Quarterly magazine of the United Grand Lodge of England, featuring freemasons' news, interviews, and features. Free to view online alongside exclusive content.
Published Tue, 26 May 2020 21:02:56 +0100
Thousands of tablets are being donated by Freemasons across England and Wales to help families stay in touch with their loved ones during the coronavirus crisis
Freemasons have provided the tablets to more than 50 hospitals, care homes and hospices across their regions at the start of a new nation-wide initiative.
During the current crisis, NHS hospitals have been forced to limit visits to patients in an attempt to control infections. Some of those suffering from the virus can be in intensive care for two to three weeks or more, with one-to-one visits only being allowed for dying patients.
This has led hospitals to try to find a way to help patients communicate with their families during this difficult time. Freemasons have risen to the challenge and gifted more than a thousand devices to help patients see and hear their loved ones and provide much-needed comfort.
The donations were coordinated through a new Covid-19 Response Group, which was formed by the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) as an emergency structure in response to Covid-19. Its purpose is to work together to deliver life-changing initiatives – on a national scale – to those in need. Using the full capability of its network, the Freemasons have been able to draw together suppliers to source the tablets quickly and efficiently.
Dr David Staples, CEO of the United Grand Lodge of England, said: 'At this time of national crisis we will work together – within our local communities – to provide charity and support to those in need, as we have done for the last 300 years. To ensure what we do is both effective and targeted, we have – for the first time in our history – coordinated our activity on a national level though the newly formed Covid-19 Response Group.
'Our 200,000 members have united to make a significant difference to the lives of people in these very stressful circumstances.'
In London, hospitals including The Royal London, Queen Mary's and St Thomas' will receive approximately 115 tablets. In Kent, Surrey and Sussex, some 200 tablets will be donated, to help patients stay in contact with their families.
In addition, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Birmingham, Royal Gwent Hospital and additional NHS hospitals in Worcestershire will receive 180 tablets, between them, from the Freemasons.
Hospitals in Durham, Yorkshire and Northumberland will receive 170 tablets. While in Somerset, hospitals including the Royal United Hospital Bath and Weston General Hospital will be sent 40 tablets. Freemasons are also giving 25 units to care homes in Berkshire.
West Middlesex Hospital will receive eight tablets, and Hillingdon Hospital in Middlesex, have been received seven tablets. Freemasons also donated 100 devices in south Wales.
In Devonshire, Cadogan Court Exeter will receive five tablets. In addition, they are donating 30 tablets to hospitals, care homes and hospices in Buckinghamshire. In Bristol, The Royal Infirmary will receive five tablets.
In north Wales they provided 50 tablets to help local hospitals. Nia Williams, support manager at NHS charity Awyr Las, said: 'Awyr Las is extremely grateful to the Freemasonry community for the amazing support they already give to our A&E and MIU departments across North Wales. This generous donation will help by using technology, which will enable patients to have face-to-face communications with their loved ones using tablet PCs.'
Hospitals in Norfolk will receive 12 tablets and in Suffolk they will receive 15. In east Lancashire, Freemasons are donating 10 smartphones and two tablets to help the NHS. While in Monmouthshire 11 tablets have been donated to hospitals.
All of the donated devices will continue to be used by the hospitals after the coronavirus crisis is over.
Published Fri, 08 May 2020 10:54:59 +0100
Freemasons across England and Wales are coming together to provide vital personal protective equipment (PPE) for care homes to protect the elderly, following health secretary Matt Hancock’s call for a "Herculean effort" to protect critical NHS staff
The government is currently supplying 58,000 separate organisations including pharmacies, care homes and GP surgeries with PPE, which has led to logistical issues due to sheer demand.
While the NHS has been prioritised, care homes are struggling to source PPE equipment. The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body for Freemasons, has 18 care homes and 1,000 residents, through its Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI).
Dr David Staples, CEO of UGLE, said: 'Freemasons have a proud history of providing care to the elderly, and as a number of our members fall into the vulnerable category, we are stepping forward to help in their time of need. No elderly person – or the staff who care for them – should believe their life is at risk due to the lack of essential equipment. And no parent or grandchild should feel their loved ones were left unprotected during this national emergency.'
He continued: 'Freemasons across the country are already taking steps to safeguard our vulnerable loved ones and the millions of carers who help protect and care for them during this time.
'Not only can we help provide physical protection but we can also – through our core values of friendship, respect, integrity and charity – help provide monetary support though Age UK, the ability to provide cross-generational friendship; and highlight our respect for this generation by providing for them in their hour of need.'
In just two days, Scunthorpe Freemasons made 1,000 St Lawrence full-face visors to protect carers working for the RMBI. The work was done at the premises of Cymarc Engineering, which normally makes components for the rail sector and the motorbike industry.
Company owner Mark Hooton said: 'From nothing to 1,000 St Lawrence visors were manufactured, assembled and packed in just two days. I’ve been overwhelmed by the help of volunteers who’ve stepped up to help make this possible. Without them this would not have happened.'
Mr Hooton switched his highly specialised industrial laser-cutting equipment to producing aluminium frames for his own design of visor in a move prompted by a cry for help from the RMBI, which was looking for visors for staff in its care homes. Within 24 hours, he had created a prototype, and was then supported by other members of his lodge and his staff in gearing up to produce hundreds every day, including sourcing raw materials, establishing logistics channels, setting a production line and defining the product in a document.
Mr Hooton is now supplying 600 visors for the Carers Trust, which had been unable to secure a single visor for its staff due to the national shortage.
Freemason Sean Fitzgerald from Valence 5388 Lodge, which meets in Upminster, also donated 500 packs of antiseptic wipes to the Carers Trust and 500 visors to NHS Moorfields Eye Hospital.
Face shields to protect frontline and key workers are also being made by Colin Breckons from Norwich. He is making the face shields using his 3D printers and giving them away free to the NHS and other key workers. A monetary donation came from Freemasons to help produce the visors. He has been inundated with requests and says there is a struggle to find the plastic needed for the visors, of which he aims to make at least 2,000.
In Wales, Freemasons from the Aberpennar Masonic Lodge, Aberdare, donated 100 safety visors to surgeries in the North Cynon Valley.
Beverley Evans, advanced nurse practitioner, said: 'I would like to thank Aberpennar Lodge, on behalf of the surgeries in North Cynon Valley, for the 100 visors they've donated. We are so grateful for this much-needed equipment that was organised by Mark Griffiths and his wife Joanne. I also want to say this has really highlighted the good work Freemasons do, as people are very unaware of the charitable work done by the Freemasons.'
North Wales Freemasons donated £2,250 to help produce PPE face visors, after Joseph Mearman – from St David’s Lodge – set up a 3D printer system to make visors for local hospitals.
UGLE’s Dr Staples added: 'I am extremely proud of how our members have helped to step into the breach during this national crisis. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the support we will be providing. We are now galvanizing the membership on a national level to help ramp up demand, and we aim to be supplying thousands of new items of PPE in the next few weeks.'
Freemasonry is one of the largest charitable givers in the country, contributing more than £48m to deserving causes in 2018 alone. And Freemasons do not only donate money – more than 18.5 million hours of volunteer work was undertaken by Freemasons in 2018.
Published Wed, 15 Apr 2020 12:19:56 +0100
Freemasons are inviting the whole country to toast ‘absent friends, and those working on the frontline in the NHS’ at 9pm tonight
Freemasons are calling for the whole community to ensure no one feels alone, even if they are physically self-isolating, to be remembered in a toast at 9pm tonight.
The 200,000 strong membership organisation traditionally toasts ‘absent Brethren’ to remember those who are unable to attend their meetings in person at the dinner that takes place afterwards.
The organisation is adapting the usual 9pm toast it makes during its dinners and inviting everyone to join in to toast ‘absent friends, and those working on the frontline in the NHS’.
Dr David Staples, Chief Executive of the United Grand Lodge of England, has called for the Freemasons’ regular toast to be a ‘virtual’ toast – using #TimetoToast online – and extended to all those we cannot meet with, yet remain close in our thoughts.
He said: 'We want everyone to join in at 9pm tonight and raise a glass to those we cannot be with in person due to the huge challenges facing the country. Stay safe, self-isolate but know that you are not alone.
'We are all unable to do those things we previously took for granted, that are so precious to us all – meeting with friends at the pub or for a coffee, enjoying each other’s company. Being social, in its small way, is something we can still all share. We invite everyone to raise a glass to help raise sprits.'
Christine Chapman, Head of Freemasonry for Women, added: 'We must combat loneliness by ensuring that, even if we are all in our own homes, we are still connecting across the country. Dr Staples and I urge everyone to charge their glass at 9pm and say a toast to absent friends, and those working on the frontline of the NHS.'
Published Mon, 23 Mar 2020 12:14:35 +0000
11 March 2020
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
Brethren all, Provincial and District Grand Masters have recently submitted their annual surveys. One of the questions asked is for them to outline their perception of any particular weaknesses in their Province or District.
We receive a wide range of answers but one of the points that is raised time and again is their concern over a resistance to change among a small percentage of their brethren.
I can understand this as, I suspect, many of us like things to continue as we have known them and enjoyed them for many years and I am certainly not one for change for change’s sake.
However, there is a much overused saying that to stand still equates to slipping backwards. I trust that we would all agree that we must avoid falling into that trap.
Different people and different Lodges will have their own views as to what constitutes acceptable change, and equally what is unacceptable to them. I would, however, hope that we could all agree that changes that seemed to reinvigorate some of our weaker Lodges, and those that assure the futures of our stronger ones are, at the very least, worth a try.
There can be no doubt that we have some exceptional lodges throughout the country and, indeed, throughout the world. These Lodges have found a formula that works for them and, in many cases, they have embraced many of the same changes, which has produced better attendances and a younger overall membership. Surely that is to the benefit of us all? I still find that one of the most satisfying aspects of a Lodge meeting is when a ceremony is conducted really well by young, inexperienced brethren. Brethren, we old ‘has beens’ should be encouraging this and not standing in the way and sitting criticising the slightest mistake. I want to make it clear that there should be no place for that sort of behaviour in our Lodges.
For the first time in this building’s history, the mosaic above our heads is shrouded from view. It is undergoing a deep clear and repairs and should re-emerge in time for our September meeting in all of its original splendour. Much as the mosaic above forms a coherent whole because each part works perfectly with its neighbour, so we should ensure that whoever we are, whether Provincial Ruler, Lodge Secretary or DC or member, we realise that the Craft has a job to do, now more than ever, and it will do it so much more effectively if we all pull together. That mosaic, like us, is so much more than the sum of its parts.
We recently held our Provincial Communications Officer forum here at Freemasons’ Hall. It was one of a number of steps we are taking to harmonise how we, as a whole organisation, begin to work together in improving our public image – to ensure that what is said in one Province, cannot harm the image of Freemasonry in another, and to ensure that we paint a coherent and attractive picture to future members and to the public at large.
Communication between the Centre and the Provinces & Districts is greatly improved but not without some kick back from those who feel they should be allowed to go it alone. We are also building better inter Provincial and District communication as well. The really important by-product of this is that it is much easier for 'best practice' to be identified and shared. None of it is rocket science and much of it is staring us in the face if we are prepared to see it. I am not going to try list all the various points today, but I would say 'please be prepared to give change a chance'. You can always revert if it doesn’t work and not everything will work for everyone, but if you don’t try you can’t know.
I wish you all a very Happy and, above all, Healthy spring.
Let us all hope that we will be able to enjoy our Freemasonry over the coming months. Advice on how we should proceed will continue to be issued both from the centre here and from the Provincial and District offices.
Published Wed, 11 Mar 2020 11:41:46 +0000
From the Grand Secretary & Grand Scribe E
A few years ago, when I wrote my first Welcome column, I spoke of the three key tasks I was charged with as the newly appointed CEO for UGLE. The first was to bring together the operational and masonic sides of UGLE headquarters, the second was to modernise the way in which we administered the organisation and the third was to change the public perception of Freemasonry. The first and second were achievable using well-worn change management and people management tools. The third, however, requires something significant from you, and is far more difficult to realise.
I meet many people who ask me about the ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign – a line in the sand that declared the way we talk to the public about ourselves was about to change. Since that campaign we have reshaped the UGLE Communications team, polled and ‘focus grouped’ our way to realising precisely what the public think of us, and looked carefully at how we should portray ourselves.
It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that we need to start talking openly and proudly about who we are and what we do – what is our purpose? We don’t need to reinvent ourselves or pretend to be something we’re not, for we have a fabulous story to tell and more than 300 years of heritage and history to be proud of. We now have the resourcing, the will and the understanding to stop apologising for all those things which we are supposed to ‘be up to’ and start portraying the positive image we deserve.
We don’t need to spoil the experience for prospective members by going into detail about our ceremonies; neither should we repeat the mistakes of other institutions by thinking that ‘modernising’ our language will solve all our problems. But is there anything wrong with explaining that the First Degree teaches us that all are created equal; the Second, that there is merit in improving ourselves; and the Third, that we have but one life to use wisely? Who could argue with such fundamental truths?
Here’s where you come in. We are an organisation with 48 ‘branch offices’. Each and every one of them must start to work with each other, and with us, to portray a coherent message to the public. We need to give you the tools to tell your stories in the best and most consistent way possible.
National campaigns will be much more effective if we understand the power in acting together with the same goal and purpose. This will be a first for UGLE, which has always jealously guarded the federated structure we have operated for centuries. But communications is a funny beast, and one or two dissenting voices will be seized upon and become the national story.
We are tentatively dipping our toes into interesting – and dangerous – times, and we do not expect it to be all plain sailing. To help steer our path, we have the Communications and Marketing Working Party of the Board, chaired by RWB Ian Chandler, the Provincial Grand Master for Surrey, which consists of Provincial Grand Masters from each of the nine Regional Communications Groups. At an operational level, each Province has Provincial Communications Officers reporting to the PGMs but tied directly to the Communications Department here at UGLE. They act as a link between the centre and Provincial Communications structures and help us to ensure we are all pulling in the same direction.
In this way, we hope the strategy is set by our most senior members, with hundreds of years of masonic experience between them, advised appropriately by subject matter experts, and implemented in a professional, coordinated and timely way nationally.
For the first time in our history, we will be producing an Annual Report – but this will not be a bland corporate glossy. It will be a document with two main objectives: to show you, our members, what UGLE does with your membership fees and how we are administered and run, and what we hope to achieve in the future. It will also act as a reference document for the press and public, expanding on our core leaflets, website and messaging to show the breadth of what our members do: over 18 million hours of unpaid charitable, civic and voluntary activities a year. At National Living Wage, that would equate to over £167 million worth of activity – all in addition to our annual charitable spend of some £50 million!
More than half of Freemasons are actively encouraged to participate by our lodges or other lodge members and, despite being clearly predisposed to charitable giving, 58 per cent of our members have increased their charitable activities since becoming Freemasons. We have always been charitable, but for too long we have hidden our light, and we won’t do so any longer.
So hold on to your hats, because in the next 18 months you’re going to hear a lot about Freemasonry. Look out for our Annual Report, to be published around the April Investitures, and get involved in the national campaigns we will be running to position us where we once were, firmly in the public gaze. We are an organisation which is proud of the integrity of its members, the friendships and connections they will make, the good they do for the communities from which they are drawn and the fun we have along the journey.
Dr David Staples
Grand Secretary and Grand Scribe E
‘We don’t need to reinvent ourselves or pretend to be something we’re not, for we have a fabulous story to tell and more than 300 years of heritage and history to be proud of’
Published Fri, 06 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0000
Thousands of seriously ill people across Africa, who have no access to surgeons, will be treated thanks to a major new surgical training programme funded by Freemasons in England and Wales
The £50,000 will help fund a programme specifically designed to develop the next generation of young surgeons in Africa, giving them access to the latest life-saving techniques, which are very common in the UK but not taught in Africa.
Currently, more than 90 per cent of the 1.2 billion people living in Africa do not have access to safe and affordable surgery, resulting in an estimated 17 million deaths every year*.
The programme is taking place in Nigeria – which has approximately 200 million people and is the most populous country in Africa – under the leadership Professor Robert Lane MS(Lond), FRCS (Eng), President of the International Federation of Surgical Colleges (IFSC). Professor Lane leads the surgical training courses, supported by a dedicated volunteer team of surgeons.
Professor Robert Lane, said: 'We’re really grateful for this generous grant from the Freemasons. We’re already liaising with the West African College of Surgeons to discover where the need is greatest and this new funding will allow us to start planning the first part of the training programme. Thanks to the Freemasons we’re going to be able to help save many lives across the region.'
The programme will train 30 Nigerian surgeons and nurses, who in turn, will treat more than a thousand surgical patients every year across the continent. The donation will fund travel and accommodation for all the volunteer trainer surgeons, surgical training equipment, programme arrangements and administration.
Dr David Staples, Chief Executive of the United Grand Lodge of England, said: 'Speaking as a doctor myself, I was deeply shocked to hear that 95 per cent of Africa’s population have almost zero access to surgical care. There are fewer than two surgeons for every 100,000 African people, while in the UK we have around 90 surgeons for every 100,000 British people.
“We are optimistic that this donation will help the surgeons to improve their knowledge and enable them to take care of the largest number of people. It’s critically important that new African surgeons and nurses are trained, and this programme is an excellent start.'
*According to figures from the World Bank- 2018
Published Thu, 20 Feb 2020 10:48:18 +0000
This position has now closed
The Shop at Freemasons' Hall requires two part-time sales Assistants
The successful candidates will have general responsibility for the smooth running of all retail areas, but with particular emphasis on Internet Sales, ensuring that customers are dealt with efficiently and politely and dealing with any day to day issues that may arise. No knowledge of Freemasonry is required as full training will be given.
- Delivering outstanding customer service, building a rapport with every customer to create a personalised and outstanding service.
- Working closely with our small but expert team of Assistants and integrating quickly to become a valued member of this team.
- Working towards achieving store targets. This includes sales budgets, controlling costs, customer service standards and the highest visual merchandising standards.
- Taking ownership for one’s own development with the support of the Store Manager and wider team.
- Being responsible for shop floor replenishment and ensuring the store is clean and tidy at all times.
- The highest till accuracy and cash handling procedures will be expected at all times.
The Shop at Freemasons' Hall has a thriving internet business and our Sales Assistants are expected to play a full role in ensuring the smooth and effective running of this business.
- Accurately picking stock to fulfil orders every morning for dispatch later in the day.
- Maintaining the EPOS system and ensuring that all internet orders are handled correctly.
- Packaging items neatly and securely, in a time manner ready for internal posting system/external post collection.
- Book in phone and mail orders and update on customer mailing list on in-house system.
- To undertake any other activities as necessary for the smooth operation of the retail department.
The following skills and attributes are essential:
- Relevant retail experience
- Outstanding customer service
- Highly organised and able plan and prioritise
- Able to work collaboratively to achieve shared goals and objectives
- Self-motivated, taking personal responsibility for getting things done
- Flexibility (to cover rota)
Hours of Work
3 days a week (working alternate weekends).
We are looking for one person to work Monday to Wednesday and the other Thursday to Saturday on a rotating shift basis (every other week). Also, to cover for each other during holidays and/or provide additional cover as required. Therefore this successful candidates will need to be flexible.
Salary & Benefits
Salary: £11,804 gross per annum (£10.81 per hour) + benefits.
- Annual leave 25 days pa FTE (15 days pro rata)
- Health insurance
- Membership of the United Grand Lodge of England’s pension scheme
- Option to join corporate gym membership scheme
- Interest-free season ticket loan
Thank you for your interest. The closing date for applications for this position has now closed.
Published Tue, 04 Feb 2020 00:00:00 +0000
This position has now closed
United Grand Lodge of England seeks a Social Media Executive. You will be responsible for helping the Communications and Marketing Team implement a new social media strategy within the United Grand Lodge of England
The United Grand Lodge of England – the governing body for Freemasonry in England and Wales – is entering an exciting new phase in its 300-year history as it seeks to change the perception of Freemasonry and encourage the public to see modern Freemasonry through its core values of Friendship, Charity, Respect and Integrity. In order to achieve this the Communications and Marketing team is seeking to attract some talented, dedicated, creative and outstanding individuals to join its team. The team’s expertise will cover all areas of communications including, corporate communications, public relations, social media, marketing, member communications, publications and events. We work on a campaign basis so you need to be a team player, as you will work closely with your colleagues, other departments and our 200,000 members. Freemasons raise £44m in charitable donations and give 5 million hours of volunteer time a year – so there is a lot to shout about – and much to be proud of. If you are looking for a new challenge, which will positively change your career, then look no further than a position at the United Grand Lodge of England.
- To work closely with the existing team and key partners to deliver a creative social media strategy that engages UGLE’s members and members of the public by showcasing the benefits of Freemasonry across all of its social media channels (YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Podcasts)
- To successfully assess and report back to the impact of both the new social media strategy and specific campaigns. You will have strong relationship building skills and the ability to work, and positively influence, key stakeholders across the business
- To be a key influencer internally and be able to confidently showcase the power of social media to key stakeholders in the business
- To stay up-to-date with the latest online and digital trends and to implement these ideas into the social media strategy
- Confidently handle any front of house/customer social media enquiries - dealing with them in a timely manner and show confidence in the scheduling, composing and posting of all group wide social media content
- To set company-wide best practice guidance of social media and train others where necessary
Must have skills:
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills, enabling you to work with colleagues co-operatively and collaboratively in the team and across the organisation
- You will have strong relationship building skills and the ability to work, and positively influence, key stakeholders across the business
- You will have a flexible approach both to the type of work undertaken and working hours as required to meet team objectives and ultimately customer needs, taking ownership and responsibility for work and performance
- You will demonstrate a positive ‘can do’ attitude and excellent work ethic. In addition, you will be able to demonstrate resilience and present yourself in a professional manner at all times
- You will have excellent copywriting and creative skills and be able to quickly grasp how the businesses requirements can translate into outstanding social media campaigns
- You will have experience in a social media role as well as experience in establishing a social media strategy and managing and implementing results orientated social media campaigns
- Experience in managing the social media profile of either a CEO or director is desirable
- Knowledge of Photoshop or creation of video content is desirable
Competitive salary plus the following benefits package:
BUPA private medical cover
Pension (3.5% employee & 9% employer contributions – increasing to 12%)
Holiday (25 days increasing to 30 days)
Interest free season ticket loan
Gym membership (subsidised)
Employee Assistance Programme
Thank you for your interest. The closing date for applications for this position has now closed.
Published Fri, 17 Jan 2020 12:26:47 +0000
11 December 2019
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
Brethren. If you look up, you will see one of the finest mosaics in London. It took Italian craftsmen 10 man-years to create and, like so much of our Craft, it is laden with symbols, allegory and meaning. But look more closely, especially in the South-West and you will see that all is not quite as it should be. Cracks have been appearing over the last few years. Tesserae have fallen, and the Grand Superintendent of Work’s brow has furrowed, but he informs me that you are not in immediate danger!
After extensive research, chemical analysis, ultrasounds, X-Rays, thermal studies, endoscopies, not to mention all manner of expert opinion, we are now able to confidently conclude that we have no idea why. We do know the many things that are not responsible for these cracks, and contrary to scurrilous rumour, hot air from this chair has nothing whatsoever to do with it, but pinning down the exact cause has proved elusive. Take a good look Brethren because in a few weeks’ time, it will be shrouded in scaffolding, and for the first time in nearly a hundred years, men, and probably women, will begin work on restoring it to its former splendour.
We recently heard from the Grand Superintendent of Works about his role within the organisation and some of the work being done by his team to ensure that not only this building, but all of our masonic halls up and down the country are up to scratch. A huge amount of work has been put into producing the Masonic Halls Guide, available in the members’ section of the UGLE website, to provide a ‘Best Practice’ guide to help Lodges and Provinces improve their Halls and meeting places, and how they are managed.
I was recently told of a Lodge in Cambridgeshire (Stone Cross) which has transformed its own hall from a rather dingy affair to something the whole community can be proud of. Members, under the guidance of more expert Craftsmen – also members of that Lodge – have spent weekends, and time over consecutive summers to transform it into a venue that they can all look forward to using – and it has made a huge difference to the first impressions and attendance of new members.
As we actively seek out new members to join us, we should ensure that we are examining what it is that we would expect them to find – not just in the physical spaces we occupy, but in our Lodges too.
Many of us find a great deal of fulfilment in volunteering and giving of our time for the benefit of the community at large. We will shortly be sending out a survey to estimate just how great an impact we, as Freemasons have within our local communities – our last estimate was that our members contribute over 5 million hours volunteering for worthy causes.
We must be unique as an organisation in that we have premises embedded in almost every community in the Country. Just as we draw our members from all walks of life and all backgrounds, so our halls are found in village and cities, in areas rich and poor. Over the next few months, the Communications Working Party of the Board, made up of Provincial Grand Masters from each region of the country, will be looking at what we might do to raise our profile by putting these to better use – not only for ourselves, but also for those communities from which we are drawn. What does your Hall say about you, and the wider organisation, to a person seeing it for the first time and, indeed, to that potential new member, or that member of public giving blood, being screened, or just looking around?
Many of our Halls are both precious and beautiful; some, cracking a little around the edges and in need of loving care. But I’m sure, Brethren, we all feel like that at times. Let us remember that we are custodians not just of the Craft and its heritage and traditions, but also those meeting places which have, for generations, inspired our members.
I wish you and your families a very Happy Christmas period and I look forward to seeing you again in the New Year.
Published Wed, 11 Dec 2019 11:51:18 +0000
From the Grand Secretary & Grand Scribe E
At the September Quarterly Communications, the Pro Grand Master’s address spoke of the importance of teamwork in governing and managing Freemasonry. UGLE has traditionally been a federal amalgamation of ‘city states’, each ruled by a Provincial or District Grand Master, whose patents were granted by the Most Worshipful Grand Master. It was not uncommon, in decades past, for those chosen few to be given their patent and told to ‘get on with it’, but with very little instruction or guidance as to what the ‘it’ either was or entailed.
We like to think that we are more enlightened now, and take some time and effort to explain what we think a Provincial or District Ruler might want to consider, and what the Rulers and Board/Committee of General Purposes think their priorities should be when taking up their important office.
It will not surprise you to learn that membership and communications are very high up on that list, and as UGLE evolves to meet the challenges of our very different world, so this old system must evolve to ensure consistency of message and image across our organisation as a whole.
We have also come to realise that the ‘Bright Ideas Club’ at the centre may not have all of the answers, and initiatives rolled out with little or no consultation with our membership or their leaders are unlikely to be successful in the longer term, if at all.
Lord Northampton, as Pro Grand Master, set up a system of Regional Communication Groups which divided the Provinces into nine geographical clusters, and which provided a means for Provincial Rulers in each group to meet regularly and exchange ideas on matters of import. Under Sir David Wootton, these assumed a greater sense of purpose, with the representation of each integrated into the Improvement Delivery Group, with its remit to deliver the 2020 strategy conceived five years ago. Now, under Geoffrey Dearing, they form the backbone of our ability to consult with the Provinces and to set the agenda and direction of the organisation with strong representation on both the Membership Working Party and the Communications Working Party of the Board.
Both groups have a wide remit to shape the direction the organisation will take, and their influence will be wide ranging. They are no paper tigers, and are considering questions which will affect each and every one of us as Freemasonry evolves into a more transparent, accountable and respected organisation within the public consciousness.
The representatives on these various committees can, of course, accomplish nothing without the hard work and dedication of the teams that support them – making it vital that those team members have the ability, enthusiasm and professional capabilities and knowledge to deliver what is needed. Professional expertise is by no means short in an organisation such as ours, and Provincial leaders are well used to tapping into the potential of their membership to fulfil important roles within the Province. What perhaps is changing is the willingness to recognise that many individuals are much busier in their family and work lives than perhaps their predecessors were. As such, those who are less senior within Freemasonry and less experienced are finding themselves working on major Provincial portfolios while balancing very busy lives.
We should not shy away from using the talent that we have within our ranks. Neither should we shy away from altering the way ‘things have always been done’ to allow those individuals to flourish and to serve. It is inconceivable that the Provincial Grand Masters and Grand Superintendents of the future will be able to dedicate the time and effort to Freemasonry that perhaps some of their predecessors have managed, without detriment to their family or personal connections. Their teams around them become of paramount importance if the organisation as a whole is to grow and develop. Similarly, if we want leaders who are truly exceptional and able to carry the organisation forward, we must be willing to accommodate the many other things that will call on their time – not least their greater involvement in the running of the ‘Centre’.
We will do our bit here at UGLE to listen to those ideas coming out of the Provinces, and to ensure that others can benefit from them; to ensure that ‘best practice’ is shared, such as the membership initiatives in Bristol and the communications strategies of Buckinghamshire and Cheshire.
We will also continue to listen to you, our members, paying heed to what you think is important, and what our priorities should be for the years ahead.
Dr David Staples
Grand Secretary and Grand Scribe E
‘If we want leaders who are truly exceptional and able to carry the organisation forward, we must be willing to accommodate the many other things that will call on their time’
Published Fri, 06 Dec 2019 00:00:00 +0000
Quarterly magazine of the United Grand Lodge of England, featuring freemasons' news, interviews, and features. Free to view online alongside exclusive content.
Published Tue, 26 May 2020 21:02:57 +0100
Members of the two Craft Lodges which meet in the picturesque market town of Chippenham in Wiltshire used a sunny Bank Holiday Monday to deliver full face visors (PPE) and a selection of essential 'morale boosting' goodies to the care team at Avon Court Care Home
The face masks are made by students and staff at St Joseph's Roman Catholic School in Laverstock just out side Salisbury. Deputy Head Kevin McGuinness and Wiltshire's Communication Officer Des Morgan have been working together to make sure that supplies of face visors reach the North of the county, and to-date over 3,500 have been donated to local Care Homes and GP surgeries.
St Joseph's Roman Catholic School received a Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), the Freemasons' charity, Covid-19 grant of £10,000 to enable them to produce 20,000 visors.
Master of Vale of Avon Lodge No. 8432 Mark Fuller said: 'Together with our friends from Lansdowne Lodge of Unity No. 626, I am very pleased to be able to vist Avon Court Care Home and provide them with full face visors and donate some extra 'goodies' which I am sure will lift their morale. It's what Freemasons do and as we often tell people - Charity is in a Freemason's DNA.'
Published Mon, 25 May 2020 11:55:01 +0100
South Wales Freemasons have donated 100 tablet computers to local hospitals to ensure patients can keep in touch with their families
At this time, families of hospital patients are unable to visit their loved ones because of lockdown regulations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. With personal contact not currently possible, patients and families must resort to digital means to stay in touch, and for some they simply do not have this the facility. The provision of tablet computers to hospitals throughout south Wales will help keep families connected and help keep patients entertained during their stay in hospital.
Philip Bevan, who co-ordinated this donation in south Wales, said: 'A stay in hospital can be distressing for both patients and their families at the best of times but currently this must be even more so because patients can’t have visitors. Hopefully, these tablets can connect families at their time of need and relieve some of those feelings of distress.'
Mr Bevan delivered the tablets to three health boards – Swansea Bay, Cwm Taf Morgannwg and Cardiff & Vale – for hospitals within their areas.
Deborah Longman of Swansea Bay University Health Board said: 'Thank you so much for the tablet computers. These are really making a difference to our patients who are unable to have visitors at this time. It allows them to have valuable contact with their loved ones.'
Glenda Phillips of Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board said: 'Your contribution means so much to patients and families to ‘virtually visit’ during the Covid-19 outbreak. The tablets also relieve boredom, aid stimulation, reminiscence, and support well-being. We are very grateful.'
Mark Calahane of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said: 'Thank you for your organisation’s generosity and thoughtfulness at this challenging and too often very upsetting time.'
Published Sat, 23 May 2020 17:46:20 +0100
Norfolk Freemason Colin Breckons has been shortlisted for a Telegraph Lockdown Award in recognition of his work making face shields for the NHS
Colin, a member of Saint Giles Lodge No. 4569 in Norwich, has been nominated in the DIY category following his work making face shields with his 3D printers and giving them away free to the NHS and other key workers. A monetary donation also came from Freemasons to help produce the visors.
So far Colin and his team of volunteers have produced over 15,500 shields.
Colin told The Telegraph: ‘People were desperate for them, there was a real sense of emergency. The whole house had been taken over; the shed, the garden, the living room, the dining room, were all just full of boxes and plastic and 3D printers. I was getting ambulances turning up at 2am to pick up face shields, neonatals teams at 4am, and police at 6am. It was all day and all night, non-stop.
‘We went from producing 600 face-shields a week to 1,000 per day, over a week everything changed.
‘It's not easy, it's been tiring at times, but not once have I wanted to stop. The amount of energy I've taken from everyone's willingness, I can't describe it, seeing so many people who've wanted to help and get involved, I've never wanted to slow down. It's given me the energy to keep going.’
The winner will be announced on 29th May 2020.
You can cast your vote for Colin here.
Published Fri, 22 May 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Essential face visors are being distributed to care homes across the county and beyond, thanks to a grant of £10,000 from Wiltshire Freemasons to St Joseph's Roman Catholic School in Laverstock, Salisbury
St Joseph’s has forged links with other local schools to make over 2,000 re-useable face visors every day. Wiltshire Freemasons are working with the team and assisting in the distribution. An initial 2,500 full face visors are being sent to local care homes in Swindon, Highworth, Purton, Corsham, Trowbridge, Malmesbury and Royal Wootton Bassett.
The school has been supplying staff at hospitals, care homes and shops across six counties with the resources, with sites including Salisbury District Hospital, Royal Bournemouth Hospital, Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, South West Complex Care Services and Watford General Hospital.
Deputy Head Teacher at St Joseph's, Kevin McGuinness, launched the project by moving a plastic laser cutting machine from the school to his home, turning his kitchen into a workshop where visors could be made for 16 hours a day. Within a few days Kevin’s small idea became a big industry, with orders pouring in from hospitals and care homes.
The money from Wiltshire Freemasons is being used to provide vital raw materials, so the manufacture and distribution of this life saving PPE can continue.
The grant from Wiltshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), the Freemasons' charity, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
In response to the extraordinary need created by the coronavirus pandemic, Freemasonry is providing special funding of £2.75 million for projects helping those who are particularly affected by the virus. This extra money comes on top of the estimated £45 million given to charity every year by Freemasons.
Kevin McGuiness said: 'I’m very grateful to Wiltshire Freemasons for giving us the resources to produce this vital protective equipment. It’s especially important that we’re able to supply care homes, which need PPE every bit as much as other healthcare providers. This is vital work and I’m proud that St Joseph’s has taken the lead.'
Philip Bullock, the Head of Wiltshire Freemasons, said: 'I’m hugely impressed with the work that Kevin and the students at St Joseph’s are doing. I’m delighted that the Freemasons have been able to help fund this essential work and get this life-saving equipment out to the care home staff who so desperately need it.'
Published Thu, 21 May 2020 17:28:20 +0100
Freemasons in Berkshire have given 25 tablets to local care homes and hospices in the county. These are to help families stay in touch with their loved ones during this coronavirus crisis
During the current crisis, hospitals and care homes have been forced to limit access to try and control and prevent the virus spreading. This is both worrying for patients, residents and, more importantly their families. Giving tablets that allows families to speak with their loved ones at this stressful time has benefits for all.
The donations were coordinated through a new Covid-19 Response Group, which was formed by the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) as an emergency structure in response to Covid-19. Its purpose is to work together to deliver life-changing initiatives – on a national scale – to those in need. Using the full capability of its network, the Freemasons have been able to draw together suppliers to source the tablets quickly and efficiently. Over 1,000 tablets have been given away throughout England and Wales under this initiative so far.
In Berkshire, tablets were given to Thames Hospice in Windsor, Lord Harris Court in Wokingham and a further seven homes throughout the province. All were very gratefully received and will be put to good use keeping families in touch.
Mrs Roxana Brian the admin manager of the Stowford House Care Home in Abingdon. said: 'On behalf of the residents of Stowford House Care Home, I would like to send a big thank you for the two Samsung tablets we received. We appreciate your generosity at this difficult time, we will be able to use one tablet on each floor so that families can see their loved ones on a regular basis.'
Anthony Howlett-Bolton, the Leader of Freemasons in Berkshire, said: 'By giving these tablets to vulnerable patients in hospices and care homes I hope it can help bring some comfort to them and their families at this most difficult of times. Working in our local communities and charitable giving are some of our fundamental values.'
Published Thu, 21 May 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Crew members at the East Anglian Air Ambulance will have life-saving face visors and other essential personal protective equipment (PPE) as they work with potential Covid-19 patients, thanks to a grant of £5,000 from Cambridgeshire Freemasons
The donation will help to purchase a range of PPE such as; high-protection masks, protective suits, respirators, gloves and gowns to keep the air ambulance crews safe to operate on the frontline. Cambridgeshire Freemasons are regular contributors to East Anglian Air Ambulance.
Last year alone, they received £9,000, with 20 Air Ambulances across England and Wales receiving £180,000 in total from Freemasons across England and Wales.
The grant from Cambridgeshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), the Freemasons' charity, their families and friends, from across England and Wales. In response to the extraordinary need created by the coronavirus pandemic, Freemasonry is providing special funding of £2.75 million for projects helping those who are particularly affected by the virus. This extra money comes on top of the estimated £45 million given to charity every year by Freemasons.
Richard Hindson, Head of Operations at the East Anglian Air Ambulance, said: 'We’re very grateful to Cambridgeshire Freemasons for their generous grant. Our crews’ safety is paramount and we need to keep them safe so that the helicopters and rapid response vehicles remain operational and ready to respond when needed. We attended 178 missions in March alone, and this equipment is vital to keep both ambulance crews and patients safe.'
Michael Hinton, from Cambridgeshire Freemasons, said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support the magnificent work of East Anglian Air Ambulance once again. It’s essential that their crews have the safety equipment they need to keep themselves and their patients safe while they make their vital contribution to the fight against the coronavirus.'
Published Thu, 21 May 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Essex Freemasons have mobilised its 9,000 members from across the county to join the fight against Covid-19 with a major new campaign aimed at providing essential equipment for local hospital and care home staff
Some £20,000 has been allocated immediately by the Essex Freemasons Community Fund to purchase thousands of vitally needed PPE visors. These will be available in the next seven days and distributed to hospitals and care homes in every part of the County. A further £100,000 has been allocated to Freemasons in the East region by the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemason’s own charity, which will be focussed on areas of greatest need.
In a third initiative the Essex Cornerstone Club, which represent some 200 young Masons across Essex, has launched a separate appeal to help support a desperate plea from NHS Doctors and Nurses for any old but working electronic tablets / iPads. Due to the Covid-19 crisis patients are not allowed to receive visitors in hospital.
This initiative will give patients, many who are elderly and frail and do not have access to smart devices and who may be nearing the end of their life, the opportunity to speak to family and loved ones via video calls. The devices, regardless of age, need to be wiped clean of data, in working order and able to hold a charge and be able to run FaceTime/ Skype or video calls. Anyone wishing to donate their old electronic tablets are asked to click here to know more.
Paul Reeves, Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Essex Freemasons, commented: 'It is clear that there is a massive shortage of vital equipment and I am delighted that we have been able to respond immediately to support our hospitals and care homes. We have been in contact with suppliers and are assured we will receive visors within seven days. These will be distributed via or network of Freemason volunteers, many of whom already provide TLC Teddy Bears for traumatised children in A&E units – so we are ready to go.'
Every effort will be made to ensure that vital equipment reaches the right people as quickly as possible and Essex Masons want the visors to reach those in greatest need first. If your care home or hospital ward have a need please email email@example.com with the name of your unit and contact details of the person to contact there.
Published Wed, 20 May 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Dorset Freemason Wayne Ingram is currently detached from his job as an NHS Paramedic to assist with North Sea Repatriations to the United Kingdom. Although his family home is situated on the lovely Isle of Portland, a stones throw away from sitting in the chair as Senior Warden of United Service Lodge No. 3473, he couldn't resist the call to relocate to Aberdeen Airport when asked if he would use his paramedic qualification throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic
Hence, Wayne has found himself in Aberdeen as a designated helicopter medic with his task to repatriate Covid-19 patients from their places of work on the North Sea, back to mainland Britain.
Wayne said: 'Every oil rig has its own medic and it’s their decision if external medical assistance is required, especially when dealing with the Covid-19. When help is requested a flurry of activity commences in the control room at Aberdeen, pilots plotting their routes over land and the North Sea, while I communicate directly with the offshore medic, ascertaining the status of the patient.
'Submersion suits zipped up, life jackets applied, oxygen and medical equipment checked within the aircraft. Then they head out over the sea to arrive at a tiny speck of metal many miles away.
'For me the hardest part of the job is trying to communicate with patients whilst wearing full PPE. The little smile or wink previously given is often missed through mask and goggles. However, I love seeing the relief on their faces when we land and observing our beautiful countryside from a thousand feet in the air. It’s rewarding to see the British public coming together in a time of need, visiting their neighbours, looking out for one another, raising funds for those in need and inwardly knowing as a Freemason those actions have been part of our fraternity for many, many years.'
Graham Glazier, Provincial Grand Master for Dorset, said: 'We are immensley proud of Wayne and profoundly grateful to him and all the heroes in our emergency services and key workers for caring for us during this pandemic.'
Published Wed, 20 May 2020 00:00:00 +0100
The members from the Freemasons’ Hall at Litherland in merseyside continue in their quest to help bring a little relief and the odd smile to the front-line staff in the local community during the current Covid-19 pandemic
It all started when members of Crosby Lodge No. 3714 in West Lancashire, Ron Elliot and Jake Huggett, produced and delivered some simple wash packs, containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, shower gel and deodorant which weren’t available on the wards to staff and recovering patients at Aintree Hospital to enable them to freshen up. Many staff are unable to travel home and, in any event, the hours are long, and the work intense and demanding, so the packs were a welcome blessing.
That mission having been achieved, the next question was what further could be done for nurses, and the instant reply was "chocolate". It was from that response that phase two of the operation gathered momentum, and they have since been preparing and dropping off packs of chocolates and goodies to the local hospitals and care workers.
Ron Elliot is also a member of Thornton Chapter No. 8008, which also meets at Litherland. With funding from the Chapter, Ron was able to produce more ‘pick me up’ packs. As a result, 100 were packed and 66 bags delivered to the North West Ambulance Station in Fazakerley and 34 bags to Litherland Walk-In Centre, Respiratory Unit and GP Practice.
These little gifts were really well received and prompted yet another delivery, this time to the front-line staff at Ormskirk Hospital, consisting of shift survival packs.
Many messages of thanks and appreciation appeared from grateful front-line workers on the Crosby Lodge and Thornton Chapter Facebook and Twitter pages.
The generosity of the Litherland membership left enough money to do something for the staff at Tithebarn Masonic Care Home. Joe Williams, one of the Friends of Tithebarn committee and a member of both Crosby Lodge and Thornton Chapter, asked if there was anything they needed. The staff preferred something for the residents, and together they came up with the idea of an activity hamper.
The home has been in lockdown since well before the official government announcements, and thankfully remains Covid-19 free. The hamper full of games, puzzles, quizzes and many other goodies will be a welcome distraction for the residents, who obviously have not been able to venture out on any trips or outside activities.
Ron and Jake, together with Joe Williams, met manager Linda Johnson outside the home to deliver the hamper, taking the most stringent precautions with the safety and well-being of the residents always at the forefront of their minds.
Published Tue, 19 May 2020 00:00:00 +0100
The Freemasons of Nottinghamshire are proud to support the ongoing work of Worksop College in keeping the NHS and other key workers safe, and help the College raise over £5,000 to increase the production of NHS visors
In late March 2020, the Government put the whole of the UK into lockdown. This, however, did not stop the Freemasons of Nottinghamshire from continuing to support their local communities, charities and other good causes through raising money, donating time, equipment, and resources.
Therefore, when Worksop College put out an appeal through their Old Worksopian Society for donations to help boost their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) project to supply the hospital and care sector with desperately needed face visors, the Freemasons were quick to react and donations were quickly forthcoming from the Provincial Grand Lodge, Worksop Masonic Club and the Old Worksopian Lodge.
Thanks to these donations and those of their community, in just 36 hours the College raised over £5,000 worth of equipment to increase production levels of protective face visors.
Since the lockdown began, the College has been working daily to make personal protective equipment for NHS staff battling Coronavirus, a project initiated by Head of DT, Gary Duckering. It came as a national shortage of PPE for NHS staff on the front-line resulted in many key workers suffering injuries from wearing uncomfortable equipment for long hours, or going without any vital protective wear at all.
The College had been funding the initiative from existing materials to produce 10 – 12 protective face visors a day to help local hospitals and surgeries in the UK, using an existing 3D printer. College staff invested in an additional two printers to increase production levels, but put a request out for support to increase production levels even further.
The College is so grateful for all the support they have been shown from individuals, as well as the Freemasons. The funds have seen the addition of 13 new printers, along with reels of filament material which is used to produce the protective face visors.
Headmaster, Dr John Price, said: 'We are incredibly grateful for the support we have received from our Old Worksopians, as well as the Freemasons in the local province; it is testament to the strong community that exists both inside and outside the College. The additional printers and materials required to produce the protective visors will enable us to increase our production significantly, making a huge difference to those who need them most in the region.'
To date, the college has sent out over 1,000 visors across the region, to Bassetlaw Hospital, GP surgeries, local healthcare practitioners, care homes, and crematorium staff. The visors have also been sent further afield to the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge and St George’s Hospital in London, where members of our alumni community work.
The Head of Freemasonry in Nottinghamshire, the Provincial Grand Master, Philip Marshall, added: 'Nottinghamshire Freemasons are very proud to be part of the communities found in our fine county, including those working in an education sector which is so key to our prosperity. Our relationship with Worksop College is very important to us and we are pleased to be in partnership with the college on an initiative which assists in protecting the NHS and those working in the care sector.'
Local NHS providers who are seeking support for PPE are asked to send requests to Lucy Smithson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published Tue, 19 May 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Quarterly magazine of the United Grand Lodge of England, featuring freemasons' news, interviews, and features. Free to view online alongside exclusive content.
Published Tue, 26 May 2020 21:02:57 +0100
A £500 donation from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), The Freemasons’ Charity, is helping a Cleethorpes-based organisation to beat the lockdown misery for elderly and vulnerable people no longer able to meet
Friendship at Home offers a volunteer befriending service to older people in North East Lincolnshire who are lonely and isolated – but has had to modify the way it works as a result of the ongoing lockdown faced by its clients.
The value of the service is summed up by Sally, a 90-year-old user of the Friendship at Home service. She's really missing the Tuesday Club and lunch club session she regularly attended. In a tearful phone call she said: 'People don’t realise it’s not just the staying in; it’s the fact that I have no-one to call and nothing to do or look forward to. The days seem endless.
'That club was my weekly lifeline and the activities gave me something to look forward to. The phone calls I receive from the volunteers mean so much, as they ask not only about whether I have bread and milk but about my personal hobbies and interests and if I’d like anything picking up. I was really having a down day, and out of the blue there was a knock at the door. I opened it and there on the step was a beautifully wrapped parcel with a big puzzle, ‘Life Story’ Journal and bag of wool to knit for the Special Care Baby Unit. It was a great surprise which will keep me busy for a long time, and I’m doing something useful for those little babies. Thank you my friends at Friendship at Home; it truly is the right name for you.'
Doreen said: 'How kind to think that people are sending me this lovely present. I am 94 and I am on my own as all my family and friends have passed away. It is really kind of you to deliver something to keep my brain going as well as the shopping you have done for me.' Her thoughts were echoed by Iris, who said: 'Thank you so much for thinking of me. I will enjoy doing the word search and the crafts will keep me out of trouble. It just means a lot to know that I haven’t been forgotten.'
Friendship at Home Operational Manager Lyse Stephenson said: 'The £500 grant will make such a difference to our members as it enables them to take part in activities that they would usually be able to enjoy at our clubs and with their friends. By taking part in these activities it not only passes many solitary minutes, but communicates they have not been forgotten in these lonely times. We are seeing such a positive bearing on their mental health; thank you, Freemasons and the MCF.'
The Friendship at Home website says: 'It is recognised that loneliness can lead to depression and in turn, lack of confidence, low self-esteem and the withdrawal from social groups and activities.
'Our volunteer befrienders are there to offer company and friendship to those who are, primarily, living on their own. We at Friendship at Home work on a one-to-one basis, which means strong bonds are formed between the member and their befriender. The service ensures, through careful matching with our volunteers, that they have something in common – which is a foundation on which to build.
'The benefits of having someone to sit and talk to, share a trip to the garden centre, read a book or play a game of cards, can really make a difference to an older person’s wellbeing. We offer befriending either in the member’s own home, or in a residential home setting. It is apparent that although people are placed in residential care, some may still feel loneliness and isolation. We now have our volunteer befrienders who spend one-to-one time with those who need it in several care homes with in North East Lincolnshire.'
Names have been changed to protect the identity of those interviewed.
Published Mon, 18 May 2020 10:45:00 +0100
People who have lost everything in the catastrophic Australian bushfires will be among those to benefit from a grant of AUS $150,000 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation to the Disaster Relief Funds set up by Australian Freemasons
The grant from the English and Welsh Freemasons’ charity will see $50,000 given to the Australian Freemasons’ Disaster Relief Funds in each of the three states most affected by the blaze, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
The unprecedented fires have seen 27 deaths, including a number of firefighters. 2,136 homes have been destroyed in New South Wales alone, more than 1,200 of which have burned down since New Year’s Eve. Thousands of Australians are living in more than a dozen large evacuation centres, having been forced to flee the blaze.
Meanwhile hundreds of homes and businesses have been lost in Victoria and South Australia. Many Australians have lost everything and the impact on the livelihoods of ordinary people is vast. The economy will take many years to fully recover.
An estimated 18 million acres of land have been burned – an area almost as large as Ireland. There has been an enormous impact on the environment, with up to a billion animals being killed. The death toll among koala bears alone has led to calls for the animals to be placed on the endangered species list.
The Masonic Charitable Foundation is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
David Innes, Chief Executive of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, said: 'These terrible fires are an ongoing disaster for thousands of Australians. I’m very pleased that English and Welsh Freemasons are working together with Freemasons in Australia to raise funds to help the victims of the blazes, many of whom have lost everything.'
Published Tue, 14 Jan 2020 14:07:28 +0000
A grant of £4,000 to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance from Berkshire Freemasons has been added to the total masonic support of £2.4 million given to air ambulances across the country since 2007
Apart from this grant, which comes from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, The Berkshire Masonic Charity has contributed over £4,500 to help patients with breathing difficulties. These donations and many others bring the total contribution to Thames Valley Air Ambulance by Freemasons over the last few years to £132,000.
Thames Valley Air Ambulance operates across Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire bringing advanced medical care to the most critically ill and injured patients. Between 1st October 2018 and 30th September 2019, the helicopter and Critical Care Response Vehicles responded to 2670 incidents in the region; 1013 of these were in Berkshire. They delivered advanced medical care to 1,667 patients.
Neil Harman, Director of Fundraising at Thames Valley Air Ambulance, said: 'We are very grateful to Berkshire Freemasons for their continuing generosity. Without support like this our teams of doctors, paramedics and pilots would not be able to continue delivering our life-saving work.'
Anthony Howlett-Bolton, Leader of Berkshire Freemasons, said: 'We are proud to be able to support the Thames Valley Air Ambulance. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the crew, many lives of local people are saved every year.'
Published Tue, 26 Nov 2019 19:05:17 +0000
Whilst on a visit to the House of Lords Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master for Devonshire Freemasons, was inspired by a presentation given by Steve Morton, Director of Development for the Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education
Outlining the Academy’s aims and development plans for the future academy, which is to be relocated to a new site in Exmouth, - Ian was inspired so much so that he came back to Devonshire with the desire to help those who are affected by this very difficult sensory disability. To this end, he approached the Devonshire Freemasons Benevolent Fund Committee for help, and they immediately responded by giving him a cheque for £5,000.
Following their visit to meet Steve Morton in October 2018 there has been an approach to the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) who have agreed further funding of £28,380 to equip a Multi-Sensory Immersive Space within the new centre in Exmouth, bringing the total donated to £33,380.
Dr Reuben Ayres, Devonshire Provincial Grand Charity Steward, accompanied by Clive Eden, visited the Deaf Academy. Here they met up again with Steve Morton and Appeals Manager Sarah Shaw and presented them with a certificate denoting the £28,380 which is going to support the wonderful work undertaken by the Academy.
Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education has been located in Exeter for over 190 years and the current location is a property purchased many years ago which is no longer fit for the needs of the deaf students. The property and the land has now been sold and the proceeds will partially fund the new academy which is being been built with all the latest facilities available to the architects, to give the students what they really require.
All the students have additional needs, including multi-sensory disabilities, autism, epilepsy, and physical disabilities which is why, when designing the new building so much thought has gone into making each part of the facility user friendly. It is planned that completion of the new building will be by Easter 2020.
When presenting the certificate, Dr. Reuben Ayres said: ‘Young people all need us to be there to help them grow for the future, none more so than those with a lack of hearing who are denied the normal things that we take so much for granted in the world we live in.’
When receiving the certificate Steve Morton said: ‘We are extremely grateful for the ongoing support from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire and now the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Without the support of generous organisations like these we wouldn’t be able to change the lives of some of the most vulnerable Deaf young people in UK.
‘Our work helps young people, who have often been isolated in the past, to access education and opportunities for development which ultimately will enable them to have more independent lives. The immersive room is there to help those facing the greatest challenges to benefit from our work and Ian, Reuben and their fellow Freemasons have played a large part in making that a reality.’
Published Wed, 20 Nov 2019 00:00:00 +0000
Staffordshire’s Provincial Grand Master John Lockley endorsed and launched a unique advertising campaign to support the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the work they do to help communities throughout England and Wales with donations to local charities
A large advert has been placed on the side of an articulated trailer owned by local Freemason Danny Poole who runs a specialist chilled food distribution and transport business based in Stoke on Trent.
This giant trailer is decorated in specially commissioned MCF colours and branding and has been launched on the roads of the UK and Europe – in particular England, France, Germany and Belgium.
The idea was generated by Danny and his wife Jackie. Danny approached the Staffordshire MCF Representative Andrew Tomblin and generously offered a trailer for decoration in full MCF colours to carry the masonic message of Charity For All across the country and into Europe. These trailers never stand still and rather like aircraft are out there somewhere constantly working and being seen by all.
Andrew took the idea and discussed the plan with the MCF marketing department team, which resulted in the creation of the new artwork designed to carry the Masonic message across the entire length of the trailer and the rear doors. The vehicle is breathtakingly large and very eye catching and will take Freemasonry’s caring message far and wide.
John Lockley said: ‘Many thanks to Danny and Jackie for their great idea and for allowing the use of this magnificent vehicle to help Staffordshire Freemasons promote the Masonic Charitable Foundation, nationally and internationally.’
Published Tue, 22 Oct 2019 00:00:00 +0100
To tackle daily problems caused by loneliness and isolation, such as financial hardship, decline in physical or mental well-being or life transitions including retirement and bereavement, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) launched a £1 million three-year partnership with Age UK in 2018 to fund a new project called ‘Later Life Goals’
Thanks to this project, Age UK advisers have been helping older people identify their goals for later life. So far, the project has supported over 2,370 older people.
There are 3.6 million older people in the UK, of whom over two million are over 75 years of age and live alone. The downside effects of loneliness on human body is equivalent to harm caused by 15 cigarettes a day which makes it even worse than obesity.
Research over loneliness shows that it is associated with a 50% increase in mortality from any cause. According to Age UK, it is associated with depression, sleep problems, impaired cognitive health, heightened vascular resistance, hypertension, psychological stress and mental health problems.
Age UK Solihull in Warwickshire, one of 13 branches in this project, has been working closely with Knowle Masonic Centre (KMC). During the summer, Keith Reynolds, Deputy Chairman of KMC, presented Anne Hastings, CEO of Age UK Solihull, the certificate sent by MCF granting £63,000 as part of the 3-year partnership. The level of co-operation between KMC and Age UK Solihull goes even beyond funding projects. KMC had gladly welcomed Age UK Solihull to have their regular meetings and social gatherings at KMC’s premises.
Futhermore, Age UK Solihull has initiated a significant service called ‘Linking People Together’ which aims at promoting individual independence, confidence and well-being. The service calls on volunteers to visit and befriend older people in their local areas. Volunteers are expected to create a personal connection with an older person who could be homebound or suffering from a long-term disease or having no family living locally. Volunteers can befriend someone either by phoning at an agreed time for a chat or by visiting them at their home.
It is also possible to accompany them to an activity or appointment. KMC is delighted to be part of this partnership and committed to support Age UK Solihull. To contribute the project, members of the KMC are encouraged to participate with their families.
Published Wed, 09 Oct 2019 21:52:01 +0100
Lifelites has received an incredible donation of £141,423 from the Mark Benevolent Fund, which will change the lives of thousands of life-limited and disabled children across the country
The Mark Benevolent Fund is the official charity of The Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, a registered charity that began in 1868 as an efficient way to donate money to the charities of the Mark Master Masons.
Lifelites donates assistive technology to over 10,000 life-limited and disabled children in hospices across the country, and this vital funding will support a brand new project being launched by the charity this year – the Tech Trunk.
The Tech Trunk is a solution for Hospice at Home services across the country that deliver palliative and respite care for children out in the community. The portable trunks enable hospice staff to take the Lifelites technology with them wherever they go, giving children the opportunity to have access to life-changing technology in their own home.
The trunks will include accessible, portable technology such as a Virtual Reality Headset, specialist iPads, games consoles and an Eyegaze, which enables children to use a computer just with the movement of their eyes. All of this technology gives these children the opportunity to play, be creative, control something for themselves and communicate, for as long as it is possible.
This funding will also help Lifelites to donate Interactive Entertainment Hubs, Mobile Magic Carpets, and other technology as well as vital training for children’s hospice staff on how to use it.
Simone Enefer-Doy, Chief Executive of Lifelites, said: ‘Our small team works tirelessly to raise the funds we so desperately need, and to have this unbelievably generous gift from the Mark Benevolent Fund is a complete game-changer for Lifelites.
‘It will help us provide technology to thousands of children across the country, children who don’t have the same opportunities that we do. Every moment is precious, and thanks to this donation we can help these children and their families make the most of every second.’
Darren Coleman-Heald, Charities Manager at the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, said: ‘We are delighted to have joined forces with Lifelites in this all-important project that reaches deep in to the heart of your community giving enjoyment and stimulation to life-limited and disabled children.
'Our 36,000 members will be pleased to know that their donations are being used wisely by helping those in need across the UK.’
Published Wed, 02 Oct 2019 12:23:25 +0100
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.'
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‘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.’
Published Mon, 30 Sep 2019 10:49:43 +0100
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.
Published Wed, 04 Sep 2019 22:54:01 +0100
Funded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation and operated by Lincoln’s St Barnabas Hospice Trust and the city’s YMCA, a new project to help the homeless could become the model for similar schemes nationwide
It’s about a new dimension in the range of services offered by the organisations and is aimed specifically at helping the homeless to cope with bereavement.
YMCA CEO Caroline Killeavy said working in partnership with MCF support made a significant difference. The scheme will provide one-to-one specialist counselling to work with homeless people through the difficulties, challenges and emotions that can accompany bereavement.
Although there are no exact figures of how many homeless people in Lincoln are struggling with bereavement, there is research that shows it is a problem on a national scale. Strong circumstantial evidence that indicates it is prevalent in Lincoln.
The YMCA and Lincoln Baptist Church independently contacted St Barnabas Hospice to discuss the problem, which lead to the hospice putting together a bid to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for funding.
Counselling sessions are held at the YMCA hostel in Rumbold Street and at The Nomad Trust’s shelter in Monks Road. Caroline Killeavy, CEO of Lincolnshire YMCA, added: ‘The YMCA recognises people become homeless for many reasons, but one we repeatedly see is bereavement and loss.’
Pete Crosby, Lincoln Baptist Church community coordinator, said: ‘Bereavement among the homeless community is a reoccurring issue. Without specialist bereavement support these people will not overcome their grief and be able to get on with their lives.’
Cat Rodda is the bereavement counsellor leading the year-long project, and has already seen positive changes in those taking part. She said: ‘These sessions provide a confidential and accessible space for homeless people, who traditionally haven’t felt able to access the hospice’s bereavement support. We are already seeing individuals start to work through and better cope with their grief and taking steps to move forward with their lives.’
In addition to the counselling, the project aims to provide bereavement training for staff at partner organisations and for homeless peer mentors in order to widen the impact of the project.
Lincolnshire's Provincial Grand Master Dave Wheeler said: ‘People can find themselves living on the street for a variety of reasons. Life is already tough enough for the homeless, and the last thing they need is the extra burden of being alone whilst having to cope with the grief of bereavement.
‘The Masonic Charitable Foundation’s donation means that counsellors with the right kind of skills can be available to support them at such times, and I find it reassuring that we have made this wonderful initiative possible.’
Published Wed, 28 Aug 2019 00:00:00 +0100