Celebrating 300 years
Monday, 07 March 2016 10:41

York - After the Floods - what now?

After the floods - Freemasons of Yorkshire, North & East Ridings donate a further £25,000 to the Two Ridings Community Foundation Flood Appeal in York

We can all remember the sight, over Christmas 2015/New Year 2016, of the floods cascading over the sides of rivers all over our country. We can also remember the sadness on the faces of the victims of these floods. We saw traumatised children and older people, being lifted from their homes by the Emergency Services. We were looking at people who had lost everything to the waters. This horrendous picture of despair had such an effect on the Provincial Grand Master, of the Freemasons of Yorkshire North and East Ridings, Jeffrey Gillyon that he had to do something to relieve the distress of these people in the York area.

The Freemasons' Grand Charity, which is based in London and administers a relief fund for such eventualities, had already set the wheels in motion by giving an immediate £75,000 donation to the flood-relief efforts, both in Cumbria and in York.

Jeffrey Gillyon wanted to directly affect the lives of our more local victims of the York floods, and so asked the Freemasons' Grand Charity for another £25,000 to be given for the benefit of the victims of the York floods. The immediate result was this extra donation for use by the Provincial Grand Master.

The next thing, for him, was to channel this money, to the most deserving of those people in need. So, the Freemasons of the Province of Yorkshire, North & East Ridings approached the Two Ridings Community Foundation (TRCF) for their assistance in distributing these funds. They had been involved from the start, Jan Garrill, the Chief Executive of TRCF, had received a telephone call from Colin Stroud on Boxing Day, to set up a fund for the victim relief effort.

In mid-February 2016, a small team of Freemasons attended at the offices of TRCF in York to, not only hand over a cheque in support of the fund, but to speak with the TRCF Team about their work. The Freemasons Team was also willing to offer their help and support. They met with Jan Garrill, the Chief Executive of the TRCF.

Terry Wolf, is the Flood Relief Manager and she told the Freemasons Team about a young couple, who had recently bought their new home in York. To their knowledge there hadn’t been any flooding in their area for over 40 years, so the taking out of insurance hadn’t been one of their priorities. She was pregnant and due to give birth soon, so was not at work at that time. This had put some pressure on their finances, which may have been a consideration when thinking of insurance purchase. The Freemasons Team could imagine the stress of moving into a new home, a pregnant mother-to-be and then the nightmare of the floods. The couple had lost nearly everything that they had built up, but what most hurt them, was that they had also lost their wedding photographs. They were devastated.

The TRCF Team had given this couple an immediate grant of £700, to cover their immediate finances and is staying with them until they can get them back on their feet. The £25,000 from the Freemasons will help this young couple directly.

It will also help another older couple, which was mentioned by Terry Wolf. This elderly couple are on a low income and the husband is in poor health with chest problems. They are a stoic couple and do not normally look for assistance from anyone, preferring to have their own independence. They had seen floods in former times, at their home and were ready for it. However, when these floods came, they were unprepared for the amount of flood water. Their home was flooded. When the waters eventually subsided, they got on with repairing their lives and just cleaned up as they had been used to doing. The dampness of the house made the husband’s chest condition worse and he had to visit the York District Hospital frequently. The TRCF Team were not initially made aware of this couple’s needs, as they had not made any application for assistance.

The TRCF Team, being on the ground and talking with victims of the flood, had gone to a local furniture store, which was acting as a pseudo-community centre, giving out ‘bacon butties’ and advice, where they were told of the elderly couple’s woes. (Praise must be given to the owners and staff of the furniture store, for re-kindling the fine community spirit that exists in York.) Terry Wolf helped to arrange de-humidifiers for the drying out of the elderly couple’s home. However, the chest problems of the husband were made more difficult by their use, so they then arranged for the landlord to re-house them, while he went about ‘Cooking’ the house with driers. The TRCF Team expect the couple to move back into their home very shortly.

The £25,000 donation from the Freemasons of Yorkshire North & East Ridings will help to provide assistance, in the months to come, to these specific people and generally to the people of York, who will still be suffering, even though the media story has started to fade.

The Freemasons will be working in the community with the TRCF in the future, not only with the flood victims, but on other projects to benefit the people of the two Ridings of North and East Yorkshire.

The latest TRCF venture is the “Surviving Winter Appeal”. This project helps older and vulnerable people to stay warm and well during the winter months.

The Government’s Winter Fuel Payment is paid automatically to all eligible older people. For many this is vital. But the Freemasons Team will be asking their members, ‘If you feel that you’d like to give some or all of your payment to help other local older or vulnerable people, please donate to the TRCF Surviving Winter Fund.’

The Surviving Winter Appeal will be match-funded by a new project which is tackling fuel poverty and supporting winter health across North Yorkshire.

 

Published in The Grand Charity

Would you like to have your say about which causes, charities and research the Central Masonic Charities should support using your generous donations?

Simply visit www.masoniccharities.org.uk/survey to complete a survey which will help shape the future of masonic giving

The Central Masonic Charities have a proud history of awarding grants to the non-masonic community with over £4 million awarded each year to many worthwhile causes. Over recent years, our grants have provided vital support to rescue services, disaster relief in the UK and abroad, medical research, hospices and charities that help disadvantaged young people and the elderly.

Your views about the causes we should support in the years ahead are very important to us. We therefore invite you to visit: www.masoniccharities.org.uk/survey and complete the short survey about the causes, charities and research that really matter to you.

The survey consists of only 10 questions and will take just a few minutes to complete. Thank you in advance for sharing your views with the charities.

Published in Freemasonry Cares
Wednesday, 12 June 2013 01:00

Pro Grand Master's address - June 2013

Quarterly Communication 
12 June 2013 
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes 

Brethren,

our June meeting always has a full agenda with the meeting of the Grand Charity and I am sure you would like me to thank the President of the Grand Charity and all whose hard work has made their work so effective over so many years. What is not required now is a long address from the chair and I will be brief.

Brethren, you will recollect that last year, in recognition of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, we sent a loyal message to Her Majesty on the occasion of the sixtieth Anniversary of her accession to the Throne.

Last Tuesday a service was held in Westminster Abbey to celebrate the sixtieth year since her Coronation. Her actual Coronation was on the second of June 1953 and the ceremony was conducted by Dr Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury. Interestingly, Archbishop Fisher was a committed Freemason serving as Grand Chaplain in 1937 whilst being Bishop of Chester. He was re-appointed Grand Chaplain in 1939 just at the time he was made Bishop of London.

At the Quarterly Communication the day after the Coronation, on the third of June 1953, the Earl of Scarbrough, Grand Master, gave a loyal address to Her Majesty on the occasion of her Coronation and I quote, “Brethren, we meet in Grand Lodge this afternoon on the day following the Coronation of our Gracious Queen. This is an event which stirs the hearts of us all – in these Islands, in every part of the Commonwealth and, indeed, throughout the world. We Freemasons, remembering in particular the many greatly-prized links which we have had, and those which we still have, with the Royal House, have our hearts full of loyalty and prayer towards Her Majesty”.

Brethren, we often joke that nothing in Freemasonry ever changes or that, if it does, it takes a good many years to do so. In this case I know that it is true and that as we celebrate the Coronation – sixty years later – those sentiments expressed by Lord Scarbrough are as true today as they were then. Long may that be the case.

We celebrate another royal sixtieth anniversary this year, that of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh’s sixty years as a subscribing member of the Craft. The Grand Master sent him a message of congratulations to mark the occasion and, in reply, Prince Philip asked for his thanks and best wishes to be expressed to all members.

Brethren I have to announce that the MW The Grand Master has appointed VWBro Sir David Wootton Past Grand Sword Bearer and, of course last year’s Lord Mayor, to succeed RWBro David Williamson as Assistant Grand Master with effect from 12 March 2014. On that day either the MW The Grand Master or I will have the pleasure of investing him.  I must add that Bro Williamson will be continuing as Third Grand Principal in Supreme Grand Chapter.

Published in Speeches
Thursday, 07 March 2013 00:00

Continued support for Essex hospices

Essex Provincial Grand Master John Webb invited a number of local hospices to the Chelmsford Masonic Hall to present donations totalling £21,496. Also in attendance were Provincial Information Officer Brian Wright and Provincial Grand Almoner Paul Cohen. The Provincial Grand Master said that since The Freemasons’ Grand Charity began to support hospices in 1984, masons have donated more than £10m, with £371,500 of that figure going to hospices in the Essex area.

Published in The Grand Charity

A year to remember

With the help of Freemasons around the country, the Grand Charity provides an invaluable service to those in need

For many people 2012 will be a year to remember, from visions of bunting and the Queen’s Jubilee to the sporting excellence of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Yet many people struggled due to financial problems, illness or other difficult circumstances. The Grand Charity exists to help these people in need – Freemasons, their families or the wider community – and 2012 was no exception.

Masonic relief

The Freemasons’ Grand Charity received over two thousand applications for financial assistance and approved support of more than £5 million. The charity noted a continued increase in applications from younger members facing redundancy and business difficulties due to the economic crisis.

Support for the wider community

The charity provided £2.5 million in funding for non-masonic charitable causes. This included continued support for research into age-related deafness; support for ex-Armed Service personnel with grants for Help for Heroes and Combat Stress; and support for projects that tackle youth unemployment, which grew to 20.5 per cent in 2012.

Air Ambulances

2012 saw the Grand Charity celebrate more than £1 million in grants to the Air Ambulances and equivalent services since 2007. These grants provide funding for what is considered to be the country’s busiest voluntary emergency service. In 2012, each Provincial and Metropolitan Grand Lodge presented a share of £192,000 to its local service.

Hospice services

In 2012, £600,000 was distributed amongst two hundred and thirty-nine hospice services, bringing the total given since 1984 to £9.9 million.

We hope it is clear how valuable the work of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity is. The impact achieved through its funding might be difficult to measure, but it is immense. It is only thanks to the support of the Freemasons and their families that the charity is able to make such a contribution to people’s lives.

The grants listed above are only a small selection of charitable causes that have been assisted by Freemasons through the Grand Charity in 2012; a full list is available to view at www.grandcharity.org

Enclosed within this issue of Freemasonry Today you will find the Grand Charity’s Annual Review 2012 – we hope you enjoy reading it.

Published in The Grand Charity

Reflecting on the need to recruit new members, Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes explains why Freemasonry should remember its history while keeping an eye firmly on the future

Having finished the two yearly regional conferences with Provincial Grand Masters, I can report that one consistent theme was a determination to see our numbers on the increase by 2017. Indeed, in one or two cases this has already started, which means that perhaps we are getting some things right.

I have frequently said that we must not be looking for new candidates simply for the sake of increasing numbers, but if we can start this increase with the right candidates there should be a knock-on effect.

Enthusing new members is of paramount importance and we heard in the last issue from Edward Lord and Julian Soper about the work of the Universities Scheme. I have asked the Universities Scheme Committee to think about how we can best implement some of the principles that were mentioned across the whole Craft.

Recruiting and retaining young candidates is our most important task and I am confident that those who have made the Universities Scheme successful can help us with this important challenge. However, this is not just down to them and we must all pull our weight in this respect.

Altruistic society

At the end of last year, I visited my great grandfather’s mother lodge in Hertfordshire – and a splendid occasion it was, with a nearly faultless Second Degree ceremony being performed. I can almost hear you all thinking that they would have spent hours rehearsing. Not so, as they didn’t know that I was coming.

The reason for mentioning this is that in the reply for the visitors, the brother speaking referred to the Craft as an altruistic society. Altruism is one of those words that I have often heard used and possibly even used myself without having been completely sure of its meaning. The dictionary definition is ‘regard for others as a principle of action’ and it’s rather a good description for a lot of what Freemasonry is about.

If we can instil this ethos into our candidates, we won’t go far wrong. Of course, it is not all that we are about, but it is not a bad starting point as it should naturally lead to a practice of brotherly love, relief and truth, which in itself leads on to our charitable giving.

During the past year, the Festivals for our charities in our Provinces have raised a total of nearly £10m, of which Leicestershire and Rutland raised £1.7m for the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution; Warwickshire raised £3.16m for the Masonic Samaritan Fund; Cambridgeshire raised £1.285m for the Grand Charity; and Devonshire raised £3.836m for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys.

I hope that our membership, as a whole, is far more familiar with the activities of our charities than might have been the case twenty or so years ago. The charities’ promotion of their activities is excellent and the Freemasonry Cares campaign has enlightened many people at home and abroad about what support is available.

While three of our charities are masonic in their giving, the Grand Charity has a wide brief for giving to non-masonic bodies, provided that they are also charities. Not everyone appreciates this aspect, or how much money is involved, and we should be quick to point it out.

We should be proud of our history, but it is of paramount importance that we look forward and ensure that we go from strength to strength in the future, in both numbers and our usefulness to the society in which we live.

 

Letters to the editor - No. 22 Summer 2013

 

Sir, as usual, the article from our Pro Grand Master, Peter Lowndes, in the spring 2013 edition of Freemasonry Today was both interesting and stimulating. The paragraph relating to our use of words without fully appreciating their meaning struck a very strong chord with me. 

 

From all the words available to them in the English language, our founders chose to use the word ‘speculative’ to describe our branch of Freemasonry (as opposed to the operative Freemasonry). In our modern idiom this word is defined as ‘to conjecture without knowing the full facts’. Does this describe a proportion of our brethren today?


In a recent reading of Bernard of Clairvaux, it describes his definition of this word as ‘the recollection that frees the mind of worldly distractions as a preparation for contemplation of God’. Was this definition more in the minds of our founders?


Gareth Price, Trafford Park Broad Oak Lodge, No. 4486, Manchester, West Lancashire

 


Published in UGLE
Thursday, 07 March 2013 00:00

Charity for all

As smaller charities struggle in the current economic climate, Tabby Kinder finds out how Freemasons on a local and national level are keeping community projects in business

In 2012, donations to charity in the UK fell by twenty per cent, with £1.7bn less being given by British people between 2011 and 2012.

A report by the Charities Aid Foundation and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations suggests that small and medium sized charities are suffering most as voluntary donations – rather than National Lottery or state funding – tend to make up a larger proportion of their total income. The report, which surveyed 3,000 people, says that charities in Britain now face a ‘deeply worrying’ financial situation.

The Freemasons recognise the importance of supporting smaller charities. These charities may be small, but their projects and services can provide lifelines for people – meeting very specific needs that fulfil priorities often overlooked by the public sector and larger charities.

Since 1981 The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has donated more than £50 million to national charities, with grants going towards funding medical research, helping vulnerable people and supporting youth opportunities. It now sets aside £100,000 every year for small donations of between £500 and £5,000 to under-funded causes around the country, which often prove vital to their continued operation.

The charity’s allocation for providing minor grants to small charities doubled from £50,000 to £100,000 in 2010 following a marked increase in the number of applications the charity was receiving from smaller organisations. ‘It was clear that the increase in applications was a result of the economic climate, with smaller charities finding themselves worse off,’ says Laura Chapman, Chief Executive of the Grand Charity, pleased by the decision to increase the grant budget. ‘It meant we could reach out to more smaller charities, making a bigger impact during what has clearly been a difficult year.’

Helping small and community-focused causes is not just the domain of the Grand Charity. Local Provinces and lodges donated a huge amount to charity in 2012, around £5 million of which was reported by local newspapers. ‘Freemasons are community-minded and this is demonstrated by the local lodges that frequently donate to smaller charities,’ says Laura.

Neil Potter, Provincial Information Officer at the Provincial Grand Lodge of Nottinghamshire, believes that contributing to small causes is not only hugely beneficial to the community, but is also a way for Freemasons to show what they stand for.

‘Charitable giving is a great opportunity to break down the barriers that seem to have been put up over the years regarding the public and masonic relationship, and to let everyone know exactly what we do,’ says Neil. ‘Our main concern is helping people who are less fortunate than us – and it all comes from the members’ pockets. We make voluntary contributions, hold fundraising events and enjoy doing it.’

Freemasonry Today spoke to four charities that have received invaluable financial support from Freemasons in 2012.

‘The grant we received from the Freemasons is being used in the rehabilitation through sports training programmes’ Edwin Thomas

The British Ex-Services Wheelchair Sports Association
Funded by the Grand Charity

The British Ex-Services Wheelchair Sports Association (BEWSA) enables injured ex-service personnel to take part in sports, building friendship and camaraderie. BEWSA describes itself as ‘not an organisation for the disabled, but of the disabled’.

‘The Grand Charity has long supported charities that provide help and assistance to ex-members of the Armed Services,’ says the Grand Charity’s Laura Chapman. ‘It is a popular cause within Freemasonry. Through our minor grant funding we aim to support small charities that fulfil needs not easily accessible elsewhere, just like BEWSA.’

In May last year, the Grand Charity donated £1,500 to the charity, enabling nationwide support to continue for active disabled veterans. ‘The grant we received from the Freemasons is being used in the rehabilitation through sports training programmes,’ says Edwin Thomas, BEWSA chairman.

One weekend a month, the charity books the sport facilities at the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering RAF centre in Cosford, West Midlands, and ex-service wheelchair users are invited to join in wheelchair sporting events.

‘If they are comfortable in their chosen sport and wish to take training to the next level, then BEWSA is there to provide the encouragement, the training and the sports equipment required to participate,’ says Thomas.

JustDifferent
Funded by the Grand Charity

JustDifferent is a perfect example of a small organisation carrying out big work,’ says Laura. Toby Hewson, who has cerebral palsy, founded the charity to change social attitudes towards disability. It runs workshops in schools that are delivered by disabled young adults employed by the charity.

‘Today’s young people are tomorrow’s employers, policymakers and educators. JustDifferent believes that changing attitudes in the young is the best way to achieve long-term social change,’ says Laura. 

‘Harassment, bullying and discrimination are all sadly part of our society,’ says Karen McLachlan, fundraiser at JustDifferent. ‘The workshops give young people the capacity to challenge discrimination. Our work encourages and educates young people to be understanding and tolerant.’

JustDifferent has received acclaim for its techniques and schoolchildren engage with the workshop presenters with open-minded enthusiasm. Katie, a Year Six pupil, told the workshop presenter: ‘At first I felt sorry for you, but by the end of the workshop I felt more confident to talk to people like you. It changed my attitude towards disabled people.’

A grant of £5,000 made to the charity in May has helped the workshop reach 1,388 children.

‘To teach young people that disabled people can achieve, participate and lead is the ultimate goal of JustDifferent – and this is something the Grand Charity is very happy to support,’ says Laura.

Great North Air Ambulance Service
Funded by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham

Durham Freemasons have provided regular funding for the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) over the years. While GNAAS has become a leading healthcare charity, its funding relies entirely on voluntary donations. ‘We receive no lottery or government funding, but we’re proud to say that when we receive donations, one hundred per cent goes towards providing the life-saving service,’ says Mandy Drake, deputy director of public liaison at the charity.

Michael Graham, Provincial Information Officer at Durham, believes support for the charity comes from a personal feeling within the Province: ‘With many lodges in rural areas, a lot of our members have first-hand experience of, or have witnessed, the amazing job that air ambulances do,’ he says. ‘Our members are always very keen to support GNAAS.’

Michael estimates that the Durham Province has donated more than £25,000 to GNAAS. ‘We purchased two rapid response vehicles at around £12,000 each, and the Mark Degree bought another, so there are three units that are totally funded by the Freemasons,’ he says proudly.

Funding air ambulance charities is a very popular cause with Freemasons, demonstrated by the Grand Charity’s air ambulance grant programme, which is strongly supported throughout the Provinces.

The Lenton Centre
Funded by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Nottinghamshire

Around twenty per cent of the charities supported by the Nottinghamshire Province in 2012 had lost council funding. This was true of The Lenton Centre, a swimming pool and community leisure facility that Nottingham City Council decided to close down due to budget cuts, despite strong local opposition.

Following a campaign, The Lenton Community Association took over the centre, with funding from private donors and charitable organisations. The centre is run as a social enterprise and last year received £20,000 from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Nottinghamshire to fund a multi-use children’s area.

‘It’s a charity that we consider is doing a lot to help local people,’ says Neil Potter, Provincial Information Officer in the Province. ‘With local authorities having such restraints on their budgets, they find it increasingly difficult to support local charities, so our involvement in the community is becoming more important each month.’

Nicci Robinson, project manager of the children and young people’s team based at the centre, says the donation will help create a games area that can be used for sports such as football and cricket. ‘It’s a substantial chunk of what we need. The money has helped get a long-held dream off the ground.

It has kept us going through a very difficult time, while also aiding development and keeping our other activities for young people going.’

‘With local authorities having restraints on their budgets, our involvement in the community is more important’ Neil Potter

Letters to the editor - No. 22 Summer 2013

 

Sir, it was most interesting to read the article by Tabby Kinder, but more especially to note the ‘coinage’ on the collection plate – these consisted of fifty-, twenty-, ten- and two-pence pieces, with a few £1 coins. It reminded me of having motored from Durham to Cumbria with a brother so that my friend might obtain permission to send around a plate at the Festive Board for his particular charity. 

 

On the journey home I mentioned that I thought he would have collected more than the £74 he gained, there having been approximately seventy members present. He was rather displeased at my comment saying that he would have been happy with only £7.

 

I had meant to make an observation rather than a criticism, however. I cannot help but remember that when I joined Freemasonry in 1978 it seemed a customary donation was £1 for the then known alms. Yet, the vast percentage of Freemasons still put £1 in the collection these days. Compared to those days, £1 can’t buy you a cinema ticket, a pint of beer and so on, but £1 in the collection is still the norm? I agree with the remarks Neil Potter of Nottingham makes but I know we could and should do better.


Gordon Graves, Lodge of Progress, No. 8259, Chester-le-Street, Durham

 


 

Published in Features

A career set in stone

Emily Draper, twenty-six, is Worcester Cathedral’s first female stonemason apprentice. Tabby Kinder finds out how Freemason support has helped Emily to carve out a dream career

Perched on a dusty block of stone, Emily is fresh-faced and buoyed from the morning’s assessment with her tutor from City of Bath College. It’s just a few degrees above freezing in the drafty workshop that leans against the south-east side of Worcester Cathedral, but Emily doesn’t seem to mind. Clasping a chisel in her gloved hand, she absent-mindedly smudges dust on her fleece with the other. ‘I didn’t know whether to dress up or not for the photos,’ she says, ‘so I just wore my normal work stuff.’

Chatting to a colleague, a man about twenty years her senior, Emily is charming and sincere. Her youthful presence and the jovial atmosphere of the workshop contrast with the dignified serenity of the cathedral. ‘It’s my dream job,’ she enthuses later, now in the warmth of the on-site office. Her face flushes with the pride she has in her newfound career; it’s her passion for the trade that won her the position as Worcester Cathedral’s first female stonemason apprentice.

‘I’ve got the chance to do something that is not only personally fulfilling but also makes my family proud. It’s a career close to my heart’

The right fit

Funded by local Freemasons and the Grand Charity, Emily currently splits her time between the cathedral, where she is learning the intricacies of sculpting stone under the tutorage of master mason Darren Steele, and City of Bath College, where she studies the theoretical methods of stonemasonry two days a week. When asked about her decision to pursue an apprenticeship in stonemasonry, Emily says: ‘I think it just arrived in my consciousness one day. I’ve always been interested in history, and Worcester Cathedral has always been in the back of my mind because I was brought up near here.’

Emily’s professional journey began after she completed a degree in Fine Art from The Arts University College at Bournemouth. She enrolled in the stonemasonry diploma at City of Bath College, balancing work and college while driving the seventy-five miles between the two. ‘It was a lot to deal with, especially when you don’t know whether you’ll end up with a job,’ she says. ‘It was a risk, but definitely a calculated risk. I hoped that if I worked really hard it would make me employable.’ 

The risk paid off when, in August last year, Emily beat forty-five other applicants to win the apprenticeship at Worcester Cathedral. ‘The head of my course recommended I went for it, but I didn’t think I’d hear back. It was nerve-wracking. When I found out I had been shortlisted, I was over the moon.’

For Darren, Emily stood out as a strong candidate: ‘We had a tremendous amount of interest in the apprenticeship, but Emily came out on top as she showed the passion and enthusiasm in stonemasonry as a career that I was looking for.’

Preserving history

Although Emily’s grandfather died when she was just twelve, she credits him as the main influence in her career path. ‘He was a mechanical engineer and an illustrator, so his trade was very hands-on and creative – but also industrious. It’s clear I get a lot of my passion for stonemasonry from him,’ she says. Coincidentally, Emily’s grandfather was also a Freemason at a chapter in Devon.

For Emily, the fact that Freemasons are providing the funding for her apprenticeship proves she is on the right track: ‘I’ve got the chance to do something that is not only personally fulfilling but also makes my family proud. I only have memories of my granddad from when I was a child, but my work brings me very close to him as I feel like it’s something that he would have liked me to do. It’s a career that’s very close to my heart.’

Restoring a cathedral as grand in size and splendour as Worcester is an endless task. ‘By the time you’ve gone half way round, the bit behind you has started falling apart again,’ says Darren. The work being carried out is particularly impressive because the conservation team at Worcester Cathedral does not use power tools at any stage of the restoration process. Even for the stonemason industry, Emily says, this is rare: ‘It’s sometimes frustrating, but very fulfilling creating something that matters using your hands.’

Using traditional techniques means that achieving something as straightforward as a flat surface becomes an art form in itself for Emily and her team. ‘In order to actually work something by hand and make something that is technically perfect, you have to have respect for the building,’ she says. ‘There’s an argument that you can get the same job done twice as fast by using power tools, but I think it’s important to keep traditional hand skills alive. In a building like this you benefit from having a hands-on approach as you respect the stone more. You want to make it perfect.’

Lofty ambitions

In 2010, Darren and his counterparts founded the Cathedral Workshop Fellowship, a partnership of eight Anglican cathedrals – Worcester, Gloucester, Lincoln, Canterbury, York Minster, Winchester, Salisbury and Durham – created to develop the professional training of new and experienced stonemasons. This unique community, of which Prince Charles is patron, has developed a qualification championing traditional hand crafts, as well as an exchange programme to allow apprentices to move between the country’s cathedrals to try working on different types of stone. Darren has arranged for Emily to spend a fortnight at Salisbury Cathedral in the spring to hone her carving, a skill in which she has shown promise.

For the past twenty years, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Worcestershire has aimed to ensure that Worcester Cathedral always has an apprentice stonemason in training. It’s a worthy ambition but also costly – £25,000 over five years.

Provincial Grand Master of Worcestershire Richard Goddard says: ‘I think it’s very important that we support our heritage and also our roots. We have had a close relationship with the cathedral for more than one hundred and fifty years and it’s something we should continue to support.’

Emily’s first major contribution to the restoration of the cathedral is a large restorative phase on the library parapet wall. She took a sixteenth-century weather-worn coping stone and reworked and replaced it. Emily’s still coming to terms with the sheer scale of work her job entails, but the rewards of contributing to a piece of history make it more than worthwhile. ‘I thrive on the pressure of working with the knowledge that whatever I add could be there for another thousand years.’

Securing the future of the cathedral

Over the past twenty-three years, the entire exterior of Worcester Cathedral, including the chapter house and cloisters, has been systematically restored. The huge project, which began in 1988, first focused on strengthening the tower, then the cathedral’s Works Department moved in a clockwise direction around the rest of the building. The last major restoration project finished in 1874, so the task had to ensure the building could face the next hundred years. A special thanksgiving service was held in September 2011 to commemorate the completion of the work, which cost £10m in total. More than £7m was raised by public appeal and around £3m was received in grants from English Heritage, the Wolfson Foundation, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Worcester and other grant-making bodies.

Published in Features

The Yorkshire and Humberside arm of a national charity which helps change the lives of young people has been given a significant boost by Yorkshire Freemasons

Members of Doncaster's Don Valley Lodge, which meets in the town's Masonic Hall on Priory Place, hosted the presentation of cheques totalling £10,000 to two representatives from the Prince's Trust.

The donations, £5,000 from West Riding Masonic Charities and £5,000 from The Freemasons' Grand Charity, were presented to Prince's Trust Regional Chairman, Andrew Farley, and Prince's Trust Youth Ambassador, Rebecca Taylor, by John Kendall Clayton, the Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire, West Riding.

Rebecca told the meeting how the Prince's Trust had totally transformed her life. She left school at the age of 15 with no qualifications and, in 2007, while carrying her first child, she was made redundant, subsequently losing her home.

'I lost everything', she said. 'I went to various organisations and literally begged for help, but there was no help. Then I was told to approach the Prince's Trust. They listened and they believed.

'I had done a beauty course and they gave me a grant to learn to drive so I could "go mobile". I went on more courses and then, with their help, set up my own business.'

Rebecca approached the Frenchgate Centre asking if she could rent a unit to set up a beauty salon. In December 2010, she became the shopping centre's youngest tenant.

'I now train young, employed girls and employ a team of beauty therapists and am a Prince's Trust Ambassador. I opened in a recession so the business should have been doomed for failure. It isn't and it's giving young girls hope too.'

As a way of repaying the Trust, Rebecca went to them with an idea which has now been adopted nationally. The Tomorrow Campaign aims to help 55,000 young people a year into employment.

'I owe everything to the Prince's Trust and this donation is fantastic. I can't get over how much you have raised. This is going to make such a difference.'

Mr Clayton said: 'We are delighted to be supporting such a worthwhile cause. The Prince's Trust does fantastic work in supporting young people, and Rebecca is testament to this.

'She is a true inspiration. When others had written her off and consigned her to the scrapheap, the Prince's Trust listened to her, and, more importantly, believed in her.'

Arranging the opportunity to present cheques to the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) resulted in a very pleasant interlude for a group of Durham Freemasons at the distinctive Rockcliffe Hall Hotel at Hurworth near Darlington. The Provincial Grand Master Eric Heaviside was joined by Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Webster and Provincial Grand Secretary Phil Rann, plus 3 representatives of Agricola Lodge No. 7741 as cheques totalling £8,000 were presented.

This combined fund-raising and thank you reception was held in the magnificent setting that is the hotel's Victorian building and grounds, and recognised its own association with GNAAS – the hotel's favoured charity.

The sequence of events included an explanation of how the Air Ambulance is both funded and administered, some harrowing case histories and innovative money-raising ideas. It was hoped that one of the aircraft from nearby Durham Tees Valley Airport would make an appearance, and eventually the late morning sun dispersed the lingering mists and allowed GNHAA to land in the grounds. Everyone was able to meet the crew and examine the aircraft in detail.

Mandy Drake, deputy director of fundraising for GNAAS, said: 'Once again we find ourselves indebted to the Freemasons who have come forward with yet another generous donation.

'As a mark of gratitude for their ongoing support we have added the Freemasons’ logo onto our aircraft.'

Agricola Lodge members Trevor Dent, Philip Twizell and current Worshipful Master Richard Tait were thanked for their contribution of £3,000. This resulted from the sale of refreshments at their handily located premises in Old Elvet on Durham Miners' Gala days, with a further £4,000 from the Freemasons' Grand Charity and £1,000 from Durham Benevolence.

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