On Saturday 29th October 2016, the Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger, along with Trustees of the Bradgate Park Trust marked the commencement of the first tree clearance for the reflection area of the Memorial Wood at Bradgate Park, Leicestershire

The Memorial Wood is being funded by Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons along with United Grand Lodge of England to enhance a small woodland at the Park to create a tranquil and reflective space. This project is one of a number of projects in Leicestershire and Rutland that will be supported to mark the 300th anniversary of the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717. 

The small woodland plantation is located opposite the Cropston Reservoir. Currently the woodland is fenced and inaccessible, but a new path into the heart of the space from the main carriageway will be suitable for all visitors. As part of the proposals the woodland will be fenced with traditional parkland deer fencing, new hedgerow planted and the wildlife value of the area enhanced, with new glades and trees planted. Natural paths within the woodland will allow people to explore the wood, whilst seating and a central feature will ensure there is an area for quiet reflection and remembrance. A centrepiece within the wood will consist of a seating area along with a sculpture of a stag.

Peter Tyldesley, Director of the Bradgate Park Trust said, 'We are regularly asked about opportunities for memorial trees and benches with plaques, but the nationally important landscape and heritage designations of the site means we cannot always accommodate these. This is a way that we can provide somewhere for our visitors to remember someone special, with a memorial plaque within a dedicated space. As a charity we are delighted to be working with the local Freemasons and also the United Grand Lodge of England.

'Their generous grants will support the physical work on the ground within the Site of Special Scientific Interest. It will also assist the charity in establishing a programme whereby people can purchase plaques within the Memorial Wood in recognition of the special nature of Bradgate Park to people throughout their lives. This will be available once the habitat improvements are completed in the autumn of 2017.'

The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, David Hagger said, 'We have worked with the Bradgate Park Trust in the past and this project is an important community initiative for our Tercentenary celebrations. Not only will conservation volunteers and our members be able to get involved in developing the project, working alongside the Bradgate Park Team, it will provide a lasting legacy of a special place where people can reflect on loved ones. Bradgate Park is close to the heart of local Freemasons, as Charles Bennion, Bradgate Park’s original Benefactor, was an eminent Leicestershire Freemason.'

The Memorial Wood will be officially opened on Thursday 5th October 2017 by the Pro Grand Master, RW Bro Peter Lowndes. 

Incredible sum of £36,000 distributed to Leicestershire and Rutland charities

Twenty-three diverse local charities gathered at Freemasons' Hall in Leicester on Saturday 25th April for a presentation event to receive over £36,000 in generous donations from the Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association, The Freemasons' Grand Charity and the Leicestershire and Rutland Royal Arch Masons.

Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, based at East Midlands Airport, was given a total of £11,000. Charlotte Marson Fundraising Co-Ordinator for the charity said: 'A huge thank you to all the Freemasons for this very generous donation which will go a long way to help save more lives.' 

Other charities to benefit included:

Leicester Navy Training Corps is a voluntary youth organisation that trains young people in the ways and customs of the sea, using the methods and practices of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Commanding Officer, Matthew Taylor, said: 'A massive thank you to the Freemasons for the £1,500 donation which will provide opportunities for our cadets to go flying and off-shore sailing.'

Home Start Melton and Rutland which is a family support charity that helps parents to build better lives for their children. Chair of Trustees, Jane Loake, said: 'Thank you very much for the generosity of the Freemasons which will fund children to attend a Christmas Pantomime which for some children is a once a year enrichment activity in their lives something that they would not have the opportunity to do before.'

The Bradgate Park Trust which provides the maintenance and improvement of the public park received £1,000 towards the purchase of an off-road mobility scooter to enable greater disabled access to the park. Peter Tyldesley of the Trust said: 'The charity was set up in 1928 by Charles Bennion, a prominent Leicestershire Freemason, for the benefit of all the people of Leicestershire, and we are delighted to receive the donation from the modern Freemasons.' To receive the donation on behalf of the Trust was Col Robert Martin, Trustee of Bradgate Park, and also Charles Bennion, grandson of the benefactor, who was keen to learn of his grandfather's masonic connections and was fascinated to learn he was a Past Master of St John's Lodge No. 279 and Lodge Semper Eadem No. 3091, a Founder member of East Goscote Lodge No. 2865 and Provincial Grand Treasurer.

Radio Gwendolen which provides a 24-hour service of music, news and information specifically for patients of the General Hospital, Leicester. The donation of £1,500 will go towards the purchase of a dual CD player and equipment to allow the radio to be streamed on the internet. 

The Provincial Grand Master of the Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger, concluded the meeting by applauding all the charities and their volunteers who give their time to such good causes: 'I'm proud that the Freemasons have been able to make a major contribution to society by supporting our local charities helping children, young people, those with disabilities and the elderly.'

The full list of charities were:

Long Whatton and Diseworth Scout Group – £2,000
Leicester Navy Training Corp – £1,500
Hinckley and Bosworth Community Transport Scheme – £2,000
Women's Aid Leicestershire – £1,000
The Brain Tumour Charity – £1,514 (from the Lodge of the Holywell No. 7827)
South Leicestershire Scouts – £1,500
Radio Gwendolen – £1,500
Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance – £11,000 (including £4,000 from the Grand Charity)
Dogs for the Disabled – £1,000 (from Grey Friars Lodge No. 6803)
Cottesmore Scout Headquarters – £1,000
The Bradgate Park Trust – £1,000
PROSTaid – £264 (from the Lodge of Gratitude No. 6514)
Friends of Devonshire Court – £150 (from Wiclif Chapter No. 3078)
Bark Foundation – £200 (from the Royal Arch Masons)
Loughborough Cancer Self Help Group – £250 (from the Royal Arch Masons)
Mesothelioma UK – £250 (from the Royal Arch Masons)
Myeloma UK – £2,500
Leicestershire Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus – £1,665
Home Start South Leicestershire – £1,000 (including £500 from St Wilfrid's Lodge No. 8350)
RABI – £1,000 (including £500 from St Wilfrid's Lodge No. 8350)
The Well, Kibworth – £1,000 (including £500 from St Wilfrid's Lodge No. 8350)
Shopmobility Market Harborough – £1,000 (including £500 from St Wilfrid's Lodge No. 8350)
Home Start Melton and Rutland – £2,000

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