Berkshire Freemasons provide hundreds of Christmas presents for sick and disadvantaged children
A magical Christmas is assured for hundreds of needy children in Reading after the Freemasons of Berkshire raised over £8,000 to provide toys and gifts for Reading Family Aid and the children’s wards of the Royal Berkshire Hospital.
On Tuesday 20th December a wonderful collection of toys, games consoles, TV monitors and much, much more, were delivered to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, for use in the Lion, Dolphin and Kempton Wards, the Children’s Day Clinic and the Buscot Baby Ward.
Local Freemason Mark Heppelthwaite originated the fundraising in 2015 and it was so successful that it is now an annual appeal by Freemasons across Berkshire to provide Christmas presents for the many sick and disadvantaged children in the area.
The gifts were presented to Ian Thomson, the Charity Director of the Hospital and members of the nursing staff, by Martin Peters, the Provincial Grand Master of the Berkshire Freemasons accompanied by David Jarvis and Roy Stone.
This follows a presentation on Monday 5th December when Mark, David, and Roy also delivered hundreds of toys to Ruth Perkins and her team of helpers at Reading Family Aid for the Toys and Teens Appeal that will help to provide Christmas presents to over 1,200 underprivileged children in and around Reading.
Ruth said that her team were once again amazed at the generosity of Berkshire Freemasons and she thanked all of the Lodges and their members for their support in providing for those less fortunate than themselves.
Martin Peters, Provincial Grand Master, said: 'This is the second successful year of support for this appeal by the Berkshire Freemasons. Due to the overwhelming generosity of the 95 Lodges in the Province of Berkshire and their members we raised the staggering total of over £8,000 to provide the gifts for Reading Family Aid and the children’s wards of the Royal Berkshire Hospital.
'Mark Heppelthwaite and Roy Stone, who took on the challenge of procuring the hundreds of gifts involved, have been extraordinarily busy. It would have been impossible to achieve our aim without the fantastic support from the management and staff at Toys R Us, Reading and we are truly most grateful to them all. To enable us to complete the requested lists and more they also visited Currys/PC World, Smythes and ASDA, to purchase the five TV monitors, Playstation remote controllers, and in excess of fifty DVDs, and much more.'
Berkshire Freemasons provide visit to Windsor pantomime for sick and disadvantaged children
A magical start to the Christmas season was given to 500 children by the Freemasons of Berkshire with a visit to the Theatre Royal Windsor on Tuesday 6th December to watch Jack and the Beanstalk. Coachloads of excited children arrived with parents and carers, to be greeted by Father Christmas in the lobby and handed a goody bag filled with fun items, the glowsticks being a particular success.
The cast of Anthea Turner as the Fairy, Timmy Mallet as the King, Jason Gardiner as the Giant’s Henchman, Stephen Blakely as Dame Trot and Kevin Cruise as Simple Simon were joined by Luke Harley and Anna Campkin as Jack and Jill. The children provided a great audience, putting as much into the performance as the cast and the noise they made was wondrous to hear! Ice cream for all added to the festive fun and as usual the end of show singing and malarkey was a big hit!
Martin Peters, the head of the Berkshire Freemasons, met the guests of honour from Daisy’s Dream, Windsor Family Friends, DASH, Varity at Work and the Sebastian Trust together with children from Pathway Special Needs, Addington School, Bourne End Academy and Stony Dean School Amersham. They all had a great time assisted by the less than elfin ‘Elves’ and willing helpers made up from Freemasons across Berkshire who were directing the children to their seats and dishing out goodies.
Michael Brown, the organiser of the Panto Project said: 'The Berkshire Freemasons Panto Project was enjoying its 12th consecutive year. The aim is to give a magical day out for children who are terminally ill, disabled, under privileged, or with educational difficulties. We buy all 600 seats in the theatre and distribute the tickets to the various organisations. The project is funded through the Berkshire Masonic Charity, with help from the Maidenhead Advertiser Louis Baylis Trust, and individual masonic lodges and Freemasons from across Berkshire.'
Mike continues: 'We do all the preparation so that all the organisations have to do is get the children here and we all ensure that they have a great time'.
PhD scholarship funding in Berkshire
To mark the University of Reading’s 90th year and the Pharmacy Department’s 10th year the Berkshire Freemasons are funding a PhD Pharmacy student with a grant of £15,000 from the Berkshire Masonic Charity (BMC). This postgraduate scholarship will be known as the Berkshire Masonic Charity Scholarship in Pharmacy, and the grant will be paid at £5,000 per year over 3 years
The first cheque for £5,000 was presented on behalf of the BMC by John Palmer, Secretary of the BMC, and Stan Crooks of Grey Friars Lodge No. 1101, the Berkshire Universities Scheme lodge, to Dr Becky Green, Head of the Pharmacy Department, in the presence of University of Reading Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell.
Windsor open day marches to success
Beneath the imposing shadow of the magnificent 11th-century Windsor Castle, Berkshire Freemasons and their friends were a high-profile addition to the street scene to promote the Windsor masonic open day.
The centrepiece of the promotions was the ‘Freemasonry – What’s it all about?’ gazebo. Nearly 100 people visited Windsor Masonic Hall during the day, with 27 expressing an interest in becoming a member.
The local council provided a special dispensation to site the gazebo on the Guildhall concourse, giving a prime location for the display – with the unexpected benefit of seeing a Guards Band pass by during the event.
Beneath the imposing shadow of the magnificent 11th century Windsor Castle, Berkshire Freemasons and their friends were a high profile addition to the street scene on 31st January 2015, there to promote the Windsor Masonic Open Day
The centrepiece of the day's external promotion was the 'Freemasonry – What's It All about?' gazebo. The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council provided a rare special dispensation to site this gazebo on the Guildhall concourse, giving a prime location for our display. This centrepiece caused considerable interest from passers-by, who were encouraged by the team to visit the open day at the masonic hall. The team even wondered at one point whether HM The Queen had turned out her guards to parade past!
The masonic hall in Church Lane, located just behind the Guildhall, is a building of some antiquity having been built in 1725 to house a charity school. It was sold to Castle Lodge (now Windsor Castle Lodge No. 771) in 1862 for £500 and remains under Windsor Castle Lodge ownership to this day.
It has the most superb painted lodge room and is well worth a visit, for its beautiful décor alone. There is no documentary evidence, contrary to common myth, that it was built by Sir Christopher Wren, who actually built and designed the nearby Guildhall in 1702. The Guildhall has unique architectural features such as the cantilever roof with pillars of an exquisite design and workmanship, that do not actually touch the actual ceiling, and is well worth a visit. The masonic hall might not have actually been built by Wren, but he did live in Windsor during some of that period, so one can see why this story perpetuates.
The masonic hall itself was dedicated on 24th November 1864 by VW Bro Aeneas J McIntyre QC, Grand Registrar in charge of the combined Province of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. The ceremony was followed by a banquet held at the Guildhall for some eighty Freemasons. The bill for this dinner was £26.6s.0d.
When guests went through that famous red door they were met and greeted by a dedicated team answering the key question: 'So... Freemasonry – What is it really all about?'
Ask a hundred Freemasons this question and you probably would get a hundred different answers. Explanations were given about Freemasonry's huge charitable giving programme, individual personal development, masonic symbolism and the fact we all have serious fun! However, the summary had to be, 'Taking the good man on a journey of self-discovery and making him even better.' Visitors were offered a tour round the centre, including its magnificent painted temple and if really lucky given a cup of tea.
Nearly 100 people visited the Windsor Masonic Hall during the day and 27 of them expressed an interest in becoming new members. More importantly, Berkshire Freemasons once again demonstrated the spirit of openness and the benefits of Freemasonry to our community.
A review was printed and posted online in the Windsor Observer: http://www.windsorobserver.co.uk/news/roundup/articles/2015/02/04/107309-freemasons-of-berkshire-thrown-open-the-doors-of-their-windsor-hall-for-open-day/
Everyone involved agreed the event had surpassed all expectations and it has set the benchmark for all future events.
The next Open Day will be at Berkshire Freemason's headquarters in Sindlesham on 25th April 2015.
Berkshire Freemasonry - Coming to a town near you, very, very soon!
All aboard for a fun day
Masons from Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire raised over £42,000 at the Chiltern Centre Diamond Jubilee Family Day at Fawley Hill, near Henley, in Oxfordshire. Held at the Fawley Hill Railway and Museum, thanks to the generosity of Sir William and Lady McAlpine, the event was in aid of the Chiltern Centre for Disabled Children, which has lost significant government funding.
Chiltern Centre Chair of Trustees, Paul Barrett, said the day ‘exceeded expectations with more than 3,000 people attending’. The masonic team was led by John Clark (Buckinghamshire), Roger Hampshire (Oxfordshire) and Gerry Hann (Berkshire).
The grand total - vastly exceeding the initial £1.5 million target - was announced at a dinner at Ascot Racecourse to mark the end of the 2011 Festival. The event was attended by 520 guests, including Assistant Grand Master David Williamson and Festival President Michael Hooton. The RMBI is immensely grateful for the support of the Festival, which will enable it to continue and develop its important work.