Quarterly magazine of the United Grand Lodge of England, featuring freemasons' news, interviews, and features. Free to view online alongside exclusive content.
Published Sat, 15 May 2021 05:54:48 +0100
Freemasons are leading a project to help up to 33,000 adult, young and parent carers, with donations of more than £715,000
According to Carers UK, the number of carers grew exponentially during the pandemic, reaching more than 13 million. The helping hand from the Freemasons is supporting them with essential items, life skills, counselling, crisis support, activities and breaks.
Approximately 20,000 unpaid carers are receiving access to crucial support online, funded by the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body of the Freemasons.
The UGLE is also working to protect young carers, who are under increasing pressure as they support family members during lockdown.
In particular, the Freemasons project is providing 870 young carers with respite through activities and breaks, while 760 young carers are being provided with essential items and life skills. Elsewhere, almost 100 schools are receiving assistance to identify hidden young carers and provide support.
In total, more than 1,800 young carers are receiving advice, support and information.
In addition to their support for young carers, the Freemasons are providing funding for crisis support, advice and information to almost 3,000 adult carers. Meanwhile, the project is also assisting 1,050 parent carers with advice and support.
In Bedfordshire for example, the donation will help up to 20,000 unpaid carers to access online support, information and guidance with ease, freeing up staff to help those who are most in need. And in Essex, the donation will benefit 4,000 carers with a new minibus, providing transport to and from activities and day centres, removing barriers to participation.
Meanwhile in Buckinghamshire, almost 2,000 young carers will be supported at school, to improve their wellbeing and reduce stress and isolation. The donation will fund the salaries and project costs of three support staff to work with schools in identifying and supporting young carers. The aim of the project is to find young people with previously ‘hidden’ caring responsibilities and raise awareness of their burden.
Elsewhere, in Cumberland and Westmorland, Freemasons’ donations are supporting the Eden Carers project with mobile phones and laptops for its staff, enabling them to continue to support more than 800 unpaid carers of all ages flexibly and remotely, complying with Covid-19 restrictions.
Dr David Staples, chief executive of the UGLE, said: 'These have been very difficult times for everyone and especially for carers. With the donations, we are helping with training, counselling, support, mental and physical health, as well as activities to reduce stress.
'We want to recognise the enormous contribution carers make to families and communities throughout the UK. They do their best because they want to make a difference and care deeply for their family members.'
Published Wed, 12 May 2021 15:03:20 +0100
United Grand Lodge of England seeks a Receptionist for the Facilities department
This role acts as first point of contact for visitors of Freemasons’ Hall by greeting, welcoming and directing them appropriately.
This person must be able to:
- Deliver excellent customer service at all times
- Give advice and directions to visitors to the building
- Deal with all enquiries in a professional and courteous manner in person, on the telephone or via e-mail
- Handle telephone calls to the building outside the normal hours of operation of the switchboard
- Fulfil all reasonable requests from visitors to ensure their satisfaction and safety
- Assist in keeping the Front of House reception area clean and tidy at all times
- Maintain security by following procedures; monitoring logbook and issuing/recovering visitor badges
- Receive mail and carefully examine suspicious, unusual envelopes, packages or parcels, advising relevant Line Manager accordingly and contacting the relevant authority as required
- Collect and log any items of lost property
- Ensure that all pertinent administrative systems are maintained
- Operate Helpdesk as directed
- Maintain personal knowledge by completing internal/external training
- Adhere to United Grand Lodge of England’s policies and procedures
- Be involved and contribute at team meetings
- Carry out any other associated duties as required by the Director of Facilities/Facilities Manager
- Use a two-way radio
Must have skills:
- Excellent telephone manner
- Excellent verbal and written communication ability
- Positive attitude
- Excellent customer service skills
- Friendly and professional
- Ability to deal appropriately and effectively in a variety of situations
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
The successful applicant will work Monday to Friday (35 hours per week)
To apply please send your CV and covering letter to:
Elizabeth Gay - Director of HR - United Grand Lodge of England via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
CVs received without a covering letter will not be considered.
Closing date for applications is close of business on 21 May 2021.
Published Fri, 07 May 2021 15:49:42 +0100
This position has now closed
Café Assistant / Barista (Fixed Term Contract – 18 months)
A fantastic opportunity has arisen at Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden London. Home to the United Grand Lodge of England, Freemasons’ Hall is a grade II* listed, art deco masterpiece, the centre of English Freemasonry, and hosts the Museum of Freemasonry and the Library. In 2019 there were 40,000 visitors to the Museum and Library, 120,000 visits by member for meetings and 50,000 guests attending private events. The Open House London weekend in Sept 2019 attracted nearly 9,000 visitors over 2 days
We are opening our first café and bar on the premises and are seeking an experienced Café Assistant / Barista. The Café and Bar at Freemasons’ Hall will serve both the membership and the public and we have ambitions to grow the business to its maximum extent.
The successful candidate will report directly to the Café/Bar Manager on an initial 18 month fixed term contract. The whole operation must present a friendly and welcoming environment in which staff, volunteers, members and customers alike feel comfortable and receive excellent customer service. Guidance will be given from Senior Management. We are searching for an engaging, courteous Café Assistant / Barista who is passionate about beverage preparation. The Café Assistant / Barista will greet customers, answer their questions, take orders and accept payments, and prepare and serve food and drinks. You will also maintain a clean and well-stocked workspace and dining area, update displays, and continuously expand your knowledge of food and beverage quality controls, preparation methods, and presentation.
To succeed as a Café Assistant / Barista, you should be committed to providing customers with excellent service. You should be positive, friendly, knowledgeable, and polite.
- Preparing and serving hot and cold drinks such as coffee, tea and speciality beverages
- Cleaning and sanitising work areas, utensils and equipment
- Properly handle and maintain all equipment
- Cleaning service and seating areas
- Describing menu items and suggesting products to customers
- Respond to orders, questions, concerns and complaints in a polite and efficient manner
- Ordering, receiving and distributing stock supplies
- Receiving and processing customer payments
- Observe relevant health and safety standards
*This job description is not exhaustive and is liable to review following discussion with the successful candidate.
Must have skills
- Great communication
- A happy, friendly personality
- Strong customer service skills and knowledge
- High level of attention-to-detail
- Good level of literacy and numeracy
- Enthusiasm to develop your skills and knowledge
- Adaptable to change and willing to embrace new ideas and processes
- Ability to work unsupervised and deliver quality work
- Positive and approachable manner
- Barista trained
Salary and Benefits
£20,000 (subject to experience) gross per annum.
Initial fixed term contract – 18 months (potential for extension)
Plus the following benefits package:
BUPA private medical cover
Pension (3.5% employee & 9% employer contributions – increasing to 12%)
Holiday (25 days increasing to 30 days)
Interest free season ticket loan
Gym membership (subsidised)
Employee Assistance Programme
Published Thu, 29 Apr 2021 12:01:29 +0100
The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) has launched its first annual report, in its 300 year history, marking another major step forward in its commitment to modernisation, transparency and normalization
The annual report includes the new mission statement, which sits alongside the UGLE’s four key values of integrity, respect, friendship and charity. In addition, a recent study found that 75% of Freemasons take part in civic or charitable activities, compared to only 31% of non-Freemasons, in a matched geodemographic profile.
Dr David Staples, chief executive of the UGLE, said: 'Our first ever annual report is a major step ahead for the organisation in terms of the transparency and normalisation of Freemasonry, we want to tell the public who we are and what we do. This year, we have raised more than £42m for charity and given more than 18.5 million hours of our time in unpaid social and civic volunteering. I am enormously proud to serve an organisation with such a story to tell.'
The vast majority of the beneficiaries of charitable grants from Masonic charities are not themselves Freemasons. In fact, 90% of the donations are given to thousands of projects and people across the country to provide relief from suffering, misfortune and poverty. Only 10% of the total money disbursed goes to UGLE members and families, on a means-tested basis.
During the pandemic, it was gratifying to discover that fewer than 2% of the UGLE membership were actively considering leaving Freemasonry. The UGLE had planned for a significantly higher drop in membership, comprising those leaving because of financial hardship and those sadly passing away. Instead, the vast majority are greatly looking forward to things returning to normal and to resuming their Masonic lives.
Elsewhere, many members responded magnificently to the crisis, raising £3m for those in need across the UK, via the Covid Community Fund. In the early days of the pandemic, the group prioritised the need for personal protective equipment, food-based projects and the supply of tablets to hospitals and nursing homes to enable Covid-19 sufferers to contact family members. Now, the project is focusing on helping homeless people, young carers and mental health projects.
The essence of Freemasonry is the practise of charity. It is so inextricably linked that every Lodge meeting includes a charity collection and every Lodge and Province has a charity steward, who is responsible for coordinating the financial commitments and voluntary actions of the members. Many of the charitable efforts of the UGLE and its members are channelled through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons’ primary charitable grant-giving body.
Among other charities that the UGLE is actively supporting is the Freemasons’ Fund for Surgical Research (FFSR), which supports the Research Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) with grants each year to pursue cutting-edge research work, which might otherwise not have been funded. For more than 50 years, the FFSR has supported much groundbreaking research and many of the Fellows have gone on to distinguished careers.
In addition to the RCS, the Freemasons also support Lifelites, which gives life-limited and disabled children in hospices the chance to play and be creative, through the power of assistive technology.
Since taking over as CEO of the 200,000-member UGLE, Dr Staples has targeted many improvements within the organisation. 'The challenges I have set myself are to improve the public perception and understanding of Freemasonry, and to improve the administration of the organisation, modernising our systems and processes within this context,' he explained.
In the last few years therefore, Freemasons have been busy modernising and launching campaigns inviting the public to experience the world of Freemasonry. As a result, since 2018 the public’s perception of Freemasonry has improved significantly, according to external opinion surveys.
'All the effort and transparency has brought surprising results. Recent research showed that one in four people would consider joining Freemasonry today. The change is significant, because in 2018, the result of the same survey was one in ten,' explained Dr Staples.
The same research showed that those aged 18-34 are the most favourable towards the organisation, suggesting a real opportunity exists to engage and attract a newer, younger membership. Looking to these segments of the public, the UGLE has done much in recent years to encourage younger men, such as establishing the Universities Scheme and the New and Young Masons Clubs. Currently, the Universities Scheme has approximately 3,500 subscribing members.
Furthermore, a new cafe is opening next year within Freemasons Hall, with the objective of allowing the general public to experience the historic building, alongside new digital tours and a brand new visitors’ shop.
Improvements are also being made in communications. For the first time, the UGLE is able to talk directly and regularly with its membership, and a planned member survey will ensure that Freemasons will have be able to provide feedback directly to the organisation.
Further modernisation is underway with Project Hermes, a modern and simple web-based system to be used by Lodge and Chapter secretaries, which will transform the way in which the organisation is administered and mark an end to lengthy, manual form-filling processes. One of the major design principles of Hermes is that it must be intuitive and easy to operate, similar to using an online banking system.
Looking further ahead, an important milestone to be celebrated is the consecration of Lodge number 10,000, which will be duly heralded next year. That and other upcoming events will offer the UGLE the chance to match its Tercentary celebration in 2017 at the Royal Albert Hall. These occasions demonstrate the richness and importance of the Freemasons’ history and heritage, as well as the essential benevolence of the organisation’s core values and teachings – all while showcasing the fun side of Freemasonry.
View the full annual report here
Published Mon, 26 Apr 2021 10:55:19 +0100
The Freemasons are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Prince Philip this morning and we extend our sincere condolences to Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family
His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh started his life in Freemasonry in 1952, at the age of 31. He was initiated into Navy Lodge, No 2612, on 5 December.
On 6 March 1953, HRH Prince Philip progressed to the Second Degree of Freemasonry, before advancing to the Third Degree on 4 May 1953. The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) issued his Grand Lodge Certificate on 7 May that same year and he has remained a member to this day.
The Duke of Edinburgh was born in Corfu on 10 June 1921, the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. He therefore also held the title Prince of Greece and Denmark.
Prince Philip joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Prince Louis, who was Admiral of the Fleet and First Sea Lord. He had a long and successful career in the Navy and rose to the rank of Commander.
Prince Philip was also a qualified pilot and was the first member of the Royal Family ever to fly out of Buckingham Palace in a helicopter.
The Duke of Edinburgh was known to drop into meetings at his Freemasons Lodge almost unannounced. Navy Lodge has a storied past and an amazing roster of luminaries appear upon its membership roll. The Lodge prides itself on being the premier Naval Lodge in the world, with an unparalleled history that includes four monarchs as past members – King Edward VII, King Edward VIII, King George VI and King George II of the Hellenes.
The Duke of Edinburgh was patron or president of some 800 organisations, with special interests in scientific and technological research and development, the encouragement of sport, the welfare of young people, and conservation and the environment.
Freemasons can also count other members of the Royal Family among their number, including HRH the Duke of Kent, who is the longest-serving Grand Master of the UGLE.
As well as members of the Royal Family, Navy Lodge can proudly name three winners of the Victoria Cross among its past and present members; numerous Admirals, Generals, Vice-Admirals and Senior Officers; as well as other notables such as Sir Ernest Shackleton, Robert Scott – known as ‘Scott of the Antarctic’ – and many more.
Elsewhere, there is also a Duke of Edinburgh Lodge, No 1182, Liverpool, which was issued a warrant on 2 July 1867 and was consecrated on 1 August 1867. The Lodge was named after Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, who was then Duke of Edinburgh. He was born on 6 August 1844, the second son of Queen Victoria.
In addition, there is a Duke of Edinburgh Lodge in London, No 1259, which was consecrated on 4 May 1869. The Lodge was also named after Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, who became Duke of Edinburgh in 1866.
Published Fri, 09 Apr 2021 14:38:25 +0100
The inaugural celebration of NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers’ Day is set to take place on 5 July 2021, with Freemasons leading the event
The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body for Freemasons, is inviting its 200,000 members to fly specially designed flags at 10am on 5 July, to celebrate this unique day dedicated to the NHS, social care and all those that work on the front line, who have saved so many lives during the pandemic. The celebration will also remember those workers we sadly lost.
The UGLE is one of the core supporters of the event alongside the Cadet Forces, English Heritage and the Women’s Institute. A £5 donation from every flag and length of bunting made will be equally divided between NHS Charities Together and the National Care Association.
Freemasonry for Women and the Order of Women Freemasons have also joined the UGLE in this initiative, as Freemasons aim to set a record for the number of flags raised simultaneously across the nation.
Subsequently, at 11am, Freemasons are planning a moment’s silence to remember NHS workers and all those who died from Covid-19. The day continues with a toast to the NHS at 1pm, raising a cuppa to the NHS during afternoon tea at 3pm, followed by an address to the nation at 6pm.
At 8pm, the Freemasons will join the nation in an evening clap for NHS workers, while church bells are set to ring 73 times to celebrate 73 years of the NHS. Closing the celebrations at 9pm, there will be a #timetotoast for all NHS workers.
So far, nearly 37 Lodges and Provinces have made a commitment to the raising of the flag and other elements of the day. In addition, Northumberland Freemason, James Horner, is hosting a special live streaming theatre show from the Tyne Theatre & Opera House with compere, comics, singers, reading, video footage and messages of support to raise money on the day.
Bruno Peek, pageant master to the Queen and creator of NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers Day, said: 'We are delighted that Freemasons, whose members come from all walks of life, are playing such a high profile and active role to start this special day of celebration and commemoration of those within the NHS, Social Care and on the Frontline who undertake so much for us all, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and fifty two weeks a year, without any thought of their own safety.'
In addition, Dr David Staples, chief executive of the UGLE, and a Consultant in Acute Internal Medicine at Peterborough Hospital, said: 'We are facing the greatest global pandemic in living memory, and the NHS has never been so tested in its history. Its staff have been stretched beyond comprehension over the last year and they deserve our gratitude, our applause and all the support we can give.
'We are encouraging not only our 200,000 members, but the entire population to celebrate the day honouring and remembering the NHS workers with a complete programme of events on 5 July.'
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Freemasons have been supporting the NHS in a great many different ways. They have donated more than £2.5m so far to the Covid effort and complete 18.5 million hours of volunteering to help those in need each year. The donation is being used to help with food, personal protective equipment (PPE), supplements for hospitals and hospices, funds for NHS workers and ambulances.
Freemasons have also offered their Lodges as bases to administer the vital vaccinations. In Hertfordshire, for example, Halsey Hall is being used as a vaccination centre, supporting three local GP surgeries. The centre has been operational since 15 January and once fully scaled up, there will be up to 1,000 vaccinations given there each day.
Meanwhile, Freemasons are rising to the challenge to provide essential PPE to protect the vulnerable and the NHS. Thousands of visors have already been produced, with several businesses adapting their production lines to meet demand. In Norwich, for example, Colin Breckons has been making face shields with his company’s 3D printers – and giving them away free to the NHS and other key workers.
To find out more about NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers Day and to register your participation in the event, please visit: www.nhsfrontlineday.org
Published Thu, 01 Apr 2021 13:13:00 +0100
Faced with the most significant global pandemic in living memory, Freemasons came together in 2020 and donated a total of £1m as well as their time to help those in need
The donations were used to help communities in various critical areas, including foodbanks, support for unpaid carers, personal protective equipment (PPE), supplies for hospitals and hospices, support for women’s refuges, and funds for NHS workers, ambulances and equipment.
Freemasons also worked 18 million hours as volunteers in a range of different areas, where there was a need, including driving vulnerable people to hospital, preparing meals, taking care of people at risk, organising care packages, producing scrubs, PPE and hand sanitiser.
At the start of the crisis in April 2020, some Freemasons adapted their businesses’ production lines to produce nearly 5,000 visors for use in healthcare settings. Since then, Freemasons have produced or procured tens of thousands of pieces of additional PPE.
Meanwhile, to help protect women and children from domestic abuse, Freemasons donated more than £165,000 in 2020. The donation helped more than 2,000 women during the lockdown, who received more than 1,000 parcels containing essential items for women fleeing domestic abuse.
Freemasons also focused their efforts on hospitals and care homes, donating nearly 1,000 tablets to provide vital contact between coronavirus patients and their loved ones. The tablets were provided to more than 50 hospitals, care homes and hospices. In London, hospitals including The Royal London, Queen Mary's and St Thomas' received approximately 115 tablets; while in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, some 200 tablets were donated.
Elsewhere, to support thousands of families struggling during the crisis, Freemasons donated 300,000 meals and 38 tonnes of food to homeless people, women’s refuges and vulnerable people, supporting more than 120,000 people in total. Moreover, £560,000 was donated to provide meals and help numerous foodbanks.
Dr David Staples, chief executive of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), said: 'No one in this day and age should have to worry where their next meal is coming from. We are so glad that we were able to provide thousands of families across the UK with a hot meal or food donations to help get them through this current crisis. Freemasons have achieved all of this in just a few months and have also given their time to produce and deliver food to the vulnerable.'
The UGLE is also encouraging its members to roll up their sleeves and volunteer to help vaccinate the population. 'More than 18.5 million hours of volunteer work were undertaken by Freemasons. Now it is crucial that we help in every way we can to protect the population. If the NHS needs volunteers, then we are happy to emphasise the importance of this to our members,' said Dr Staples.
He continued: 'Our response to the Pandemic shows what Freemasonry is all about; supporting those in need, giving back to our communities and volunteering where it can make a real difference. Freemasons have been doing this for over 300 years and I am proud of the time and commitment that our members have given to support the nation in its fight against Covid-19.'
In addition to the £1m donated in 2020, the Freemasons have committed a further fund of £2.1m to support the ongoing Covid-19 crisis response. Of that £2.1m, £850,000 has been allocated to support homeless people through several charities with which UGLE partners. More than 40,000 homeless individuals are being provided with food and essentials, transport, help with accessing services such as counselling and healthcare, as well as employment and training opportunities.
Published Tue, 23 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
From the Grand Secretary and Grand Scribe E
As Percy Shelley once said, ‘If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?’. As I pen this column, snow falling silently outside, I cannot help but wonder where things will be by the time this hits members’ doormats in March. I hope for spring and for brighter days – the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by mass vaccination but, like so much in life, there are no guarantees.
It is looking increasing unlikely that our Annual Investitures and Grand Festival will be able to go ahead this year as normal, and that ordinary meetings will not be possible until later in the year. I am immensely grateful that, very soon, our older, more vulnerable members should all be protected from this devastating virus, and I have no doubt that this year Freemasonry will be back to where it was before the lockdowns – significantly invigorated by the pent-up enthusiasm of our members.
In the coming months there are a number of projects that will affect our lodges, chapters and our members more directly. The most obvious of these will be Hermes, which will give every Lodge Secretary and Chapter Scribe E access to our membership database for their units. This will allow them to keep records updated in real time and save them huge amounts of time and effort on some of the many paperwork-based tasks expected of them today. Every Province has now designated a team to train the individual members who will need to use it.
‘It is important that in our eagerness to get back to how things were, we do not forget those lessons that we have learnt over the past year or so – the importance of keeping in touch’
Towards the end of the year, we will also be embarking on a focused marketing campaign aiming to target those who we think Freemasonry will appeal to. Many Provinces are now starting to plan in earnest how best to support these projects, and how to ensure that transition from pandemic to business as usual goes as smoothly as possible for you all.
Neither has Freemasons’ Hall in London been idle in the long months of lockdown. You may have seen our new shop being heralded in The Times as well as across a host of other media. The administrative staff have moved office from the huge area under the Grand Temple and this is now being redeveloped as a new café and bar that will also be able to offer some lodge and chapter dining in the evenings. Contrary to ‘well informed’ sources on the Metropolitan Grand Lodge Facebook page, I can confirm that we are not leasing the area to Costa or, indeed, anyone else!
We are also planning a series of concerts, working with some fantastic local orchestras and choirs formerly of St Martin-in-the-Fields to help open up the building to the public and showcase Freemasonry to a whole new audience. It has been an enormous challenge to balance both the opportunity that an empty building presents in terms of redevelopment and maintenance, whilst juggling so many staff on furlough, ensuring, all the time, that we are stewarding wisely the organisation for generations to come.
As restrictions lift and life returns to normal, there will be very many lodges and chapters that have built up a long waiting list of candidates, and will be keen to progress other work. Freemasons’ Hall, and I am sure many other masonic halls across the Provinces, will be very glad to assist with as many emergency meetings as required across the summer and beyond to clear the backlog, and to ensure that our Freemasonry starts again with a bang. The return to some sense of commercial normality will be extremely welcome to masonic centres, some of which have been brought to their knees by the financial circumstances imposed upon them by the pandemic. However, it is important that in our eagerness to get back to how things were, we do not forget those lessons that we have learnt over the past year or so – the importance of keeping in touch, of making that extra personal effort to ensure that those we know are doing ok and are well supported.
Personally, I hope that the concept of Zoom meetings and get togethers will not be so quickly forgotten – keeping in touch with members who have found it difficult in recent years to attend lodge and chapter meetings continues, reminding them that they remain members of a bigger family and availing ourselves of their collective wisdom and experience.
Brethren and companions, I very much look forward to seeing you all again in the near future, confident in the hope that vaccination will offer us a route back to normality, and that with each and every passing day, these strange times draw to a close.
Dr David Staples
Grand Secretary and Grand Scribe E
Published Mon, 15 Mar 2021 14:11:49 +0000
Director of Communications and Marketing Michelle Worvell has an ‘outsider looking in’ approach, which means she’s not afraid to push the boundaries when it comes to opening up Freemasonry to the wider public
When Michelle Worvell was overseeing an expanded Open House event at Freemasons’ Hall in September 2019, she found it completely natural to take a more hands-on approach. Michelle had arrived in
March 2019 as the UGLE’s bustling new Director of Communications and Marketing and one of her first initiatives was to get the organisation more heavily involved in Open House than previous years. She particularly wanted to make the event more family friendly, recognising this would be an important way to attract visitors while cementing positive perceptions of Freemasonry at an early age.
So, when Michelle saw a small boy outside, accompanied by a more enthusiastic parent but reluctant to visit the building himself, she made it her business to keep him happy. Michelle escorted the boy around the building with his mother, introduced them to the children’s trail, helped locate hidden features in the stained glass windows and showed them where to get plastic bricks to make a model of a dragon.
He’d been dragging his heels about coming in but was one of the last people out of the building,’ says Michelle, still thrilled at the reaction. ‘I’ve got a six-year-old and I know what they expect. So when I organised Open House, I created things for children to do. We made it fun and that attracted families through the door. We went from 3,000 visitors the previous year to 9,000 over the weekend and were the second most popular attraction in London.’
The incident illustrates the enthusiasm and enterprise that Michelle has brought to the role since she joined UGLE, as she strives to change negative perceptions of Freemasonry, spread positive stories and improve communication among members.
Michelle’s background had been in the insurance and financial industries, but when she saw an advertisement for the job at UGLE, she was intrigued, knowing little about Freemasonry. After doing some research, she realised that UGLE Chief Executive Dr David Staples was starting to fight back against Freemasonry’s negative image but she felt it should go further still.
'I could see an opportunity to move into positive proactive messaging,’ she says. ‘I noticed there was little coverage in the press. Lots of people were talking about Freemasonry but not about what Freemasons were saying themselves. There was no move to change perceptions and build relationships with journalists.
‘The scale of the problem was scary. It would be like turning an oil tanker. But I have passion and I wasn’t going to take the job unless I could make a difference. I recognised there was massive potential, and that David really wanted to change things but needed a communications team that could work closely with him.’
To turn that tanker around, Michelle rebuilt her team, promoting from within and recruiting externally to broaden the department’s skillset. Responsibilities are broad, covering corporate communications, marketing, events, PR, internal and membership communications and website and social media.
Michelle realised she had several assets she could utilise, including the work of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF, the Freemasons’ charity), FMT, the Museum of Freemasonry and the relationships some of the Provinces had established with local newspapers. Working directly with the Provinces to leverage those connections proved to be a successful approach.
‘In January 2020, we had a forum for Provincial Communication Officers, getting them together so they could network and share best practice,’ she says. ‘We created a brochure and allowed the Provinces to adapt it locally. They can use local photos, local quotes and their own crest and contact details so there will be 48 Provincial versions that give the same message to the public. We are doing the same with press releases. We can also take ideas from the Provinces such as #TimeToToast, which got us trending on Twitter for the first time.’
Michelle’s plans for 2020 were disrupted by the pandemic, which made communication more important than ever. Contacting members doubled, and the First Rising email newsletter was created to correspond directly with them. This was sent every three weeks to 157,000 members and had an excellent rate of readership.
The charitable work carried out by MCF and Provincial charities during the pandemic provided a valuable source of positive news. The team got hundreds of stories about how Freemasonry was supporting those affected by COVID-19 published in local and national press. These articles were seen by more than 53 million people.
As the situation improved over the summer, Freemasons’ Hall was able to take part in Open House 2020 and was again the second most popular attraction in London, with a further 5,000 people watching virtual tours.
An organ recital at Freemasons’ Hall received almost 40,000 views on YouTube, while a projection of poppies that lit up Freemasons’ Hall to mark Remembrance Day became yet another viral hit. The team also maintained strong internal communications so UGLE staff could stay connected as they worked remotely.
‘We have had the largest number of enquiries ever of people interested in becoming Freemasons,as a result of the press we are getting about COVID-19,’ says Michelle. ‘We have achieved a lot in two years, especially given the pandemic and the fact we didn’t even have a basic structure when we started.’
There will be no slowing down in 2021, with a new external website being created. The PR blitz will continue, with UGLE following up on the positive stories created during the pandemic as Michelle builds on new relationships in the national press – ‘even The Guardian’, grins Michelle.
She is particularly pleased that a website revamp has already seen the UGLE page become the first Google result when people search for ‘female Freemasons’.
As a woman and non-Freemason, Michelle is sometimes asked how she is able to represent Freemasonry. ‘My answer is that it is sometimes better to be outside looking in,’ she says. ‘I have become extremely passionate about Freemasonry. And I am a strong advocate of the Craft. I have access to expertise as I have Freemasons in my team but sometimes it takes a person from outside to push the boundaries. I hope people can see that my enthusiasm is infectious.’
Published Mon, 15 Mar 2021 10:07:01 +0000
Freemasons’ Hall has announced its first Organ Concert of 2021, which will take place on 30 March, at 7pm
The event, being held virtually, will showcase the magnificent Willis Pipe Organ, which resides in the Grand Temple of Freemasons' Hall in London, an art deco masterpiece completed in 1933.
The concert is to be given by Carl Jackson, MVO, director of music at the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music and he has held organ scholarships at Downing College, Cambridge as well as his current base of Chapel Royal.
Before his current role at Hampton Court Palace, Mr Jackson held positions at Croydon Minster and St Peter’s, Eaton Square. He obtained a postgraduate teaching certificate at Goldsmiths’ College (University of London) before embarking upon a thirty-six-year teaching career, from which he retired in July 2018. He has appeared regularly on television with the Chapel Royal choir and features with them on CDs. He was appointed MVO in the 2012 New Year Honours list.
Dr David Staples, Chief Executive of the United Grand Lodge of England, commented: “It is an honour to welcome Carl Jackson to perform for our first Organ Concert of 2021. The various lockdowns the country has faced during the pandemic have left many people feeling isolated and lonely. The virtual concert will bring world-class music and joy into people's homes whilst also giving the audience an opportunity to take in some of the stunning architecture of our headquarters here in London.”
The concert will be held at Freemasons’ Hall, which was designed as a pentagon to suit the irregular area in which it is located. Built in the central courtyard of the splendid art deco building, the Grand Temple is rich with multi-coloured details of blue, gold and white.
While enjoying the concert online, attendees will be able to experience the splendor of the Grand Temple, including the majestic 1.25-tonne organ with its ornate pipes as well as the stunning mosaics that surround the ceiling.
The original organ was installed in 1933 by Henry Willis, the third generation of an extended family line of organ builders. It originally had three manuals and 43 stops, giving a total complement of some 2,220 pipes, and was the last big organ built by the Willis firm. After 80 years it was in need of a complete renovation, which was carried out in Durham by Harrison & Harrison in 2014 and included the cleaning, repairing and re-voicing the existing mechanisms, as well as mounting a new case of some 400 pipes on the east wall.
Book your free ticket here.
Published Tue, 09 Mar 2021 00:00:00 +0000
Quarterly magazine of the United Grand Lodge of England, featuring freemasons' news, interviews, and features. Free to view online alongside exclusive content.
Published Sat, 15 May 2021 05:54:48 +0100
Founding Member, 94 year’s old, Norman Harvey, presented the Lodge’s donation to Claire Sullivan, CEO of NEWCIS (North East Wales Carers Information Service)
Norman said: 'NEWCIS is a fantastic local charity. With its headquarters here in Mold they provide a range of support services to unpaid carers in the counties of Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham. Helping school aged children, who have to balance their own education with family needs, through to elderly full-time carers looking after loved ones. Mold Lodge was founded in 1985, meeting at The Masonic Hall in Earle Road. Over the years, we have made donations to NEWCIS on more than one occasion but this is our largest ever single donation.'
'I would like to thank Mold Freemasons for their generosity, particularly during these challenging times. The donation will go towards young carers activities during Carers Week which will take place this summer,' said Claire Sullivan. 'It was great to meet Norman and his fellow Members, we are grateful for their long-standing support.'
Phil James, Chairman of the North Wales Freemasons’ Charity, paid tribute to Norman, 'Freemasons use four important guiding principles to help define their path through life: integrity, friendship, respect and charity. Congratulations to Norman and Mold Lodge for supporting their local community.'
Published Tue, 04 May 2021 17:41:00 +0100
Parents of children undergoing heart surgery in a Leeds hospital will be able to sleep on site in comfort, thanks to a significant donation from the region’s Freemasons
The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund has been given £29,148 to refurbish and furnish seven family accommodation rooms within Leeds Congenital Heart Unit.
Around 17,000 babies, children and adults with congenital heart disease are treated as outpatients by the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit (LCHU) every year. Many are admitted to the hospital for surgery and family accommodation is available that keeps parents and siblings near to patients during what is a traumatic time for all.
The grant, from the Freemasons’ Province of Yorkshire West Riding’s Provincial Grand Master’s Fund, will see all the rooms brought to a warm and welcoming standard, with the refurbishment extending to a full redecoration, new carpets, lighting and blinds along with new beds, seating and wash sinks. The rooms provide a secure space for parents, and meet not only their physical needs, but take into consideration their emotional well-being and mental health needs.
The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund was one of five ‘major grants’ totalling £111,000 given to good causes across its geographical region, which stretches from Sheffield in the South to Ripon in the North, and Goole in the East to Waddington in the West.
Whilst major grants from this fund, ranging from £5,000 upwards are awarded annually, its minor grants, which have a ceiling of £5,000, are awarded quarterly.
The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund was nominated for the grant by Chevin Lodge, in Otley, after member Carl Woodier’s granddaughter, Bella, was born last July with holes in her heart. She spent much of Christmas in the unit, located in Leeds General Infirmary, after undergoing open heart surgery, and faces more operations in the future.
Carl said: 'Having first-hand experience of Leeds Congenital Heart Unit, and the way the fantastic team there has looked after Bella and her parents, I wanted to do something in return.
'After learning they were raising funds to upgrade the on-site family accommodation, I asked if Chevin Lodge would apply for a major grant from the Provincial Grand Master’s fund.
'To say I’m delighted is an understatement. Charity is at the heart of Freemasonry, and this grant will enable countless families of children needing heart surgery stay on site, and in comfort.'
Sharon Milner, Chief Executive of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund said that the charitable generosity of Freemasons was very much appreciated, and that the grant had made an immediate impact and the results can already be seen in the upgraded accommodation.
David S Pratt, Provincial Grand Master and Head of Freemasonry of the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, said: 'The Freemasons of Yorkshire West Riding are delighted to have the opportunity to support the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and the fantastic work they do to enhance the quality of care and support provided to children undergoing surgery and their families.
'We hope the funds will enable the refurbishment of the parents’ accommodation at the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit to be completed and make the families who need to stay there as comfortable as possible.'
Further information about the Freemasons Province of Yorkshire West Riding can be found at: http://www.wrprovince.org.uk/
Published Tue, 04 May 2021 12:05:26 +0100
High View Gardens, the Hospiscare Centre in Exmouth, has been chosen to receive a grant of £1,000 from the Devonshire Freemasons
The grant comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), the Freemasons’ charity and will be used for the care of the terminally ill.
This is just one of 203 grants to hospices around the country from Freemasons. In total £750,000 will be donated to hospices all over England and Wales this year. This includes £300,000 which will be distributed to each hospice that receives less than 60 per cent funding from the NHS. A further £450,000 will be provided to individual hospices across England and Wales via Hospice UK, the national charity for hospice care. MCF is partnering with Hospice UK to widen access and address barriers to local hospice services to ensure they are accessible to everyone.
Contributions from Freemasons to hospices have exceeded £14 million in England and Wales since 1984. The Freemasons have been long term supporters of Hospiscare who also receive individual donations made by many of the 131 Lodges that meet throughout the county.
Carey Mackenzie, Hospiscare’s Grants and Appeals Officer said: ‘We want to thank the Freemasons for their wonderful donation. This will go a long way in supporting our specialist end of life care for patients and their families. We are reliant on 82% of our funding coming from the community and organisations such as the Masonic Charitable Foundation, and could not deliver our care without this support.’
Colin Gale from the Devonshire Freemasons said: ‘I’m very pleased we’ve been able to assist Hospiscare. They do an outstanding job helping people with terminal or life limiting conditions, as well as supporting their families through very difficult times.
‘For the Freemasons to be able to help in this way is very satisfying but when we come and meet the nurses and staff who dedicate their lives to helping people who find themselves in need of their help, it is also very humbling.’
Published Tue, 04 May 2021 09:48:19 +0100
The Halstead Day Centre has thanked Joshua Nunn Lodge, and Freemasons in general, for their continued support and generosity over the past few challenging months as it continues to drive on with its effort to provide independent living for people over 60 who are isolated
Joshua Nunn Lodge 2154 has donated £1500 to The Halstead Day Centre so far this year, including a £500 match funding from the Province of Essex. Braham Djidjelli and Jim Gage made the most recent donation on behalf of the members on 28th April, which was gratefully received by Centre Manager Veronica Harman.
Many of the beneficiaries who receive assistance from the centre are completely unaware of what is happening in the outside world and are therefore finding it a very confusing and lonely time.
The centre offers a friendly environment for people to socialise and be included in a range of low intensity services that reduce isolation and encourage activities that promote physical, mental and emotional well-being while maintaining a degree of independence in their own home for longer. Their services include transport, daily movement to music classes, shopping, bathing, board & card games, debates, speakers, bingo, craft and a two course lunch and beverages during the day.
During her thanks to Joshua Nunn, Veronica said: 'This is really, really kind of the Freemasons. The centre has not received any special financial support from the government during the pandemic and is working with a skeleton staff due to restrictions. Of our team of 8 staff and 30 volunteers, only 4 are allowed on site at any one time. This really helps and reminds us there are good local people out there.'
Published Mon, 03 May 2021 10:08:39 +0100
The perception of Freemasonry is rapidly moving towards a greater awareness of charitable giving and community service
Nowhere more so than in Essex where the 9,000 or so Freemasons of its 300 Lodges have built up a track-record in being kind and helping others. This is all well and good, but there are two sides to the parable of the Good Samaritan and it’s only when we ourselves get beaten up by life and others pass us by that we realise we need a helping hand.
Not a Freemason himself, life for Howard Bradley has been damaged beyond all recognition. In 1832 his great, great grandfather founded the world’s longest-serving textile-care family business which served The Royal Household from King George III to the cleaning and restoring of wedding dresses in the Royal collection. Customers included Bro Sir Winston and Lady Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. Howard has cared for clothing for Princess Anne, Prince Charles, George Michael, Lewis Hamilton, Rubens Barichello, Jackie Stewart, Ian Poulter and many others. He feels privileged to have painstakingly restored the clothing of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.
Inspired by his father Eric, a wartime RAF pilot in North Africa and Italy, and grandfather Bernard, born 1881, a Freemason who took part in an initiative by the Lodge of Tranquillity, over a century ago, to help a number of Metropolitan Police Officers improve their reading and writing skills, Howard became a Special Constable and a motorcycle instructor. In 1988, aged 27, through no fault of his own, a tragic road traffic accident left him in ICU for a month and hospitalised for over two months more before he returned to the family business on crutches, eventually taking over when his father passed away in 2004.
Howard lost everything in 2018 when, becoming a victim of sharp commercial practice, the business was sold by Administrators and he received nothing. Over the last four years his mental and physical health deteriorated and he now suffers from sarcoidosis lung disease, congestive heart failure, severe osteoarthritis, DVT, broken knee cartilages and shortage of breath, making it excruciatingly painful to walk with sticks. This has not stopped Howard from applying for over 400 jobs, but without any success.
Too embarrassed to ask for help, having always given and not taken, Howard felt confined in a bleak situation, until a passing good Samaritan gave a helping hand to set up a GoFundMe page to raise £3,600 for a mobility scooter, as Howard does not have any money to buy one. Being a Freemason, this good Samaritan donated, as did his Lodge, and so far, £1,100 has been raised. Never thinking he would ever be in this situation; a very grateful Howard Bradley has written a thank-you to all Essex Freemasons, the Brethren of Earlham Lodge and Russell Seagal for their kind donations and for understanding what it is like being ‘the Other Side of the Good Samaritan’.
Published Fri, 30 Apr 2021 12:39:11 +0100
To honour HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex has joined the United Grand Lodge of England's (UGLE) campaign and is inviting its 200,000 members to raise funds for charities the Prince dedicated his life to
Prince Philip had been married for 73 years and was a Freemason, having been introduced to Freemasonry in 1952 at the age of 31 by his father-in-law King George VI.
Throughout his 99 years, he was associated with 992 charities, either as president, patron or as an honorary member.
The Prince supported charitable organisations in the fields of scientific and technological research and development, the encouragement of sport, the welfare of young people, conservation and the environment.
Paul Reeves, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master in-charge of Essex Freemasons, said: 'Although HRH Prince Philip retired officially from royal duties in May 2020, after 22,219 solo engagements, his lifetime of duty and service is an inspiration to everyone who is a Freemason.
'He has been an example to us all for over 70 years, during which time many people of all ages throughout Essex have benefitted either directly or indirectly from The Duke of Edinburgh’s initiatives and charitable patronage.'
Dr David Staples, chief executive of UGLE, said: 'Prince Philip was well known for his charity work, having been involved with numerous organisations. He was devoted to philanthropy and therefore the best way to celebrate his life is by supporting the charities that the Prince himself supported.
'For us, this was an easy decision as Freemasonry’s core values are charity, integrity, respect and friendship. The Freemasons have been quietly getting on with making society and the lives of those less fortunate better for more than three centuries.'
Freemasons worked 18.5 million hours this year as volunteers in a range of different areas, including driving vulnerable people to hospital, preparing meals, taking care of people at risk, organising care packages, and producing scrubs, personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitiser.
They also donated more than £1m last year to the Covid-19 effort, with the funds being used to help communities in various critical areas, including foodbanks, support for unpaid carers, PPE, supplies for hospitals and hospices, support for women’s refuges, and funds for NHS workers, ambulances and equipment.
As a Freemason, the Duke of Edinburgh was initiated into Navy Lodge, No 2612, on December 5, 1952. On March 6, 1953, HRH Prince Philip progressed to the Second Degree of Freemasonry, before advancing to the Third Degree on May 4, 1953. UGLE issued his Grand Lodge Certificate on May 7 that same year and he remained a member up until his death.
Freemasons can also count other members of the Royal Family among their number, including HRH Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, who is the longest-serving Grand Master of the UGLE.
Published Fri, 30 Apr 2021 12:35:14 +0100
Mark Jones and Graham Cornell made a delivery of bottled water, snacks, soft drinks, treats, toiletries and items of clothing to the CHESS centre in Chelmsford. These items were donated by the brethren of The Wheel of Fellowship Lodge 9016 in Maldon, Essex
Barbara Buxton the manageress of the CHESS centre in Chelmsford was waiting outside to greet Mark Jones and Graham Cornell who presented Barbara with the donations. She thanked members and explained that the outreach service covers Brentwood, Chelmsford, Braintree, Maldon and Rochford. The donated gifts are distributed by volunteers and are much appreciated by the homeless people.
CHESS has several facets, but the overall goal is to help people move on in a positive way with their life. CHESS is about change, about supporting someone to identity and resolve issues that have caused homelessness. Usually this involves not only the immediate issue that led to homelessness but factors prior that have caused issues for the person. They therefore take a holistic approach when working with someone and look at all areas of like not just housing.
They will go and see someone who has been referred through Streetlink to see what help and support they need. It might be initially practical issues like food/water/sleeping bag/tent/local services that are available but also identifying what support is needed. This maybe accessing emergency accommodation, helping access longer term accommodation and support services. The accommodation is initially for 3 nights to get the person off the street and then renewed for up to a month whilst seeking more suitable accommodation whilst they work with people intensively. This may be within the CHESS shelter or outside us if appropriate. They have a 9-bedroom initial property and a 3 bed for those entering CHESS through the Outreach team both of which have been opened during the pandemic.
They have a shelter (the original one opened in 1996) which was only at night but since we reopened in November 2020 (they were shut down at the end of March as a result of the pandemic) they have opened on a 24/7 basis with staff on site providing help and support to residents plus acting as an on-call facility to their move on houses. The shelter provides an initial stay of 28 days whilst they get to know someone and identify the issues that need to be addressed. They did have 9 residents but as a result of the pandemic they have had to reduce this to 4 as they were only allowed to reopen with a bathroom per person and we only have 4. We are currently looking at ways to get the numbers back up. They have however got 7 other move on houses accomodating up to 34 people where residents move onto from the Shelter/Outreach whilst they are addressing their issues and pending more permanent accomodation. Two of the 7 houses (8 additional beds) have been added since the pandemic started to help offset the reduction in beds at the shelter and expand capacity. They usually have volunteers helping at the shelter but this has been suspended in the current circumstances.
This is a local charity that does so much good work in the local community that the members of the lodge wanted to do something in support of all their hard work.
Published Fri, 30 Apr 2021 12:32:05 +0100
When the first lockdown began it was clear that a support network was required for the members of the two Craft Lodges, Mark Lodge and Chapter that meet in Ross on Wye Masonic Hall
Two members, Andrew Moore and Billy Russell set up an overall package of measures including buddy groups that spanned across the Lodges and Chapter, a weekly zoom call and a weekly newsletter. The weekly zoom calls are still going strong a year on and interestingly they have attracted many of the older members.
Following some one-to-one telephone support from Billy, members became comfortable in setting up and using zoom. Many Brethren have gone on to use their new skills to keep in contact with their families and friends and have spawned other zoom initiatives. The first newsletter edited by Andrew was published on 6th April 2020 and has been sent out weekly ever since. This provided useful community news including local shops with online delivery services and other useful information.
The Ross on Wye Masonic community got behind the initiative by contributing articles and regular features where Brethren shared their creative hobbies and pastimes, enabling us to learn a lot about each other and our hidden talents. Articles have included a number of members who enjoy bell ringing, wood turning, painting and model making as well as aikido experts and hockey players. Through the articles members have also had the opportunity to learn some of the history of the local area with long forgotten racecourses, long closed railway lines and the history of some of Lodge buildings. Gardens have featured heavily which spawned the idea for a Provincial gardening competition. The success of the Newsletter attracted not only a regular local following, but also the attention of the Province.
In November 2020 the Newsletter moved to a Provincial level taking in a wider audience across Herefordshire. It is now distributed across the Province via email and published on the Provincial website. A network of Communications Leads has been established to feed in regular articles. The newsletter has kept us entertained, not only in reading and taking part in the weekly puzzles, but also for members to contribute. Some have taken the time to pen a regular column with interesting and amusing tales of their lives. In fact, during lockdown, it is fair to say that we have learned more about each other than they possibly would have done had we been meeting regularly. The online skills learned have enabled members to keep in touch with their own families and friends. As a direct result of lockdown, we have also reconnected with Lodge members who have moved away and are unable to attend face to face meetings but are regular attendees to our zoom calls.
It has even been proposed to keep the zoom calls after we are back meeting face to face and we hope the newsletter will continue to grow from strength to strength.
Published Thu, 22 Apr 2021 10:43:12 +0100
Northumberland Freemasons have pledged their support to the NHS by sponsoring a special variety show to say thank you to NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers
Freemasons throughout England and Wales are leading the world's ‘first' celebration of NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers Day on 5 July 2021 and in the North East, Northumberland Freemasons are getting behind a variety show at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House which will close the day’s celebrations.
The unique and special day is dedicated to the NHS, Social Care and those that work on the frontline - workers who have saved so many lives during the pandemic and it’s also to remember those workers who lost their lives helping others.
X Factor winner, musical theatre star and number one artist, Joe McElderry has announced that he will appear at the special live streamed show where he will perform a number of songs from his repertoire to say thank you to the NHS workers. He is looking forward to the event and the chance to say thank you to everyone who helped in the fight against COVID.
'I’ve got family members who are nurses and before I became a singer I was fascinated by medicine and wanted to be a paramedic. The NHS is free at the point of access and we are all very lucky to have that. Now more than ever we realise what a savour it is and that’s one of the reasons why I want to say thank you to every front-line worker for their hard work.
'The NHS heroes deserve some light entertainment as it’s been incredibly hard for them and I’m really excited to be able to bring a bit of fun and happiness to everyone,' said Joe.
Joe will be joined by several other soon to be announced well-known local and national stars across the live programme and through pre-recorded messages of support.
The event will be live streamed free of charge with any donations going to NHS charities.
As well as an online audience, it is hoped that the theatre will be filled with representatives from the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, Northumbria Healthcare NHS, North East Ambulance Service, Great North Air Ambulance Service and Northumbria Blood Bikes. Other key workers and their families will also be invited as a small token of appreciation for their hard work and dedication.
Ian Craigs, the head of Northumberland Freemasons, which covers Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle, was delighted to support the event.
'The United Grand Lodge of England and ourselves here in Northumberland are pleased to be able to support this event as it gives us all a chance to say “thank you’ to everyone in the NHS and social care for looking after us in the most difficult of times.
'The show is a great way for people to enjoy themselves and at the same time raise much-needed funds for NHS related charities. We have all been through so much and this performance may be just what the doctor ordered.'
Published Wed, 21 Apr 2021 13:23:19 +0100
Stuart Mills of Cosmopolitan Lodge in Warwickshire has been a paraplegic full time wheelchair user since a road accident in July 2011. Following the accident, Stuart spent thirteen months in the Midland Spinal Injuries Centre in Oswestry, and a further year in rehab at home before returning to working life, and a sense of normality
His injuries, on top of a broken back, shoulder blades, sternum, and all his ribs, included damage to his lungs, which has left him with a reduced capacity of about 70%.
Stuart became a Freemason in 2014 and was immediately welcomed into a brotherhood that he holds very dear. As you would expect, the brethren have been very supportive.
July 2021 marks the ten-year anniversary of the accident, and Stuart has found the inspiration to take on a 5km wheelchair challenge. This is no small feat after ten years doing no exercise at all, with reduced lung capacity and having recently entered his sixth decade.
Stuart’s inspiration comes from Mark Ormrod, a Royal Marine Commando who, in 2007, stood on an IED in Afghanistan, losing both legs above the knee, and one arm above the elbow.
Mark has faced many challenges since this incident, and is now a successful author, motivational speaker, multiple Invictus Games gold medal winner, tireless campaigner for REORG his charity, and a Freemason, recently appearing in Freemasonry Today.
REORG is a charity that aids the mental health of military and blue light personnel.
Stuart originally intended to raise £500 for REORG, but in three weeks the total passed £5,000, so Stuart revised his goal is now going for £10,000.
You can support Stuart and follow his progress via his Just Giving page at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stuart-mills20
Published Mon, 19 Apr 2021 21:56:41 +0100
Quarterly magazine of the United Grand Lodge of England, featuring freemasons' news, interviews, and features. Free to view online alongside exclusive content.
Published Sat, 15 May 2021 05:54:49 +0100
Residents at RMBI Care Co. Homes were delighted to be able to meet their loved ones in person for the first time since the start of the pandemic. The care homes have opened their doors to family visits, following new guidance from the government, which allows each Home resident to receive visits from one family member or loved one
One of the first residents to be reunited with a family member in person is Edna Staines from Lord Harris Court, in Berkshire. She said:
'It means so much to me to see my daughter in person once again and have her sit next to me. Thankfully, we’ve been able to see each other in the Home’s visitor pod during the pandemic, which has been great, but it means the world to me to be able to hold her hand again.'
Edna’s daughter, Helen, said:
'I have missed mum so much; it’s been an emotional experience being next to her in the same room and to hold her hand today. Staff at the Home have done a wonderful job in supporting mum to stay happy and healthy but it is such a special feeling to be with her again today finally.'
To ensure the health and safety of residents and staff at the Homes, each visitor must undertake a lateral flow test before entering the care home and receive a negative result for Covid-19, before meeting their loved one in person. They must also wear suitable personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes gloves, apron and a mask.
The care homes closed their doors to all but essential visitors before the first national lockdown last year to protect its residents and staff. Families have still been able to visit using the Homes’ Covid-secure visitor pods, which opened last summer.
Staff have worked tirelessly to ensure residents have had regular contact with their families by phone or video calls. However, this is the first time residents have been able to meet in the same room as their loved one without a physical partition.
Mark Lloyd, Managing Director at RMBI Care Co., said:
'We have been waiting for this moment for a long time and are overjoyed to be able to reunite our residents safely with their loved ones in person. Throughout the pandemic, our staff have gone above and beyond to support our residents to stay connected with their loved ones, which is vital for their wellbeing. We are so pleased to be moving in the right direction and are looking forward to opening our Home up to more visitors and larger gatherings when it is safe to do so.'
Published Tue, 16 Mar 2021 14:59:03 +0000
The charity Lifelites, like so many charities across the UK, has seen a big impact to fundraising because of the cancellation of fundraising events due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The charity donates assistive technology for all life-limited and disabled children using children’s hospice services across the British Isles
In order to adapt to the current circumstances of isolation and social-distancing, the charity has launched an innovative fundraising challenge – the Lifelites No Tech Day Challenge.
Help life-limited and disabled children receive life-changing technology by taking part in the Lifelites No Tech Day Challenge on Sunday, 28 March 2021 on Sunday, 28 March 2021. Ask your friends and family to sponsor you and help raise funds so that life-limited and disabled children using hospice services can have access to life-changing technology. Your digital detox day of disconnecting from tech can help Lifelites raise the funds to help these children to connect with their loved ones through assistive technology.
Lifelites is particularly aware that the COVID-19 pandemic has left many people feeling overwhelmed by the sudden change of routine and isolation. Everyone is now getting a living insight into what it is like to be a life-limited and disabled child; unable to leave the house independently, or speak to people and socialise naturally, or even carry out all sorts of everyday activities that we usually take for granted. Of course, these are all the challenges that Lifelites is seeking to help these children overcome through the provision of our special technologies.
Simone Enefer-Doy, CEO of Lifelites, said, 'Throughout the pandemic, we have relied on technology now more than ever before to communicate with our loved ones, entertain ourselves, and stay connected with the world. Life-limited and disabled children have been more isolated due to the virus. Lifelites-donated technology enables these children to escape the confines of their conditions, communicate with their parents, play, and learn about the world around them.
'We decided that with the Lifelites No Tech Day Challenge on Sunday 28 March, everyone would get a taste of the isolation experienced by life-limited and disabled children: not being able to communicate, or entertain ourselves the way we used to. While we are fortunate enough to be able to go for walks, chat with our household, or take up hobbies, these children cannot play in the garden, read a book or paint like other children can. Life-limited and disabled children very often depend on assistive technology that Lifelites donates, to be able to communicate and play with their families.'
Join the sponsored challenge by visiting www.justgiving.com/team/LifelitesNoTechDay.
Lifelites donates and maintains assistive and inclusive technology for around 10,000 life-limited and disabled children using every children’s hospice service across the British Isles. This technology gives these children the opportunity to play, be creative, communicate and control something for themselves, for as long as it is possible.
Published Fri, 19 Feb 2021 13:32:01 +0000
John Donoghue of the Brevity Lodge in Hampshire and Isle of Wight is a Lifelites gold benefactor. Here is John’s moving story about why he decided to become a benefactor, and make a regular monthly gift to Lifelites
'When my oldest daughter was a child, she suffered with several health conditions and was on kidney dialysis. When she was 22 years old, it was discovered that her only chance of survival was to have a kidney transplant, and that the most likely match would be one of her siblings. Even though her brother and sister were only 15 and 17 years old at the time, we went ahead and had them tested to see if they would be a match. Sadly, both came back negative. It was then that I asked the doctor if I and my wife could be tested, and we were told that it was highly unlikely that we would match. We went ahead and had ourselves tested anyway, as this was the only chance our daughter had at survival; if neither of us matched, she would be given just six weeks to live.
'I will never forget the day that my wife and I received our test results back. Heartbreakingly, we heard first that my wife was a 0% match, so there was no way she could donate. Then the doctor told us, in total surprise himself, that against all of the odds, I was a complete match and could donate a kidney to save my daughter’s life. It was after spending time in the hospital and meeting families like mine, who were going through difficulties with their children’s health that I decided I had to stand up and do something important to help.
'I decided to become a Lifelites benefactor after Lifelites CEO Simone came and gave a talk at my Lodge. Having had first-hand experience of the unimaginable lives that some of these children lead, I felt it was my duty to help. In Freemasonry, we have four values; integrity, friendship, respect and charity. In my opinion, the value of charity embraces all of the finest things a person can be. For the children using hospice services, communication is so often their only hope and that’s what Lifelites gives them, through donating their amazing technology packages. It’s just priceless to see the smile of a child who can communicate with their family for the first time.
'Giving £8 a month to become a Lifelites gold benefactor equates to just 26p a day, and would mean the world to some of the most vulnerable children in our society. As Lifelites was started as a Freemasons project, I believe it is our duty to ensure that this wonderful charity is fully supported by Freemasons all over the country. I would like to see each one of our 200,000 brothers across the British Isles pledge to change the lives of life-limited and disabled children, by signing up to become a Lifelites benefactor.'
Lifelites is the only charity that donates and maintains assistive technology for the 10,000 life-limited and disabled children using every children’s hospice service across the British Isles. The technology gives these children the opportunity to play with their brothers and sisters, be creative, communicate with their parents and control something for themselves, for as long as it is possible.
Since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, we can all better understand how being isolated and disconnected from friends and family can make us feel. The pandemic means that the vulnerable children using hospice services are more isolated than ever, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. The technology that your support will help us to provide will enable them to learn, play, communicate and, most importantly, to express how they feel during this difficult and unsettling time.
If you would like to learn more about Lifelites or become a Lifelites bronze, silver, or gold benefactor, please visit lifelites.org/get-involved/become-a-lifelites-benefactor/ or contact Sam Davies at email@example.com.
Notes to Editor
Lifelites empowers 10,000 children and young people in hospices with life-limiting, life-threatening illnesses and disabling conditions by providing them with opportunities to benefit from the power of assistive and inclusive technologies to learn, to be creative, to communicate and to take control. There is a Lifelites project in every children’s hospice service across the British Isles. The hospices do not pay a penny towards their Lifelites project and all of Lifelites’ work is funded by donations: the equipment, ongoing technical support and training at each hospice costs around £50,000 over four years.
Charity Number: 1165791
Published Thu, 29 Oct 2020 17:08:34 +0000
Survivors of abuse across the county will continue to receive the help they need, thanks to a grant of £3,270 from Devonshire Freemasons to the” SAFE” charity (Stop Abuse For Everyone)
Incidents of domestic abuse have risen considerably since the lockdown began, leading to SAFE’s finances coming under real strain. SAFE works in the community, in schools, with social services and from their SAFE hub in Exeter employing 12 staff and up to 40 volunteers to help survivors of abuse regain control of their lives.
Abuse can affect any or all the members of a household and helping to eradicate this traumatising, controlling behaviour is at the heart of what they do, centring on goals, strengths and needs of those effected and help them regain control of their lives.
SAFE are passionate about ending abuse both mental and physical and have been working towards this goal for over 40 years and give support to families and individuals throughout Devon. The charity hold courses and also give support on a one to one basis, whatever is needed to end the cycle of abuse for survivors and their families which can be so isolating and lonely for those effected.
The grant from Devonshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons' Charity, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
In response to the extraordinary need created by the coronavirus pandemic, Freemasonry is providing special funding of £2.75 million for projects helping those who are particularly affected by the virus. This extra money comes on top of the estimated £45 million given to charity every year by Freemasons.
Dr. Reuben Ayres, from Devonshire Freemasons, said: 'I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support the wonderful work of SAFE in our community. During the lockdown the problem of domestic abuse has become even worse, with survivors often trapped inside with their abuser. SAFE has never been more important.'
Lucy Skye of SAFE, replied by saying: 'We’re very grateful to the Devonshire Freemason for this generous donation. SAFE is a grassroots local charity and this money will help us to continue to deliver vital recovery services to children and their parents in all parts of Devon. It’s only by working together that we’ll succeed in achieving our aim of ending domestic abuse.'
Published Tue, 21 Jul 2020 11:24:13 +0100
The 2019/20 seasonal appeal from the music star Rick Wakeman on behalf of the charity Lifelites has raised over £42,000 for life-limited and disabled children using hospice services
The Covid-19 pandemic has left many people feeling overwhelmed by the sudden change of routine and isolation. Everyone is now getting a living insight into what it is like to be a life-limited and disabled child; unable to leave the house independently, or speak to people and socialise naturally, or even carry out all sorts of everyday activities that we usually take for granted – and these are all the challenges that Lifelites is seeking to help these children overcome through the provision of their special technologies.
Lifelites donates and maintains assistive and inclusive technology for the 10,000 life-limited and disabled children using every children’s hospice service across the British Isles. This technology gives these children the opportunity to play, be creative, communicate and control something for themselves, for as long as it is possible.
The appeal, organised by London Freemasons, was sent to Freemason Lodges all over London late last year, and the charity was staggered by the response it received, raising £42,785. This is the fifth year of this festive appeal to London Freemasons for Lifelites, and the total now stands at a staggering £178,000 raised for Lifelites’ vital work.
Lifelites Chief Executive, Simone Enefer-Doy, said: 'It has been astonishing how enthusiastic Freemasons across London are with their support for Lifelites. We’d like to thank everyone for their incredible generosity and give special thanks to Rick Wakeman for his commitment to supporting our work. The funds raised will help life-limited and disabled children across London to escape the confines of their conditions and do things they never thought possible. In such difficult times like these, it is brought home to us how every moment is precious for these children and their families and these funds will ensure they can make every second count.'
Rick Wakeman said: 'I am delighted to be a patron of this remarkable charity. It’s so wonderful to see children facing life-threatening challenges use technology in ways that many of us take for granted. As we all are isolated now, we understand the need for technology to communicate and socialise so much more. Lifelites gives them the opportunity to communicate and play in ways they aren’t able to otherwise – it’s simply magic.'
Would you like to find out more? If you have speaking opportunities at future Lodge meetings or events later in the year, the team can come and showcase their magical technology and speak about the impact it has on life-limited and disabled children using hospice services.
Alternatively, Lifelites are holding online video calls to introduce their technology and demonstrate the impact it has on life-limited and disabled children at every children’s hospice service across the British Isles. If this is something you’re interested in, please get in touch with Samuel Davies by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Published Wed, 03 Jun 2020 14:18:58 +0100
A £500 donation from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), The Freemasons’ Charity, is helping a Cleethorpes-based organisation to beat the lockdown misery for elderly and vulnerable people no longer able to meet
Friendship at Home offers a volunteer befriending service to older people in North East Lincolnshire who are lonely and isolated – but has had to modify the way it works as a result of the ongoing lockdown faced by its clients.
The value of the service is summed up by Sally, a 90-year-old user of the Friendship at Home service. She's really missing the Tuesday Club and lunch club session she regularly attended. In a tearful phone call she said: 'People don’t realise it’s not just the staying in; it’s the fact that I have no-one to call and nothing to do or look forward to. The days seem endless.
'That club was my weekly lifeline and the activities gave me something to look forward to. The phone calls I receive from the volunteers mean so much, as they ask not only about whether I have bread and milk but about my personal hobbies and interests and if I’d like anything picking up. I was really having a down day, and out of the blue there was a knock at the door. I opened it and there on the step was a beautifully wrapped parcel with a big puzzle, ‘Life Story’ Journal and bag of wool to knit for the Special Care Baby Unit. It was a great surprise which will keep me busy for a long time, and I’m doing something useful for those little babies. Thank you my friends at Friendship at Home; it truly is the right name for you.'
Doreen said: 'How kind to think that people are sending me this lovely present. I am 94 and I am on my own as all my family and friends have passed away. It is really kind of you to deliver something to keep my brain going as well as the shopping you have done for me.' Her thoughts were echoed by Iris, who said: 'Thank you so much for thinking of me. I will enjoy doing the word search and the crafts will keep me out of trouble. It just means a lot to know that I haven’t been forgotten.'
Friendship at Home Operational Manager Lyse Stephenson said: 'The £500 grant will make such a difference to our members as it enables them to take part in activities that they would usually be able to enjoy at our clubs and with their friends. By taking part in these activities it not only passes many solitary minutes, but communicates they have not been forgotten in these lonely times. We are seeing such a positive bearing on their mental health; thank you, Freemasons and the MCF.'
The Friendship at Home website says: 'It is recognised that loneliness can lead to depression and in turn, lack of confidence, low self-esteem and the withdrawal from social groups and activities.
'Our volunteer befrienders are there to offer company and friendship to those who are, primarily, living on their own. We at Friendship at Home work on a one-to-one basis, which means strong bonds are formed between the member and their befriender. The service ensures, through careful matching with our volunteers, that they have something in common – which is a foundation on which to build.
'The benefits of having someone to sit and talk to, share a trip to the garden centre, read a book or play a game of cards, can really make a difference to an older person’s wellbeing. We offer befriending either in the member’s own home, or in a residential home setting. It is apparent that although people are placed in residential care, some may still feel loneliness and isolation. We now have our volunteer befrienders who spend one-to-one time with those who need it in several care homes with in North East Lincolnshire.'
Names have been changed to protect the identity of those interviewed.
Published Mon, 18 May 2020 10:45:00 +0100
People who have lost everything in the catastrophic Australian bushfires will be among those to benefit from a grant of AUS $150,000 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation to the Disaster Relief Funds set up by Australian Freemasons
The grant from the English and Welsh Freemasons’ charity will see $50,000 given to the Australian Freemasons’ Disaster Relief Funds in each of the three states most affected by the blaze, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
The unprecedented fires have seen 27 deaths, including a number of firefighters. 2,136 homes have been destroyed in New South Wales alone, more than 1,200 of which have burned down since New Year’s Eve. Thousands of Australians are living in more than a dozen large evacuation centres, having been forced to flee the blaze.
Meanwhile hundreds of homes and businesses have been lost in Victoria and South Australia. Many Australians have lost everything and the impact on the livelihoods of ordinary people is vast. The economy will take many years to fully recover.
An estimated 18 million acres of land have been burned – an area almost as large as Ireland. There has been an enormous impact on the environment, with up to a billion animals being killed. The death toll among koala bears alone has led to calls for the animals to be placed on the endangered species list.
The Masonic Charitable Foundation is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
David Innes, Chief Executive of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, said: 'These terrible fires are an ongoing disaster for thousands of Australians. I’m very pleased that English and Welsh Freemasons are working together with Freemasons in Australia to raise funds to help the victims of the blazes, many of whom have lost everything.'
Published Tue, 14 Jan 2020 14:07:28 +0000
A grant of £4,000 to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance from Berkshire Freemasons has been added to the total masonic support of £2.4 million given to air ambulances across the country since 2007
Apart from this grant, which comes from the Masonic Charitable Foundation, The Berkshire Masonic Charity has contributed over £4,500 to help patients with breathing difficulties. These donations and many others bring the total contribution to Thames Valley Air Ambulance by Freemasons over the last few years to £132,000.
Thames Valley Air Ambulance operates across Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire bringing advanced medical care to the most critically ill and injured patients. Between 1st October 2018 and 30th September 2019, the helicopter and Critical Care Response Vehicles responded to 2670 incidents in the region; 1013 of these were in Berkshire. They delivered advanced medical care to 1,667 patients.
Neil Harman, Director of Fundraising at Thames Valley Air Ambulance, said: 'We are very grateful to Berkshire Freemasons for their continuing generosity. Without support like this our teams of doctors, paramedics and pilots would not be able to continue delivering our life-saving work.'
Anthony Howlett-Bolton, Leader of Berkshire Freemasons, said: 'We are proud to be able to support the Thames Valley Air Ambulance. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the crew, many lives of local people are saved every year.'
Published Tue, 26 Nov 2019 19:05:17 +0000
Whilst on a visit to the House of Lords Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master for Devonshire Freemasons, was inspired by a presentation given by Steve Morton, Director of Development for the Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education
Outlining the Academy’s aims and development plans for the future academy, which is to be relocated to a new site in Exmouth, - Ian was inspired so much so that he came back to Devonshire with the desire to help those who are affected by this very difficult sensory disability. To this end, he approached the Devonshire Freemasons Benevolent Fund Committee for help, and they immediately responded by giving him a cheque for £5,000.
Following their visit to meet Steve Morton in October 2018 there has been an approach to the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) who have agreed further funding of £28,380 to equip a Multi-Sensory Immersive Space within the new centre in Exmouth, bringing the total donated to £33,380.
Dr Reuben Ayres, Devonshire Provincial Grand Charity Steward, accompanied by Clive Eden, visited the Deaf Academy. Here they met up again with Steve Morton and Appeals Manager Sarah Shaw and presented them with a certificate denoting the £28,380 which is going to support the wonderful work undertaken by the Academy.
Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education has been located in Exeter for over 190 years and the current location is a property purchased many years ago which is no longer fit for the needs of the deaf students. The property and the land has now been sold and the proceeds will partially fund the new academy which is being been built with all the latest facilities available to the architects, to give the students what they really require.
All the students have additional needs, including multi-sensory disabilities, autism, epilepsy, and physical disabilities which is why, when designing the new building so much thought has gone into making each part of the facility user friendly. It is planned that completion of the new building will be by Easter 2020.
When presenting the certificate, Dr. Reuben Ayres said: ‘Young people all need us to be there to help them grow for the future, none more so than those with a lack of hearing who are denied the normal things that we take so much for granted in the world we live in.’
When receiving the certificate Steve Morton said: ‘We are extremely grateful for the ongoing support from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire and now the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Without the support of generous organisations like these we wouldn’t be able to change the lives of some of the most vulnerable Deaf young people in UK.
‘Our work helps young people, who have often been isolated in the past, to access education and opportunities for development which ultimately will enable them to have more independent lives. The immersive room is there to help those facing the greatest challenges to benefit from our work and Ian, Reuben and their fellow Freemasons have played a large part in making that a reality.’
Published Wed, 20 Nov 2019 00:00:00 +0000
Staffordshire’s Provincial Grand Master John Lockley endorsed and launched a unique advertising campaign to support the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the work they do to help communities throughout England and Wales with donations to local charities
A large advert has been placed on the side of an articulated trailer owned by local Freemason Danny Poole who runs a specialist chilled food distribution and transport business based in Stoke on Trent.
This giant trailer is decorated in specially commissioned MCF colours and branding and has been launched on the roads of the UK and Europe – in particular England, France, Germany and Belgium.
The idea was generated by Danny and his wife Jackie. Danny approached the Staffordshire MCF Representative Andrew Tomblin and generously offered a trailer for decoration in full MCF colours to carry the masonic message of Charity For All across the country and into Europe. These trailers never stand still and rather like aircraft are out there somewhere constantly working and being seen by all.
Andrew took the idea and discussed the plan with the MCF marketing department team, which resulted in the creation of the new artwork designed to carry the Masonic message across the entire length of the trailer and the rear doors. The vehicle is breathtakingly large and very eye catching and will take Freemasonry’s caring message far and wide.
John Lockley said: ‘Many thanks to Danny and Jackie for their great idea and for allowing the use of this magnificent vehicle to help Staffordshire Freemasons promote the Masonic Charitable Foundation, nationally and internationally.’
Published Tue, 22 Oct 2019 00:00:00 +0100