Thursday, 07 March 2013 00:00

Rosanna’s thanks to Freemasons

All of the young people supported by the RMTGB have experienced tragedy and hardship. Rosanna is just one of them and tells her story here.

‘History is my true love. It completely captivates me and it would be hard to imagine not being an historian. My dream of studying history at university was threatened, however, when my father – a Freemason in the Province of Essex – had a brain haemorrhage and became unable to work. Immediately my life changed. Would I be able to afford to go to university? Or live away from home? Who would support my mother and brother while I was away?

‘As it turned out, I would have the most amazing support from a silent yet ever-present source. This support has encouraged me to be the best I can be.

It has proved to me that no challenge is impossible and no dream is unachievable. What is this brilliant support? And where can it be found? Well, it’s you, dear reader.

‘My family were lucky enough to be visited by Guy Charrison, a wonderful Case Almoner for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. He proved to be an invaluable lifeline for me, arranging support and financial help when I needed it most. The grant I received meant that I could go to university and pay for the essentials that I needed, such as books and other materials.

‘At the time of my graduation – one of my proudest achievements – I still felt academically unfinished and I wanted another challenge. My tutor suggested I apply for a Master’s degree. I thought about the competitive job market and knew that this would make my applications stand out, but could I justify another year of study and the cost?

Again, the RMTGB stepped in and I was delighted that they were able to support my tuition and, having moved back home to be with my family, the additional cost of my travel to and from university. This year I achieved my final mark: a distinction.

'Support from the RMTGB has proved to me that no challenge is impossible and no dream is unachievable'

‘I recently met up with Guy and it was lovely to catch-up and for him to see how I had grown since our last meeting.

I would like to thank everyone who made all this possible. I have achieved goals beyond my wildest dreams that would not have been realised without the support from Guy, the RMTGB and the generosity of Freemasonry.’

Rosanna is now training to be a history teacher at the Institute of Education and is on a path to a happy and fulfilled future. Sadly, her father died on 7 October 2012, aged fifty-seven

Published in RMTGB
Thursday, 07 March 2013 00:00

RMTGB sets new record in relieving poverty

A new record in relieving poverty

In 2012, the RMTGB accepted the highest number of new applications for support in its long history, with grants being approved for four hundred and sixteen additional children and young people. These latest grants push the total number of masonic children and grandchildren to have benefitted from support during the last year to almost two thousand.

The grants are designed to help relieve the effects of poverty following a distress that has led to financial hardship. Last year’s record increase is primarily a consequence of the difficult economic conditions, which continue to have an impact on families throughout the country. In addition, the number of children supported as a result of the death, disability or desertion of a parent has also increased.

Currently, eighty-five per cent of the children and young people being supported attend their local state school, college or university and most receive help in the form of regular maintenance grants or scholarships to meet some of their basic costs.

Please visit www.rmtgb.org to find out more.

Published in RMTGB

Patrick Dunachie, a student at Hereford Cathedral School, has benefitted from a Chorister Scholarship from the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys since the age of seven, and now has a place to read music at King’s College, Cambridge, following his brother Liam, a music scholar at Trinity College.

Patrick said that it was hard to overestimate the importance and benefit of the scholarship, which was a great privilege. The Dean of Hereford, the Very Reverend Michael Tavinor, thanked Herefordshire Freemasons for their continuing valuable support.

Dean of Hereford
Published in RMTGB
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

Brethren,

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

The confidence to explore

The RMTGB’s Stepping Stones scheme is giving young, disadvantaged people a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel and develop new skills

Last year, the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB) awarded a grant of £15,000 from its Stepping Stones scheme to the British Schools Exploring Society. This charity aims to advance the education of young people by providing inspirational and challenging expeditions to remote, wild environments. The expeditions develop confidence, teamwork and leadership, and foster a spirit of adventure and exploration. The grant was awarded specifically to support the Dangoor Next Generation Programme, a joint outreach initiative with youth charity Catch22.

The RMTGB grant enabled some of the country’s most disadvantaged young people to participate in an overseas expedition. All of the participants have experienced a difficult childhood, but the programme provides them with a unique opportunity to develop the skills they need to seize new opportunities. Last year, 60 young people took part in the programme which involved training in remote areas of England, Wales and Scotland, before commanding a tall ship across the North Sea to Norway. The return voyage concluded on the River Thames following a spectacular pass through Tower Bridge. Following the completion of each expedition, the programme continues to assist participants by helping them into employment or training or supporting them to return to education.

The lasting effect of the programme is best explained by the participants themselves. ‘It was an amazing experience,’ says Nadia, ‘it made me realise who I am as a person and it was good to challenge myself.’ Another participant, Alfie, explains how the project has changed his life: ‘It’s given me so much confidence that I’ve gone back to college and now also volunteer on the ship. It’s made me so happy to have been part of the project.’

The RMTGB’s grant enabled 15 young people to participate on the 2011 expedition. The grant will also support the same number of disadvantaged young people on the 2012 expedition to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, where participants will learn to navigate by the stars and camp with the Bedouin in one of the harshest environments on the planet.

Since its launch, Stepping Stones has awarded more than £230,000 to around 15 charities, with additional funds available to award further grants this year. The RMTGB is only able to make these grants because of the generosity of its supporters. Through their donations and fundraising, Freemasons and their families are making a valuable contribution to the development, education and future career prospects of disadvantaged young people in wider society.

Please visit the website www.rmtgb.org to find out how you can support this work

Published in RMTGB

The members of the Lodge of Unanimity No.113 celebrated a very special landmark on 20 March 2012 in their long and distinguished history by reaching their 200th year as an active Masonic lodge.

This unique meeting attracted a capacity audience with many distinguished visitors attending from around the country to share in and contribute to the celebrations. The Provincial Grand Master, Peter John Hosker, and his Provincial team headed up the West Lancashire contingent.

Dr Mike Woodcock, the President of Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, attended from London, together with John Hamill, the Director of Special Projects at UGLE, along with the Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, The Hon. Andrew Wigram. They all contributed to a highly polished ceremony.

At the beginning of the evening and to set the scene for the celebrations, Dr Richard Johnson gave a brief history of the Preston Group of Lodges and the historical development of Freemasonry in the City. This was followed by Peter Watson’s potted history of the Lodge of Unanimity itself and how it was founded at the height of the Napoleonic War. It was developed from the 3rd Regiment of the Royal Lancashire Militia who, although on duty in Dover during the Napoleonic War, obtained a re-assigned warrant on 13 March 1812 from the Antient Grand Lodge to enable them to operate as a military lodge.

The bicentenary warrant was then read by John Hamill and presented to the lodge by Mike Woodcock.  Following the presentation the Provincial Grand Chaplain, Rev Graham Halsall, gave a delightful narration and re-dedication prayer.

The Lodge of Unanimity is an Atholl Lodge and to mark this special occasion Geoffrey Abraham, the national chair of the Atholl Lodges Association, presented an inscribed gavel to the lodge.

To further highlight this special event the lodge gave a number of generous donations to charities. They gave £1,000 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity and a total of £900 to non-Masonic charities. These included £300 to the Lancashire and South Cumbria Kidney Patient Association, £300 to the Lymphoma Association and £300 to the neo natal care unit at Royal Preston Hospital.

The Bi-centenary History Booklet of the lodge reveals the significant part played by the lodge and its members in the development of Freemasonry in Preston. In particular, 113 has created five daughter lodges in Preston, and one in Garstang, and from these lodges, numerous granddaughter and great granddaughter lodges have been founded in the Province.

This bicentenary celebration has highlighted that Freemasonry has a breadth that appeals to those who are seeking friendship and moral guidance; an opportunity to be of service within the community; a quiet haven for a few hours from the troubles of the world; or just the pure, simple enjoyment of being in the company of like-minded people. These enduring qualities of Freemasonry help to ensure that it continues to give to future generations the pleasure and experience that our predecessors and along with this generation have found in it.

On 24 March 2012, seventy years after joining the former Royal Masonic Junior School, Tony Elliott was installed as the 2012/13 President of the Old Masonians Association at their Annual Dinner held at the Durham Masonic Hall, Old Elvet.

The Association comprises former pupils of the former Royal Masonic School for Boys and organises social gatherings for former pupils to enable them to maintain the friendships which were formed at the Masonic schools. Tony succeeds Les Hutchinson, the Chief Executive of the RMTGB – the successor charity which was formed following the closure of the school in the 1970s.

Tony’s links to the Association began in 1942 when, as a ten-year old boy, he joined the Royal Masonic Junior School following the death of his father. With his family remaining in Lancashire, he progressed into the senior school, where he remained until 1948.

Tony’s Masonic career began in 1954, when he was initiated into New Sanctuary Lodge No.6604 in the Province of West Lancashire; having now moved to Durham, he remains active in both the Craft and other Orders

To find out more about the OMA, please visit: http://www.oldmasonians.org

Published in RMTGB
Thursday, 15 March 2012 16:50

The river giant

With the support of a grant from the Freemasons, Joshua Tonnar is rowing his way into Olympic contention as he subjects himself to a gruelling regime on the Thames, finds Miranda Thompson

The calm of a crisp January morning on the banks of the Thames is shattered by the hollering of eight sixty-somethings from a rowing boat looking for assistance. Luckily, there's an oar on hand to drag them back to shore. A twist of the Thames away from Hampton Court Palace, Molesey Boat Club welcomes rowing veterans onto the water. It's also home to the next generation of British rowers. Joshua Tonnar is a 21-year-old who is pursuing his Olympic dream with the help of funding from the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys' (RMTGB) TalentAid scheme.

At six foot six inches, Joshua was originally a rugby fanatic. However, his Freemason grandfather Len Howard spotted the potential for his height after his wife Charlotte read about the Sporting Giants campaign. In 2007, Steve Redgrave spearheaded this initiative to find those who fitted the tall, athletic physical requirements for rowing.

'I went to a meeting at Stonemarket and Ray Collings, the fundraising manager at the RMTGB, was there,' remembers Len. 'I asked him whether they still supported Freemasons' grandsons and I put Josh's name forward. The money has been invaluable.'

Joshua has just completed a ferocious fifteen-minute testing session and is about to devour a gigantic plate of beans on toast – his exercise regime means he's got to consume six thousand calories a day. He recalls how he got started: 'I was talent tested in a national search for potential Olympian talent. According to the scores, you were categorised into the sports you were suited to.' Joshua was a natural, smashing three records on his first day and his first ever ergometer test on a rowing machine saw him finish just eight seconds behind a record set by Matthew Pinsent.

FUNDING POTENTIAL OLYMPIANS

In 2008, Joshua was taken on by the Sporting Giants scheme, which quickly propelled him into the GB Rowing Team Start Programme. His coach, Team GB Start's Neasa Folan, explains her role: 'We identify, recruit and develop potential Olympians. We try to develop them as athletes, so we look at their physical capacities and technical rowing skills.'

With the rowing season running from September to June/July, the months are packed with assessments and trials testing, before invitations to join a squad are issued. This year, the focus is on making the Under 23 World Championships squad. '2016 would be his Olympics,' says Neasa. 'I think he's got reasonable prospects – he's certainly got a lot of the physical characteristics and potential.'

Studying sports sciences at St Mary's in Twickenham, Joshua relishes the opportunity he has been given. 'I want to win gold at 2016 and the two after that,' he says. 'I'm here for 7am. We train until 9.30 or 10am at the first session, have breakfast and then we're back at 11. In the afternoon I go to university, but I'm back here in the evening.'

The amount of work Joshua has to do makes the funding from the RMTGB even more crucial, as Neasa says, 'The athletes might be part of the Team GB rowing programme but they're not funded.'

'Everything about rowing is expensive. I can't live off my student loan and sponsorship, I need constant funding and that's where the Freemasons are helping me. Without the RMTGB's support, I probably wouldn't be able to train full time. I'm very grateful,' says Joshua, hoisting his boat onto colossal shoulders before making his way to the banks of the Thames.

 

TALKING TALENTAID

 

Founded in the eighteenth century, the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB), supports children and young people who have been affected by poverty, and aims to help improve their potential in life. TalentAid is just one of the schemes run by the charity and aims to ensure that those with exceptional talent pursue their dreams of becoming a professional in their field by providing grants to cover some of the costs associated with the talent. All TalentAid beneficiaries are required to have a masonic connection via their father, grandfather or guardian and all applications are subject to a financial test.

 

Since TalentAid’s launch in 2001, over two hundred and fifty exceptionally gifted young people have been supported by the RMTGB at a cost of around £3 million. Other TalentAid successes include rising stars in British swimming, kayaking and women’s football. Chief Executive Les Hutchinson explains, ‘These are the people with the highest level of talent, and quite often this talent represents their main opportunity to make a success of their lives. It’s vital they have support for it.’

 

Les is positive regarding the scheme’s support for Joshua. ‘It was obvious from the outset that he was participating in a very competitive training programme as well as being a holder of several records for his age. His desire to succeed and make a success in his chosen field was quite clear – and his potential ability to compete in the Olympics is very exciting. It really doesn’t come much more high profile than that.’

Letters to the Editor - FreemasonryToday No.18 - SUMMER 2012

 

Sir,

 

Following your coverage of the RMTGB’s assistance to talented young people, I was prompted to let you know about another such case. Freemason Carlton Johnson was a massive influence on Beehive Lodge, No. 6265, and a masonic mentor for so many. Despite his ailments he was determined to participate in Freemasonry to his utmost, notably as a charity steward. Following a long battle with Motor Neurone Disease, he died in March 1996 in his mid-fifties.

 

Stephen Rolley is the grandson of the late Carlton Johnson. Now in the final year of his diploma at Italia Conti, Stephen has been helped by the TalentAid scheme through the RMTGB. The purpose of his course is to further equip him with the skills required to enable him to work in a very competitive industry.

 

That Freemasonry has been able to help Stephen is but a tiny repayment of the debt owed to Carlton for the support he was able to offer others. Stephen is clearly showing many of the qualities that characterised his grandfather, such as resilience, focus, resolve, determination, an ability to relate to people and a great natural talent.

 

Roger Gale
Lodge of St Illtyd, No. 6078
Neath, South Wales

Published in RMTGB
Thursday, 15 March 2012 00:00

support for as long as it is needed

With many families continuing to feel the effects of the economic downturn, the RMTGB has received an increasing number of applications for support

In 2011, an additional 347 children and young people were awarded grants by the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB), bringing the total number being supported to almost 2,000, at an annual cost of approximately £9 million.

William and his stepsister Phoebe are two children who now benefit from ongoing grants from the RMTGB. They began receiving support after William’s Freemason father (Phoebe’s stepfather) died at the tragically young age of 46. William was then just two years old and Phoebe was eight. The family’s financial situation became extremely difficult, but fortunately their mother was able to successfully apply to the RMTGB for support.   

Regular maintenance allowances for both William and Phoebe are now being provided, as well as grants towards school uniforms and other clothing. In spite of their tragic loss, both children are now progressing well and the RMTGB is committed to providing them with support for as long as it is needed.

combatting child poverty

Many recent reports show that child poverty is continuing to increase. A recent study by the End Child Poverty campaign claims that up to 50 per cent of children in some parts of the UK are affected. The support the RMTGB provides, however, means that children such as William and Phoebe are given a better chance to succeed in life.

Despite record numbers of applications, many Freemasons and their families continue to struggle on alone through times of financial hardship. The RMTGB is therefore continuing to work hard to ensure that all Freemasons and their families understand the support available to children, stepchildren and grandchildren in their time of need.

To improve awareness about the support available, the RMTGB has recently launched its new website – www.rmtgb.org – which shows how the charity can assist children and young people. There are dedicated areas for charity stewards, almoners, donors and fundraisers, together with information about the financial support available and the application process. The new website has also been designed to appeal to the general public and information about the RMTGB’s support for non-masonic children features prominently, including the Stepping Stones scheme, which has awarded £175,000 to other children’s charities during the past 12 months.

To maximise its online presence, the RMTGB has also joined Twitter (@rmtgb) and Facebook, as well as establishing an e-news service to allow subscribers to receive regular updates about the work of the charity.

Please visit www.rmtgb.org to view the new website

Published in RMTGB
Thursday, 15 March 2012 00:00

SHINING EXAMPLE in devon

Les Hutchinson, chief executive of the RMTGB, and Conrad Donaldson, Provincial Grand Charity Steward for Devonshire, presented a Supreme Gold Certificate to John Hodkinson, Master of Loyal Lodge of Industry, No. 421, to recognise the magnificent achievement of raising more than £50,000 towards Devonshire’s 2012 Festival.

Les thanked the members on behalf of the children and young people who will benefit from their donation, saying, ‘They are a shining example of what can be achieved with organised fundraising, enthusiastic support and generosity.’

With just under a year to go, Devon has already raised £3m and the appeal will conclude with an event on Saturday 17 November at the Riviera International Conference Centre in Torquay.

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