Globe and Laurel Lodge 4657

Globe and Laurel


Masonic News and Initiatives



UGLE

Quarterly magazine of the United Grand Lodge of England, featuring freemasons' news, interviews, and features. Free to view online alongside exclusive content.
Published Thu, 21 Nov 2019 18:36:32 +0000

United Grand Lodge of England seeks a Social Media Executive

The United Grand Lodge of England – the governing body for Freemasonry in England and Wales – is entering an exciting new phase in its 300-year history as it seeks to change the perception of Freemasonry and encourage the public to see modern Freemasonry through its core values of Friendship, Charity, Respect and Integrity

In order to achieve this the Communications and Marketing team is seeking to attract some talented, dedicated, creative and outstanding individuals to join its team. The team’s expertise will cover all areas of communications including, corporate communications, public relations, social media, marketing, member communications, publications and events. We work on a campaign basis so you need to be a team player, as you will work closely with your colleagues, other departments and our 200,000 members. Freemasons raise £44m in charitable donations and give 5 million hours of volunteer time a year – so there is a lot to shout about – and much to be proud of. If you are looking for a new challenge, which will positively change your career, then look no further than a position at the United Grand Lodge of England.

The United Grand Lodge of England seeks a Social Media Executive. You will be responsible for helping the Communications and Marketing Team implement a new social media strategy within the United Grand Lodge of England.

Duties:

  • To work closely with the existing team and key partners to deliver a creative social media strategy that engages UGLE’s members and members of the public by showcasing the benefits of Freemasonry across all of its social media channels (YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Podcasts)
  • To successfully assess and report back to the impact of both the new social media strategy and specific campaigns. You will have strong relationship building skills and the ability to work, and positively influence, key stakeholders across the business
  • To be a key influencer internally and be able to confidently showcase the power of social media to key stakeholders in the business
  • To stay up-to-date with the latest online and digital trends and to implement these ideas into the social media strategy
  • Confidently handle any front of house/customer social media enquiries - dealing with them in a timely manner and show confidence in the scheduling, composing and posting of all group wide social media content
  • To set company-wide best practice guidance of social media and train others where necessary

Must have skills

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, enabling you to work with colleagues co-operatively and collaboratively in the team and across the organisation
  • You will have strong relationship building skills and the ability to work, and positively influence, key stakeholders across the business
  • You will have a flexible approach both to the type of work undertaken and working hours as required to meet team objectives and ultimately customer needs, taking ownership and responsibility for work and performance
  • You will demonstrate a positive ‘can do’ attitude and excellent work ethic. In addition, you will be able to demonstrate resilience and present yourself in a professional manner at all times
  • You will have excellent copywriting and creative skills and be able to quickly grasp how the businesses requirements can translate into outstanding social media campaigns
  • You will have experience in a social media role as well as experience in establishing a social media strategy and managing and implementing results orientated social media campaigns
  • Experience in managing the social media profile of either a CEO or director is desirable
  • Knowledge of Photoshop or creation of video content is desirable

Salary:

£22,000 - £25,000 (subject to experience) gross per annum plus the following benefits package:

BUPA private medical cover
Pension (3.5% employee & 9% employer contributions – increasing to 12% with LOS)
Life Assurance
Holiday (25 days increasing to 30 days with LOS)
Interest free season ticket loan
Gym membership (subsidised)
Employee Assistance Programme
Flexible working

Hours:

This is a full time role so the successful applicant will work Monday to Friday 35 hours per week.

Application details:

To apply please send your CV and covering letter to:Elizabeth Gay - Director of HR - United Grand Lodge of England via email to egay@ugle.org.uk

CVs received without a covering letter will not be considered.

Closing date for applications is close of business on Wednesday 4 December 2019.


Published Thu, 21 Nov 2019 16:33:45 +0000

United Grand Lodge of England seeks an Administrator

United Grand Lodge of England seeks an Administrator for the Member Services Department

To manage, collate and process membership information from Lodges and Chapters and to provide clerical and administrative support. The role will be part of the District Support team with the opportunity for work in other areas within Member Services.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Deal with telephone and email enquiries that are received by District Support promptly and courteously.
  • Process letters and replies in accordance with office procedures and, if required, enter into further correspondence with Districts, Lodge & Chapters.
  • Support the Member Services Department to process Annual Returns and Registration Forms for Lodges and Chapters in accordance with Office procedures.
  • Use Electronic Records Management System (EDRMS) to scan and file forms.
  • Prepare and issue Annual Returns on a monthly basis.
  • Process, where applicable, applications for Grand Lodge Certificates (completing a candidate's record in system).
  • Research membership records and supply the relevant membership details as and when requested.
  • Contribute to the identification of opportunities to engage and support Districts with events and training hosted here at UGLE.
  • Support the coordination, planning and preparation of District events and training throughout the year.
  • Manage invitations and responses for District events hosted at Great Queen Street.
  • Liaise with District contacts to help coordinate events and conferences taking place overseas when required.
  • Work in partnership with other UGLE departments to ensure events run efficiently.
  • Promote and maintain effective working relationships with Districts.
  • Help create and maintain District fact files for the Member Services Department.
  • Contribute to the provision of content for inclusion in the District Bulletin, The Right Angle and social media platforms used by UGLE.

*Masonic knowledge whilst not essential would be desirable.

Salary:

Competitive salary and benefits package:

  • BUPA private medical cover
  • Pension (3.5% employee & 9% employer contributions – increasing to 12% with length of service)
  • Life Assurance
  • Holiday (25 days increasing to 30 days with length of service)
  • Interest free season ticket loan
  • Gym membership (subsidised)
  • Employee Assistance Programme
  • Flexible working

Hours:

The successful applicant will work Monday to Friday (35 hours per week)

Application details:

To apply please send your CV and covering letter to:

Elizabeth Gay - Director of HR - United Grand Lodge of England via email to egay@ugle.org.uk

CVs received without a covering letter will not be considered.

Closing date for applications is close of business (17.00pm) on Friday 29 November 2019.


Published Mon, 18 Nov 2019 16:25:35 +0000

The world's oldest social network aims to go viral with new campaign

With a thriving social media presence of over 100,000 followers across its platforms, the United Grand Lodge of England’s (UGLE) headquarters, Freemasons’ Hall, aims to be the most photographed venue across Open House London this weekend

UGLE will be taking part in the world’s largest architecture festival Open House London on 21-22 September – offering visitors architectural tours, fun family activities and access to the Museum of Freemasonry. UGLE is also inviting members of the public to visit its stunning Art Deco building in the heart of Covent Garden and post their pictures on social media using the hashtag #OHLFMH.

Freemasons’ Hall stands on Great Queen Street on a site that has been used to hold meetings for Freemasons since 1775. The current building was opened in 1933 as a peace memorial to honour the thousands of Freemasons who fought and died during the First World War.

With 50,000 followers on Facebook, 26,000 followers on Twitter and 24,000 followers on Instagram, UGLE – as the governing body for Freemasonry in England and Wales – has a strong presence on social media, in addition to the proactive daily engagement from regional Freemasons around the country.

Dr David Staples, UGLE’s Chief Executive, said: 'Freemasonry is one of the oldest social and charitable organisation in the world, so it makes sense for us to use our social media channels to engage with the public. 

'We know people are curious about Freemasonry and our recently launched Discover Freemasonry short film, which explains who we are and what we do – as well as showcasing our unique history – has already been viewed more than 150,000 times across social media.

'These initiatives are only the start of our drive to show the public what modern Freemasonry really stands for – integrity, friendship, respect and charity. It is a little known fact that our membership, of more than 200,000 individuals across England and Wales, donated £48m to charity and over 5 million hours of volunteer work in 2018 alone. This a fact we are very proud of and our social media accounts showcase the stories behind these stats, with hundreds of posts a day from dedicated Freemasons.

'We look forward to welcoming visitors to Freemasons’ Hall throughout the year – but especially this weekend – and viewing the #OHLFMH posts, which will hopefully make us the most visited venue at Open House London this year.'

Watch the Discover Freemasonry video here.


Published Tue, 17 Sep 2019 20:26:22 +0100

Pro Grand Master's address - September 2019

Quarterly Communication

11 September 2019 
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren I have been a Freemason for nearly 50 years and there have been so many changes during that time that one might think it has been all change. However, that is not the case and the principles emphasised at that time are still very much at the centre of what we all do and strive to pass on today.

What has changed, and I hope very much for the better is our ability to discuss our membership and what we do, with non members, as well as a greatly improved internal communications system.

Since my first involvement at Grand Lodge there have been four Pro Grand Masters, Lords Cornwallis, Farnham and Northampton and myself. Those three predecessors were acutely aware of the need for change, as, indeed, were their senior advisers. They, with the tremendous and very much continuing support of the Grand Master, started and continued the process. Where I have been lucky is that so much of it seems to have come to fruition on my watch. It would be very easy for me to claim credit for this. However, I hope that those of you who know me well enough, appreciate that it is not my style, but, much more importantly, it would be totally untrue.

Very little gets done in the world in general and certainly not in Freemasonry unless it is overseen by a strong team and I have been fortunate in having had excellent support from exceptional people throughout my period of office.

It is, perhaps, now a rather hackneyed expression, but Mark McCormack’s saying that there is no 'I' in team still rings true. Everything works better when there is collective responsibility and everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.

In Freemasonry we should look at the whole membership as one team. Provinces and Districts are teams in their own right, as are individual Lodges and I would go further and say that the executives at the head of all these bodies should consider themselves teams. We must all pull in the same direction and support each other. 

Reverting to the team theme, there will, inevitably, be some decisions made with which not all in the team agree, but again there should be collective responsibility and support should be given.

If this is not the case, we run the risk of being 'picked off' by ill wishers both externally and, dare I say, internally as well.

Of course, we won’t all agree on everything, but mutual support and respect goes a long way to finding the right answers, even if there has to be tinkering along the way.

I really do believe that during the last 10 years we have made giant strides in the right direction, but I do stress again that this was enormously helped by the building blocks that had started to be put in place earlier. We have a long way to go, but I can’t remember a time when I have seen so much enthusiasm around the world and I am primarily, but by no means solely, referring to UGLE members because they are the ones that I meet most. We have a large number of visitors from other Constitutions with us today and I hope that they would concur with what I have said.

Wherever I go in the world I find our Brethren openly talking to non masons about their membership. There is no embarrassment and no secrecy involved. I even had a most convivial conversation with the Passport Control Officer in Kingston, Jamaica. I didn’t manage to sign him up, but he showed great interest in our visit to the Jamaica Cancer Charity.

Brethren we should all consider ourselves lucky to be members of our Order at this exciting time, but I make no apology for repeating that the current positive situation is very largely down to team work in every aspect of what we do, most certainly not forgetting the incredible teams who raise money for and manage our Charities. Please don’t forget Brethren that when anything has gone well, none of us should say 'I have done such and such' we should say 'we have done such and such'. I feel certain that I have just made a rod for my own back and, no doubt, I shall fall into my own trap perhaps even later today, and I can think of a few people sitting not far from me who will delight in picking me up on it.

Brethren, please forgive me if I finish by saying I know that I have spoken for quite long enough and WE must go to lunch. 

Thank you, Brethren.


Published Wed, 11 Sep 2019 12:39:08 +0100

Project Hermes talk - Stephen Blank

Quarterly Communication

11 September 2019
A talk by RW Bro Stephen Blank, Provincial Grand Master for Cheshire and Chairman of the Hermes ‘To Be’ working party

I am grateful to have the opportunity to say a few words about Project Hermes which will revolutionise the work of the Lodge Sec and Chapter Scribe Ezra. From now on I will just refer to the Lodge Sec but please understand this applies to Chapters as well. I will also lapse occasionally and only say ‘Provincial’ when I mean ‘Metropolitan’ and ‘District’ as well!

It is perhaps a little strange that I find myself involved with the workings of the Lodge Sec. In my 40+ years as a Freemason, I have been Lodge Treasurer, Lodge DC – actually I still am – Provincial DC, DepGDC, APGM, DGS and now Provincial Grand Master - but never Lodge Sec.  However, all my various jobs have served to make it clear to me that the most important job is that of Lodge Secretary; it is very rare to find a good and successful Lodge that does not have a good Secretary.

After that flattery, and as a matter of interest, would those of you who are or have been Lodge Secretaries put their hands up? Okay, so for the benefit of those who are not, a little bit of explanation may be helpful.

UGLE maintains all of our details, including those of past members, on a database system called ADelphi, which is Greek for brother. This records our Lodges and Chapters, the offices we have held within them and, if relevant, our Provincial and grand rank. It records your passing and raising dates and the number of your grand Lodge certificate. Of course, it also records your contact details and your Lodge’s details, such as Lodge officers and where and when the Lodge meets.

It is a web-based system available to MetGL, Provinces and Districts. Typically, only the ProvGSec, PGM and designated Met / Prov / District leaders have access plus Prov office staff or volunteers.

ADelphi is ‘fed’ by all the various forms which the Lodge Secretary has to prepare; the form M/P/A for new candidates, the Annual Return, the Installation Return. The Annual Return is created by ADelphi and is the basis for the request for payment of dues that UGLE - and many Provs / Dists - make every year to every Lodge and Chapter. The Secretary also has to create the summons for each meeting. 

In doing all of these tasks, the Sec has to ensure all of his work complies with the Book of Constitutions. And when it doesn’t, he gets an email from his Provincial office – or Prov office gets an email from Registrations dept here at GQS and then Prov office emails Lodge Sec telling him to put it right. 

Two examples of problems that the Lodge Sec can encounter.  Rule 158: if someone applies to join a Lodge but doesn’t live or work in that Province, the Lodge Sec has to make enquiries of that person’s local Province.  How the other Province responds – and when – is out of his control. 

Let’s look at rule 163 specifically rule 163(c). When an existing member wants to join a new Lodge, the joiner must obtain clearance certificates to show to the Lodge Sec that he doesn’t owe subs to another Lodge because, if he does, rule 163(d) says that the new Lodge is liable. 

That means the Sec must be told all the Lodges of which he is and has been a member, whether within the same Province or not. Some of those Lodges may have closed.  And for some of us, remembering all the Lodges we are and have been members of can be a problem.  When I applied to join my first Cheshire Lodge, I forgot one and started life in trouble with my Prov office!  But this information is all on ADelphi; the catch being that the Lodge Sec does not have access to ADelphi and, thanks to GDPR, even ProvGSecs don’t have access to other Provinces’ data.

Last year, the process whereby PGMs apply for grand ranks for their members was automated via ADelphi. There are, as you might imagine, rules as to who is eligible which are very convoluted.  In the original system, emails and forms went in to GQS and if you transgressed, as I did - accidentally - in one year, I received a polite letter two weeks later suggesting that I rethink.  Then I had to revisit my plans in a hurry. In the new system, the PGM does it online and his request to the mw the gm is validated as he enters it.  This saved me and those who manage the process within UGLE a huge amount of time.

The GSec wants the same ability for Lodge Secs when it comes to creating their summons, at least for matters covered by the BoC.  When the Sec enters a potential joining member, any decent modern computer system should instantly look him up and flag him as ‘clear’ i.e. not in arrears anywhere in the constitution.  It should ‘talk’ the Sec through the application process.  Rather than relying on the Prov office to key in a candidate’s name and address or date of birth from a handwritten form, the candidate himself should do it and have it validated by the Lodge Sec. 

We should do the standard id checks to protect ourselves and our members and capture photos while we’re at it as well.  Updating Lodge records should be made easy and flow straight from the summons – so if a resignation is on the summons, the resignation process is triggered – copy to Prov retrieval officer - and once confirmed after the meeting, the member doesn’t appear erroneously on the next annual return.  So, the annual return will be accurate.

My Province’s reported exaltation numbers for 2018 changed only last month as a form relating to an exaltation in 2018 was finally submitted correctly by the se in July!  This makes monitoring progress in anything like real time very hard.  Hermes will make this virtually impossible and, perhaps more importantly, there will be no reason any more for the Lodge Sec to delay.

So, I hope you are all convinced this is worthwhile; how are we going about it?

The present version of ADelphi went live in the summer of 2015 which is more or less when I became PGM of Cheshire.  It is fair to say that the launch did not go well.  As I have been involved in trying to make computers work in organisations for over forty years – although always from the business perspective rather than the technical side – I found myself becoming very voluble about its shortcomings.  When you do that in freemasonry you usually find yourself on a committee charged with sorting matters out and that is exactly what happened to me.

That committee, the ADelphi senior user group was set up at the end of 2016 by RWBro David Macey and is now chaired by RWBro Ian Chandler.  It records and prioritises developments of new features and bug-fixes requested by Provinces or UGLE and has been bringing about improvements to ADelphi ever since. 

In 2018, the GSec presented his proposal to the BGP, to extend ADelphi’s availability to Lodge Secs where, I am told, it was readily accepted.  But we had learnt the lesson from the ADelphi launch and did not rush into coding.  Instead UGLE formed a steering group and recruited two people to work exclusively on Hermes: tony Keating, a project manager, and Nigel Codron, a business analyst and senior Middx freemason.

One early decision was that we would not, in fact, extend ADelphi itself to Lodge Secs.  ADelphi was designed as a tool for Provinces, aimed at people who would work with it all day every day.  Instead we would commission a new web-based system designed to be intuitive for Lodge Secs, we call it the Hermes front-end or just Hermes. 

We will provide on-line training, but the expectation is that this will be as easy to use as amazon or your on-line banking system.  The two systems, Hermes and ADelphi, will talk to each other so updates by Lodge Secs will require validation by UGLE or Prov offices before they actually update ADelphi.  But if we get the summons creation right, there won’t be a need for too much validation.

A second early decision was that, before we started creating new digital processes, we should make sure we understood the existing paper processes, especially who does what and where interactions with BoC take place. 

Well, I said ‘paper processes’, but that implies they existed on paper.  In fact, they exist in a bio-computer running on the oxford classics operating system – UGLE’s Deputy Grand Secretary Graham Redman! –  so, we have spent many months carefully documenting the ‘as-is’ processes as we call them by talking at length to brother Redman himself, bro Andy Croci in registrations and a sample of Provincial, Lodge, and Chapter Secretaries. 

A third early decision was that we could not engage simultaneously with every one of the forty-seven Provinces and MetGL not to mention the Districts overseas.  So, we formed a small group termed the pilot Provinces consisting of MetGL, Hampshire and the isle of Wight, Cheshire and Bristol plus the Districts of Cyprus and eastern archipelago who in turn formed their own little consulting groups of selected Lodge Secretaries and Chapter Scribes E.  These are the ones we consult on a regular basis to keep us ‘real’, as they say. 

The results of documenting the ‘as-is’ processes can be viewed on flowcharts with swim-lanes for each relevant department.

The complexity of all of this meant that we were only ready to start thinking about the new way forward at the end of June at which point a working party was formed, known as the 2b working party and, since I was out of the room at the time, I was designated its chairman.  As well as Tony, Nigel and myself, the members of the working party are: Richard Gardiner, Neil Tomkinson, Prity lad and David bell. 

Richard fulfils a dual role; he is a pivotal member of the ADelphi senior user group, designated the Provincial and metropolitan user representative, but he is also a senior member of MetGL and an experienced met Lodge and Chapter Secretary.  I will come back to the position of MetGL in a minute.  Neil Tomkinson is the ADelphi guru from UGLE’s ICT department; Mrs Prity lad is director of member services and David Bell is the interim finance director of UGLE.

What became clear very quickly is that significant changes will also be required to ADelphi itself which is why Neil Tomkinson’s presence on the 2bwp is critical. He regards it as so important that he put on a tie especially for this photo – the first time he’s worn one in 20 years, he said.  Many of the changes needed were already logged as feature requests with the ADelphi senior users’ group and have been passed over to form part of the Hermes requirements catalogue.

UGLE’s overall strategic imperative is to start our membership growing again and Hermes has to contribute to this, and more directly than just by making the Lodge Secretary’s life easier, important though that is.  This is Prity’s department.  More and more new members are finding us via the internet rather than traditional routes and we must be able to track what works and what doesn’t.  We also have to retain them.  We want to capture more information such as where the candidate heard about us, members’ attendance or, more significantly, non-attendances at meetings, a key indicator of problems building up. 

Many Provinces send particular letters to candidates at certain stages of their masonic journey; the updated ADelphi system will be ‘told’ by Hermes when it has happened and then do this automatically or at least prompt the Province to action. 

For the first time ADelphi will interface with UGLE finance by creating requests for payment for dues, registration fees and dispensations together with bacs references for each as they are generated. 

On an opt-in basis, it will interface with Provinces’ finances as well. Mentioning that, can I give a big thankyou to my colleague PGMs up here?  I sent out a questionnaire via bUGLE on 19 July with a series of questions about how they charge their Lodges, asking for a reply by 31 July.  Every single craft Province responded within the time scale.   This was greatly appreciated and enabled the 48 responses to be analysed by my office manager, Liz wright, so they could be discussed in detail at the 2bwp meeting on 6 august last.

When those of us in the Provinces consider the changes that Hermes will bring, it’s easy to overlook the effect on MetGL.  Yes, it’s a lot bigger than any of us with 30,000 + members.  But it is MetGL that will see the biggest change brought about by Hermes.  Once upon a time, London’s Lodges were dealt with by UGLE itself and that of course included all their registration processes i.e. feeding ADelphi.  When ‘London’ was devolved into MetGL these processes were left with UGLE – where they remain today.  When Hermes is launched, MetGL will govern all of its own processes just like the Provinces – only bigger. 

This working party has been tasked by our GSec and CEO with thinking outside of our current boxes.  Our ideas and plans will of course be discussed with and validated by the DepGSec, the registrations department and the pilot Provinces before any coding starts.  When we have obtained a consensus on the ways forward from that relatively small group, a process that is well under way, they will be exposed to all Provinces for their comments. 

We anticipate that changes to the book of constitutions will be required and a separate committee has been set up to consider and draft them; I will leave you to guess who the chair of that committee is!   Of course, the final decisions will rest with BGP and this, the grand Lodge

Let me finish with two examples of the new approach we are planning.  Rule 158 may be tricky to administer but can flush out timewasters.  There are people who start applying but then go radio silent.  A few years later they decide to have another go and apply to a different Province.  There are even people who are initiated in one Province, stop attending, then try and get initiated again somewhere else.  GDPR prevents one Province from having access to the records of another Province.

We propose to have a database of enquiries available nationally, so anyone expressing interest via a website or open day will have his basic details captured and held for, say, 10 years.  If the PMO assigns him to a Lodge those details form the basis of his application form.  If it goes nowhere, it will be noted but he will remain on the database and if he approaches another Province or Lodge, those details will appear.

Clearance certificates are a little tricky because neither ADelphi nor Provinces record details of payments within Lodges; they only deal with payments by Lodges.  So, we propose that as part of each attendance register that the Lodge Sec populates after each meeting – using a dropdown list of members – he also marks any members who are in arrears according to his Lodge’s bylaws.  The existence of this flag will be picked up by any other Lodge he applies to join and the applicant invited to ‘check his records’.

Those are only two examples; I hope I have given you a flavour of what’s to come with a target date of mid-2020 to commence the roll-out. Maybe those of you put off from becoming a Lodge Sec will now consider it?  Any questions, comments, observations please send to hermes@ugle.org.uk; they will all be considered.


Published Wed, 11 Sep 2019 00:00:00 +0100

Grand Secretary's column - Autumn 2019

From the Grand Secretary

I trust you have all had an enjoyable summer and are looking forward to the new Masonic season. September marks the start of my third year in post, and how time flies when you’re busy! UGLE thankfully quietens down in August, giving staff and the Organisation time to take stock of what we have achieved over the last year, and where we want the next 12-18 months to take us. 

Undoubtedly one of the major highlights this year was the dedication of a memorial stone to those, our members, awarded the Victoria Cross. The Most Worshipful Grand Master commented that, having served in the armed forces for more than 20 years, he understood the common values shared by Freemasonry and the services – camaraderie, respect, integrity – and the ideals of service and tradition. It is an extraordinary fact that 14 per cent of all Victoria Cross recipients have been Freemasons and we were proud to be able to recognise and celebrate this at Freemasons’ Hall in London. Perhaps we should be mindful of that part of our ritual, delivered on the presentation of a Hall Stone Jewel to a new Worshipful Master, which tells us that it should ‘ever provide an inspiration to every Brother to put service before self’. 

Freemasons’ Hall was, of course, built as a peace memorial to those brethren who lost their lives in the Great War and we have been thinking hard about how we can use our fabulous Grade II-listed building to help inform and educate people about Freemasonry. By the time you read this, having worked closely with the Museum of Freemasonry, the first members of the public will have undertaken a redesigned tour of Freemasons’ Hall. It sets out to explain not only our history, but also our contemporary relevance, and includes a newly commissioned 10-minute film, which will be seen by our 40,000-plus visitors a year. It helps us launch a new approach as to how we define and regard ourselves. We are less apologetic for the misguided views of others, and instead talk about the positives of membership, both in terms of the benefits for the individual member and for society at large. What other organisation can boast charitable donations of more than £45 million a year? What other boasts an annual delivery of over five million hours of unpaid community and voluntary service? What other seeks to make people better individuals through philosophical and philanthropic engagement? 

Freemasonry offers a simple philosophical message to its members and one that we should all be proud of: that within each of us is a thoughtful, kind, tolerant and respectful individual. Our purpose is not only to promote virtue, but also to promote a thoughtful approach to being virtuous. It is centred around an analogy of building, or creating, and thus by chipping away our rough edges, Freemasonry teaches us to chip away at our inadequacies, revealing the better person we can be, one more fit to serve those less fortunate than ourselves, those who have fared less well in life than us, and those communities from which we are drawn. Of course, all Freemasons will know and appreciate these points, but it is now our aim and intention to share these messages with the public, starting with the new public tour and closely followed by other supportive material.

We have an amazing history, often at the forefront of monumental social and economic change, as anyone who has watched the DVD of our Tercentenary celebrations cannot fail to appreciate. We have such a story to tell and intend to be confident and committed when speaking about our many strengths and the reasons why we are just as relevant today as we have been in decades and centuries past. Watch this space, and let us know how you think we are doing!

In other developments, we intend to produce, for the first time in our history, an annual report explaining to you, our membership, how your fees and dues are spent, while explaining to both you and the public what it is that UGLE does and how well we do it. Many of you will be involved in helping us collate the information we need, so look out for this over the coming months as we work towards a publication date of March 2020.

‘Project Hermes’ is in full swing, looking at how we can update our processes to modernise the management of our membership, ensuring that some of the more laborious and outdated demands placed upon Lodge and Provincial Secretaries concerning collecting data, paying dues and keeping up-to-date records are simplified and made more accessible to those who need to see, use and work with them. We hope to be able to have a much fuller article explaining this in our next edition. 

In short, as ever, there is plenty going on to keep us all busy, but if you find yourself in London with an hour or so to spare, please do book into our new tour via the Museum of Freemasonry website – we can guarantee an enjoyable way to make that all-important daily advancement in Masonic knowledge!

Dr David Staples
Grand Secretary

‘Our redesigned tour of Freemasons’ Hall sets out to explain not only our history, but also our contemporary relevance, and includes a newly commissioned 10-minute film, which will be seen by our 40,000-plus visitors a year’


Published Fri, 06 Sep 2019 00:00:00 +0100

New behind the scenes film – ‘Discover Freemasonry’

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) has unveiled a new film capturing behind the scenes footage of a Lodge meeting and interviews with Freemasons, as well as delving into Freemasonry’s unique history and symbolism, including the famous handshake

The film provides unique insight into what happens in a Lodge meeting, who the Freemasons are and what it means to be a Freemason, as well as stunning new footage of Freemasons’ Hall in London.

Dr David Staples, UGLE’s Chief Executive, said: 'We wanted to create a film which not only explains our history, but showcases modern Freemasonry and reflects our status as one of the oldest social and charitable organisations in the world. 

'I’m often asked what it’s like to be a Freemason and I hope this video will go some way to answering that question and provide insight into who we are, what we do, our history and our relevance in today’s society.'

The roots of modern Freemasonry lie with the medieval stonemasons that built our castles and cathedrals, yet it is as relevant today as it was hundreds of years ago. In 2017, UGLE celebrated its Tercentenary – 300 years since the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge – with a spectacular event at the Royal Albert Hall.

The new film will also form part of the redesigned public tours of Freemasons’ Hall and the Museum of Freemasonry and will be seen by over 40,000 visitors to the building each year.

You can view the full film alongside a series of short videos here.


Published Thu, 05 Sep 2019 13:05:18 +0100

UGLE’s headquarters Freemasons’ Hall is taking part in Open House London this September

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) is delighted to be taking part in the world’s largest architecture festival Open House London on 21st and 22nd September 2019 at its headquarters Freemasons’ Hall – offering visitors architectural tours, fun family activities and access to the Museum of Freemasonry

Open House London gives free public access to over 800 buildings, walks, talks and tours over one weekend in September each year. The event started 25 years ago with the first Open House London in 1992 and gives free access to London’s best buildings as a way of inspiring the public about the benefits of great design.

Freemasons’ Hall, in Covent Garden, is renowned as one of the finest Art Deco buildings in London still used for its original purpose and will be opening on both days of the event this year from 10am to 5pm.

Some of the many highlights will be Bright Bricks models, with lots of opportunities for children to get creative and design miniatures of their own, and an exciting kids’ trail featuring a make-an-apron station. There will be Freemasons in regalia in the magnificent Grand Temple to answer any questions the public have about Freemasonry, whilst the Masonic Charitable Foundation will have a stand to provide an overview of the support given to communities and deserving causes throughout the country.

The Museum of Freemasonry will be also open, displaying one of the world’s largest collections associated with Freemasonry, including Winston Churchill’s apron and the large throne made for the future King George IV, who was Royal Grand Master from 1790-1813.

Dr David Staples, UGLE’s Chief Executive, said: 'We’re excited once again to be taking part in Open House London this autumn and offering thousands of visitors the opportunity to see the stunning Art Deco interior of our building.

'Freemasons’ Hall is always free to the public, but for this event we are putting on some extra attractions, with Freemasons in regalia to answer all your questions, a Bright Bricks ‘Make and Take’ activity for children and guided tours every 90 minutes, which showcase the architecture and history of the building and will include a newly commissioned 10-minute film.'

You can find out more about what’s on at Freemasons’ Hall during Open House London here.


Published Tue, 03 Sep 2019 10:16:11 +0100

United Grand Lodge of England seeks a PR Manager

This position has now closed

United Grand Lodge of England seeks a PR Manager. The PR Manager role is key to the successful promotion of the United Grand Lodge of England to the wider public and ultimately will positively change the public’s perception of Freemasonry across the UK and beyond

This is not an easy challenge and we are seeking an outstanding candidate.

The United Grand Lodge of England – the governing body for Freemasonry in England and Wales – is entering an exciting new phase in its 300-year history as it seeks to change the perception of Freemasonry and encourage the public to see modern Freemasonry through its core values of Friendship, Charity, Respect and Integrity. In order to achieve this the Communications and Marketing team is seeking to attract some talented, dedicated, creative and outstanding individuals to join its team. The team’s expertise will cover all areas of communications including, corporate communications, public relations, social media, marketing, member communications, publications and events. We work on a campaign basis so you need to be a team player, as you will work closely with your colleagues, other departments and our 200,000 members. Freemasons raise £44m in charitable donations and give 5 million hours of volunteer time a year – so there is a lot to shout about – and much to be proud of. If you are looking for a new challenge, which will positively change your career, then look no further than a position at the United Grand Lodge of England.

Duties:

  • Develop and execute compelling communication campaigns to drive awareness of Freemasonry across the company website, social media platforms, press days, public relations, internal communication, and corporate events
  • Have excellent writing skills with the ability to write press releases, features, articles, Q&As, statements and briefing documents
  • Create an annual PR plan and deliver against the set targets
  • Create and maintain a structured press calendar detailing events, new product launches and campaigns
  • Build and maintain proactive relationships with a broad range of media titles across the UK through background briefings or sell-ins
  • Work closely with Provincial Communications Officers and Media Ambassadors to ensure best practice in terms of consistency of messaging to local and national press
  • Stand in for the Communications and Marketing Director at Communications Committee Meetings
  • Develop and maintain PR toolkits for both the PCOs and Media Ambassadors for the new member website
  • Be responsible for the media training of key press spokespeople and Media Ambassadors
  • Work closely with key stakeholders (such as the Museum of Freemasonry and Masonic Charitable Foundation, Met Grand Lodge and other key departments) to promote Freemasonry consistent with the new strategic narrative
  • Ensure key press spokespeople are full briefed ahead of any media engagement.
  • Provide comprehensive and clear press briefing notes to the CEO to keep them informed of any key developments
  • Responsible for the annual UGLE press party in order to build relationships with national, local and specialised press
  • Manage project finances from budgeting, tracking, reporting and reconciliation.
  • Monitor, analyse and communicate clear monthly PR reports for the CEO, Communications and Marketing Director, Communications Committee and Provincial Communications Officers
  • Responsible for creating and writing press releases
  • Conduct media and influencer relations, from media strategy to execution and delivery across multimedia landscapes
  • Handle crisis communications and be the key point of contact within a crisis. You will also be responsible for the new Crisis Communications Manual
  • Daily checking of incoming PR enquiries and prioritisation of media enquiries
  • Create presentations and speeches, where required, for key stakeholders within UGLE
  • Update and maintain the new master media database
  • Create, update and maintain PR spreadsheets and contacts such as contacts lists for agencies, influencers etc.

Must have skills:

  • We are looking for someone who can join the team seamlessly and hit the ground running. You need to be calm under pressure and be able to manage multiple projects and meet deadlines effortlessly
  • To be successful in this role, you will also need to thrive on new challenges, and be a creative and strategic self-starter, someone who can create impact quickly. You will also thrive on building new and long lasting relationships with the press
  • You will have solid PR experience – a minimum of 5 years. The successful candidate will be a strategic thinker, excellent communicator and willing to be hands-on with planning and implementing campaigns
  • You will be someone with excellent verbal and written communication skills, enabling you to work with colleagues co-operatively and collaboratively in the team and across the organisation.
  • You will have the ability to work closely with the existing team and key partners to deliver a creative public relations strategy that engages UGLE’s members and members of the public by showcasing the benefits of Freemasonry across all media channels
  • You will have a flexible approach both to the type of work undertaken and working hours as required to meet team objectives and ultimately customer needs, taking ownership and responsibility for work and performance. You will demonstrate a positive ‘can do’ attitude and excellent work ethic. In addition, you will be able to demonstrate resilience and present yourself in a professional manner at all times.

Thank you for your interest. The closing date for applications for this position has now closed.


Published Wed, 21 Aug 2019 14:48:37 +0100

United Grand Lodge of England seeks a Digital Marketing Executive

This position has now closed

United Grand Lodge of England seeks a Digital Marketing Executive. You will have a passion for all things marketing and technology

You will be well versed in the concepts surrounding digital marketing and how the Internet can become a strong asset to promoting key messages and gaining new members. You will be tech-savvy and highly motivated to take on responsibility and make an impact!

The United Grand Lodge of England – the governing body for Freemasonry in England and Wales – is entering an exciting new phase in its 300-year history as it seeks to change the perception of Freemasonry and encourage the public to see modern Freemasonry through its core values of Friendship, Charity, Respect and Integrity. In order to achieve this the Communications and Marketing team is seeking to attract some talented, dedicated, creative and outstanding individuals to join its team. The team’s expertise will cover all areas of communications including, corporate communications, public relations, social media, marketing, member communications, publications and events. We work on a campaign basis so you need to be a team player, as you will work closely with your colleagues, other departments and our 200,000 members. Freemasons raise £44m in charitable donations and give 5 million hours of volunteer time a year – so there is a lot to shout about – and much to be proud of. If you are looking for a new challenge, which will positively change your career, then look no further than a position at the United Grand Lodge of England.

Duties:

  • Create and optimise targeted digital marketing campaigns to drive new member acquisition and existing member retention
  • Monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of online marketing activity
  • Collect and analyse data in order to identify trends and insights in order to achieve maximum impact in our marketing campaigns
  • Keep up-to-date with current technologies and initiatives pertinent to online marketing
  • Optimising keywords, copy and landing pages for paid search engine marketing campaigns
  • Tracking, reporting and analysing website analytics and campaigns
  • Creation of written marketing material and collateral for UGLE. Ensure that all marketing materials promote the UGLE brand and are produced in line with UGLE’s corporate branding and strategic narrative
  • Be responsible for keeping the brand guidelines up-to-date
  • Creating and sending email campaigns to the agreed targeted audience
  • Monitor industry trends, website developments and competitor strategies
  • Ensure that the website and social content is up-to-date, writing content as required in line with SEO strategy
  • Responsible for the building and deployment of email calendars, campaigns and effective email programmes, to increase member loyalty
  • Drive traffic to UGLE’s websites using paid and organic acquisition channels, whilst optimising landing pages and the user experience
  • Assist in the development of marketing campaigns
  • Manage the campaign schedule with the Website Content Manager to ensure it is executed in a timely manner
  • Ensure that key information such as target audience, message development and value proposition is identified and provided at an appropriate time to conduct effective marketing campaigns
  • Helping the Website Content Manager update UGLE’s websites with regular content
  • Enhance imagery (e.g. via Photoshop)

Must have skills:

  • You will have at least 1-year experience and tangible success in managing digital campaigns and experience with website analytics tools (e.g. Google Analytics) plus implementing click funnels and optimising journeys. Experience with Adwords, SEO tools and email platforms is necessary.
  • You will be someone with excellent verbal and written communication skills, enabling you to work with colleagues co-operatively and collaboratively in the team and across the organisation.
  • You will have the ability to work closely with the existing team and key partners to deliver a creative digital marketing strategy that engages UGLE’s members and members of the public by showcasing the benefits of Freemasonry across all media channels.
  • You will have a flexible approach both to the type of work undertaken and working hours as required to meet team objectives and ultimately customer needs, taking ownership and responsibility for work and performance. You will demonstrate a positive ‘can do’ attitude and excellent work ethic. In addition, you will be able to demonstrate resilience and present yourself in a professional manner at all times
  • An understanding of email, push, web-push and SMS marketing, from creative development through to measurement desirable

Thank you for your interest. The closing date for applications for this position has now closed.


Published Wed, 21 Aug 2019 14:47:25 +0100

More News

Quarterly magazine of the United Grand Lodge of England, featuring freemasons' news, interviews, and features. Free to view online alongside exclusive content.
Published Thu, 21 Nov 2019 18:36:33 +0000

Warwickshire Freemasons donate two new incubators for Good Hope Hospital and Heartlands Hospital

Good Hope Hospital Charity and Heartlands Hospital Charity are aiming to raise £150,000 for brand new state-of-the-art incubators for the Neonatal Units across the two sites that will help treat the tiniest of lives at the hospital. Warwickshire Freemasons have stepped up and pledged £40,000 to buy two of these lifesaving systems

Every year, over 11,000 babies are born at Heartlands Hospital and Good Hope Hospital. Over 1,000 of those babies will be born too poorly or too soon and need the support of the Neonatal Unit.

The Neonatal Units treat babies who are born as early as 23 weeks of gestation and can weigh as little as one pound. These babies will be born before their vital organs have developed such as their brain, lungs and even skin.

The hospital charity has launched a fundraising appeal to bring seven state-of-the-art incubators to the hospital’s Neonatal Units across Heartlands Hospital and Good Hope Hospital to help staff provide the best possible care for the hospitals most tiny patients.

These incubators will not only make it easier for staff to treat babies in a more comfortable way, they will also provide lifesaving therapeutic hypothermia which helps reduce the likelihood of brain injury to premature babies by cooling. Currently, babies who need this type of treatment may have to be transferred to another hospital, causing more distress to families.

As well as providing a lifeline for premature babies the new incubators have a number of additional benefits to staff and families. These are:

  • The incubators are sound proof and can help the baby get the rest they need on a loud busy unit, as well as having special covers to block out the light and protect the baby’s delicate eyes.
  • Nurses and doctors can also weigh the baby inside the incubator, to save the trauma to the baby of having to be constantly moved and disturbed.
  • It has the ability to be lowered (even down to toddler level). This means mums who have had C-Sections will be able to access their baby with ease and little discomfort.
  • The roof lifts off, this means doctors and nurses can gain crucial access to baby – this is especially helpful during procedures.
  • It has an inbuilt IPad/IPhone docking station so that parents can record themselves reading a story, their heartbeats or play music to help baby feel more comfortable.
  • Finally it has heaters which create a wall when the side of the incubator opens. This means parents can be more hands on without worrying about baby being cold.

The Warwickshire Masonic Charitable Association will be supporting these two local hospitals in this vital work, by purchasing two life support machine/incubators. This will enable critically ill babies to remain close to home so that parents can spend as much time as possible bonding with their new baby, making the most of the time they have together.

Laura Power, Fundraising Manager at Good Hope Hospital Charity, said: ‘A huge thank you to the Warwickshire Freemasons for pledging £40,000 for the brand new incubators the Neontal Units across Good Hope and Heartlands.

‘The brand new incubators will improve the care of tiny babies born in the hospitals and will prevent them having to be transferred to another hospital for their care and treatment.’

Each incubator costs £20,000 and the WMCA is asking each lodge to consider using one of its charity appeals to help raise the funds. A roll of honour showing the name and number of each lodge, which has contributed, will be displayed in the Neo Natal unit at each hospital. This is an urgent appeal as babies need help to live right now.

The Provincial Grand Master for Warwickshire David Macey, who visited the Neo Natal Unit at Heartlands Hospital on 25th October 2019, said: ‘The work undertaken on the Neo Natal Unit is both outstanding and futuristic. It was a real privilege to meet the staff and witness their total dedication to their tiny patients and their families.

‘As the head of Freemasonry in Warwickshire, I am extremely proud of the generosity shown by our members which will enable premature babies to remain close to their families at such a critical time in their lives. I am sure that the two incubators we have donated, when combined with the skill of the staff on the wards, will give all the babies a strong fighting chance.’

HARIS’S STORY

Haris was born at 24 weeks and three days, weighing just 1lbs 10oz and was cared for on the Neonatal Unit for the first 94 days of his life. His mum, Ellie said: ‘The unit saved our son’s life. We were very lucky and appreciate everything that the staff did for Haris.’

The pictures below show Haris when he was born and how he looks now as an energetic and healthy one year old. Neonatal babies will almost always need the assistance of a specialist incubator to help monitor progress, keep babies away from infection and help with their respiratory. The money provided by the Warwickshire Freemasons will provide incubators to help babies just like Haris.

Read baby Haris’s full story here to see how important our support is for premature babies and their families.


Published Tue, 05 Nov 2019 00:00:00 +0000

Buckinghamshire Freemasons support MK Hospital Radio with £2,500 grant

The Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF) have awarded a grant £2,500 to the Milton Keynes Hospital Radio to purchase a second mixing desk

This is part of a new studio is being created in the hospital at a total cost of £30,500. There is a need to expand the service offered in the hospital and currently, there are restrictions training new members and providing patients with a variety of programmes. The new studio will also enable live broadcasting to allow interaction with patients.

Buckinghamshire Freemason Alan Clarke of Grenville Lodge No. 1787 not only presents an evening programme but is also secretary of the station. 

Grenville Lodge and its members have supported the station with donations over the past few years of over £1,000.

Allan commented: ‘Both Hospital Radio and Freemasonry have similar missions, to make life better for everybody which is something I admire and enjoy.’


Published Mon, 04 Nov 2019 00:00:00 +0000

Norfolk Installed Masters Lodge host Prestonian Lecture

As part of its Centenary celebrations, Norfolk Installed Masters Lodge No. 3905 was honoured to receive one of only four official presentations of this year's Prestonian Lecture - Freemasonry and The Great War by Mike Karn

Mike gave an outstanding presentation which he had tailored for the evening to be particularly specific to the Province of Norfolk. His wonderful presentation was enjoyed by a packed house and followed by a particularly vibrant and enjoyable Festive Board.

Mike was in the company of the Lodge’s Master and his Wardens, who also happen to be the Provincial Grand Master for Norfolk Stephen Allen, Deputy Provincial Grand Master Charles Hall and Assistant Provincial Grand Master Michael Gooderson.


Published Tue, 29 Oct 2019 21:41:48 +0000

Somerset and the MCF leave their Masonic Footprint with new plaque

Somerset’s Deputy Provincial Grand Master Ben Batley had been looking for something special to leave a ‘Masonic Footprint’ around the Province to mark its charitable giving

It was then on a visit to Freemasons' Hall in London that he came up with the answer – a plaque recently unveiled by the Duke of Kent to commemorate the opening of the Masonic Charitable Foundation's refurbished offices, suitably adapted, would be perfect

Following consultation with the plaques designers and the MCF, Somerset’s new ‘Masonic Footprint’ was created.

The first plaque was installed in Somerset at the headquarter offices of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme for the county at Hestercombe House. This was to mark a donation of £16,500 given over three years as a bursary fund by Somerset Freemasons to enable disadvantaged and vulnerable participants to take part.

Ben Batley commented: 'We are delighted with the result. Whenever we make a charitable donation, our ‘Masonic Footprint’ will be left with the charity to encourage engagement with the public about the good works that we do.'


Published Fri, 25 Oct 2019 13:51:50 +0100

New & Young Masons Clubs Conference in Leicester is a tremendous success

In 2018, the Leicestershire & Rutland Light Blue Club successfully bid to host the 2019 New & Young Masons Clubs Conference. Beating competition from other clubs throughout the country, the Light Blue Club’s winning theme of 'Building Bonds’ was the foundation for months of hard work, culminating in the conference that was held at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester on 28th September 2019

The New & Young Masons Club (NYMC) was created to bring together all of the Light Blue Clubs from around the country, to share ideas and best practices and to ensure their continued success. Representatives from 31 of these clubs descended on Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, to enjoy an action packed and informative day, with friends, acquaintances, new members and a great line up of speakers.

After welcoming their guests, a tour was conducted by our Light Blue Club members of the magnificent building we have at London Road, culminating in a talk in the Holmes Lodge Room by Richard Barnett and a viewing of their museum.

By 10am, the 100 seats in the magnificent Holmes Lodge Room were filled as their Light Blue Club Chairman Bob Reay opened the conference. Bob gave a welcoming speech and introduced the Provincial Grand Master for Leicestershire & Rutland David Hagger, who thanked everyone for attending and introduced the day’s guest speakers. Next to take to the stage was the President of the Light Blue Club, Peter Kinder, who gave an insight into the origins of the Light Blue Club, along with his thoughts and aims for the day.

Samuel Harris of the Light Blue Club then took great pleasure in introducing the next two sets of speakers, with whom he had been liaising to secure their time for a ground breaking set of presentations. First to the stage was the Grand Master of the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons, Christine Chapman, to give an insight into the history and background to Women’s Freemasonry in England.

There are two Grand Lodges of Women Freemasons in England, and the second presenter was Elaine Malone, Deputy Grand Secretary, accompanied by Mia Cameron-Dungey, from the Order of Women Freemasons. This presentation was very well received and gave the audience a better understanding of where the Order originated from, as well as an insight into their future plans.

The first ‘Break out session’, with the theme entitled The Foundation Stone, involved a move downstairs to the Oliver Dining Room, which was set up by the superb team at Devonshire Place. The round table discussions proved to be a huge success, with energy and enthusiasm for understanding what it is our New & Young Masons Clubs need to be successful.

After lunch, the team from Solomon, David Pratt, Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire, West Riding, together with Dr. Craig Johnson and Ken Wootton, gave a valuable insight into the Learning & Development programme.

Breakout sessions two and three, ‘Raising a Superstructure’ and ‘Building Bonds’ were equally a success, with great feedback from all participants as the attendees worked towards sharing ideas and developing a mission statement.

Then in the Holmes Lodge Room. Focusing on the Future of Freemasonry and how we can all help to achieve this bright future, David conducted a captivating presentation, which was followed by a question and answer session before the day's proceedings were brought to a close. To round off an exhausting yet captivating day was Mitch Merrick-Thirlway, the Administrator of the NYMC, as it was down to him to announce the winners who would host the conference to held in 2022. And the winners were, the Fleet House Light Blues Club from the Province of Hertfordshire.

After such a superb day, of learning, listening, education, and sharing of ideas, many of the attendees stayed on to enjoy the hospitality of the Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448 to complete the day.

David Hagger said: ‘I would like to thank all of the organisers and members of our Light Blue Club for what has been an excellent day. I would also like to thank all of our guests and speakers for their valuable time and also to all of the members from up and down the country for their energy and enthusiasm. You are the future of Freemasonry and today has demonstrated what a bright future we have.’


Published Fri, 25 Oct 2019 00:00:00 +0100

Leicestershire & Rutland Freemasons pedal for PROSTaid to raise over £4,000

Cycling for charity is now common place within the Province of Leicestershire & Rutland, as shown by a team of intrepid riders from Knighton Lodge No. 4711 who donned their lycra to help raise over £4,000 for PROSTaid, a local charity supporting men and their families through diagnosis, treatment and recovery of prostate cancer

A team of six riders had been preparing for some months for the challenge of the Cycling Way of the Roses, taking them from Morecombe to Bridlington covering a total of 170 miles over three days, starting on the 13th September 2019.

The Knighton Lodge members were: Phillip Kent, Mark Tebbatt, Rajesh Solanki and Mark Nutting, who were joined by Xenia and Ross Kent for the intrepid adventure. Working to ensure their comfort and safety was the support team, consisting of the Lodge’s Master Dennis McCauley and his wife Christine, together with Paul Reynolds and Sarah Nutting. 

The weather was kind but the going was tough – the finishing line was certainly a sight for sore eyes and weary limbs. 

The tremendous effort raised a total of £4,200 for PROSTaid.


Published Thu, 24 Oct 2019 14:44:37 +0100

Herefordshire Freemasons support 'Born Sleeping' Appeal

Two members of Dean Waterfield Lodge No. 8089 in Herefordshire visited the Maternity unit of Hereford County Hospital on 18th October 2019 to present a cheque for £1,200 to Maxine Chong, Head of Midwifery

Paul Sabel, the Immediate Past Master, and his wife Wendy, along with Tim Bridgland-Taylor, the Lodge Charity Steward, were given a guided tour of the new facilities, created under the 'Born Sleeping' Appeal. These are delightfully appointed rooms which bereaved families can use when suffering the devastating a loss of a new born child.

The 'Born Sleeping' Appeal had raised their original amount to create these rooms, so this was to help the Maternity unit to continue to maintain the private rooms for the bereaved families. The money was raised during Paul Sabel’s year as Master of Dean Waterfield Lodge and both he and his wife Wendy were keen to donate to the continuing 'Born Sleeping' Appeal, as they had had personal experience of losing family members at birth.

Katie Farmer, the Wye Valley NHS Trust Charitable Fundraiser, explained that donations are always welcome so they can continue with the upkeep of the rooms.

After accepting the cheque, Maxine Chong expressed her very grateful thanks to Paul and Wendy and to the members of Dean Waterfield Lodge.


Published Tue, 22 Oct 2019 13:38:35 +0100

A royal visit to Bristol by UGLE's Grand Master

During a royal visit to Bristol, UGLE's Grand Master, The Duke of Kent, accompanied by Lord Lieutenant for the City and County of Bristol, Peaches Golding OBE, the High Sheriff of Bristol, Charles Wyld, and the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Jos Clark, were given a detailed tour around Freemasons' Hall by the Provincial Grand Master Jonathan Davis and Deputy Provincial Grand Master Richard Lewis

On arriving at Lodge Room 1, they were greeted by a packed room of Bristol Freemasons and their partners. The Grand Master was then given a tour of the Grade II listed building, which has been the home of Bristol Freemasons for over 150 years.

He then received a short talk on the history of the Province of Bristol and afterwards was introduced to members who are involved in different projects, which include working with local charities s in the community.

After a light lunch served in one of the Dining Rooms, the Grand Master was invited to sign the visitors book before departing by car for his next appointment at Bristol Cathedral.


Published Tue, 22 Oct 2019 00:00:00 +0100

After the flood: Freemasons discover just how effective a significant donation has been for a Lincolnshire village

Funds given by Freemasons to help victims of Wainfleet’s summertime flooding are being used to good effect in and around the town

So far more than £55,000 has been given to 61 families whose homes were inundated when the River Steeping burst its banks. 

The funds were made of up £25,000 each from the Province of Lincolnshire, The Mark Benevolent Fund, and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, topped up with donations from other Provinces which had also experienced flooding, and understood the need for a sustained response.

And on a Lincolnshire Day visit to the Coronation Hall in the village, the Provincial Grand Master for Lincolnshire Dave Wheeler said he was confident the funds were being given to the right people in the right way.

At the ‘sharp end’ of delivery is Sue Fortune, Joint CEO of the Lincolnshire Community Foundation which is managing and co-ordinating the appeal funding. She has met many of the families face to face and said: 'Phase 1 involved giving £500 to each home which the water had got in to. Phase2 started at the beginning of September, and is offering up to £1,000 to alleviate specific hardship.'

The money is not being divided equally, says Sue, but is being distributed equitably. 'Some people need the money more than others, and some haven’t asked for financial support on the basis they believe others are worse off and need the money more,' she said.

Sue said a face-to-face approach had been made available to support those affected, rather than leaving it to online applications. 'As well as needing money, people needed to have someone they could talk to; to feel someone cared. That, and having the Coronation Hall to go to where people could access various support agencies, have been a fundamental part of the success of the recovery process.'

Sue freely shared her mobile phone number with the families, resulting in calls as early and 7.30am and as late as 9pm.  She also spent a considerable time at the Coronation Hall in the town, which became a ‘flood hub’; a focal point for residents. Those calls and meetings yielded some tough stories, such as the couple who were due to exchange contracts for a house sale the day after the floods and families who lost everything. “We listened to all the stories, and responded equitably,' she said.

Face-to-face meetings also helped signpost the villagers to people with specialist knowledge who were able to get things done. A grants panel was formed, with Sue as mediator, to offer financial support to help bring Wainfleet back to, as close as possible, to the way it was before the flood. Sue’s fellow Joint CEO James Murphy added: 'There was naturally a significant degree of emotional distress. Being here in person provided the reassurance of proactivity; that there was a person they could talk to.'

After meeting Sue, James, and the residents at a Lincolnshire Day get-together in Coronation Hall Dave Wheeler said: 'We have been so reassured that the money we have donated has gone absolutely to the right people and the right places. The process we have heard of today is fantastic. All of Lincolnshire’s Freemasons can feel as proud as I do of what’s been achieved with our financial help. I am in awe of the work that’s been done here since the flooding; it’s superb.'

{mp3}wainfleet{/mp3}


Published Mon, 07 Oct 2019 14:49:45 +0100

Buckinghamshire Freemasons donate £4,000 to early intervention charity

The Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF) have donated £4,000 to the Puzzle Centre in Middle Claydon to enable them to purchase desks and seating for their Outreach Team, as well as nursery furniture and materials for their Picture Exchange Communications System (PECS)

The Puzzle Centre is a charity which promotes and delivers early intervention for young children with Autism or communication difficulties and provides training and outreach to families and practitioners across the UK.

Materials purchased with the grant will help to make picture cards and emotion fobs which allow non-verbal children to express themselves and for parents and teachers to give simple instructions.

Sarah Dolder, from The Puzzle Centre, thanked the BMCF for the donation and included comments from parents whose child had benefitted and progressed due to the use of the PECS system and the interventions of the centre.


Published Fri, 04 Oct 2019 10:28:11 +0100

Freemasonry Cares

Quarterly magazine of the United Grand Lodge of England, featuring freemasons' news, interviews, and features. Free to view online alongside exclusive content.
Published Thu, 21 Nov 2019 18:36:33 +0000

Staffordshire Freemasons launch unique advertising campaign to promote MCF across Europe

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

Knowle Masonic Centre working in partnership with Age UK Solihull thanks to £63,000 grant

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

Mark Master Masons donate £141,000 to Lifelites

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

MCF gives £63,000 to Lincolnshire to provide friendship in times of crisis

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.'

To find out more, please contact jenny.wilson@ageuklindsey.co.uk

DONALD'S STORY

‘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

Warwickshire's Provincial Grand Master takes to the skies to raise £11,000 for the MCF

The summer break may have seen many Freemasons relaxing and enjoying the fine weather, but David Macey, Provincial Grand Master for Warwickshire, had other ideas when he decided to jump out of a plane to raise £11,000 for charity

The Province of Warwickshire is in the early stages of its 2023 Festival and working hard to raise money to support the excellent work of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The Provincial Grand Master is always one to lead from the front, which led him to search for an opportunity to raise a healthy sum of money for the Festival whilst aiming to inspire the Province to hit and exceed the Festival target.

Jumping from a perefectly serviceable aircraft seemed a suitable way to raise the profile of the Festival to new heights, so early in 2019 the plans were laid and preparations for a summer skydive commenced. David set himself an ambitious target of £10,000, with confidence that the members of Warwickshire would rise to the occasion.

Finally the day came and David, with a band of supporters, fought through difficult driving conditions to Langar Airfield in Nottinghamshire hoping for a break in the weather to give enough time for the jump to happen.In spite of hopes and optimism, the wind and rain thwarted the first attempt and it was not safe to jump.

Several weeks went by with the excitement and trepidation growing, until in July 2019 a window in the weather was found and the team made their way to Nottinghamshire once again. This time conditions were perfect. David completed his training and his instructor chosen, much to the amusement of the assembled crowd, with the Provincial Grand Master being rather tall and his instructor much less so, once in tandem, the instructors feet would never touch the floor.

The jump was an experience of a lifetime, with David's first words on landing being, 'I've got to do that again', although his wife Sandra didn't seem so sure. The exhilaration of the skydive was only increased as the fundraising soared past the target, finishing with £11,000 going to the Festival and the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

The full video of the skydive can be seen here.


Published Wed, 04 Sep 2019 22:54:01 +0100

MCF donation funds groundbreaking new collaboration that could go nationwide

Funded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation and operated by Lincoln’s St Barnabas Hospice Trust and the city’s YMCA, a new project to help the homeless could become the model for similar schemes nationwide

It’s about a new dimension in the range of services offered by the organisations and is aimed specifically at helping the homeless to cope with bereavement.

YMCA CEO Caroline Killeavy said working in partnership with MCF support made a significant difference. The scheme will provide one-to-one specialist counselling to work with homeless people through the difficulties, challenges and emotions that can accompany bereavement.

Although there are no exact figures of how many homeless people in Lincoln are struggling with bereavement, there is research that shows it is a problem on a national scale. Strong circumstantial evidence that indicates it is prevalent in Lincoln.

The YMCA and Lincoln Baptist Church independently contacted St Barnabas Hospice to discuss the problem, which lead to the hospice putting together a bid to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for funding.

Counselling sessions are held at the YMCA hostel in Rumbold Street and at The Nomad Trust’s shelter in Monks Road. Caroline Killeavy, CEO of Lincolnshire YMCA, added: ‘The YMCA recognises people become homeless for many reasons, but one we repeatedly see is bereavement and loss.’

Pete Crosby, Lincoln Baptist Church community coordinator, said: ‘Bereavement among the homeless community is a reoccurring issue. Without specialist bereavement support these people will not overcome their grief and be able to get on with their lives.’

Cat Rodda is the bereavement counsellor leading the year-long project, and has already seen positive changes in those taking part. She said: ‘These sessions provide a confidential and accessible space for homeless people, who traditionally haven’t felt able to access the hospice’s bereavement support. We are already seeing individuals start to work through and better cope with their grief and taking steps to move forward with their lives.’

In addition to the counselling, the project aims to provide bereavement training for staff at partner organisations and for homeless peer mentors in order to widen the impact of the project.

Lincolnshire's Provincial Grand Master Dave Wheeler said: ‘People can find themselves living on the street for a variety of reasons. Life is already tough enough for the homeless, and the last thing they need is the extra burden of being alone whilst having to cope with the grief of bereavement.

‘The Masonic Charitable Foundation’s donation means that counsellors with the right kind of skills can be available to support them at such times, and I find it reassuring that we have made this wonderful initiative possible.’


Published Wed, 28 Aug 2019 00:00:00 +0100

Buckinghamshire Freemasons donate £15,000 to Carers Milton Keynes

Buckinghamshire Freemasons have donated £15,000 to help Carers Milton Keynes to both extend and continue to provide vital support to unpaid carers in the area

The grant comes via the Masonic Charitable Foundation and will help them to increase and improve the support given to older carers, specifically carers aged 50 or over.

Carers Milton Keynes is a charity which supports the health and wellbeing of unpaid carers looking after a family member, friend or neighbour who cannot manage without them due to illness, physical or learning disability, frailty, mental health issues or additional needs.

The support available from Carers Milton Keynes includes advice, information and guidance, emotional support and counselling, young carers and young adult carers support, carers support groups and training courses.

Carers Milton Keynes commented: 'This generous award will enable us to grow the service to its full potential.'


Published Mon, 19 Aug 2019 13:36:04 +0100

Freemasons give £25,000 to victims of Yorkshire floods

Victims of the recent flash flooding that has hit hundreds of homes across the dales, including Arkengarthdale, Reeth, Leyburn and Bellerby, are being helped by a grant of £25,000 from Yorkshire Freemasons

The grant includes £5,000 each from Freemasons in Yorkshire West Riding and Yorkshire North and East Ridings, as well as £15,000 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons’ national charity. The money is being given to the Two Ridings Community Foundation, which has launched an appeal to help householders and local businesses.

Local Freemasons’ lodges are also raising funds for the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team as well as a small local charity in the village of Reeth, which was especially badly hit by the floods.

The grant will help vulnerable or elderly people or families to get back on their feet by replacing essential items such as carpets, basic furniture or white goods or by assisting with repairs. This support is especially needed by those who were not able to afford insurance or for those who have properties for which insurance companies have refused to provide cover.

It will also provide assistance to those local businesses in the area facing hardship as a result of the floods. This could include replacing tools or equipment or loss of earnings to tide people over while businesses recover.

Jan Garrill, Chief Executive of Two Ridings Community Foundation, said: 'We’re hugely grateful to Yorkshire freemasons for their generous grant, which will allow us to help the hundreds of local people who have suffered serious losses, many of whom are especially vulnerable. It can take years to fully recover from a major flood and getting immediate help can make a massive difference.”

Jeff Gillyon from Yorkshire Freemasons said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help local people across the dales who have suffered in the recent floods. Damage and disruption from a major flood can be a terrible blow for anyone, but especially for elderly people, the very young, or those with disabilities. I’m delighted that the freemasons are able to do their part in helping our community recover.'


Published Fri, 09 Aug 2019 11:03:40 +0100

£55,000 and counting – the success of Lift for Lifelites returns

Provinces across the country have helped raise in excess of £55,000 for children’s charity Lifelites by taking part in ‘Lift for Lifelites returns’ – a 3,000 mile road trip aimed at raising the charity’s profile, as well as the vital funds it needs to carry out its work

This is the second time the charity have staged this wacky fundraiser which sees its Chief Executive, Simone Enefer-Doy, travel to a landmark in every Province in England, Wales and some of the Crown Dependencies in just 15 days. To reach each of the 48 photoshoots, Simone asked Freemasons in every Province to give her a lift in a weird and wonderful variety of transport, and they didn’t disappoint.

Among her 80 lifts were a genuine Thai Tuk Tuk, a classic Rolls-Royce, a paddle steamer, a wartime motorcycle sidecar, a Lamborghini, no less than three steam trains and an electric tram, to name but a few. Famous sites visited on the trip included the beautiful Bleinheim Palace, the Heights of Abraham, Lake Windermere and the National Space Centre.

Simone said: ‘It was a real whistle stop tour and I’ve been blown away by the incredible generosity of Freemasons across the country; this event wouldn’t have been possible without them. After the success of last year, I couldn’t wait to see what everyone had come up with.

'It was wonderful to meet so many loyal supporters as well as lots of new friends along the way, and great to have the opportunity tell them more about Lifelites and other ways they could help us with our work for local children.’

The challenge has raised over £55,000 to date which will go towards the charity’s work donating and maintaining assistive technology for life-limited and disabled children in children’s hospices across the British Isles.

Simone explained: ‘This technology can be life-changing for these children. It helps them escape the confines of their conditions and do things they never thought possible, even things that we take for granted like playing a game with their brothers and sisters or telling their parents that they love them. We simply couldn’t do what we do without money raised from our supporters and we are very grateful.’

You can read about all the organisations who were involved in the challenge on the Lifelites website here.

If you’d like to hear more about the challenge, Simone or one of the Lifelites team can come to a Provincial meeting to give a presentation and talk about what the charity does and how else you can help Lifelites help children in your area. To arrange a date, please contact Samuel Davies by emailing sdavies@lifelites.org


Published Tue, 25 Jun 2019 11:49:58 +0100

Young people facing barriers get an educational boost thanks to £50,000 grant

Learning for life

More than 70 young people in and around Swindon who face social barriers are receiving a major boost to their education, thanks to a £50,000 grant from Wiltshire Freemasons. Peter Watts talks to the inspiring teenagers who are improving their career prospects with the Villiers Park Educational Trust Scholars Programme

Over the past 10 years, hundreds of young people from deprived or difficult backgrounds have been able to achieve their full potential thanks to the work of the Villiers Park Educational Trust. The pioneering four-year Scholars Programme is run by the trust, a social mobility charity that targets high-ability children from disadvantaged backgrounds by providing them with regular mentoring sessions. The programme also pays for them to go on residential trips and workshops designed to improve their confidence, motivation, resilience and employability, as well as giving them the chance to enjoy opportunities that they may not otherwise have been made aware of. A £50,000 grant from Wiltshire Freemasons via the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) will fund one of these mentoring positions in Swindon for two years. ‘This generosity allows our mentors to continue doing their amazing work,’ says deputy director of development Rosie Knowles. ‘It’s particularly great for us to have the Freemasons commit to more than a single year of funding, as we are focused on immersive long-term interventions.’

The charity currently operates in Swindon, Hastings, Bexhill, Tyneside, East Lancashire, Crawley and Norfolk, and hopes to widen its offering to other areas if more funding becomes available. There are four mentors in Swindon, who support children through their GCSEs and A-levels. ‘The mentors build up fabulous relationships,’ says Knowles. ‘They provide support and guidance and help young people develop skills to become more rounded individuals. Everything is built around developing these skills, as this is what empowers them to thrive and be self-sufficient in their success.’ The children are also able to give something back. ‘We encourage them to run self-led and inquiry-led projects in their schools,’ says Knowles. ‘This creates a ripple effect and a culture of positive learning. These young people really are incredible.’

Rahul Vital, 19

My family is from India and we moved to Swindon when I was five. My mum and dad had to drop out of school at a young age, which was why I was scouted for Villiers Park. In India, you weren’t rewarded for good work at school, but were punished for bad work – quite different to here in England.

The importance of education was made clear to me by my parents. I was encouraged to learn an instrument, take up art and do sports. I was approached by Villiers Park in year 9 and assigned a mentor, who helped me prepare for exams and job interviews, and create a CV. I also met other students on residential trips. I am now studying cancer biomedicine at University College London. Aspects of that came from a Villiers Park residential, where we learnt about cellular biology. I knew I wanted to do medicine or something with the sciences and these courses reinforced that decision. 

The programme helped with a lot of the stress I had at A-level. My mentor, Becki, would talk about how we were doing. She reassured me and I got an A* and 3 As. It’s definitely given me confidence. I wasn’t good at presentations, but going to these classes, learning to speak effectively and doing personal statements has been a lot of help. As a result of this I would definitely be willing to do something similar to help others. It was such a relief, so it would be great to do that for somebody else.

Jaime Hessell, 16

None of my family had been to university, but now I really want to go – that’s because of Villiers Park. I have taken as much from it as possible because I feel so lucky to be involved. I was shy before and it’s given me more confidence. I can now talk in front of the other Scholars and their parents. 

I always enjoyed school, but Villiers Park has shown me new things. We did a workshop and that gave me an interest in sociology, which is what I want do at university. We learn a bit of everything. It has given us a wider understanding of what is out there, beyond just maths and English. I am currently doing AS-levels and next year will do A-levels in maths, sociology and environmental studies.

My mentoring sessions with Becki and Julie have been incredibly helpful. Through Villiers Park, I joined the INVOLVE project, which has meant teaching maths to year-7s. I want to be a teacher, so it’s given me more of an understanding of what it’s like, what a stress it is but also how rewarding it can be. I had lower-ability students, and one of my pupils didn’t know her three times table, so I taught her every week until she was able to recite them. I also like to show them why you need maths for different things, such as architecture and business.

Acacia Baldie, 17

I live with my mum and my brother and we moved to Swindon just before the Villiers Park Scholars Programme started. I think the trust chose me because I was doing okay at school and they saw my potential. I love school, but had always thought university would be too expensive and you had to be very smart to go. I changed my mind after learning a bit more. We have regular mentor sessions where you learn employability and interview skills, and exam preparation tips. You also have paid-for residential trips where a specialist in your subject will talk to you. The mentors have all been really supportive, and explain everything clearly. They ask you about yourself and what you need help with. It’s life skills, the sort of thing school and college doesn’t focus on.

I am doing four A-Levels this year: fine art, textiles, biology and geography. My plan is to do Korean studies at university – I have identical offers from SOAS and Sheffield. Why Korea? I really liked the language and enjoy Korean shows. Plus I have Korean friends and I love the history and culture. My mentor helped me choose my subjects. I originally wanted to teach English in Korea but my mentor made me realise I should focus on what I enjoy, which was the culture.

Jordan Jones, 18

I was the first in my family to go to university and Villiers Park is about showing more options to people like me. Some of my peers weren’t looking at university, but I wanted to be an architect, so I knew I had a different career path. Villiers Park approached education in a different way to schools. They didn’t judge us, they were interested in how we got there and in how we used creative thinking. At school you have to appease all the people around you, but Villiers Park takes you out of that and allows you to be your own person and to flourish.

I went to Villiers Park thinking architecture was for me, but I looked at university courses with my mentor, Becki, and realised I wanted to be more involved in the design and maths of why a building works, so I am now studying civil engineering. I was so grateful, because I would have barrelled into a course and found out it wasn’t for me. I started at Plymouth University in September. It’s a challenge, but I have the structure of how to revise and study from Villiers Park, and it’s nice to have that ongoing support. A lot of people I know never had it at all, so I’m just grateful I got it in the first place.

For details, visit www.villierspark.org.uk

‘The mentors have all been really supportive, and explain everything clearly. They ask you what you need help with. It’s life skills, the sort of thing school doesn’t focus on’


Published Tue, 11 Jun 2019 00:00:00 +0100
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