Celebrating 300 years

Prostate Cancer UK has announced that a new study has found that the presence of a specific protein can distinguish between prostate cancers that are aggressive and need further treatment from those that may never seriously harm the patient

The Fund donated £34,625 towards the study earlier this year at the University of Cambridge. Dr Hayley Whitaker, Research Developer and Lead Researcher for Prostate Cancer UK accepted the donation from the MSF CEO Richard Douglas.

Dr Whitaker explained that the presence of these specific proteins now called NAALADL2, can be measured with a blood test, saving many men undergoing unnecessary tests and worry, whilst allowing faster, targeted treatment for men with aggressive prostate cancers. The hope is that this test will be available on the NHS in the next five to ten years.

Richard Douglas said: "Accurate diagnosis of prostate cancer is the starting point to help men survive and have a better quality of life post treatment. With over 10,000 men dying annually from this disease, that is one per hour, we're delighted to have made a significant contribution towards the funding Dr Whitaker needed to identify prostate cancers through a low cost blood test."

News of the successful study has reached national media including the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and BBC Health. The Masonic Samaritan Fund is delighted to have made a donation which will have a real impact on advanced medical diagnostics. 

Letters to the editor - No. 23 Autumn 20013

Charity appeal

Sir,

In 2006 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and each time I attended treatment, would take along the latest issue of Freemasonry Today and leave this in the waiting room. In 2008 my consultant asked if I was a Freemason, and if so, would the Freemasons support a prostate cancer appeal. 

I confirmed I was and pointed out that if the Freemasons supported the appeal, all donations would be from their own pockets; you would never see a Freemason outside a superstore shaking a bucket begging money from the public.

At this point in time a new hospital was being built alongside the old Salford Royal Hospital and the new Prostate Cancer Unit would be the most up to date in the area. 

With the assistance of brother Mike Burkes we created an appeal letter, which I placed in the letter rack of lodges in every masonic hall in and around Manchester, and my target was £10,000 from the brethren. At this moment in time the total has reached £76,000, which is fantastic, and the money continues to trickle in all the time. The name of the appeal is Men Matter Prostate Cancer Appeal.

Jeff Clubbe, Excelsior Lodge, No. 4641, Salford, East Lancashire

 

 

Published in Masonic Samaritan Fund

Telling the world

While the role of Freemasons in raising funds for worthy causes is crucial, the Grand Charity believes it is also important to publicise its work to a wider audience

The Freemasons’ Grand Charity works hard to raise awareness of the generosity of masons. In recent years it has seen an increase in the number of publicity mentions it has received and was included more than six hundred times in the regional press (newspapers, online media and radio) and charity websites/publications last year.

This level of coverage is made possible by the Grand Charity working closely with Provincial and Metropolitan Information and Communication Officers, who are responsible for gaining a great deal of recognition for the charity’s work in regional press.

For example, news of the Grand Charity’s support for air ambulances was publicised more than one hundred and forty times, featuring on ITV news online and several radio stations. The hospices programme also received frequent recognition, with more than one hundred mentions in regional press.

The Grand Charity also works closely with the charities it funds, many of which show their thanks through public recognition. The £50,000 donation to Help for Heroes in 2012, to fund therapeutic gardens at a recovery centre for wounded service personnel, was highlighted on BBC radio. In addition, a plaque acknowledging the support of Freemasons was placed in the gardens upon completion.

Many other charities include messages of thanks to Freemasons for their support in their own charity publications, websites, press releases and social media. News of the Grand Charity’s grant to Cancer Research UK last year received more than one thousand ‘likes’ on its Facebook page.

In the news

During 2013, the Grand Charity has spent time promoting its Masonic Relief Grants programme to a wider audience. The charity has been working with Mark Smith, Provincial Grand Almoner of Gloucestershire, to raise awareness of the valuable community service Almoners carry out by providing help, guidance and pastoral support in often very difficult and challenging circumstances.

Mark was interviewed live on BBC Radio Gloucestershire about the work of the Almoner and the support given by the central masonic charities. Mark spoke eloquently about his role and how Freemasonry provides a wide range of support for people in need and that ultimately this is of great benefit to society as a whole.

The Grand Charity would like to thank Mark for his help in publicising the work of the central masonic charities and, most importantly, for highlighting the work carried out by Almoners across England and Wales. The role of lodge Almoner is voluntary and one that requires a great deal of dedication – without their commitment it would be impossible for the Grand Charity to assist the thousands of people it helps each year.

Other highlights for the Grand Charity have included recognition of its work by The Guardian online in an interview with Jackie Bailey, head of outreach at the Spinal Injuries Association, and also during an interview on BBC Radio Manchester with Ben Fewtrell, a family support worker at the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity. Both Jackie and Ben’s roles are largely funded by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, which was acknowledged.

If you would like more information, or to see any clips of the publicity mentioned, please contact Siobhan McCarthy, head of marketing at The Freemasons’ Grand Charity: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in The Grand Charity

Duke opens rebuilt croydon care home

HRH The Duke of Kent, Grand President of the RMBI, has opened the charity’s state-of-the-art new care home at James Terry Court, Croydon

Following more than three years of rebuilding and overcoming a variety of unique challenges, the major redevelopment of the site has resulted in a stunning home fit for the twenty-first century and beyond. It combines the attractive traditional features of the original house with first-class contemporary design and all the facilities, equipment and carefully planned spaces of a modern, purpose-built property.

The new home now boasts seventy-six spacious bed-sitting rooms with fully equipped en suite wet rooms, light and airy communal spaces – including a library, dedicated activities room, communal dining rooms and lounges – and a unique rooftop garden, accessible for all residents.

Pat Burchell, a seventy-three-year-old resident of James Terry Court, said: ‘We couldn’t imagine the new home at the beginning and it was noisy and disruptive at times, but we knew it was necessary and it has definitely been worth it – my new room with views of the street, houses and people below is perfect for me.’

Published in RMBI
Thursday, 05 September 2013 01:00

John Vazquez is the Mr Fix-It of Freemasons' Hall

Behind the scenes

As the masonic adviser in the private office, John Vazquez is the Mr Fix-it of Freemasons’ Hall, providing all the expertise, support and sometimes regalia to make sure that lodge meetings go without a hitch

Q: How did you come to work at Freemasons’ Hall?

A: Before I was called up to national service in Spain in the 1970s, I was working for a retailer in Oxford Street. My mother used to work at Freemasons’ Hall cleaning the Grand Temple and when I returned to the UK, she said there was as a job going as a porter. I took the role in 1980 and thought I’d eventually get back into retail management, but here I am thirty-three years later. I got to know the people and enjoyed it. Back then it was very family oriented and sometimes you felt that you’d rather stay in the Hall than go home.

When I first walked into the building, I thought how wonderful it was – I was amazed by it and still am. It’s not what you expect; there are lots of cubby holes and even now I’m discovering new things. My favourite place is room seventeen; everyone likes the Grand Temple and room ten, but I like room seventeen’s old-fashioned wood panels and the antique furniture.

‘I am still amazed by the Hall. It’s not what you expect; there are lots of cubby holes and even now I’m discovering new things.’

Q: What was your first lodge?

A: I became a member of the staff lodge, Letchworth, after the bylaws had changed to allow ‘downstairs’ staff to become full members. I then joined the half English, half Spanish St Barnabas Lodge. It was a dying lodge, maybe fourteen or so members, but it’s up to around fifty-two now. I get to meet such a wide variety of people – that’s the great thing about Freemasonry.

Q: When did you start helping to run events?

A: After becoming foreman porter, my job changed to deputy lodge liaison officer. When Nigel Brown came in as Grand Secretary, it developed into the role I have now: using my knowledge to look after the masonic events in the building. From Grand Lodge through to Provincial lodge meetings, I’m always in the background making sure everything is working.

My job is to ensure each day is perfect. I help set up rooms, making sure all the props are there, as well as providing advice. I want to make all the masons watching feel comfortable and for them to walk out with a smile on their face, saying what a wonderful day they’ve had. I’m a calm person and I say to people when they come for a meeting, ‘Don’t worry. If I look anxious, then start worrying, but until then assume everything’s OK.’ I try not to get too stressed.

‘I don’t have an average day, it’s not like working in an office. One side of my job is practical – it’s a good thing I was in the Scouts.’

It doesn’t matter who you are, I will treat you in the same way. It goes back to the principles of Freemasonry and it’s a wonderful thing about the Craft. You do get individuals who think they’re special and need reminding of where they are, that this is not their building: it’s mine and they should behave! I’m lucky that I’ve been here a long time and people know me, so if I say something is going to happen, then it will.

Q: How would you describe your job?

A: I’m a Mr Fix-it. I don’t have an average day and it’s not really like working in an office. One side of my job is practical, like replacing broken chairs, and I’m responsible for all the regalia, making sure it’s clean and repaired – it’s a good thing I was in the Scouts. But my job is also about understanding Freemasonry, knowing what you can and can’t do in a ceremony. If I know I can’t do it, then I know someone else probably can’t either. A lot of people do take my recommendations, but it’s only advice.

When we started hosting non-masonic events at the Hall, the Grand Tyler Norman Nuttall and I used to organise them. As demand increased, the external events were given to Karen Haigh to oversee and I now work closely with her to make sure our masonic and non-masonic events don’t clash. When we first held things like Fashion Week here, there were a few raised eyebrows from masons coming to the Hall, but I think they’re used to it now.

Q: Have things changed since you joined in 1980?

A: Freemasonry has opened up quite a lot, as much as people think it hasn’t. When I first came here you weren’t allowed to go to the Library and Museum unless you were a mason or accompanied by one. While basic masonry hasn’t changed, the people around it have. Younger masons are looking at things in a different way, which is good.

Freemasonry was here before I came and it’ll be here after I’m gone – just like this building. To me it’s a privilege and honour to come and work here. It was fantastic to be part of the two hundred and seventy-fifth anniversary celebrations in 1992 at Earls Court. There was a lot to organise; we had to set the arena up as the Temple and two lodges, but we got it done. It’s the same with the three hundredth celebrations. I won’t panic and I’m actually looking forward to it. We will make masons proud.

Three masons in a boat

What happens when you’re half way across the Atlantic and the engine dies? With two fellow Freemasons as travel companions, Bob Clitherow recounts the ups and downs of life on the ocean waves

Once caught, racing yachts offshore is a condition that is hard to cure. No matter how unpleasant the previous experience, the next challenge is always hard to resist. Famous must-do races include the Fastnet, Sydney Hobart, Newport Bermuda and Caribbean 600 (C600).

Adrian Lower’s yacht, Selene, is a classic Swan 44, designed by Sparkman & Stephens and built in 1973. She has competed in many events and in January 2012, a telephone call between Adrian and I went something like this: ‘I’ve entered Selene for the C600.’ ‘Fantastic, I’m on for that. But, how are you getting her there?’ ‘You’re doing the ARC!’

Plotting a course

The ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) is a popular way for yachts to cross the Atlantic in company. In November 2012, more than two hundred and ten gathered in Gran Canaria with the aim of sailing across some two thousand seven hundred miles to Saint Lucia. Of these, Selene was one of twenty-three competing in the racing division. This was certainly going to be a challenge.

The usual route is to head southwest towards Cape Verde and pick up the trade winds across to the Caribbean. But a storm system in the North Atlantic meant that we would have to stay north. The first few days would see headwinds of thirty knots, causing a two-day delay for the cruiser fleet and an uneasy dockside atmosphere.

The original plan was to sail with a crew of eight. However, two dropped out a month or so before the start and on the night before the race, the sixth crew member took fright. So, it was a ‘grown-up conversation’ between the five remaining crew on the morning of the start. Our decision was to ‘sail with purpose’, rather than race hard, and keep within a reasonable comfort zone.

The three helmsmen would be Adrian, Rob Thomas – a student from Plymouth University – and me, and we would do a watch system of two hours on and four off. Rob would also oversee the bow and me the navigation. Kevin Artley and Lily, Adrian’s daughter, were to do three hours on and three off. This was a challenging watch system, but there wasn’t much choice.

Three of us are Freemasons. Adrian was initiated into Royal Sussex Lodge, No. 402, in Nottinghamshire. He is a member of the Lodge of Peace & Harmony, No. 60, Recorder of Grand Metropolitan Chapter, No. 1 (Rose Croix), and Scribe E of Australia Chapter, No. 6505. Kevin was initiated into Farringdon Without Lodge, No. 1745, and is now an active joining member of Carnarvon Lodge, No. 1739, in Derbyshire. He has also joined Australia Chapter, No. 6505. I was initiated into Old Malvernian Lodge, No. 4363, London, am a member of both Grand Masters’ Chapter, No. 1, and Grand Masters’ Lodge, No. 1, a member of Grand Metropolitan Chapter, No. 1 (Rose Croix), and a founder of Amici Concilii Chapter, No. 1204 (Rose Croix).

To say that the first few days of the race were pleasant would be a lie. Heavy seas caused damage above and below deck but by day four, the winds had gone around to the east and Selene was making good progress.

The ocean is a very large place and on leaving the Canaries, we only saw two other competitors and three ships during the entire trip. However, weather information and position reports were available via a satellite phone, and knowing where the opposition was proved to be a good means of encouraging us to keep pushing on.

As life on board settled, it became apparent that a storm system was developing ahead. Selene’s immediate rivals, Scarlet Oyster and Persephone of London, dived south. Determined to sail less distance, we carried on. When it arrived, the first front brought constant rain and winds up to thirty-eight knots in the squalls. At its height, Selene coped admirably in gusts of forty-eight knots and, not for the first time, the crew were thankful of her sound design.

Testing times

But the storm wasn’t the problem. The ‘Apollo 13’ moment came the next day when the engine refused to start. So, no more water maker or charging batteries. With one thousand two hundred miles still to go to Saint Lucia and seven hundred and fifty back to Cape Verde, the crew were more than a little concerned. Fortunately, there was just enough water on board, if used carefully, and the use of power was cut to an absolute minimum. The navigation system became a handheld GPS gaffer taped to the binnacle!

The winds hardly dropped below twenty knots for the whole trip. So, any plans we might have had for catching the odd tuna and making sashimi had to be forgotten.

After sixteen days at sea, five tired sailors arrived in Saint Lucia to be greeted with rum punch and the news that we had actually finished fourth overall. We had also finished second in class, sixteen hours behind Scarlet on corrected time, and eighteen minutes ahead of Persephone – a gratifying result.

 

In June, one hundred and eighty masons and their families attended the Annual General Meeting and Court of the RMTGB 

The event took place in the RMTGB’s two hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary year at the County Assembly Rooms, Lincoln, under the chairmanship of Graham Ives, Provincial Grand Master for Lincolnshire and member of the Council of the RMTGB.

The president and chief executive, along with other members of the Council and staff, delivered presentations to explain the past, present and future work of the charity.

Lincolnshire Freemasons are in the final year of their 2014 Festival Appeal in support of the RMTGB, which is currently assisting more than two thousand children and grandchildren of masonic families.

Published in RMTGB

Conference highlights online fundraising

In July, the central masonic charities held their first Fundraising Conference. The event, which took place in Nottingham, brought together the biannual Provincial Grand Charity Stewards Conference and the Festival Forum for the first time. 

The conference, which was co-ordinated by the RMTGB, enabled those involved in masonic charity to share ideas and discuss how to overcome fundraising challenges. The event demonstrated how the central masonic charities spent a combined £36 million to meet the charitable needs of Freemasons and their families, in addition to supporting other non-masonic charities, some of which were also represented at the event.

During the conference it was announced that The Freemasons’ Grand Charity’s Relief Chest Scheme had launched its first-ever online fundraising platform. The new system will enable Provincial and Metropolitan Grand Lodges with Relief Chests to develop online fundraising campaigns and individual appeals for the benefit of the central masonic charities and other Craft appeals. 

To access the new fundraising platform, please visit www.grandcharity.org/reliefchest

 

Published in RMTGB

Stepping stones for disadvantaged children

The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB) has awarded grants amounting to £100,000 to seven charities that are working to improve the lives of disadvantaged children and young people across England and Wales.

The grants have been made from the RMTGB’s Stepping Stones scheme and will be used to support a range of causes including tackling youth homelessness, helping children affected by domestic violence and assisting young people who are educationally disadvantaged. 

A grant of more than £18,000 was awarded to MERU, a charity that designs and manufactures specialised equipment for children and young people with disabilities that are so complex that no available equipment meets their needs. MERU’s fundraiser, Becky Millington, said: ‘Without supporters like the RMTGB, we couldn’t continue helping these unique children. 

We at MERU thank you. More importantly, the children thank you and that’s really who it is all about.’

For more details about the grants awarded by the RMTGB’s Stepping Stones scheme, which are only made possible because of the donations made by Freemasons, please visit www.rmtgb.org/steppingstones

‘Without the RMTGB we couldn’t continue helping these children.’ Becky Millington 

Published in RMTGB

Inspiration in Bucks

Local masons have given their support to a county-wide scheme launched by the Buckinghamshire Advertiser and Buckinghamshire Examiner to reward those who play an inspirational role within the community. Bucks masons sponsored the Young Carer award, which was won by Georgie Church, who had been nominated by her wheelchair-bound father Richard. Georgie, 14, has only ever known her father as a paraplegic after he broke his back in a motorcycle accident in 1977. Richard said that his daughter helps with the shopping, recycling and gardening, washes his car and even decorated his bedroom for a birthday present one year.

Don't look down

After being diagnosed with a brain tumour last year, Peter Duff has shown much courage and determination. 

He was desperate to continue his masonic duties and in March this year was installed as Worshipful Master of Weyland Lodge, No. 6507, in Bicester, Oxfordshire. A couple of months later he took part in a fundraising event and abseiled 100 feet from the top of the John Radcliffe Hospital Women’s Centre to raise money for the Cancer Care Fund at the Churchill Hospital, Oxford.

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