00

Support and acceptance

One of the most difficult emotions to come to terms with after a life-changing event such as a partner suffering a stroke is the resentment one experiences after the shock wears off and the carer realises that their life has changed beyond recognition

In February 2007, Ray Abercromby-Little had a stroke. A year later he began suffering from regular debilitating seizures, increasing his needs dramatically. His wife Pat explains: ‘In 2009 I was close to breaking point myself when our lodge almoner, Len Goodyer, helped us approach the Masonic Samaritan Fund. Up until that time I was looking after Ray without any outside support.’   

With the help of the Masonic Samaritan Fund, it is no longer a struggle Pat has to face alone. ‘I know several carers who have been looking after their partners for many years without a break. They are often bound by a cycle of resentment and guilt, which prevents them from seeking help,’ she says.

The application to the Fund was granted and Ray experienced his first stay in a comfortable respite care home before the end of 2009. Pat continues: ‘Although very anxious and reluctant to go there at first, he soon realised what a pleasant experience it could be and has returned on several occasions. The staff now know him well and he has always been offered the same now-familiar room and enjoys the attention of the carers and the company of the other residents.’  

With six weeks of respite available annually, the support of the Masonic Samaritan Fund gives Pat and Ray an essential boost to their morale. ‘I normally try to arrange a holiday away from home. It’s a chance to recharge and get back in touch with who you really are!’

Pat admits that accepting what happened to Ray has been a huge struggle for the couple. ‘However, just having the peace of mind in knowing that Ray is being well looked after and that I can have the freedom to choose to do something that I actually want to do, has helped enormously. It’s an invaluable lifeline.’

More than six million people in the UK are carers – around one in eight adults. If you, or someone you know, is caring for a loved one and would value a period of respite, please get in touch with the Fund.

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 09:38

Research pioneers

How the Masonic Samaritan Fund is now supporting vital areas of medical research

Working in close co-operation with the Grand Charity, the MSF Trustees consider requests for grants in support of medical research. Fight for Sight, Action on Hearing Loss and Alzheimer’s Research UK have all been recent successful applicants and were each awarded grants.

The MSF receives many grant applications from individuals seeking treatment for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), one of the most common forms of visual disability. Fight for Sight has supported research at the Institute of Ophthalmology and the grant from the MSF will fund a PhD student for three years as part of ongoing research into understanding the mechanisms of the development of AMD.

Action on Hearing Loss, formerly the RNID, has been awarded a grant to fund a pioneering project led by Dr Walter Marcotti at the University of Sheffield. The research will increase understanding of progressive age-related hearing loss.

A further grant has been provided to Alzheimer’s Research UK. The grant will help support two years of pioneering research to develop a blood test to diagnose Alzheimer’s. Simon Lovestone, Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at King’s College, London, is leading the study and said, ‘Our aim is to develop a simple blood test that can be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s even before any symptoms show.’
Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 09:36

Welcome and thanks

The MSF always enjoys visitors and was very pleased to recently welcome two beneficiaries who made the trip to show their gratitude to the staff for the support they had received throughout their critical surgical procedures.

Noel O’Shea, accompanied by colleagues from Summum Bonum Lodge, No. 3665, in Middlesex, presented a cheque from the lodge as a thank you for the grant he had received to fund hip replacement surgery in 2008.

Before returning to Nigeria, Eddie Obianwu also journeyed to the MSF to thank them for the assistance he received for surgery to amputate his left leg and the subsequent provision of a prosthetic limb. He was accompanied by members of his family and his District Grand Master, Chief Moses O Taiga.
Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund
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