Quarterly magazine of the United Grand Lodge of England, featuring freemasons' news, interviews, and features. Free to view online alongside exclusive content.
Published Wed, 23 Sep 2020 16:37:26 +0100
9 September 2020
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
There are points in history when things change; times when the status quo jolts forward whether we like it or not. After such events, things never quite seem the same again because they change us as individuals, and the way that we look at the world is never again quite as it was.
In our over three-hundred-year history, Freemasonry will have experienced a number of such events, but since the Second World War it is difficult to think of one that has had such a profound effect on society, on the economy and on us all by what I am told is a little bundle of fat and protein hundreds of times smaller than the width of a human hair.
In our response to it, and in the decisions we have taken, UGLE has followed two guiding principles: The first - obey the law of the land, and follow any official guidance issued. The second - trust our members and our Lodges to decide what is right for them, facilitating and encouraging those that wish to meet, whilst supporting, understanding and respecting those who feel that the time is not yet right for them.
There are also changes of which we had notice today which, by comparison, seem almost mundane, yet just a year ago were the subject of quite some debate. The decision to lower the age of Initiation to 18 without dispensation brings Freemasonry into line with the age of majority adopted by the UK parliament in 1969. The creation of Provincial and Lodge membership officers as recommended by the Membership Working Party of the Board will introduce a new Collared Office with new responsibilities to the Craft, whilst changing the rules around unattached masons and visiting will, we hope, make it easier for members to understand the character of a lodge they may wish to join.
These changes have been widely consulted and widely approved, but as with all things, they will not please everyone. I’m sure you know the joke about how many masons its takes to change a light bulb? Whilst respecting our traditions, UGLE does not, and never has moved at the speed of the slowest ship in the convoy, and we have shown, perhaps, over the last few months, that we are not quite the oil tanker that some people took us for.
During Lockdown we have received some unusually good publicity for the immense amount of wonderful voluntary work carried out World Wide and I will make further reference to this. The excellent by-product of this is a larger than usual number of potential Initiates waiting in the wings. However, Lodges were unable to make any progress due to the necessary Social Distancing rules and were in danger of stagnating as a result. It was for this reason that we asked a zealous and expert Brother, and the Ritual Committee of the Emulation Lodge of Improvement to look at ways that we could temporarily vary the Ritual to enable Lodges to, at least, Initiate and Pass Candidates. We never expected everyone to agree with all the suggestions, but we are confident that the changes will allow Freemasonry to bring in new blood to the benefit of all concerned. Surely that is what matters, not the dotting of Is and crossing of Ts as far as the Ritual changes are concerned. We want Lodges and therefore Chapters to come alive again for the enjoyment and benefit of all concerned.
Brethren, I feel it only right that in these closing remarks I pay tribute to those who have quietly and steadfastly ‘Done Their Bit’. There are far too many to mention, but you will know who you are. Up and down the country, across the world in our Districts and here in Freemasons’ Hall in London, Members, Staff and Volunteers have given of themselves in ways that they might never have imagined less than half a year ago – quietly doing what they can to make things better. The organisation has responded magnificently to the needs of the public, and to those of our friends and neighbours. As we continue to navigate uncharted waters, I take comfort in the simplicity of the messages our rituals convey and exhort you ever to act in accordance with them in the weeks and months ahead: Respect each other and all humanity; improve yourself, and make your life and actions count.
Published Wed, 09 Sep 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Freemasons across England and Wales are lending a helping hand to young carers who are under increasing pressure as they support family members during lockdown
The 200,000 members of the United Grand Lodge of England are pulling out all the stops to lend their support to vulnerable young people to help relieve the stress of looking after parents or older siblings who have mental and physical health issues.
In Bristol and Gloucestershire Freemasons are providing virtual activities for young carers with a summer activity programme. Whilst in Hampshire and Isle of Wight, they have identified, and are supporting, 1,000 young carers who are often left alone to cope.
There are almost seven million carers across the UK. This numbers represents one in ten people. Today 13,000 young and young adult carers, regularly provide care for more than 50 hours a week. Moreover, up to 1.5 million people in the UK care for someone with a mental health problem and approximately 840,000 thousand care for people with learning disabilities. 
In Bristol, Freemasons are working with the Carer Centre to deliver online activities for young carers, including a six-week summer holiday programme, to give them a break from their caring role. Plans include: arts activities, online home cookery, cookery, dancing and drama workshops, home science experiments; wellbeing and resilience classes and a virtual festival day.
Meanwhile, Reading and West Berkshire Carers Hub has 420 carers struggling with no face-to-face help. To help improve their situation Freemasons are donating PC tablets so the carer can make contact with the charity outreach workers. The aim of their programme is for young carers to receive continuity of service and can link up with peers. They can also gain specific skills from activities which will help in their caring role e.g. financial skills and well-being techniques.
In Wiltshire a substantial number of Freemasons are carers in their own right. Nigel Dalby, for example, said: 'Although I’m a retired NHS employee I am still in touch with my old team (a crisis team for adults with severe learning disabilities, challenging behavior and mental health issues) and although I am currently unable to be physically active due to recent surgery I am providing telephone support to one of the service users I used to work with.' This is in addition to Wiltshire Freemasons donating £1,000 to Swindon Carers Centre.
While in Hampshire and Isle of Wight, they are identifying and supporting 1,000 young carers who are in crisis and need immediate intervention. They are assisting the Honeypot Children’s Charity, who are posting out coloring books, birthday and post cards, puzzles, games and arts & crafts supplies to combat anxiety and loneliness. In addition they are helping to provide virtual activities and signpost young carers to other useful online resources.
Elsewhere, in Buckinghamshire the Freemasons are supporting Cares Bucks and Milton Keynes, providing cooked meals to the homes of Young Carers. They are also donating and distributing ‘Pamper Packs’ and craft materials to all their registered Carers. By supplying and delivering the above items the staff are given an opportunity to talk to the carers at length and for carers to interact with each other.
Buckinghamshire Freemasons are also helping Slough Carers provide support to unpaid carers. They are donating tablets to provide face-to-face contact for the most vulnerable individuals being cared for by Slough Carers.
While in Worcestershire the Cubit Club continues to offer help to those in need during these times. Freemasons have 55 members who are offering their services for anyone in need. The volunteers are spread around the province and are responding to multiple requests for help from carers.
In Staffordshire, Freemasons are helping Omega Support Givers providing care for carers some of whom are children caring for siblings or parents. They are also supporting Sandwell Crossroads Care with donation to help them continue their job providing a telephone advice service for people living with dementia. Lastly they are also helping The Carers Trust to improve support services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring, unpaid, for a family member or friends who are ill, frail, disabled or have mental health or addiction problems.
Dr David Staples, the chief executive of the United Grand Lodge of England, said: 'We want to recognise the enormous contribution young carers make to families and communities throughout the UK. During Covid-19 they have been living in very challenge circumstances and need our support now more than ever. They do their best because they want to make a difference and care deeply for their family members. Freemasons are supporting these amazing individuals across England and Wales to show our gratitude for their efforts and the brilliant job they do every minute of every day.
'Freemasons stand behind our core values of Friendship, Integrity, Charity and Respect and are eager to help provide support for these cross-generational relationships and to highlight our respect and admiration for carers across UK.'
 Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee – report.
Published Mon, 29 Jun 2020 15:37:50 +0100
With many families struggling to put food on the table Freemasons across England and Wales are currently working on hundreds of initiatives to help minimise the daily pressure on households across the UK 
During this difficult time, the United Grand Lodge of England, the governing body for Freemasonry in England and Wales, formed the Covid-19 Response Group to support those in need. The group identified food banks and people in vulnerable situations in need of help and set about galvanizing its network to provide food donations, deliveries, cooking fresh meals; as well as opening up local Lodges’ kitchens to cook meals.
Freemasons have been rolling up their sleeves and helping nationwide. In Bristol, 14 volunteer Freemasons are packing and labelling food parcels which are being delivered to those suffering food poverty. While in Bedfordshire, Freemasons provided 11 tonnes of food in May alone.
Elsewhere, food banks in North Cumbria, Windermere, Penrith and South Lakes are being supported with a £24,000 donation from Cumberland and Westmorland Freemasons. In addition, Worcestershire Freemasons helped six food banks and donated food and refreshment to NHS staff at the local Alexandra Hospital.
In Warwickshire, the Freemasons have donated £18,000 to the Fairshare Foodbank and Warwickshire foodbanks. While in Wiltshire, they are delivering to more than 30 homes and the list is growing every week.
While in Middlesex, they donated £41,000 and are providing meals 2,500 meals per week. According to their projections, Middlesex Freemasons will be providing more 45,000 meals to help vulnerable people.
In Norfolk, Somerset, South Wales, Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, Dorset, Durham, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Staffordshire, East Lancashire, Leicestershire and Rutland, Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, Cornwall, Monmouthshire, Somerset, Lincolnshire, Herefordshire, Jersey and Sussex, local Freemasons are preparing meals and packages of food to be distributed to residents. In Sussex, for example, they have donated £28,000 to 14 foodbanks in the area.
Freemason Ezra McGowan – after suffering with the coronavirus himself – has been delivering food to those in isolation in West Lancashire, and has already donated more than two and a half tonnes of food.
Freemasons are also involved in another touching story. They received a call from David Matthews and his son Bailey looking for a place with a kitchen to cook Sunday lunches for more than 100 people. Freemason David Purdy supplied some catering equipment and the Devonshire Province immediately agreed to loan its facilities when its members heard it was to help vulnerable people.
Mr Matthews said: 'I tried many places but the Freemasons were the only organisation to reply; I couldn’t do it if it wasn’t for their support. I now realise what a wonderful organisation it is and that its ethos is the same as mine. I'm sure when this current situation is over, and Lodges open again, I'll definitely be applying to join.'
Devonshire Freemasons have also donated £15,000 to enable them to continue this work, in addition to donating five tonnes of food for Foodbanks, which adds up to 12,000 meals. While in Cheshire they have distributed more than 400 food parcels to the local community and Freemason Richard Pitt is preparing 80 portions of Fish and Chips every Friday and donating to frontline workers and the homeless.
London Freemasons have helped 40,000 people with 55,000 meals. While in Shropshire, they have donated £47,000 to help the community and to buy a van for the Shrewsbury Food Hub. In Buckinghamshire, Freemasons are providing 350 meals per week to Aylesbury Women’s Aid refuge, which houses 60 women, their children and others in vulnerable situations. In Somerset, local Freemasons have donated more than 20,000 meals.
In North Wales, Freemasons are cooking approx. 700 meals every Sunday and distributing them in Bangor and Anglesey and received a heartfelt message from local resident. Pete Williams said, 'Many thanks to the Freemasons for including my 95-year-old grandmother in this very generous endeavour and delivering to her door. She was truly grateful.'
In East and West Kent meanwhile, Freemasons donated £65,000 to buy 3.6 tonnes of food and support the community. The Family Food Bank and many other food banks, are now able to supply in excess of 80,000 meals. In addition, they are helping Bexley Food Bank, Swanley Food Bank, Bromley Borough Food Bank and Nourish Community Food Bank.
Freemasons are also supporting the NHS. In Yorkshire, each week they are preparing and delivering 80 ready-packed meals (20kg), to the late-shift emergency services at Dewsbury’s hospital. They are also delivering 300 meals to local elderly housing every week. Since March, Derbyshire Freemasons have provided more than 1,000 meals at masonic centre kitchens, with 30 Freemason volunteers ensuring that they receive freshly prepared and tasty meals. In addition, Nottinghamshire Freemasons are helping 1,000 families each week.
In Surrey they are delivering frozen meals for distribution to families in need. Sarah Abellan from Nutfield Parish Council said: 'Thank you for your generosity in providing frozen meals which are delivered to people in need. It has made a huge difference too many families.' In addition, Northumberland Freemasons cooked 800 meals in the Masonic Halls to run “Meals on Wheels”, and delivered freshly food to the emergency services, self-isolating people and care homes.
Dr David Staples, the chief executive of the United Grand Lodge of England, said: 'No one, in this day and age, should have to worry where there next meal is coming from. With foodbanks across the UK being used more than ever before the crisis has put untold pressure on this vital network.
'We are so glad that we are able to provide thousands of families across the UK with a hot meal or food donations to get them through this current crisis. Freemasons have achieved all of this in just a few months and have also given their time to produce and deliver food to the vulnerable. We will continue to raise money and donate our time until we are able to return to normality.
'Freemasons stand behind our core values of Friendship, Integrity, Charity and Respect and are proud to help so many in their time of need.'
 The Food Foundation (FF) report has found that 5.1 million people have experienced food insecurity during the lockdown.
Published Mon, 01 Jun 2020 11:06:32 +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
Quarterly magazine of the United Grand Lodge of England, featuring freemasons' news, interviews, and features. Free to view online alongside exclusive content.
Published Wed, 23 Sep 2020 16:37:26 +0100
It all began when Dean Lynch had the seed of an idea when discussing potential fundraising activities that the Manchester Level Club could undertake during the COVID-19 lockdown; the idea quickly gained traction, a charity was chosen. It was decided that Manchester Level Club (MLC) supported by Manchester Masons would complete the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge in Aid of St Ann’s Hospice based in Manchester with an initial fundraising target of £2500
Fast forward to a brisk 6am Saturday morning in August when a group of Manchester Freemasons and guests checked the validity of their passports and made their way across the border to a campsite in the picturesque village of Horton in Ribblesdale, just within the Yorkshire Dales.
The group was made up of Manchester Freemasons and a few non-masonic guests who would also take part. The group was also privileged to have in attendance Mark Davis (APGM for the Manchester District), and Paul O’Carroll (Manchester Derby District Chairman) who had also agreed to take on the challenge in a true display of leadership.
The walk was planned out by expert guide Chris Ainsley from Optimal Adventures. Chris is a former Royal Marine Commando who organises many adventure expeditions, so, in theory, the walk was going to be a piece of cake.
Once all of the walkers had completed the necessary registration paperwork, it was time for the briefing which was delivered by the expert guide Chris Ainsley from Optimal Adventures
The briefing concluded and the group proceeded to take on the 27-mile walk in blazing hot conditions - all wearing heavy backpacks!
The first ascent the team were to tackle was Pen-Y-Ghent, the lowest of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks at 2,277 feet but no less of a climb.
After conquering the first summit there were celebrations, however, there were two bigger peaks to climb ahead of them.
Next, the group began the slog to get to the top of the second peak, called Whernside. Whilst Whernside is not a steep climb, it is a long and arduous eight mile uphill slog.
With two peaks down and one to go the team wearily made their way to final checkpoint. The realisation hit that there was still one more peak to overcome. Final plans were made and it was then time to complete the last of the Y3P Challenge.
Naturally, there was a celebration on the final summit, Ingleborough had been conquered. Finally, one by one the weary Mancunians made it back to the campsite where Manchester Freemasons had provided a barbeque and beer feast for the bedraggled walkers.
We would love to tell you how the team partied that evening, but unfortunately, most of them were asleep by 8pm!
The walk had attracted donations of over £7000, not including Gift Aid, so a cheque was presented to the CEO of Saint Ann's Hospice Eamonn O'Neal who is also the current High Sherrif of Manchester.
Manchester Level Club continues with its extensive charity work and are currently running a charity auction for a local children's charity.
Published Fri, 18 Sep 2020 21:32:12 +0100
What makes this Local West Lancashire Freemason stand tall?
Andy Reid is a Freemason and a steward of Bryn Lodge No 6553 meeting at Bryn Masonic Hall, Ashton-in-Makerfield, in the Wigan Group. If you ever meet him, your first impression is, big quiet man.
What doesn’t come across immediately is his resolution to help the military veterans, young carers, fostered children over 18 years old and people with learning and mental health issues in the community of St Helens and the surrounding area. He wants to give all these people the ‘best friend’ they never had and a mentor to show them the way.
The foundation ‘Standing Tall’, was created when Andy had recovered from the October 2009 explosion in Helmand Province. Corporal Andy Reid had been blown up after 15 years serving with the 3rd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment by a Taliban improvised explosive device while on patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was injured so badly that it was thought he would not survive, but he defied the odds to the extent that within a month, he was able to meet up with members of his patrol again.
In his own words: 'I’m a survivor, not a victim'. Through his associations with many different organisations including Freemasonry, Andy realised that there are many deserving causes which he would like to give benefit to on a more direct, practical level and work to raise funds for his foundation to provide ground level interventions across a wide portfolio of causes and engage with training providers and recruitment companies to seek pathways to work for the disadvantaged and encourage self worth in the individual.
Through his Foundation, he is able to bring military veteran mentors and young people together to help each other and with people like Terry Bates on board. Formerly of the Royal Navy and a qualified trainer, Terry provides support, training, mentoring and health and wellbeing courses, with the hope everybody attending sets off on the road to the rest of their career.
After 10 years hard work, he was honoured to be recognised and awarded the MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list, and so it is that William Andrew Reid MBE has gone on to work tirelessly with fellow Freemason John Tabern, Immediate Past Master of Bryn Lodge and Terry Bates, 35 years in the Royal Navy.
Andy explained that through the determination that has seen him overcome huge personal battles, he is now able to change corporate mindsets using his powerful and inspirational presentations about self belief and the power of goal setting. As he says: 'These are real people, with real needs, not just a set of statistics and I aim to use my Foundation to help meet those needs, hopefully with the help of Freemasonry.'
Andy’s war may be over, but his campaigning continues, his work on foundation awareness and the fight for social issues, including homelessness, debt management, relationships and mental health are in a direct response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Foundation has already engaged in an initiative with Leon House Clinic to offer free mental health support for any NHS and Care staff in the St Helens and Knowsley Authority, delivered on line via Zoom by some of the best trauma counsellors in the UK.
For further details on the Standing Tall Foundation and how to access the mental health support contact John Tabern, CEO of the Standing Tall Foundation at email@example.com or visit Andy’s website by clicking here.
Published Sat, 12 Sep 2020 18:29:50 +0100
West Lancashire Freemasons donate £29,000 to local youth club, and receive another contribution to their MCF 2021 Festival appeal
When Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and Assistant Provincial Grand Master Andy Whittle visited the Warrington Youth Centre, they were there for two reasons. The first was to visit the Warrington Peace Centre, where the youth club is housed, with a donation from the MCF and to see how the money was being utilised. The second reason was to meet with Garston Group Chairman John Murphy and his ever-active Festival Representative Jim Corcoran to receive a donation from the Garston and Woolton Group for the MCF 2021 Festival.
Warrington Youth Club is a typical example of one of the ways the money raised during the Festival is distributed locally. We have seen previously local grants to Air Ambulance, Galloways Society for the Blind, vulnerable children during the pandemic, local care homes, the Rainbow Trust, the sponsorship of research to combat arthritic pain, women’s refuge centres, food banks, the list goes on and on. On this occasion, 50 local children who are experiencing child poverty, social isolation and who have been at risk of ‘holiday hunger’ during the school holidays are being given the support they need, thanks to a grant of £29,000 from West Lancashire Freemasons to the Warrington Youth Club which will support a three year programme.
The charity runs a Boost Holiday Club which offers activities and healthy meals over the school holidays. They work in partnership with local agencies to identify children who are experiencing child poverty and are at risk of not having regular and appropriate meals while away from school. Free places at the club are offered discreetly to local families in need and includes return transport to the Club, a healthy breakfast and lunch, a timetable of activities which promote social skills, health skills and life skills.
Warrington Youth Club has been supporting children and young people through quality activities since the 1930s. The charity was originally set up by a group of mothers who were concerned about their children getting into trouble after school. Based on the ethos of ‘Inspiring Young People to Achieve’, the charity has developed into the largest youth provision in Warrington, and today works with over 2,500 children and young people.
According to the latest figures, 27% of children in Warrington are living in poverty. This represents over 13,000 children and young people (Warrington Borough Profile 2020), who may not be getting their basic needs of food, shelter and care.
Holiday Hunger is an issue which has emerged in recent years, highlighting the vulnerability of children who are supported during school time with free school meals, who face the risk of going hungry during school holidays, particularly the 6-week summer holidays. The BBC report an estimated three million children nationally at risk of going hungry during the summer break.
The aim of the Club’s programme is to address the compounded disadvantage experienced by young people living in poverty who are unable to access developmental activities and nutritious meals during school holidays. Families, often left without support for the 13 weeks of holidays, struggle to meet the additional food requirements, find affordable childcare (one in three children with a working single parent are living in poverty) and provide meaningful sports, arts, social and educational experiences affecting long-term outcomes and perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
The grant comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons' Charity, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales. Dave McNicholl, Chief Executive of Warrington Youth Club, said: 'We’re extremely grateful to West Lancashire Freemasons for their generous grant, which is allowing us to support 50 disadvantaged children during the school holidays. It’s also helping us provide ongoing support for vulnerable children and families through the charity’s wider programme of youth work.'
Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison from West Lancashire Freemasons said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help local children in need by supporting Warrington Youth Club during the school holidays. It’s essential that children who require free school meals during term time are not abandoned during the holidays, both in terms of food, as well as the educational and entertainment opportunities that other children take for granted while they are away from the classroom.'
Following the presentation, Tony Harrison and Andy Whittle were treated to a tour of the facilities by Dave McNicholl and Jamie Patterson from the youth club and were given an insight into the work they do and their plans for the future.
Just prior to the meeting, Tony and Andy met with John Murphy and Jim Corcoran in the grounds of the Warrington Peace Centre, Jim having a very pleasant duty to perform. Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown the Woolton and Garston Group held a number of fundraising social events at Garston Freemasons Hall to support the MCF 2021 Festival. The events were well supported by members and their friends who enjoyed professional acts and discos together with the famous Garston carvery meal supplied by the resident chef Tony Ackroyd and his staff. At each event raffles and auctions for various wonderful prizes, including signed sporting memorabilia sourced by the Group Festival Steward Jim Corcoran, were held. As a result, they were able to present a cheque for £3,000 for the MCF 2021 Festival to Tony.
Things have been really difficult recently, but the fundraising efforts by Freemasons are something to be proud of, and they will continue, through the MCF Festival, to support local causes and the needy and vulnerable in our community.
Published Sat, 12 Sep 2020 18:18:27 +0100
Cambridge Samaritans are being supported through the Covid-19 crisis, thanks to a grant from Cambridgeshire Freemasons
The £2,000 grant is especially welcome as Samaritans’ fundraising ability has been reduced by the lockdown, but their local volunteers are still receiving 80 calls or more every day, which works out at one every 18 minutes.
Samaritans have used the money from the grant to reorganise their working arrangements so as to keep staff and volunteers safe, as well as increasing their capacity to respond to calls and emails by investing in new technology. They are also looking at introducing instant messaging as another way for people in distress to be able to contact them.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been expensive for Cambridge Samaritans. They have already had to spend around £4,000 on antiviral wipes, sprays, hand gel and costs for changes to working practices so that their essential service can continue during the crisis period.
The grant from Cambridgeshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons' charity, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
John Humpston, Director of Cambridge Samaritans said: 'We’re very grateful to Cambridgeshire Freemasons for helping to sustain the Branch during the pandemic and by extension, our service to callers. We get many calls arising from the stresses created by the virus and, with essential telephony, hygiene and social distancing changes, the grant from the Freemasons has helped us to keep going.'
Paul Ashby, from Cambridgeshire Freemasons said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Cambridge Samaritans with their hugely important work. Samaritans are the place that people can go to when they feel they have nowhere else to turn and where they will always have someone there to listen to whatever they need to say.'
Published Thu, 10 Sep 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Recognizing a local charity providing important benefit to Suffolk, David Boswell decided to adopt the Charity for his 2020 Grand Superintendent’s Appeal
The Chapters of Suffolk responded in true masonic spirit, and with match funding from the Suffolk Provincial Grand Chapter Charity in next to no time had raised the magnificent sum of £10,000, which David presented to Dr Virgo on behalf of Suffolk’s Royal Arch Masons.
He was accompanied by his wife Jenny, together with Mike and Gwen Caddock, and their granddaughter Lucy who tested the emergency vehicle’s blue lights! Meeting outdoors to comply with social distancing requirements, the Operations Manager gave an overview of the work of the charity, which on average responds to six medical emergencies or trauma incidents every week. In a quarter of the call-outs SARS is first on the scene. Dr Virgo demonstrated an automatic CPR resuscitation machine costing about £8,000 to provide and maintain. In emergencies it frees the SARS clinician working single-handed to treat and comfort the patient whilst the machine works to restart circulation and breathing – a real lifesaver. The efforts of Suffolk’s Royal Arch Masons received a tremendous boost when in early September, with the support of Provincial Grand Master Ian Yeldham, the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons' Charity, agreed to match the total raised and made the total £20,000.
Published Tue, 08 Sep 2020 07:52:08 +0100
There were happy smiles all round when the Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Devonshire Nick Ball and Assistant Provincial Grand Masters Peter Keaty and Craig Cox met recently to celebrate the happy occasions of the birth of their granddaughters, Eadie Violet, Eleanor and Tilly; who were all born within a matter of weeks of each other
Their gathering was also an opportunity to celebrate the news that the Devonshire Teddies For Loving Care (TLC) appeal has achieved registered charity status with the Charity Commission and HM Revenue & Customs, and to support the work of TLC.
The Teddies For Loving Care appeal started in 2001 in the Province of Essex but quickly grew to become a national initiative, entirely funded by Freemasons and their families who also volunteer their time to run the scheme.
The objective of the initiative is to provide teddy bears for staff in medical and other care establishments to give to young children in distress following a trauma or sickness in order to help relieve suffering and reduce the shock and distress of their experience. The bears are not only used by medical staff to help reduce the children's stress and fear levels, but also to reward them for being brave, and in some cases, explain and demonstrate medical procedures. Every child that receives a teddy gets to keep it to take home.
In Devonshire the initiative started in 2008 under local Devon coordinator John Adcock supported by Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master, W. Bro. Christopher Yard. In recent years, the initiative has grown from strength to strength under the direction of Keith Bower, supported by Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Charles Yelland.
In the Province of Devonshire, an amazing 59,000 teddy bears have been donated to 11 hospital accident and emergency units at Derriford, Torbay, RD&E and North Devon hospitals and children’s wards, children’s specialist care units and children’s hospices’ right across the Province.
Support and enthusiasm for the initiative continues to grow in Devonshire and so it was decided earlier this year that the initiative would benefit from being reshaped into a charitable trust so that registered charity status could be achieved to further develop a regional focus across the Province.
Registered charity status was granted by the Charity Commission and accepted by HMRC in August 2020 with one of the immediate benefits of registration being that donations can now be made under the Gift Aid scheme which boosts every £1 donated by a further 25p.
Published Sat, 05 Sep 2020 16:20:54 +0100
The sun was shining brightly as three intrepid members of the East Goscote Lodge NO. 2865 took to the saddle to raise monies for charity. For Nathan Paddison, Shael Marshall, and Vijay Chouhan, months of training had finally come to this moment, when the three of them set off on a journey from Syston, Leicestershire, to Skegness in Lincolnshire
The support team of Pete Leatherland and Pete Leatherland Senior were on hand to ensure that the cyclists had everything they needed for the journey and were given a rapturous send-off by the watching crowd, including the Provincial Grand Master Peter Kinder, and the Chariman of the 2022 Festival Dale Page.
The route will take the cyclists eastwards, through to Grantham for a well-earned rest before pushing on towards Skegness before the day is out.
So far they have raised over £2,000 for the Leicestershire & Rutland 2022 Festival, which has a target of raising £1.8m for the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons' Charity, supporting local charities and good causes.
On seeing the cyclists depart into the glorious sunshine, the Provincial Grand Master, Peter Kinder said, 'What a tremendous effort by East Goscote Lodge and these lads in particular, I am very proud of everything they are doing to support this fantastic charity.'
The Chairman of the 2022 Festival Dale Page said: 'The weather today is fantastic for the team, the effort they have put into this is superb, this is exactly what Freemasonry is all about.'
Published Sat, 05 Sep 2020 11:35:54 +0100
One hundred young boys and girls from disadvantaged backgrounds in Bolton will have the chance to get the help and support they need, thanks to a grant of £40,000 from East Lancashire Freemasons to the Bolton Lads & Girls Club (BLGC)
The grant will fund the BLGC mentoring project, which aims to give children and young people suffering from poor mental health and difficult home lives, a stable, positive and caring Volunteer Mentor from the local community to help guide them through tough times and improve their futures.
The young people involved have often experienced highly stressful and traumatic situations in their home lives, which has had a profoundly negative impact on their emotional wellbeing. As a consequence, they tend to feel very little or no self-confidence and very low self-esteem. They often struggle to cope with a range of complex emotions due to their lived experiences. This can manifest in behavioural problems such as anti-social behaviour, violence or withdrawal, which in turn negatively impacts their wellbeing, education and relationships.
The BLGC Chief Executive, Karen Edwards, has been honoured with an OBE for her work on the Mentoring Project.
The grant from East Lancashire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons' charity, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Karen Edwards, CEO from Bolton Lads & Girls Club said: 'We’re very grateful to East Lancashire Freemasons for their generous grant. The mentoring project they are funding will help a hundred young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in Bolton get the stability and confidence they need to turn their lives around.'
Bolton Lads & Girls Club has been working in Bolton for 130 years, providing young people with a safe haven to spend their free time. Based in Bolton’s town centre, they are open seven days a week, 51 weeks a year, and welcome all young people aged between three and 25 years old.
BLGC is, however, far more than just a youth club. They also offer a range of targeted and universal provisions including sports, NCS, arts, targeted youth support, employability, mental health, befriending services, young carers support, emotional health & wellbeing, support for refugees and asylum seekers and community outreach work.
Steve Clark, Provincial Charity Steward from East Lancashire Freemasons said: 'I’m very glad we’ve been able to help Bolton Lads & Girls Club with their hugely important mentoring programme. This is a vital investment in the future of young people in Bolton and everyone will benefit, not least the young people themselves.'
Published Wed, 26 Aug 2020 10:56:56 +0100
Hadleigh Volunteer Community First Responder Group was one of the first to be formed in Suffolk in 2003, it was a collaboration between the East Anglian Ambulance Service and St. John Ambulance
The thriving Hadleigh CFR group purchased its first small dedicated vehicle that enabled the members to respond without the need to use their own private cars. That car, which became a familiar sight in the area, saw action on well over a thousand call outs, providing a timely response to 999 calls in the town and surrounding villages.
Inevitably, the constant short journeys and sometimes rough terrain of country lanes and tracks took their toll and funding was sought for a replacement. Having seen an appeal for funding for a new vehicle on social media, a local Freemason contacted Rick Orme, Provincial Charity Steward, who was very pleased to arrange a donation which was then match funded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons' Charity.
Hadleigh First Responders expressed their thanks to Suffolk Freemasons, Hadleigh Town Council, Raydon and Layham Parish Councils, the 41 Club and many local individuals for their generosity. The vehicle was sign-written and fully badged up by local garage Ainger Holbrows Ltd. and they will be sponsoring the vehicle in the coming years, thus ensuring that it is always ready to go swiftly to the aid of those in need around Hadleigh and surrounding villages.
Published Tue, 25 Aug 2020 08:45:32 +0100
Cambridgeshire Freemasons have donated £1,000 to the John Farman Intensive Care Unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital
Members of St. Wendred Lodge No. 8374, which meets at the Masonic Hall in Newmarket, raised money during meetings held just before lockdown. The collection was supplemented by a contribution from the Cambridgeshire Masonic Charity for Care & Relief and fund-matched by the Cambridge University and City Masonic Trust.
The John Farman Intensive Care Unit is a 20-bed general intensive care unit which admits more than 1,000 patients per year and has a case-load from all the major surgical specialties. It is recognised for training at all levels in intensive care medicine and a 24/7 medically-led Rapid Response Team has recently been established.
Jane Olds, Matron at the Intensive Care Unit, said:
'Thank you so much for your generous donation of £1000 which we have paid into our Charity Fund. It will go a long way in helping patients on the unit through the purchasing of new equipment and continuing to help make the unit a brighter environment for patients, relatives and staff.'
Steve Young, from St Wendred Lodge, who coordinated the donation said:
'The John Farman Intensive Care Unit has been on the front line saving lives during these difficult times and so I’m really pleased St Wendred Lodge could support it. When lockdown eases, hopefully in the not too distant future, we hope to visit the Unit to see how our donation has made a difference.'
Published Sat, 22 Aug 2020 11:09:14 +0100
Quarterly magazine of the United Grand Lodge of England, featuring freemasons' news, interviews, and features. Free to view online alongside exclusive content.
Published Wed, 23 Sep 2020 16:37:27 +0100
Survivors of abuse across the county will continue to receive the help they need, thanks to a grant of £3,270 from Devonshire Freemasons to the” SAFE” charity (Stop Abuse For Everyone)
Incidents of domestic abuse have risen considerably since the lockdown began, leading to SAFE’s finances coming under real strain. SAFE works in the community, in schools, with social services and from their SAFE hub in Exeter employing 12 staff and up to 40 volunteers to help survivors of abuse regain control of their lives.
Abuse can affect any or all the members of a household and helping to eradicate this traumatising, controlling behaviour is at the heart of what they do, centring on goals, strengths and needs of those effected and help them regain control of their lives.
SAFE are passionate about ending abuse both mental and physical and have been working towards this goal for over 40 years and give support to families and individuals throughout Devon. The charity hold courses and also give support on a one to one basis, whatever is needed to end the cycle of abuse for survivors and their families which can be so isolating and lonely for those effected.
The grant from Devonshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, 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.
Dr. Reuben Ayres, from Devonshire Freemasons, said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support the wonderful work of SAFE in our community. During the lockdown the problem of domestic abuse has become even worse, with survivors often trapped inside with their abuser. SAFE has never been more important.'
Lucy Skye of SAFE, replied by saying: 'We’re very grateful to the Devonshire Freemason for this generous donation. SAFE is a grassroots local charity and this money will help us to continue to deliver vital recovery services to children and their parents in all parts of Devon. It’s only by working together that we’ll succeed in achieving our aim of ending domestic abuse.'
Published Tue, 21 Jul 2020 11:24:13 +0100
The 2019/20 seasonal appeal from the music star Rick Wakeman on behalf of the charity Lifelites has raised over £42,000 for life-limited and disabled children using hospice services
The Covid-19 pandemic has left many people feeling overwhelmed by the sudden change of routine and isolation. Everyone is now getting a living insight into what it is like to be a life-limited and disabled child; unable to leave the house independently, or speak to people and socialise naturally, or even carry out all sorts of everyday activities that we usually take for granted – and these are all the challenges that Lifelites is seeking to help these children overcome through the provision of their special technologies.
Lifelites donates and maintains assistive and inclusive technology for the 10,000 life-limited and disabled children using every children’s hospice service across the British Isles. This technology gives these children the opportunity to play, be creative, communicate and control something for themselves, for as long as it is possible.
The appeal, organised by London Freemasons, was sent to Freemason Lodges all over London late last year, and the charity was staggered by the response it received, raising £42,785. This is the fifth year of this festive appeal to London Freemasons for Lifelites, and the total now stands at a staggering £178,000 raised for Lifelites’ vital work.
Lifelites Chief Executive, Simone Enefer-Doy, said: 'It has been astonishing how enthusiastic Freemasons across London are with their support for Lifelites. We’d like to thank everyone for their incredible generosity and give special thanks to Rick Wakeman for his commitment to supporting our work. The funds raised will help life-limited and disabled children across London to escape the confines of their conditions and do things they never thought possible. In such difficult times like these, it is brought home to us how every moment is precious for these children and their families and these funds will ensure they can make every second count.'
Rick Wakeman said: 'I am delighted to be a patron of this remarkable charity. It’s so wonderful to see children facing life-threatening challenges use technology in ways that many of us take for granted. As we all are isolated now, we understand the need for technology to communicate and socialise so much more. Lifelites gives them the opportunity to communicate and play in ways they aren’t able to otherwise – it’s simply magic.'
Would you like to find out more? If you have speaking opportunities at future Lodge meetings or events later in the year, the team can come and showcase their magical technology and speak about the impact it has on life-limited and disabled children using hospice services.
Alternatively, Lifelites are holding online video calls to introduce their technology and demonstrate the impact it has on life-limited and disabled children at every children’s hospice service across the British Isles. If this is something you’re interested in, please get in touch with Samuel Davies by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Published Wed, 03 Jun 2020 14:18:58 +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